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Title: Famous Affinities of History: The Romance of Devotion. Vol 1-4, Complete

Author: Lyndon Orr

Release date: November 1, 2003 [eBook #4693]
Most recently updated: February 6, 2013

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Robert Rowe, Charles Franks, David Widger and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team




Volumes 1-4, Complete

By Lyndon Orr




































Of all love stories that are known to human history, the love story of Antony and Cleopatra has been for nineteen centuries the most remarkable. It has tasked the resources of the plastic and the graphic arts. It has been made the theme of poets and of prose narrators. It has appeared and reappeared in a thousand forms, and it appeals as much to the imagination to-day as it did when Antony deserted his almost victorious troops and hastened in a swift galley from Actium in pursuit of Cleopatra.

The wonder of the story is explained by its extraordinary nature. Many men in private life have lost fortune and fame for the love of woman. Kings have incurred the odium of their people, and have cared nothing for it in comparison with the joys of sense that come from the lingering caresses and clinging kisses. Cold-blooded statesmen, such as Parnell, have lost the leadership of their party and have gone down in history with a clouded name because of the fascination exercised upon them by some woman, often far from beautiful, and yet possessing the mysterious power which makes the triumphs of statesmanship seem slight in comparison with the swiftly flying hours of pleasure.

But in the case of Antony and Cleopatra alone do we find a man flinging away not merely the triumphs of civic honors or the headship of a state, but much more than these—the mastery of what was practically the world—in answer to the promptings of a woman's will. Hence the story of the Roman triumvir and the Egyptian queen is not like any other story that has yet been told. The sacrifice involved in it was so overwhelming, so instantaneous, and so complete as to set this narrative above all others. Shakespeare's genius has touched it with the glory of a great imagination. Dryden, using it in the finest of his plays, expressed its nature in the title "All for Love."

The distinguished Italian historian, Signor Ferrero, the author of many books, has tried hard to eliminate nearly all the romantic elements from the tale, and to have us see in it not the triumph of love, but the blindness of ambition. Under his handling it becomes almost a sordid drama of man's pursuit of power and of woman's selfishness. Let us review the story as it remains, even after we have taken full account of Ferrero's criticism. Has the world for nineteen hundred years been blinded by a show of sentiment? Has it so absolutely been misled by those who lived and wrote in the days which followed closely on the events that make up this extraordinary narrative?

In answering these questions we must consider, in the first place, the scene, and, in the second place, the psychology of the two central characters who for so long a time have been regarded as the very embodiment of unchecked passion.

As to the scene, it must be remembered that the Egypt of those days was not Egyptian as we understand the word, but rather Greek. Cleopatra herself was of Greek descent. The kingdom of Egypt had been created by a general of Alexander the Great after that splendid warrior's death. Its capital, the most brilliant city of the Greco-Roman world, had been founded by Alexander himself, who gave to it his name. With his own hands he traced out the limits of the city and issued the most peremptory orders that it should be made the metropolis of the entire world. The orders of a king cannot give enduring greatness to a city; but Alexander's keen eye and marvelous brain saw at once that the site of Alexandria was such that a great commercial community planted there would live and flourish throughout out succeeding ages. He was right; for within a century this new capital of Egypt leaped to the forefront among the exchanges of the world's commerce, while everything that art could do was lavished on its embellishment.

Alexandria lay upon a projecting tongue of land so situated that the whole trade of the Mediterranean centered there. Down the Nile there floated to its gates the barbaric wealth of Africa. To it came the treasures of the East, brought from afar by caravans—silks from China, spices and pearls from India, and enormous masses of gold and silver from lands scarcely known. In its harbor were the vessels of every country, from Asia in the East to Spain and Gaul and even Britain in the West.

When Cleopatra, a young girl of seventeen, succeeded to the throne of Egypt the population of Alexandria amounted to a million souls. The customs duties collected at the port would, in terms of modern money, amount each year to more than thirty million dollars, even though the imposts were not heavy. The people, who may be described as Greek at the top and Oriental at the bottom, were boisterous and pleasure-loving, devoted to splendid spectacles, with horse-racing, gambling, and dissipation; yet at the same time they were an artistic people, loving music passionately, and by no means idle, since one part of the city was devoted to large and prosperous manufactories of linen, paper, glass, and muslin.

To the outward eye Alexandria was extremely beautiful. Through its entire length ran two great boulevards, shaded and diversified by mighty trees and parterres of multicolored flowers, amid which fountains plashed and costly marbles gleamed. One-fifth of the whole city was known as the Royal Residence. In it were the palaces of the reigning family, the great museum, and the famous library which the Arabs later burned. There were parks and gardens brilliant with tropical foliage and adorned with the masterpieces of Grecian sculpture, while sphinxes and obelisks gave a suggestion of Oriental strangeness. As one looked seaward his eye beheld over the blue water the snow-white rocks of the sheltering island, Pharos, on which was reared a lighthouse four hundred feet in height and justly numbered among the seven wonders of the world. Altogether, Alexandria was a city of wealth, of beauty, of stirring life, of excitement, and of pleasure. Ferrero has aptly likened it to Paris—not so much the Paris of to-day as the Paris of forty years ago, when the Second Empire flourished in all its splendor as the home of joy and strange delights.

Over the country of which Alexandria was the capital Cleopatra came to reign at seventeen. Following the odd custom which the Greek dynasty of the Ptolemies had inherited from their Egyptian predecessors, she was betrothed to her own brother. He, however, was a mere child of less than twelve, and was under the control of evil counselors, who, in his name, gained control of the capital and drove Cleopatra into exile. Until then she had been a mere girl; but now the spirit of a woman who was wronged blazed up in her and called out all her latent powers. Hastening to Syria, she gathered about herself an army and led it against her foes.

But meanwhile Julius Caesar, the greatest man of ancient times, had arrived at Alexandria backed by an army of his veterans. Against him no resistance would avail. Then came a brief moment during which the Egyptian king and the Egyptian queen each strove to win the favor of the Roman imperator. The king and his advisers had many arts, and so had Cleopatra. One thing, however, she possessed which struck the balance in her favor, and this was a woman's fascination.

According to the story, Caesar was unwilling to receive her. There came into his presence, as he sat in the palace, a group of slaves bearing a long roll of matting, bound carefully and seeming to contain some precious work of art. The slaves made signs that they were bearing a gift to Caesar. The master of Egypt bade them unwrap the gift that he might see it. They did so, and out of the wrapping came Cleopatra—a radiant vision, appealing, irresistible. Next morning it became known everywhere that Cleopatra had remained in Caesar's quarters through the night and that her enemies were now his enemies. In desperation they rushed upon his legions, casting aside all pretense of amity. There ensued a fierce contest, but the revolt was quenched in blood.

This was a crucial moment in Cleopatra's life. She had sacrificed all that a woman has to give; but she had not done so from any love of pleasure or from wantonness. She was queen of Egypt, and she had redeemed her kingdom and kept it by her sacrifice. One should not condemn her too severely. In a sense, her act was one of heroism like that of Judith in the tent of Holofernes. But beyond all question it changed her character. It taught her the secret of her own great power. Henceforth she was no longer a mere girl, nor a woman of the ordinary type. Her contact with so great a mind as Caesar's quickened her intellect. Her knowledge that, by the charms of sense, she had mastered even him transformed her into a strange and wonderful creature. She learned to study the weaknesses of men, to play on their emotions, to appeal to every subtle taste and fancy. In her were blended mental power and that illusive, indefinable gift which is called charm.

For Cleopatra was never beautiful. Signor Ferrero seems to think this fact to be discovery of his own, but it was set down by Plutarch in a very striking passage written less than a century after Cleopatra and Antony died. We may quote here what the Greek historian said of her:

Her actual beauty was far from being so remarkable that none could be compared with her, nor was it such that it would strike your fancy when you saw her first. Yet the influence of her presence, if you lingered near her, was irresistible. Her attractive personality, joined with the charm of her conversation, and the individual touch that she gave to everything she said or did, were utterly bewitching. It was delightful merely to hear the music of her voice, with which, like an instrument of many strings, she could pass from one language to another.

Caesar had left Cleopatra firmly seated on the throne of Egypt. For six years she reigned with great intelligence, keeping order in her dominions, and patronizing with discrimination both arts and letters. But ere long the convulsions of the Roman state once more caused her extreme anxiety. Caesar had been assassinated, and there ensued a period of civil war. Out of it emerged two striking figures which were absolutely contrasted in their character. One was Octavian, the adopted son of Caesar, a man who, though still quite young and possessed of great ability, was cunning, cold-blooded, and deceitful. The other was Antony, a soldier by training, and with all a soldier's bluntness, courage, and lawlessness.

The Roman world was divided for the time between these two men, Antony receiving the government of the East, Octavian that of the West. In the year which had preceded this division Cleopatra had wavered between the two opposite factions at Rome. In so doing she had excited the suspicion of Antony, and he now demanded of her an explanation.

One must have some conception of Antony himself in order to understand the events that followed. He was essentially a soldier, of excellent family, being related to Caesar himself. As a very young man he was exceedingly handsome, and bad companions led him into the pursuit of vicious pleasure. He had scarcely come of age when he found that he owed the enormous sum of two hundred and fifty talents, equivalent to half a million dollars in the money of to-day. But he was much more than a mere man of pleasure, given over to drinking and to dissipation. Men might tell of his escapades, as when he drove about the streets of Rome in a common cab, dangling his legs out of the window while he shouted forth drunken songs of revelry. This was not the whole of Antony. Joining the Roman army in Syria, he showed himself to be a soldier of great personal bravery, a clever strategist, and also humane and merciful in the hour of victory.

Unlike most Romans, Antony wore a full beard. His forehead was large, and his nose was of the distinctive Roman type. His look was so bold and masculine that people likened him to Hercules. His democratic manners endeared him to the army. He wore a plain tunic covered with a large, coarse mantle, and carried a huge sword at his side, despising ostentation. Even his faults and follies added to his popularity. He would sit down at the common soldiers' mess and drink with them, telling them stories and clapping them on the back. He spent money like water, quickly recognizing any daring deed which his legionaries performed. In this respect he was like Napoleon; and, like Napoleon, he had a vein of florid eloquence which was criticized by literary men, but which went straight to the heart of the private soldier. In a word, he was a powerful, virile, passionate, able man, rough, as were nearly all his countrymen, but strong and true.

It was to this general that Cleopatra was to answer, and with a firm reliance on the charms which had subdued Antony's great commander, Caesar, she set out in person for Cilicia, in Asia Minor, sailing up the river Cydnus to the place where Antony was encamped with his army. Making all allowance for the exaggeration of historians, there can be no doubt that she appeared to him like some dreamy vision. Her barge was gilded, and was wafted on its way by swelling sails of Tyrian purple. The oars which smote the water were of shining silver. As she drew near the Roman general's camp the languorous music of flutes and harps breathed forth a strain of invitation.

Cleopatra herself lay upon a divan set upon the deck of the barge beneath a canopy of woven gold. She was dressed to resemble Venus, while girls about her personated nymphs and Graces. Delicate perfumes diffused themselves from the vessel; and at last, as she drew near the shore, all the people for miles about were gathered there, leaving Antony to sit alone in the tribunal where he was dispensing justice.

Word was brought to him that Venus had come to feast with Bacchus. Antony, though still suspicious of Cleopatra, sent her an invitation to dine with him in state. With graceful tact she sent him a counter-invitation, and he came. The magnificence of his reception dazzled the man who had so long known only a soldier's fare, or at most the crude entertainments which he had enjoyed in Rome. A marvelous display of lights was made. Thousands upon thousands of candles shone brilliantly, arranged in squares and circles; while the banquet itself was one that symbolized the studied luxury of the East.

At this time Cleopatra was twenty-seven years of age—a period of life which modern physiologists have called the crisis in a woman's growth. She had never really loved before, since she had given herself to Caesar, not because she cared for him, but to save her kingdom. She now came into the presence of one whose manly beauty and strong passions were matched by her own subtlety and appealing charm.

When Antony addressed her he felt himself a rustic in her presence. Almost resentful, he betook himself to the coarse language of the camp. Cleopatra, with marvelous adaptability, took her tone from his, and thus in a moment put him at his ease. Ferrero, who takes a most unfavorable view of her character and personality, nevertheless explains the secret of her fascination:

Herself utterly cold and callous, insensitive by nature to the flame of true devotion, Cleopatra was one of those women gifted with an unerring instinct for all the various roads to men's affections. She could be the shrinking, modest girl, too shy to reveal her half-unconscious emotions of jealousy and depression and self-abandonment, or a woman carried away by the sweep of a fiery and uncontrollable passion. She could tickle the esthetic sensibilities of her victims by rich and gorgeous festivals, by the fantastic adornment of her own person and her palace, or by brilliant discussions on literature and art; she could conjure up all their grossest instincts with the vilest obscenities of conversation, with the free and easy jocularity of a woman of the camps.

These last words are far too strong, and they represent only Ferrero's personal opinion; yet there is no doubt that she met every mood of Antony's so that he became enthralled with her at once. No such woman as this had ever cast her eyes on him before. He had a wife at home—a most disreputable wife—so that he cared little for domestic ties. Later, out of policy, he made another marriage with the sister of his rival, Octavian, but this wife he never cared for. His heart and soul were given up to Cleopatra, the woman who could be a comrade in the camp and a fount of tenderness in their hours of dalliance, and who possessed the keen intellect of a man joined to the arts and fascinations of a woman.

On her side she found in Antony an ardent lover, a man of vigorous masculinity, and, moreover, a soldier whose armies might well sustain her on the throne of Egypt. That there was calculation mingled with her love, no one can doubt. That some calculation also entered into Antony's affection is likewise certain. Yet this does not affect the truth that each was wholly given to the other. Why should it have lessened her love for him to feel that he could protect her and defend her? Why should it have lessened his love for her to know that she was queen of the richest country in the world—one that could supply his needs, sustain his armies, and gild his triumphs with magnificence?

There are many instances in history of regnant queens who loved and yet whose love was not dissociated from the policy of state. Such were Anne of Austria, Elizabeth of England, and the unfortunate Mary Stuart. Such, too, we cannot fail to think, was Cleopatra.

The two remained together for ten years. In this time Antony was separated from her only during a campaign in the East. In Alexandria he ceased to seem a Roman citizen and gave himself up wholly to the charms of this enticing woman. Many stories are told of their good fellowship and close intimacy. Plutarch quotes Plato as saying that there are four kinds of flattery, but he adds that Cleopatra had a thousand. She was the supreme mistress of the art of pleasing.

Whether Antony were serious or mirthful, she had at the instant some new delight or some new charm to meet his wishes. At every turn she was with him both day and night. With him she threw dice; with him she drank; with him she hunted; and when he exercised himself in arms she was there to admire and applaud.

At night the pair would disguise themselves as servants and wander about the streets of Alexandria. In fact, more than once they were set upon in the slums and treated roughly by the rabble who did not recognize them. Cleopatra was always alluring, always tactful, often humorous, and full of frolic.

Then came the shock of Antony's final breach with Octavian. Either Antony or his rival must rule the world. Cleopatra's lover once more became the Roman general, and with a great fleet proceeded to the coast of Greece, where his enemy was encamped. Antony had raised a hundred and twelve thousand troops and five hundred ships—a force far superior to that commanded by Octavian. Cleopatra was there with sixty ships.

In the days that preceded the final battle much took place which still remains obscure. It seems likely that Antony desired to become again the Roman, while Cleopatra wished him to thrust Rome aside and return to Egypt with her, to reign there as an independent king. To her Rome was almost a barbarian city. In it she could not hold sway as she could in her beautiful Alexandria, with its blue skies and velvet turf and tropical flowers. At Rome Antony would be distracted by the cares of state, and she would lose her lover. At Alexandria she would have him for her very own.

The clash came when the hostile fleets met off the promontory of Actium. At its crisis Cleopatra, prematurely concluding that the battle was lost, of a sudden gave the signal for retreat and put out to sea with her fleet. This was the crucial moment. Antony, mastered by his love, forgot all else, and in a swift ship started in pursuit of her, abandoning his fleet and army to win or lose as fortune might decide. For him the world was nothing; the dark-browed Queen of Egypt, imperious and yet caressing, was everything. Never was such a prize and never were such great hopes thrown carelessly away. After waiting seven days Antony's troops, still undefeated, finding that their commander would not return to them, surrendered to Octavian, who thus became the master of an empire.

Later his legions assaulted Alexandria, and there Antony was twice defeated. At last Cleopatra saw her great mistake. She had made her lover give up the hope of being Rome's dictator, but in so doing she had also lost the chance of ruling with him tranquilly in Egypt. She shut herself behind the barred doors of the royal sepulcher; and, lest she should be molested there, she sent forth word that she had died. Her proud spirit could not brook the thought that she might be seized and carried as a prisoner to Rome. She was too much a queen in soul to be led in triumph up the Sacred Way to the Capitol with golden chains clanking on her slender wrists.

Antony, believing the report that she was dead, fell upon his sword; but in his dying moments he was carried into the presence of the woman for whom he had given all. With her arms about him, his spirit passed away; and soon after she, too, met death, whether by a poisoned draught or by the storied asp no one can say.

Cleopatra had lived the mistress of a splendid kingdom. She had successively captivated two of the greatest men whom Rome had ever seen. She died, like a queen, to escape disgrace. Whatever modern critics may have to say concerning small details, this story still remains the strangest love story of which the world has any record.


Many a woman, amid the transports of passionate and languishing love, has cried out in a sort of ecstasy:

"I love you as no woman ever loved a man before!"

When she says this she believes it. Her whole soul is aflame with the ardor of emotion. It really seems to her that no one ever could have loved so much as she.

This cry—spontaneous, untaught, sincere—has become almost one of those conventionalities of amorous expression which belong to the vocabulary of self-abandonment. Every woman who utters it, when torn by the almost terrible extravagance of a great love, believes that no one before her has ever said it, and that in her own case it is absolutely true.

Yet, how many women are really faithful to the end? Very many, indeed, if circumstances admit of easy faithfulness. A high-souled, generous, ardent nature will endure an infinity of disillusionment, of misfortune, of neglect, and even of ill treatment. Even so, the flame, though it may sink low, can be revived again to burn as brightly as before. But in order that this may be so it is necessary that the object of such a wonderful devotion be alive, that he be present and visible; or, if he be absent, that there should still exist some hope of renewing the exquisite intimacy of the past.

A man who is sincerely loved may be compelled to take long journeys which will separate him for an indefinite time from the woman who has given her heart to him, and she will still be constant. He may be imprisoned, perhaps for life, yet there is always the hope of his release or of his escape; and some women will be faithful to him and will watch for his return. But, given a situation which absolutely bars out hope, which sunders two souls in such a way that they can never be united in this world, and there we have a test so terribly severe that few even of the most loyal and intensely clinging lovers can endure it.

Not that such a situation would lead a woman to turn to any other man than the one to whom she had given her very life; but we might expect that at least her strong desire would cool and weaken. She might cherish his memory among the precious souvenirs of her love life; but that she should still pour out the same rapturous, unstinted passion as before seems almost too much to believe. The annals of emotion record only one such instance; and so this instance has become known to all, and has been cherished for nearly a thousand years. It involves the story of a woman who did love, perhaps, as no one ever loved before or since; for she was subjected to this cruel test, and she met the test not alone completely, but triumphantly and almost fiercely.

The story is, of course, the story of Abelard and Heloise. It has many times been falsely told. Portions of it have been omitted, and other portions of it have been garbled. A whole literature has grown up around the subject. It may well be worth our while to clear away the ambiguities and the doubtful points, and once more to tell it simply, without bias, and with a strict adherence to what seems to be the truth attested by authentic records.

There is one circumstance connected with the story which we must specially note. The narrative does something more than set forth the one quite unimpeachable instance of unconquered constancy. It shows how, in the last analysis, that which touches the human heart has more vitality and more enduring interest than what concerns the intellect or those achievements of the human mind which are external to our emotional nature.

Pierre Abelard was undoubtedly the boldest and most creative reasoner of his time. As a wandering teacher he drew after him thousands of enthusiastic students. He gave a strong impetus to learning. He was a marvelous logician and an accomplished orator. Among his pupils were men who afterward became prelates of the church and distinguished scholars. In the Dark Age, when the dictates of reason were almost wholly disregarded, he fought fearlessly for intellectual freedom. He was practically the founder of the University of Paris, which in turn became the mother of medieval and modern universities.

He was, therefore, a great and striking figure in the history of civilization. Nevertheless he would to-day be remembered only by scholars and students of the Middle Ages were it not for the fact that he inspired the most enduring love that history records. If Heloise had never loved him, and if their story had not been so tragic and so poignant, he would be to-day only a name known to but a few. His final resting-place, in the cemetery of Pere Lachaise, in Paris, would not be sought out by thousands every year and kept bright with flowers, the gift of those who have themselves both loved and suffered.

Pierre Abelard—or, more fully, Pierre Abelard de Palais—was a native of Brittany, born in the year 1079. His father was a knight, the lord of the manor; but Abelard cared little for the life of a petty noble; and so he gave up his seigniorial rights to his brothers and went forth to become, first of all a student, and then a public lecturer and teacher.

His student days ended abruptly in Paris, where he had enrolled himself as the pupil of a distinguished philosopher, Guillaume de Champeaux; but one day Abelard engaged in a disputation with his master. His wonderful combination of eloquence, logic, and originality utterly routed Champeaux, who was thus humiliated in the presence of his disciples. He was the first of many enemies that Abelard was destined to make in his long and stormy career. From that moment the young Breton himself set up as a teacher of philosophy, and the brilliancy of his discourses soon drew to him throngs of students from all over Europe.

Before proceeding with the story of Abelard it is well to reconstruct, however slightly, a picture of the times in which he lived. It was an age when Western Europe was but partly civilized. Pedantry and learning of the most minute sort existed side by side with the most violent excesses of medieval barbarism. The Church had undertaken the gigantic task of subduing and enlightening the semi-pagan peoples of France and Germany and England.

When we look back at that period some will unjustly censure Rome for not controlling more completely the savagery of the medievals. More fairly should we wonder at the great measure of success which had already been achieved. The leaven of a true Christianity was working in the half-pagan populations. It had not yet completely reached the nobles and the knights, or even all the ecclesiastics who served it and who were consecrated to its mission. Thus, amid a sort of political chaos were seen the glaring evils of feudalism. Kings and princes and their followers lived the lives of swine. Private blood-feuds were regarded lightly. There was as yet no single central power. Every man carried his life in his hand, trusting to sword and dagger for protection.

The cities were still mere hamlets clustered around great castles or fortified cathedrals. In Paris itself the network of dark lanes, ill lighted and unguarded, was the scene of midnight murder and assassination. In the winter-time wolves infested the town by night. Men-at-arms, with torches and spears, often had to march out from their barracks to assail the snarling, yelping packs of savage animals that hunger drove from the surrounding forests.

Paris of the twelfth century was typical of France itself, which was harried by human wolves intent on rapine and wanton plunder. There were great schools of theology, but the students who attended them fought and slashed one another. If a man's life was threatened he must protect it by his own strength or by gathering about him a band of friends. No one was safe. No one was tolerant. Very few were free from the grosser vices. Even in some of the religious houses the brothers would meet at night for unseemly revels, splashing the stone floors with wine and shrieking in a delirium of drunkenness. The rules of the Church enjoined temperance, continence, and celibacy; but the decrees of Leo IX. and Nicholas II. and Alexander II. and Gregory were only partially observed.

In fact, Europe was in a state of chaos—political and moral and social. Only very slowly was order emerging from sheer anarchy. We must remember this when we recall some facts which meet us in the story of Abelard and Heloise.

The jealousy of Champeaux drove Abelard for a time from Paris. He taught and lectured at several other centers of learning, always admired, and yet at the same time denounced by many for his advocacy of reason as against blind faith. During the years of his wandering he came to have a wide knowledge of the world and of human nature. If we try to imagine him as he was in his thirty-fifth year we shall find in him a remarkable combination of attractive qualities.

It must be remembered that though, in a sense, he was an ecclesiastic, he had not yet been ordained to the priesthood, but was rather a canon—a person who did not belong to any religious order, though he was supposed to live according to a definite set of religious rules and as a member of a religious community. Abelard, however, made rather light of his churchly associations. He was at once an accomplished man of the world and a profound scholar. There was nothing of the recluse about him. He mingled with his fellow men, whom he dominated by the charm of his personality. He was eloquent, ardent, and persuasive. He could turn a delicate compliment as skilfully as he could elaborate a syllogism. His rich voice had in it a seductive quality which was never without its effect.

Handsome and well formed, he possessed as much vigor of body as of mind. Nor were his accomplishments entirely those of the scholar. He wrote dainty verses, which he also set to music, and which he sang himself with a rare skill. Some have called him "the first of the troubadours," and many who cared nothing for his skill in logic admired him for his gifts as a musician and a poet. Altogether, he was one to attract attention wherever he went, for none could fail to recognize his power.

It was soon after his thirty-fifth year that he returned to Paris, where he was welcomed by thousands. With much tact he reconciled himself to his enemies, so that his life now seemed to be full of promise and of sunshine.

It was at this time that he became acquainted with a very beautiful young girl named Heloise. She was only eighteen years of age, yet already she possessed not only beauty, but many accomplishments which were then quite rare in women, since she both wrote and spoke a number of languages, and, like Abelard, was a lover of music and poetry. Heloise was the illegitimate daughter of a canon of patrician blood; so that she is said to have been a worthy representative of the noble house of the Montmorencys—famous throughout French history for chivalry and charm.

Up to this time we do not know precisely what sort of life Abelard had lived in private. His enemies declared that he had squandered his substance in vicious ways. His friends denied this, and represented him as strict and chaste. The truth probably lies between these two assertions. He was naturally a pleasure-loving man of the world, who may very possibly have relieved his severer studies by occasional revelry and light love. It is not at all likely that he was addicted to gross passions and low practices.

But such as he was, when he first saw Heloise he conceived for her a violent attachment. Carefully guarded in the house of her uncle, Fulbert, it was difficult at first for Abelard to meet her save in the most casual way; yet every time that he heard her exquisite voice and watched her graceful manners he became more and more infatuated. His studies suddenly seemed tame and colorless beside the fierce scarlet flame which blazed up in his heart.

Nevertheless, it was because of these studies and of his great reputation as a scholar that he managed to obtain access to Heloise. He flattered her uncle and made a chance proposal that he should himself become an inmate of Fulbert's household in order that he might teach this girl of so much promise. Such an offer coming from so brilliant a man was joyfully accepted.

From that time Abelard could visit Heloise without restraint. He was her teacher, and the two spent hours together, nominally in the study of Greek and Hebrew; but doubtless very little was said between them upon such unattractive subjects. On the contrary, with all his wide experience of life, his eloquence, his perfect manners, and his fascination, Abelard put forth his power to captivate the senses of a girl still in her teens and quite ignorant of the world. As Remusat says, he employed to win her the genius which had overwhelmed all the great centers of learning in the Western world.

It was then that the pleasures of knowledge, the joys of thought, the emotions of eloquence, were all called into play to charm and move and plunge into a profound and strange intoxication this noble and tender heart which had never known either love or sorrow.... One can imagine that everything helped on the inevitable end. Their studies gave them opportunities to see each other freely, and also permitted them to be alone together. Then their books lay open between them; but either long periods of silence stilled their reading, or else words of deepening intimacy made them forget their studies altogether. The eyes of the two lovers turned from the book to mingle their glances, and then to turn away in a confusion that was conscious.

Hand would touch hand, apparently by accident; and when conversation ceased, Abelard would often hear the long, quivering sigh which showed the strange, half-frightened, and yet exquisite joy which Heloise experienced.

It was not long before the girl's heart had been wholly won. Transported by her emotion, she met the caresses of her lover with those as unrestrained as his. Her very innocence deprived her of the protection which older women would have had. All was given freely, and even wildly, by Heloise; and all was taken by Abelard, who afterward himself declared:

"The pleasure of teaching her to love surpassed the delightful fragrance of all the perfumes in the world."

Yet these two could not always live in a paradise which was entirely their own. The world of Paris took notice of their close association. Some poems written to Heloise by Abelard, as if in letters of fire, were found and shown to Fulbert, who, until this time, had suspected nothing. Angrily he ordered Abelard to leave his house. He forbade his niece to see her lover any more.

But the two could not be separated; and, indeed, there was good reason why they should still cling together. Secretly Heloise left her uncle's house and fled through the narrow lanes of Paris to the dwelling of Abelard's sister, Denyse, where Abelard himself was living. There, presently, the young girl gave birth to a son, who was named Astrolabe, after an instrument used by astronomers, since both the father and the mother felt that the offspring of so great a love should have no ordinary name.

Fulbert was furious, and rightly so. His hospitality had been outraged and his niece dishonored. He insisted that the pair should at once be married. Here was revealed a certain weakness in the character of Abelard. He consented to the marriage, but insisted that it should be kept an utter secret.

Oddly enough, it was Heloise herself who objected to becoming the wife of the man she loved. Unselfishness could go no farther. She saw that, were he to marry her, his advancement in the Church would be almost impossible; for, while the very minor clergy sometimes married in spite of the papal bulls, matrimony was becoming a fatal bar to ecclesiastical promotion. And so Heloise pleaded pitifully, both with her uncle and with Abelard, that there should be no marriage. She would rather bear all manner of disgrace than stand in the way of Abelard's advancement.

He has himself given some of the words in which she pleaded with him:

What glory shall I win from you, when I have made you quite inglorious and have humbled both of us? What vengeance will the world inflict on me if I deprive it of one so brilliant? What curses will follow such a marriage? How outrageous would it be that you, whom nature created for the universal good, should be devoted to one woman and plunged into such disgrace? I loathe the thought of a marriage which would humiliate you.

Indeed, every possible effort which another woman in her place would employ to make him marry her she used in order to dissuade him. Finally, her sweet face streaming with tears, she uttered that tremendous sentence which makes one really think that she loved him as no other woman ever loved a man. She cried out, in an agony of self-sacrifice:

"I would rather be your mistress than the wife even of an emperor!"

Nevertheless, the two were married, and Abelard returned to his lecture-room and to his studies. For months they met but seldom. Meanwhile, however, the taunts and innuendos directed against Heloise so irritated Fulbert that he broke his promise of secrecy, and told his friends that Abelard and Heloise were man and wife. They went to Heloise for confirmation. Once more she showed in an extraordinary way the depth of her devotion.

"I am no wife," she said. "It is not true that Abelard has married me. My uncle merely tells you this to save my reputation."

They asked her whether she would swear to this; and, without a moment's hesitation, this pure and noble woman took an oath upon the Scriptures that there had been no marriage.

Fulbert was enraged by this. He ill-treated Heloise, and, furthermore, he forbade Abelard to visit her. The girl, therefore, again left her uncle's house and betook herself to a convent just outside of Paris, where she assumed the habit of a nun as a disguise. There Abelard continued from time to time to meet her.

When Fulbert heard of this he put his own interpretation on it. He believed that Abelard intended to ignore the marriage altogether, and that possibly he might even marry some other woman. In any case, he now hated Abelard with all his heart; and he resolved to take a fearful and unnatural vengeance which would at once prevent his enemy from making any other marriage, while at the same time it would debar him from ecclesiastical preferment.

To carry out his plot Fulbert first bribed a man who was the body-servant of Abelard, watching at the door of his room each night. Then he hired the services of four ruffians. After Abelard had retired and was deep in slumber the treacherous valet unbarred the door. The hirelings of Fulbert entered and fell upon the sleeping man. Three of them bound him fast, while the fourth, with a razor, inflicted on him the most shameful mutilation that is possible. Then, extinguishing the lights, the wretches slunk away and were lost in darkness, leaving behind their victim bound to his couch, uttering cries of torment and bathed in his own blood.

It is a shocking story, and yet it is intensely characteristic of the lawless and barbarous era in which it happened. Early the next morning the news flew rapidly through Paris. The city hummed like a bee-hive. Citizens and students and ecclesiastics poured into the street and surrounded the house of Abelard.

"Almost the entire city," says Fulques, as quoted by McCabe, "went clamoring toward his house. Women wept as if each one had lost her husband."

Unmanned though he was, Abelard still retained enough of the spirit of his time to seek vengeance. He, in his turn, employed ruffians whom he set upon the track of those who had assaulted him. The treacherous valet and one of Fulbert's hirelings were run down, seized, and mutilated precisely as Abelard had been; and their eyes were blinded. A third was lodged in prison. Fulbert himself was accused before one of the Church courts, which alone had power to punish an ecclesiastic, and all his goods were confiscated.

But, meantime, how did it fare with Heloise? Her grief was greater than his own, while her love and her devotion were absolutely undiminished. But Abelard now showed a selfishness—and indeed, a meanness—far beyond any that he had before exhibited. Heloise could no more be his wife. He made it plain that he put no trust in her fidelity. He was unwilling that she should live in the world while he could not; and so he told her sternly that she must take the veil and bury herself for ever in a nunnery.

The pain and shame which she experienced at this came wholly from the fact that evidently Abelard did not trust her. Long afterward she wrote:

God knows I should not have hesitated, at your command, to precede or to follow you to hell itself!

It was his distrust that cut her to the heart. Still, her love for him was so intense that she obeyed his order. Soon after she took the vows; and in the convent chapel, shaken with sobs, she knelt before the altar and assumed the veil of a cloistered nun. Abelard himself put on the black tunic of a Benedictine monk and entered the Abbey of St. Denis.

It is unnecessary here to follow out all the details of the lives of Abelard and Heloise after this heart-rendering scene. Abelard passed through many years of strife and disappointment, and even of humiliation; for on one occasion, just as he had silenced Guillaume de Champeaux, so he himself was silenced and put to rout by Bernard of Clairvaux—"a frail, tense, absorbed, dominant little man, whose face was white and worn with suffering," but in whose eyes there was a light of supreme strength. Bernard represented pure faith, as Abelard represented pure reason; and the two men met before a great council to match their respective powers.

Bernard, with fiery eloquence, brought a charge of heresy against Abelard in an oration which was like a charge of cavalry. When he had concluded Abelard rose with an ashen face, stammered out a few words, and sat down. He was condemned by the council, and his works were ordered to be burned.

All his later life was one of misfortune, of humiliation, and even of personal danger. The reckless monks whom he tried to rule rose fiercely against him. His life was threatened. He betook himself to a desolate and lonely place, where he built for himself a hut of reeds and rushes, hoping to spend his final years in meditation. But there were many who had not forgotten his ability as a teacher. These flocked by hundreds to the desert place where he abode. His hut was surrounded by tents and rude hovels, built by his scholars for their shelter.

Thus Abelard resumed his teaching, though in a very different frame of mind. In time he built a structure of wood and stone, which he called the Paraclete, some remains of which can still be seen.

All this time no word had passed between him and Heloise. But presently Abelard wrote and gave to the world a curious and exceedingly frank book, which he called The Story of My Misfortunes. A copy of it reached the hands of Heloise, and she at once sent to Abelard the first of a series of letters which have remained unique in the literature of love.

Ten years had passed, and yet the woman's heart was as faithful and as full of yearning as on the day when the two had parted. It has been said that the letters are not genuine, and they must be read with this assertion in mind; yet it is difficult to believe that any one save Heloise herself could have flung a human soul into such frankly passionate utterances, or that any imitator could have done the work.

In her first letter, which was sent to Abelard written upon parchment, she said:

At thy command I would change, not merely my costume, but my very soul, so entirely art thou the sole possessor of my body and my spirit. Never, God is my witness, never have I sought anything in thee but thyself; I have sought thee, and not thy gifts. I have not looked to the marriage-bond or dowry.

She begged him to write to her, and to lead her to God, as once he had led her into the mysteries of pleasure. Abelard answered in a letter, friendly to be sure, but formal—the letter of a priest to a cloistered nun. The opening words of it are characteristic of the whole:

To Heloise, his sister in Christ, from Abelard, her brother in Him.

The letter was a long one, but throughout the whole of it the writer's tone was cold and prudent. Its very coldness roused her soul to a passionate revolt. Her second letter bursts forth in a sort of anguish:

How hast thou been able to frame such thoughts, dearest? How hast thou found words to convey them? Oh, if I dared but call God cruel to me! Oh, most wretched of all creatures that I am! So sweet did I find the pleasures of our loving days that I cannot bring myself to reject them or to banish them from my memory. Wheresoever I go, they thrust themselves upon my vision, and rekindle the old desire.

But Abelard knew only too well that not in this life could there be anything save spiritual love between himself and Heloise. He wrote to her again and again, always in the same remote and unimpassioned way. He tells her about the history of monasticism, and discusses with her matters of theology and ethics; but he never writes one word to feed the flame that is consuming her. The woman understood at last; and by degrees her letters became as calm as his—suffused, however, with a tenderness and feeling which showed that in her heart of hearts she was still entirely given to him.

After some years Abelard left his dwelling at the Paraclete, and there was founded there a religious house of which Heloise became the abbess. All the world respected her for her sweetness, her wisdom, and the purity of her character. She made friends as easily as Abelard made enemies. Even Bernard, who had overthrown her husband, sought out Heloise to ask for her advice and counsel.

Abelard died while on his way to Rome, whither he was journeying in order to undergo a penalty; and his body was brought back to the Paraclete, where it was entombed. Over it for twenty-two years Heloise watched with tender care; and when she died, her body was laid beside that of her lover.

To-day their bones are mingled as she would have desired them to be mingled. The stones of their tomb in the great cemetery of Pere Lachaise were brought from the ruins of the Paraclete, and above the sarcophagus are two recumbent figures, the whole being the work of the artist Alexandra Lenoir, who died in 1836. The figure representing Heloise is not, however, an authentic likeness. The model for it was a lady belonging to a noble family of France, and the figure itself was brought to Pere Lachaise from the ancient College de Beauvais.

The letters of Heloise have been read and imitated throughout the whole of the last nine centuries. Some have found in them the utterances of a woman whose love of love was greater than her love of God and whose intensity of passion nothing could subdue; and so these have condemned her. But others, like Chateaubriand, have more truly seen in them a pure and noble spirit to whom fate had been very cruel; and who was, after all, writing to the man who had been her lawful husband.

Some of the most famous imitations of her letters are those in the ancient poem entitled, "The Romance of the Rose," written by Jean de Meung, in the thirteenth century; and in modern times her first letter was paraphrased by Alexander Pope, and in French by Colardeau. There exist in English half a dozen translations of them, with Abelard's replies. It is interesting to remember that practically all the other writings of Abelard remained unpublished and unedited until a very recent period. He was a remarkable figure as a philosopher and scholar; but the world cares for him only because he was loved by Heloise.


History has many romantic stories to tell of the part which women have played in determining the destinies of nations. Sometimes it is a woman's beauty that causes the shifting of a province. Again it is another woman's rich possessions that incite invasion and lead to bloody wars. Marriages or dowries, or the refusal of marriages and the lack of dowries, inheritance through an heiress, the failure of a male succession—in these and in many other ways women have set their mark indelibly upon the trend of history.

However, if we look over these different events we shall find that it is not so much the mere longing for a woman—the desire to have her as a queen—that has seriously affected the annals of any nation. Kings, like ordinary men, have paid their suit and then have ridden away repulsed, yet not seriously dejected. Most royal marriages are made either to secure the succession to a throne by a legitimate line of heirs or else to unite adjoining states and make a powerful kingdom out of two that are less powerful. But, as a rule, kings have found greater delight in some sheltered bower remote from courts than in the castled halls and well-cared-for nooks where their own wives and children have been reared with all the appurtenances of legitimacy.

There are not many stories that hang persistently about the love-making of a single woman. In the case of one or another we may find an episode or two—something dashing, something spirited or striking, something brilliant and exhilarating, or something sad. But for a woman's whole life to be spent in courtship that meant nothing and that was only a clever aid to diplomacy—this is surely an unusual and really wonderful thing.

It is the more unusual because the woman herself was not intended by nature to be wasted upon the cold and cheerless sport of chancellors and counselors and men who had no thought of her except to use her as a pawn. She was hot-blooded, descended from a fiery race, and one whose temper was quick to leap into the passion of a man.

In studying this phase of the long and interesting life of Elizabeth of England we must notice several important facts. In the first place, she gave herself, above all else, to the maintenance of England—not an England that would be half Spanish or half French, or even partly Dutch and Flemish, but the Merry England of tradition—the England that was one and undivided, with its growing freedom of thought, its bows and bills, its nut-brown ale, its sturdy yeomen, and its loyalty to crown and Parliament. She once said, almost as in an agony:

"I love England more than anything!"

And one may really hold that this was true.

For England she schemed and planned. For England she gave up many of her royal rights. For England she descended into depths of treachery. For England she left herself on record as an arrant liar, false, perjured, yet successful; and because of her success for England's sake her countrymen will hold her in high remembrance, since her scheming and her falsehood are the offenses that one pardons most readily in a woman.

In the second place, it must be remembered that Elizabeth's courtships and pretended love-makings were almost always a part of her diplomacy. When not a part of her diplomacy they were a mere appendage to her vanity. To seem to be the flower of the English people, and to be surrounded by the noblest, the bravest, and the most handsome cavaliers, not only of her own kingdom, but of others—this was, indeed, a choice morsel of which she was fond of tasting, even though it meant nothing beyond the moment.

Finally, though at times she could be very cold, and though she made herself still colder in order that she might play fast and loose with foreign suitors who played fast and loose with her—the King of Spain, the Duc d'Alencon, brother of the French king, with an Austrian archduke, with a magnificent barbarian prince of Muscovy, with Eric of Sweden, or any other Scandinavian suitor—she felt a woman's need for some nearer and more tender association to which she might give freer play and in which she might feel those deeper emotions without the danger that arises when love is mingled with diplomacy.

Let us first consider a picture of the woman as she really was in order that we may understand her triple nature—consummate mistress of every art that statesmen know, and using at every moment her person as a lure; a vain-glorious queen who seemed to be the prey of boundless vanity; and, lastly, a woman who had all a woman's passion, and who could cast suddenly aside the check and balance which restrained her before the public gaze and could allow herself to give full play to the emotion that she inherited from the king, her father, who was himself a marvel of fire and impetuosity. That the daughter of Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn should be a gentle, timid maiden would be to make heredity a farce.

Elizabeth was about twenty-five years of age when she ascended the throne of England. It is odd that the date of her birth cannot be given with precision. The intrigues and disturbances of the English court, and the fact that she was a princess, made her birth a matter of less account than if there had been no male heir to the throne. At any rate, when she ascended it, after the deaths of her brother, King Edward VI., and her sister, Queen Mary, she was a woman well trained both in intellect and in physical development.

Mr. Martin Hume, who loves to dwell upon the later years of Queen Elizabeth, speaks rather bitterly of her as a "painted old harridan"; and such she may well have seemed when, at nearly seventy years of age, she leered and grinned a sort of skeleton smile at the handsome young courtiers who pretended to see in her the queen of beauty and to be dying for love of her.

Yet, in her earlier years, when she was young and strong and impetuous, she deserved far different words than these. The portrait of her by Zucchero, which now hangs in Hampton Court, depicts her when she must have been of more than middle age; and still the face is one of beauty, though it be a strange and almost artificial beauty—one that draws, attracts, and, perhaps, lures you on against your will.

It is interesting to compare this painting with the frank word-picture of a certain German agent who was sent to England by his emperor, and who seems to have been greatly fascinated by Queen Elizabeth. She was at that time in the prime of her beauty and her power. Her complexion was of that peculiar transparency which is seen only in the face of golden blondes. Her figure was fine and graceful, and her wit an accomplishment that would have made a woman of any rank or time remarkable. The German envoy says:

She lives a life of such magnificence and feasting as can hardly be imagined, and occupies a great portion of her time with balls, banquets, hunting, and similar amusements, with the utmost possible display, but nevertheless she insists upon far greater respect being shown her than was exacted by Queen Mary. She summons Parliament, but lets them know that her orders must be obeyed in any case.

If any one will look at the painting by Zucchero he will see how much is made of Elizabeth's hands—a distinctive feature quite as noble with the Tudors as is the "Hapsburg lip" among the descendants of the house of Austria. These were ungloved, and were very long and white, and she looked at them and played with them a great deal; and, indeed, they justified the admiration with which they were regarded by her flatterers.

Such was the personal appearance of Elizabeth. When a young girl, we have still more favorable opinions of her that were written by those who had occasion to be near her. Not only do they record swift glimpses of her person, but sometimes in a word or two they give an insight into certain traits of mind which came out prominently in her later years.

It may, perhaps, be well to view her as a woman before we regard her more fully as a queen. It has been said that Elizabeth inherited many of the traits of her father—the boldness of spirit, the rapidity of decision, and, at the same time, the fox-like craft which often showed itself when it was least expected.

Henry had also, as is well known, a love of the other sex, which has made his reign memorable. And yet it must be noted that while he loved much, it was not loose love. Many a king of England, from Henry II. to Charles II., has offended far more than Henry VIII. Where Henry loved, he married; and it was the unfortunate result of these royal marriages that has made him seem unduly fond of women. If, however, we examine each one of the separate espousals we shall find that he did not enter into it lightly, and that he broke it off unwillingly. His ardent temperament, therefore, was checked by a certain rational or conventional propriety, so that he was by no means a loose liver, as many would make him out to be.

We must remember this when we recall the charges that have been made against Elizabeth, and the strange stories that were told of her tricks—by no means seemly tricks—which she used to play with her guardian, Lord Thomas Seymour. The antics she performed with him in her dressing-room were made the subject of an official inquiry; yet it came out that while Elizabeth was less than sixteen, and Lord Thomas was very much her senior, his wife was with him on his visits to the chamber of the princess.

Sir Robert Tyrwhitt and his wife were also sent to question her, Tyrwhitt had a keen mind and one well trained to cope with any other's wit in this sort of cross-examination. Elizabeth was only a girl of fifteen, yet she was a match for the accomplished courtier in diplomacy and quick retort. He was sent down to worm out of her everything that she knew. Threats and flattery and forged letters and false confessions were tried on her; but they were tried in vain. She would tell nothing of importance. She denied everything. She sulked, she cried, she availed herself of a woman's favorite defense in suddenly attacking those who had attacked her. She brought counter charges against Tyrwhitt, and put her enemies on their own defense. Not a compromising word could they wring out of her.

She bitterly complained of the imprisonment of her governess, Mrs. Ashley, and cried out:

"I have not so behaved that you need put more mistresses upon me!"

Altogether, she was too much for Sir Robert, and he was wise enough to recognize her cleverness.

"She hath a very good wit," said he, shrewdly; "and nothing is to be gotten of her except by great policy." And he added: "If I had to say my fancy, I think it more meet that she should have two governesses than one."

Mr. Hume notes the fact that after the two servants of the princess had been examined and had told nothing very serious they found that they had been wise in remaining friends of the royal girl. No sooner had Elizabeth become queen than she knighted the man Parry and made him treasurer of the household, while Mrs. Ashley, the governess, was treated with great consideration. Thus, very naturally, Mr. Hume says: "They had probably kept back far more than they told."

Even Tyrwhitt believed that there was a secret compact between them, for he said, quaintly: "They all sing one song, and she hath set the note for them."

Soon after this her brother Edward's death brought to the throne her elder sister, Mary, who has harshly become known as Bloody Mary. During this time Elizabeth put aside her boldness, and became apparently a shy and simple-minded virgin. Surrounded on every side by those who sought to trap her, there was nothing in her bearing to make her seem the head of a party or the young chief of a faction. Nothing could exceed her in meekness. She spoke of her sister in the humblest terms. She exhibited no signs of the Tudor animation that was in reality so strong a part of her character.

But, coming to the throne, she threw away her modesty and brawled and rioted with very little self-restraint. The people as a whole found little fault with her. She reminded them of her father, the bluff King Hal; and even those who criticized her did so only partially. They thought much better of her than they had of her saturnine sister, the first Queen Mary.

The life of Elizabeth has been very oddly misunderstood, not so much for the facts in it as for the manner in which these have been arranged and the relation which they have to one another. We ought to recollect that this woman did not live in a restricted sphere, that her life was not a short one, and that it was crowded with incidents and full of vivid color. Some think of her as living for a short period of time and speak of the great historical characters who surrounded her as belonging to a single epoch. To them she has one set of suitors all the time—the Duc d'Alencon, the King of Denmark's brother, the Prince of Sweden, the russian potentate, the archduke sending her sweet messages from Austria, the melancholy King of Spain, together with a number of her own brilliant Englishmen—Sir William Pickering, Sir Robert Dudley, Lord Darnley, the Earl of Essex, Sir Philip Sidney, and Sir Walter Raleigh.

Of course, as a matter of fact, Elizabeth lived for nearly seventy years—almost three-quarters of a century—and in that long time there came and went both men and women, those whom she had used and cast aside, with others whom she had also treated with gratitude, and who had died gladly serving her. But through it all there was a continual change in her environment, though not in her. The young soldier went to the battle-field and died; the wise counselor gave her his advice, and she either took it or cared nothing for it. She herself was a curious blending of forwardness and folly, of wisdom and wantonness, of frivolity and unbridled fancy. But through it all she loved her people, even though she often cheated them and made them pay her taxes in the harsh old way that prevailed before there was any right save the king's will.

At the same time, this was only by fits and starts, and on the whole she served them well. Therefore, to most of them she was always the good Queen Bess. What mattered it to the ditcher and yeoman, far from the court, that the queen was said to dance in her nightdress and to swear like a trooper?

It was, indeed, largely from these rustic sources that such stories were scattered throughout England. Peasants thought them picturesque. More to the point with them were peace and prosperity throughout the country, the fact that law was administered with honesty and justice, and that England was safe from her deadly enemies—the swarthy Spaniards and the scheming French.

But, as I said, we must remember always that the Elizabeth of one period was not the Elizabeth of another, and that the England of one period was not the England of another. As one thinks of it, there is something wonderful in the almost star-like way in which this girl flitted unharmed through a thousand perils. Her own countrymen were at first divided against her; a score of greedy, avaricious suitors sought her destruction, or at least her hand to lead her to destruction; all the great powers of the Continent were either demanding an alliance with England or threatening to dash England down amid their own dissensions.

What had this girl to play off against such dangers? Only an undaunted spirit, a scheming mind that knew no scruples, and finally her own person and the fact that she was a woman, and, therefore, might give herself in marriage and become the mother of a race of kings.

It was this last weapon, the weapon of her sex, that proved, perhaps, the most powerful of all. By promising a marriage or by denying it, or by neither promising nor denying but withholding it, she gave forth a thousand wily intimations which kept those who surrounded her at bay until she had made still another deft and skilful combination, escaping like some startled creature to a new place of safety.

In 1583, when she was fifty years of age, she had reached a point when her courtships and her pretended love-making were no longer necessary. She had played Sweden against Denmark, and France against Spain, and the Austrian archduke against the others, and many suitors in her own land against the different factions which they headed. She might have sat herself down to rest; for she could feel that her wisdom had led her up into a high place, whence she might look down in peace and with assurance of the tranquillity that she had won. Not yet had the great Armada rolled and thundered toward the English shores. But she was certain that her land was secure, compact, and safe.

It remains to see what were those amatory relations which she may be said to have sincerely held. She had played at love-making with foreign princes, because it was wise and, for the moment, best. She had played with Englishmen of rank who aspired to her hand, because in that way she might conciliate, at one time her Catholic and at another her Protestant subjects. But what of the real and inward feeling of her heart, when she was not thinking of political problems or the necessities of state!

This is an interesting question. One may at least seek the answer, hoping thereby to solve one of the most interesting phases of this perplexing and most remarkable woman.

It must be remembered that it was not a question of whether Elizabeth desired marriage. She may have done so as involving a brilliant stroke of policy. In this sense she may have wished to marry one of the two French princes who were among her suitors. But even here she hesitated, and her Parliament disapproved; for by this time England had become largely Protestant. Again, had she married a French prince and had children, England might have become an appanage of France.

There is no particular evidence that she had any feeling at all for her Flemish, Austrian, or Russian suitors, while the Swede's pretensions were the laughing-stock of the English court. So we may set aside this question of marriage as having nothing to do with her emotional life. She did desire a son, as was shown by her passionate outcry when she compared herself with Mary of Scotland.

"The Queen of Scots has a bonny son, while I am but a barren stock!"

She was too wise to wed a subject; though, had she married at all, her choice would doubtless have been an Englishman. In this respect, as in so many others, she was like her father, who chose his numerous wives, with the exception of the first, from among the English ladies of the court; just as the showy Edward IV. was happy in marrying "Dame Elizabeth Woodville." But what a king may do is by no means so easy for a queen; and a husband is almost certain to assume an authority which makes him unpopular with the subjects of his wife.

Hence, as said above, we must consider not so much whom she would have liked to marry, but rather to whom her love went out spontaneously, and not as a part of that amatory play which amused her from the time when she frisked with Seymour down to the very last days, when she could no longer move about, but when she still dabbled her cheeks with rouge and powder and set her skeleton face amid a forest of ruffs.

There were many whom she cared for after a fashion. She would not let Sir Walter Raleigh visit her American colonies, because she could not bear to have him so long away from her. She had great moments of passion for the Earl of Essex, though in the end she signed his death-warrant because he was as dominant in spirit as the queen herself.

Readers of Sir Walter Scott's wonderfully picturesque novel, Kenilworth, will note how he throws the strongest light upon Elizabeth's affection for Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Scott's historical instinct is united here with a vein of psychology which goes deeper than is usual with him. We see Elizabeth trying hard to share her favor equally between two nobles; but the Earl of Essex fails to please her because he lacked those exquisite manners which made Leicester so great a favorite with the fastidious queen.

Then, too, the story of Leicester's marriage with Amy Robsart is something more than a myth, based upon an obscure legend and an ancient ballad. The earl had had such a wife, and there were sinister stories about the manner of her death. But it is Scott who invents the villainous Varney and the bulldog Anthony Foster; just as he brought the whole episode into the foreground and made it occur at a period much later than was historically true. Still, Scott felt—and he was imbued with the spirit and knowledge of that time—a strong conviction that Elizabeth loved Leicester as she really loved no one else.

There is one interesting fact which goes far to convince us. Just as her father was, in a way, polygamous, so Elizabeth was even more truly polyandrous. It was inevitable that she should surround herself with attractive men, whose love-locks she would caress and whose flatteries she would greedily accept. To the outward eye there was very little difference in her treatment of the handsome and daring nobles of her court; yet a historian of her time makes one very shrewd remark when he says: "To every one she gave some power at times—to all save Leicester."

Cecil and Walsingham in counsel and Essex and Raleigh in the field might have their own way at times, and even share the sovereign's power, but to Leicester she intrusted no high commands and no important mission. Why so? Simply because she loved him more than any of the rest; and, knowing this, she knew that if besides her love she granted him any measure of control or power, then she would be but half a queen and would be led either to marry him or else to let him sway her as he would.

For the reason given, one may say with confidence that, while Elizabeth's light loves were fleeting, she gave a deep affection to this handsome, bold, and brilliant Englishman and cherished him in a far different way from any of the others. This was as near as she ever came to marriage, and it was this love at least which makes Shakespeare's famous line as false as it is beautiful, when he describes "the imperial votaress" as passing by "in maiden meditation, fancy free."


Mary Stuart and Cleopatra are the two women who have most attracted the fancy of poets, dramatists, novelists, and painters, from their own time down to the present day.

In some respects there is a certain likeness in their careers. Each was queen of a nation whose affairs were entangled with those of a much greater one. Each sought for her own ideal of love until she found it. Each won that love recklessly, almost madly. Each, in its attainment, fell from power and fortune. Each died before her natural life was ended. One caused the man she loved to cast away the sovereignty of a mighty state. The other lost her own crown in order that she might achieve the whole desire of her heart.

There is still another parallel which may be found. Each of these women was reputed to be exquisitely beautiful; yet each fell short of beauty's highest standards. They are alike remembered in song and story because of qualities that are far more powerful than any physical charm can be. They impressed the imagination of their own contemporaries just as they had impressed the imagination of all succeeding ages, by reason of a strange and irresistible fascination which no one could explain, but which very few could experience and resist.

Mary Stuart was born six days before her father's death, and when the kingdom which was her heritage seemed to be almost in its death-throes. James V. of Scotland, half Stuart and half Tudor, was no ordinary monarch. As a mere boy he had burst the bonds with which a regency had bound him, and he had ruled the wild Scotland of the sixteenth century. He was brave and crafty, keen in statesmanship, and dissolute in pleasure.

His first wife had given him no heirs; so at her death he sought out a princess whom he pursued all the more ardently because she was also courted by the burly Henry VIII. of England. This girl was Marie of Lorraine, daughter of the Duc de Guise. She was fit to be the mother of a lion's brood, for she was above six feet in height and of proportions so ample as to excite the admiration of the royal voluptuary who sat upon the throne of England.

"I am big," said he, "and I want a wife who is as big as I am."

But James of Scotland wooed in person, and not by embassies, and he triumphantly carried off his strapping princess. Henry of England gnawed his beard in vain; and, though in time he found consolation in another woman's arms, he viewed James not only as a public but as a private enemy.

There was war between the two countries. First the Scots repelled an English army; but soon they were themselves disgracefully defeated at Solway Moss by a force much their inferior in numbers. The shame of it broke King James's heart. As he was galloping from the battle-field the news was brought him that his wife had given birth to a daughter. He took little notice of the message; and in a few days he had died, moaning with his last breath the mysterious words:

"It came with a lass—with a lass it will go!"

The child who was born at this ill-omened crisis was Mary Stuart, who within a week became, in her own right, Queen of Scotland. Her mother acted as regent of the kingdom. Henry of England demanded that the infant girl should be betrothed to his young son, Prince Edward, who afterward reigned as Edward VI., though he died while still a boy. The proposal was rejected, and the war between England and Scotland went on its bloody course; but meanwhile the little queen was sent to France, her mother's home, so that she might be trained in accomplishments which were rare in Scotland.

In France she grew up at the court of Catherine de' Medici, that imperious intriguer whose splendid surroundings were tainted with the corruption which she had brought from her native Italy. It was, indeed, a singular training-school for a girl of Mary Stuart's character. She saw about her a superficial chivalry and a most profound depravity. Poets like Ronsard graced the life of the court with exquisite verse. Troubadours and minstrels sang sweet music there. There were fetes and tournaments and gallantry of bearing; yet, on the other hand, there was every possible refinement and variety of vice. Men were slain before the eyes of the queen herself. The talk of the court was of intrigue and lust and evil things which often verged on crime. Catherine de' Medici herself kept her nominal husband at arm's-length; and in order to maintain her grasp on France she connived at the corruption of her own children, three of whom were destined in their turn to sit upon the throne.

Mary Stuart grew up in these surroundings until she was sixteen, eating the fruit which gave a knowledge of both good and evil. Her intelligence was very great. She quickly learned Italian, French, and Latin. She was a daring horsewoman. She was a poet and an artist even in her teens. She was also a keen judge of human motives, for those early years of hers had forced her into a womanhood that was premature but wonderful. It had been proposed that she should marry the eldest son of Catherine, so that in time the kingdom of Scotland and that of France might be united, while if Elizabeth of England were to die unmarried her realm also would fall to this pair of children.

And so Mary, at sixteen, wedded the Dauphin Francis, who was a year her junior. The prince was a wretched, whimpering little creature, with a cankered body and a blighted soul. Marriage with such a husband seemed absurd. It never was a marriage in reality. The sickly child would cry all night, for he suffered from abscesses in his ears, and his manhood had been prematurely taken from him. Nevertheless, within a twelvemonth the French king died and Mary Stuart was Queen of France as well as of Scotland, hampered only by her nominal obedience to the sick boy whom she openly despised. At seventeen she showed herself a master spirit. She held her own against the ambitious Catherine de' Medici, whom she contemptuously nicknamed "the apothecary's daughter." For the brief period of a year she was actually the ruler of France; but then her husband died and she was left a widow, restless, ambitious, and yet no longer having any of the power she loved.

Mary Stuart at this time had become a woman whose fascination was exerted over all who knew her. She was very tall and very slim, with chestnut hair, "like a flower of the heat, both lax and delicate." Her skin was fair and pale, so clear and so transparent as to make the story plausible that when she drank from a flask of wine, the red liquid could be seen passing down her slender throat.

Yet with all this she was not fine in texture, but hardy as a man. She could endure immense fatigue without yielding to it. Her supple form had the strength of steel. There was a gleam in her hazel eyes that showed her to be brimful of an almost fierce vitality. Young as she was, she was the mistress of a thousand arts, and she exhaled a sort of atmosphere that turned the heads of men. The Stuart blood made her impatient of control, careless of state, and easy-mannered. The French and the Tudor strain gave her vivacity. She could be submissive in appearance while still persisting in her aims. She could be languorous and seductive while cold within. Again, she could assume the haughtiness which belonged to one who was twice a queen.

Two motives swayed her, and they fought together for supremacy. One was the love of power, and the other was the love of love. The first was natural to a girl who was a sovereign in her own right. The second was inherited, and was then forced into a rank luxuriance by the sort of life that she had seen about her. At eighteen she was a strangely amorous creature, given to fondling and kissing every one about her, with slight discrimination. From her sense of touch she received emotions that were almost necessary to her existence. With her slender, graceful hands she was always stroking the face of some favorite—it might be only the face of a child, or it might be the face of some courtier or poet, or one of the four Marys whose names are linked with hers—Mary Livingstone, Mary Fleming, Mary Beaton, and Mary Seton, the last of whom remained with her royal mistress until her death.

But one must not be too censorious in thinking of Mary Stuart. She was surrounded everywhere by enemies. During her stay in France she was hated by the faction of Catherine de' Medici. When she returned to Scotland she was hated because of her religion by the Protestant lords. Her every action was set forth in the worst possible light. The most sinister meaning was given to everything she said or did. In truth, we must reject almost all the stories which accuse her of anything more than a certain levity of conduct.

She was not a woman to yield herself in love's last surrender unless her intellect and heart alike had been made captive. She would listen to the passionate outpourings of poets and courtiers, and she would plunge her eyes into theirs, and let her hair just touch their faces, and give them her white hands to kiss—but that was all. Even in this she was only following the fashion of the court where she was bred, and she was not unlike her royal relative, Elizabeth of England, who had the same external amorousness coupled with the same internal self-control.

Mary Stuart's love life makes a piteous story, for it is the life of one who was ever seeking—seeking for the man to whom she could look up, who could be strong and brave and ardent like herself, and at the same time be more powerful and more steadfast even than she herself in mind and thought. Whatever may be said of her, and howsoever the facts may be colored by partisans, this royal girl, stung though she was by passion and goaded by desire, cared nothing for any man who could not match her in body and mind and spirit all at once.

It was in her early widowhood that she first met the man, and when their union came it brought ruin on them both. In France there came to her one day one of her own subjects, the Earl of Bothwell. He was but a few years older than she, and in his presence for the first time she felt, in her own despite, that profoundly moving, indescribable, and never-to-be-forgotten thrill which shakes a woman to the very center of her being, since it is the recognition of a complete affinity.

Lord Bothwell, like Queen Mary, has been terribly maligned. Unlike her, he has found only a few defenders. Maurice Hewlett has drawn a picture of him more favorable than many, and yet it is a picture that repels. Bothwell, says he, was of a type esteemed by those who pronounce vice to be their virtue. He was "a galliard, flushed with rich blood, broad-shouldered, square-jawed, with a laugh so happy and so prompt that the world, rejoicing to hear it, thought all must be well wherever he might be. He wore brave clothes, sat a brave horse, and kept brave company bravely. His high color, while it betokened high feeding, got him the credit of good health. His little eyes twinkled so merrily that you did not see they were like a pig's, sly and greedy at once, and bloodshot. His tawny beard concealed a jaw underhung, a chin jutting and dangerous. His mouth had a cruel twist; but his laughing hid that too. The bridge of his nose had been broken; few observed it, or guessed at the brawl which must have given it to him. Frankness was his great charm, careless ease in high places."

And so, when Mary Stuart first met him in her eighteenth year, Lord Bothwell made her think as she had never thought of any other man, and as she was not to think of any other man again. She grew to look eagerly for the frank mockery "in those twinkling eyes, in that quick mouth"; and to wonder whether it was with him always—asleep, at prayers, fighting, furious, or in love.

Something more, however, must be said of Bothwell. He was undoubtedly a roisterer, but he was very much a man. He made easy love to women. His sword leaped quickly from its sheath. He could fight, and he could also think. He was no brawling ruffian, no ordinary rake. Remembering what Scotland was in those days, Bothwell might well seem in reality a princely figure. He knew Italian; he was at home in French; he could write fluent Latin. He was a collector of books and a reader of them also. He was perhaps the only Scottish noble of his time who had a book-plate of his own. Here is something more than a mere reveler. Here is a man of varied accomplishments and of a complex character.

Though he stayed but a short time near the queen in France, he kindled her imagination, so that when she seriously thought of men she thought of Bothwell. And yet all the time she was fondling the young pages in her retinue and kissing her maids of honor with her scarlet lips, and lying on their knees, while poets like Ronsard and Chastelard wrote ardent love sonnets to her and sighed and pined for something more than the privilege of kissing her two dainty hands.

In 1561, less than a year after her widowhood, Mary set sail for Scotland, never to return. The great high-decked ships which escorted her sailed into the harbor of Leith, and she pressed on to Edinburgh. A depressing change indeed from the sunny terraces and fields of France! In her own realm were fog and rain and only a hut to shelter her upon her landing. When she reached her capital there were few welcoming cheers; but as she rode over the cobblestones to Holyrood, the squalid wynds vomited forth great mobs of hard-featured, grim-visaged men and women who stared with curiosity and a half-contempt at the girl queen and her retinue of foreigners.

The Scots were Protestants of the most dour sort, and they distrusted their new ruler because of her religion and because she loved to surround herself with dainty things and bright colors and exotic elegance. They feared lest she should try to repeal the law of Scotland's Parliament which had made the country Protestant.

The very indifference of her subjects stirred up the nobler part of Mary's nature. For a time she was indeed a queen. She governed wisely. She respected the religious rights of her Protestant subjects. She strove to bring order out of the chaos into which her country had fallen. And she met with some success. The time came when her people cheered her as she rode among them. Her subtle fascination was her greatest source of strength. Even John Knox, that iron-visaged, stentorian preacher, fell for a time under the charm of her presence. She met him frankly and pleaded with him as a woman, instead of commanding him as a queen. The surly ranter became softened for a time, and, though he spoke of her to others as "Honeypot," he ruled his tongue in public. She had offers of marriage from Austrian and Spanish princes. The new King of France, her brother-in-law, would perhaps have wedded her. It mattered little to Mary that Elizabeth of England was hostile. She felt that she was strong enough to hold her own and govern Scotland.

But who could govern a country such as Scotland was? It was a land of broils and feuds, of clan enmities and fierce vendettas. Its nobles were half barbarous, and they fought and slashed at one another with drawn dirks almost in the presence of the queen herself. No matter whom she favored, there rose up a swarm of enemies. Here was a Corsica of the north, more savage and untamed than even the other Corsica.

In her perplexity Mary felt a woman's need of some man on whom she would have the right to lean, and whom she could make king consort. She thought that she had found him in the person of her cousin, Lord Darnley, a Catholic, and by his upbringing half an Englishman. Darnley came to Scotland, and for the moment Mary fancied that she had forgotten Bothwell. Here again she was in love with love, and she idealized the man who came to give it to her. Darnley seemed, indeed, well worthy to be loved, for he was tall and handsome, appearing well on horseback and having some of the accomplishments which Mary valued.

It was a hasty wooing, and the queen herself was first of all the wooer. Her quick imagination saw in Darnley traits and gifts of which he really had no share. Therefore, the marriage was soon concluded, and Scotland had two sovereigns, King Henry and Queen Mary. So sure was Mary of her indifference to Bothwell that she urged the earl to marry, and he did marry a girl of the great house of Gordon.

Mary's self-suggested love for Darnley was extinguished almost on her wedding-night. The man was a drunkard who came into her presence befuddled and almost bestial. He had no brains. His vanity was enormous. He loved no one but himself, and least of all this queen, whom he regarded as having thrown herself at his empty head.

The first-fruits of the marriage were uprisings among the Protestant lords. Mary then showed herself a heroic queen. At the head of a motley band of soldiery who came at her call—half-clad, uncouth, and savage—she rode into the west, sleeping at night upon the bare ground, sharing the camp food, dressed in plain tartan, but swift and fierce as any eagle. Her spirit ran like fire through the veins of those who followed her. She crushed the insurrection, scattered its leaders, and returned in triumph to her capital.

Now she was really queen, but here came in the other motive which was interwoven in her character. She had shown herself a man in courage. Should she not have the pleasures of a woman? To her court in Holyrood came Bothwell once again, and this time Mary knew that he was all the world to her. Darnley had shrunk from the hardships of battle. He was steeped in low intrigues. He roused the constant irritation of the queen by his folly and utter lack of sense and decency. Mary felt she owed him nothing, but she forgot that she owed much to herself.

Her old amorous ways came back to her, and she relapsed into the joys of sense. The scandal-mongers of the capital saw a lover in every man with whom she talked. She did, in fact, set convention at defiance. She dressed in men's clothing. She showed what the unemotional Scots thought to be unseemly levity. The French poet, Chastelard, misled by her external signs of favor, believed himself to be her choice. At the end of one mad revel he was found secreted beneath her bed, and was driven out by force. A second time he ventured to secrete himself within the covers of the bed. Then he was dragged forth, imprisoned, and condemned to death. He met his fate without a murmur, save at the last when he stood upon the scaffold and, gazing toward the palace, cried in French:

"Oh, cruel queen! I die for you!"

Another favorite, the Italian, David Rizzio, or Riccio, in like manner wrote love verses to the queen, and she replied to them in kind; but there is no evidence that she valued him save for his ability, which was very great. She made him her foreign secretary, and the man whom he supplanted worked on the jealousy of Darnley; so that one night, while Mary and Rizzio were at dinner in a small private chamber, Darnley and the others broke in upon her. Darnley held her by the waist while Rizzio was stabbed before her eyes with a cruelty the greater because the queen was soon to become a mother.

From that moment she hated Darnley as one would hate a snake. She tolerated him only that he might acknowledge her child as his son. This child was the future James VI. of Scotland and James I. of England. It is recorded of him that never throughout his life could he bear to look upon drawn steel.

After this Mary summoned Bothwell again and again. It was revealed to her as in a blaze of light that, after all, he was the one and only man who could be everything to her. His frankness, his cynicism, his mockery, his carelessness, his courage, and the power of his mind matched her moods completely. She threw away all semblance of concealment. She ignored the fact that he had married at her wish. She was queen. She desired him. She must have him at any cost.

"Though I lose Scotland and England both," she cried in a passion of abandonment, "I shall have him for my own!"

Bothwell, in his turn, was nothing loath, and they leaped at each other like two flames.

It was then that Mary wrote those letters which were afterward discovered in a casket and which were used against her when she was on trial for her life. These so-called Casket Letters, though we have not now the originals, are among the most extraordinary letters ever written. All shame, all hesitation, all innocence, are flung away in them. The writer is so fired with passion that each sentence is like a cry to a lover in the dark. As De Peyster says: "In them the animal instincts override and spur and lash the pen." Mary was committing to paper the frenzied madness of a woman consumed to her very marrow by the scorching blaze of unendurable desire.

Events moved quickly. Darnley, convalescent from an attack of smallpox, was mysteriously destroyed by an explosion of gunpowder. Bothwell was divorced from his young wife on curious grounds. A dispensation allowed Mary to wed a Protestant, and she married Bothwell three months after Darnley's death.

Here one sees the consummation of what had begun many years before in France. From the moment that she and Bothwell met, their union was inevitable. Seas could not sunder them. Other loves and other fancies were as nothing to them. Even the bonds of marriage were burst asunder so that these two fiery, panting souls could meet.

It was the irony of fate that when they had so met it was only to be parted. Mary's subjects, outraged by her conduct, rose against her. As she passed through the streets of Edinburgh the women hurled after her indecent names. Great banners were raised with execrable daubs representing the murdered Darnley. The short and dreadful monosyllable which is familiar to us in the pages of the Bible was hurled after her wherever she went.

With Bothwell by her side she led a wild and ragged horde of followers against the rebellious nobles, whose forces met her at Carberry Hill. Her motley followers melted away, and Mary surrendered to the hostile chieftains, who took her to the castle at Lochleven. There she became the mother of twins—a fact that is seldom mentioned by historians. These children were the fruit of her union with Bothwell. From this time forth she cared but little for herself, and she signed, without great reluctance, a document by which she abdicated in favor of her infant son.

Even in this place of imprisonment, however, her fascination had power to charm. Among those who guarded her, two of the Douglas family—George Douglas and William Douglas—for love of her, effected her escape. The first attempt failed. Mary, disguised as a laundress, was betrayed by the delicacy of her hands. But a second attempt was successful. The queen passed through a postern gate and made her way to the lake, where George Douglas met her with a boat. Crossing the lake, fifty horsemen under Lord Claude Hamilton gave her their escort and bore her away in safety.

But Mary was sick of Scotland, for Bothwell could not be there. She had tasted all the bitterness of life, and for a few months all the sweetness; but she would have no more of this rough and barbarous country. Of her own free will she crossed the Solway into England, to find herself at once a prisoner.

Never again did she set eyes on Bothwell. After the battle of Carberry Hill he escaped to the north, gathered some ships together, and preyed upon English merchantmen, very much as a pirate might have done. Ere long, however, when he had learned of Mary's fate, he set sail for Norway. King Frederick of Denmark made him a prisoner of state. He was not confined within prison walls, however, but was allowed to hunt and ride in the vicinity of Malmo Castle and of Dragsholm. It is probably in Malmo Castle that he died. In 1858 a coffin which was thought to be the coffin of the earl was opened, and a Danish artist sketched the head—which corresponds quite well with the other portraits of the ill-fated Scottish noble.

It is a sad story. Had Mary been less ambitious when she first met Bothwell, or had he been a little bolder, they might have reigned together and lived out their lives in the plenitude of that great love which held them both in thrall. But a queen is not as other women; and she found too late that the teaching of her heart was, after all, the truest teaching. She went to her death as Bothwell went to his, alone, in a strange, unfriendly land.

Yet, even this, perhaps, was better so. It has at least touched both their lives with pathos and has made the name of Mary Stuart one to be remembered throughout all the ages.


Sweden to-day is one of the peaceful kingdoms of the world, whose people are prosperous, well governed, and somewhat apart from the clash and turmoil of other states and nations. Even the secession of Norway, a few years ago, was accomplished without bloodshed, and now the two kingdoms exist side by side as free from strife as they are with Denmark, which once domineered and tyrannized over both.

It is difficult to believe that long ago, in the Middle Ages, the cities of southern Sweden were among the great commercial centers of the world. Stockholm and Lund ranked with London and Paris. They absorbed the commerce of the northern seas, and were the admiration of thousands of travelers and merchants who passed through them and trafficked with them.

Much nearer to our own time, Sweden was the great military power of northern Europe. The ambassadors of the Swedish kings were received with the utmost deference in every court. Her soldiers won great battles and ended mighty wars. The England of Cromwell and Charles II. was unimportant and isolated in comparison with this northern kingdom, which could pour forth armies of gigantic blond warriors, headed by generals astute as well as brave.

It was no small matter, then, in 1626, that the loyal Swedes were hoping that their queen would give birth to a male heir to succeed his splendid father, Gustavus Adolphus, ranked by military historians as one of the six great generals whom the world had so far produced. The queen, a German princess of Brandenburg, had already borne two daughters, who died in infancy. The expectation was wide-spread and intense that she should now become the mother of a son; and the king himself was no less anxious.

When the event occurred, the child was seen to be completely covered with hair, and for this reason the attendants at first believed that it was the desired boy. When their mistake was discovered they were afraid to tell the king, who was waiting in his study for the announcement to be made. At last, when no one else would go to him, his sister, the Princess Caroline, volunteered to break the news.

Gustavus was in truth a chivalrous, high-bred monarch. Though he must have been disappointed at the advent of a daughter, he showed no sign of dissatisfaction or even of surprise; but, rising, he embraced his sister, saying:

"Let us thank God. I hope this girl will be as good as a boy to me. May God preserve her now that He has sent her!"

It is customary at almost all courts to pay less attention to the birth of a princess than to that of a prince; but Gustavus displayed his chivalry toward this little daughter, whom he named Christina. He ordered that the full royal salute should be fired in every fortress of his kingdom and that displays of fireworks, balls of honor, and court functions should take place; "for," as he said, "this is the heir to my throne." And so from the first he took his child under his own keeping and treated her as if she were a much-loved son as well as a successor.

He joked about her looks when she was born, when she was mistaken for a boy.

"She will be clever," he said, "for she has taken us all in!"

The Swedish people were as delighted with their little princess as were the people of Holland when the present Queen Wilhelmina was born, to carry on the succession of the House of Orange. On one occasion the king and the small Christina, who were inseparable companions, happened to approach a fortress where they expected to spend the night. The commander of the castle was bound to fire a royal salute of fifty cannon in honor of his sovereign; yet he dreaded the effect upon the princess of such a roaring and bellowing of artillery. He therefore sent a swift horseman to meet the royal party at a distance and explain his perplexity. Should he fire these guns or not? Would the king give an order?

Gustavus thought for a moment, and then replied:

"My daughter is the daughter of a soldier, and she must learn to lead a soldier's life. Let the guns be fired!"

The procession moved on. Presently fire spurted from the embrasures of the fort, and its batteries thundered in one great roar. The king looked down at Christina. Her face was aglow with pleasure and excitement; she clapped her hands and laughed, and cried out:

"More bang! More! More! More!"

This is only one of a score of stories that were circulated about the princess, and the Swedes were more and more delighted with the girl who was to be their queen.

Somewhat curiously, Christina's mother, Queen Maria, cared little for the child, and, in fact, came at last to detest her almost as much as the king loved her. It is hard to explain this dislike. Perhaps she had a morbid desire for a son and begrudged the honors given to a daughter. Perhaps she was a little jealous of her own child, who took so much of the king's attention. Afterward, in writing of her mother, Christina excuses her, and says quite frankly:

She could not bear to see me, because I was a girl, and an ugly girl at that. And she was right enough, for I was as tawny as a little Turk.

This candid description of herself is hardly just. Christina was never beautiful, and she had a harsh voice. She was apt to be overbearing even as a little girl. Yet she was a most interesting child, with an expressive face, large eyes, an aquiline nose, and the blond hair of her people. There was nothing in this to account for her mother's intense dislike for her.

It was currently reported at the time that attempts were made to maim or seriously injure the little princess. By what was made to seem an accident, she would be dropped upon the floor, and heavy articles of furniture would somehow manage to strike her. More than once a great beam fell mysteriously close to her, either in the palace or while she was passing through the streets. None of these things did her serious harm, however. Most of them she luckily escaped; but when she had grown to be a woman one of her shoulders was permanently higher than the other.

"I suppose," said Christina, "that I could be straightened if I would let the surgeons attend to it; but it isn't worth while to take the trouble."

When Christina was four, Sweden became involved in the great war that had been raging for a dozen years between the Protestant and the Catholic states of Germany. Gradually the neighboring powers had been drawn into the struggle, either to serve their own ends or to support the faith to which they adhered. Gustavus Adolphus took up the sword with mixed motives, for he was full of enthusiasm for the imperiled cause of the Reformation, and at the same time he deemed it a favorable opportunity to assert his control over the shores of the Baltic.

The warrior king summoned his army and prepared to invade Germany. Before departing he took his little daughter by the hand and led her among the assembled nobles and councilors of state. To them he intrusted the princess, making them kneel and vow that they would regard her as his heir, and, if aught should happen to him, as his successor. Amid the clashing of swords and the clang of armor this vow was taken, and the king went forth to war.

He met the ablest generals of his enemies, and the fortunes of battle swayed hither and thither; but the climax came when his soldiers encountered those of Wallenstein—that strange, overbearing, arrogant, mysterious creature whom many regarded with a sort of awe. The clash came at Lutzen, in Saxony. The Swedish king fought long and hard, and so did his mighty opponent; but at last, in the very midst of a tremendous onset that swept all before him, Gustavus received a mortal wound and died, even while Wallenstein was fleeing from the field of battle.

The battle of Lutzen made Christina Queen of Sweden at the age of six. Of course, she could not yet be crowned, but a council of able ministers continued the policy of the late king and taught the young queen her first lessons in statecraft. Her intellect soon showed itself as more than that of a child. She understood all that was taking place, and all that was planned and arranged. Her tact was unusual. Her discretion was admired by every one; and after a while she had the advice and training of the great Swedish chancellor, Oxenstierna, whose wisdom she shared to a remarkable degree.

Before she was sixteen she had so approved herself to her counselors, and especially to the people at large, that there was a wide-spread clamor that she should take the throne and govern in her own person. To this she gave no heed, but said:

"I am not yet ready."

All this time she bore herself like a king. There was nothing distinctly feminine about her. She took but slight interest in her appearance. She wore sword and armor in the presence of her troops, and often she dressed entirely in men's clothes. She would take long, lonely gallops through the forests, brooding over problems of state and feeling no fatigue or fear. And indeed why should she fear, who was beloved by all her subjects?

When her eighteenth year arrived, the demand for her coronation was impossible to resist. All Sweden wished to see a ruling queen, who might marry and have children to succeed her through the royal line of her great father. Christina consented to be crowned, but she absolutely refused all thought of marriage. She had more suitors from all parts of Europe than even Elizabeth of England; but, unlike Elizabeth, she did not dally with them, give them false hopes, or use them for the political advantage of her kingdom.

At that time Sweden was stronger than England, and was so situated as to be independent of alliances. So Christina said, in her harsh, peremptory voice:

"I shall never marry; and why should you speak of my having children! I am just as likely to give birth to a Nero as to an Augustus."

Having assumed the throne, she ruled with a strictness of government such as Sweden had not known before. She took the reins of state into her own hands and carried out a foreign policy of her own, over the heads of her ministers, and even against the wishes of her people. The fighting upon the Continent had dragged out to a weary length, but the Swedes, on the whole, had scored a marked advantage. For this reason the war was popular, and every one wished it to go on; but Christina, of her own will, decided that it must stop, that mere glory was not to be considered against material advantages. Sweden had had enough of glory; she must now look to her enrichment and prosperity through the channels of peace.

Therefore, in 1648, against Oxenstierna, against her generals, and against her people, she exercised her royal power and brought the Thirty Years' War to an end by the so-called Peace of Westphalia. At this time she was twenty-two, and by her personal influence she had ended one of the greatest struggles of history. Nor had she done it to her country's loss. Denmark yielded up rich provinces, while Germany was compelled to grant Sweden membership in the German diet.

Then came a period of immense prosperity through commerce, through economies in government, through the improvement of agriculture and the opening of mines. This girl queen, without intrigue, without descending from her native nobility to peep and whisper with shady diplomats, showed herself in reality a great monarch, a true Semiramis of the north, more worthy of respect and reverence than Elizabeth of England. She was highly trained in many arts. She was fond of study, spoke Latin fluently, and could argue with Salmasius, Descartes, and other accomplished scholars without showing any inferiority to them.

She gathered at her court distinguished persons from all countries. She repelled those who sought her hand, and she was pure and truthful and worthy of all men's admiration. Had she died at this time history would rank her with the greatest of women sovereigns. Naude, the librarian of Cardinal Mazarin, wrote of her to the scientist Gassendi in these words:

To say truth, I am sometimes afraid lest the common saying should be verified in her, that short is the life and rare the old age of those who surpass the common limits. Do not imagine that she is learned only in books, for she is equally so in painting, architecture, sculpture, medals, antiquities, and all curiosities. There is not a cunning workman in these arts but she has him fetched. There are as good workers in wax and in enamel, engravers, singers, players, dancers here as will be found anywhere.

She has a gallery of statues, bronze and marble, medals of gold, silver, and bronze, pieces of ivory, amber, coral, worked crystal, steel mirrors, clocks and tables, bas-reliefs and other things of the kind; richer I have never seen even in Italy; finally, a great quantity of pictures. In short, her mind is open to all impressions.

But after she began to make her court a sort of home for art and letters it ceased to be the sort of court that Sweden was prepared for. Christina's subjects were still rude and lacking in accomplishments; therefore she had to summon men of genius from other countries, especially from France and Italy. Many of these were illustrious artists or scholars, but among them were also some who used their mental gifts for harm.

Among these latter was a French physician named Bourdelot—a man of keen intellect, of winning manners, and of a profound cynicism, which was not apparent on the surface, but the effect of which last lasting. To Bourdelot we must chiefly ascribe the mysterious change which gradually came over Queen Christina. With his associates he taught her a distaste for the simple and healthy life that she had been accustomed to lead. She ceased to think of the welfare of the state and began to look down with scorn upon her unsophisticated Swedes. Foreign luxury displayed itself at Stockholm, and her palaces overflowed with beautiful things.

By subtle means Bourdelot undermined her principles. Having been a Stoic, she now became an Epicurean. She was by nature devoid of sentiment. She would not spend her time in the niceties of love-making, as did Elizabeth; but beneath the surface she had a sort of tigerish, passionate nature, which would break forth at intervals, and which demanded satisfaction from a series of favorites. It is probable that Bourdelot was her first lover, but there were many others whose names are recorded in the annals of the time.

When she threw aside her virtue Christina ceased to care about appearances. She squandered her revenues upon her favorites. What she retained of her former self was a carelessness that braved the opinion of her subjects. She dressed almost without thought, and it is said that she combed her hair not more than twice a month. She caroused with male companions to the scandal of her people, and she swore like a trooper when displeased.

Christina's philosophy of life appears to have been compounded of an almost brutal licentiousness, a strong love of power, and a strange, freakish longing for something new. Her political ambitions were checked by the rising discontent of her people, who began to look down upon her and to feel ashamed of her shame. Knowing herself as she did, she did not care to marry.

Yet Sweden must have an heir. Therefore she chose out her cousin Charles, declared that he was to be her successor, and finally caused him to be proclaimed as such before the assembled estates of the realm. She even had him crowned; and finally, in her twenty-eighth year, she abdicated altogether and prepared to leave Sweden. When asked whither she would go, she replied in a Latin quotation:

"The Fates will show the way."

In her act of abdication she reserved to herself the revenues of some of the richest provinces in Sweden and absolute power over such of her subjects as should accompany her. They were to be her subjects until the end.

The Swedes remembered that Christina was the daughter of their greatest king, and that, apart from personal scandals, she had ruled them well; and so they let her go regretfully and accepted her cousin as their king. Christina, on her side, went joyfully and in the spirit of a grand adventuress. With a numerous suite she entered Germany, and then stayed for a year at Brussels, where she renounced Lutheranism. After this she traveled slowly into Italy, where she entered Borne on horseback, and was received by the Pope, Alexander VII., who lodged her in a magnificent palace, accepted her conversion, and baptized her, giving her a new name, Alexandra.

In Rome she was a brilliant but erratic personage, living sumptuously, even though her revenues from Sweden came in slowly, partly because the Swedes disliked her change of religion. She was surrounded by men of letters, with whom she amused herself, and she took to herself a lover, the Marquis Monaldeschi. She thought that at last she had really found her true affinity, while Monaldeschi believed that he could count on the queen's fidelity.

He was in attendance upon her daily, and they were almost inseparable. He swore allegiance to her and thereby made himself one of the subjects over whom she had absolute power. For a time he was the master of those intense emotions which, in her, alternated with moods of coldness and even cruelty.

Monaldeschi was a handsome Italian, who bore himself with a fine air of breeding. He understood the art of charming, but he did not know that beyond a certain time no one could hold the affections of Christina.

However, after she had quarreled with various cardinals and decided to leave Rome for a while, Monaldeschi accompanied her to France, where she had an immense vogue at the court of Louis XIV. She attracted wide attention because of her eccentricity and utter lack of manners. It gave her the greatest delight to criticize the ladies of the French court—their looks, their gowns, and their jewels. They, in return, would speak of Christina's deformed shoulder and skinny frame; but the king was very gracious to her and invited her to his hunting-palace at Fontainebleau.

While she had been winning triumphs of sarcasm the infatuated Monaldeschi had gradually come to suspect, and then to know, that his royal mistress was no longer true to him. He had been supplanted in her favor by another Italian, one Sentanelli, who was the captain of her guard.

Monaldeschi took a tortuous and roundabout revenge. He did not let the queen know of his discovery; nor did he, like a man, send a challenge to Sentanelli. Instead he began by betraying her secrets to Oliver Cromwell, with whom she had tried to establish a correspondence. Again, imitating the hand and seal of Sentanelli, he set in circulation a series of the most scandalous and insulting letters about Christina. By this treacherous trick he hoped to end the relations between his rival and the queen; but when the letters were carried to Christina she instantly recognized their true source. She saw that she was betrayed by her former favorite and that he had taken a revenge which might seriously compromise her.

This led to a tragedy, of which the facts were long obscure. They were carefully recorded, however, by the queen's household chaplain, Father Le Bel; and there is also a narrative written by one Marco Antonio Conti, which confirms the story. Both were published privately in 1865, with notes by Louis Lacour.

The narration of the priest is dreadful in its simplicity and minuteness of detail. It may be summed up briefly here, because it is the testimony of an eye-witness who knew Christina.

Christina, with the marquis and a large retinue, was at Fontainebleau in November, 1657. A little after midnight, when all was still, the priest, Father Le Bel, was aroused and ordered to go at once to the Galerie des Cerfs, or Hall of Stags, in another part of the palace. When he asked why, he was told:

"It is by the order of her majesty the Swedish queen."

The priest, wondering, hurried on his garments. On reaching the gloomy hall he saw the Marquis Monaldeschi, evidently in great agitation, and at the end of the corridor the queen in somber robes. Beside the queen, as if awaiting orders, stood three figures, who could with some difficulty be made out as three soldiers of her guard.

The queen motioned to Father Le Bel and asked him for a packet which she had given him for safe-keeping some little time before. He gave it to her, and she opened it. In it were letters and other documents, which, with a steely glance, she displayed to Monaldeschi. He was confused by the sight of them and by the incisive words in which Christina showed how he had both insulted her and had tried to shift the blame upon Sentanelli.

Monaldeschi broke down completely. He fell at the queen's feet and wept piteously, begging for pardon, only to be met by the cold answer:

"You are my subject and a traitor to me. Marquis, you must prepare to die!"

Then she turned away and left the hall, in spite of the cries of Monaldeschi, to whom she merely added the advice that he should make his peace with God by confessing to Father Le Bel.

After she had gone the marquis fell into a torrent of self-exculpation and cried for mercy. The three armed men drew near and urged him to confess for the good of his soul. They seemed to have no malice against him, but to feel that they must obey the orders given them. At the frantic urging of the marquis their leader even went to the queen to ask whether she would relent; but he returned shaking his head, and said:

"Marquis, you must die."

Father Le Bel undertook a like mission, but returned with the message that there was no hope. So the marquis made his confession in French and Latin, but even then he hoped; for he did not wait to receive absolution, but begged still further for delay or pardon.

Then the three armed men approached, having drawn their swords. The absolution was pronounced; and, following it, one of the guards slashed the marquis across the forehead. He stumbled and fell forward, making signs as if to ask that he might have his throat cut. But his throat was partly protected by a coat of mail, so that three or four strokes delivered there had slight effect. Finally, however, a long, narrow sword was thrust into his side, after which the marquis made no sound.

Father Le Bel at once left the Galerie des Cerfs and went into the queen's apartment, with the smell of blood in his nostrils. He found her calm and ready to justify herself. Was she not still queen over all who had voluntarily become members of her suite? This had been agreed to in her act of abdication. Wherever she set her foot, there, over her own, she was still a monarch, with full power to punish traitors at her will. This power she had exercised, and with justice. What mattered it that she was in France? She was queen as truly as Louis XIV. was king.

The story was not long in getting out, but the truth was not wholly known until a much later day. It was said that Sentanelli had slapped the marquis in a fit of jealousy, though some added that it was done with the connivance of the queen. King Louis, the incarnation of absolutism, knew the truth, but he was slow to act. He sympathized with the theory of Christina's sovereignty. It was only after a time that word was sent to Christina that she must leave Fontainebleau. She took no notice of the order until it suited her convenience, and then she went forth with all the honors of a reigning monarch.

This was the most striking episode in all the strange story of her private life. When her cousin Charles, whom she had made king, died without an heir she sought to recover her crown; but the estates of the realm refused her claim, reduced her income, and imposed restraints upon her power. She then sought the vacant throne of Poland; but the Polish nobles, who desired a weak ruler for their own purposes, made another choice. So at last she returned to Rome, where the Pope received her with a splendid procession and granted her twelve thousand crowns a year to make up for her lessened Swedish revenue.

From this time she lived a life which she made interesting by her patronage of learning and exciting by her rather unseemly quarrels with cardinals and even with the Pope. Her armed retinue marched through the streets with drawn swords and gave open protection to criminals who had taken refuge with her. She dared to criticize the pontiff, who merely smiled and said:

"She is a woman!"

On the whole, the end of her life was pleasant. She was much admired for her sagacity in politics. Her words were listened to at every court in Europe. She annotated the classics, she made beautiful collections, and she was regarded as a privileged person whose acts no one took amiss. She died at fifty-three, and was buried in St. Peter's.

She was bred a man, she was almost a son to her great father; and yet, instead of the sonorous epitaph that is inscribed beside her tomb, perhaps a truer one would be the words of the vexed Pope:



One might classify the kings of England in many ways. John was undoubtedly the most unpopular. The impetuous yet far-seeing Henry II., with the other two great warriors, Edward I. and Edward III., and William of Orange, did most for the foundation and development of England's constitutional law. Some monarchs, such as Edward II. and the womanish Henry VI., have been contemptible. Hard-working, useful kings have been Henry VII., the Georges, William IV., and especially the last Edward.

If we consider those monarchs who have in some curious way touched the popular fancy without reference to their virtues we must go back to Richard of the Lion Heart, who saw but little of England, yet was the best essentially English king, and to Henry V., gallant soldier and conqueror of France. Even Henry VIII. had a warm place in the affection of his countrymen, few of whom saw him near at hand, but most of whom made him a sort of regal incarnation of John Bull—wrestling and tilting and boxing, eating great joints of beef, and staying his thirst with flagons of ale—a big, healthy, masterful animal, in fact, who gratified the national love of splendor and stood up manfully in his struggle with the Pope.

But if you look for something more than ordinary popularity—something that belongs to sentiment and makes men willing to become martyrs for a royal cause—we must find these among the Stuart kings. It is odd, indeed, that even at this day there are Englishmen and Englishwomen who believe their lawful sovereign to be a minor Bavarian princess in whose veins there runs the Stuart blood. Prayers are said for her at English shrines, and toasts are drunk to her in rare old wine.

Of course, to-day this cult of the Stuarts is nothing but a fad. No one ever expects to see a Stuart on the English throne. But it is significant of the deep strain of romance which the six Stuarts who reigned in England have implanted in the English heart. The old Jacobite ballads still have power to thrill. Queen Victoria herself used to have the pipers file out before her at Balmoral to the "skirling" of "Bonnie Dundee," "Over the Water to Charlie," and "Wha'll Be King but Charlie!" It is a sentiment that has never died. Her late majesty used to say that when she heard these tunes she became for the moment a Jacobite; just as the Empress Eugenie at the height of her power used pertly to remark that she herself was the only Legitimist left in France.

It may be suggested that the Stuarts are still loved by many Englishmen because they were unfortunate; yet this is hardly true, after all. Many of them were fortunate enough. The first of them, King James, an absurd creature, speaking broad Scotch, timid, foolishly fond of favorites, and having none of the dignity of a monarch, lived out a lengthy reign. The two royal women of the family—Anne and Mary—had no misfortunes of a public nature. Charles II. reigned for more than a quarter of a century, lapped in every kind of luxury, and died a king.

The first Charles was beheaded and afterward styled a "saint"; yet the majority of the English people were against his arrogance, or else he would have won his great struggle against Parliament. The second James was not popular at all. Nevertheless, no sooner had he been expelled, and been succeeded by a Dutchman gnawing asparagus and reeking of cheeses, than there was already a Stuart legend. Even had there been no pretenders to carry on the cult, the Stuarts would still have passed into history as much loved by the people.

It only shows how very little in former days the people expected of a regnant king. Many monarchs have had just a few popular traits, and these have stood out brilliantly against the darkness of the background.

No one could have cared greatly for the first James, but Charles I. was indeed a kingly personage when viewed afar. He was handsome, as a man, fully equaling the French princess who became his wife. He had no personal vices. He was brave, and good to look upon, and had a kingly mien. Hence, although he sought to make his rule over England a tyranny, there were many fine old cavaliers to ride afield for him when he raised his standard, and who, when he died, mourned for him as a "martyr."

Many hardships they underwent while Cromwell ruled with his iron hand; and when that iron hand was relaxed in death, and poor, feeble Richard Cromwell slunk away to his country-seat, what wonder is it that young Charles came back to England and caracoled through the streets of London with a smile for every one and a happy laugh upon his lips? What wonder is it that the cannon in the Tower thundered a loud welcome, and that all over England, at one season or another, maypoles rose and Christmas fires blazed? For Englishmen at heart are not only monarchists, but they are lovers of good cheer and merrymaking and all sorts of mirth.

Charles II. might well at first have seemed a worthier and wiser successor to his splendid father. As a child, even, he had shown himself to be no faint-hearted creature. When the great Civil War broke out he had joined his father's army. It met with disaster at Edgehill, and was finally shattered by the crushing defeat of Naseby, which afterward inspired Macaulay's most stirring ballad.

Charles was then only a child of twelve, and so his followers did wisely in hurrying him out of England, through the Scilly isles and Jersey to his mother's place of exile. Of course, a child so very young could be of no value as a leader, though his presence might prove an inspiration.

In 1648, however, when he was eighteen years of age, he gathered a fleet of eighteen ships and cruised along the English coast, taking prizes, which he carried to the Dutch ports. When he was at Holland's capital, during his father's trial, he wrote many messages to the Parliamentarians, and even sent them a blank charter, which they might fill in with any stipulations they desired if only they would save and restore their king.

When the head of Charles rolled from the velvet-covered block his son showed himself to be no loiterer or lover of an easy life. He hastened to Scotland, skilfully escaping an English force, and was proclaimed as king and crowned at Scone, in 1651. With ten thousand men he dashed into England, where he knew there were many who would rally at his call. But it was then that Cromwell put forth his supreme military genius and with his Ironsides crushed the royal troops at Worcester.

Charles knew that for the present all was lost. He showed courage and address in covering the flight of his beaten soldiers; but he soon afterward went to France, remaining there and in the Netherlands for eight years as a pensioner of Louis XIV. He knew that time would fight for him far more surely than infantry and horse. England had not been called "Merry England" for nothing; and Cromwell's tyranny was likely to be far more resented than the heavy hand of one who was born a king. So Charles at Paris and Liege, though he had little money at the time, managed to maintain a royal court, such as it was.

Here there came out another side of his nature. As a child he had borne hardship and privation and had seen the red blood flow upon the battlefield. Now, as it were, he allowed a certain sensuous, pleasure-loving ease to envelop him. The red blood should become the rich red burgundy; the sound of trumpets and kettledrums should give way to the melody of lutes and viols. He would be a king of pleasure if he were to be king at all. And therefore his court, even in exile, was a court of gallantry and ease. The Pope refused to lend him money, and the King of France would not increase his pension, but there were many who foresaw that Charles would not long remain in exile; and so they gave him what he wanted and waited until he could give them what they would ask for in their turn.

Charles at this time was not handsome, like his father. His complexion was swarthy, his figure by no means imposing, though always graceful. When he chose he could bear himself with all the dignity of a monarch. He had a singularly pleasant manner, and a word from him could win over the harshest opponent.

The old cavaliers who accompanied their master in exile were like Napoleon's veterans in Elba. With their tall, powerful forms they stalked about the courtyards, sniffing their disapproval at these foreign ways and longing grimly for the time when they could once more smell the pungent powder of the battle-field. But, as Charles had hoped, the change was coming. Not merely were his own subjects beginning to long for him and to pray in secret for the king, but continental monarchs who maintained spies in England began to know of this. To them Charles was no longer a penniless exile. He was a king who before long would take possession of his kingdom.

A very wise woman—the Queen Regent of Portugal—was the first to act on this information. Portugal was then very far from being a petty state. It had wealth at home and rich colonies abroad, while its flag was seen on every sea. The queen regent, being at odds with Spain, and wishing to secure an ally against that power, made overtures to Charles, asking him whether a match might not be made between him and the Princess Catharine of Braganza. It was not merely her daughter's hand that she offered, but a splendid dowry. She would pay Charles a million pounds in gold and cede to England two valuable ports.

The match was not yet made, but by 1659 it had been arranged. The Spaniards were furious, for Charles's cause began to appear successful.

She was a quaint and rather piteous little figure, she who was destined to be the wife of the Merry Monarch. Catharine was dark, petite, and by no means beautiful; yet she had a very sweet expression and a heart of utter innocence. She had been wholly convent-bred. She knew nothing of the world. She was told that in marriage she must obey in all things, and that the chief duty of a wife was to make her husband happy.

Poor child! It was a too gracious preparation for a very graceless husband. Charles, in exile, had already made more than one discreditable connection and he was already the father of more than one growing son.

First of all, he had been smitten by the bold ways of one Lucy Walters. Her impudence amused the exiled monarch. She was not particularly beautiful, and when she spoke as others did she was rather tiresome; but her pertness and the inexperience of the king when he went into exile made her seem attractive. She bore him a son, in the person of that brilliant adventurer whom Charles afterward created Duke of Monmouth. Many persons believe that Charles had married Lucy Walters, just as George IV. may have married Mrs. Fitzherbert; yet there is not the slightest proof of it, and it must be classed with popular legends.

There was also one Catherine Peg, or Kep, whose son was afterward made Earl of Plymouth. It must be confessed that in his attachments to English women Charles showed little care for rank or station. Lucy Walters and Catherine Peg were very illiterate creatures.

In a way it was precisely this sort of preference that made Charles so popular among the people. He seemed to make rank of no account, but would chat in the most familiar and friendly way with any one whom he happened to meet. His easy, democratic manner, coupled with the grace and prestige of royalty, made friends for him all over England. The treasury might be nearly bankrupt; the navy might be routed by the Dutch; the king himself might be too much given to dissipation; but his people forgave him all, because everybody knew that Charles would clap an honest citizen on the back and joke with all who came to see him feed the swans in Regent's Park.

The popular name for him was "Rowley," or "Old Rowley"—a nickname of mysterious origin, though it is said to have been given him from a fancied resemblance to a famous hunter in his stables. Perhaps it is the very final test of popularity that a ruler should have a nickname known to every one.

Cromwell's death roused all England to a frenzy of king-worship. The Roundhead, General Monk, and his soldiers proclaimed Charles King of England and escorted him to London in splendid state. That was a day when national feeling reached a point such as never has been before or since. Oughtred, the famous mathematician, died of joy when the royal emblems were restored. Urquhart, the translator of Rabelais, died, it is said, of laughter at the people's wild delight—a truly Rabelaisian end.

There was the king once more; and England, breaking through its long period of Puritanism, laughed and danced with more vivacity than ever the French had shown. All the pipers and the players and panderers to vice, the mountebanks, the sensual men, and the lawless women poured into the presence of the king, who had been too long deprived of the pleasure that his nature craved. Parliament voted seventy thousand pounds for a memorial to Charles's father, but the irresponsible king spent the whole sum on the women who surrounded him. His severest counselor, Lord Clarendon, sent him a remonstrance.

"How can I build such a memorial," asked Charles, "when I don't know where my father's remains are buried!"

He took money from the King of France to make war against the Dutch, who had befriended him. It was the French king, too, who sent him that insidious, subtle daughter of Brittany, Louise de Keroualle—Duchess of Portsmouth—a diplomat in petticoats, who won the king's wayward affections, and spied on what he did and said, and faithfully reported all of it to Paris. She became the mother of the Duke of Lenox, and she was feared and hated by the English more than any other of his mistresses. They called her "Madam Carwell," and they seemed to have an instinct that she was no mere plaything of his idle hours, but was like some strange exotic serpent, whose poison might in the end sting the honor of England.

There is a pitiful little episode in the marriage of Charles with his Portuguese bride, Catharine of Braganza. The royal girl came to him fresh from the cloisters of her convent. There was something about her grace and innocence that touched the dissolute monarch, who was by no means without a heart. For a time he treated her with great respect, and she was happy. At last she began to notice about her strange faces—faces that were evil, wanton, or overbold. The court became more and more a seat of reckless revelry.

Finally Catharine was told that the Duchess of Cleveland—that splendid termagant, Barbara Villiers—had been appointed lady of the bedchamber. She was told at the same time who this vixen was—that she was no fit attendant for a virtuous woman, and that her three sons, the Dukes of Southampton, Grafton, and Northumberland, were also the sons of Charles.

Fluttered and frightened and dismayed, the queen hastened to her husband and begged him not to put this slight upon her. A year or two before, she had never dreamed that life contained such things as these; but now it seemed to contain nothing else. Charles spoke sternly to her until she burst into tears, and then he petted her and told her that her duty as a queen compelled her to submit to many things which a lady in private life need not endure.

After a long and poignant struggle with her own emotions the little Portuguese yielded to the wishes of her lord. She never again reproached him. She even spoke with kindness to his favorites and made him feel that she studied his happiness alone. Her gentleness affected him so that he always spoke to her with courtesy and real friendship. When the Protestant mobs sought to drive her out of England he showed his courage and manliness by standing by her and refusing to allow her to be molested.

Indeed, had Charles been always at his best he would have had a very different name in history. He could be in every sense a king. He had a keen knowledge of human nature. Though he governed England very badly, he never governed it so badly as to lose his popularity.

The epigram of Rochester, written at the king's own request, was singularly true of Charles. No man relied upon his word, yet men loved him. He never said anything that was foolish, and he very seldom did anything that was wise; yet his easy manners and gracious ways endeared him to those who met him.

One can find no better picture of his court than that which Sir Walter Scott has drawn so vividly in Peveril of the Peak; or, if one wishes first-hand evidence, it can be found in the diaries of Evelyn and of Samuel Pepys. In them we find the rakes and dicers, full of strange oaths, deep drunkards, vile women and still viler men, all striving for the royal favor and offering the filthiest lures, amid routs and balls and noisy entertainments, of which it is recorded that more than once some woman gave birth to a child among the crowd of dancers.

No wonder that the little Portuguese queen kept to herself and did not let herself be drawn into this swirling, roaring, roistering saturnalia. She had less influence even than Moll Davis, whom Charles picked out of a coffee-house, and far less than "Madam Carwell," to whom it is reported that a great English nobleman once presented pearls to the value of eight thousand pounds in order to secure her influence in a single stroke of political business.

Of all the women who surrounded Charles there was only one who cared anything for him or for England. The rest were all either selfish or treacherous or base. This one exception has been so greatly written of, both in fiction and in history, as to make it seem almost unnecessary to add another word; yet it may well be worth while to separate the fiction from the fact and to see how much of the legend of Eleanor Gwyn is true.

The fanciful story of her birthplace is most surely quite unfounded. She was not the daughter of a Welsh officer, but of two petty hucksters who had their booth in the lowest precincts of London. In those days the Strand was partly open country, and as it neared the city it showed the mansions of the gentry set in their green-walled parks. At one end of the Strand, however, was Drury Lane, then the haunt of criminals and every kind of wretch, while nearer still was the notorious Coal Yard, where no citizen dared go unarmed.

Within this dreadful place children were kidnapped and trained to various forms of vice. It was a school for murderers and robbers and prostitutes; and every night when the torches flared it vomited forth its deadly spawn. Here was the earliest home of Eleanor Gwyn, and out of this den of iniquity she came at night to sell oranges at the entrance to the theaters. She was stage-struck, and endeavored to get even a minor part in a play; but Betterton, the famous actor, thrust her aside when she ventured to apply to him.

It must be said that in everything that was external, except her beauty, she fell short of a fastidious taste. She was intensely ignorant even for that time. She spoke in a broad Cockney dialect. She had lived the life of the Coal Yard, and, like Zola's Nana, she could never remember the time when she had known the meaning of chastity.

Nell Gwyn was, in fact, a product of the vilest slums of London; and precisely because she was this we must set her down as intrinsically a good woman—one of the truest, frankest, and most right-minded of whom the history of such women has anything to tell. All that external circumstances could do to push her down into the mire was done; yet she was not pushed down, but emerged as one of those rare souls who have in their natures an uncontaminated spring of goodness and honesty. Unlike Barbara Villiers or Lucy Walters or Louise de Keroualle, she was neither a harpy nor a foe to England.

Charles is said first to have met her when he, incognito, with another friend, was making the rounds of the theaters at night. The king spied her glowing, nut-brown face in one of the boxes, and, forgetting his incognito, went up and joined her. She was with her protector of the time, Lord Buckhurst, who, of course, recognized his majesty.

Presently the whole party went out to a neighboring coffee-house, where they drank and ate together. When it came time to pay the reckoning the king found that he had no money, nor had his friend. Lord Buckhurst, therefore, paid the bill, while Mistress Nell jeered at the other two, saying that this was the most poverty-stricken party that she had ever met.

Charles did not lose sight of her. Her frankness and honest manner pleased him. There came a time when she was known to be a mistress of the king, and she bore a son, who was ennobled as the Duke of St. Albans, but who did not live to middle age. Nell Gwyn was much with Charles; and after his tempestuous scenes with Barbara Villiers, and the feeling of dishonor which the Duchess of Portsmouth made him experience, the girl's good English bluntness was a pleasure far more rare than sentiment.

Somehow, just as the people had come to mistrust "Madam Carwell," so they came to like Nell Gwyn. She saw enough of Charles, and she liked him well enough, to wish that he might do his duty by his people; and she alone had the boldness to speak out what she thought. One day she found him lolling in an arm-chair and complaining that the people were not satisfied.

"You can very easily satisfy them," said Nell Gwyn. "Dismiss your women and attend to the proper business of a king."

Again, her heart was touched at the misfortunes of the old soldiers who had fought for Charles and for his father during the Civil War, and who were now neglected, while the treasury was emptied for French favorites, and while the policy of England itself was bought and sold in France. Many and many a time, when other women of her kind used their lures to get jewels or titles or estates or actual heaps of money, Nell Gwyn besought the king to aid these needy veterans. Because of her efforts Chelsea Hospital was founded. Such money as she had she shared with the poor and with those who had fought for her royal lover.

As I have said, she is a historical type of the woman who loses her physical purity, yet who retains a sense of honor and of honesty which nothing can take from her. There are not many such examples, and therefore this one is worth remembering.

Of anecdotes concerning her there are many, but not often has their real import been detected. If she could twine her arms about the monarch's neck and transport him in a delirium of passion, this was only part of what she did. She tried to keep him right and true and worthy of his rank; and after he had ceased to care much for her as a lover he remembered that she had been faithful in many other things.

Then there came the death-bed scene, when Charles, in his inimitable manner, apologized to those about him because he was so long in dying. A far sincerer sentence was that which came from his heart, as he cried out, in the very pangs of death:

"Do not let poor Nelly starve!"


It is an old saying that to every womanly woman self-sacrifice is almost a necessity of her nature. To make herself of small account as compared with the one she loves; to give freely of herself, even though she may receive nothing in return; to suffer, and yet to feel an inner poignant joy in all this suffering—here is a most wonderful trait of womanhood. Perhaps it is akin to the maternal instinct; for to the mother, after she has felt the throb of a new life within her, there is no sacrifice so great and no anguish so keen that she will not welcome it as the outward sign and evidence of her illimitable love.

In most women this spirit of self-sacrifice is checked and kept within ordinary bounds by the circumstances of their lives. In many small things they do yield and they do suffer; yet it is not in yielding and in suffering that they find their deepest joy.

There are some, however, who seem to have been born with an abnormal capacity for enduring hardship and mental anguish; so that by a sort of contradiction they find their happiness in sorrow. Such women are endowed with a remarkable degree of sensibility. They feel intensely. In moments of grief and disappointment, and even of despair, there steals over them a sort of melancholy pleasure. It is as if they loved dim lights and mournful music and scenes full of sad suggestion.

If everything goes well with them, they are unwilling to believe that such good fortune will last. If anything goes wrong with them, they are sure that this is only the beginning of something even worse. The music of their lives is written in a minor key.

Now, for such women as these, the world at large has very little charity. It speaks slightingly of them as "agonizers." It believes that they are "fond of making scenes." It regards as an affectation something that is really instinctive and inevitable. Unless such women are beautiful and young and charming they are treated badly; and this is often true in spite of all their natural attractiveness, for they seem to court ill usage as if they were saying frankly:

"Come, take us! We will give you everything and ask for nothing. We do not expect true and enduring love. Do not be constant or generous or even kind. We know that we shall suffer. But, none the less, in our sorrow there will be sweetness, and even in our abasement we shall feel a sort of triumph."

In history there is one woman who stands out conspicuously as a type of her melancholy sisterhood, one whose life was full of disappointment even when she was most successful, and of indignity even when she was most sought after and admired. This woman was Adrienne Lecouvreur, famous in the annals of the stage, and still more famous in the annals of unrequited—or, at any rate, unhappy—love.

Her story is linked with that of a man no less remarkable than herself, a hero of chivalry, a marvel of courage, of fascination, and of irresponsibility.

Adrienne Lecouvreur—her name was originally Couvreur—was born toward the end of the seventeenth century in the little French village of Damery, not far from Rheims, where her aunt was a laundress and her father a hatter in a small way. Of her mother, who died in childbirth, we know nothing; but her father was a man of gloomy and ungovernable temper, breaking out into violent fits of passion, in one of which, long afterward, he died, raving and yelling like a maniac.

Adrienne was brought up at the wash-tub, and became accustomed to a wandering life, in which she went from one town to another. What she had inherited from her mother is, of course, not known; but she had all her father's strangely pessimistic temper, softened only by the fact that she was a girl. From her earliest years she was unhappy; yet her unhappiness was largely of her own choosing. Other girls of her own station met life cheerfully, worked away from dawn till dusk, and then had their moments of amusement, and even jollity, with their companions, after the fashion of all children. But Adrienne Lecouvreur was unhappy because she chose to be. It was not the wash-tub that made her so, for she had been born to it; nor was it the half-mad outbreaks of her father, because to her, at least, he was not unkind. Her discontent sprang from her excessive sensibility.

Indeed, for a peasant child she had reason to think herself far more fortunate than her associates. Her intelligence was great. Ambition was awakened in her before she was ten years of age, when she began to learn and to recite poems—learning them, as has been said, "between the wash-tub and the ironing-board," and reciting them to the admiration of older and wiser people than she. Even at ten she was a very beautiful child, with great lambent eyes, an exquisite complexion, and a lovely form, while she had the further gift of a voice that thrilled the listener and, when she chose, brought tears to every eye. She was, indeed, a natural elocutionist, knowing by instinct all those modulations of tone and varied cadences which go to the hearer's heart.

It was very like Adrienne Lecouvreur to memorize only such poems as were mournful, just as in after life she could win success upon the stage only in tragic parts. She would repeat with a sort of ecstasy the pathetic poems that were then admired; and she was soon able to give up her menial work, because many people asked her to their houses so that they could listen to the divinely beautiful voice charged with the emotion which was always at her command.

When she was thirteen her father moved to Paris, where she was placed at school—a very humble school in a very humble quarter of the city. Yet even there her genius showed itself at that early age. A number of children and young people, probably influenced by Adrienne, formed themselves into a theatrical company from the pure love of acting. A friendly grocer let them have an empty store-room for their performances, and in this store-room Adrienne Lecouvreur first acted in a tragedy by Corneille, assuming the part of leading woman.

Her genius for the stage was like the genius of Napoleon for war. She had had no teaching. She had never been inside of any theater; and yet she delivered the magnificent lines with all the power and fire and effectiveness of a most accomplished actress. People thronged to see her and to feel the tempest of emotion which shook her as she sustained her part, which for the moment was as real to her as life itself.

At first only the people of the neighborhood knew anything about these amateur performances; but presently a lady of rank, one Mme. du Gue, came out of curiosity and was fascinated by the little actress. Mme. du Gue offered the spacious courtyard of her own house, and fitted it with some of the appurtenances of a theater. From that moment the fame of Adrienne spread throughout all Paris. The courtyard was crowded by gentlemen and ladies, by people of distinction from the court, and at last even by actors and actresses from the Comedie Franchise.

It is, in fact, a remarkable tribute to Adrienne that in her thirteenth year she excited so much jealousy among the actors of the Comedie that they evoked the law against her. Theaters required a royal license, and of course poor little Adrienne's company had none. Hence legal proceedings were begun, and the most famous actresses in Paris talked of having these clever children imprisoned! Upon this the company sought the precincts of the Temple, where no legal warrant could be served without the express order of the king himself.

There for a time the performances still went on. Finally, as the other children were not geniuses, but merely boys and girls in search of fun, the little company broke up. Its success, however, had determined for ever the career of Adrienne. With her beautiful face, her lithe and exquisite figure, her golden voice, and her instinctive art, it was plain enough that her future lay upon the stage; and so at fourteen or fifteen she began where most actresses leave off—accomplished and attractive, and having had a practical training in her profession.

Diderot, in that same century, observed that the truest actor is one who does not feel his part at all, but produces his effects by intellectual effort and intelligent observation. Behind the figure on the stage, torn with passion or rollicking with mirth, there must always be the cool and unemotional mind which directs and governs and controls. This same theory was both held and practised by the late Benoit Constant Coquelin. To some extent it was the theory of Garrick and Fechter and Edwin Booth; though it was rejected by the two Keans, and by Edwin Forrest, who entered so throughly into the character which he assumed, and who let loose such tremendous bursts of passion that other actors dreaded to support him on the stage in such parts as Spartacus and Metamora.

It is needless to say that a girl like Adrienne Lecouvreur flung herself with all the intensity of her nature into every role she played. This was the greatest secret of her success; for, with her, nature rose superior to art. On the other hand, it fixed her dramatic limitations, for it barred her out of comedy. Her melancholy, morbid disposition was in the fullest sympathy with tragic heroines; but she failed when she tried to represent the lighter moods and the merry moments of those who welcome mirth. She could counterfeit despair, and unforced tears would fill her eyes; but she could not laugh and romp and simulate a gaiety that was never hers.

Adrienne would have been delighted to act at one of the theaters in Paris; but they were closed to her through jealousy. She went into the provinces, in the eastern part of France, and for ten years she was a leading lady there in many companies and in many towns. As she blossomed into womanhood there came into her life the love which was to be at once a source of the most profound interest and of the most intense agony.

It is odd that all her professional success never gave her any happiness. The life of the actress who traveled from town to town, the crude and coarse experiences which she had to undergo, the disorder and the unsettled mode of living, all produced in her a profound disgust. She was of too exquisite a fiber to live in such a way, especially in a century when the refinements of existence were for the very few.

She speaks herself of "obligatory amusements, the insistence of men, and of love affairs." Yet how could such a woman as Adrienne Lecouvreur keep herself from love affairs? The motion of the stage and its mimic griefs satisfied her only while she was actually upon the boards. Love offered her an emotional excitement that endured and that was always changing. It was "the profoundest instinct of her being"; and she once wrote: "What could one do in the world without loving?"

Still, through these ten years she seems to have loved only that she might be unhappy. There was a strange twist in her mind. Men who were honorable and who loved her with sincerity she treated very badly. Men who were indifferent or ungrateful or actually base she seemed to choose by a sort of perverse instinct. Perhaps the explanation of it is that during those ten years, though she had many lovers, she never really loved. She sought excitement, passion, and after that the mournfulness which comes when passion dies. Thus, one man after another came into her life—some of them promising marriage—and she bore two children, whose fathers were unknown, or at least uncertain. But, after all, one can scarcely pity her, since she had not yet in reality known that great passion which comes but once in life. So far she had learned only a sort of feeble cynicism, which she expressed in letters and in such sayings as these:

"There are sweet errors which I would not venture to commit again. My experiences, all too sad, have served to illumine my reason."

"I am utterly weary of love and prodigiously tempted to have no more of it for the rest of my life; because, after all, I don't wish either to die or to go mad."

Yet she also said: "I know too well that no one dies of grief."

She had had, indeed, some very unfortunate experiences. Men of rank had loved her and had then cast her off. An actor, one Clavel, would have married her, but she would not accept his offer. A magistrate in Strasburg promised marriage; and then, when she was about to accept him, he wrote to her that he was going to yield to the wishes of his family and make a more advantageous alliance. And so she was alternately caressed and repulsed—a mere plaything; and yet this was probably all that she really needed at the time—something to stir her, something to make her mournful or indignant or ashamed.

It was inevitable that at last Adrienne Lecouvreur should appear in Paris. She had won such renown throughout the provinces that even those who were intensely jealous of her were obliged to give her due consideration. In 1717, when she was in her twenty-fifth year, she became a member of the Comedie Franchise. There she made an immediate and most brilliant impression. She easily took the leading place. She was one of the glories of Paris, for she became the fashion outside the theater. For the first time the great classic plays were given, not in the monotonous singsong which had become a sort of theatrical convention, but with all the fire and naturalness of life.

Being the fashion, Mlle. Lecouvreur elevated the social rank of actors and of actresses. Her salon was thronged by men and women of rank. Voltaire wrote poems in her honor. To be invited to her dinners was almost like receiving a decoration from the king. She ought to have been happy, for she had reached the summit of her profession and something more.

Yet still she was unhappy. In all her letters one finds a plaintive tone, a little moaning sound that shows how slightly her nature had been changed. No longer, however, did she throw herself away upon dullards or brutes. An English peer—Lord Peterborough—not realizing that she was different from other actresses of that loose-lived age, said to her coarsely at his first introduction:

"Come now! Show me lots of wit and lots of love."

The remark was characteristic of the time. Yet Adrienne had learned at least one thing, and that was the discontent which came from light affairs. She had thrown herself away too often. If she could not love with her entire being, if she could not give all that was in her to be given, whether of her heart or mind or soul, then she would love no more at all.

At this time there came to Paris a man remarkable in his own century, and one who afterward became almost a hero of romance. This was Maurice, Comte de Saxe, as the French called him, his German name and title being Moritz, Graf von Sachsen, while we usually term him, in English, Marshal Saxe. Maurice de Saxe was now, in 1721, entering his twenty-fifth year. Already, though so young, his career had been a strange one; and it was destined to be still more remarkable. He was the natural son of Duke Augustus II. of Saxony, who later became King of Poland, and who is known in history as Augustus the Strong.

Augustus was a giant in stature and in strength, handsome, daring, unscrupulous, and yet extremely fascinating. His life was one of revelry and fighting and display. When in his cups he would often call for a horseshoe and twist it into a knot with his powerful fingers. Many were his mistresses; but the one for whom he cared the most was a beautiful and high-spirited Swedish girl of rank, Aurora von Konigsmarck. She was descended from a rough old field-marshal who in the Thirty Years' War had slashed and sacked and pillaged and plundered to his heart's content. From him Aurora von Konigsmarck seemed to have inherited a high spirit and a sort of lawlessness which charmed the stalwart Augustus of Poland.

Their son, Maurice de Saxe, inherited everything that was good in his parents, and a great deal that was less commendable. As a mere child of twelve he had insisted on joining the army of Prince Eugene, and had seen rough service in a very strenuous campaign. Two years later he showed such daring on the battle-field that Prince Eugene summoned him and paid him a compliment under the form of a rebuke.

"Young man," he said, "you must not mistake mere recklessness for valor."

Before he was twenty he had attained the stature and strength of his royal father; and, to prove it, he in his turn called for a horseshoe, which he twisted and broke in his fingers. He fought on the side of the Russians and Poles, and again against the Turks, everywhere displaying high courage and also genius as a commander; for he never lost his self-possession amid the very blackest danger, but possessed, as Carlyle says, "vigilance, foresight, and sagacious precaution."

Exceedingly handsome, Maurice was a master of all the arts that pleased, with just a touch of roughness, which seemed not unfitting in so gallant a soldier. His troops adored him and would follow wherever he might choose to lead them; for he exercised over these rude men a magnetic power resembling that of Napoleon in after years. In private life he was a hard drinker and fond of every form of pleasure. Having no fortune of his own, a marriage was arranged for him with the Countess von Loben, who was immensely wealthy; but in three years he had squandered all her money upon his pleasures, and had, moreover, got himself heavily in debt.

It was at this time that he first came to Paris to study military tactics. He had fought hard against the French in the wars that were now ended; but his chivalrous bearing, his handsome person, and his reckless joviality made him at once a universal favorite in Paris. To the perfumed courtiers, with their laces and lovelocks and mincing ways, Maurice de Saxe came as a sort of knight of old—jovial, daring, pleasure-loving. Even his broken French was held to be quite charming; and to see him break a horseshoe with his fingers threw every one into raptures.

No wonder, then, that he was welcomed in the very highest circles. Almost at once he attracted the notice of the Princesse de Conti, a beautiful woman of the blood royal. Of her it has been said that she was "the personification of a kiss, the incarnation of an embrace, the ideal of a dream of love." Her chestnut hair was tinted with little gleams of gold. Her eyes were violet black. Her complexion was dazzling. But by the king's orders she had been forced to marry a hunchback—a man whose very limbs were so weakened by disease and evil living that they would often fail to support him, and he would fall to the ground, a writhing, screaming mass of ill-looking flesh.

It is not surprising that his lovely wife should have shuddered much at his abuse of her and still more at his grotesque endearments. When her eyes fell on Maurice de Saxe she saw in him one who could free her from her bondage. By a skilful trick he led the Prince de Conti to invade the sleeping-room of the princess, with servants, declaring that she was not alone. The charge proved quite untrue, and so she left her husband, having won the sympathy of her own world, which held that she had been insulted. But it was not she who was destined to win and hold the love of Maurice de Saxe.

Not long after his appearance in the French capital he was invited to dine with the "Queen of Paris," Adrienne Lecouvreur. Saxe had seen her on the stage. He knew her previous history. He knew that she was very much of a soiled dove; but when he met her these two natures, so utterly dissimilar, leaped together, as it were, through the indescribable attraction of opposites. He was big and powerful; she was small and fragile. He was merry, and full of quips and jests; she was reserved and melancholy. Each felt in the other a need supplied.

At one of their earliest meetings the climax came. Saxe was not the man to hesitate; while she already, in her thoughts, had made a full surrender. In one great sweep he gathered her into his arms. It appeared to her as if no man had ever laid his hand upon her until that moment. She cried out:

"Now, for the first time in my life, I seem to live!"

It was, indeed, the very first love which in her checkered career was really worthy of the name. She had supposed that all such things were passed and gone, that her heart was closed for ever, that she was invulnerable; and yet here she found herself clinging about the neck of this impetuous soldier and showing him all the shy fondness and the unselfish devotion of a young girl. From this instant Adrienne Lecouvreur never loved another man and never even looked at any other man with the slightest interest. For nine long years the two were bound together, though there were strange events to ruffle the surface of their love.

Maurice de Saxe had been sired by a king. He had the lofty ambition to be a king himself, and he felt the stirrings of that genius which in after years was to make him a great soldier, and to win the brilliant victory of Fontenoy, which to this very day the French are never tired of recalling. Already Louis XV. had made him a marshal of France; and a certain restlessness came over him. He loved Adrienne; yet he felt that to remain in the enjoyment of her witcheries ought not to be the whole of a man's career.

Then the Grand Duchy of Courland—at that time a vassal state of Poland, now part of Russia—sought a ruler. Maurice de Saxe was eager to secure its throne, which would make him at least semi-royal and the chief of a principality. He hastened thither and found that money was needed to carry out his plans. The widow of the late duke—the Grand Duchess Anna, niece of Peter the Great, and later Empress of Russia—as soon as she had met this dazzling genius, offered to help him to acquire the duchy if he would only marry her. He did not utterly refuse. Still another woman of high rank, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, Peter the Great's daughter, made him very much the same proposal.

Both of these imperial women might well have attracted a man like Maurice de Saxe, had he been wholly fancy-free, for the second of them inherited the high spirit and the genius of the great Peter, while the first was a pleasure-seeking princess, resembling some of those Roman empresses who loved to stoop that they might conquer. She is described as indolent and sensual, and she once declared that the chief good in the world was love. Yet, though she neglected affairs of state and gave them over to favorites, she won and kept the affections of her people. She was unquestionably endowed with the magnetic gift of winning hearts.

Adrienne, who was left behind in Paris, knew very little of what was going on. Only two things were absolutely clear to her. One was that if her lover secured the duchy he must be parted from her. The other was that without money his ambition must be thwarted, and that he would then return to her. Here was a test to try the soul of any woman. It proved the height and the depth of her devotion. Come what might, Maurice should be Duke of Courland, even though she lost him. She gathered together her whole fortune, sold every jewel that she possessed, and sent her lover the sum of nearly a million francs.

This incident shows how absolutely she was his. But in fact, because of various intrigues, he failed of election to the ducal throne of Courland, and he returned to Adrienne with all her money spent, and without even the grace, at first, to show his gratitude. He stormed and raged over his ill luck. She merely soothed and petted him, though she had heard that he had thought of marrying another woman to secure the dukedom. In one of her letters she bursts out with the pitiful exclamation:

I am distracted with rage and anguish. Is it not natural to cry out against such treachery? This man surely ought to know me—he ought to love me. Oh, my God! What are we—what ARE we?

But still she could not give him up, nor could he give her up, though there were frightful scenes between them—times when he cruelly reproached her and when her native melancholy deepened into outbursts of despair. Finally there occurred an incident which is more or less obscure in parts. The Duchesse de Bouillon, a great lady of the court—facile, feline, licentious, and eager for delights—resolved that she would win the love of Maurice de Saxe. She set herself to win it openly and without any sense of shame. Maurice himself at times, when the tears of Adrienne proved wearisome, flirted with the duchess.

Yet, even so, Adrienne held the first place in his heart, and her rival knew it. Therefore she resolved to humiliate Adrienne, and to do so in the place where the actress had always reigned supreme. There was to be a gala performance of Racine's great tragedy, "Phedre," with Adrienne, of course, in the title-role. The Duchesse de Bouillon sent a large number of her lackeys with orders to hiss and jeer, and, if possible, to break off the play. Malignantly delighted with her plan, the duchess arrayed herself in jewels and took her seat in a conspicuous stage-box, where she could watch the coming storm and gloat over the discomfiture of her rival.

When the curtain rose, and when Adrienne appeared as Phedre, an uproar began. It was clear to the great actress that a plot had been devised against her. In an instant her whole soul was afire. The queen-like majesty of her bearing compelled silence throughout the house. Even the hired lackeys were overawed by it. Then Adrienne moved swiftly across the stage and fronted her enemy, speaking into her very face the three insulting lines which came to her at that moment of the play:

    I am not of those women void of shame,
    Who, savoring in crime the joys of peace,
    Harden their faces till they cannot blush!

The whole house rose and burst forth into tremendous applause. Adrienne had won, for the woman who had tried to shame her rose in trepidation and hurried from the theater.

But the end was not yet. Those were evil times, when dark deeds were committed by the great almost with impunity. Secret poisoning was a common trade. To remove a rival was as usual a thing in the eighteenth century as to snub a rival is usual in the twentieth.

Not long afterward, on the night of March 15, 1730, Adrienne Lecouvreur was acting in one of Voltaire's plays with all her power and instinctive art when suddenly she was seized with the most frightful pains. Her anguish was obvious to every one who saw her, and yet she had the courage to go through her part. Then she fainted and was carried home.

Four days later she died, and her death was no less dramatic than her life had been. Her lover and two friends of his were with her, and also a Jesuit priest. He declined to administer extreme unction unless she would declare that she repented of her theatrical career. She stubbornly refused, since she believed that to be the greatest actress of her time was not a sin. Yet still the priest insisted.

Then came the final moment.

"Weary and revolting against this death, this destiny, she stretched her arms with one of the old lovely gestures toward a bust which stood near by and cried—her last cry of passion:

"'There is my world, my hope—yes, and my God!'"

The bust was one of Maurice de Saxe.


The royal families of Europe are widely known, yet not all of them are equally renowned. Thus, the house of Romanoff, although comparatively young, stands out to the mind with a sort of barbaric power, more vividly than the Austrian house of Hapsburg, which is the oldest reigning family in Europe, tracing its beginnings backward until they are lost in the Dark Ages. The Hohenzollerns of Prussia are comparatively modern, so far as concerns their royalty. The offshoots of the Bourbons carry on a very proud tradition in the person of the King of Spain, although France, which has been ruled by so many members of the family, will probably never again behold a Bourbon king. The deposed Braganzas bear a name which is ancient, but which has a somewhat tinsel sound.

The Bonapartes, of course, are merely parvenus, and they have had the good taste to pretend to no antiquity of birth. The first Napoleon, dining at a table full of monarchs, when he heard one of them deferentially alluding to the Bonaparte family as being very old and noble, exclaimed:

"Pish! My nobility dates from the day of Marengo!"

And the third Napoleon, in announcing his coming marriage with Mlle. de Montijo, used the very word "parvenu" in speaking of himself and of his family. His frankness won the hearts of the French people and helped to reconcile them to a marriage in which the bride was barely noble.

In English history there are two great names to conjure by, at least to the imaginative. One is Plantagenet, which seems to contain within itself the very essence of all that is patrician, magnificent, and royal. It calls to memory at once the lion-hearted Richard, whose short reign was replete with romance in England and France and Austria and the Holy Land.

But perhaps a name of greater influence is that which links the royal family of Britain today with the traditions of the past, and which summons up legend and story and great deeds of history. This is the name of Stuart, about which a whole volume might be written to recall its suggestions and its reminiscences.

The first Stuart (then Stewart) of whom anything is known got his name from the title of "Steward of Scotland," which remained in the family for generations, until the sixth of the line, by marriage with Princess Marjory Bruce, acquired the Scottish crown. That was in the early years of the fourteenth century; and finally, after the death of Elizabeth of England, her rival's son, James VI. of Scotland and I. of England, united under one crown two kingdoms that had so long been at almost constant war.

It is almost characteristic of the Scot that, having small territory, little wealth, and a seat among his peers that is almost ostentatiously humble, he should bit by bit absorb the possessions of all the rest and become their master. Surely, the proud Tudors, whose line ended with Elizabeth, must have despised the "Stewards," whose kingdom was small and bleak and cold, and who could not control their own vassals.

One can imagine also, with Sir Walter Scott, the haughty nobles of the English court sneering covertly at the awkward, shambling James, pedant and bookworm. Nevertheless, his diplomacy was almost as good as that of Elizabeth herself; and, though he did some foolish things, he was very far from being a fool.

In his appearance James was not unlike Abraham Lincoln—an unkingly figure; and yet, like Lincoln, when occasion required it he could rise to the dignity which makes one feel the presence of a king. He was the only Stuart who lacked anything in form or feature or external grace. His son, Charles I., was perhaps one of the worst rulers that England has ever had; yet his uprightness of life, his melancholy yet handsome face, his graceful bearing, and the strong religious element in his character, together with the fact that he was put to death after being treacherously surrendered to his enemies—all these have combined to make almost a saint of him. There are Englishmen to-day who speak of him as "the martyr king," and who, on certain days of the year, say prayers that beg the Lord's forgiveness because of Charles's execution.

The members of the so-called League of the White Rose, founded to perpetuate English allegiance to the direct line of Stuarts, do many things that are quite absurd. They refuse to pray for the present King of England and profess to think that the Princess Mary of Bavaria is the true ruler of Great Britain. All this represents that trace of sentiment which lingers among the English to-day. They feel that the Stuarts were the last kings of England to rule by the grace of God rather than by the grace of Parliament. As a matter of fact, the present reigning family in England is glad to derive its ancient strain of royal blood through a Stuart—descended on the distaff side from James I., and winding its way through Hanover.

This sentiment for the Stuarts is a thing entirely apart from reason and belongs to the realm of poetry and romance; yet so strong is it that it has shown itself in the most inconsistent fashion. For instance, Sir Walter Scott was a devoted adherent of the house of Hanover. When George IV. visited Edinburgh, Scott was completely carried away by his loyal enthusiasm. He could not see that the man before him was a drunkard and braggart. He viewed him as an incarnation of all the noble traits that ought to hedge about a king. He snatched up a wine-glass from which George had just been drinking and carried it away to be an object of reverence for ever after. Nevertheless, in his heart, and often in his speech, Scott seemed to be a high Tory, and even a Jacobite.

There are precedents for this. The Empress Eugenie used often to say with a laugh that she was the only true royalist at the imperial court of France. That was well enough for her in her days of flightiness and frivolity. No one, however, accused Queen Victoria of being frivolous, and she was not supposed to have a strong sense of humor. None the less, after listening to the skirling of the bagpipes and to the romantic ballads which were sung in Scotland she is said to have remarked with a sort of sigh:

"Whenever I hear those ballads I feel that England belongs really to the Stuarts!"

Before Queen Victoria was born, when all the sons of George III. were childless, the Duke of Kent was urged to marry, so that he might have a family to continue the succession. In resenting the suggestion he said many things, and among them this was the most striking:

"Why don't you call the Stuarts back to England? They couldn't possibly make a worse mess of it than our fellows have!"

But he yielded to persuasion and married. From this marriage came Victoria, who had the sacred drop of Stuart blood which gave England to the Hanoverians; and she was to redeem the blunders and tyrannies of both houses.

The fascination of the Stuarts, which has been carried overseas to America and the British dominions, probably began with the striking history of Mary Queen of Scots. Her brilliancy and boldness and beauty, and especially the pathos of her end, have made us see only her intense womanliness, which in her own day was the first thing that any one observed in her. So, too, with Charles I., romantic figure and knightly gentleman. One regrets his death upon the scaffold, even though his execution was necessary to the growth of freedom.

Many people are no less fascinated by Charles II., that very different type, with his gaiety, his good-fellowship, and his easy-going ways. It is not surprising that his people, most of whom never saw him, were very fond of him, and did not know that he was selfish, a loose liver, and almost a vassal of the king of France.

So it is not strange that the Stuarts, with all their arts and graces, were very hard to displace. James II., with the aid of the French, fought hard before the British troops in Ireland broke the backs of both his armies and sent him into exile. Again in 1715—an episode perpetuated in Thackeray's dramatic story of Henry Esmond—came the son of James to take advantage of the vacancy caused by the death of Queen Anne. But it is perhaps to this claimant's son, the last of the militant Stuarts, that more chivalrous feeling has been given than to any other.

To his followers he was the Young Chevalier, the true Prince of Wales; to his enemies, the Whigs and the Hanoverians, he was "the Pretender." One of the most romantic chapters of history is the one which tells of that last brilliant dash which he made upon the coast of Scotland, landing with but a few attendants and rejecting the support of a French army.

"It is not with foreigners," he said, "but with my own loyal subjects, that I wish to regain the kingdom for my father."

It was a daring deed, and the spectacular side of it has been often commemorated, especially in Sir Walter Scott's Waverley. There we see the gallant prince moving through a sort of military panorama. Most of the British troops were absent in Flanders, and the few regiments that could be mustered to meet him were appalled by the ferocity and reckless courage of the Highlanders, who leaped down like wildcats from their hills and flung themselves with dirk and sword upon the British cannon.

We see Sir John Cope retiring at Falkirk, and the astonishing victory of Prestonpans, where disciplined British troops fled in dismay through the morning mist, leaving artillery and supplies behind them. It is Scott again who shows us the prince, master of Edinburgh for a time, while the white rose of Stuart royalty held once more the ancient keep above the Scottish capital. Then we see the Chevalier pressing southward into England, where he hoped to raise an English army to support his own. But his Highlanders cared nothing for England, and the English—even the Catholic gentry—would not rise to support his cause.

Personally, he had every gift that could win allegiance. Handsome, high-tempered, and brave, he could also control his fiery spirit and listen to advice, however unpalatable it might be.

The time was favorable. The British troops had been defeated on the Continent by Marshal Saxe, of whom I have already written, and by Marshal d'Estrees. George II. was a king whom few respected. He could scarcely speak anything but German. He grossly ill-treated his wife. It is said that on one occasion, in a fit of temper, he actually kicked the prime minister. Not many felt any personal loyalty to him, and he spent most of his time away from England in his other domain of Hanover.

But precisely here was a reason why Englishmen were willing to put up with him. As between him and the brilliant Stuart there would have been no hesitation had the choice been merely one of men; but it was believed that the return of the Stuarts meant the return of something like absolute government, of taxation without sanction of law, and of religious persecution. Under the Hanoverian George the English people had begun to exercise a considerable measure of self-government. Sharp opposition in Parliament compelled him time and again to yield; and when he was in Hanover the English were left to work out the problem of free government.

Hence, although Prince Charles Edward fascinated all who met him, and although a small army was raised for his support, still the unromantic, common-sense Englishmen felt that things were better than in the days gone by, and most of them refused to take up arms for the cause which sentimentally they favored. Therefore, although the Chevalier stirred all England and sent a thrill through the officers of state in London, his soldiers gradually deserted, and the Scots insisted on returning to their own country. Although the Stuart troops reached a point as far south as Derby, they were soon pushed backward into Scotland, pursued by an army of about nine thousand men under the Duke of Cumberland, son of George II.

Cumberland was no soldier; he had been soundly beaten by the French on the famous field of Fontenoy. Yet he had firmness and a sort of overmastering brutality, which, with disciplined troops and abundant artillery, were sufficient to win a victory over the untrained Highlanders.

When the battle came five thousand of these mountaineers went roaring along the English lines, with the Chevalier himself at their head. For a moment there was surprise. The Duke of Cumberland had been drinking so heavily that he could give no verbal orders. One of his officers, however, is said to have come to him in his tent, where he was trying to play cards.

"What disposition shall we make of the prisoners?" asked the officer.

The duke tried to reply, but his utterance was very thick.

"No quarter!" he was believed to say.

The officer objected and begged that such an order as that should be given in writing. The duke rolled over and seized a sheaf of playing-cards. Pulling one out, he scrawled the necessary order, and that was taken to the commanders in the field.

The Highlanders could not stand the cannon fire, and the English won. Then the fury of the common soldiery broke loose upon the country.

There was a reign of fantastic and fiendish brutality. One provost of the town was violently kicked for a mild remonstrance about the destruction of the Episcopalian meeting-house; another was condemned to clean out dirty stables. Men and women were whipped and tortured on slight suspicion or to extract information. Cumberland frankly professed his contempt and hatred of the people among whom he found himself, but he savagely punished robberies committed by private soldiers for their own profit.

"Mild measures will not do," he wrote to Newcastle.

When leaving the North in July, he said:

"All the good we have done is but a little blood-letting, which has only weakened the madness, but not at all cured it; and I tremble to fear that this vile spot may still be the ruin of this island and of our family."

Such was the famous battle of Culloden, fought in 1746, and putting a final end to the hopes of all the Stuarts. As to Cumberland's order for "No quarter," if any apology can be made for such brutality, it must be found in the fact that the Highland chiefs had on their side agreed to spare no captured enemy.

The battle has also left a name commonly given to the nine of diamonds, which is called "the curse of Scotland," because it is said that on that card Cumberland wrote his bloodthirsty order.

Such, in brief, was the story of Prince Charlie's gallant attempt to restore the kingdom of his ancestors. Even when defeated, he would not at once leave Scotland. A French squadron appeared off the coast near Edinburgh. It had been sent to bring him troops and a large supply of money, but he turned his back upon it and made his way into the Highlands on foot, closely pursued by English soldiers and Lowland spies.

This part of his career is in reality the most romantic of all. He was hunted closely, almost as by hounds. For weeks he had only such sleep as he could snatch during short periods of safety, and there were times when his pursuers came within an inch of capturing him. But never in his life were his spirits so high.

It was a sort of life that he had never seen before, climbing the mighty rocks, and listening to the thunder of the cataracts, among which he often slept, with only one faithful follower to guard him. The story of his escape is almost incredible, but he laughed and drank and rolled upon the grass when he was free from care. He hobnobbed with the most suspicious-looking caterans, with whom he drank the smoky brew of the North, and lived as he might on fish and onions and bacon and wild fowl, with an appetite such as he had never known at the luxurious court of Versailles or St.-Germain.

After the battle of Culloden the prince would have been captured had not a Scottish girl named Flora Macdonald met him, caused him to be dressed in the clothes of her waiting-maid, and thus got him off to the Isle of Skye.

There for a time it was impossible to follow him; and there the two lived almost alone together. Such a proximity could not fail to stir the romantic feeling of one who was both a youth and a prince. On the other hand, no thought of love-making seems to have entered Flora's mind. If, however, we read Campbell's narrative very closely we can see that Prince Charles made every advance consistent with a delicate remembrance of her sex and services.

It seems to have been his thought that if she cared for him, then the two might well love; and he gave her every chance to show him favor. The youth of twenty-five and the girl of twenty-four roamed together in the long, tufted grass or lay in the sunshine and looked out over the sea. The prince would rest his head in her lap, and she would tumble his golden hair with her slender fingers and sometimes clip off tresses which she preserved to give to friends of hers as love-locks. But to the last he was either too high or too low for her, according to her own modest thought. He was a royal prince, the heir to a throne, or else he was a boy with whom she might play quite fancy-free. A lover he could not be—so pure and beautiful was her thought of him.

These were perhaps the most delightful days of all his life, as they were a beautiful memory in hers. In time he returned to France and resumed his place amid the intrigues that surrounded that other Stuart prince who styled himself James III., and still kept up the appearance of a king in exile. As he watched the artifice and the plotting of these make-believe courtiers he may well have thought of his innocent companion of the Highland wilds.

As for Flora, she was arrested and imprisoned for five months on English vessels of war. After her release she was married, in 1750; and she and her husband sailed for the American colonies just before the Revolution. In that war Macdonald became a British officer and served against his adopted countrymen. Perhaps because of this reason Flora returned alone to Scotland, where she died at the age of sixty-eight.

The royal prince who would have given her his easy love lived a life of far less dignity in the years that followed his return to France. There was no more hope of recovering the English throne. For him there were left only the idle and licentious diversions of such a court as that in which his father lived.

At the death of James III., even this court was disintegrated, and Prince Charles led a roving life under the title of Earl of Albany. In his wanderings he met Louise Marie, the daughter of a German prince, Gustavus Adolphus of Stolberg. She was only nineteen years of age when she first felt the fascination that he still possessed; but it was an unhappy marriage for the girl when she discovered that her husband was a confirmed drunkard.

Not long after, in fact, she found her life with him so utterly intolerable that she persuaded the Pope to allow her a formal separation. The pontiff intrusted her to her husband's brother, Cardinal York, who placed her in a convent and presently removed her to his own residence in Rome.

Here begins another romance. She was often visited by Vittorio Alfieri, the great Italian poet and dramatist. Alfieri was a man of wealth. In early years he divided his time into alternate periods during which he either studied hard in civil and canonical law, or was a constant attendant upon the race-course, or rushed aimlessly all over Europe without any object except to wear out the post-horses which he used in relays over hundreds of miles of road. His life, indeed, was eccentric almost to insanity; but when he had met the beautiful and lonely Countess of Albany there came over him a striking change. She influenced him for all that was good, and he used to say that he owed her all that was best in his dramatic works.

Sixteen years after her marriage her royal husband died, a worn-out, bloated wreck of one who had been as a youth a model of knightliness and manhood. During his final years he had fallen to utter destitution, and there was either a touch of half contempt or a feeling of remote kinship in the act of George III., who bestowed upon the prince an annual pension of four thousand pounds. It showed most plainly that England was now consolidated under Hanoverian rule.

When Cardinal York died, in 1807, there was no Stuart left in the male line; and the countess was the last to bear the royal Scottish name of Albany.

After the prince's death his widow is said to have been married to Alfieri, and for the rest of her life she lived in Florence, though Alfieri died nearly twenty-one years before her.

Here we have seen a part of the romance which attaches itself to the name of Stuart—in the chivalrous young prince, leading his Highlanders against the bayonets of the British, lolling idly among the Hebrides, or fallen, at the last, to be a drunkard and the husband of an unwilling consort, who in her turn loved a famous poet. But it is this Stuart, after all, of whom we think when we hear the bagpipes skirling "Over the Water to Charlie" or "Wha'll be King but Charlie?"



It has often been said that the greatest Frenchman who ever lived was in reality an Italian. It might with equal truth be asserted that the greatest Russian woman who ever lived was in reality a German. But the Emperor Napoleon and the Empress Catharine II. resemble each other in something else. Napoleon, though Italian in blood and lineage, made himself so French in sympathy and understanding as to be able to play upon the imagination of all France as a great musician plays upon a splendid instrument, with absolute sureness of touch and an ability to extract from it every one of its varied harmonies. So the Empress Catharine of Russia—perhaps the greatest woman who ever ruled a nation—though born of German parents, became Russian to the core and made herself the embodiment of Russian feeling and Russian aspiration.

At the middle of the eighteenth century Russia was governed by the Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great. In her own time, and for a long while afterward, her real capacity was obscured by her apparent indolence, her fondness for display, and her seeming vacillation; but now a very high place is accorded her in the history of Russian rulers. She softened the brutality that had reigned supreme in Russia. She patronized the arts. Her armies twice defeated Frederick the Great and raided his capital, Berlin. Had Elizabeth lived, she would probably have crushed him.

In her early years this imperial woman had been betrothed to Louis XV. of France, but the match was broken off. Subsequently she entered into a morganatic marriage and bore a son who, of course, could not be her heir. In 1742, therefore, she looked about for a suitable successor, and chose her nephew, Prince Peter of Holstein-Gottorp.

Peter, then a mere youth of seventeen, was delighted with so splendid a future, and came at once to St. Petersburg. The empress next sought for a girl who might marry the young prince and thus become the future Czarina. She thought first of Frederick the Great's sister; but Frederick shrank from this alliance, though it would have been of much advantage to him. He loved his sister—indeed, she was one of the few persons for whom he ever really cared. So he declined the offer and suggested instead the young Princess Sophia of the tiny duchy of Anhalt-Zerbst.

The reason for Frederick's refusal was his knowledge of the semi-barbarous conditions that prevailed at the Russian court.

The Russian capital, at that time, was a bizarre, half-civilized, half-oriental place, where, among the very highest-born, a thin veneer of French elegance covered every form of brutality and savagery and lust. It is not surprising, therefore, that Frederick the Great was unwilling to have his sister plunged into such a life.

But when the Empress Elizabeth asked the Princess Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst to marry the heir to the Russian throne the young girl willingly accepted, the more so as her mother practically commanded it. This mother of hers was a grim, harsh German woman who had reared her daughter in the strictest fashion, depriving her of all pleasure with a truly puritanical severity. In the case of a different sort of girl this training would have crushed her spirit; but the Princess Sophia, though gentle and refined in manner, had a power of endurance which was toughened and strengthened by the discipline she underwent.

And so in 1744, when she was but sixteen years of age, she was taken by her mother to St. Petersburg. There she renounced the Lutheran faith and was received into the Greek Church, changing her name to Catharine. Soon after, with great magnificence, she was married to Prince Peter, and from that moment began a career which was to make her the most powerful woman in the world.

At this time a lady of the Russian court wrote down a description of Catharine's appearance. She was fair-haired, with dark-blue eyes; and her face, though never beautiful, was made piquant and striking by the fact that her brows were very dark in contrast with her golden hair. Her complexion was not clear, yet her look was a very pleasing one. She had a certain diffidence of manner at first; but later she bore herself with such instinctive dignity as to make her seem majestic, though in fact she was beneath the middle size. At the time of her marriage her figure was slight and graceful; only in after years did she become stout. Altogether, she came to St. Petersburg an attractive, pure-minded German maiden, with a character well disciplined, and possessing reserves of power which had not yet been drawn upon.

Frederick the Great's forebodings, which had led him to withhold his sister's hand, were almost immediately justified in the case of Catharine. Her Russian husband revealed to her a mode of life which must have tried her very soul. This youth was only seventeen—a mere boy in age, and yet a full-grown man in the rank luxuriance of his vices. Moreover, he had eccentricities which sometimes verged upon insanity. Too young to be admitted to the councils of his imperial aunt, he occupied his time in ways that were either ridiculous or vile.

Next to the sleeping-room of his wife he kept a set of kennels, with a number of dogs, which he spent hours in drilling as if they had been soldiers. He had a troop of rats which he also drilled. It was his delight to summon a court martial of his dogs to try the rats for various military offenses, and then to have the culprits executed, leaving their bleeding carcasses upon the floor. At any hour of the day or night Catharine, hidden in her chamber, could hear the yapping of the curs, the squeak of rats, and the word of command given by her half-idiot husband.

When wearied of this diversion Peter would summon a troop of favorites, both men and women, and with them he would drink deep of beer and vodka, since from his early childhood he had been both a drunkard and a debauchee. The whoops and howls and vile songs of his creatures could be heard by Catharine; and sometimes he would stagger into her rooms, accompanied by his drunken minions. With a sort of psychopathic perversity he would insist on giving Catharine the most minute and repulsive narratives of his amours, until she shrank from him with horror at his depravity and came to loathe the sight of his bloated face, with its little, twinkling, porcine eyes, his upturned nose and distended nostrils, and his loose-hung, lascivious mouth. She was scarcely less repelled when a wholly different mood would seize upon him and he would declare himself her slave, attending her at court functions in the garb of a servant and professing an unbounded devotion for his bride.

Catharine's early training and her womanly nature led her for a long time to submit to the caprices of her husband. In his saner moments she would plead with him and strive to interest him in something better than his dogs and rats and venal mistresses; but Peter was incorrigible. Though he had moments of sense and even of good feeling, these never lasted, and after them he would plunge headlong into the most frantic excesses that his half-crazed imagination could devise.

It is not strange that in course of time Catharine's strong good sense showed her that she could do nothing with this creature. She therefore gradually became estranged from him and set herself to the task of doing those things which Peter was incapable of carrying out.

She saw that ever since the first awakening of Russia under Peter the Great none of its rulers had been genuinely Russian, but had tried to force upon the Russian people various forms of western civilization which were alien to the national spirit. Peter the Great had striven to make his people Dutch. Elizabeth had tried to make them French. Catharine, with a sure instinct, resolved that they should remain Russian, borrowing what they needed from other peoples, but stirred always by the Slavic spirit and swayed by a patriotism that was their own. To this end she set herself to become Russian. She acquired the Russian language patiently and accurately. She adopted the Russian costume, appearing, except on state occasions, in a simple gown of green, covering her fair hair, however, with a cap powdered with diamonds. Furthermore, she made friends of such native Russians as were gifted with talent, winning their favor, and, through them, the favor of the common people.

It would have been strange, however, had Catharine, the woman, escaped the tainting influences that surrounded her on every side. The infidelities of Peter gradually made her feel that she owed him nothing as his wife. Among the nobles there were men whose force of character and of mind attracted her inevitably. Chastity was a thing of which the average Russian had no conception; and therefore it is not strange that Catharine, with her intense and sensitive nature, should have turned to some of these for the love which she had sought in vain from the half imbecile to whom she had been married.

Much has been written of this side of her earlier and later life; yet, though it is impossible to deny that she had favorites, one should judge very gently the conduct of a girl so young and thrust into a life whence all the virtues seemed to be excluded. She bore several children before her thirtieth year, and it is very certain that a grave doubt exists as to their paternity. Among the nobles of the court were two whose courage and virility specially attracted her. The one with whom her name has been most often coupled was Gregory Orloff. He and his brother, Alexis Orloff, were Russians of the older type—powerful in frame, suave in manner except when roused, yet with a tigerish ferocity slumbering underneath. Their power fascinated Catharine, and it was currently declared that Gregory Orloff was her lover.

When she was in her thirty-second year her husband was proclaimed Czar, after the death of the Empress Elizabeth. At first in some ways his elevation seemed to sober him; but this period of sanity, like those which had come to him before, lasted only a few weeks. Historians have given him much credit for two great reforms that are connected with his name; and yet the manner in which they were actually brought about is rather ludicrous. He had shut himself up with his favorite revelers, and had remained for several days drinking and carousing until he scarcely knew enough to speak. At this moment a young officer named Gudovitch, who was really loyal to the newly created Czar, burst into the banquet-hall, booted and spurred and his eyes aflame with indignation. Standing before Peter, his voice rang out with the tone of a battle trumpet, so that the sounds of revelry were hushed.

"Peter Feodorovitch," he cried, "do you prefer these swine to those who really wish to serve you? Is it in this way that you imitate the glories of your ancestor, that illustrious Peter whom you have sworn to take as your model? It will not be long before your people's love will be changed to hatred. Rise up, my Czar! Shake off this lethargy and sloth. Prove that you are worthy of the faith which I and others have given you so loyally!"

With these words Gudovitch thrust into Peter's trembling hand two proclamations, one abolishing the secret bureau of police, which had become an instrument of tyrannous oppression, and the other restoring to the nobility many rights of which they had been deprived.

The earnestness and intensity of Gudovitch temporarily cleared the brain of the drunken Czar. He seized the papers, and, without reading them, hastened at once to his great council, where he declared that they expressed his wishes. Great was the rejoicing in St. Petersburg, and great was the praise bestowed on Peter; yet, in fact, he had acted only as any drunkard might act under the compulsion of a stronger will than his.

As before, his brief period of good sense was succeeded by another of the wildest folly. It was not merely that he reversed the wise policy of his aunt, but that he reverted to his early fondness for everything that was German. His bodyguard was made up of German troops—thus exciting the jealousy of the Russian soldiers. He introduced German fashions. He boasted that his father had been an officer in the Prussian army. His crazy admiration for Frederick the Great reached the utmost verge of sycophancy.

As to Catharine, he turned on her with something like ferocity. He declared in public that his eldest son, the Czarevitch Paul, was really fathered by Catharine's lovers. At a state banquet he turned to Catharine and hurled at her a name which no woman could possibly forgive—and least of all a woman such as Catharine, with her high spirit and imperial pride. He thrust his mistresses upon her; and at last he ordered her, with her own hand, to decorate the Countess Vorontzoff, who was known to be his maitresse en titre.

It was not these gross insults, however, so much as a concern for her personal safety that led Catharine to take measures for her own defense. She was accustomed to Peter's ordinary eccentricities. On the ground of his unfaithfulness to her she now had hardly any right to make complaint. But she might reasonably fear lest he was becoming mad. If he questioned the paternity of their eldest son he might take measures to imprison Catharine or even to destroy her. Therefore she conferred with the Orloffs and other gentlemen, and their conference rapidly developed into a conspiracy.

The soldiery, as a whole, was loyal to the empress. It hated Peter's Holstein guards. What she planned was probably the deposition of Peter. She would have liked to place him under guard in some distant palace. But while the matter was still under discussion she was awakened early one morning by Alexis Orloff. He grasped her arm with scant ceremony.

"We must act at once," said he. "We have been betrayed!"

Catharine was not a woman to waste time. She went immediately to the barracks in St. Petersburg, mounted upon a charger, and, calling out the Russian guards, appealed to them for their support. To a man they clashed their weapons and roared forth a thunderous cheer. Immediately afterward the priests anointed her as regent in the name of her son; but as she left the church she was saluted by the people, as well as by the soldiers, as empress in her own right.

It was a bold stroke, and it succeeded down to the last detail. The wretched Peter, who was drilling his German guards at a distance from the capital, heard of the revolt, found that his sailors at Kronstadt would not acknowledge him, and then finally submitted. He was taken to Ropsha and confined within a single room. To him came the Orloffs, quite of their own accord. Gregory Orloff endeavored to force a corrosive poison into Peter's mouth. Peter, who was powerful of build and now quite desperate, hurled himself upon his enemies. Alexis Orloff seized him by the throat with a tremendous clutch and strangled him till the blood gushed from his ears. In a few moments the unfortunate man was dead.

Catharine was shocked by the intelligence, but she had no choice save to accept the result of excessive zeal. She issued a note to the foreign ambassadors informing them that Peter had died of a violent colic. When his body was laid out for burial the extravasated blood is said to have oozed out even through his hands, staining the gloves that had been placed upon them. No one believed the story of the colic; and some six years later Alexis Orloff told the truth with the utmost composure. The whole incident was characteristically Russian.

It is not within the limits of our space to describe the reign of Catharine the Great—the exploits of her armies, the acuteness of her statecraft, the vast additions which she made to the Russian Empire, and the impulse which she gave to science and art and literature. Yet these things ought to be remembered first of all when one thinks of the woman whom Voltaire once styled "the Semiramis of the North." Because she was so powerful, because no one could gainsay her, she led in private a life which has been almost more exploited than her great imperial achievements. And yet, though she had lovers whose names have been carefully recorded, even she fulfilled the law of womanhood—which is to love deeply and intensely only once.

One should not place all her lovers in the same category. As a girl, and when repelled by the imbecility of Peter, she gave herself to Gregory Orloff. She admired his strength, his daring, and his unscrupulousness. But to a woman of her fine intelligence he came to seem almost more brute than man. She could not turn to him for any of those delicate attentions which a woman loves so much, nor for that larger sympathy which wins the heart as well as captivates the senses. A writer of the time has said that Orloff would hasten with equal readiness from the arms of Catharine to the embraces of any flat-nosed Finn or filthy Calmuck or to the lowest creature whom he might encounter in the streets.

It happened that at the time of Catharine's appeal to the imperial guards there came to her notice another man who—as he proved in a trifling and yet most significant manner—had those traits which Orloff lacked. Catharine had mounted, man—fashion, a cavalry horse, and, with a helmet on her head, had reined up her steed before the barracks. At that moment One of the minor nobles, who was also favorable to her, observed that her helmet had no plume. In a moment his horse was at her side. Bowing low over his saddle, he took his own plume from his helmet and fastened it to hers. This man was Prince Gregory Potemkin, and this slight act gives a clue to the influence which he afterward exercised over his imperial mistress!

When Catharine grew weary of the Orloffs, and when she had enriched them with lands and treasures, she turned to Potemkin; and from then until the day of his death he was more to her than any other man had ever been. With others she might flirt and might go even further than flirtation; but she allowed no other favorite to share her confidence, to give advice, or to direct her policies.

To other men she made munificent gifts, either because they pleased her for the moment or because they served her on one occasion or another; but to Potemkin she opened wide the whole treasury of her vast realm. There was no limit to what she would do for him. When he first knew her he was a man of very moderate fortune. Within two years after their intimate acquaintance had begun she had given him nine million rubles, while afterward he accepted almost limitless estates in Poland and in every province of Greater Russia.

He was a man of sumptuous tastes, and yet he cared but little for mere wealth. What he had, he used to please or gratify or surprise the woman whom he loved. He built himself a great palace in St. Petersburg, usually known as the Taurian Palace, and there he gave the most sumptuous entertainments, reversing the story of Antony and Cleopatra.

In a superb library there stood one case containing volumes bound with unusual richness. When the empress, attracted by the bindings, drew forth a book she found to her surprise that its pages were English bank-notes. The pages of another proved to be Dutch bank-notes, and, of another, notes on the Bank of Venice. Of the remaining volumes some were of solid gold, while others had pages of fine leather in which were set emeralds and rubies and diamonds and other gems. The story reads like a bit of fiction from the Arabian Nights. Yet, after all, this was only a small affair compared with other undertakings with which Potemkin sought to please her.

Thus, after Taurida and the Crimea had been added to the empire by Potemkin's agency, Catharine set out with him to view her new possessions. A great fleet of magnificently decorated galleys bore her down the river Dnieper. The country through which she passed had been a year before an unoccupied waste. Now, by Potemkin's extraordinary efforts, the empress found it dotted thick with towns and cities which had been erected for the occasion, filled with a busy population which swarmed along the riverside to greet the sovereign with applause. It was only a chain of fantom towns and cities, made of painted wood and canvas; but while Catharine was there they were very real, seeming to have solid buildings, magnificent arches, bustling industries, and beautiful stretches of fertile country. No human being ever wrought on so great a scale so marvelous a miracle of stage-management.

Potemkin was, in fact, the one man who could appeal with unfailing success to so versatile and powerful a spirit as Catharine's. He was handsome of person, graceful of manner, and with an intellect which matched her own. He never tried to force her inclination, and, on the other hand, he never strove to thwart it. To him, as to no other man, she could turn at any moment and feel that, no matter what her mood, he could understand her fully. And this, according to Balzac, is the thing that woman yearns for most—a kindred spirit that can understand without the slightest need of explanation.

Thus it was that Gregory Potemkin held a place in the soul of this great woman such as no one else attained. He might be absent, heading armies or ruling provinces, and on his return he would be greeted with even greater fondness than before. And it was this rather than his victories over Turk and other oriental enemies that made Catharine trust him absolutely.

When he died, he died as the supreme master of her foreign policy and at a time when her word was powerful throughout all Europe. Death came upon him after he had fought against it with singular tenacity of purpose. Catharine had given him a magnificent triumph, and he had entertained her in his Taurian Palace with a splendor such as even Russia had never known before. Then he fell ill, though with high spirit he would not yield to illness. He ate rich meats and drank rich wines and bore himself as gallantly as ever. Yet all at once death came upon him while he was traveling in the south of Russia. His carriage was stopped, a rug was spread beneath a tree by the roadside, and there he died, in the country which he had added to the realms of Russia.

The great empress who loved him mourned him deeply during the five years of life that still remained to her. The names of other men for whom she had imagined that she cared were nothing to her. But this one man lived in her heart in death as he had done in life.

Many have written of Catharine as a great ruler, a wise diplomat, a creature of heroic mold. Others have depicted her as a royal wanton and have gathered together a mass of vicious tales, the gossip of the palace kitchens, of the clubs, and of the barrack-rooms. But perhaps one finds the chief interest of her story to lie in this—that besides being empress and diplomat and a lover of pleasure she was, beyond all else, at heart a woman.


The English-speaking world long ago accepted a conventional view of Marie Antoinette. The eloquence of Edmund Burke in one brilliant passage has fixed, probably for all time, an enduring picture of this unhappy queen.

When we speak or think of her we speak and think first of all of a dazzling and beautiful woman surrounded by the chivalry of France and gleaming like a star in the most splendid court of Europe. And then there comes to us the reverse of the picture. We see her despised, insulted, and made the butt of brutal men and still more fiendish women; until at last the hideous tumbrel conveys her to the guillotine, where her head is severed from her body and her corpse is cast down into a bloody pool.

In these two pictures our emotions are played upon in turn—admiration, reverence, devotion, and then pity, indignation, and the shudderings of horror.

Probably in our own country and in England this will remain the historic Marie Antoinette. Whatever the impartial historian may write, he can never induce the people at large to understand that this queen was far from queenly, that the popular idea of her is almost wholly false, and that both in her domestic life and as the greatest lady in France she did much to bring on the terrors of that revolution which swept her to the guillotine.

In the first place, it is mere fiction that represents Maria Antoinette as having been physically beautiful. The painters and engravers have so idealized her face as in most cases to have produced a purely imaginary portrait.

She was born in Vienna, in 1755, the daughter of the Emperor Francis and of that warrior-queen, Maria Theresa. She was a very German-looking child. Lady Jackson describes her as having a long, thin face, small, pig-like eyes, a pinched-up mouth, with the heavy Hapsburg lip, and with a somewhat misshapen form, so that for years she had to be bandaged tightly to give her a more natural figure.

At fourteen, when she was betrothed to the heir to the French throne, she was a dumpy, mean-looking little creature, with no distinction whatever, and with only her bright golden hair to make amends for her many blemishes. At fifteen she was married and joined the Dauphin in French territory.

We must recall for a moment the conditions which prevailed in France. King Louis XV. was nearing his end. He was a man of the most shameless life; yet he had concealed or gilded his infamies by an external dignity and magnificence which, were very pleasing to his people. The French, liked to think that their king was the most splendid monarch and the greatest gentleman in Europe. The courtiers about him might be vile beneath the surface, yet they were compelled to deport themselves with the form and the etiquette that had become traditional in France. They might be panders, or stock-jobbers, or sellers of political offices; yet they must none the less have wit and grace and outward nobility of manner.

There was also a tradition regarding the French queen. However loose in character the other women of the court might be, she alone, like Caesar's wife, must remain above suspicion. She must be purer than the pure. No breath, of scandal must reach her or be directed against her.

In this way the French court, even under so dissolute a monarch as Louis XV., maintained its hold upon the loyalty of the people. Crowds came every morning to view the king in his bed before he arose; the same crowds watched him as he was dressed by the gentlemen of the bedchamber, and as he breakfasted and went through all the functions which are usually private. The King of France must be a great actor. He must appear to his people as in reality a king-stately, dignified, and beyond all other human beings in his remarkable presence.

When the Dauphin and Marie Antoinette came to the French court King Louis XV. kept up in the case the same semblance of austerity. He forbade these children to have their sleeping-apartments together. He tried to teach them that if they were to govern as well as to reign they must conform to the rigid etiquette of Paris and Versailles.

It proved a difficult task, however. The little German princess had no natural dignity, though she came from a court where the very strictest imperial discipline prevailed. Marie Antoinette found that she could have her own way in many things, and she chose to enjoy life without regard to ceremony. Her escapades at first would have been thought mild enough had she not been a "daughter of France"; but they served to shock the old French king, and likewise, perhaps even more, her own imperial mother, Maria Theresa.

When a report of the young girl's conduct was brought to her the empress was at first mute with indignation. Then she cried out:

"Can this girl be a child of mine? She surely must be a changeling!"

The Austrian ambassador to France was instructed to warn the Dauphiness to be more discreet.

"Tell her," said Maria Theresa, "that she will lose her throne, and even her life, unless she shows more prudence."

But advice and remonstrance were of no avail. Perhaps they might have been had her husband possessed a stronger character; but the young Louis was little more fitted to be a king than was his wife to be a queen. Dull of perception and indifferent to affairs of state, he had only two interests that absorbed him. One was the love of hunting, and the other was his desire to shut himself up in a sort of blacksmith shop, where he could hammer away at the anvil, blow the bellows, and manufacture small trifles of mechanical inventions. From this smudgy den he would emerge, sooty and greasy, an object of distaste to his frivolous princess, with her foamy laces and perfumes and pervasive daintiness.

It was hinted in many quarters, and it has been many times repeated, that Louis was lacking in virility. Certainly he had no interest in the society of women and was wholly continent. But this charge of physical incapacity seems to have had no real foundation. It had been made against some of his predecessors. It was afterward hurled at Napoleon the Great, and also Napoleon the Little. In France, unless a royal personage was openly licentious, he was almost sure to be jeered at by the people as a weakling.

And so poor Louis XVI., as he came to be, was treated with a mixture of pity and contempt because he loved to hammer and mend locks in his smithy or shoot game when he might have been caressing ladies who would have been proud to have him choose them out.

On the other hand, because of this opinion regarding Louis, people were the more suspicious of Marie Antoinette. Some of them, in coarse language, criticized her assumed infidelities; others, with a polite sneer, affected to defend her. But the result of it all was dangerous to both, especially as France was already verging toward the deluge which Louis XV. had cynically predicted would follow after him.

In fact, the end came sooner than any one had guessed. Louis XV., who had become hopelessly and helplessly infatuated with the low-born Jeanne du Barry, was stricken down with smallpox of the most virulent type. For many days he lay in his gorgeous bed. Courtiers crowded his sick-room and the adjacent hall, longing for the moment when the breath would leave his body. He had lived an evil life, and he was to die a loathsome death; yet he had borne himself before men as a stately monarch. Though his people had suffered in a thousand ways from his misgovernment, he was still Louis the Well Beloved, and they blamed his ministers of state for all the shocking wrongs that France had felt.

The abler men, and some of the leaders of the people, however, looked forward to the accession of Louis XVI. He at least was frugal in his habits and almost plebeian in his tastes, and seemed to be one who would reduce the enormous taxes that had been levied upon France.

The moment came when the Well Beloved died. His death-room was fetid with disease, and even the long corridors of the palace reeked with infection, while the motley mob of men and women, clad in silks and satins and glittering with jewels, hurried from the spot to pay their homage to the new Louis, who was spoken of as "the Desired." The body of the late monarch was hastily thrown into a mass of quick-lime, and was driven away in a humble wagon, without guards and with no salute, save from a single veteran, who remembered the glories of Fontenoy and discharged his musket as the royal corpse was carried through the palace gates.

This was a critical moment in the history of France; but we have to consider it only as a critical moment in the history of Marie Antoinette. She was now queen. She had it in her power to restore to the French court its old-time grandeur, and, so far as the queen was concerned, its purity. Above all, being a foreigner, she should have kept herself free from reproach and above every shadow of suspicion.

But here again the indifference of the king undoubtedly played a strange part in her life. Had he borne himself as her lord and master she might have respected him. Had he shown her the affection of a husband she might have loved him. But he was neither imposing, nor, on the other hand, was he alluring. She wrote very frankly about him in a letter to the Count Orsini:

My tastes are not the same as those of the king, who cares only for hunting and blacksmith work. You will admit that I should not show to advantage in a forge. I could not appear there as Vulcan, and the part of Venus might displease him even more than my tastes.

Thus on the one side is a woman in the first bloom of youth, ardent, eager—and neglected. On the other side is her husband, whose sluggishness may be judged by quoting from a diary which he kept during the month in which he was married. Here is a part of it:

Sunday, 13—Left Versailles. Supper and slept at Compignee, at the house of M. de Saint-Florentin.

Monday, 14—Interview with Mme. la Dauphine.

Tuesday, 15—Supped at La Muette. Slept at Versailles.

Wednesday, 16—My marriage. Apartment in the gallery. Royal banquet in the Salle d'Opera.

Thursday, 17—Opera of "Perseus."

Friday, 18—Stag-hunt. Met at La Belle Image. Took one.

Saturday, 19—Dress-ball in the Salle d'Opera. Fireworks.

Thursday, 31—I had an indigestion.

What might have been expected from a young girl placed as this queen was placed? She was indeed an earlier Eugenie. The first was of royal blood, the second was almost a plebeian; but each was headstrong, pleasure-loving, and with no real domestic ties. As Mr. Kipling expresses it—

    The colonel's lady and Judy O'Grady
    Are sisters under their skins;

and so the Austrian woman of 1776 and the Spanish woman of 1856 found amusement in very similar ways. They plunged into a sea of strange frivolity, such as one finds to-day at the centers of high fashion. Marie Antoinette bedecked herself with eccentric garments. On her head she wore a hat styled a "what-is-it," towering many feet in height and flaunting parti-colored plumes. Worse than all this, she refused to wear corsets, and at some great functions she would appear in what looked exactly like a bedroom gown.

She would even neglect the ordinary niceties of life. Her hands were not well cared for. It was very difficult for the ladies in attendance to persuade her to brush her teeth with regularity. Again, she would persist in wearing her frilled and lace-trimmed petticoats long after their dainty edges had been smirched and blackened.

Yet these things might have been counteracted had she gone no further. Unfortunately, she did go further. She loved to dress at night like a shop-girl and venture out into the world of Paris, where she was frequently followed and recognized. Think of it—the Queen of France, elbowed in dense crowds and seeking to attract the attention of common soldiers!

Of course, almost every one put the worst construction upon this, and after a time upon everything she did. When she took a fancy for constructing labyrinths and secret passages in the palace, all Paris vowed that she was planning means by which her various lovers might enter without observation. The hidden printing-presses of Paris swarmed with gross lampoons about this reckless girl; and, although there was little truth in what they said, there was enough to cloud her reputation. When she fell ill with the measles she was attended in her sick-chamber by four gentlemen of the court. The king was forbidden to enter lest he might catch the childish disorder.

The apathy of the king, indeed, drove her into many a folly. After four years of marriage, as Mrs. Mayne records, he had only reached the point of giving her a chilly kiss. The fact that she had no children became a serious matter. Her brother, the Emperor Joseph of Austria, when he visited Paris, ventured to speak to the king upon the subject. Even the Austrian ambassador had thrown out hints that the house of Bourbon needed direct heirs. Louis grunted and said little, but he must have known how good was the advice.

It was at about this time when there came to the French court a young Swede named Axel de Fersen, who bore the title of count, but who was received less for his rank than for his winning manner, his knightly bearing, and his handsome, sympathetic face. Romantic in spirit, he threw himself at once into a silent inner worship of Marie Antoinette, who had for him a singular attraction. Wherever he could meet her they met. To her growing cynicism this breath of pure yet ardent affection was very grateful. It came as something fresh and sweet into the feverish life she led.

Other men had had the audacity to woo her—among them Duc de Lauzun, whose complicity in the famous affair of the diamond necklace afterward cast her, though innocent, into ruin; the Duc de Biron; and the Baron de Besenval, who had obtained much influence over her, which he used for the most evil purposes. Besenval tainted her mind by persuading her to read indecent books, in the hope that at last she would become his prey.

But none of these men ever meant to Marie Antoinette what Fersen meant. Though less than twenty years of age, he maintained the reserve of a great gentleman, and never forced himself upon her notice. Yet their first acquaintance had occurred in such a way as to give to it a touch of intimacy. He had gone to a masked ball, and there had chosen for his partner a lady whose face was quite concealed. Something drew the two together. The gaiety of the woman and the chivalry of the man blended most harmoniously. It was only afterward that he discovered that his chance partner was the first lady in France. She kept his memory in her mind; for some time later, when he was at a royal drawing-room and she heard his voice, she exclaimed:

"Ah, an old acquaintance!"

From this time Fersen was among those who were most intimately favored by the queen. He had the privilege of attending her private receptions at the palace of the Trianon, and was a conspicuous figure at the feasts given in the queen's honor by the Princess de Lamballe, a beautiful girl whose head was destined afterward to be severed from her body and borne upon a bloody pike through the streets of Paris. But as yet the deluge had not arrived and the great and noble still danced upon the brink of a volcano.

Fersen grew more and more infatuated, nor could he quite conceal his feelings. The queen, in her turn, was neither frightened nor indignant. His passion, so profound and yet so respectful, deeply moved her. Then came a time when the truth was made clear to both of them. Fersen was near her while she was singing to the harpsichord, and "she was betrayed by her own music into an avowal which song made easy." She forgot that she was Queen of France. She only felt that her womanhood had been starved and slighted, and that here was a noble-minded lover of whom she could be proud.

Some time after this announcement was officially made of the approaching accouchement of the queen. It was impossible that malicious tongues should be silent. The king's brother, the Comte de Provence, who hated the queen, just as the Bonapartes afterward hated Josephine, did his best to besmirch her reputation. He had, indeed, the extraordinary insolence to do so at a time when one would suppose that the vilest of men would remain silent. The child proved to be a princess, and she afterward received the title of Duchesse d'Angouleme. The King of Spain asked to be her godfather at the christening, which was to be held in the cathedral of Notre Dame. The Spanish king was not present in person, but asked the Comte de Provence to act as his proxy.

On the appointed day the royal party proceeded to the cathedral, and the Comte de Provence presented the little child at the baptismal font. The grand almoner, who presided, asked;

"What name shall be given to this child?"

The Comte de Provence answered in a sneering tone:

"Oh, we don't begin with that. The first thing to find out is who the father and the mother are!"

These words, spoken at such a place and such a time, and with a strongly sardonic ring, set all Paris gossiping. It was a thinly veiled innuendo that the father of the child was not the King of France. Those about the court immediately began to look at Fersen with significant smiles. The queen would gladly have kept him near her; but Fersen cared even more for her good name than for his love of her. It would have been so easy to remain in the full enjoyment of his conquest; but he was too chivalrous for that, or, rather, he knew that the various ambassadors in Paris had told their respective governments of the rising scandal. In fact, the following secret despatch was sent to the King of Sweden by his envoy:

I must confide to your majesty that the young Count Fersen has been so well received by the queen that various persons have taken it amiss. I own that I am sure that she has a liking for him. I have seen proofs of it too certain to be doubted. During the last few days the queen has not taken her eyes off him, and as she gazed they were full of tears. I beg your majesty to keep their secret to yourself.

The queen wept because Fersen had resolved to leave her lest she should be exposed to further gossip. If he left her without any apparent reason, the gossip would only be the more intense. Therefore he decided to join the French troops who were going to America to fight under Lafayette. A brilliant but dissolute duchess taunted him when the news became known.

"How is this?" said she. "Do you forsake your conquest?"

But, "lying like a gentleman," Fersen answered, quietly:

"Had I made a conquest I should not forsake it. I go away free, and, unfortunately, without leaving any regret."

Nothing could have been more chivalrous than the pains which Fersen took to shield the reputation of the queen. He even allowed it to be supposed that he was planning a marriage with a rich young Swedish woman who had been naturalized in England. As a matter of fact, he departed for America, and not very long afterward the young woman in question married an Englishman.

Fersen served in America for a time, returning, however, at the end of three years. He was one of the original Cincinnati, being admitted to the order by Washington himself. When he returned to France he was received with high honors and was made colonel of the royal Swedish regiment.

The dangers threatening Louis and his court, which were now gigantic and appalling, forbade him to forsake the queen. By her side he did what he could to check the revolution; and, failing this, he helped her to maintain an imperial dignity of manner which she might otherwise have lacked. He faced the bellowing mob which surrounded the Tuileries. Lafayette tried to make the National Guard obey his orders, but he was jeered at for his pains. Violent epithets were hurled at the king. The least insulting name which they could give him was "a fat pig." As for the queen, the most filthy phrases were showered upon her by the men, and even more so by the women, who swarmed out of the slums and sought her life.

At last, in 1791, it was decided that the king and the queen and their children, of whom they now had three, should endeavor to escape from Paris. Fersen planned their flight, but it proved to be a failure. Every one remembers how they were discovered and halted at Varennes. The royal party was escorted back to Paris by the mob, which chanted with insolent additions:

"We've brought back the baker, the baker's wife, and the baker's boy! Now we shall have bread!"

Against the savage fury which soon animated the French a foreigner like Fersen could do very little; but he seems to have endeavored, night and day, to serve the woman whom he loved. His efforts have been described by Grandat; but they were of no avail. The king and queen were practically made prisoners. Their eldest son died. They went through horrors that were stimulated by the wretch Hebert, at the head of his so-called Madmen (Enrages). The king was executed in January, 1792. The queen dragged out a brief existence in a prison where she was for ever under the eyes of human brutes, who guarded her and watched her and jeered at her at times when even men would be sensitive. Then, at last, she mounted the scaffold, and her head, with its shining hair, fell into the bloody basket.

Marie Antoinette shows many contradictions in her character. As a young girl she was petulant and silly and almost unseemly in her actions. As a queen, with waning power, she took on a dignity which recalled the dignity of her imperial mother. At first a flirt, she fell deeply in love when she met a man who was worthy of that love. She lived for most part like a mere cocotte. She died every inch a queen.

One finds a curious resemblance between the fate of Marie Antoinette and that of her gallant lover, who outlived her for nearly twenty years. She died amid the shrieks and execrations of a maddened populace in Paris; he was practically torn in pieces by a mob in the streets of Stockholm. The day of his death was the anniversary of the flight to Varennes. To the last moment of his existence he remained faithful to the memory of the royal woman who had given herself so utterly to him.


There will come a time when the name of Aaron Burr will be cleared from the prejudice which now surrounds it, when he will stand in the public estimation side by side with Alexander Hamilton, whom he shot in a duel in 1804, but whom in many respects he curiously resembled. When the white light of history shall have searched them both they will appear as two remarkable men, each having his own undoubted faults and at the same time his equally undoubted virtues.

Burr and Hamilton were born within a year of each other—Burr being a grandson of Jonathan Edwards, and Alexander Hamilton being the illegitimate son of a Scottish merchant in the West Indies. Each of them was short in stature, keen of intellect, of great physical endurance, courage, and impressive personality. Each as a young man served on the staff of Washington during the Revolutionary War, and each of them quarreled with him, though in a different way.

On one occasion Burr was quite unjustly suspected by Washington of looking over the latter's shoulder while he was writing. "Washington leaped to his feet with the exclamation:

"How dare you, Colonel Burr?"

Burr's eyes flashed fire at the question, and he retorted, haughtily:

"Colonel Burr DARE do anything."

This, however, was the end of their altercation The cause of Hamilton's difference with his chief is not known, but it was a much more serious quarrel; so that the young officer left his staff position in a fury and took no part in the war until the end, when he was present at the battle of Yorktown.

Burr, on the other hand, helped Montgomery to storm the heights of Quebec, and nearly reached the upper citadel when his commander was shot dead and the Americans retreated. In all this confusion Burr showed himself a man of mettle. The slain Montgomery was six feet high, but Burr carried his body away with wonderful strength amid a shower of musket-balls and grape-shot.

Hamilton had no belief in the American Constitution, which he called "a shattered, feeble thing." He could never obtain an elective office, and he would have preferred to see the United States transformed into a kingdom. Washington's magnanimity and clear-sightedness made Hamilton Secretary of the Treasury. Burr, on the other hand, continued his military service until the war was ended, routing the enemy at Hackensack, enduring the horrors of Valley Forge, commanding a brigade at the battle of Monmouth, and heading the defense of the city of New Haven. He was also attorney-general of New York, was elected to the United States Senate, was tied with Jefferson for the Presidency, and then became Vice-President.

Both Hamilton and Burr were effective speakers; but, while Hamilton was wordy and diffuse, Burr spoke always to the point, with clear and cogent reasoning. Both were lavish spenders of money, and both were engaged in duels before the fatal one in which Hamilton fell. Both believed in dueling as the only way of settling an affair of honor. Neither of them was averse to love affairs, though it may be said that Hamilton sought women, while Burr was rather sought by women. When Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton was obliged to confess an adulterous amour in order to save himself from the charge of corrupt practices in public office. So long as Burr's wife lived he was a devoted, faithful husband to her. Hamilton was obliged to confess his illicit acts while his wife, formerly Miss Elizabeth Schuyler, was living. She spent her later years in buying and destroying the compromising documents which her husband had published for his countrymen to read.

The most extraordinary thing about Aaron Burr was the magnetic quality that was felt by every one who approached him. The roots of this penetrated down into a deep vitality. He was always young, always alert, polished in manner, courageous with that sort of courage which does not even recognize the presence of danger, charming in conversation, and able to adapt it to men or women of any age whatever. His hair was still dark in his eightieth year. His step was still elastic, his motions were still as spontaneous and energetic, as those of a youth.

So it was that every one who knew him experienced his fascination. The rough troops whom he led through the Canadian swamps felt the iron hand of his discipline; yet they were devoted to him, since he shared all their toils, faced all their dangers, and ate with them the scraps of hide which they gnawed to keep the breath of life in their shrunken bodies.

Burr's discipline was indeed very strict, so that at first raw recruits rebelled against it. On one occasion the men of an untrained company resented it so bitterly that they decided to shoot Colonel Burr as he paraded them for roll-call that evening. Burr somehow got word of it and contrived to have all the cartridges drawn from their muskets. When the time for the roll-call came one of the malcontents leaped from the front line and leveled his weapon at Burr.

"Now is the time, boys!" he shouted.

Like lightning Burr's sword flashed from its scabbard with such a vigorous stroke as to cut the man's arm completely off and partly to cleave the musket.

"Take your place in the ranks," said Burr.

The mutineer obeyed, dripping with blood. A month later every man in that company was devoted to his commander. They had learned that discipline was the surest source of safety.

But with this high spirit and readiness to fight Burr had a most pleasing way of meeting every one who came to him. When he was arrested in the Western forests, charged with high treason, the sound of his voice won from jury after jury verdicts of acquittal. Often the sheriffs would not arrest him. One grand jury not merely exonerated him from all public misdemeanors, but brought in a strong presentment against the officers of the government for molesting him.

It was the same everywhere. Burr made friends and devoted allies among all sorts of men. During his stay in France, England, Germany, and Sweden he interested such men as Charles Lamb, Jeremy Bentham, Sir Walter Scott, Goethe, and Heeren. They found his mind able to meet with theirs on equal terms. Burr, indeed, had graduated as a youth with honors from Princeton, and had continued his studies there after graduation, which was then a most unusual thing to do. But, of course, he learned most from his contact with men and women of the world.

Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, in The Minister's Wooing, has given what is probably an exact likeness of Aaron Burr, with his brilliant gifts and some of his defects. It is strong testimony to the character of Burr that Mrs. Stowe set out to paint him as a villain; but before she had written long she felt his fascination and made her readers, in their own despite, admirers of this remarkable man. There are many parallels, indeed, between him and Napoleon—in the quickness of his intellect, the ready use of his resources, and his power over men, while he was more than Napoleon in his delightful gift of conversation and the easy play of his cultured mind.

Those who are full of charm are willing also to be charmed. All his life Burr was abstemious in food and drink. His tastes were most refined. It is difficult to believe that such a man could have been an unmitigated profligate.

In his twentieth year there seems to have begun the first of the romances that run through the story of his long career. Perhaps one ought not to call it the first romance, for at eighteen, while he was studying law at Litchfield, a girl, whose name has been suppressed, made an open avowal of love for him. Almost at the same time an heiress with a large fortune would have married him had he been willing to accept her hand. But at this period he was only a boy and did not take such things seriously.

Two years later, after Burr had seen hard service at Quebec and on Manhattan Island, his name was associated with that of a very beautiful girl named Margaret Moncrieffe. She was the daughter of a British major, but in some way she had been captured while within the American lines. Her captivity was regarded as little more than a joke; but while she was thus a prisoner she saw a great deal of Burr. For several months they were comrades, after which General Putnam sent her with his compliments to her father.

Margaret Moncrieffe had a most emotional nature. There can be no doubt that she deeply loved the handsome young American officer, whom she never saw again. It is doubtful how far their intimacy was carried. Later she married a Mr. Coghlan. After reaching middle life she wrote of Burr in a way which shows that neither years nor the obligations of marriage could make her forget that young soldier, whom she speaks of as "the conqueror of her soul." In the rather florid style of those days the once youthful Margaret Moncrieffe expresses herself as follows:

Oh, may these pages one day meet the eye of him who subdued my virgin heart, whom the immutable, unerring laws of nature had pointed out for my husband, but whose sacred decree the barbarous customs of society fatally violated!

Commenting on this paragraph, Mr. H. C. Merwin justly remarks that, whatever may have been Burr's conduct toward Margaret Moncrieffe, the lady herself, who was the person chiefly concerned, had no complaint to make of it. It certainly was no very serious affair, since in the following year Burr met a lady who, while she lived, was the only woman for whom he ever really cared.

This was Theodosia Prevost, the wife of a major in the British army. Burr met her first in 1777, while she was living with her sister in Westchester County. Burr's command was fifteen miles across the river, but distance and danger made no difference to him. He used to mount a swift horse, inspect his sentinels and outposts, and then gallop to the Hudson, where a barge rowed by six soldiers awaited him. The barge was well supplied with buffalo-skins, upon which the horse was thrown with his legs bound, and then half an hour's rowing brought them to the other side. There Burr resumed his horse, galloped to the house of Mrs. Prevost, and, after spending a few hours with her, returned in the same way.

Mrs. Prevost was by no means beautiful, but she had an attractiveness of her own. She was well educated and possessed charming manners, with a disposition both gentle and affectionate. Her husband died soon after the beginning of the war, and then Burr married her. No more ideal family life could be conceived than his, and the letters which passed between the two are full of adoration. Thus she wrote to him:

Tell me, why do I grow every day more tenacious of your regard? Is it because each revolving day proves you more deserving?

And thus Burr answered her:

Continue to multiply your letters to me. They are all my solace. The last six are constantly within my reach. I read them once a day at least. Write me all that I have asked, and a hundred things which I have not.

When it is remembered that these letters were written after nine years of marriage it is hard to believe all the evil things that have been said of Burr.

His wife died in 1794, and he then gave a double affection to his daughter Theodosia, whose beauty and accomplishments were known throughout the country. Burr took the greatest pains in her education, and believed that she should be trained, as he had been, to be brave, industrious, and patient. He himself, who has been described as a voluptuary, delighted in the endurance of cold and heat and of severe labor.

After his death one of his younger admirers was asked what Burr had done for him. The reply was characteristic.

"He made me iron," was the answer.

No father ever gave more attention to his daughter's welfare. As to Theodosia's studies he was very strict, making her read Greek and Latin every day, with drawing and music and history, in addition to French. Not long before her marriage to Joseph Allston, of South Carolina, Burr wrote to her:

I really think, my dear Theo, that you will be very soon beyond all verbal criticism, and that my whole attention will be presently directed to the improvement of your style.

Theodosia Burr married into a family of good old English stock, where riches were abundant, and high character was regarded as the best of all possessions. Every one has heard of the mysterious tragedy which is associated with her history. In 1812, when her husband had been elected Governor of his state, her only child—a sturdy boy of eleven—died, and Theodosia's health was shattered by her sorrow. In the same year Burr returned from a sojourn in Europe, and his loving daughter embarked from Charleston on a schooner, the Patriot, to meet her father in New York. When Burr arrived he was met by a letter which told him that his grandson was dead and that Theodosia was coming to him.

Weeks sped by, and no news was heard of the ill-fated Patriot. At last it became evident that she must have gone down or in some other way have been lost. Burr and Governor Allston wrote to each other letter after letter, of which each one seems to surpass the agony of the other. At last all hope was given up. Governor Allston died soon after of a broken heart; but Burr, as became a Stoic, acted otherwise.

He concealed everything that reminded him of Theodosia. He never spoke of his lost daughter. His grief was too deep-seated and too terrible for speech. Only once did he ever allude to her, and this was in a letter written to an afflicted friend, which contained the words:

Ever since the event which separated me from mankind I have been able neither to give nor to receive consolation.

In time the crew of a pirate vessel was captured and sentenced to be hanged. One of the men, who seemed to be less brutal than the rest, told how, in 1812, they had captured a schooner, and, after their usual practice, had compelled the passengers to walk the plank. All hesitated and showed cowardice, except only one—a beautiful woman whose eyes were as bright and whose bearing was as unconcerned as if she were safe on shore. She quickly led the way, and, mounting the plank with a certain scorn of death, said to the others:

"Come, I will show you how to die."

It has always been supposed that this intrepid girl may have been Theodosia Allston. If so, she only acted as her father would have done and in strict accordance with his teachings.

This resolute courage, this stern joy in danger, this perfect equanimity, made Burr especially attractive to women, who love courage, the more so when it is coupled with gentleness and generosity.

Perhaps no man in our country has been so vehemently accused regarding his relations with the other sex. The most improbable stories were told about him, even by his friends. As to his enemies, they took boundless pains to paint him in the blackest colors. According to them, no woman was safe from his intrigues. He was a perfect devil in leading them astray and then casting them aside.

Thus one Matthew L. Davis, in whom Burr had confided as a friend, wrote of him long afterward a most unjust account—unjust because we have proofs that it was false in the intensity of its abuse. Davis wrote:

It is truly surprising how any individual could become so eminent as a soldier, as a statesman, and as a professional man who devoted so much time to the other sex as was devoted by Colonel Burr. For more than half a century of his life they seemed to absorb his whole thought. His intrigues were without number; the sacred bonds of friendship were unhesitatingly violated when they operated as barriers to the indulgence of his passions. In this particular Burr appears to have been unfeeling and heartless.

It is impossible to believe that the Spartan Burr, whose life was one of incessant labor and whose kindliness toward every one was so well known, should have deserved a commentary like this. The charge of immorality is so easily made and so difficult of disproof that it has been flung promiscuously at all the great men of history, including, in our own country, Washington and Jefferson as well as Burr. In England, when Gladstone was more than seventy years of age, he once stopped to ask a question of a woman in the street. Within twenty-four hours the London clubs were humming with a sort of demoniac glee over the story that this aged and austere old gentleman was not above seeking common street amours.

And so with Aaron Burr to a great extent. That he was a man of strict morality it would be absurd to maintain. That he was a reckless and licentious profligate would be almost equally untrue. Mr. H. O. Merwin has very truly said:

Part of Burr's reputation for profligacy was due, no doubt, to that vanity respecting women of which Davis himself speaks. He never refused to accept the parentage of a child.

"Why do you allow this woman to saddle you with her child when you KNOW you are not the father of it?" said a friend to him a few months before his death.

"Sir," he replied, "when a lady does me the honor to name me the father of her child I trust I shall always be too gallant to show myself ungrateful for the favor."

There are two curious legends relating to Aaron Burr. They serve to show that his reputation became such that he could not enjoy the society of a woman without having her regarded as his mistress.

When he was United States Senator from New York he lived in Philadelphia at the lodging-house of a Mrs. Payne, whose daughter, Dorothy Todd, was the very youthful widow of an officer. This young woman was rather free in her manners, and Burr was very responsive in his. At the time, however, nothing was thought of it; but presently Burr brought to the house the serious and somewhat pedantic James Madison and introduced him to the hoyden.

Madison was then forty-seven years of age, a stranger to society, but gradually rising to a prominent position in politics—"the great little Madison," as Burr rather lightly called him. Before very long he had proposed marriage to the young widow. She hesitated, and some one referred the matter to President Washington. The Father of his Country answered in what was perhaps the only opinion that he ever gave on the subject of matrimony. It is worth preserving because it shows that he had a sense of humor:

For my own part, I never did nor do I believe I ever shall give advice to a woman who is setting out on a matrimonial voyage... A woman very rarely asks an opinion or seeks advice on such an occasion till her mind is wholly made up, and then it is with the hope and expectation of obtaining a sanction, and not that she means to be governed by your disapproval.

Afterward when Dolly Madison with, her yellow turban and kittenish ways was making a sensation in Washington society some one recalled her old association with Burr. At once the story sprang to light that Burr had been her lover and that he had brought about the match with Madison as an easy way of getting rid of her.

There is another curious story which makes Martin Van Buren, eighth President of the United States, to have been the illegitimate son of Aaron Burr. There is no earthly reason for believing this, except that Burr sometimes stopped overnight at the tavern in Kinderhook which was kept by Van Buren's putative father, and that Van Buren in later life showed an astuteness equal to that of Aaron Burr himself, so that he was called by his opponents "the fox of Kinderhook." But, as Van Buren was born in December of the same year (1782) in which Burr was married to Theodosia Prevost, the story is utterly improbable when we remember, as we must, the ardent affection which Burr showed his wife, not only before their marriage, but afterward until her death.

Putting aside these purely spurious instances, as well as others cited by Mr. Parton, the fact remains that Aaron Burr, like Daniel Webster, found a great attraction in the society of women; that he could please them and fascinate them to an extraordinary degree; and that during his later life he must be held quite culpable in this respect. His love-making was ardent and rapid, as we shall afterward see in the case of his second marriage.

Many other stories are told of him. For instance, it is said that he once took a stage-coach from Jersey City to Philadelphia. The only other occupant was a woman of high standing and one whose family deeply hated Aaron Burr. Nevertheless, so the story goes, before they had reached Newark she was absolutely swayed by his charm of manner; and when the coach made its last stop before Philadelphia she voluntarily became his mistress.

It must also be said that, unlike those of Webster and Hamilton, his intrigues were never carried on with women of the lower sort. This may be held by some to deepen the charge against him; but more truly does it exonerate him, since it really means that in many cases these women of the world threw themselves at him and sought him as a lover, when otherwise he might never have thought of them.

That he was not heartless and indifferent to those who had loved him may be shown by the great care which he took to protect their names and reputations. Thus, on the day before his duel with Hamilton, he made a will in which he constituted his son-in-law as his executor. At the same time he wrote a sealed letter to Governor Allston in which he said:

If you can pardon and indulge a folly, I would suggest that Mme. ——, too well known under the name of Leonora, has claims on my recollection. She is now with her husband at Santiago, in Cuba.

Another fact has been turned to his discredit. From many women, in the course of his long life, he had received a great quantity of letters written by aristocratic hands on scented paper, and these letters he had never burned. Here again, perhaps, was shown the vanity of the man who loved love for its own sake. He kept all these papers in a huge iron-clamped chest, and he instructed Theodosia in case he should die to burn every letter which might injure any one.

After Theodosia's death Burr gave the same instructions to Matthew L. Davis, who did, indeed, burn them, though he made their existence a means of blackening the character of Burr. He should have destroyed them unopened, and should never have mentioned them in his memoirs of the man who trusted him as a friend.

Such was Aaron Burr throughout a life which lasted for eighty years. His last romance, at the age of seventy-eight, is worth narrating because it has often been misunderstood.

Mme. Jumel was a Rhode Island girl who at seventeen years of age eloped with an English officer, Colonel Peter Croix. Her first husband died while she was still quite young, and she then married a French wine-merchant, Stephen Jumel, some twenty years her senior, but a man of much vigor and intelligence. M. Jumel made a considerable fortune in New York, owning a small merchant fleet; and after Napoleon's downfall he and his wife went to Paris, where she made a great impression in the salons by her vivacity and wit and by her lavish expenditures.

Losing, however, part of what she and her husband possessed, Mme. Jumel returned to New York, bringing with her a great amount of furniture and paintings, with which she decorated the historic house still standing in the upper part of Manhattan Island—a mansion held by her in her own right. She managed her estate with much ability; and in 1828 M. Jumel returned to live with her in what was in those days a splendid villa.

Four years later, however, M. Jumel suffered an accident from which he died in a few days, leaving his wife still an attractive woman and not very much past her prime. Soon after she had occasion to seek for legal advice, and for this purpose visited the law-office of Aaron Burr. She had known him a good many years before; and, though he was now seventy-eight years of age, there was no perceptible change in him. He was still courtly in manner, tactful, and deferential, while physically he was straight, active, and vigorous.

A little later she invited him to a formal banquet, where he displayed all his charms and shone to great advantage. When he was about to lead her in to dinner, he said:

"I give my hand, madam; my heart has long been yours."

These attentions he followed up with several other visits, and finally proposed that she should marry him. Much fluttered and no less flattered, she uttered a sort of "No" which was not likely to discourage a man like Aaron Burr.

"I shall come to you before very long," he said, "accompanied by a clergyman; and then you will give me your hand because I want it."

This rapid sort of wooing was pleasantly embarrassing. The lady rather liked it; and so, on an afternoon when the sun was shining and the leaves were rustling in the breeze, Burr drove up to Mme. Jumel's mansion accompanied by Dr. Bogart—the very clergyman who had married him to his first wife fifty years before.

Mme. Jumel was now seriously disturbed, but her refusal was not a strong one. There were reasons why she should accept the offer. The great house was lonely. The management of her estate required a man's advice. Moreover, she was under the spell of Burr's fascination. Therefore she arrayed herself in one of her most magnificent Paris gowns; the members of her household and eight servants were called in and the ceremony was duly performed by Dr. Bogart. A banquet followed. A dozen cobwebbed bottles of wine were brought up from the cellar, and the marriage feast went on merrily until after midnight.

This marriage was a singular one from many points of view. It was strange that a man of seventy-eight should take by storm the affections of a woman so much younger than he—a woman of wealth and knowledge of the world. In the second place, it is odd that there was still another woman—a mere girl—who was so infatuated with Burr that when she was told of his marriage it nearly broke her heart. Finally, in the early part of that same year he had been accused of being the father of a new-born child, and in spite of his age every one believed the charge to be true. Here is a case that it would be hard to parallel.

The happiness of the newly married pair did not, however, last very long. They made a wedding journey into Connecticut, of which state Burr's nephew was then Governor, and there Burr saw a monster bridge over the Connecticut River, in which his wife had shares, though they brought her little income. He suggested that she should transfer the investment, which, after all, was not a very large one, and place it in a venture in Texas which looked promising. The speculation turned out to be a loss, however, and this made Mrs. Burr extremely angry, the more so as she had reason to think that her ever-youthful husband had been engaged in flirting with the country girls near the Jumel mansion.

She was a woman of high spirit and had at times a violent temper. One day the post-master at what was then the village of Harlem was surprised to see Mrs. Burr drive up before the post-office in an open carriage. He came out to ask what she desired, and was surprised to find her in a violent temper and with an enormous horse-pistol on each cushion at her side.

"What do you wish, madam?" said he, rather mildly.

"What do I wish?" she cried. "Let me get at that villain Aaron Burr!"

Presently Burr seems to have succeeded in pacifying her; but in the end they separated, though she afterward always spoke most kindly of him. When he died, only about a year later, she is said to have burst into a flood of tears—another tribute to the fascination which Aaron Burr exercised through all his checkered life.

It is difficult to come to any fixed opinion regarding the moral character of Aaron Burr. As a soldier he was brave to the point of recklessness. As a political leader he was almost the equal of Jefferson and quite superior to Hamilton. As a man of the world he was highly accomplished, polished in manner, charming in conversation. He made friends easily, and he forgave his enemies with a broadmindedness that is unusual.

On the other hand, in his political career there was a touch of insincerity, and it can scarcely be denied that he used his charm too often to the injury of those women who could not resist his insinuating ways and the caressing notes of his rich voice. But as a husband, in his youth, he was devoted, affectionate, and loyal; while as a father he was little less than worshiped by the daughter whom he reared so carefully.

One of his biographers very truly says that no such wretch as Burr has been declared to be could have won and held the love of such a wife and such a daughter as Burr had.

When all the other witnesses have been heard, let the two Theodosias be summoned, and especially that daughter who showed toward him an affectionate veneration unsurpassed by any recorded in history or romance. Such an advocate as Theodosia the younger must avail in some degree, even though the culprit were brought before the bar of Heaven itself.


In the last decade of the eighteenth century England was perhaps the most brilliant nation of the world. Other countries had been humbled by the splendid armies of France and were destined to be still further humbled by the emperor who came from Corsica. France had begun to seize the scepter of power; yet to this picture there was another side—fearful want and grievous poverty and the horrors of the Revolution. Russia was too far away, and was still considered too barbarous, for a brilliant court to flourish there. Prussia had the prestige that Frederick the Great won for her, but she was still a comparatively small state. Italy was in a condition of political chaos; the banks of the Rhine were running blood where the Austrian armies faced the gallant Frenchmen under the leadership of Moreau. But England, in spite of the loss of her American colonies, was rich and prosperous, and her invincible fleets were extending her empire over the seven seas.

At no time in modern England has the court at London seen so much real splendor or such fine manners. The royalist emigres who fled from France brought with them names and pedigrees that were older than the Crusades, and many of them were received with the frankest, freest English hospitality. If here and there some marquis or baron of ancient blood was perforce content to teach music to the daughters of tradesmen in suburban schools, nevertheless they were better off than they had been in France, harried by the savage gaze-hounds of the guillotine. Afterward, in the days of the Restoration, when they came back to their estates, they had probably learned more than one lesson from the bouledogues of Merry England, who had little tact, perhaps, but who were at any rate kindly and willing to share their goods with pinched and poverty-stricken foreigners.

The court, then, as has been said, was brilliant with notables from Continental countries, and with the historic wealth of the peerage of England. Only one cloud overspread it; and that was the mental condition of the king. We have become accustomed to think of George III as a dull creature, almost always hovering on the verge of that insanity which finally swept him into a dark obscurity; but Thackeray's picture of him is absurdly untrue to the actual facts. George III. was by no means a dullard, nor was he a sort of beefy country squire who roved about the palace gardens with his unattractive spouse.

Obstinate enough he was, and ready for a combat with the rulers of the Continent or with his self-willed sons; but he was a man of brains and power, and Lord Rosebery has rightly described him as the most striking constitutional figure of his time. Had he retained his reason, and had his erratic and self-seeking son not succeeded him during his own lifetime, Great Britain might very possibly have entered upon other ways than those which opened to her after the downfall of Napoleon.

The real center of fashionable England, however, was not George III., but rather his son, subsequently George IV., who was made Prince of Wales three days after his birth, and who became prince regent during the insanity of the king. He was the leader of the social world, the fit companion of Beau Brummel and of a choice circle of rakes and fox-hunters who drank pottle-deep. Some called him "the first gentleman of Europe." Others, who knew him better, described him as one who never kept his word to man or woman and who lacked the most elementary virtues.

Yet it was his good luck during the first years of his regency to be popular as few English kings have ever been. To his people he typified old England against revolutionary France; and his youth and gaiety made many like him. He drank and gambled; he kept packs of hounds and strings of horses; he ran deeply into debt that he might patronize the sports of that uproarious day. He was a gallant "Corinthian," a haunter of dens where there were prize-fights and cock-fights, and there was hardly a doubtful resort in London where his face was not familiar.

He was much given to gallantry—not so much, as it seemed, for wantonness, but from sheer love of mirth and chivalry. For a time, with his chosen friends, such as Fox and Sheridan, he ventured into reckless intrigues that recalled the amours of his predecessor, Charles II. He had by no means the wit and courage of Charles; and, indeed, the house of Hanover lacked the outward show of chivalry which made the Stuarts shine with external splendor. But he was good-looking and stalwart, and when he had half a dozen robust comrades by his side he could assume a very manly appearance. Such was George IV. in his regency and in his prime. He made that period famous for its card-playing, its deep drinking, and for the dissolute conduct of its courtiers and noblemen no less than for the gallantry of its soldiers and its momentous victories on sea and land. It came, however, to be seen that his true achievements were in reality only escapades, that his wit was only folly, and his so-called "sensibility" was but sham. He invented buckles, striped waistcoats, and flamboyant collars, but he knew nothing of the principles of kingship or the laws by which a state is governed.

The fact that he had promiscuous affairs with women appealed at first to the popular sense of the romantic. It was not long, however, before these episodes were trampled down into the mire of vulgar scandal.

One of the first of them began when he sent a letter, signed "Florizel," to a young actress, "Perdita" Robinson. Mrs. Robinson, whose maiden name was Mary Darby, and who was the original of famous portraits by Gainsborough and Reynolds, was a woman of beauty, talent, and temperament. George, wishing in every way to be "romantic," insisted upon clandestine meetings on the Thames at Kew, with all the stage trappings of the popular novels—cloaks, veils, faces hidden, and armed watchers to warn her of approaching danger. Poor Perdita took this nonsense so seriously that she gave up her natural vocation for the stage, and forsook her husband, believing that the prince would never weary of her.

He did weary of her very soon, and, with the brutality of a man of such a type, turned her away with the promise of some money; after which he cut her in the Park and refused to speak to her again. As for the money, he may have meant to pay it, but Perdita had a long struggle before she succeeded in getting it. It may be assumed that the prince had to borrow it and that this obligation formed part of the debts which Parliament paid for him.

It is not necessary to number the other women whose heads he turned. They are too many for remembrance here, and they have no special significance, save one who, as is generally believed, became his wife so far as the church could make her so. An act of 1772 had made it illegal for any member of the English royal family to marry without the permission of the king. A marriage contracted without the king's consent might be lawful in the eyes of the church, but the children born of it could not inherit any claim to the throne.

It may be remarked here that this withholding of permission was strictly enforced. Thus William IV., who succeeded George IV., was married, before his accession to the throne, to Mrs. Jordan (Dorothy Bland). Afterward he lawfully married a woman of royal birth who was known as Queen Adelaide.

There is an interesting story which tells how Queen Victoria came to be born because her father, the Duke of Kent, was practically forced to give up a morganatic union which he greatly preferred to a marriage arranged for him by Parliament. Except the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of Kent was the only royal duke who was likely to have children in the regular line. The only daughter of George IV. had died in childhood. The Duke of Cumberland was for various reasons ineligible; the Duke of Clarence, later King William IV., was almost too old; and therefore, to insure the succession, the Duke of Kent was begged to marry a young and attractive woman, a princess of the house of Saxe-Coburg, who was ready for the honor. It was greatly to the Duke's credit that he showed deep and sincere feeling in this matter. As he said himself in effect:

"This French lady has stood by me in hard times and in good times, too—why should I cast her off? She has been more than a wife to me. And what do I care for your plans in Parliament? Send over for one of the Stuarts—they are better men than the last lot of our fellows that you have had!"

In the end, however, he was wearied out and was persuaded to marry, but he insisted that a generous sum should be settled on the lady who had been so long his true companion, and to whom, no doubt, he gave many a wistful thought in his new but unfamiliar quarters in Kensington Palace, which was assigned as his residence.

Again, the second Duke of Cambridge, who died only a few years ago, greatly desired to marry a lady who was not of royal rank, though of fine breeding and of good birth. He besought his young cousin, as head of the family, to grant him this privilege of marriage; but Queen Victoria stubbornly refused. The duke was married according to the rites of the church, but he could not make his wife a duchess. The queen never quite forgave him for his partial defiance of her wishes, though the duke's wife—she was usually spoken of as Mrs. FitzGeorge—was received almost everywhere, and two of her sons hold high rank in the British army and navy, respectively.

The one real love story in the life of George IV. is that which tells of his marriage with a lady who might well have been the wife of any king. This was Maria Anne Smythe, better known as Mrs. Fitzherbert, who was six years older than the young prince when she first met him in company with a body of gentlemen and ladies in 1784.

Maria Fitzherbert's face was one which always displayed its best advantages. Her eyes were peculiarly languishing, and, as she had already been twice a widow, and was six years his senior, she had the advantage over a less experienced lover. Likewise, she was a Catholic, and so by another act of Parliament any marriage with her would be illegal. Yet just because of all these different objections the prince was doubly drawn to her, and was willing to sacrifice even the throne if he could but win her.

His father, the king, called him into the royal presence and said:

"George, it is time that you should settle down and insure the succession to the throne."

"Sir," replied the prince, "I prefer to resign the succession and let my brother have it, and that I should live as a private English gentleman."

Mrs. Fitzherbert was not the sort of woman to give herself up readily to a morganatic connection. Moreover, she soon came to love Prince George too well to entangle him in a doubtful alliance with one of another faith than his. Not long after he first met her the prince, who was always given to private theatricals, sent messengers riding in hot haste to her house to tell her that he had stabbed himself, that he begged to see her, and that unless she came he would repeat the act. The lady yielded, and hurried to Carlton House, the prince's residence; but she was prudent enough to take with her the Duchess of Devonshire, who was a reigning beauty of the court.

The scene which followed was theatrical rather than impressive.—The prince was found in his sleeping-chamber, pale and with his ruffles blood-stained. He played the part of a youthful and love-stricken wooer, vowing that he would marry the woman of his heart or stab himself again. In the presence of his messengers, who, with the duchess, were witnesses, he formally took the lady as his wife, while Lady Devonshire's wedding-ring sealed the troth. The prince also acknowledged it in a document.

Mrs. Fitzherbert was, in fact, a woman of sound sense. Shortly after this scene of melodramatic intensity her wits came back to her, and she recognized that she had merely gone through a meaningless farce. So she sent back the prince's document and the ring and hastened to the Continent, where he could not reach her, although his detectives followed her steps for a year.

At the last she yielded, however, and came home to marry the prince in such fashion as she could—a marriage of love, and surely one of morality, though not of parliamentary law. The ceremony was performed "in her own drawing-room in her house in London, in the presence of the officiating Protestant clergyman and two of her own nearest relatives."

Such is the serious statement of Lord Stourton, who was Mrs. Fitzherbert's cousin and confidant. The truth of it was never denied, and Mrs. Fitzherbert was always treated with respect, and even regarded as a person of great distinction. Nevertheless, on more than one occasion the prince had his friends in Parliament deny the marriage in order that his debts might be paid and new allowances issued to him by the Treasury.

George certainly felt himself a husband. Like any other married prince, he set himself to build a palace for his country home. While in search of some suitable spot he chanced to visit the "pretty fishing-village" of Brighton to see his uncle, the Duke of Cumberland. Doubtless he found it an attractive place, yet this may have been not so much because of its view of the sea as for the reason that Mrs. Fitzherbert had previously lived there.

However, in 1784 the prince sent down his chief cook to make arrangements for the next royal visit. The cook engaged a house on the spot where the Pavilion now stands, and from that time Brighton began to be an extremely fashionable place. The court doctors, giving advice that was agreeable, recommended their royal patient to take sea-bathing at Brighton. At once the place sprang into popularity.

At first the gentry were crowded into lodging-houses and the accommodations were primitive to a degree. But soon handsome villas arose on every side; hotels appeared; places of amusement were opened. The prince himself began to build a tasteless but showy structure, partly Chinese and partly Indian in style, on the fashionable promenade of the Steyne.

During his life with Mrs. Fitzherbert at Brighton the prince held what was practically a court. Hundreds of the aristocracy came down from London and made their temporary dwellings there; while thousands who were by no means of the court made the place what is now popularly called "London by the Sea." There were the Duc de Chartres, of France; statesmen and rakes, like Fox, Sheridan, and the Earl of Barrymore; a very beautiful woman, named Mrs. Couch, a favorite singer at the opera, to whom the prince gave at one time jewels worth ten thousand pounds; and a sister of the Earl of Barrymore, who was as notorious as her brother. She often took the president's chair at a club which George's friends had organized and which she had christened the Hell Fire Club.

Such persons were not the only visitors at Brighton. Men of much more serious demeanor came down to visit the prince and brought with them quieter society. Nevertheless, for a considerable time the place was most noted for its wild scenes of revelry, into which George frequently entered, though his home life with Mrs. Fitzherbert at the Pavilion was a decorous one.

No one felt any doubt as to the marriage of the two persons, who seemed so much like a prince and a princess. Some of the people of the place addressed Mrs. Fitzherbert as "Mrs. Prince." The old king and his wife, however, much deplored their son's relation with her. This was partly due to the fact that Mrs. Fitzherbert was a Catholic and that she had received a number of French nuns who had been driven out of France at the time of the Revolution. But no less displeasure was caused by the prince's racing and dicing, which swelled his debts to almost a million pounds, so that Parliament and, indeed, the sober part of England were set against him.

Of course, his marriage to Mrs. Fitzherbert had no legal status; nor is there any reason for believing that she ever became a mother. She had no children by her former two husbands, and Lord Stourton testified positively that she never had either son or daughter by Prince George. Nevertheless, more than one American claimant has risen to advance some utterly visionary claim to the English throne by reason of alleged descent from Prince George and Mrs. Fitzherbert.

Neither William IV. nor Queen Victoria ever spent much time at Brighton. In King William's case it was explained that the dampness of the Pavilion did not suit him; and as to Queen Victoria, it was said that she disliked the fact that buildings had been erected so as to cut off the view of the sea. It is quite likely, however, that the queen objected to the associations of the place, and did not care to be reminded of the time when her uncle had lived there so long in a morganatic state of marriage.

At length the time came when the king, Parliament, and the people at large insisted that the Prince of Wales should make a legal marriage, and a wife was selected for him in the person of Caroline, daughter of the Duke of Brunswick. This marriage took place exactly ten years after his wedding with the beautiful and gentle-mannered Mrs. Fitzherbert. With the latter he had known many days and hours of happiness. With Princess Caroline he had no happiness at all.

Prince George met her at the pier to greet her. It is said that as he took her hand he kissed her, and then, suddenly recoiling, he whispered to one of his friends:

"For God's sake, George, give me a glass of brandy!"

Such an utterance was more brutal and barbaric than anything his bride could have conceived of, though it is probable, fortunately, that she did not understand him by reason of her ignorance of English.

We need not go through the unhappy story of this unsympathetic, neglected, rebellious wife. Her life with the prince soon became one of open warfare; but instead of leaving England she remained to set the kingdom in an uproar. As soon as his father died and he became king, George sued her for divorce. Half the people sided with the queen, while the rest regarded her as a vulgar creature who made love to her attendants and brought dishonor on the English throne. It was a sorry, sordid contrast between the young Prince George who had posed as a sort of cavalier and this now furious gray old man wrangling with his furious German wife.

Well might he look back to the time when he met Perdita in the moonlight on the Thames, or when he played the part of Florizel, or, better still, when he enjoyed the sincere and disinterested love of the gentle woman who was his wife in all but legal status. Caroline of Brunswick was thrust away from the king's coronation. She took a house within sight of Westminster Abbey, so that she might make hag-like screeches to the mob and to the king as he passed by. Presently, in August, 1821, only a month after the coronation, she died, and her body was taken back to Brunswick for burial.

George himself reigned for nine years longer. When he died in 1830 his executor was the Duke of Wellington. The duke, in examining the late king's private papers, found that he had kept with the greatest care every letter written to him by his morganatic wife. During his last illness she had sent him an affectionate missive which it is said George "read eagerly." Mrs. Fitzherbert wished the duke to give up her letters; but he would do so only in return for those which he had written to her.

It was finally decided that it would be best to burn both his and hers. This work was carried out in Mrs. Fitzherbert's own house by the lady, the duke, and the Earl of Albemarle.

Of George it may be said that he has left as memories behind him only three things that will be remembered. The first is the Pavilion at Brighton, with its absurdly oriental decorations, its minarets and flimsy towers. The second is the buckle which he invented and which Thackeray has immortalized with his biting satire. The last is the story of his marriage to Maria Fitzherbert, and of the influence exercised upon him by the affection of a good woman.


Perhaps some readers will consider this story inconsistent with those that have preceded it. Yet, as it is little known to most readers and as it is perhaps unique in the history of romantic love, I cannot forbear relating it; for I believe that it is full of curious interest and pathetic power.

All those who have written of the French Revolution have paused in their chronicle of blood and flame to tell the episode of the peasant Royalist, Charlotte Corday; but in telling it they have often omitted the one part of the story that is personal and not political. The tragic record of this French girl and her self-sacrifice has been told a thousand times by writers in many languages; yet almost all of them have neglected the brief romance which followed her daring deed and which was consummated after her death upon the guillotine. It is worth our while to speak first of Charlotte herself and of the man she slew, and then to tell that other tale which ought always to be entwined with her great deed of daring.

Charlotte Corday—Marie Anne Charlotte Corday d'Armand—was a native of Normandy, and was descended, as her name implies, from noble ancestors. Her forefathers, indeed, had been statesmen, civil rulers, and soldiers, and among them was numbered the famous poet Corneille, whom the French rank with Shakespeare. But a century or more of vicissitudes had reduced her branch of the family almost to the position of peasants—a fact which partly justifies the name that some give her when they call her "the Jeanne d'Arc of the Revolution."

She did not, however, spend her girlish years amid the fields and woods tending her sheep, as did the other Jeanne d'Arc; but she was placed in charge of the sisters in a convent, and from them she received such education as she had. She was a lonely child, and her thoughts turned inward, brooding over many things.

After she had left the convent she was sent to live with an aunt. Here she devoted herself to reading over and over the few books which the house contained. These consisted largely of the deistic writers, especially Voltaire, and to some extent they destroyed her convent faith, though it is not likely that she understood them very fully.

More to her taste was a copy of Plutarch's Lives. These famous stories fascinated her. They told her of battle and siege, of intrigue and heroism, and of that romantic love of country which led men to throw away their lives for the sake of a whole people. Brutus and Regulus were her heroes. To die for the many seemed to her the most glorious end that any one could seek. When she thought of it she thrilled with a sort of ecstasy, and longed with all the passion of her nature that such a glorious fate might be her own.

Charlotte had nearly come to womanhood at the time when the French Revolution first broke out. Royalist though she had been in her sympathies, she felt the justice of the people's cause. She had seen the suffering of the peasantry, the brutality of the tax-gatherers, and all the oppression of the old regime. But what she hoped for was a democracy of order and equality and peace. Could the king reign as a constitutional monarch rather than as a despot, this was all for which she cared.

In Normandy, where she lived, were many of those moderate republicans known as Girondists, who felt as she did and who hoped for the same peaceful end to the great outbreak. On the other hand, in Paris, the party of the Mountain, as it was called, ruled with a savage violence that soon was to culminate in the Reign of Terror. Already the guillotine ran red with noble blood. Already the king had bowed his head to the fatal knife. Already the threat had gone forth that a mere breath of suspicion or a pointed finger might be enough to lead men and women to a gory death.

In her quiet home near Caen Charlotte Corday heard as from afar the story of this dreadful saturnalia of assassination which was making Paris a city of bloody mist. Men and women of the Girondist party came to tell her of the hideous deeds that were perpetrated there. All these horrors gradually wove themselves in the young girl's imagination around the sinister and repulsive figure of Jean Paul Marat. She knew nothing of his associates, Danton and Robespierre. It was in Marat alone that she saw the monster who sent innocent thousands to their graves, and who reveled like some arch-fiend in murder and gruesome death.

In his earlier years Marat had been a very different figure—an accomplished physician, the friend of nobles, a man of science and original thought, so that he was nearly elected to the Academy of Sciences. His studies in electricity gained for him the admiration of Benjamin Franklin and the praise of Goethe. But when he turned to politics he left all this career behind him. He plunged into the very mire of red republicanism, and even there he was for a time so much hated that he sought refuge in London to save his life.

On his return he was hunted by his enemies, so that his only place of refuge was in the sewers and drains of Paris. A woman, one Simonne Evrard, helped him to escape his pursuers. In the sewers, however, he contracted a dreadful skin-disease from which he never afterward recovered, and which was extremely painful as well as shocking to behold.

It is small wonder that the stories about Marat circulated through the provinces made him seem more a devil than a man. His vindictiveness against the Girondists brought all of this straight home to Charlotte Corday and led her to dream of acting the part of Brutus, so that she might free her country from this hideous tyrant.

In January, 1793, King Louis XVI. met his death upon the scaffold; and the queen was thrust into a foul prison. This was a signal for activity among the Girondists in Normandy, and especially at Caen, where Charlotte was present at their meetings and heard their fervid oratory. There was a plot to march on Paris, yet in some instinctive way she felt that such a scheme must fail. It was then that she definitely formed the plan of going herself, alone, to the French capital to seek out the hideous Marat and to kill him with her own hands.

To this end she made application for a passport allowing her to visit Paris. This passport still exists, and it gives us an official description of the girl. It reads:

Allow citizen Marie Corday to pass. She is twenty-four years of age, five feet and one inch in height, hair and eyebrows chestnut color, eyes gray, forehead high, mouth medium size, chin dimpled, and an oval face.

Apart from this verbal description we have two portraits painted while she was in prison. Both of them make the description of the passport seem faint and pale. The real Charlotte had a wealth of chestnut hair which fell about her face and neck in glorious abundance. Her great gray eyes spoke eloquently of truth and courage. Her mouth was firm yet winsome, and her form combined both strength and grace. Such is the girl who, on reaching Paris, wrote to Marat in these words:

Citizen, I have just arrived from Caen. Your love for your native place doubtless makes you wish to learn the events which have occurred in that part of the republic. I shall call at your residence in about an hour. Be so good as to receive me and give me a brief interview. I will put you in such condition as to render great service to France.

This letter failed to gain her admission, and so did another which she wrote soon after. The fact is that Marat was grievously ill. His disease had reached a point where the pain could be assuaged only by hot water; and he spent the greater part of his time wrapped in a blanket and lying in a large tub.

A third time, however, the persistent girl called at his house and insisted that she must see him, saying that she was herself in danger from the enemies of the Republic. Through an open door Marat heard her mellow voice and gave orders that she should be admitted.

As she entered she gazed for a moment upon the lank figure rolling in the tub, the rat-like face, and the shifting eyes. Then she approached him, concealing in the bosom of her dress a long carving-knife which she had purchased for two francs. In answer to Marat's questioning look she told him that there was much excitement at Caen and that the Girondists were plotting there.

To this Marat answered, in his harsh voice:

"All these men you mention shall be guillotined in the next few days!"

As he spoke Charlotte flashed out the terrible knife and with all her strength she plunged it into his left side, where it pierced a lung and a portion of his heart.

Marat, with the blood gushing from his mouth, cried out:

"Help, darling!"

His cry was meant for one of the two women in the house. Both heard it, for they were in the next room; and both of them rushed in and succeeded in pinioning Charlotte Corday, who, indeed, made only a slight effort to escape. Troops were summoned, she was taken to the Prison de l'Abbaye, and soon after she was arraigned before the revolutionary tribunal.

Placed in the dock, she glanced about her with an air of pride, as of one who gloried in the act which she had just performed. A written charge was read. She was asked what she had to say. Lifting her head with a look of infinite satisfaction, she answered in a ringing voice:

"Nothing—except that I succeeded!"

A lawyer was assigned for her defense. He pleaded for her earnestly, declaring that she must he regarded as insane; but those clear, calm eyes and that gentle face made her sanity a matter of little doubt. She showed her quick wit in the answers which she gave to the rough prosecutor, Fouquier-Tinville, who tried to make her confess that she had accomplices.

"Who prompted you to do this deed?" roared Tinville.

"I needed no prompting. My own heart was sufficient."

"In what, then, had Marat wronged you?"

"He was a savage beast who was going to destroy the remains of France in the fires of civil war."

"But whom did you expect to benefit?" insinuated the prosecutor.

"I have killed one man to save a hundred thousand."

"What? Did you imagine that you had murdered all the Marats?"

"No, but, this one being dead, the rest will perhaps take warning."

Thus her directness baffled all the efforts of the prosecution to trap her into betraying any of her friends. The court, however, sentenced her to death. She was then immured in the Conciergerie.

This dramatic court scene was the beginning of that strange, brief romance to which one can scarcely find a parallel. At the time there lived in Paris a young German named Adam Lux. The continual talk about Charlotte Corday had filled him with curiosity regarding this young girl who had been so daring and so patriotic. She was denounced on every hand as a murderess with the face of a Medusa and the muscles of a Vulcan. Street songs about her were dinned into the ears of Adam Lux.

As a student of human nature he was anxious to see this terrible creature. He forced his way to the front of the crowded benches in the court-room and took his stand behind a young artist who was finishing a beautiful sketch. From that moment until the end of the trial the eyes of Adam Lux were fastened on the prisoner. What a contrast to the picture he had imagined!

A mass of regal chestnut hair crowned with the white cap of a Norman peasant girl; gray eyes, very sad and serious, but looking serenely forth from under long, dark lashes; lips slightly curved with an expression of quiet humor; a face the color of the sun and wind, a bust indicative of perfect health, the chin of a Caesar, and the whole expression one of almost divine self-sacrifice. Such were the features that the painter was swiftly putting upon his canvas; but behind them Adam Lux discerned the soul for which he gladly sacrificed both his liberty and his life.

He forgot his surroundings and seemed to see only that beautiful, pure face and to hear only the exquisite cadences of the wonderful voice. When Charlotte was led forth by a file of soldiers Adam staggered from the scene and made his way as best he might to his lodgings. There he lay prostrate, his whole soul filled with the love of her who had in an instant won the adoration of his heart.

Once, and only once again, when the last scene opened on the tragedy, did he behold the heroine of his dreams.

On the 17th of July Charlotte Corday was taken from her prison to the gloomy guillotine. It was toward evening, and nature had given a setting fit for such an end. Blue-black thunder-clouds rolled in huge masses across the sky until their base appeared to rest on the very summit of the guillotine. Distant thunder rolled and grumbled beyond the river. Great drops of rain fell upon the soldiers' drums. Young, beautiful, unconscious of any wrong, Charlotte Corday stood beneath the shadow of the knife.

At the supreme moment a sudden ray from the setting sun broke through the cloud-wrack and fell upon her slender figure until she glowed in the eyes of the startled spectators like a statue cut in burnished bronze. Thus illumined, as it were, by a light from heaven itself, she bowed herself beneath the knife and paid the penalty of a noble, if misdirected, impulse. As the blade fell her lips quivered with her last and only plea:

"My duty is enough—the rest is nothing!"

Adam Lux rushed from the scene a man transformed. He bore graven upon his heart neither the mob of tossing red caps nor the glare of the sunset nor the blood-stained guillotine, but that last look from those brilliant eyes. The sight almost deprived him of his reason. The self-sacrifice of the only woman he had ever loved, even though she had never so much as seen him, impelled him with a sort of fury to his own destruction.

He wrote a bitter denunciation of the judges, of the officers, and of all who had been followers of Marat. This document he printed, and scattered copies of it through every quarter in Paris. The last sentences are as follows:

The guillotine is no longer a disgrace. It has become a sacred altar, from which every taint has been removed by the innocent blood shed there on the 17th of July. Forgive me, my divine Charlotte, if I find it impossible at the last moment to show the courage and the gentleness that were yours! I glory because you are superior to me, for it is right that she who is adored should be higher and more glorious than her adorer!

This pamphlet, spread broadcast among the people, was soon reported to the leaders of the rabble. Adam Lux was arrested for treason against the Republic; but even these men had no desire to make a martyr of this hot-headed youth. They would stop his mouth without taking his life. Therefore he was tried and speedily found guilty, but an offer was made him that he might have passports that would allow him to return to Germany if only he would sign a retraction of his printed words.

Little did the judges understand the fiery heart of the man they had to deal with. To die on the same scaffold as the woman whom he had idealized was to him the crowning triumph of his romantic love. He gave a prompt and insolent refusal to their offer. He swore that if released he would denounce his darling's murderers with a still greater passion.

In anger the tribunal sentenced him to death. Only then he smiled and thanked his judges courteously, and soon after went blithely to the guillotine like a bridegroom to his marriage feast.

Adam Lux! Spirit courtship had been carried on silently all through that terrible cross-examination of Charlotte Corday. His heart was betrothed to hers in that single gleam of the setting sun when she bowed beneath the knife. One may believe that these two souls were finally united when the same knife fell sullenly upon his neck and when his life-blood sprinkled the altar that was still stained with hers.


There are four women who may be said to have deeply influenced the life of Napoleon. These four are the only ones who need to be taken into account by the student of his imperial career. The great emperor was susceptible to feminine charms at all times; but just as it used to be said of him that "his smile never rose above his eyes," so it might as truly be said that in most instances the throbbing of his heart did not affect his actions.

Women to him were the creatures of the moment, although he might seem to care for them and to show his affection in extravagant ways, as in his affair with Mlle. Georges, the beautiful but rather tiresome actress. As for Mme. de Stael, she bored him to distraction by her assumption of wisdom. That was not the kind of woman that Napoleon cared for. He preferred that a woman should be womanly, and not a sort of owl to sit and talk with him about the theory of government.

When it came to married women they interested him only because of the children they might bear to grow up as recruits for his insatiate armies. At the public balls given at the Tuileries he would walk about the gorgeous drawing-rooms, and when a lady was presented to him he would snap out, sharply:

"How many children have you?"

If she were able to answer that she had several the emperor would look pleased and would pay her some compliment; but if she said that she had none he would turn upon her sharply and say:

"Then go home and have some!"

Of the four women who influenced his life, first must come Josephine, because she secured him his earliest chance of advancement. She met him through Barras, with whom she was said to be rather intimate. The young soldier was fascinated by her—the more because she was older than he and possessed all the practised arts of the creole and the woman of the world. When she married him she brought him as her dowry the command of the army of Italy, where in a few months he made the tri-color, borne by ragged troops, triumphant over the splendidly equipped hosts of Austria.

She was his first love, and his knowledge of her perfidy gave him the greatest shock and horror of his whole life; yet she might have held him to the end if she had borne an heir to the imperial throne. It was her failure to do so that led Napoleon to divorce Josephine and marry the thick-lipped Marie Louise of Austria. There were times later when he showed signs of regret and said:

"I have had no luck since I gave up Josephine!"

Marie Louise was of importance for a time—the short time when she entertained her husband and delighted him by giving birth to the little King of Rome. Yet in the end she was but an episode; fleeing from her husband in his misfortune, becoming the mistress of Count Neipperg, and letting her son—l'Aiglon—die in a land that was far from France.

Napoleon's sister, Pauline Bonaparte, was the third woman who comes to mind when we contemplate the great Corsican's career. She, too, is an episode. During the period of his ascendancy she plagued him with her wanton ways, her sauciness and trickery. It was amusing to throw him into one of his violent rages; but Pauline was true at heart, and when her great brother was sent to Elba she followed him devotedly and gave him all her store of jewels, including the famous Borghese diamonds, perhaps the most superb of all gems known to the western world. She would gladly have followed him, also, to St. Helena had she been permitted. Remaining behind, she did everything possible in conspiring to secure his freedom.

But, after all, Pauline and Marie Louise count for comparatively little. Josephine's fate was interwoven with Napoleon's; and, with his Corsican superstition, he often said so. The fourth woman, of whom I am writing here, may be said to have almost equaled Josephine in her influence on the emperor as well as in the pathos of her life-story.

On New-Year's Day of 1807 Napoleon, who was then almost Emperor of Europe, passed through the little town of Bronia, in Poland. Riding with his cavalry to Warsaw, the ancient capital of the Polish kingdom, he seemed a very demigod of battle.

True, he had had to abandon his long-cherished design of invading and overrunning England, and Nelson had shattered his fleets and practically driven his flag from the sea; but the naval disaster of Trafalgar had speedily been followed by the triumph of Austerlitz, the greatest and most brilliant of all Napoleon's victories, which left Austria and Russia humbled to the very ground before him.

Then Prussia had dared to defy the over-bearing conqueror and had put into the field against him her armies trained by Frederick the Great; but these he had shattered almost at a stroke, winning in one day the decisive battles of Jena and Auerstadt. He had stabled his horses in the royal palace of the Hohenzollerns and had pursued the remnant of the Prussian forces to the Russian border.

As he marched into the Polish provinces the people swarmed by thousands to meet him and hail him as their country's savior. They believed down to the very last that Bonaparte would make the Poles once more a free and independent nation and rescue them from the tyranny of Russia.

Napoleon played upon this feeling in every manner known to his artful mind. He used it to alarm the Czar. He used it to intimidate the Emperor of Austria; but more especially did he use it among the Poles themselves to win for his armies thousands upon thousands of gallant soldiers, who believed that in fighting for Napoleon they were fighting for the final independence of their native land.

Therefore, with the intensity of patriotism which is a passion among the Poles, every man and every woman gazed at Napoleon with something like adoration; for was not he the mighty warrior who had in his gift what all desired? Soldiers of every rank swarmed to his standards. Princes and nobles flocked about him. Those who stayed at home repeated wonderful stories of his victories and prayed for him and fed the flame which spread through all the country. It was felt that no sacrifice was too great to win his favor; that to him, as to a deity, everything that he desired should be yielded up, since he was to restore the liberty of Poland.

And hence, when the carriage of the emperor dashed into Bronia, surrounded by Polish lancers and French cuirassiers, the enormous crowd surged forward and blocked the way so that their hero could not pass because of their cheers and cries and supplications.

In the midst of it all there came a voice of peculiar sweetness from the thickest portion of the crowd.

"Please let me pass!" said the voice. "Let me see him, if only for a moment!"

The populace rolled backward, and through the lane which they made a beautiful girl with dark blue eyes that flamed and streaming hair that had become loosened about her radiant face was confronting the emperor. Carried away by her enthusiasm, she cried:

"Thrice welcome to Poland! We can do or say nothing to express our joy in the country which you will surely deliver from its tyrant."

The emperor bowed and, with a smile, handed a great bouquet of roses to the girl, for her beauty and her enthusiasm had made a deep impression on him.

"Take it," said he, "as a proof of my admiration. I trust that I may have the pleasure of meeting you at Warsaw and of hearing your thanks from those beautiful lips."

In a moment more the trumpets rang out shrilly, the horsemen closed up beside the imperial carriage, and it rolled away amid the tumultuous shouting of the populace.

The girl who had so attracted Napoleon's attention was Marie Walewska, descended from an ancient though impoverished family in Poland. When she was only fifteen she was courted by one of the wealthiest men in Poland, the Count Walewska. He was three or four times her age, yet her dark blue eyes, her massive golden hair, and the exquisite grace of her figure led him to plead that she might become his wife. She had accepted him, but the marriage was that of a mere child, and her interest still centered upon her country and took the form of patriotism rather than that of wifehood and maternity.

It was for this reason that the young Countess had visited Bronia. She was now eighteen years of age and still had the sort of romantic feeling which led her to think that she would keep in some secret hiding-place the bouquet which the greatest man alive had given her.

But Napoleon was not the sort of man to forget anything that had given him either pleasure or the reverse. He who, at the height of his cares, could recall instantly how many cannon were in each seaport of France and could make out an accurate list of all his military stores; he who could call by name every soldier in his guard, with a full remembrance of the battles each man had fought in and the honors that he had won—he was not likely to forget so lovely a face as the one which had gleamed with peculiar radiance through the crowd at Bronia.

On reaching Warsaw he asked one or two well-informed persons about this beautiful stranger. Only a few hours had passed before Prince Poniatowski, accompanied by other nobles, called upon her at her home.

"I am directed, madam," said he, "by order of the Emperor of France, to bid you to be present at a ball that is to be given in his honor to-morrow evening."

Mme. Walewska was startled, and her face grew hot with blushes. Did the emperor remember her escapade at Bronia? If so, how had he discovered her? Why should he seek her out and do her such an honor?

"That, madam, is his imperial majesty's affair," Poniatowski told her. "I merely obey his instructions and ask your presence at the ball. Perhaps Heaven has marked you out to be the means of saving our unhappy country."

In this way, by playing on her patriotism, Poniatowski almost persuaded her, and yet something held her back. She trembled, though she was greatly fascinated; and finally she refused to go.

Scarcely had the envoy left her, however, when a great company of nobles entered in groups and begged her to humor the emperor. Finally her own husband joined in their entreaties and actually commanded her to go; so at last she was compelled to yield.

It was by no means the frank and radiant girl who was now preparing again to meet the emperor. She knew not why, and yet her heart was full of trepidation and nervous fright, the cause of which she could not guess, yet which made her task a severe ordeal. She dressed herself in white satin, with no adornment save a wreath of foliage in her hair.

As she entered the ballroom she was welcomed by hundreds whom she had never seen before, but who were of the highest nobility of Poland. Murmurs of admiration followed her, and finally Poniatowski came to her and complimented her, besides bringing her a message that the emperor desired her to dance with him.

"I am very sorry," she said, with a quiver of the lips, "but I really cannot dance. Be kind enough to ask the emperor to excuse me."

But at that very moment she felt some strange magnetic influence; and without looking up she could feel that Napoleon himself was standing by her as she sat with blanched face and downcast eyes, not daring to look up at him.

"White upon white is a mistake, madam," said the emperor, in his gentlest tones. Then, stooping low, he whispered, "I had expected a far different reception."

She neither smiled nor met his eyes. He stood there for a moment and then passed on, leaving her to return to her home with a heavy heart. The young countess felt that she had acted wrongly, and yet there was an instinct—an instinct that she could not conquer.

In the gray of the morning, while she was still tossing feverishly, her maid knocked at the door and brought her a hastily scribbled note. It ran as follows:

I saw none but you, I admired none but you; I desire only you. Answer at once, and calm the impatient ardor of—N.

These passionate words burned from her eyes the veil that had hidden the truth from her. What before had been mere blind instinct became an actual verity. Why had she at first rushed forth into the very streets to hail the possible deliverer of her country, and then why had she shrunk from him when he sought to honor her! It was all clear enough now. This bedside missive meant that he had intended her dishonor and that he had looked upon her simply as a possible mistress.

At once she crushed the note angrily in her hand.

"There is no answer at all," said she, bursting into bitter tears at the very thought that he should dare to treat her in this way.

But on the following morning when she awoke her maid was standing beside her with a second letter from Napoleon. She refused to open it and placed it in a packet with the first letter, and ordered that both of them should be returned to the emperor.

She shrank from speaking to her husband of what had happened, and there was no one else in whom she dared confide. All through that day there came hundreds of visitors, either of princely rank or men who had won fame by their gallantry and courage. They all begged to see her, but to them all she sent one answer—that she was ill and could see no one.

After a time her husband burst into her room, and insisted that she should see them.

"Why," exclaimed he, "you are insulting the greatest men and the noblest women of Poland! More than that, there are some of the most distinguished Frenchmen sitting at your doorstep, as it were. There is Duroc, grand marshal of France, and in refusing to see him you are insulting the great emperor on whom depends everything that our country longs for. Napoleon has invited you to a state dinner and you have given him no answer whatever. I order you to rise at once and receive these ladies and gentlemen who have done you so much honor!"

She could not refuse. Presently she appeared in her drawing-room, where she was at once surrounded by an immense throng of her own countrymen and countrywomen, who made no pretense of misunderstanding the situation. To them, what was one woman's honor when compared with the freedom and independence of their nation? She was overwhelmed by arguments and entreaties. She was even accused of being disloyal to the cause of Poland if she refused her consent.

One of the strangest documents of that period was a letter sent to her and signed by the noblest men in Poland. It contained a powerful appeal to her patriotism. One remarkable passage even quotes the Bible to point out her line of duty. A portion of this letter ran as follows:

Did Esther, think you, give herself to Ahasuerus out of the fulness of her love for him? So great was the terror with which he inspired her that she fainted at the sight of him. We may therefore conclude that affection had but little to do with her resolve. She sacrificed her own inclinations to the salvation of her country, and that salvation it was her glory to achieve. May we be enabled to say the same of you, to your glory and our own happiness!

After this letter came others from Napoleon himself, full of the most humble pleading. It was not wholly distasteful thus to have the conqueror of the world seek her out and offer her his adoration any more than it was distasteful to think that the revival of her own nation depended on her single will. M. Frederic Masson, whose minute studies regarding everything relating to Napoleon have won him a seat in the French Academy, writes of Marie Walewska at this time: Every force was now brought into play against her. Her country, her friends, her religion, the Old and the New Testaments, all urged her to yield; they all combined for the ruin of a simple and inexperienced girl of eighteen who had no parents, whose husband even thrust her into temptation, and whose friends thought that her downfall would be her glory.

Amid all these powerful influences she consented to attend the dinner. To her gratification Napoleon treated her with distant courtesy, and, in fact, with a certain coldness.

"I heard that Mme. Walewska was indisposed. I trust that she has recovered," was all the greeting that he gave her when they met.

Every one else with whom she spoke overwhelmed her with flattery and with continued urging; but the emperor himself for a time acted as if she had displeased him. This was consummate art; for as soon as she was relieved of her fears she began to regret that she had thrown her power away.

During the dinner she let her eyes wander to those of the emperor almost in supplication. He, the subtlest of men, knew that he had won. His marvelous eyes met hers and drew her attention to him as by an electric current; and when the ladies left the great dining-room Napoleon sought her out and whispered in her ear a few words of ardent love.

It was too little to alarm her seriously now. It was enough to make her feel that magnetism which Napoleon knew so well how to evoke and exercise. Again every one crowded about her with congratulations. Some said:

"He never even saw any of US. His eyes were all for YOU! They flashed fire as he looked at you."

"You have conquered his heart," others said, "and you can do what you like with him. The salvation of Poland is in your hands."

The company broke up at an early hour, but Mme. Walewska was asked to remain. When she was alone General Duroc—one of the emperor's favorite officers and most trusted lieutenants—entered and placed a letter from Napoleon in her lap. He tried to tell her as tactfully as possible how much harm she was doing by refusing the imperial request. She was deeply affected, and presently, when Duroc left her, she opened the letter which he had given her and read it. It was worded thus:

There are times when all splendors become oppressive, as I feel but too deeply at the present moment. How can I satisfy the desires of a heart that yearns to cast itself at your feet, when its impulses are checked at every point by considerations of the highest moment? Oh, if you would, you alone might overcome the obstacles that keep us apart. MY FRIEND DUROC WILL MAKE ALL EASY FOR YOU. Oh, come, come! Your every wish shall be gratified! Your country will be dearer to me when you take pity on my poor heart. N.

Every chance of escape seemed to be closed. She had Napoleon's own word that he would free Poland in return for her self-sacrifice. Moreover, her powers of resistance had been so weakened that, like many women, she temporized. She decided that she would meet the emperor alone. She would tell him that she did not love him, and yet would plead with him to save her beloved country.

As she sat there every tick of the clock stirred her to a new excitement. At last there came a knock upon the door, a cloak was thrown about her from behind, a heavy veil was drooped about her golden hair, and she was led, by whom she knew not, to the street, where a finely appointed carriage was waiting for her.

No sooner had she entered it than she was driven rapidly through the darkness to the beautifully carved entrance of a palace. Half led, half carried, she was taken up the steps to a door which was eagerly opened by some one within. There were warmth and light and color and the scent of flowers as she was placed in a comfortable arm-chair. Her wrappings were taken from her, the door was closed behind her; and then, as she looked up, she found herself in the presence of Napoleon, who was kneeling at her feet and uttering soothing words.

Wisely, the emperor used no violence. He merely argued with her; he told her over and over his love for her; and finally he declared that for her sake he would make Poland once again a strong and splendid kingdom.

Several hours passed. In the early morning, before daylight, there came a knock at the door.

"Already?" said Napoleon. "Well, my plaintive dove, go home and rest. You must not fear the eagle. In time you will come to love him, and in all things you shall command him."

Then he led her to the door, but said that he would not open it unless she promised to see him the next day—a promise which she gave the more readily because he had treated her with such respect.

On the following morning her faithful maid came to her bedside with a cluster of beautiful violets, a letter, and several daintily made morocco cases. When these were opened there leaped out strings and necklaces of exquisite diamonds, blazing in the morning sunlight. Mme. Walewska seized the jewels and flung them across the room with an order that they should be taken back at once to the imperial giver; but the letter, which was in the same romantic strain as the others, she retained.

On that same evening there was another dinner, given to the emperor by the nobles, and Marie Walewska attended it, but of course without the diamonds, which she had returned. Nor did she wear the flowers which had accompanied the diamonds.

When Napoleon met her he frowned upon her and made her tremble with the cold glances that shot from his eyes of steel. He scarcely spoke to her throughout the meal, but those who sat beside her were earnest in their pleading.

Again she waited until the guests had gone away, and with a lighter heart, since she felt that she had nothing to fear. But when she met Napoleon in his private cabinet, alone, his mood was very different from that which he had shown before. Instead of gentleness and consideration he was the Napoleon of camps, and not of courts. He greeted her bruskly.

"I scarcely expected to see you again," said he. "Why did you refuse my diamonds and my flowers? Why did you avoid my eyes at dinner? Your coldness is an insult which I shall not brook." Then he raised his voice to that rasping, almost blood-curdling tone which even his hardiest soldiers dreaded: "I will have you know that I mean to conquer you. You SHALL—yes, I repeat it, you SHALL love me! I have restored the name of your country. It owes its very existence to me."

Then he resorted to a trick which he had played years before in dealing with the Austrians at Campo Formio.

"See this watch which I am holding in my hand. Just as I dash it to fragments before you, so will I shatter Poland if you drive me to desperation by rejecting my heart and refusing me your own."

As he spoke he hurled the watch against the opposite wall with terrific force, dashing it to pieces. In terror, Mme. Walewska fainted. When she resumed consciousness there was Napoleon wiping away her tears with the tenderness of a woman and with words of self-reproach.

The long siege was over. Napoleon had conquered, and this girl of eighteen gave herself up to his caresses and endearments, thinking that, after all, her love of country was more than her own honor.

Her husband, as a matter of form, put her away from him, though at heart he approved what she had done, while the Polish people regarded her as nothing less than a national heroine. To them she was no minister to the vices of an emperor, but rather one who would make him love Poland for her sake and restore its greatness.

So far as concerned his love for her, it was, indeed, almost idolatry. He honored her in every way and spent all the time at his disposal in her company. But his promise to restore Poland he never kept, and gradually she found that he had never meant to keep it.

"I love your country," he would say, "and I am willing to aid in the attempt to uphold its rights, but my first duty is to France. I cannot shed French blood in a foreign cause."

By this time, however, Marie Walewska had learned to love Napoleon for his own sake. She could not resist his ardor, which matched the ardor of the Poles themselves. Moreover, it flattered her to see the greatest soldier in the world a suppliant for her smiles.

For some years she was Napoleon's close companion, spending long hours with him and finally accompanying him to Paris. She was the mother of Napoleon's only son who lived to manhood. This son, who bore the name of Alexandre Florian de Walewski, was born in Poland in 1810, and later was created a count and duke of the second French Empire. It may be said parenthetically that he was a man of great ability. Living down to 1868, he was made much of by Napoleon III., who placed him in high offices of state, which he filled with distinction. In contrast with the Duc de Morny, who was Napoleon's illegitimate half-brother, Alexandre de Walewski stood out in brilliant contrast. He would have nothing to do with stock-jobbing and unseemly speculation.

"I may be poor," he said—though he was not poor—"but at least I remember the glory of my father and what is due to his great name."

As for Mme. Walewska, she was loyal to the emperor, and lacked the greed of many women whom he had made his favorites. Even at Elba, when he was in exile and disgrace, she visited him that she might endeavor to console him. She was his counselor and friend as well as his earnestly loved mate. When she died in Paris in 1817, while the dethroned emperor was a prisoner at St. Helena, the word "Napoleon" was the last upon her lips.


It was said of Napoleon long ago that he could govern emperors and kings, but that not even he could rule his relatives. He himself once declared:

"My family have done me far more harm than I have been able to do them good."

It would be an interesting historical study to determine just how far the great soldier's family aided in his downfall by their selfishness, their jealousy, their meanness, and their ingratitude.

There is something piquant in thinking of Napoleon as a domestic sort of person. Indeed, it is rather difficult to do so. When we speak his name we think of the stern warrior hurling his armies up bloody slopes and on to bloody victory. He is the man whose steely eyes made his haughtiest marshals tremble, or else the wise, far-seeing statesman and lawgiver; but decidedly he is not a household model. We read of his sharp speech to women, of his outrageous manners at the dinner-table, and of the thousand and one details which Mme. de Remusat has chronicled—and perhaps in part invented, for there has always existed the suspicion that her animus was that of a woman who had herself sought the imperial favor and had failed to win it.

But, in fact, all these stories relate to the Napoleon of courts and palaces, and not to the Napoleon of home. In his private life this great man was not merely affectionate and indulgent, but he even showed a certain weakness where his relatives were concerned, so that he let them prey upon him almost without end.

He had a great deal of the Italian largeness and lavishness of character with his family. When a petty officer he nearly starved himself in order to give his younger brother, Louis, a military education. He was devotedly fond of children, and they were fond of him, as many anecdotes attest. His passionate love for Josephine before he learned of her infidelity is almost painful to read of; and even afterward, when he had been disillusioned, and when she was paying Fouche a thousand francs a day to spy upon Napoleon's every action, he still treated her with friendliness and allowed her extravagance to embarrass him.

He made his eldest brother, Joseph, King of Spain, and Spain proved almost as deadly to him as did Russia. He made his youngest brother, Jerome, King of Westphalia, and Jerome turned the palace into a pigsty and brought discredit on the very name of Bonaparte. His brother Louis, for whom he had starved himself, he placed upon the throne of Holland, and Louis promptly devoted himself to his own interests, conniving at many things which were inimical to France. He was planning high advancement for his brother Lucien, and Lucien suddenly married a disreputable actress and fled with her to England, where he was received with pleasure by the most persistent of all Napoleon's enemies.

So much for his brothers—incompetent, ungrateful, or openly his foes. But his three sisters were no less remarkable in the relations which they bore to him. They have been styled "the three crowned courtesans," and they have been condemned together as being utterly void of principle and monsters of ingratitude.

Much of this censure was well deserved by all of them—by Caroline and Elise and Pauline. But when we look at the facts impartially we shall find something which makes Pauline stand out alone as infinitely superior to her sisters. Of all the Bonapartes she was the only one who showed fidelity and gratitude to the great emperor, her brother. Even Mme. Mere, Napoleon's mother, who beyond all question transmitted to him his great mental and physical power, did nothing for him. At the height of his splendor she hoarded sous and francs and grumblingly remarked:

"All this is for a time. It isn't going to last!"

Pauline, however, was in one respect different from all her kindred. Napoleon made Elise a princess in her own right and gave her the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. He married Caroline to Marshal Murat, and they became respectively King and Queen of Naples. For Pauline he did very little—less, in fact, than for any other member of his family—and yet she alone stood by him to the end.

This feather-headed, languishing, beautiful, distracting morsel of frivolity, who had the manners of a kitten and the morals of a cat, nevertheless was not wholly unworthy to be Napoleon's sister. One has to tell many hard things of her; and yet one almost pardons her because of her underlying devotion to the man who made the name of Bonaparte illustrious for ever. Caroline, Queen of Naples, urged her husband to turn against his former chief. Elise, sour and greedy, threw in her fortunes with the Murats. Pauline, as we shall see, had the one redeeming trait of gratitude.

To those who knew her she was from girlhood an incarnation of what used to be called "femininity." We have to-day another and a higher definition of womanhood, but to her contemporaries, and to many modern writers, she has seemed to be first of all woman—"woman to the tips of her rosy finger-nails," says Levy. Those who saw her were distracted by her loveliness. They say that no one can form any idea of her beauty from her pictures. "A veritable masterpiece of creation," she had been called. Frederic Masson declares:

She was so much more the typical woman that with her the defects common to women reached their highest development, while her beauty attained a perfection which may justly be called unique.

No one speaks of Pauline Bonaparte's character or of her intellect, but wholly of her loveliness and charm, and, it must be added, of her utter lack of anything like a moral sense.

Even as a child of thirteen, when the Bonapartes left Corsica and took up their abode in Marseilles, she attracted universal attention by her wonderful eyes, her grace, and also by the utter lack of decorum which she showed. The Bonaparte girls at this time lived almost on charity. The future emperor was then a captain of artillery and could give them but little out of his scanty pay.

Pauline—or, as they called her in those days, Paulette—wore unbecoming hats and shabby gowns, and shoes that were full of holes. None the less, she was sought out by several men of note, among them Freron, a commissioner of the Convention. He visited Pauline so often as to cause unfavorable comment; but he was in love with her, and she fell in love with him to the extent of her capacity. She used to write him love letters in Italian, which were certainly not lacking in ardor. Here is the end of one of them:

I love you always and most passionately. I love you for ever, my beautiful idol, my heart, my appealing lover. I love you, love you, love you, the most loved of lovers, and I swear never to love any one else!

This was interesting in view of the fact that soon afterward she fell in love with Junot, who became a famous marshal. But her love affairs never gave her any serious trouble; and the three sisters, who now began to feel the influence of Napoleon's rise to power, enjoyed themselves as they had never done before. At Antibes they had a beautiful villa, and later a mansion at Milan.

By this time Napoleon had routed the Austrians in Italy, and all France was ringing with his name. What was Pauline like in her maidenhood? Arnault says:

She was an extraordinary combination of perfect physical beauty and the strangest moral laxity. She was as pretty as you please, but utterly unreasonable. She had no more manners than a school-girl—talking incoherently, giggling at everything and nothing, and mimicking the most serious persons of rank.

General de Ricard, who knew her then, tells in his monograph of the private theatricals in which Pauline took part, and of the sport which they had behind the scenes. He says:

The Bonaparte girls used literally to dress us. They pulled our ears and slapped us, but they always kissed and made up later. We used to stay in the girls' room all the time when they were dressing.

Napoleon was anxious to see his sisters in some way settled. He proposed to General Marmont to marry Pauline. The girl was then only seventeen, and one might have had some faith in her character. But Marmont was shrewd and knew her far too well. The words in which he declined the honor are interesting:

"I know that she is charming and exquisitely beautiful; yet I have dreams of domestic happiness, of fidelity, and of virtue. Such dreams are seldom realized, I know. Still, in the hope of winning them—"

And then he paused, coughed, and completed what he had to say in a sort of mumble, but his meaning was wholly clear. He would not accept the offer of Pauline in marriage, even though she was the sister of his mighty chief.

Then Napoleon turned to General Leclerc, with whom Pauline had for some time flirted, as she had flirted with almost all the officers of Napoleon's staff. Leclerc was only twenty-six. He was rich and of good manners, but rather serious and in poor health. This was not precisely the sort of husband for Pauline, if we look at it in the conventional way; but it served Napoleon's purpose and did not in the least interfere with his sister's intrigues.

Poor Leclerc, who really loved Pauline, grew thin, and graver still in manner. He was sent to Spain and Portugal, and finally was made commander-in-chief of the French expedition to Haiti, where the famous black rebel, Toussaint l'Ouverture, was heading an uprising of the negroes.

Napoleon ordered Pauline to accompany her husband. Pauline flatly refused, although she made this an occasion for ordering "mountains of pretty clothes and pyramids of hats." But still she refused to go on board the flag-ship. Leclerc expostulated and pleaded, but the lovely witch laughed in his face and still persisted that she would never go.

Word was brought to Napoleon. He made short work of her resistance.

"Bring a litter," he said, with one of his steely glances. "Order six grenadiers to thrust her into it, and see that she goes on board forthwith."

And so, screeching like an angry cat, she was carried on board, and set sail with her husband and one of her former lovers. She found Haiti and Santo Domingo more agreeable than she had supposed. She was there a sort of queen who could do as she pleased and have her orders implicitly obeyed. Her dissipation was something frightful. Her folly and her vanity were beyond belief.

But at the end of two years both she and her husband fell ill. He was stricken down by the yellow fever, which was decimating the French army. Pauline was suffering from the results of her life in a tropical climate. Leclerc died, the expedition was abandoned, and Pauline brought the general's body back to France. When he was buried she, still recovering from her fever, had him interred in a costly coffin and paid him the tribute of cutting off her beautiful hair and burying it with him.

"What a touching tribute to her dead husband!" said some one to Napoleon.

The emperor smiled cynically as he remarked:

"H'm! Of course she knows that her hair is bound to fall out after her fever, and that it will come in longer and thicker for being cropped."

Napoleon, in fact, though he loved Pauline better than his other sisters—or perhaps because he loved her better—was very strict with her. He obliged her to wear mourning, and to observe some of the proprieties; but it was hard to keep her within bounds.

Presently it became noised about that Prince Camillo Borghese was exceedingly intimate with her. The prince was an excellent specimen of the fashionable Italian. He was immensely rich. His palace at Rome was crammed with pictures, statues, and every sort of artistic treasure. He was the owner, moreover, of the famous Borghese jewels, the finest collection of diamonds in the world.

Napoleon rather sternly insisted upon her marrying Borghese. Fortunately, the prince was very willing to be connected with Napoleon; while Pauline was delighted at the idea of having diamonds that would eclipse all the gems which Josephine possessed; for, like all of the Bonapartes, she detested her brother's wife. So she would be married and show her diamonds to Josephine. It was a bit of feminine malice which she could not resist.

The marriage took place very quietly at Joseph Bonaparte's house, because of the absence of Napoleon; but the newly made princess was invited to visit Josephine at the palace of Saint-Cloud. Here was to be the triumph of her life. She spent many days in planning a toilet that should be absolutely crushing to Josephine. Whatever she wore must be a background for the famous diamonds. Finally she decided on green velvet.

When the day came Pauline stood before a mirror and gazed at herself with diamonds glistening in her hair, shimmering around her neck, and fastened so thickly on her green velvet gown as to remind one of a moving jewel-casket. She actually shed tears for joy. Then she entered her carriage and drove out to Saint-Cloud.

But the Creole Josephine, though no longer young, was a woman of great subtlety as well as charm. Stories had been told to her of the green velvet, and therefore she had her drawing-room redecorated in the most uncompromising blue. It killed the green velvet completely. As for the diamonds, she met that maneuver by wearing not a single gem of any kind. Her dress was an Indian muslin with a broad hem of gold.

Her exquisite simplicity, coupled with her dignity of bearing, made the Princess Pauline, with her shower of diamonds, and her green velvet displayed against the blue, seem absolutely vulgar. Josephine was most generous in her admiration of the Borghese gems, and she kissed Pauline on parting. The victory was hers.

There is another story of a defeat which Pauline met from another lady, one Mme. de Coutades. This was at a magnificent ball given to the most fashionable world of Paris. Pauline decided upon going, and intended, in her own phrase, to blot out every woman there. She kept the secret of her toilet absolutely, and she entered the ballroom at the psychological moment, when all the guests had just assembled.

She appeared; and at sight of her the music stopped, silence fell upon the assemblage, and a sort of quiver went through every one. Her costume was of the finest muslin bordered with golden palm-leaves. Four bands, spotted like a leopard's skin, were wound about her head, while these in turn were supported by little clusters of golden grapes. She had copied the head-dress of a Bacchante in the Louvre. All over her person were cameos, and just beneath her breasts she wore a golden band held in place by an engraved gem. Her beautiful wrists, arms, and hands were bare. She had, in fact, blotted out her rivals.

Nevertheless, Mme. de Coutades took her revenge. She went up to Pauline, who was lying on a divan to set off her loveliness, and began gazing at the princess through a double eye-glass. Pauline felt flattered for a moment, and then became uneasy. The lady who was looking at her said to a companion, in a tone of compassion:

"What a pity! She really would be lovely if it weren't for THAT!"

"For what?" returned her escort.

"Why, are you blind? It's so remarkable that you SURELY must see it."

Pauline was beginning to lose her self-composure. She flushed and looked wildly about, wondering what was meant. Then she heard Mme. Coutades say:

"Why, her ears. If I had such ears as those I would cut them off!"

Pauline gave one great gasp and fainted dead away. As a matter of fact, her ears were not so bad. They were simply very flat and colorless, forming a contrast with the rosy tints of her face. But from that moment no one could see anything but these ears; and thereafter the princess wore her hair low enough to cover them.

This may be seen in the statue of her by Canova. It was considered a very daring thing for her to pose for him in the nude, for only a bit of drapery is thrown over her lower limbs. Yet it is true that this statue is absolutely classical in its conception and execution, and its interest is heightened by the fact that its model was what she afterward styled herself, with true Napoleonic pride—"a sister of Bonaparte."

Pauline detested Josephine and was pleased when Napoleon divorced her; but she also disliked the Austrian archduchess, Marie Louise, who was Josephine's successor. On one occasion, at a great court function, she got behind the empress and ran out her tongue at her, in full view of all the nobles and distinguished persons present. Napoleon's eagle eye flashed upon Pauline and blazed like fire upon ice. She actually took to her heels, rushed out of the ball, and never visited the court again.

It would require much time to tell of her other eccentricities, of her intrigues, which were innumerable, of her quarrel with her husband, and of the minor breaches of decorum with which she startled Paris. One of these was her choice of a huge negro to bathe her every morning. When some one ventured to protest, she answered, naively:

"What! Do you call that thing a MAN?"

And she compromised by compelling her black servitor to go out and marry some one at once, so that he might continue his ministrations with propriety!

To her Napoleon showed himself far more severe than with either Caroline or Elise. He gave her a marriage dowry of half a million francs when she became the Princess Borghese, but after that he was continually checking her extravagances. Yet in 1814, when the downfall came and Napoleon was sent into exile at Elba, Pauline was the only one of all his relatives to visit him and spend her time with him. His wife fell away and went back to her Austrian relatives. Of all the Bonapartes only Pauline and Mme. Mere remained faithful to the emperor.

Even then Napoleon refused to pay a bill of hers for sixty-two francs, while he allowed her only two hundred and forty francs for the maintenance of her horses. But she, with a generosity of which one would have thought her quite incapable, gave to her brother a great part of her fortune. When he escaped from Elba and began the campaign of 1815 she presented him with all the Borghese diamonds. In fact, he had them with him in his carriage at Waterloo, where they were captured by the English. Contrast this with the meanness and ingratitude of her sisters and her brothers, and one may well believe that she was sincerely proud of what it meant to be la soeur de Bonaparte.

When he was sent to St. Helena she was ill in bed and could not accompany him. Nevertheless, she tried to sell all her trinkets, of which she was so proud, in order that she might give him help. When he died she received the news with bitter tears "on hearing all the particulars of that long agony."

As for herself, she did not long survive. At the age of forty-four her last moments came. Knowing that she was to die, she sent for Prince Borghese and sought a reconciliation. But, after all, she died as she had lived—"the queen of trinkets" (la reine des colifichets). She asked the servant to bring a mirror. She gazed into it with her dying eyes; and then, as she sank back, it was with a smile of deep content.

"I am not afraid to die," she said. "I am still beautiful!"


There is one famous woman whom history condemns while at the same time it partly hides the facts which might mitigate the harshness of the judgment that is passed upon her. This woman is Marie Louise, Empress of France, consort of the great Napoleon, and archduchess of imperial Austria. When the most brilliant figure in all history, after his overthrow in 1814, was in tawdry exile on the petty island of Elba, the empress was already about to become a mother; and the father of her unborn child was not Napoleon, but another man. This is almost all that is usually remembered of her—that she was unfaithful to Napoleon, that she abandoned him in the hour of his defeat, and that she gave herself with readiness to one inferior in rank, yet with whom she lived for years, and to whom she bore what a French writer styled "a brood of bastards."

Naturally enough, the Austrian and German historians do not have much to say of Marie Louise, because in her own disgrace she also brought disgrace upon the proudest reigning family in Europe. Naturally, also, French writers, even those who are hostile to Napoleon, do not care to dwell upon the story; since France itself was humiliated when its greatest genius and most splendid soldier was deceived by his Austrian wife. Therefore there are still many who know little beyond the bare fact that the Empress Marie Louise threw away her pride as a princess, her reputation as a wife, and her honor as a woman. Her figure seems to crouch in a sort of murky byway, and those who pass over the highroad of history ignore it with averted eyes.

In reality the story of Napoleon and Marie Louise and of the Count von Neipperg is one which, when you search it to the very core, leads you straight to a sex problem of a very curious nature. Nowhere else does it occur in the relations of the great personages of history; but in literature Balzac, that master of psychology, has touched upon the theme in the early chapters of his famous novel called "A Woman of Thirty."

As to the Napoleonic story, let us first recall the facts of the case, giving them in such order that their full significance may be understood.

In 1809 Napoleon, then at the plenitude of his power, shook himself free from the clinging clasp of Josephine and procured the annulment of his marriage to her. He really owed her nothing. Before he knew her she had been the mistress of another. In the first years of their life together she had been notoriously unfaithful to him. He had held to her from habit which was in part a superstition; but the remembrance of the wrong which she had done him made her faded charms at times almost repulsive. And then Josephine had never borne him any children; and without a son to perpetuate his dynasty, the gigantic achievements which he had wrought seemed futile in his eyes, and likely to crumble into nothingness when he should die.

No sooner had the marriage been annulled than his titanic ambition leaped, as it always did, to a tremendous pinnacle. He would wed. He would have children. But he would wed no petty princess. This man who in his early youth had felt honored by a marriage with the almost declassee widow of a creole planter now stretched out his hand that he might take to himself a woman not merely royal but imperial.

At first he sought the sister of the Czar of Russia; but Alexander entertained a profound distrust of the French emperor, and managed to evade the tentative demand. There was, however, a reigning family far more ancient than the Romanoffs—a family which had held the imperial dignity for nearly six centuries—the oldest and the noblest blood in Europe. This was the Austrian house of Hapsburg. Its head, the Emperor Francis, had thirteen children, of whom the eldest, the Archduchess Marie Louise, was then in her nineteenth year.

Napoleon had resented the rebuff which the Czar had given him. He turned, therefore, the more eagerly to the other project. Yet there were many reasons why an Austrian marriage might be dangerous, or, at any rate, ill-omened. Only sixteen years before, an Austrian arch-duchess, Marie Antionette, married to the ruler of France, had met her death upon the scaffold, hated and cursed by the French people, who had always blamed "the Austrian" for the evil days which had ended in the flames of revolution. Again, the father of the girl to whom Napoleon's fancy turned had been the bitter enemy of the new regime in France. His troops had been beaten by the French in five wars and had been crushed at Austerlitz and at Wagram. Bonaparte had twice entered Vienna at the head of a conquering army, and thrice he had slept in the imperial palace at Schonbrunn, while Francis was fleeing through the dark, a beaten fugitive pursued by the swift squadrons of French cavalry.

The feeling of Francis of Austria was not merely that of the vanquished toward the victor. It was a deep hatred almost religious in its fervor. He was the head and front of the old-time feudalism of birth and blood; Napoleon was the incarnation of the modern spirit which demolished thrones and set an iron heel upon crowned heads, giving the sacred titles of king and prince to soldiers who, even in palaces, still showed the swaggering brutality of the camp and the stable whence they sprang. Yet, just because an alliance with the Austrian house seemed in so many ways impossible, the thought of it inflamed the ardor of Napoleon all the more.

"Impossible?" he had once said, contemptuously. "The word 'impossible' is not French."

The Austrian alliance, unnatural though it seemed, was certainly quite possible. In the year 1809 Napoleon had finished his fifth war with Austria by the terrific battle of Wagram, which brought the empire of the Hapsburgs to the very dust. The conqueror's rude hand had stripped from Francis province after province. He had even let fall hints that the Hapsburgs might be dethroned and that Austria might disappear from the map of Europe, to be divided between himself and the Russian Czar, who was still his ally. It was at this psychological moment that the Czar wounded Napoleon's pride by refusing to give the hand of his sister Anne.

The subtle diplomats of Vienna immediately saw their chance. Prince Metternich, with the caution of one who enters the cage of a man-eating-tiger, suggested that the Austrian archduchess would be a fitting bride for the French conqueror. The notion soothed the wounded vanity of Napoleon. From that moment events moved swiftly; and before long it was understood that there was to be a new empress in France, and that she was to be none other than the daughter of the man who had been Napoleon's most persistent foe upon the Continent. The girl was to be given—sacrificed, if you like—to appease an imperial adventurer. After such a marriage, Austria would be safe from spoliation. The reigning dynasty would remain firmly seated upon its historic throne.

But how about the girl herself? She had always heard Napoleon spoken of as a sort of ogre—a man of low ancestry, a brutal and faithless enemy of her people. She knew that this bold, rough-spoken soldier less than a year before had added insult to the injury which he had inflicted on her father. In public proclamations he had called the Emperor Francis a coward and a liar. Up to the latter part of the year Napoleon was to her imagination a blood-stained, sordid, and yet all-powerful monster, outside the pale of human liking and respect. What must have been her thoughts when her father first told her with averted face that she was to become the bride of such a being?

Marie Louise had been brought up, as all German girls of rank were then brought up, in quiet simplicity and utter innocence. In person she was a tall blonde, with a wealth of light brown hair tumbling about a face which might be called attractive because it was so youthful and so gentle, but in which only poets and courtiers could see beauty. Her complexion was rosy, with that peculiar tinge which means that in the course of time it will become red and mottled. Her blue eyes were clear and childish. Her figure was good, though already too full for a girl who was younger than her years.

She had a large and generous mouth with full lips, the lower one being the true "Hapsburg lip," slightly pendulous—a feature which has remained for generation after generation as a sure sign of Hapsburg blood. One sees it in the present emperor of Austria, in the late Queen Regent of Spain, and in the present King of Spain, Alfonso. All the artists who made miniatures or paintings of Marie Louise softened down this racial mark so that no likeness of her shows it as it really was. But take her all in all, she was a simple, childlike, German madchen who knew nothing of the outside world except what she had heard from her discreet and watchful governess, and what had been told her of Napoleon by her uncles, the archdukes whom he had beaten down in battle.

When she learned that she was to be given to the French emperor her girlish soul experienced a shudder; but her father told her how vital was this union to her country and to him. With a sort of piteous dread she questioned the archdukes who had called Napoleon an ogre.

"Oh, that was when Napoleon was an enemy," they replied. "Now he is our friend."

Marie Louise listened to all this, and, like the obedient German girl she was, yielded her own will.

Events moved with a rush, for Napoleon was not the man to dally. Josephine had retired to her residence at Malmaison, and Paris was already astir with preparations for the new empress who was to assure the continuation of the Napoleonic glory by giving children to her husband. Napoleon had said to his ambassador with his usual bluntness:

"This is the first and most important thing—she must have children."

To the girl whom he was to marry he sent the following letter—an odd letter, combining the formality of a negotiator with the veiled ardor of a lover:

MY COUSIN: The brilliant qualities which adorn your person have inspired in me a desire to serve you and to pay you homage. In making my request to the emperor, your father, and praying him to intrust to me the happiness of your imperial highness, may I hope that you will understand the sentiments which lead me to this act? May I flatter myself that it will not be decided solely by the duty of parental obedience? However slightly the feelings of your imperial highness may incline to me, I wish to cultivate them with so great care, and to endeavor so constantly to please you in everything, that I flatter myself that some day I shall prove attractive to you. This is the end at which I desire to arrive, and for which I pray your highness to be favorable to me.

Immediately everything was done to dazzle the imagination of the girl. She had dressed always in the simplicity of the school-room. Her only ornaments had been a few colored stones which she sometimes wore as a necklace or a bracelet. Now the resources of all France were drawn upon. Precious laces foamed about her. Cascades of diamonds flashed before her eyes. The costliest and most exquisite creations of the Parisian shops were spread around her to make up a trousseau fit for the princess who was soon to become the bride of the man who had mastered continental Europe.

The archives of Vienna were ransacked for musty documents which would show exactly what had been done for other Austrian princesses who had married rulers of France. Everything was duplicated down to the last detail. Ladies-in-waiting thronged about the young archduchess; and presently there came to her Queen Caroline of Naples, Napoleon's sister, of whom Napoleon himself once said: "She is the only man among my sisters, as Joseph is the only woman among my brothers." Caroline, by virtue of her rank as queen, could have free access to her husband's future bride. Also, there came presently Napoleon's famous marshal, Berthier, Prince of Neuchatel, the chief of the Old Guard, who had just been created Prince of Wagram—a title which, very naturally, he did not use in Austria. He was to act as proxy for Napoleon in the preliminary marriage service at Vienna.

All was excitement. Vienna had never been so gay. Money was lavished under the direction of Caroline and Berthier. There were illuminations and balls. The young girl found herself the center of the world's interest; and the excitement made her dizzy. She could not but be flattered, and yet there were many hours when her heart misgave her. More than once she was found in tears. Her father, an affectionate though narrow soul, spent an entire day with her consoling and reassuring her. One thought she always kept in mind—what she had said to Metternich at the very first: "I want only what my duty bids me want." At last came the official marriage, by proxy, in the presence of a splendid gathering. The various documents were signed, the dowry was arranged for. Gifts were scattered right and left. At the opera there were gala performances. Then Marie Louise bade her father a sad farewell. Almost suffocated by sobs and with her eyes streaming with tears, she was led between two hedges of bayonets to her carriage, while cannon thundered and all the church-bells of Vienna rang a joyful peal.

She set out for France accompanied by a long train of carriages filled with noblemen and noblewomen, with ladies-in-waiting and scores of attendant menials. The young bride—the wife of a man whom she had never seen—was almost dead with excitement and fatigue. At a station in the outskirts of Vienna she scribbled a few lines to her father, which are a commentary upon her state of mind:

I think of you always, and I always shall. God has given me power to endure this final shock, and in Him alone I have put all my trust. He will help me and give me courage, and I shall find support in doing my duty toward you, since it is all for you that I have sacrificed myself.

There is something piteous in this little note of a frightened girl going to encounter she knew not what, and clinging almost frantically to the one thought—that whatever might befall her, she was doing as her father wished.

One need not recount the long and tedious journey of many days over wretched roads, in carriages that jolted and lurched and swayed. She was surrounded by unfamiliar faces and was compelled to meet at every town the chief men of the place, all of whom paid her honor, but stared at her with irrepressible curiosity. Day after day she went on and on. Each morning a courier on a foaming horse presented her with a great cluster of fresh flowers and a few lines scrawled by the unknown husband who was to meet her at her journey's end.

There lay the point upon which her wandering thoughts were focused—the journey's end! The man whose strange, mysterious power had forced her from her school-room, had driven her through a nightmare of strange happenings, and who was waiting for her somewhere to take her to himself, to master her as he had mastered generals and armies!

What was marriage? What did it mean? What experience still lay before her! These were the questions which she must have asked herself throughout that long, exhausting journey. When she thought of the past she was homesick. When she thought of the immediate future she was fearful with a shuddering fear.

At last she reached the frontier of France, and her carriage passed into a sort of triple structure, the first pavilion of which was Austrian, while the middle pavilion was neutral, and the farther one was French. Here she was received by those who were afterward to surround her—the representatives of the Napoleonic court. They were not all plebeians and children of the Revolution, ex-stable boys, ex-laundresses. By this time Napoleon had gathered around himself some of the noblest families of France, who had rallied to the empire. The assemblage was a brilliant one. There were Montmorencys and Beaumonts and Audenardes in abundance. But to Marie Louise, as to her Austrian attendants, they were all alike. They were French, they were strangers, and she shrank from them.

Yet here her Austrians must leave her. All who had accompanied her thus far were now turned back. Napoleon had been insistent on this point. Even her governess, who had been with her since her childhood, was not allowed to cross the French frontier. So fixed was Napoleon's purpose to have nothing Austrian about her, that even her pet dog, to which she clung as a girl would cling, was taken from her. Thereafter she was surrounded only by French faces, by French guards, and was greeted only by salvos of French artillery.

In the mean time what was Napoleon doing at Paris. Since the annulment of his marriage with Josephine he had gone into a sort of retirement. Matters of state, war, internal reforms, no longer interested him; but that restless brain could not sink into repose. Inflamed with the ardor of a new passion, that passion was all the greater because he had never yet set eyes upon its object. Marriage with an imperial princess flattered his ambition. The youth and innocence of the bride stirred his whole being with a thrill of novelty. The painted charms of Josephine, the mercenary favors of actresses, the calculated ecstasies of the women of the court who gave themselves to him from vanity, had long since palled upon him. Therefore the impatience with which he awaited the coming of Marie Louise became every day more tense.

For a time he amused himself with planning down to the very last details the demonstrations that were to be given in her honor. He organized them as minutely as he had ever organized a conquering army. He showed himself as wonderful in these petty things as he had in those great strategic combinations which had baffled the ablest generals of Europe. But after all had been arranged—even to the illuminations, the cheering, the salutes, and the etiquette of the court—he fell into a fever of impatience which gave him sleepless nights and frantic days. He paced up and down the Tuileries, almost beside himself. He hurried off courier after courier with orders that the postilions should lash their horses to bring the hour of meeting nearer still. He scribbled love letters. He gazed continually on the diamond-studded portrait of the woman who was hurrying toward him.

At last as the time approached he entered a swift traveling-carriage and hastened to Compiegne, about fifty miles from Paris, where it had been arranged that he should meet his consort and whence he was to escort her to the capital, so that they might be married in the great gallery of the Louvre. At Compiegne the chancellerie had been set apart for Napoleon's convenience, while the chateau had been assigned to Marie Louise and her attendants. When Napoleon's carriage dashed into the place, drawn by horses that had traveled at a gallop, the emperor could not restrain himself. It was raining torrents and night was coming on, yet, none the less, he shouted for fresh horses and pushed on to Soissons, where the new empress was to stop and dine. When he reached there and she had not arrived, new relays of horses were demanded, and he hurried off once more into the dark.

At the little village of Courcelles he met the courier who was riding in advance of the empress's cortege.

"She will be here in a few moments!" cried Napoleon; and he leaped from his carriage into the highway.

The rain descended harder than ever, and he took refuge in the arched doorway of the village church, his boots already bemired, his great coat reeking with the downpour. As he crouched before the church he heard the sound of carriages; and before long there came toiling through the mud the one in which was seated the girl for whom he had so long been waiting. It was stopped at an order given by an officer. Within it, half-fainting with fatigue and fear, Marie Louise sat in the dark, alone.

Here, if ever, was the chance for Napoleon to win his bride. Could he have restrained himself, could he have shown the delicate consideration which was demanded of him, could he have remembered at least that he was an emperor and that the girl—timid and shuddering—was a princess, her future story might have been far different. But long ago he had ceased to think of anything except his own desires.

He approached the carriage. An obsequious chamberlain drew aside the leathern covering and opened the door, exclaiming as he did so, "The emperor!" And then there leaped in the rain-soaked, mud-bespattered being whose excesses had always been as unbridled as his genius. The door was closed, the leathern curtain again drawn, and the horses set out at a gallop for Soissons. Within, the shrinking bride was at the mercy of pure animal passion, feeling upon her hot face a torrent of rough kisses, and yielding herself in terror to the caresses of wanton hands.

At Soissons Napoleon allowed no halt, but the carriage plunged on, still in the rain, to Compiegne. There all the arrangements made with so much care were thrust aside. Though the actual marriage had not yet taken place, Napoleon claimed all the rights which afterward were given in the ceremonial at Paris. He took the girl to the chancellerie, and not to the chateau. In an anteroom dinner was served with haste to the imperial pair and Queen Caroline. Then the latter was dismissed with little ceremony, the lights were extinguished, and this daughter of a line of emperors was left to the tender mercies of one who always had about him something of the common soldier—the man who lives for loot and lust.... At eleven the next morning she was unable to rise and was served in bed by the ladies of her household.

These facts, repellent as they are, must be remembered when we call to mind what happened in the next five years. The horror of that night could not be obliterated by splendid ceremonies, by studious attention, or by all the pomp and gaiety of the court. Napoleon was then forty-one—practically the same age as his new wife's father, the Austrian emperor; Marie Louise was barely nineteen and younger than her years. Her master must have seemed to be the brutal ogre whom her uncles had described.

Installed in the Tuileries, she taught herself compliance. On their marriage night Napoleon had asked her briefly: "What did your parents tell you?" And she had answered, meekly: "To be yours altogether and to obey you in everything." But, though she gave compliance, and though her freshness seemed enchanting to Napoleon, there was something concealed within her thoughts to which he could not penetrate. He gaily said to a member of the court:

"Marry a German, my dear fellow. They are the best women in the world—gentle, good, artless, and as fresh as roses."

Yet, at the same time, Napoleon felt a deep anxiety lest in her very heart of hearts this German girl might either fear or hate him secretly. Somewhat later Prince Metternich came from the Austrian court to Paris.

"I give you leave," said Napoleon, "to have a private interview with the empress. Let her tell you what she likes, and I shall ask no questions. Even should I do so, I now forbid your answering me."

Metternich was closeted with the empress for a long while. When he returned to the ante-room he found Napoleon fidgeting about, his eyes a pair of interrogation-points.

"I am sure," he said, "that the empress told you that I was kind to her?"

Metternich bowed and made no answer.

"Well," said Napoleon, somewhat impatiently, "at least I am sure that she is happy. Tell me, did she not say so?"

The Austrian diplomat remained unsmiling.

"Your majesty himself has forbidden me to answer," he returned with another bow.

We may fairly draw the inference that Marie Louise, though she adapted herself to her surroundings, was never really happy. Napoleon became infatuated with her. He surrounded her with every possible mark of honor. He abandoned public business to walk or drive with her. But the memory of his own brutality must have vaguely haunted him throughout it all. He was jealous of her as he had never been jealous of the fickle Josephine. Constant has recorded that the greatest precautions were taken to prevent any person whatsoever, and especially any man, from approaching the empress save in the presence of witnesses.

Napoleon himself underwent a complete change of habits and demeanor. Where he had been rough and coarse he became attentive and refined. His shabby uniforms were all discarded, and he spent hours in trying on new costumes. He even attempted to learn to waltz, but this he gave up in despair. Whereas before he ate hastily and at irregular intervals, he now sat at dinner with unusual patience, and the court took on a character which it had never had. Never before had he sacrificed either his public duty or his private pleasure for any woman. Even in the first ardor of his marriage with Josephine, when he used to pour out his heart to her in letters from Italian battle-fields, he did so only after he had made the disposition of his troops and had planned his movements for the following day. Now, however, he was not merely devoted, but uxorious; and in 1811, after the birth of the little King of Rome, he ceased to be the earlier Napoleon altogether. He had founded a dynasty. He was the head of a reigning house. He forgot the principles of the Revolution, and he ruled, as he thought, like other monarchs, by the grace of God.

As for Marie Louise, she played her part extremely well. Somewhat haughty and unapproachable to others, she nevertheless studied Napoleon's every wish. She seemed even to be loving; but one can scarcely doubt that her obedience sprang ultimately from fear and that her devotion was the devotion of a dog which has been beaten into subjection.

Her vanity was flattered in many ways, and most of all by her appointment as regent of the empire during Napoleon's absence in the disastrous Russian campaign which began in 1812. It was in June of that year that the French emperor held court at Dresden, where he played, as was said, to "a parterre of kings." This was the climax of his magnificence, for there were gathered all the sovereigns and princes who were his allies and who furnished the levies that swelled his Grand Army to six hundred thousand men. Here Marie Louise, like her husband, felt to the full the intoxication of supreme power. By a sinister coincidence it was here that she first met the other man, then unnoticed and little heeded, who was to cast upon her a fascination which in the end proved irresistible.

This man was Adam Albrecht, Count von Neipperg. There is something mysterious about his early years, and something baleful about his silent warfare with Napoleon. As a very young soldier he had been an Austrian officer in 1793. His command served in Belgium; and there, in a skirmish, he was overpowered by the French in superior numbers, but resisted desperately. In the melee a saber slashed him across the right side of his face, and he was made prisoner. The wound deprived him of his right eye, so that for the rest of his life he was compelled to wear a black bandage to conceal the mutilation.

From that moment he conceived an undying hatred of the French, serving against them in the Tyrol and in Italy. He always claimed that had the Archduke Charles followed his advice, the Austrians would have forced Napoleon's army to capitulate at Marengo, thus bringing early eclipse to the rising star of Bonaparte. However this may be, Napoleon's success enraged Neipperg and made his hatred almost the hatred of a fiend.

Hitherto he had detested the French as a nation. Afterward he concentrated his malignity upon the person of Napoleon. In every way he tried to cross the path of that great soldier, and, though Neipperg was comparatively an unknown man, his indomitable purpose and his continued intrigues at last attracted the notice of the emperor; for in 1808 Napoleon wrote this significant sentence:

The Count von Neipperg is openly known to have been the enemy of the French.

Little did the great conqueror dream how deadly was the blow which this Austrian count was destined finally to deal him!

Neipperg, though his title was not a high one, belonged to the old nobility of Austria. He had proved his bravery in war and as a duelist, and he was a diplomat as well as a soldier. Despite his mutilation, he was a handsome and accomplished courtier, a man of wide experience, and one who bore himself in a manner which suggested the spirit of romance. According to Masson, he was an Austrian Don Juan, and had won the hearts of many women. At thirty he had formed a connection with an Italian woman named Teresa Pola, whom he had carried away from her husband. She had borne him five children; and in 1813 he had married her in order that these children might be made legitimate.

In his own sphere the activity of Neipperg was almost as remarkable as Napoleon's in a greater one. Apart from his exploits on the field of battle he had been attached to the Austrian embassy in Paris, and, strangely enough, had been decorated by Napoleon himself with, the golden eagle of the Legion of Honor. Four months later we find him minister of Austria at the court of Sweden, where he helped to lay the train of intrigue which was to detach Bernadotte from Napoleon's cause. In 1812, as has just been said, he was with Marie Louise for a short time at Dresden, hovering about her, already forming schemes. Two years after this he overthrew Murat at Naples; and then hurried on post-haste to urge Prince Eugene to abandon Bonaparte.

When the great struggle of 1814 neared its close, and Napoleon, fighting with his back to the wall, was about to succumb to the united armies of Europe, it was evident that the Austrian emperor would soon be able to separate his daughter from her husband. In fact, when Napoleon was sent to Elba, Marie Louise returned to Vienna. The cynical Austrian diplomats resolved that she should never again meet her imperial husband. She was made Duchess of Parma in Italy, and set out for her new possessions; and the man with the black band across his sightless eye was chosen to be her escort and companion.

When Neipperg received this commission he was with Teresa Pola at Milan. A strange smile flitted across his face; and presently he remarked, with cynical frankness:

"Before six months I shall be her lover, and, later on, her husband."

He took up his post as chief escort of Marie Louise, and they journeyed slowly to Munich and Baden and Geneva, loitering on the way. Amid the great events which were shaking Europe this couple attracted slight attention. Napoleon, in Elba, longed for his wife and for his little son, the King of Rome. He sent countless messages and many couriers; but every message was intercepted, and no courier reached his destination. Meanwhile Marie Louise was lingering agreeably in Switzerland. She was happy to have escaped from the whirlpool of politics and war. Amid the romantic scenery through which she passed Neipperg was always by her side, attentive, devoted, trying in everything to please her. With him she passed delightful evenings. He sang to her in his rich barytone songs of love. He seemed romantic with a touch of mystery, a gallant soldier whose soul was also touched by sentiment.

One would have said that Marie Louise, the daughter of an imperial line, would have been proof against the fascinations of a person so far inferior to herself in rank, and who, beside the great emperor, was less than nothing. Even granting that she had never really loved Napoleon, she might still have preferred to maintain her dignity, to share his fate, and to go down in history as the empress of the greatest man whom modern times have known.

But Marie Louise was, after all, a woman, and she followed the guidance of her heart. To her Napoleon was still the man who had met her amid the rain-storm at Courcelles, and had from the first moment when he touched her violated all the instincts of a virgin. Later he had in his way tried to make amends; but the horror of that first night had never wholly left her memory. Napoleon had unrolled before her the drama of sensuality, but her heart had not been given to him. She had been his empress. In a sense it might be more true to say that she had been his mistress. But she had never been duly wooed and won and made his wife—an experience which is the right of every woman. And so this Neipperg, with his deferential manners, his soothing voice, his magnetic touch, his ardor, and his devotion, appeased that craving which the master of a hundred legions could not satisfy.

In less than the six months of which Neipperg had spoken the psychological moment had arrived. In the dim twilight she listened to his words of love; and then, drawn by that irresistible power which masters pride and woman's will, she sank into her lover's arms, yielding to his caresses, and knowing that she would be parted from him no more except by death.

From that moment he was bound to her by the closest ties and lived with her at the petty court of Parma. His prediction came true to the very letter. Teresa Pola died, and then Napoleon died, and after this Marie Louise and Neipperg were united in a morganatic marriage. Three children were born to them before his death in 1829.

It is interesting to note how much of an impression was made upon her by the final exile of her imperial husband to St. Helena. When the news was brought her she observed, casually:

"Thanks. By the way, I should like to ride this morning to Markenstein. Do you think the weather is good enough to risk it?"

Napoleon, on his side, passed through agonies of doubt and longing when no letters came to him from Marie Louise. She was constantly in his thoughts during his exile at St. Helena. "When his faithful friend and constant companion at St. Helena, the Count Las Casas, was ordered by Sir Hudson Lowe to depart from St. Helena, Napoleon wrote to him:

"Should you see, some day, my wife and son, embrace them. For two years I have, neither directly nor indirectly, heard from them. There has been on this island for six months a German botanist, who has seen them in the garden of Schoenbrunn a few months before his departure. The barbarians (meaning the English authorities at St. Helena) have carefully prevented him from coming to give me any news respecting them."

At last the truth was told him, and he received it with that high magnanimity, or it may be fatalism, which at times he was capable of showing. Never in all his days of exile did he say one word against her. Possibly in searching his own soul he found excuses such as we may find. In his will he spoke of her with great affection, and shortly before his death he said to his physician, Antommarchi:

"After my death, I desire that you will take my heart, put it in the spirits of wine, and that you carry it to Parma to my dear Marie Louise. You will please tell her that I tenderly loved her—that I never ceased to love her. You will relate to her all that you have seen, and every particular respecting my situation and death."

The story of Marie Louise is pathetic, almost tragic. There is the taint of grossness about it; and yet, after all, there is a lesson in it—the lesson that true love cannot be forced or summoned at command, that it is destroyed before its birth by outrage, and that it goes out only when evoked by sympathy, by tenderness, and by devotion.



Sixty or seventy years ago it was considered a great joke to chalk up on any man's house-door, or on his trunk at a coaching-station, the conspicuous letters "G. T. T." The laugh went round, and every one who saw the inscription chuckled and said: "They've got it on you, old hoss!" The three letters meant "gone to Texas"; and for any man to go to Texas in those days meant his moral, mental, and financial dilapidation. Either he had plunged into bankruptcy and wished to begin life over again in a new world, or the sheriff had a warrant for his arrest.

The very task of reaching Texas was a fearful one. Rivers that overran their banks, fever-stricken lowlands where gaunt faces peered out from moldering cabins, bottomless swamps where the mud oozed greasily and where the alligator could be seen slowly moving his repulsive form—all this stretched on for hundreds of miles to horrify and sicken the emigrants who came toiling on foot or struggling upon emaciated horses. Other daring pioneers came by boat, running all manner of risks upon the swollen rivers. Still others descended from the mountains of Tennessee and passed through a more open country and with a greater certainty of self-protection, because they were trained from childhood to wield the rifle and the long sheath-knife.

It is odd enough to read, in the chronicles of those days, that amid all this suffering and squalor there was drawn a strict line between "the quality" and those who had no claim to be patricians. "The quality" was made up of such emigrants as came from the more civilized East, or who had slaves, or who dragged with them some rickety vehicle with carriage-horses—however gaunt the animals might be. All others—those who had no slaves or horses, and no traditions of the older states—were classed as "poor whites"; and they accepted their mediocrity without a murmur.

Because he was born in Lexington, Virginia, and moved thence with his family to Tennessee, young Sam Houston—a truly eponymous American hero—was numbered with "the quality" when, after long wandering, he reached his boyhood home. His further claim to distinction as a boy came from the fact that he could read and write, and was even familiar with some of the classics in translation.

When less than eighteen years of age he had reached a height of more than six feet. He was skilful with the rifle, a remarkable rough-and-tumble fighter, and as quick with his long knife as any Indian. This made him a notable figure—the more so as he never abused his strength and courage. He was never known as anything but "Sam." In his own sphere he passed for a gentleman and a scholar, thanks to his Virginian birth and to the fact that he could repeat a great part of Pope's translation of the "Iliad."

His learning led him to teach school a few months in the year to the children of the white settlers. Indeed, Houston was so much taken with the pursuit of scholarship that he made up his mind to learn Greek and Latin. Naturally, this seemed mere foolishness to his mother, his six strapping brothers, and his three stalwart sisters, who cared little for study. So sharp was the difference between Sam and the rest of the family that he gave up his yearning after the classics and went to the other extreme by leaving home and plunging into the heart of the forest beyond sight of any white man or woman or any thought of Hellas and ancient Rome.

Here in the dimly lighted glades he was most happy. The Indians admired him for his woodcraft and for the skill with which he chased the wild game amid the forests. From his copy of the "Iliad" he would read to them the thoughts of the world's greatest poet.

It is told that nearly forty years after, when Houston had long led a different life and had made his home in Washington, a deputation of more than forty untamed Indians from Texas arrived there under the charge of several army officers. They chanced to meet Sam Houston.

One and all ran to him, clasped him in their brawny arms, hugged him like bears to their naked breasts, and called him "father." Beneath the copper skin and thick paint the blood rushed, and their faces changed, and the lips of many a warrior trembled, although the Indian may not weep.

In the gigantic form of Houston, on whose ample brow the beneficent love of a father was struggling with the sternness of the patriarch and warrior, we saw civilization awing the savage at his feet. We needed no interpreter to tell us that this impressive supremacy was gained in the forest.

His family had been at first alarmed by his stay among the Indians; but when after a time he returned for a new outfit they saw that he was entirely safe and left him to wander among the red men. Later he came forth and resumed the pursuits of civilization. He took up his studies; he learned the rudiments of law and entered upon its active practice. When barely thirty-six he had won every office that was open to him, ending with his election to the Governorship of Tennessee in 1827.

Then came a strange episode which changed the whole course of his life. Until then the love of woman had never stirred his veins. His physical activities in the forests, his unique intimacy with Indian life, had kept him away from the social intercourse of towns and cities. In Nashville Houston came to know for the first time the fascination of feminine society. As a lawyer, a politician, and the holder of important offices he could not keep aloof from that gentler and more winning influence which had hitherto been unknown to him.

In 1828 Governor Houston was obliged to visit different portions of the state, stopping, as was the custom, to visit at the homes of "the quality," and to be introduced to wives and daughters as well as to their sportsman sons. On one of his official journeys he met Miss Eliza Allen, a daughter of one of the "influential families" of Sumner County, on the northern border of Tennessee. He found her responsive, charming, and greatly to be admired. She was a slender type of Southern beauty, well calculated to gain the affection of a lover, and especially of one whose associations had been chiefly with the women of frontier communities.

To meet a girl who had refined tastes and wide reading, and who was at the same time graceful and full of humor, must have come as a pleasant experience to Houston. He and Miss Allen saw much of each other, and few of their friends were surprised when the word went forth that they were engaged to be married.

The marriage occurred in January, 1829. They were surrounded with friends of all classes and ranks, for Houston was the associate of Jackson and was immensely popular in his own state. He seemed to have before him a brilliant career. He had won a lovely bride to make a home for him; so that no man seemed to have more attractive prospects. What was there which at this time interposed in some malignant way to blight his future?

It was a little more than a month after his marriage when he met a friend, and, taking him out into a strip of quiet woodland, said to him:

"I have something to tell you, but you must not ask me anything about it. My wife and I will separate before long. She will return to her father's, while I must make my way alone."

Houston's friend seized him by the arm and gazed at him with horror.

"Governor," said he, "you're going to ruin your whole life! What reason have you for treating this young lady in such a way? What has she done that you should leave her? Or what have you done that she should leave you? Every one will fall away from you."

Houston grimly replied:

"I have no explanation to give you. My wife has none to give you. She will not complain of me, nor shall I complain of her. It is no one's business in the world except our own. Any interference will be impertinent, and I shall punish it with my own hand."

"But," said his friend, "think of it. The people at large will not allow such action. They will believe that you, who have been their idol, have descended to insult a woman. Your political career is ended. It will not be safe for you to walk the streets!"

"What difference does it make to me?" said Houston, gloomily. "What must be, must be. I tell you, as a friend, in advance, so that you may be prepared; but the parting will take place very soon."

Little was heard for another month or two, and then came the announcement that the Governor's wife had left him and had returned to her parents' home. The news flew like wildfire, and was the theme of every tongue. Friends of Mrs. Houston begged her to tell them the meaning of the whole affair. Adherents of Houston, on the other hand, set afloat stories of his wife's coldness and of her peevishness. The state was divided into factions; and what really concerned a very few was, as usual, made everybody's business.

There were times when, if Houston had appeared near the dwelling of his former wife, he would have been lynched or riddled with bullets. Again, there were enemies and slanderers of his who, had they shown themselves in Nashville, would have been torn to pieces by men who hailed Houston as a hero and who believed that he could not possibly have done wrong.

However his friends might rage, and however her people might wonder and seek to pry into the secret, no satisfaction was given on either side. The abandoned wife never uttered a word of explanation. Houston was equally reticent and self-controlled. In later years he sometimes drank deeply and was loose-tongued; but never, even in his cups, could he be persuaded to say a single word about his wife.

The whole thing is a mystery and cannot be solved by any evidence that we have. Almost every one who has written of it seems to have indulged in mere guesswork. One popular theory is that Miss Allen was in love with some one else; that her parents forced her into a brilliant marriage with Houston, which, however, she could not afterward endure; and that Houston, learning the facts, left her because he knew that her heart was not really his.

But the evidence is all against this. Had it been so she would surely have secured a divorce and would then have married the man whom she truly loved. As a matter of fact, although she did divorce Houston, it was only after several years, and the man whom she subsequently married was not acquainted with her at the time of the separation.

Another theory suggests that Houston was harsh in his treatment of his wife, and offended her by his untaught manners and extreme self-conceit. But it is not likely that she objected to his manners, since she had become familiar with them before she gave him her hand; and as to his conceit, there is no evidence that it was as yet unduly developed. After his Texan campaign he sometimes showed a rather lofty idea of his own achievements; but he does not seem to have done so in these early days.

Some have ascribed the separation to his passion for drink; but here again we must discriminate. Later in life he became very fond of spirits and drank whisky with the Indians, but during his earlier years he was most abstemious. It scarcely seems possible that his wife left him because he was intemperate.

If one wishes to construct a reasonable hypothesis on a subject where the facts are either wanting or conflicting, it is not impossible to suggest a solution of this puzzle about Houston. Although his abandoned wife never spoke of him and shut her lips tightly when she was questioned about him, Houston, on his part, was not so taciturn. He never consciously gave any direct clue to his matrimonial mystery; but he never forgot this girl who was his bride and whom he seems always to have loved. In what he said he never ceased to let a vein of self-reproach run through his words.

I should choose this one paragraph as the most significant. It was written immediately after they had parted:

Eliza stands acquitted by me. I have received her as a virtuous, chaste wife, and as such I pray God I may ever regard her, and I trust I ever shall. She was cold to me, and I thought she did not love me.

And again he said to an old and valued friend at about the same time:

"I can make no explanation. I exonerate the lady fully and do not justify myself."

Miss Allen seems to have been a woman of the sensitive American type which was so common in the early and the middle part of the last century. Mrs. Trollope has described it for us with very little exaggeration. Dickens has drawn it with a touch of malice, and yet not without truth. Miss Martineau described it during her visit to this country, and her account quite coincides with those of her two contemporaries.

Indeed, American women of that time unconsciously described themselves in a thousand different ways. They were, after all, only a less striking type of the sentimental Englishwomen who read L. E. L. and the earlier novels of Bulwer-Lytton. On both sides of the Atlantic there was a reign of sentiment and a prevalence of what was then called "delicacy." It was a die-away, unwholesome attitude toward life and was morbid to the last degree.

In circles where these ideas prevailed, to eat a hearty dinner was considered unwomanly. To talk of anything except some gilded "annual," or "book of beauty," or the gossip of the neighborhood was wholly to be condemned. The typical girl of such a community was thin and slender and given to a mild starvation, though she might eat quantities of jam and pickles and saleratus biscuit. She had the strangest views of life and an almost unnatural shrinking from any usual converse with men.

Houston, on his side, was a thoroughly natural and healthful man, having lived an outdoor life, hunting and camping in the forest and displaying the unaffected manner of the pioneer. Having lived the solitary life of the woods, it was a strange thing for him to meet a girl who had been bred in an entirely different way, who had learned a thousand little reservations and dainty graces, and whose very breath was coyness and reserve. Their mating was the mating of the man of the forest with the woman of the sheltered life.

Houston assumed everything; his bride shrank from everything. There was a mutual shock amounting almost to repulsion. She, on her side, probably thought she had found in him only the brute which lurks in man. He, on the other, repelled and checked, at once grasped the belief that his wife cared nothing for him because she would not meet his ardors with like ardors of her own. It is the mistake that has been made by thousands of men and women at the beginning of their married lives—the mistake on one side of too great sensitiveness, and on the other side of too great warmth of passion.

This episode may seem trivial, and yet it is one that explains many things in human life. So far as concerns Houston it has a direct bearing on the history of our country. A proud man, he could not endure the slights and gossip of his associates. He resigned the governorship of Tennessee, and left by night, in such a way as to surround his departure with mystery.

There had come over him the old longing for Indian life; and when he was next visible he was in the land of the Cherokees, who had long before adopted him as a son. He was clad in buckskin and armed with knife and rifle, and served under the old chief Oolooteka. He was a gallant defender of the Indians.

When he found how some of the Indian agents had abused his adopted brothers he went to Washington to protest, still wearing his frontier garb. One William Stansberry, a Congressman from Ohio, insulted Houston, who leaped upon him like a panther, dragged him about the Hall of Representatives, and beat him within an inch of his life. He was arrested, imprisoned, and fined; but his old friend, President Jackson, remitted his imprisonment and gruffly advised him not to pay the fine.

Returning to his Indians, he made his way to a new field which promised much adventure. This was Texas, of whose condition in those early days something has already been said. Houston found a rough American settlement, composed of scattered villages extending along the disputed frontier of Mexico. Already, in the true Anglo-Saxon spirit, the settlers had formed a rudimentary state, and as they increased and multiplied they framed a simple code of laws.

Then, quite naturally, there came a clash between them and the Mexicans. The Texans, headed by Moses Austin, had set up a republic and asked for admission to the United States. Mexico regarded them as rebels and despised them because they made no military display and had no very accurate military drill. They were dressed in buckskin and ragged clothing; but their knives were very bright and their rifles carried surely. Furthermore, they laughed at odds, and if only a dozen of them were gathered together they would "take on" almost any number of Mexican regulars.

In February, 1836, the acute and able Mexican, Santa Anna, led across the Rio Grande a force of several thousand Mexicans showily uniformed and completely armed. Every one remembers how they fell upon the little garrison at the Alamo, now within the city limits of San Antonio, but then an isolated mission building surrounded by a thick adobe wall. The Americans numbered less than three hundred men.

A sharp attack was made with these overwhelming odds. The Americans drove the assailants back with their rifle fire, but they had nothing to oppose to the Mexican artillery. The contest continued for several days, and finally the Mexicans breached the wall and fell upon the garrison, who were now reduced by more than half. There was an hour of blood, and every one of the Alamo's defenders, including the wounded, was put to death. The only survivors of the slaughter were two negro slaves, a woman, and a baby girl.

When the news of this bloody affair reached Houston he leaped forth to the combat like a lion. He was made commander-in-chief of the scanty Texan forces. He managed to rally about seven hundred men, and set out against Santa Anna with little in the way of equipment, and with nothing but the flame of frenzy to stimulate his followers. By march and countermarch the hostile forces came face to face near the shore of San Jacinto Bay, not far from the present city of Houston. Slowly they moved upon each other, when Houston halted, and his sharpshooters raked the Mexican battle-line with terrible effect. Then Houston uttered the cry:

"Remember the Alamo!"

With deadly swiftness he led his men in a charge upon Santa Anna's lines. The Mexicans were scattered as by a mighty wind, their commander was taken prisoner, and Mexico was forced to give its recognition to Texas as a free republic, of which General Houston became the first president.

This was the climax of Houston's life, but the end of it leaves us with something still to say. Long after his marriage with Miss Allen he took an Indian girl to wife and lived with her quite happily. She was a very beautiful woman, a half-breed, with the English name of Tyania Rodgers. Very little, however, is known of her life with Houston. Later still—in 1840—he married a lady from Marion, Alabama, named Margaret Moffette Lea. He was then in his forty-seventh year, while she was only twenty-one; but again, as with his Indian wife, he knew nothing but domestic tranquillity. These later experiences go far to prove the truth of what has already been given as the probable cause of his first mysterious failure to make a woman happy.

After Texas entered the Union, in 1845, Houston was elected to the United States Senate, in which he served for thirteen years. In 1852, 1856, and 1860, as a Southerner who opposed any movement looking toward secession, he was regarded as a possible presidential candidate; but his career was now almost over, and in 1863, while the Civil War—which he had striven to prevent—was at its height, he died.


Lola Montez! The name suggests dark eyes and abundant hair, lithe limbs and a sinuous body, with twining hands and great eyes that gleam with a sort of ebon splendor. One thinks of Spanish beauty as one hears the name; and in truth Lola Montez justified the mental picture.

She was not altogether Spanish, yet the other elements that entered into her mercurial nature heightened and vivified her Castilian traits. Her mother was a Spaniard—partly Moorish, however. Her father was an Irishman. There you have it—the dreamy romance of Spain, the exotic touch of the Orient, and the daring, unreasoning vivacity of the Celt.

This woman during the forty-three years of her life had adventures innumerable, was widely known in Europe and America, and actually lost one king his throne. Her maiden name was Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert. Her father was a British officer, the son of an Irish knight, Sir Edward Gilbert. Her mother had been a danseuse named Lola Oliver. "Lola" is a diminutive of Dolores, and as "Lola" she became known to the world.

She lived at one time or another in nearly all the countries of Europe, and likewise in India, America, and Australia. It would be impossible to set down here all the sensations that she achieved. Let us select the climax of her career and show how she overturned a kingdom, passing but lightly over her early and her later years.

She was born in Limerick in 1818, but her father's parents cast off their son and his young wife, the Spanish dancer. They went to India, and in 1825 the father died, leaving his young widow without a rupee; but she was quickly married again, this time to an officer of importance.

The former danseuse became a very conventional person, a fit match for her highly conventional husband; but the small daughter did not take kindly to the proprieties of life. The Hindu servants taught her more things than she should have known; and at one time her stepfather found her performing the danse du ventre. It was the Moorish strain inherited from her mother.

She was sent back to Europe, however, and had a sort of education in Scotland and England, and finally in Paris, where she was detected in an incipient flirtation with her music-master. There were other persons hanging about her from her fifteenth year, at which time her stepfather, in India, had arranged a marriage between her and a rich but uninteresting old judge. One of her numerous admirers told her this.

"What on earth am I to do?" asked little Lola, most naively.

"Why, marry me," said the artful adviser, who was Captain Thomas James; and so the very next day they fled to Dublin and were speedily married at Meath.

Lola's husband was violently in love with her, but, unfortunately, others were no less susceptible to her charms. She was presented at the vice-regal court, and everybody there became her victim. Even the viceroy, Lord Normanby, was greatly taken with her. This nobleman's position was such that Captain James could not object to his attentions, though they made the husband angry to a degree. The viceroy would draw her into alcoves and engage her in flattering conversation, while poor James could only gnaw his nails and let green-eyed jealousy prey upon his heart. His only recourse was to take her into the country, where she speedily became bored; and boredom is the death of love.

Later she went with Captain James to India. She endured a campaign in Afghanistan, in which she thoroughly enjoyed herself because of the attentions of the officers. On her return to London in 1842, one Captain Lennox was a fellow passenger; and their association resulted in an action for divorce, by which she was freed from her husband, and yet by a technicality was not able to marry Lennox, whose family in any case would probably have prevented the wedding.

Mrs. Mayne says, in writing on this point:

Even Lola never quite succeeded in being allowed to commit bigamy unmolested, though in later years she did commit it and took refuge in Spain to escape punishment.

The same writer has given a vivid picture of what happened soon after the divorce. Lola tried to forget her past and to create a new and brighter future. Here is the narrative:

Her Majesty's Theater was crowded on the night of June 10,1843. A new Spanish dancer was announced—"Dona Lola Montez." It was her debut, and Lumley, the manager, had been puffing her beforehand, as he alone knew how. To Lord Ranelagh, the leader of the dilettante group of fashionable young men, he had whispered, mysteriously:

"I have a surprise in store. You shall see."

So Ranelagh and a party of his friends filled the omnibus boxes, those tribunes at the side of the stage whence success or failure was pronounced. Things had been done with Lumley's consummate art; the packed house was murmurous with excitement. She was a raving beauty, said report—and then, those intoxicating Spanish dances! Taglioni, Cerito, Fanny Elssler, all were to be eclipsed.

Ranelagh's glasses were steadily leveled on the stage from the moment her entrance was imminent. She came on. There was a murmur of admiration—but Ranelagh made no sign. And then she began to dance. A sense of disappointment, perhaps? But she was very lovely, very graceful, "like a flower swept by the wind, she floated round the stage"—not a dancer, but, by George, a beauty! And still Ranelagh made no sign.

Yet, no. What low, sibilant sound is that? And then what confused, angry words from the tribunal? He turns to his friends, his eyes ablaze with anger, opera-glass in hand. And now again the terrible "Hiss-s-s!" taken up by the other box, and the words repeated loudly and more angrily even than before—the historic words which sealed Lola's doom at Her Majesty's Theater: "WHY, IT'S BETTY JAMES!"

She was, indeed, Betty James, and London would not accept her as Lola Montez. She left England and appeared upon the Continent as a beautiful virago, making a sensation—as the French would say, a succes de scandale—by boxing the ears of people who offended her, and even on one occasion horsewhipping a policeman who was in attendance on the King of Prussia. In Paris she tried once more to be a dancer, but Paris would not have her. She betook herself to Dresden and Warsaw, where she sought to attract attention by her eccentricities, making mouths at the spectators, flinging her garters in their faces, and one time removing her skirts and still more necessary garments, whereupon her manager broke off his engagement with her.

An English writer who heard a great deal of her and who saw her often about this time writes that there was nothing wonderful about her except "her beauty and her impudence." She had no talent nor any of the graces which make women attractive; yet many men of talent raved about her. The clever young journalist, Dujarrier, who assisted Emile Girardin, was her lover in Paris. He was killed in a duel and left Lola twenty thousand francs and some securities, so that she no longer had to sing in the streets as she did in Warsaw.

She now betook herself to Munich, the capital of Bavaria. That country was then governed by Ludwig I., a king as eccentric as Lola herself. He was a curious compound of kindliness, ideality, and peculiar ways. For instance, he would never use a carriage even on state occasions. He prowled around the streets, knocking off the hats of those whom he chanced to meet. Like his unfortunate descendant, Ludwig II., he wrote poetry, and he had a picture-gallery devoted to portraits of the beautiful women whom he had met.

He dressed like an English fox-hunter, with a most extraordinary hat, and what was odd and peculiar in others pleased him because he was odd and peculiar himself. Therefore when Lola made her first appearance at the Court Theater he was enchanted with her. He summoned her at once to the palace, and within five days he presented her to the court, saying as he did so:

"Meine Herren, I present you to my best friend."

In less than a month this curious monarch had given Lola the title of Countess of Landsfeld. A handsome house was built for her, and a pension of twenty thousand florins was granted her. This was in 1847. With the people of Munich she was unpopular. They did not mind the eccentricities of the king, since these amused them and did the country no perceptible harm; but they were enraged by this beautiful woman, who had no softness such as a woman ought to have. Her swearing, her readiness to box the ears of every one whom she disliked, the huge bulldog which accompanied her everywhere—all these things were beyond endurance.

She was discourteous to the queen, besides meddling with the politics of the kingdom. Either of these things would have been sufficient to make her hated. Together, they were more than the city of Munich could endure. Finally the countess tried to establish a new corps in the university. This was the last touch of all. A student who ventured to wear her colors was beaten and arrested. Lola came to his aid with all her wonted boldness; but the city was in commotion.

Daggers were drawn; Lola was hustled and insulted. The foolish king rushed out to protect her; and on his arm she was led in safety to the palace. As she entered the gates she turned and fired a pistol into the mob. No one was hurt, but a great rage took possession of the people. The king issued a decree closing the university for a year. By this time, however, Munich was in possession of a mob, and the Bavarians demanded that she should leave the country.

Ludwig faced the chamber of peers, where the demand of the populace was placed before him.

"I would rather lose my crown!" he replied.

The lords of Bavaria regarded him with grim silence; and in their eyes he read the determination of his people. On the following day a royal decree revoked Lola's rights as a subject of Bavaria, and still another decree ordered her to be expelled. The mob yelled with joy and burned her house. Poor Ludwig watched the tumult by the light of the leaping flames.

He was still in love with her and tried to keep her in the kingdom; but the result was that Ludwig himself was forced to abdicate. He had given his throne for the light love of this beautiful but half-crazy woman. She would have no more to do with him; and as for him, he had to give place to his son Maximilian. Ludwig had lost a kingdom merely because this strange, outrageous creature had piqued him and made him think that she was unique among women.

The rest of her career was adventurous. In England she contracted a bigamous marriage with a youthful officer, and within two weeks they fled to Spain for safety from the law. Her husband was drowned, and she made still another marriage. She visited Australia, and at Melbourne she had a fight with a strapping woman, who clawed her face until Lola fell fainting to the ground. It is a squalid record of horse-whippings, face-scratchings—in short, a rowdy life.

Her end was like that of Becky Sharp. In America she delivered lectures which were written for her by a clergyman and which dealt with the art of beauty. She had a temporary success; but soon she became quite poor, and took to piety, professing to be a sort of piteous, penitent Magdalen. In this role she made effective use of her beautiful dark hair, her pallor, and her wonderful eyes. But the violence of her disposition had wrecked her physically; and she died of paralysis in Astoria, on Long Island, in 1861. Upon her grave in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, there is a tablet to her memory, bearing the inscription: "Mrs. Eliza Gilbert, born 1818, died 1861."

What can one say of a woman such as this? She had no morals, and her manners were outrageous. The love she felt was the love of a she-wolf. Fourteen biographies of her have been written, besides her own autobiography, which was called The Story of a Penitent, and which tells less about her than any of the other books. Her beauty was undeniable. Her courage was the blended courage of the Celt, the Spaniard, and the Moor. Yet all that one can say of her was said by the elder Dumas when he declared that she was born to be the evil genius of every one who cared for her. Her greatest fame comes from the fact that in less than three years she overturned a kingdom and lost a king his throne.


The present French Republic has endured for over forty years. Within that time it has produced just one man of extraordinary power and parts. This was Leon Gambetta. Other men as remarkable as he were conspicuous in French political life during the first few years of the republic; but they belonged to an earlier generation, while Gambetta leaped into prominence only when the empire fell, crashing down in ruin and disaster.

It is still too early to form an accurate estimate of him as a statesman. His friends praise him extravagantly. His enemies still revile him bitterly. The period of his political career lasted for little more than a decade, yet in that time it may be said that he lived almost a life of fifty years. Only a short time ago did the French government cause his body to be placed within the great Pantheon, which contains memorials of the heroes and heroines of France. But, though we may not fairly judge of his political motives, we can readily reconstruct a picture of him as a man, and in doing so recall his one romance, which many will remember after they have forgotten his oratorical triumphs and his statecraft.

Leon Gambetta was the true type of the southern Frenchman—what his countrymen call a meridional. The Frenchman of the south is different from the Frenchman of the north, for the latter has in his veins a touch of the viking blood, so that he is very apt to be fair-haired and blue-eyed, temperate in speech, and self-controlled. He is different, again, from the Frenchman of central France, who is almost purely Celtic. The meridional has a marked vein of the Italian in him, derived from the conquerors of ancient Gaul. He is impulsive, ardent, fiery in speech, hot-tempered, and vivacious to an extraordinary degree.

Gambetta, who was born at Cahors, was French only on his mother's side, since his father was of Italian birth. It is said also that somewhere in his ancestry there was a touch of the Oriental. At any rate, he was one of the most southern of the sons of southern France, and he showed the precocious maturity which belongs to a certain type of Italian. At twenty-one he had already been admitted to the French bar, and had drifted to Paris, where his audacity, his pushing nature, and his red-hot un-restraint of speech gave him a certain notoriety from the very first.

It was toward the end of the reign of Napoleon III. that Gambetta saw his opportunity. The emperor, weakened by disease and yielding to a sort of feeble idealism, gave to France a greater freedom of speech than it had enjoyed while he was more virile. This relaxation of control merely gave to his opponents more courage to attack him and his empire. Demagogues harangued the crowds in words which would once have led to their imprisonment. In the National Assembly the opposition did all within its power to hamper and defeat the policy of the government.

In short, republicanism began to rise in an ominous and threatening way; and at the head of republicanism in Paris stood forth Gambetta, with his impassioned eloquence, his stinging phrases, and his youthful boldness. He became the idol of that part of Paris known as Belleville, where artisans and laborers united with the rabble of the streets in hating the empire and in crying out for a republic.

Gambetta was precisely the man to voice the feelings of these people. Whatever polish he acquired in after years was then quite lacking; and the crudity of his manners actually helped him with the men whom he harangued. A recent book by M. Francis Laur, an ardent admirer of Gambetta, gives a picture of the man which may be nearly true of him in his later life, but which is certainly too flattering when applied to Gambetta in 1868, at the age of thirty.

How do we see Gambetta as he was at thirty? A man of powerful frame and of intense vitality, with thick, clustering hair, which he shook as a lion shakes its mane; olive-skinned, with eyes that darted fire, a resonant, sonorous voice, and a personal magnetism which was instantly felt by all who met him or who heard him speak. His manners were not refined. He was fond of oil and garlic. His gestures were often more frantic than impressive, so that his enemies called him "the furious fool." He had a trick of spitting while he spoke. He was by no means the sort of man whose habits had been formed in drawing-rooms or among people of good breeding. Yet his oratory was, of its kind, superb.

In 1869 Gambetta was elected by the Red Republicans to the Corps Legislatif. From the very first his vehemence and fire gained him a ready hearing. The chamber itself was arranged like a great theater, the members occupying the floor and the public the galleries. Each orator in addressing the house mounted a sort of rostrum and from it faced the whole assemblage, not noticing, as with us, the presiding officer at all. The very nature of this arrangement stimulated parliamentary speaking into eloquence and flamboyant oratory.

After Gambetta had spoken a few times he noticed in the gallery a tall, graceful woman, dressed in some neutral color and wearing long black gloves, which accentuated the beauty of her hands and arms. No one in the whole assembly paid such close attention to the orator as did this woman, whom he had never seen before and who appeared to be entirely alone.

When it came to him to speak on another day he saw sitting in the same place the same stately and yet lithe and sinuous figure. This was repeated again and again, until at last whenever he came to a peculiarly fervid burst of oratory he turned to this woman's face and saw it lighted up by the same enthusiasm which was stirring him.

Finally, in the early part of 1870, there came a day when Gambetta surpassed himself in eloquence. His theme was the grandeur of republican government. Never in his life had he spoken so boldly as then, or with such fervor. The ministers of the emperor shrank back in dismay as this big-voiced, strong-limbed man hurled forth sentence after sentence like successive peals of irresistible artillery.

As Gambetta rolled forth his sentences, superb in their rhetoric and all ablaze with that sort of intense feeling which masters an orator in the moment of his triumph, the face of the lady in the gallery responded to him with wonderful appreciation. She was no longer calm, unmoved, and almost severe. She flushed, and her eyes as they met his seemed to sparkle with living fire. When he finished and descended from the rostrum he looked at her, and their eyes cried out as significantly as if the two had spoken to each other.

Then Gambetta did what a person of finer breeding would not have done. He hastily scribbled a note, sealed it, and called to his side one of the official pages. In the presence of the great assemblage, where he was for the moment the center of attention, he pointed to the lady in the gallery and ordered the page to take the note to her.

One may excuse this only on the ground that he was completely carried away by his emotion, so that to him there was no one present save this enigmatically fascinating woman and himself. But the lady on her side was wiser; or perhaps a slight delay gave her time to recover her discretion. When Gambetta's note was brought to her she took it quietly and tore it into little pieces without reading it; and then, rising, she glided through the crowd and disappeared.

Gambetta in his excitement had acted as if she were a mere adventuress. With perfect dignity she had shown him that she was a woman who retained her self-respect.

Immediately upon the heels of this curious incident came the outbreak of the war with Germany. In the war the empire was shattered at Sedan. The republic was proclaimed in Paris. The French capital was besieged by a vast German army. Gambetta was made minister of the interior, and remained for a while in Paris even after it had been blockaded. But his fiery spirit chafed under such conditions. He longed to go forth into the south of France and arouse his countrymen with a cry to arms against the invaders.

Escaping in a balloon, he safely reached the city of Tours; and there he established what was practically a dictatorship. He flung himself with tremendous energy into the task of organizing armies, of equipping them, and of directing their movements for the relief of Paris. He did, in fact, accomplish wonders. He kept the spirit of the nation still alive. Three new armies were launched against the Germans. Gambetta was everywhere and took part in everything that was done. His inexperience in military affairs, coupled with his impatience of advice, led him to make serious mistakes. Nevertheless, one of his armies practically defeated the Germans at Orleans; and could he have had his own way, even the fall of Paris would not have ended the war.

"Never," said Gambetta, "shall I consent to peace so long as France still has two hundred thousand men under arms and more than a thousand cannon to direct against the enemy!"

But he was overruled by other and less fiery statesmen. Peace was made, and Gambetta retired for a moment into private life. If he had not succeeded in expelling the German hosts he had, at any rate, made Bismarck hate him, and he had saved the honor of France.

It was while the National Assembly at Versailles was debating the terms of peace with Germany that Gambetta once more delivered a noble and patriotic speech. As he concluded he felt a strange magnetic attraction; and, sweeping the audience with a glance, he saw before him, not very far away, the same woman with the long black gloves, having about her still an air of mystery, but again meeting his eyes with her own, suffused with feeling.

Gambetta hurried to an anteroom and hastily scribbled the following note:

At last I see you once more. Is it really you?

The scrawl was taken to her by a discreet official, and this time she received the letter, pressed it to her heart, and then slipped it into the bodice of her gown. But this time, as before, she left without making a reply.

It was an encouragement, yet it gave no opening to Gambetta—for she returned to the National Assembly no more. But now his heart was full of hope, for he was convinced with a very deep conviction that somewhere, soon, and in some way he would meet this woman, who had become to him one of the intense realities of his life. He did not know her name. They had never exchanged a word. Yet he was sure that time would bring them close together.

His intuition was unerring. What we call chance often seems to know what it is doing. Within a year after the occurrence that has just been narrated an old friend of Gambetta's met with an accident which confined him to his house. The statesman strolled to his friend's residence. The accident was a trifling one, and the mistress of the house was holding a sort of informal reception, answering questions that were asked her by the numerous acquaintances who called.

As Gambetta was speaking, of a sudden he saw before him, at the extremity of the room, the lady of his dreams, the sphinx of his waking hours, the woman who four years earlier had torn up the note which he addressed to her, but who more recently had kept his written words. Both of them were deeply agitated, yet both of them carried off the situation without betraying themselves to others, Gambetta approached, and they exchanged a few casual commonplaces. But now, close together, eye and voice spoke of what was in their hearts.

Presently the lady took her leave. Gambetta followed closely. In the street he turned to her and said in pleading tones:

"Why did you destroy my letter? You knew I loved you, and yet all these years you have kept away from me in silence."

Then the girl—for she was little more than a girl—hesitated for a moment. As he looked upon her face he saw that her eyes were full of tears. At last she spoke with emotion:

"You cannot love me, for I am unworthy of you. Do not urge me. Do not make promises. Let us say good-by. At least I must first tell you of my story, for I am one of those women whom no one ever marries."

Gambetta brushed aside her pleadings. He begged that he might see her soon. Little by little she consented; but she would not see him at her house. She knew that his enemies were many and that everything he did would be used against him. In the end she agreed to meet him in the park at Versailles, near the Petit Trianon, at eight o'clock in the morning.

When she had made this promise he left her. Already a new inspiration had come to him, and he felt that with this woman by his side he could accomplish anything.

At the appointed hour, in the silence of the park and amid the sunshine of the beautiful morning, the two met once again. Gambetta seized her hands with eagerness and cried out in an exultant tone:

"At last! At last! At last!"

But the woman's eyes were heavy with sorrow, and upon her face there was a settled melancholy. She trembled at his touch and almost shrank from him. Here was seen the impetuosity of the meridional. He had first spoken to this woman only two days before. He knew nothing of her station, of her surroundings, of her character. He did not even know her name. Yet one thing he knew absolutely—that she was made for him and that he must have her for his own. He spoke at once of marriage; but at this she drew away from him still farther.

"No," she said. "I told you that you must not speak to me until you have heard my story."

He led her to a great stone bench near by; and, passing his arm about her waist, he drew her head down to his shoulder as he said:

"Well, tell me. I will listen."

Then this girl of twenty-four, with perfect frankness, because she was absolutely loyal, told him why she felt that they must never see each other any more-much less marry and be happy. She was the daughter of a colonel in the French army. The sudden death of her father had left her penniless and alone. Coming to Paris at the age of eighteen, she had given lessons in the household of a high officer of the empire. This man had been attracted by her beauty, and had seduced her.

Later she had secured the means of living modestly, realizing more deeply each month how dreadful had been her fate and how she had been cut off from the lot of other girls. She felt that her life must be a perpetual penance for what had befallen her through her ignorance and inexperience. She told Gambetta that her name was Leonie Leon. As is the custom of Frenchwomen who live alone, she styled herself madame. It is doubtful whether the name by which she passed was that which had been given to her at baptism; but, if so, her true name has never been disclosed.

When she had told the whole of her sad story to Gambetta he made nothing of it. She said to him again:

"You cannot love me. I should only dim your fame. You can have nothing in common with a dishonored, ruined girl. That is what I came here to explain to you. Let us part, and let us for all time forget each other."

But Gambetta took no heed of what she said. Now that he had found her, he would not consent to lose her. He seized her slender hands and covered them with kisses. Again he urged that she should marry him.

Her answer was a curious one. She was a devoted Catholic and would not regard any marriage as valid save a religious marriage. On the other hand, Gambetta, though not absolutely irreligious, was leading the opposition to the Catholic party in France. The Church to him was not so much a religious body as a political one, and to it he was unalterably opposed. Personally, he would have no objections to being married by a priest; but as a leader of the anti-clerical party he felt that he must not recognize the Church's claim in any way. A religious marriage would destroy his influence with his followers and might even imperil the future of the republic.

They pleaded long and earnestly both then and afterward. He urged a civil marriage, but she declared that only a marriage according to the rites of the Church could ever purify her past and give her back her self-respect. In this she was absolutely stubborn, yet she did not urge upon Gambetta that he should destroy his influence by marrying her in church.

Through all this interplay of argument and pleading and emotion the two grew every moment more hopelessly in love. Then the woman, with a woman's curious subtlety and indirectness, reached a somewhat singular conclusion. She would hear nothing of a civil marriage, because a civil marriage was no marriage in the eyes of Pope and prelate. On the other hand, she did not wish Gambetta to mar his political career by going through a religious ceremony. She had heard from a priest that the Church recognized two forms of betrothal. The usual one looked to a marriage in the future and gave no marriage privileges until after the formal ceremony. But there was another kind of betrothal known to the theologians as sponsalia de praesente. According to this, if there were an actual betrothal, the pair might have the privileges and rights of marriage immediately, if only they sincerely meant to be married in the future.

The eager mind of Leonie Leon caught at this bit of ecclesiastical law and used it with great ingenuity.

"Let us," she said, "be formally betrothed by the interchange of a ring, and let us promise each other to marry in the future. After such a betrothal as this we shall be the same as married; for we shall be acting according to the laws of the Church."

Gambetta gladly gave his promise. A betrothal ring was purchased; and then, her conscience being appeased, she gave herself completely to her lover. Gambetta was sincere. He said to her:

"If the time should ever come when I shall lose my political station, when I am beaten in the struggle, when I am deserted and alone, will you not then marry me when I ask you?"

And Leonie, with her arms about his neck, promised that she would. Yet neither of them specified what sort of marriage this should be, nor did it seem at the moment as if the question could arise.

For Gambetta was very powerful. He led his party to success in the election of 1877. Again and again his triumphant oratory mastered the National Assembly of France. In 1879 he was chosen to be president of the Chamber of Deputies. He towered far above the president of the republic—Jules Grevy, that hard-headed, close-fisted old peasant—and his star had reached its zenith.

All this time he and Leonie Leon maintained their intimacy, though it was carefully concealed save from a very few. She lived in a plain but pretty house on the Avenue Perrichont in the quiet quarter of Auteuil; but Gambetta never came there. Where and when they met was a secret guarded very carefully by the few who were his close associates. But meet they did continually, and their affection grew stronger every year. Leonie thrilled at the victories of the man she loved; and he found joy in the hours that he spent with her.

Gambetta's need of rest was very great, for he worked at the highest tension, like an engine which is using every pound of steam. Bismarck, whose spies kept him well informed of everything that was happening in Paris, and who had no liking for Gambetta, since the latter always spoke of him as "the Ogre," once said to a Frenchman named Cheberry:

"He is the only one among you who thinks of revenge, and who is any sort of a menace to Germany. But, fortunately, he won't last much longer. I am not speaking thoughtlessly. I know from secret reports what sort of a life your great man leads, and I know his habits. Why, his life is a life of continual overwork. He rests neither night nor day. All politicians who have led the same life have died young. To be able to serve one's country for a long time a statesman must marry an ugly woman, have children like the rest of the world, and a country place or a house to one's self like any common peasant, where he can go and rest."

The Iron Chancellor chuckled as he said this, and he was right. And yet Gambetta's end came not so much through overwork as by an accident.

It may be that the ambition of Mme. Leon stimulated him beyond his powers. However this may be, early in 1882, when he was defeated in Parliament on a question which he considered vital, he immediately resigned and turned his back on public life. His fickle friends soon deserted him. His enemies jeered and hooted the mention of his name.

He had reached the time which with a sort of prophetic instinct he had foreseen nearly ten years before. So he turned to the woman who had been faithful and loving to him; and he turned to her with a feeling of infinite peace.

"You promised me," he said, "that if ever I was defeated and alone you would marry me. The time is now."

Then this man, who had exercised the powers of a dictator, who had levied armies and shaken governments, and through whose hands there had passed thousands of millions of francs, sought for a country home. He found for sale a small estate which had once belonged to Balzac, and which is known as Les Jardies. It was in wretched repair; yet the small sum which it cost Gambetta—twelve thousand francs—was practically all that he possessed. Worn and weary as he was, it seemed to him a haven of delightful peace; for here he might live in the quiet country with the still beautiful woman who was soon to become his wife.

It is not known what form of marriage they at last agreed upon. She may have consented to a civil ceremony; or he, being now out of public life, may have felt that he could be married by the Church. The day for their wedding had been set, and Gambetta was already at Les Jardies. But there came a rumor that he had been shot. Still further tidings bore the news that he was dying. Paris, fond as it was of scandals, immediately spread the tale that he had been shot by a jealous woman.

The truth is quite the contrary. Gambetta, in arranging his effects in his new home, took it upon himself to clean a pair of dueling-pistols; for every French politician of importance must fight duels, and Gambetta had already done so. Unfortunately, one cartridge remained unnoticed in the pistol which Gambetta cleaned. As he held the pistol-barrel against the soft part of his hand the cartridge exploded, and the ball passed through the base of the thumb with a rending, spluttering noise.

The wound was not in itself serious, but now the prophecy of Bismarck was fulfilled. Gambetta had exhausted his vitality; a fever set in, and before long he died of internal ulceration.

This was the end of a great career and of a great romance of love. Leonie Leon was half distraught at the death of the lover who was so soon to be her husband. She wandered for hours in the forest until she reached a convent, where she was received. Afterward she came to Paris and hid herself away in a garret of the slums. All the light of her life had gone out. She wished that she had died with him whose glory had been her life. Friends of Gambetta, however, discovered her and cared for her until her death, long afterward, in 1906.

She lived upon the memories of the past, of the swift love that had come at first sight, but which had lasted unbrokenly; which had given her the pride of conquest, and which had brought her lover both happiness and inspiration and a refining touch which had smoothed away his roughness and made him fit to stand in palaces with dignity and distinction.

As for him, he left a few lines which have been carefully preserved, and which sum up his thought of her. They read:

To the light of my soul; to the star, of my life—Leonie Leon. For ever! For ever!


Often there has arisen some man who, either by his natural gifts or by his impudence or by the combination of both, has made himself a recognized leader in the English fashionable world. One of the first of these men was Richard Nash, usually known as "Beau Nash," who flourished in the eighteenth century. Nash was a man of doubtful origin; nor was he attractive in his looks, for he was a huge, clumsy creature with features that were both irregular and harsh. Nevertheless, for nearly fifty years Beau Nash was an arbiter of fashion. Goldsmith, who wrote his life, declared that his supremacy was due to his pleasing manners, "his assiduity, flattery, fine clothes, and as much wit as the ladies had whom he addressed." He converted the town of Bath from a rude little hamlet into an English Newport, of which he was the social autocrat. He actually drew up a set of written rules which some of the best-born and best-bred people follow slavishly.

Even better known to us is George Bryan Brummel, commonly called "Beau Brummel," who by his friendship with George IV.—then Prince Regent—was an oracle at court on everything that related to dress and etiquette and the proper mode of living. His memory has been kept alive most of all by Richard Mansfield's famous impersonation of him. The play is based upon the actual facts; for after Brummel had lost the royal favor he died an insane pauper in the French town of Caen. He, too, had a distinguished biographer, since Bulwer-Lytton's novel Pelham is really the narrative of Brummel's curious career.

Long after Brummel, Lord Banelagh led the gilded youth of London, and it was at this time that the notorious Lola Montez made her first appearance in the British capital.

These three men—Nash, Brummel, and Ranelagh—had the advantage of being Englishmen, and, therefore, of not incurring the old-time English suspicion of foreigners. A much higher type of social arbiter was a Frenchman who for twenty years during the early part of Queen Victoria's reign gave law to the great world of fashion, besides exercising a definite influence upon English art and literature.

This was Count Albert Guillaume d'Orsay, the son of one of Napoleon's generals, and descended by a morganatic marriage from the King of Wurttemburg. The old general, his father, was a man of high courage, impressive appearance, and keen intellect, all of which qualities he transmitted to his son. The young Count d'Orsay, when he came of age, found the Napoleonic era ended and France governed by Louis XVIII. The king gave Count d'Orsay a commission in the army in a regiment stationed at Valence in the southeastern part of France. He had already visited England and learned the English language, and he had made some distinguished friends there, among whom were Lord Byron and Thomas Moore.

On his return to France he began his garrison life at Valence, where he showed some of the finer qualities of his character. It is not merely that he was handsome and accomplished and that he had the gift of winning the affections of those about him. Unlike Nash and Brummel, he was a gentleman in every sense, and his courtesy was of the highest kind. At the balls given by his regiment, although he was more courted than any other officer, he always sought out the plainest girls and showed them the most flattering attentions. No "wallflowers" were left neglected when D'Orsay was present.

It is strange how completely human beings are in the hands of fate. Here was a young French officer quartered in a provincial town in the valley of the Rhone. Who would have supposed that he was destined to become not only a Londoner, but a favorite at the British court, a model of fashion, a dictator of etiquette, widely known for his accomplishments, the patron of literary men and of distinguished artists? But all these things were to come to pass by a mere accident of fortune.

During his firsts visit to London, which has already been mentioned, Count d'Orsay was invited once or twice to receptions given by the Earl and Countess of Blessington, where he was well received, though this was only an incident of his English sojourn. Before the story proceeds any further it is necessary to give an account of the Earl and of Lady Blessington, since both of their careers had been, to say the least, unusual.

Lord Blessington was an Irish peer for whom an ancient title had been revived. He was remotely descended from the Stuarts of Scotland, and therefore had royal blood to boast of. He had been well educated, and in many ways was a man of pleasing manner. On the other hand, he had early inherited a very large property which yielded him an income of about thirty thousand pounds a year. He had estates in Ireland, and he owned nearly the whole of a fashionable street in London, with the buildings erected on it.

This fortune and the absence of any one who could control him had made him wilful and extravagant and had wrought in him a curious love of personal display. Even as a child he would clamor to be dressed in the most gorgeous uniforms; and when he got possession of his property his love of display became almost a monomania. He built a theater as an adjunct to his country house in Ireland and imported players from London and elsewhere to act in it. He loved to mingle with the mummers, to try on their various costumes, and to parade up and down, now as an oriental prince and now as a Roman emperor.

In London he hung about the green-rooms, and was a well-known figure wherever actors or actresses were collected. Such was his love of the stage that he sought to marry into the profession and set his heart on a girl named Mary Campbell Browne, who was very beautiful to look at, but who was not conspicuous either for her mind or for her morals. When Lord Blessington proposed marriage to her she was obliged to tell him that she already had one husband still alive, but she was perfectly willing to live with him and dispense with the marriage ceremony. So for several years she did live with him and bore him two children.

It speaks well for the earl that when the inconvenient husband died a marriage at once took place and Mrs. Browne became a countess. Then, after other children had been born, the lady died, leaving the earl a widower at about the age of forty. The only legitimate son born of this marriage followed his mother to the grave; and so for the third time the earldom of Blessington seemed likely to become extinct. The death of his wife, however, gave the earl a special opportunity to display his extravagant tastes. He spent more than four thousand pounds on the funeral ceremonies, importing from France a huge black velvet catafalque which had shortly before been used at the public funeral of Napoleon's marshal, Duroc, while the house blazed with enormous wax tapers and glittered with cloth of gold.

Lord Blessington soon plunged again into the busy life of London. Having now no heir, there was no restraint on his expenditures, and he borrowed large sums of money in order to buy additional estates and houses and to experience the exquisite joy of spending lavishly. At this time he had his lands in Ireland, a town house in St. James's Square, another in Seymour Place, and still another which was afterward to become famous as Gore House, in Kensington.

Some years before he had met in Ireland a lady called Mrs. Maurice Farmer; and it happened that she now came to London. The earlier story of her still young life must here be told, because her name afterward became famous, and because the tale illustrates wonderfully well the raw, crude, lawless period of the Regency, when England was fighting her long war with Napoleon, when the Prince Regent was imitating all the vices of the old French kings, when prize-fighting, deep drinking, dueling, and dicing were practised without restraint in all the large cities and towns of the United Kingdom. It was, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has said, "an age of folly and of heroism"; for, while it produced some of the greatest black-guards known to history, it produced also such men as Wellington and Nelson, the two Pitts, Sheridan, Byron, Shelley, and Sir Walter Scott.

Mrs. Maurice Farmer was the daughter of a small Irish landowner named Robert Power—himself the incarnation of all the vices of the time. There was little law in Ireland, not even that which comes from public opinion; and Robert Power rode hard to hounds, gambled recklessly, and assembled in his house all sorts of reprobates, with whom he held frightful orgies that lasted from sunset until dawn. His wife and his young daughters viewed him with terror, and the life they led was a perpetual nightmare because of the bestial carousings in which their father engaged, wasting his money and mortgaging his estates until the end of his wild career was in plain sight.

There happened to be stationed at Clonmel a regiment of infantry in which there served a captain named Maurice St. Leger Farmer. He was a man of some means, but eccentric to a degree. His temper was so utterly uncontrolled that even his fellow officers could scarcely live with him, and he was given to strange caprices. It happened that at a ball in Clonmel he met the young daughter of Robert Power, then a mere child of fourteen years. Captain Farmer was seized with an infatuation for the girl, and he went almost at once to her father, asking for her hand in marriage and proposing to settle a sum of money upon her if she married him.

The hard-riding squireen jumped at the offer. His own estate was being stripped bare. Here was a chance to provide for one of his daughters, or, rather, to get rid of her, and he agreed that she should be married out of hand. Going home, he roughly informed the girl that she was to be the wife of Captain Farmer. He so bullied his wife that she was compelled to join him in this command.

What was poor little Margaret Power to do? She was only a child. She knew nothing of the world. She was accustomed to obey her father as she would have obeyed some evil genius who had her in his power. There were tears and lamentations. She was frightened half to death; yet for her there was no help. Therefore, while not yet fifteen her marriage took place, and she was the unhappy slave of a half-crazy tyrant. She had then no beauty whatsoever. She was wholly undeveloped—thin and pale, and with rough hair that fell over her frightened eyes; yet Farmer wanted her, and he settled his money on her, just as he would have spent the same amount to gratify any other sudden whim.

The life she led with him for a few months showed him to be more of a devil than a man. He took a peculiar delight in terrifying her, in subjecting her to every sort of outrage; nor did he refrain even from beating her with his fists. The girl could stand a great deal, but this was too much. She returned to her father's house, where she was received with the bitterest reproaches, but where, at least, she was safe from harm, since her possession of a dowry made her a person of some small importance.

Not long afterward Captain Farmer fell into a dispute with his colonel, Lord Caledon, and in the course of it he drew his sword on his commanding officer. The court-martial which was convened to try him would probably have had him shot were it not for the very general belief that he was insane. So he was simply cashiered and obliged to leave the service and betake himself elsewhere. Thus the girl whom, he had married was quite free—free to leave her wretched home and even to leave Ireland.

She did leave Ireland and establish herself in London, where she had some acquaintances, among them the Earl of Blessington. As already said, he had met her in Ireland while she was living with her husband; and now from time to time he saw her in a friendly way. After the death of his wife he became infatuated with Margaret Farmer. She was a good deal alone, and his attentions gave her entertainment. Her past experience led her to have no real belief in love. She had become, however, in a small way interested in literature and art, with an eager ambition to be known as a writer. As it happened, Captain Farmer, whose name she bore, had died some months before Lord Blessington had decided to make a new marriage. The earl proposed to Margaret Farmer, and the two were married by special license.

The Countess of Blessington—to give the lady her new title—was now twenty-eight years of age and had developed into a woman of great beauty. She was noted for the peculiarly vivacious and radiant expression which was always on her face. She had a kind of vivid loveliness accompanied by grace, simplicity, and a form of exquisite proportions. The ugly duckling had become a swan, for now there was no trace of her former plainness to be seen.

Not yet in her life had love come to her. Her first husband had been thrust upon her and had treated her outrageously. Her second husband was much older than she; and, though she was not without a certain kindly feeling for one who had been kind to her, she married him, first of all, for his title and position.

Having been reared in poverty, she had no conception of the value of money; and, though the earl was remarkably extravagant, the new countess was even more so. One after another their London houses were opened and decorated with the utmost lavishness. They gave innumerable entertainments, not only to the nobility and to men of rank, but—because this was Lady Blessington's peculiar fad—to artists and actors and writers of all degrees. The American, N. P. Willis, in his Pencilings by the Way, has given an interesting sketch of the countess and her surroundings, while the younger Disraeli (Lord Beaconsfield) has depicted D'Orsay as Count Mirabel in Henrietta Temple. Willis says:

In a long library, lined alternately with splendidly bound books and mirrors, and with a deep window of the breadth of the room opening upon Hyde Park, I found Lady Blessington alone. The picture, to my eye, as the door opened, was a very lovely one—a woman of remarkable beauty, half buried in a fauteuil of yellow satin, reading by a magnificent lamp suspended from the center of the arched ceiling. Sofas, couches, ottomans, and busts, arranged in rather a crowded sumptuousness through the room; enameled tables, covered with expensive and elegant trifles in every corner, and a delicate white hand in relief on the back of a book, to which the eye was attracted by the blaze of diamond rings.

All this "crowded sumptuousness" was due to the taste of Lady Blessington. Amid it she received royal dukes, statesmen such as Palmerston, Canning, Castlereagh, Russell, and Brougham, actors such as Kemble and Matthews, artists such as Lawrence and Wilkie, and men of letters such as Moore, Bulwer-Lytton, and the two Disraelis. To maintain this sort of life Lord Blessington raised large amounts of money, totaling about half a million pounds sterling, by mortgaging his different estates and giving his promissory notes to money-lenders. Of course, he did not spend this vast sum immediately. He might have lived in comparative luxury upon his income; but he was a restless, eager, improvident nobleman, and his extravagances were prompted by the urgings of his wife.

In all this display, which Lady Blessington both stimulated and shared, there is to be found a psychological basis. She was now verging upon the thirties—a time which is a very critical period in a woman's emotional life, if she has not already given herself over to love and been loved in return. During Lady Blessington's earlier years she had suffered in many ways, and it is probable that no thought of love had entered her mind. She was only too glad if she could escape from the harshness of her father and the cruelty of her first husband. Then came her development into a beautiful woman, content for the time to be languorously stagnant and to enjoy the rest and peace which had come to her.

When she married Lord Blessington her love life had not yet commenced; and, in fact, there could be no love life in such a marriage—a marriage with a man much older than herself, scatter-brained, showy, and having no intellectual gifts. So for a time she sought satisfaction in social triumphs, in capturing political and literary lions in order to exhibit them in her salon, and in spending money right and left with a lavish hand. But, after all, in a woman of her temperament none of these things could satisfy her inner longings. Beautiful, full of Celtic vivacity, imaginative and eager, such a nature as hers would in the end be starved unless her heart should be deeply touched and unless all her pent-up emotion could give itself up entirely in the great surrender.

After a few years of London she grew restless and dissatisfied. Her surroundings wearied her. There was a call within her for something more than she had yet experienced. The earl, her husband, was by nature no less restless; and so, without knowing the reason—which, indeed, she herself did not understand—he readily assented to a journey on the Continent.

As they traveled southward they reached at length the town of Valence, where Count d'Orsay was still quartered with his regiment. A vague, indefinable feeling of attraction swept over this woman, who was now a woman of the world and yet quite inexperienced in affairs relating to the heart. The mere sound of the French officer's voice, the mere sight of his face, the mere knowledge of his presence, stirred her as nothing had ever stirred her until that time. Yet neither he nor she appears to have been conscious at once of the secret of their liking. It was enough that they were soothed and satisfied with each other's company.

Oddly enough, the Earl of Blessington became as devoted to D'Orsay as did his wife. The two urged the count to secure a leave of absence and to accompany them to Italy. This he was easily persuaded to do; and the three passed weeks and months of a languorous and alluring intercourse among the lakes and the seductive influence of romantic Italy. Just what passed between Count d'Orsay and Margaret Blessington at this time cannot be known, for the secret of it has perished with them; but it is certain that before very long they came to know that each was indispensable to the other.

The situation was complicated by the Earl of Blessington, who, entirely unsuspicious, proposed that the Count should marry Lady Harriet Gardiner, his eldest legitimate daughter by his first wife. He pressed the match upon the embarrassed D'Orsay, and offered to settle the sum of forty thousand pounds upon the bride. The girl was less than fifteen years of age. She had no gifts either of beauty or of intelligence; and, in addition, D'Orsay was now deeply in love with her stepmother.

On the other hand, his position with the Blessingtons was daily growing more difficult. People had begun to talk of the almost open relations between Count d'Orsay and Lady Blessington. Lord Byron, in a letter written to the countess, spoke to her openly and in a playful way of "YOUR D'Orsay." The manners and morals of the time were decidedly irregular; yet sooner or later the earl was sure to gain some hint of what every one was saying. Therefore, much against his real desire, yet in order to shelter his relations with Lady Blessington, D'Orsay agreed to the marriage with Lady Harriet, who was only fifteen years of age.

This made the intimacy between D'Orsay and the Blessingtons appear to be not unusual; but, as a matter of fact, the marriage was no marriage. The unattractive girl who had become a bride merely to hide the indiscretions of her stepmother was left entirely to herself; while the whole family, returning to London, made their home together in Seymour Place.

Could D'Orsay have foreseen the future he would never have done what must always seem an act so utterly unworthy of him. For within two years Lord Blessington fell ill and died. Had not D'Orsay been married he would now have been free to marry Lady Blessington. As it was, he was bound fast to her stepdaughter; and since at that time there was no divorce court in England, and since he had no reason for seeking a divorce, he was obliged to live on through many years in a most ambiguous situation. He did, however, separate himself from his childish bride; and, having done so, he openly took up his residence with Lady Blessington at Gore House. By this time, however, the companionship of the two had received a sort of general sanction, and in that easy-going age most people took it as a matter of course.

The two were now quite free to live precisely as they would. Lady Blessington became extravagantly happy, and Count d'Orsay was accepted in London as an oracle of fashion. Every one was eager to visit Gore House, and there they received all the notable men of the time. The improvidence of Lady Blessington, however, was in no respect diminished. She lived upon her jointure, recklessly spending capital as well as interest, and gathering under her roof a rare museum of artistic works, from jewels and curios up to magnificent pictures and beautiful statuary.

D'Orsay had sufficient self-respect not to live upon the money that had come to Lady Blessington from her husband. He was a skilful painter, and he practised his art in a professional way. His portrait of the Duke of Wellington was preferred by that famous soldier to any other that had been made of him. The Iron Duke was, in fact, a frequent visitor at Gore House, and he had a very high opinion of Count d'Orsay. Lady Blessington herself engaged in writing novels of "high life," some of which were very popular in their day. But of all that she wrote there remains only one book which is of permanent value—her Conversations with Lord Byron, a very valuable contribution to our knowledge of the brilliant poet.

But a nemesis was destined to overtake the pair. Money flowed through Lady Blessington's hands like water, and she could never be brought to understand that what she had might not last for ever. Finally, it was all gone, yet her extravagance continued. Debts were heaped up mountain-high. She signed notes of hand without even reading them. She incurred obligations of every sort without a moment's hesitation.

For a long time her creditors held aloof, not believing that her resources were in reality exhausted; but in the end there came a crash as sudden as it was ruinous. As if moved by a single impulse, those to whom she owed money took out judgments against her and descended upon Gore House in a swarm. This was in the spring of 1849, when Lady Blessington was in her sixtieth year and D'Orsay fifty-one.

It is a curious coincidence that her earliest novel had portrayed the wreck of a great establishment such as her own. Of the scene in Gore House Mr. Madden, Lady Blessington's literary biographer, has written:

Numerous creditors, bill-discounters, money-lenders, jewelers, lace-venders, tax-collectors, gas-company agents, all persons having claims to urge pressed them at this period simultaneously. An execution for a debt of four thousand pounds was at length put in by a house largely engaged in the silk, lace, India-shawl, and fancy-jewelry business.

This sum of four thousand pounds was only a nominal claim, but it opened the flood-gates for all of Lady Blessington's creditors. Mr. Madden writes still further:

On the 10th of May, 1849, I visited Gore House for the last time. The auction was going on. There was a large assemblage of people of fashion. Every room was thronged; the well-known library-salon, in which the conversaziones took place, was crowded, but not with guests. The arm-chair in which the lady of the mansion was wont to sit was occupied by a stout, coarse gentleman of the Jewish persuasion, busily engaged in examining a marble hand extended on a book, the fingers of which were modeled from a cast of those of the absent mistress of the establishment. People, as they passed through the room, poked the furniture, pulled about the precious objects of art and ornaments of various kinds that lay on the table; and some made jests and ribald jokes on the scene they witnessed.

At this compulsory sale things went for less than half their value. Pictures by Lawrence and Landseer, a library consisting of thousands of volumes, vases of exquisite workmanship, chandeliers of ormolu, and precious porcelains—all were knocked down relentlessly at farcical prices. Lady Blessington reserved nothing for herself. She knew that the hour had struck, and very soon she was on her way to Paris, whither Count d'Orsay had already gone, having been threatened with arrest by a boot-maker to whom he owed five hundred pounds.

D'Orsay very naturally went to Paris, for, like his father, he had always been an ardent Bonapartist, and now Prince Louis Bonaparte had been chosen president of the Second French Republic. During the prince's long period of exile he had been the guest of Count d'Orsay, who had helped him both with money and with influence. D'Orsay now expected some return for his former generosity. It came, but it came too late. In 1852, shortly after Prince Louis assumed the title of emperor, the count was appointed director of fine arts; but when the news was brought to him he was already dying. Lady Blessington died soon after coming to Paris, before the end of the year 1849.

Comment upon this tangled story is scarcely needed. Yet one may quote some sayings from a sort of diary which Lady Blessington called her "Night Book." They seem to show that her supreme happiness lasted only for a little while, and that deep down in her heart she had condemned herself.

A woman's head is always influenced by her heart; but a man's heart is always influenced by his head.

The separation of friends by death is less terrible than the divorce of two hearts that have loved, but have ceased to sympathize, while memory still recalls what they once were to each other.

People are seldom tired of the world until the world is tired of them.

A woman should not paint sentiment until she has ceased to inspire it.

It is less difficult for a woman to obtain celebrity by her genius than to be pardoned for it.

Memory seldom fails when its office is to show us the tombs of our buried hopes.


In 1812, when he was in his twenty-fourth year, Lord Byron was more talked of than any other man in London. He was in the first flush of his brilliant career, having published the early cantos of "Childe Harold." Moreover, he was a peer of the realm, handsome, ardent, and possessing a personal fascination which few men and still fewer women could resist.

Byron's childhood had been one to excite in him strong feelings of revolt, and he had inherited a profligate and passionate nature. His father was a gambler and a spendthrift. His mother was eccentric to a degree. Byron himself, throughout his boyish years, had been morbidly sensitive because of a physical deformity—a lame, misshapen foot. This and the strange treatment which his mother accorded him left him headstrong, wilful, almost from the first an enemy to whatever was established and conventional.

As a boy, he was remarkable for the sentimental attachments which he formed. At eight years of age he was violently in love with a young girl named Mary Duff. At ten his cousin, Margaret Parker, excited in him a strange, un-childish passion. At fifteen came one of the greatest crises of his life, when he became enamored of Mary Chaworth, whose grand-father had been killed in a duel by Byron's great-uncle. Young as he was, he would have married her immediately; but Miss Chaworth was two years older than he, and absolutely refused to take seriously the devotion of a school-boy.

Byron felt the disappointment keenly; and after a short stay at Cambridge, he left England, visited Portugal and Spain, and traveled eastward as far as Greece and Turkey. At Athens he wrote the pretty little poem to the "maid of Athens"—Miss Theresa Macri, daughter of the British vice-consul. He returned to London to become at one leap the most admired poet of the day and the greatest social favorite. He was possessed of striking personal beauty. Sir Walter Scott said of him: "His countenance was a thing to dream of." His glorious eyes, his mobile, eloquent face, fascinated all; and he was, besides, a genius of the first rank.

With these endowments, he plunged into the social whirlpool, denying himself nothing, and receiving everything-adulation, friendship, and unstinted love. Darkly mysterious stories of his adventures in the East made many think that he was the hero of some of his own poems, such as "The Giaour" and "The Corsair." A German wrote of him that "he was positively besieged by women." From the humblest maid-servants up to ladies of high rank, he had only to throw his handkerchief to make a conquest. Some women did not even wait for the handkerchief to be thrown. No wonder that he was sated with so much adoration and that he wrote of women:

I regard them as very pretty but inferior creatures. I look on them as grown-up children; but, like a foolish mother, I am constantly the slave of one of them. Give a woman a looking-glass and burnt almonds, and she will be content.

The liaison which attracted the most attention at this time was that between Byron and Lady Caroline Lamb. Byron has been greatly blamed for his share in it; but there is much to be said on the other side. Lady Caroline was happily married to the Right Hon. William Lamb, afterward Lord Melbourne, and destined to be the first prime minister of Queen Victoria. He was an easy-going, genial man of the world who placed too much confidence in the honor of his wife. She, on the other hand, was a sentimental fool, always restless, always in search of some new excitement. She thought herself a poet, and scribbled verses, which her friends politely admired, and from which they escaped as soon as possible. When she first met Byron, she cried out: "That pale face is my fate!" And she afterward added: "Mad, bad, and dangerous to know!"

It was not long before the intimacy of the two came very near the point of open scandal; but Byron was the wooed and not the wooer. This woman, older than he, flung herself directly at his head. Naturally enough, it was not very long before she bored him thoroughly. Her romantic impetuosity became tiresome, and very soon she fell to talking always of herself, thrusting her poems upon him, and growing vexed and peevish when he would not praise them. As was well said, "he grew moody and she fretful when their mutual egotisms jarred."

In a burst of resentment she left him, but when she returned, she was worse than ever. She insisted on seeing him. On one occasion she made her way into his rooms disguised as a boy. At another time, when she thought he had slighted her, she tried to stab herself with a pair of scissors. Still later, she offered her favors to any one who would kill him. Byron himself wrote of her:

You can have no idea of the horrible and absurd things that she has said and done.

Her story has been utilized by Mrs. Humphry Ward in her novel, "The Marriage of William Ashe."

Perhaps this trying experience led Byron to end his life of dissipation. At any rate, in 1813, he proposed marriage to Miss Anne Millbanke, who at first refused him; but he persisted, and in 1815 the two were married. Byron seems to have had a premonition that he was making a terrible mistake. During the wedding ceremony he trembled like a leaf, and made the wrong responses to the clergyman. After the wedding was over, in handing his bride into the carriage which awaited them, he said to her:

"Miss Millbanke, are you ready?"

It was a strange blunder for a bridegroom, and one which many regarded at the time as ominous for the future. In truth, no two persons could have been more thoroughly mismated—Byron, the human volcano, and his wife, a prim, narrow-minded, and peevish woman. Their incompatibility was evident enough from the very first, so that when they returned from their wedding-journey, and some one asked Byron about his honeymoon, he answered:

"Call it rather a treacle moon!"

It is hardly necessary here to tell over the story of their domestic troubles. Only five weeks after their daughter's birth, they parted. Lady Byron declared that her husband was insane; while after trying many times to win from her something more than a tepid affection, he gave up the task in a sort of despairing anger. It should be mentioned here, for the benefit of those who recall the hideous charges made many decades afterward by Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe on the authority of Lady Byron, that the latter remained on terms of friendly intimacy with Augusta Leigh, Lord Byron's sister, and that even on her death-bed she sent an amicable message to Mrs. Leigh.

Byron, however, stung by the bitter attacks that were made upon him, left England, and after traveling down the Rhine through Switzerland, he took up his abode in Venice. His joy at leaving England and ridding himself of the annoyances which had clustered thick about him, he expressed in these lines:

    Once more upon the waters! yet once more!
    And the waves bound beneath me as a steed
    That knows his rider. Welcome to the roar!

Meanwhile he enjoyed himself in reckless fashion. Money poured in upon him from his English publisher. For two cantos of "Childe Harold" and "Manfred," Murray paid him twenty thousand dollars. For the fourth canto, Byron demanded and received more than twelve thousand dollars. In Italy he lived on friendly terms with Shelley and Thomas Moore; but eventually he parted from them both, for he was about to enter upon a new phase of his curious career.

He was no longer the Byron of 1815. Four years of high living and much brandy-and-water had robbed his features of their refinement. His look was no longer spiritual. He was beginning to grow stout. Yet the change had not been altogether unfortunate. He had lost something of his wild impetuosity, and his sense of humor had developed. In his thirtieth year, in fact, he had at last become a man.

It was soon after this that he met a woman who was to be to him for the rest of his life what a well-known writer has called "a star on the stormy horizon of the poet." This woman was Teresa, Countess Guiccioli, whom he first came to know in Venice. She was then only nineteen years of age, and she was married to a man who was more than forty years her senior. Unlike the typical Italian woman, she was blonde, with dreamy eyes and an abundance of golden hair, and her manner was at once modest and graceful. She had known Byron but a very short time when she found herself thrilling with a passion of which until then she had never dreamed. It was written of her:

She had thought of love but as an amusement; yet she now became its slave.

To this love Byron gave an immediate response, and from that time until his death he cared for no other woman. The two were absolutely mated. Nevertheless, there were difficulties which might have been expected. Count Guiccioli, while he seemed to admire Byron, watched him with Italian subtlety. The English poet and the Italian countess met frequently. When Byron was prostrated by an attack of fever, the countess remained beside him, and he was just recovering when Count Guiccioli appeared upon the scene and carried off his wife. Byron was in despair. He exchanged the most ardent letters with the countess, yet he dreaded assassins whom he believed to have been hired by her husband. Whenever he rode out, he went armed with sword and pistols.

Amid all this storm and stress, Byron's literary activity was remarkable. He wrote some of his most famous poems at this time, and he hoped for the day when he and the woman whom he loved might be united once for all. This came about in the end through the persistence of the pair. The Countess Guiccioli openly took up her abode with him, not to be separated until the poet sailed for Greece to aid the Greeks in their struggle for independence. This was in 1822, when Byron was in his thirty-fifth year. He never returned to Italy, but died in the historic land for which he gave his life as truly as if he had fallen upon the field of battle.

Teresa Guiccioli had been, in all but name, his wife for just three years. Much, has been said in condemnation of this love-affair; but in many ways it is less censurable than almost anything in his career. It was an instance of genuine love, a love which purified and exalted this man of dark and moody moments. It saved him from those fitful passions and orgies of self-indulgence which had exhausted him. It proved to be an inspiration which at last led him to die for a cause approved by all the world.

As for the woman, what shall we say of her? She came to him unspotted by the world. A demand for divorce which her husband made was rejected. A pontifical brief pronounced a formal separation between the two. The countess gladly left behind "her palaces, her equipages, society, and riches, for the love of the poet who had won her heart."

Unlike the other women who had cared for him, she was unselfish in her devotion. She thought more of his fame than did he himself. Emilio Castelar has written:

She restored him and elevated him. She drew him from the mire and set the crown of purity upon his brow. Then, when she had recovered this great heart, instead of keeping it as her own possession, she gave it to humanity.

For twenty-seven years after Byron's death, she remained, as it were, widowed and alone. Then, in her old age, she married the Marquis de Boissy; but the marriage was purely one of convenience. Her heart was always Byron's, whom she defended with vivacity. In 1868, she published her memoirs of the poet, filled with interesting and affecting recollections. She died as late as 1873.

Some time between the year 1866 and that of her death, she is said to have visited Newstead Abbey, which had once been Byron's home. She was very old, a widow, and alone; but her affection for the poet-lover of her youth was still as strong as ever.

Byron's life was short, if measured by years only. Measured by achievement, it was filled to the very full. His genius blazes like a meteor in the records of English poetry; and some of that splendor gleams about the lovely woman who turned him away from vice and folly and made him worthy of his historic ancestry, of his country, and of himself.


Each century, or sometimes each generation, is distinguished by some especial interest among those who are given to fancies—not to call them fads. Thus, at the present time, the cultivated few are taken up with what they choose to term the "new thought," or the "new criticism," or, on the other hand, with socialistic theories and projects. Thirty years ago, when Oscar Wilde was regarded seriously by some people, there were many who made a cult of estheticism. It was just as interesting when their leader—

    Walked down Piccadilly with a poppy or a lily
               In his medieval hand,

or when Sir William Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan guyed him as Bunthorne in "Patience."

When Charles Kingsley was a great expounder of British common sense, "muscular Christianity" was a phrase which was taken up by many followers. A little earlier, Puseyism and a primitive form of socialism were in vogue with the intellectuals. There are just as many different fashions in thought as in garments, and they come and go without any particular reason. To-day, they are discussed and practised everywhere. To-morrow, they are almost forgotten in the rapid pursuit of something new.

Forty years before the French Revolution burst forth with all its thunderings, France and Germany were affected by what was generally styled "sensibility." Sensibility was the sister of sentimentality and the half-sister of sentiment. Sentiment is a fine thing in itself. It is consistent with strength and humor and manliness; but sentimentality and sensibility are poor cheeping creatures that run scuttering along the ground, quivering and whimpering and asking for perpetual sympathy, which they do not at all deserve.

No one need be ashamed of sentiment. It simply gives temper to the blade, and mellowness to the intellect. Sensibility, on the other hand, is full of shivers and shakes and falsetto notes and squeaks. It is, in fact, all humbug, just as sentiment is often all truth.

Therefore, to find an interesting phase of human folly, we may look back to the years which lie between 1756 and 1793 as the era of sensibility. The great prophets of this false god, or goddess, were Rousseau in France and Goethe with Schiller in Germany, together with a host of midgets who shook and shivered in imitation of their masters. It is not for us to catalogue these persons. Some of them were great figures in literature and philosophy, and strong enough to shake aside the silliness of sensibility; but others, while they professed to be great as writers or philosophers, are now remembered only because their devotion to sensibility made them conspicuous in their own time. They dabbled in one thing and another; they "cribbed" from every popular writer of the day. The only thing that actually belonged to them was a high degree of sensibility.

And what, one may ask, was this precious thing—this sensibility?

It was really a sort of St. Vitus's dance of the mind, and almost of the body. When two persons, in any way interested in each other, were brought into the same room, one of them appeared to be seized with a rotary movement. The voice rose to a higher pitch than usual, and assumed a tremolo. Then, if the other person was also endowed with sensibility, he or she would rotate and quake in somewhat the same manner. Their cups of tea would be considerably agitated. They would move about in as unnatural a manner as possible; and when they left the room, they would do so with gaspings and much waste of breath.

This was not an exhibition of love—or, at least, not necessarily so. You might exhibit sensibility before a famous poet, or a gallant soldier, or a celebrated traveler—or, for that matter, before a remarkable buffoon, like Cagliostro, or a freak, like Kaspar Hauser.

It is plain enough that sensibility was entirely an abnormal thing, and denoted an abnormal state of mind. Only among people like the Germans and French of that period, who were forbidden to take part in public affairs, could it have flourished so long, and have put forth such rank and fetid outgrowths. From it sprang the "elective affinities" of Goethe, and the loose morality of the French royalists, which rushed on into the roaring sea of infidelity, blasphemy, and anarchy of the Revolution.

Of all the historic figures of that time, there is just one which to-day stands forth as representing sensibility. In her own time she was thought to be something of a philosopher, and something more of a novelist. She consorted with all the clever men and women of her age. But now she holds a minute niche in history because of the fact that Napoleon stooped to hate her, and because she personifies sensibility.

Criticism has stripped from her the rags and tatters of the philosophy which was not her own. It is seen that she was indebted to the brains of others for such imaginative bits of fiction as she put forth in Delphine and Corinne; but as the exponent of sensibility she remains unique. This woman was Anne Louise Germaine Necker, usually known as Mme. de Stael.

There was much about Mile. Necker's parentage that made her interesting. Her father was the Genevese banker and minister of Louis XVI, who failed wretchedly in his attempts to save the finances of France. Her mother, Suzanne Curchod, as a young girl, had won the love of the famous English historian, Edward Gibbon. She had first refused him, and then almost frantically tried to get him back; but by this time Gibbon was more comfortable in single life and less infatuated with Mlle. Curchod, who presently married Jacques Necker.

M. Necker's money made his daughter a very celebrated "catch." Her mother brought her to Paris when the French capital was brilliant beyond description, and yet was tottering to its fall. The rumblings of the Revolution could be heard by almost every ear; and yet society and the court, refusing to listen, plunged into the wildest revelry under the leadership of the giddy Marie Antoinette.

It was here that the young girl was initiated into the most elegant forms of luxury, and met the cleverest men of that time—Voltaire, Rousseau, Lamartine, Chateaubriand, Volney. She set herself to be the most accomplished woman of her day, not merely in belles lettres, but in the natural and political sciences. Thus, when her father was drawing up his monograph on the French finances, Germaine labored hard over a supplementary report, studying documents, records, and the most complicated statistics, so that she might obtain a mastery of the subject.

"I mean to know everything that anybody knows," she said, with an arrogance which was rather admired in so young a woman.

But, unfortunately, her mind was not great enough to fulfil her aspiration. The most she ever achieved was a fair knowledge of many things—a knowledge which seemed surprising to the average man, but which was superficial enough to the accomplished specialist.

In her twentieth year (1786) it was thought best that she should marry. Her revels, as well as her hard studies, had told upon her health, and her mother believed that she could not be at once a blue-stocking and a woman of the world.

There was something very odd about the relation that existed between the young girl and this mother of hers. In the Swiss province where they had both been born, the mother had been considered rather bold and forward. Her penchant for Gibbon was only one of a number of adventures that have been told about her. She was by no means coy with the gallants of Geneva. Yet, after her marriage, and when she came to Paris, she seemed to be transformed into a sort of Swiss Puritan.

As such, she undertook her daughter's bringing up, and was extremely careful about everything that Germaine did and about the company she kept. On the other hand, the daughter, who in the city of Calvin had been rather dull and quiet in her ways, launched out into a gaiety such as she had never known in Switzerland. Mother and daughter, in fact, changed parts. The country beauty of Geneva became the prude of Paris, while the quiet, unemotional young Genevese became the light of all the Parisian salons, whether social or intellectual.

The mother was a very beautiful woman. The daughter, who was to become so famous, is best described by those two very uncomplimentary English words, "dumpy" and "frumpy." She had bulging eyes—which are not emphasized in the flattering portrait by Gerard—and her hair was unbecomingly dressed. There are reasons for thinking that Germaine bitterly hated her mother, and was intensely jealous of her charm of person. It may be also that Mme. Necker envied the daughter's cleverness, even though that cleverness was little more, in the end, than the borrowing of brilliant things from other persons. At any rate, the two never cared for each other, and Germaine gave to her father the affection which her mother neither received nor sought.

It was perhaps to tame the daughter's exuberance that a marriage was arranged for Mlle. Necker with the Baron de Stael-Holstein, who then represented the court of Sweden at Paris. Many eyebrows were lifted when this match was announced. Baron de Stael had no personal charm, nor any reputation for wit. His standing in the diplomatic corps was not very high. His favorite occupations were playing cards and drinking enormous quantities of punch. Could he be considered a match for the extremely clever Mlle. Necker, whose father had an enormous fortune, and who was herself considered a gem of wit and mental power, ready to discuss political economy, or the romantic movement of socialism, or platonic love?

Many differed about this. Mlle. Necker was, to be sure, rich and clever; but the Baron de Stael was of an old family, and had a title. Moreover, his easy-going ways—even his punch-drinking and his card-playing—made him a desirable husband at that time of French social history, when the aristocracy wished to act exactly as it pleased, with wanton license, and when an embassy was a very convenient place into which an indiscreet ambassadress might retire when the mob grew dangerous. For Paris was now approaching the time of revolution, and all "aristocrats" were more or less in danger.

At first Mme. de Stael rather sympathized with the outbreak of the people; but later their excesses drove her back into sympathy with the royalists. It was then that she became indiscreet and abused the privilege of the embassy in giving shelter to her friends. She was obliged to make a sudden flight across the frontier, whence she did not return until Napoleon loomed up, a political giant on the horizon—victorious general, consul, and emperor.

Mme. de Stael's relations with Napoleon have, as I remarked above, been among her few titles to serious remembrance. The Corsican eagle and the dumpy little Genevese make, indeed, a peculiar pair; and for this reason writers have enhanced the oddities of the picture.

"Napoleon," says one, "did not wish any one to be near him who was as clever as himself."

"No," adds another, "Mme. de Stael made a dead set at Napoleon, because she wished to conquer and achieve the admiration of everybody, even of the greatest man who ever lived."

"Napoleon found her to be a good deal of a nuisance," observes a third. "She knew too much, and was always trying to force her knowledge upon others."

The legend has sprung up that Mme. de Stael was too wise and witty to be acceptable to Napoleon; and many women repeated with unction that the conqueror of Europe was no match for this frowsy little woman. It is, perhaps, worth while to look into the facts, and to decide whether Napoleon was really of so petty a nature as to feel himself inferior to this rather comic creature, even though at the time many people thought her a remarkable genius.

In the first place, knowing Napoleon, as we have come to know him through the pages of Mme. de Remusat, Frederic Masson, and others, we can readily imagine the impatience with which the great soldier would sit at dinner, hastening to finish his meal, crowding the whole ceremony into twenty minutes, gulping a glass or two of wine and a cup of coffee, and then being interrupted by a fussy little female who wanted to talk about the ethics of history, or the possibility of a new form of government. Napoleon, himself, was making history, and writing it in fire and flame; and as for governments, he invented governments all over Europe as suited his imperial will. What patience could he have with one whom an English writer has rather unkindly described as "an ugly coquette, an old woman who made a ridiculous marriage, a blue-stocking, who spent much of her time in pestering men of genius, and drawing from them sarcastic comment behind their backs?"

Napoleon was not the sort of a man to be routed in discussion, but he was most decidedly the sort of man to be bored and irritated by pedantry. Consequently, he found Mme. de Stael a good deal of a nuisance in the salons of Paris and its vicinity. He cared not the least for her epigrams. She might go somewhere else and write all the epigrams she pleased. When he banished her, in 1803, she merely crossed the Rhine into Germany, and established herself at Weimar.

The emperor received her son, Auguste de Stael-Holstein, with much good humor, though he refused the boy's appeal on behalf of his mother.

"My dear baron," said Napoleon, "if your mother were to be in Paris for two months, I should really be obliged to lock her up in one of the castles, which would be most unpleasant treatment for me to show a lady. No, let her go anywhere else and we can get along perfectly. All Europe is open to her—Rome, Vienna, St. Petersburg; and if she wishes to write libels on me, England is a convenient and inexpensive place. Only Paris is just a little too near!"

Thus the emperor gibed the boy—he was only fifteen or sixteen—and made fun of the exiled blue-stocking; but there was not a sign of malice in what he said, nor, indeed, of any serious feeling at all. The legend about Napoleon and Mme. de Stael must, therefore, go into the waste-basket, except in so far as it is true that she succeeded in boring him.

For the rest, she was an earlier George Sand—unattractive in person, yet able to attract; loving love for love's sake, though seldom receiving it in return; throwing herself at the head of every distinguished man, and generally finding that he regarded her overtures with mockery. To enumerate the men for whom she professed to care would be tedious, since the record of her passions has no reality about it, save, perhaps, with two exceptions.

She did care deeply and sincerely for Henri Benjamin Constant, the brilliant politician and novelist. He was one of her coterie in Paris, and their common political sentiments formed a bond of friendship between them. Constant was banished by Napoleon in 1802, and when Mme. de Stael followed him into exile a year later he joined her in Germany.

The story of their relations was told by Constant in Adolphe, while Mme. de Stael based Delphine on her experiences with him. It seems that he was puzzled by her ardor; she was infatuated by his genius. Together they went through all the phases of the tender passion; and yet, at intervals, they would tire of each other and separate for a while, and she would amuse herself with other men. At last she really believed that her love for him was entirely worn out.

"I always loved my lovers more than they loved me," she said once, and it was true.

Yet, on the other hand, she was frankly false to all of them, and hence arose these intervals. In one of them she fell in with a young Italian named Rocca, and by way of a change she not only amused herself with him, but even married him. At this time—1811—she was forty-five, while Rocca was only twenty-three—a young soldier who had fought in Spain, and who made eager love to the she-philosopher when he was invalided at Geneva.

The marriage was made on terms imposed by the middle-aged woman who became his bride. In the first place, it was to be kept secret; and second, she would not take her husband's name, but he must pass himself off as her lover, even though she bore him children. The reason she gave for this extraordinary exhibition of her vanity was that a change of name on her part would put everybody out.

"In fact," she said, "if Mme. de Stael were to change her name, it would unsettle the heads of all Europe!"

And so she married Rocca, who was faithful to her to the end, though she grew extremely plain and querulous, while he became deaf and soon lost his former charm. Her life was the life of a woman who had, in her own phrase, "attempted everything"; and yet she had accomplished nothing that would last. She was loved by a man of genius, but he did not love her to the end. She was loved by a man of action, and she tired of him very soon. She had a wonderful reputation for her knowledge of history and philosophy, and yet what she knew of those subjects is now seen to be merely the scraps and borrowings of others.

Something she did when she introduced the romantic literature into France; and there are passages from her writings which seem worthy of preservation. For instance, we may quote her outburst with regard to unhappy marriages. "It was the subject," says Mr. Gribble, "on which she had begun to think before she was married, and which continued to haunt her long after she was left a widow; though one suspects that the word 'marriage' became a form of speech employed to describe her relations, not with her husband, but with her lovers." The passage to which I refer is as follows:

In an unhappy marriage, there is a violence of distress surpassing all other sufferings in the world. A woman's whole soul depends upon the conjugal tie. To struggle against fate alone, to journey to the grave without a friend to support you or to regret you, is an isolation of which the deserts of Arabia give but a faint and feeble idea. When all the treasure of your youth has been given in vain, when you can no longer hope that the reflection of these first rays will shine upon the end of your life, when there is nothing in the dusk to remind you of the dawn, and when the twilight is pale and colorless as a livid specter that precedes the night, your heart revolts, and you feel that you have been robbed of the gifts of God upon earth.

Equally striking is another prose passage of hers, which seems less the careful thought of a philosopher than the screeching of a termagant. It is odd that the first two sentences recall two famous lines of Byron:

    Man's love is of man's life a thing apart;
    'Tis woman's whole existence.

The passage by Mme. de Stael is longer and less piquant:

Love is woman's whole existence. It is only an episode in the lives of men. Reputation, honor, esteem, everything depends upon how a woman conducts herself in this regard; whereas, according to the rules of an unjust world, the laws of morality itself are suspended in men's relations with women. They may pass as good men, though they have caused women the most terrible suffering which it is in the power of one human being to inflict upon another. They may be regarded as loyal, though they have betrayed them. They may have received from a woman marks of a devotion which would so link two friends, two fellow soldiers, that either would feel dishonored if he forgot them, and they may consider themselves free of all obligations by attributing the services to love—as if this additional gift of love detracted from the value of the rest!

One cannot help noticing how lacking in neatness of expression is this woman who wrote so much. It is because she wrote so much that she wrote in such a muffled manner. It is because she thought so much that her reflections were either not her own, or were never clear. It is because she loved so much, and had so many lovers—Benjamin Constant; Vincenzo Monti, the Italian poet; M. de Narbonne, and others, as well as young Rocca—that she found both love and lovers tedious.

She talked so much that her conversation was almost always mere personal opinion. Thus she told Goethe that he never was really brilliant until after he had got through a bottle of champagne. Schiller said that to talk with her was to have a "rough time," and that after she left him, he always felt like a man who was just getting over a serious illness. She never had time to do anything very well.

There is an interesting glimpse of her in the recollections of Dr. Bollmann, at the period when Mme. de Stael was in her prime. The worthy doctor set her down as a genius—an extraordinary, eccentric woman in all that she did. She slept but a few hours out of the twenty-four, and was uninterruptedly and fearfully busy all the rest of the time. While her hair was being dressed, and even while she breakfasted, she used to keep on writing, nor did she ever rest sufficiently to examine what she had written.

Such then was Mme. de Stael, a type of the time in which she lived, so far as concerns her worship of sensibility—of sensibility, and not of love; for love is too great to be so scattered and made a thing to prattle of, to cheapen, and thus destroy. So we find at the last that Germaine de Stael, though she was much read and much feted and much followed, came finally to that last halting-place where confessedly she was merely an old woman, eccentric, and unattractive. She sued her former lovers for the money she had lent them, she scolded and found fault—as perhaps befits her age.

But such is the natural end of sensibility, and of the woman who typifies it for succeeding generations.


Some time ago I entered a fairly large library—one of more than two hundred thousand volumes—to seek the little brochure on Karl Marx written by his old friend and genial comrade Wilhelm Liebknecht. It was in the card catalogue. As I made a note of its number, my friend the librarian came up to me, and I asked him whether it was not strange that a man like Marx should have so many books devoted to him, for I had roughly reckoned the number at several hundred.

"Not at all," said he; "and we have here only a feeble nucleus of the Marx literature—just enough, in fact, to give you a glimpse of what that literature really is. These are merely the books written by Marx himself, and the translations of them, with a few expository monographs. Anything like a real Marx collection would take up a special room in this library, and would have to have its own separate catalogue. You see that even these two or three hundred books contain large volumes of small pamphlets in many languages—German, English, French, Italian, Russian, Polish, Yiddish, Swedish, Hungarian, Spanish; and here," he concluded, pointing to a recently numbered card, "is one in Japanese."

My curiosity was sufficiently excited to look into the matter somewhat further. I visited another library, which was appreciably larger, and whose managers were evidently less guided by their prejudices. Here were several thousand books on Marx, and I spent the best part of the day in looking them over.

What struck me as most singular was the fact that there was scarcely a volume about Marx himself. Practically all the books dealt with his theory of capital and his other socialistic views. The man himself, his personality, and the facts of his life were dismissed in the most meager fashion, while his economic theories were discussed with something that verged upon fury. Even such standard works as those of Mehring and Spargo, which profess to be partly biographical, sum up the personal side of Marx in a few pages. In fact, in the latter's preface he seems conscious of this defect, and says:

Whether socialism proves, in the long span of centuries, to be good or evil, a blessing to men or a curse, Karl Marx must always be an object of interest as one of the great world-figures of immortal memory. As the years go by, thoughtful men and women will find the same interest in studying the life and work of Marx that they do in studying the life and work of Cromwell, of Wesley, or of Darwin, to name three immortal world-figures of vastly divergent types.

Singularly little is known of Karl Marx, even by his most ardent followers. They know his work, having studied his Das Kapital with the devotion and earnestness with which an older generation of Christians studied the Bible, but they are very generally unacquainted with the man himself. Although more than twenty-six years have elapsed since the death of Marx, there is no adequate biography of him in any language.

Doubtless some better-equipped German writer, such as Franz Mehring or Eduard Bernstein, will some day give us the adequate and full biography for which the world now waits.

Here is an admission that there exists no adequate biography of Karl Marx, and here is also an intimation that simply as a man, and not merely as a great firebrand of socialism, Marx is well worth studying. And so it has occurred to me to give in these pages one episode of his career that seems to me quite curious, together with some significant touches concerning the man as apart from the socialist. Let the thousands of volumes already in existence suffice for the latter. The motto of this paper is not the Vergilian "Arms and the man I sing," but simply "The man I sing"—and the woman. Karl Marx was born nearly ninety-four years ago—May 5, 1818—in the city which the French call Treves and the Germans Trier, among the vine-clad hills of the Moselle. Today, the town is commonplace enough when you pass through it, but when you look into its history, and seek out that history's evidences, you will find that it was not always a rather sleepy little place. It was one of the chosen abodes of the Emperors of the West, after Rome began to be governed by Gauls and Spaniards, rather than by Romans and Italians. The traveler often pauses there to see the Porta Nigra, that immense gate once strongly fortified, and he will doubtless visit also what is left of the fine baths and amphitheater.

Treves, therefore, has a right to be termed imperial, and it was the birthplace of one whose sway over the minds of men has been both imperial and imperious.

Karl Marx was one of those whose intellectual achievements were so great as to dwarf his individuality and his private life. What he taught with almost terrific vigor made his very presence in the Continental monarchies a source of eminent danger. He was driven from country to country. Kings and emperors were leagued together against him. Soldiers were called forth, and blood was shed because of him. But, little by little, his teaching seems to have leavened the thought of the whole civilized world, so that to-day thousands who barely know his name are deeply affected by his ideas, and believe that the state should control and manage everything for the good of all.

Marx seems to have inherited little from either of his parents. His father, Heinrich Marx, was a provincial Jewish lawyer who had adopted Christianity, probably because it was expedient, and because it enabled him to hold local offices and gain some social consequence. He had changed his name from Mordecai to Marx.

The elder Marx was very shrewd and tactful, and achieved a fair position among the professional men and small officials in the city of Treves. He had seen the horrors of the French Revolution, and was philosopher enough to understand the meaning of that mighty upheaval, and of the Napoleonic era which followed.

Napoleon, indeed, had done much to relieve his race from petty oppression. France made the Jews in every respect the equals of the Gentiles. One of its ablest marshals—Massena—was a Jew, and therefore, when the imperial eagle was at the zenith of its flight, the Jews in every city and town of Europe were enthusiastic admirers of Napoleon, some even calling him the Messiah.

Karl Marx's mother, it is certain, endowed him with none of his gifts. She was a Netherlandish Jewess of the strictly domestic and conservative type, fond of her children and her home, and detesting any talk that looked to revolutionary ideas or to a change in the social order. She became a Christian with her husband, but the word meant little to her. It was sufficient that she believed in God; and for this she was teased by some of her skeptical friends. Replying to them, she uttered the only epigram that has ever been ascribed to her.

"Yes," she said, "I believe in God, not for God's sake, but for my own."

She was so little affected by change of scene that to the day of her death she never mastered German, but spoke almost wholly in her native Dutch. Had we time, we might dwell upon the unhappy paradox of her life. In her son Karl she found an especial joy, as did her husband. Had the father lived beyond Karl's early youth, he would doubtless have been greatly pained by the radicalism of his gifted son, as well as by his personal privations. But the mother lived until 1863, while Karl was everywhere stirring the fires of revolution, driven from land to land, both feared and persecuted, and often half famished. As Mr. Spargo says:

It was the irony of life that the son, who kindled a mighty hope in the hearts of unnumbered thousands of his fellow human beings, a hope that is today inspiring millions of those who speak his name with reverence and love, should be able to do that only by destroying his mother's hope and happiness in her son, and that every step he took should fill her heart with a great agony.

When young Marx grew out of boyhood into youth, he was attractive to all those who met him. Tall, lithe, and graceful, he was so extremely dark that his intimates called him "der neger"—"the negro." His loosely tossing hair gave to him a still more exotic appearance; but his eyes were true and frank, his nose denoted strength and character, and his mouth was full of kindliness in its expression. His lineaments were not those of the Jewish type.

Very late in life—he died in 1883—his hair and beard turned white, but to the last his great mustache was drawn like a bar across his face, remaining still as black as ink, and making his appearance very striking. He was full of fun and gaiety. As was only natural, there soon came into his life some one who learned to love him, and to whom, in his turn, he gave a deep and unbroken affection.

There had come to Treves—which passed from France to Prussia with the downfall of Napoleon—a Prussian nobleman, the Baron Ludwig von Westphalen, holding the official title of "national adviser." The baron was of Scottish extraction on his mother's side, being connected with the ducal family of Argyll. He was a man of genuine rank, and might have shown all the arrogance and superciliousness of the average Prussian official; but when he became associated with Heinrich Marx he evinced none of that condescending manner. The two men became firm friends, and the baron treated the provincial lawyer as an equal.

The two families were on friendly terms. Von Westphalen's infant daughter, who had the formidable name of Johanna Bertha Julie Jenny von Westphalen, but who was usually spoken of as Jenny, became, in time, an intimate of Sophie Marx. She was four years older than Karl, but the two grew up together—he a high-spirited, manly boy, and she a lovely and romantic girl.

The baron treated Karl as if the lad were a child of his own. He influenced him to love romantic literature and poetry by interpreting to him the great masterpieces, from Homer and Shakespeare to Goethe and Lessing. He made a special study of Dante, whose mysticism appealed to his somewhat dreamy nature, and to the religious instinct that always lived in him, in spite of his dislike for creeds and churches.

The lore that he imbibed in early childhood stood Karl in good stead when he began his school life, and his preparation for the university. He had an absolute genius for study, and was no less fond of the sports and games of his companions, so that he seemed to be marked out for success. At sixteen years of age he showed a precocious ability for planning and carrying out his work with thoroughness. His mind was evidently a creative mind, one that was able to think out difficult problems without fatigue. His taste was shown in his fondness for the classics, in studying which he noted subtle distinctions of meaning that usually escape even the mature scholar. Penetration, thoroughness, creativeness, and a capacity for labor were the boy's chief characteristics.

With such gifts, and such a nature, he left home for the university of Bonn. Here he disappointed all his friends. His studies were neglected; he was morose, restless, and dissatisfied. He fell into a number of scrapes, and ran into debt through sundry small extravagances. All the reports that reached his home were most unsatisfactory. What had come over the boy who had worked so hard in the gymnasium at Treves?

The simple fact was that he had became love-sick. His separation from Jenny von Westphalen had made him conscious of a feeling which he had long entertained without knowing it. They had been close companions. He had looked into her beautiful face and seen the luminous response of her lovely eyes, but its meaning had not flashed upon his mind. He was not old enough to have a great consuming passion, he was merely conscious of her charm. As he could see her every day, he did not realize how much he wanted her, and how much a separation from her would mean.

As "absence makes the heart grow fonder," so it may suddenly draw aside the veil behind which the truth is hidden. At Bonn young Marx felt as if a blaze of light had flashed before him; and from that moment his studies, his companions, and the ambitions that he had hitherto cherished all seemed flat and stale. At night and in the daytime there was just one thing which filled his mind and heart—the beautiful vision of Jenny von Westphalen.

Meanwhile his family, and especially his father, had become anxious at the reports which reached them. Karl was sent for, and his stay at Bonn was ended.

Now that he was once more in the presence of the girl who charmed him so, he recovered all his old-time spirits. He wooed her ardently, and though she was more coy, now that she saw his passion, she did not discourage him, but merely prolonged the ecstasy of this wonderful love-making. As he pressed her more and more, and no one guessed the story, there came a time when she was urged to let herself become engaged to him.

Here was seen the difference in their ages—a difference that had an effect upon their future. It means much that a girl should be four years older than the man who seeks her hand. She is four years wiser; and a girl of twenty is, in fact, a match for a youth of twenty-five. Brought up as she had been, in an aristocratic home, with the blood of two noble families in her veins, and being wont to hear the easy and somewhat cynical talk of worldly people, she knew better than poor Karl the un-wisdom of what she was about to do.

She was noble, the daughter of one high official and the sister of another. Those whom she knew were persons of rank and station. On the other hand, young Marx, though he had accepted Christianity, was the son of a provincial Jewish lawyer, with no fortune, and with a bad record at the university. When she thought of all these things, she may well have hesitated; but the earnest pleading and intense ardor of Karl Marx broke down all barriers between them, and they became engaged, without informing Jenny's father of their compact. Then they parted for a while, and Karl returned to his home, filled with romantic thoughts.

He was also full of ambition and of desire for achievement. He had won the loveliest girl in Treves, and now he must go forth into the world and conquer it for her sake. He begged his father to send him to Berlin, and showed how much more advantageous was that new and splendid university, where Hegel's fame was still in the ascendent.

In answer to his father's questions, the younger Marx replied:

"I have something to tell you that will explain all; but first you must give me your word that you will tell no one."

"I trust you wholly," said the father. "I will not reveal what you may say to me."

"Well," returned the son, "I am engaged to marry Jenny von Westphalen. She wishes it kept a secret from her father, but I am at liberty to tell you of it."

The elder Marx was at once shocked and seriously disturbed. Baron von Westphalen was his old and intimate friend. No thought of romance between their children had ever come into his mind. It seemed disloyal to keep the verlobung of Karl and Jenny a secret; for should it be revealed, what would the baron think of Marx? Their disparity of rank and fortune would make the whole affair stand out as something wrong and underhand.

The father endeavored to make his son see all this. He begged him to go and tell the baron, but young Marx was not to be persuaded.

"Send me to Berlin," he said, "and we shall again be separated; but I shall work and make a name for myself, so that when I return neither Jenny nor her father will have occasion to be disturbed by our engagement."

With these words he half satisfied his father, and before long he was sent to Berlin, where he fell manfully upon his studies. His father had insisted that he should study law; but his own tastes were for philosophy and history. He attended lectures in jurisprudence "as a necessary evil," but he read omnivorously in subjects that were nearer to his heart. The result was that his official record was not much better than it had been at Bonn.

The same sort of restlessness, too, took possession of him when he found that Jenny would not answer his letters. No matter how eagerly and tenderly he wrote to her, there came no reply. Even the most passionate pleadings left her silent and unresponsive. Karl could not complain, for she had warned him that she would not write to him. She felt that their engagement, being secret, was anomalous, and that until her family knew of it she was not free to act as she might wish.

Here again was seen the wisdom of her maturer years; but Karl could not be equally reasonable. He showered her with letters, which still she would not answer. He wrote to his father in words of fire. At last, driven to despair, he said that he was going to write to the Baron von Westphalen, reveal the secret, and ask for the baron's fatherly consent.

It seemed a reckless thing to do, and yet it turned out to be the wisest. The baron knew that such an engagement meant a social sacrifice, and that, apart from the matter of rank, young Marx was without any fortune to give the girl the luxuries to which she had been accustomed. Other and more eligible suitors were always within view. But here Jenny herself spoke out more strongly than she had ever done to Karl. She was willing to accept him with what he was able to give her. She cared nothing for any other man, and she begged her father to make both of them completely happy.

Thus it seemed that all was well, yet for some reason or other Jenny would not write to Karl, and once more he was almost driven to distraction. He wrote bitter letters to his father, who tried to comfort him. The baron himself sent messages of friendly advice, but what young man in his teens was ever reasonable? So violent was Karl that at last his father wrote to him:

I am disgusted with your letters. Their unreasonable tone is loathsome to me. I should never had expected it of you. Haven't you been lucky from your cradle up?

Finally Karl received one letter from his betrothed—a letter that transfused him with ecstatic joy for about a day, and then sent him back to his old unrest. This, however, may be taken as a part of Marx's curious nature, which was never satisfied, but was always reaching after something which could not be had.

He fell to writing poetry, of which he sent three volumes to Jenny—which must have been rather trying to her, since the verse was very poor. He studied the higher mathematics, English and Italian, some Latin, and a miscellaneous collection of works on history and literature. But poetry almost turned his mind. In later years he wrote:

Everything was centered on poetry, as if I were bewitched by some uncanny power.

Luckily, he was wise enough, after a time, to recognize how halting were his poems when compared with those of the great masters; and so he resumed his restless, desultory work. He still sent his father letters that were like wild cries. They evoked, in reply, a very natural burst of anger:

Complete disorder, silly wandering through all branches of science, silly brooding at the burning oil-lamp! In your wildness you see with four eyes—a horrible setback and disregard for everything decent. And in the pursuit of this senseless and purposeless learning you think to raise the fruits which are to unite you with your beloved one! What harvest do you expect to gather from them which will enable you to fulfil your duty toward her?

Writing to him again, his father speaks of something that Karl had written as "a mad composition, which denotes clearly how you waste your ability and spend nights in order to create such monstrosities." The young man was even forbidden to return home for the Easter holidays. This meant giving up the sight of Jenny, whom he had not seen for a whole year. But fortune arranged it otherwise; for not many weeks later death removed the parent who had loved him and whom he had loved, though neither of them could understand the other. The father represented the old order of things; the son was born to discontent and to look forward to a new heaven and a new earth.

Returning to Berlin, Karl resumed his studies; but as before, they were very desultory in their character, and began to run upon social questions, which were indeed setting Germany into a ferment. He took his degree, and thought of becoming an instructor at the university of Jena; but his radicalism prevented this, and he became the editor of a liberal newspaper, which soon, however, became so very radical as to lead to his withdrawal.

It now seemed best that Marx should seek other fields of activity. To remain in Germany was dangerous to himself and discreditable to Jenny's relatives, with their status as Prussian officials. In the summer of 1843, he went forth into the world—at last an "international." Jenny, who had grown to believe in him as against her own family, asked for nothing better than to wander with him, if only they might be married. And they were married in this same summer, and spent a short honeymoon at Bingen on the Rhine—made famous by Mrs. Norton's poem. It was the brief glimpse of sunshine that was to precede year after year of anxiety and want.

Leaving Germany, Marx and Jenny went to Paris, where he became known to some of the intellectual lights of the French capital, such as Bakunin, the great Russian anarchist, Proudhon, Cabet, and Saint-Simon. Most important of all was his intimacy with the poet Heine, that marvelous creature whose fascination took on a thousand forms, and whom no one could approach without feeling his strange allurement.

Since Goethe's death, down to the present time, there has been no figure in German literature comparable to Heine. His prose was exquisite. His poetry ran through the whole gamut of humanity and of the sensations that come to us from the outer world. In his poems are sweet melodies and passionate cries of revolt, stirring ballads of the sea and tender love-songs—strange as these last seem when coming from this cynic.

For cynic he was, deep down in his heart, though his face, when in repose, was like the conventional pictures of Christ. His fascinations destroyed the peace of many a woman; and it was only after many years of self-indulgence that he married the faithful Mathilde Mirat in what he termed a "conscience marriage." Soon after he went to his "mattress-grave," as he called it, a hopeless paralytic.

To Heine came Marx and his beautiful bride. One may speculate as to Jenny's estimate of her husband. Since his boyhood, she had not seen him very much. At that time he was a merry, light-hearted youth, a jovial comrade, and one of whom any girl would be proud. But since his long stay in Berlin, and his absorption in the theories of men like Engels and Bauer, he had become a very different sort of man, at least to her.

Groping, lost in brown studies, dreamy, at times morose, he was by no means a sympathetic and congenial husband for a high-bred, spirited girl, such as Jenny von Westphalen. His natural drift was toward a beer-garden, a group of frowsy followers, the reek of vile tobacco, and the smell of sour beer. One cannot but think that his beautiful wife must have been repelled by this, though with her constant nature she still loved him.

In Heinrich Heine she found a spirit that seemed akin to hers. Mr. Spargo says—and in what he says one must read a great deal between the lines:

The admiration of Jenny Marx for the poet was even more ardent than that of her husband. He fascinated her because, as she said, he was "so modern," while Heine was drawn to her because she was "so sympathetic."

It must be that Heine held the heart of this beautiful woman in his hand. He knew so well the art of fascination; he knew just how to supply the void which Marx had left. The two were indeed affinities in heart and soul; yet for once the cynical poet stayed his hand, and said no word that would have been disloyal to his friend. Jenny loved him with a love that might have blazed into a lasting flame; but fortunately there appeared a special providence to save her from herself. The French government, at the request of the King of Prussia, banished Marx from its dominions; and from that day until he had become an old man he was a wanderer and an exile, with few friends and little money, sustained by nothing but Jenny's fidelity and by his infinite faith in a cause that crushed him to the earth.

There is a curious parallel between the life of Marx and that of Richard Wagner down to the time when the latter discovered a royal patron. Both of them were hounded from country to country; both of them worked laboriously for so scanty a living as to verge, at times, upon starvation. Both of them were victims to a cause in which they earnestly believed—an economic cause in the one case, an artistic cause in the other. Wagner's triumph came before his death, and the world has accepted his theory of the music-drama. The cause of Marx is far greater and more tremendous, because it strikes at the base of human life and social well-being.

The clash between Wagner and his critics was a matter of poetry and dramatic music. It was not vital to the human race. The cause of Marx is one that is only now beginning to be understood and recognized by millions of men and women in all the countries of the earth. In his lifetime he issued a manifesto that has become a classic among economists. He organized the great International Association of Workmen, which set all Europe in a blaze and extended even to America. His great book, "Capital"—Das Kapital—which was not completed until the last years of his life, is read to-day by thousands as an almost sacred work.

Like Wagner and his Minna, the wife of Marx's youth clung to him through his utmost vicissitudes, denying herself the necessities of life so that he might not starve. In London, where he spent his latest days, he was secure from danger, yet still a sort of persecution seemed to follow him. For some time, nothing that he wrote could find a printer. Wherever he went, people looked at him askance. He and his six children lived upon the sum of five dollars a week, which was paid him by the New York Tribune, through the influence of the late Charles A. Dana. When his last child was born, and the mother's life was in serious danger, Marx complained that there was no cradle for the baby, and a little later that there was no coffin for its burial.

Marx had ceased to believe in marriage, despised the church, and cared nothing for government. Yet, unlike Wagner, he was true to the woman who had given up so much for him. He never sank to an artistic degeneracy. Though he rejected creeds, he was nevertheless a man of genuine religious feeling. Though he believed all present government to be an evil, he hoped to make it better, or rather he hoped to substitute for it a system by which all men might get an equal share of what it is right and just for them to have.

Such was Marx, and thus he lived and died. His wife, who had long been cut off from her relatives, died about a year before him. When she was buried, he stumbled and fell into her grave, and from that time until his own death he had no further interest in life.

He had been faithful to a woman and to a cause. That cause was so tremendous as to overwhelm him. In sixty years only the first great stirrings of it could be felt. Its teachings may end in nothing, but only a century or more of effort and of earnest striving can make it plain whether Karl Marx was a world-mover or a martyr to a cause that was destined to be lost.


The middle part of the nineteenth century is a period which has become more or less obscure to most Americans and Englishmen. At one end the thunderous campaigns of Napoleon are dying away. In the latter part of the century we remember the gorgeousness of the Tuileries, the four years' strife of our own Civil War, and then the golden drift of peace with which the century ended. Between these two extremes there is a stretch of history which seems to lack interest for the average student of to-day.

In America, that was a period when we took little interest in the movement of affairs on the continent of Europe. It would not be easy, for instance, to imagine an American of 1840 cogitating on problems of socialism, or trying to invent some new form of arbeiterverein. General Choke was still swindling English emigrants. The Young Columbian was still darting out from behind a table to declare how thoroughly he defied the British lion. But neither of these patriots, any more than their English compeers, was seriously disturbed about the interests of the rest of the world. The Englishman was contentedly singing "God Save the Queen!" The American, was apostrophizing the bird of freedom with the floridity of rhetoric that reached its climax in the "Pogram Defiance." What the Dutchies and Frenchies were doing was little more to an Englishman than to an American.

Continental Europe was a mystery to English-speaking people. Those who traveled abroad took their own servants with them, spoke only English, and went through the whole European maze with absolute indifference. To them the socialist, who had scarcely received a name, was an imaginary being. If he existed, he was only a sort of offspring of the Napoleonic wars—a creature who had not yet fitted into the ordinary course of things. He was an anomaly, a person who howled in beer-houses, and who would presently be regulated, either by the statesmen or by the police.

When our old friend, Mark Tapley, was making with his master a homeward voyage to Britain, what did he know or even care about the politics of France, or Germany, or Austria, or Russia? Not the slightest, you may be sure. Mark and his master represented the complete indifference of the Englishman or American—not necessarily a well-bred indifference, but an indifference that was insular on the one hand and republican on the other. If either of them had heard of a gentleman who pillaged an unmarried lady's luggage in order to secure a valuable paper for another lady, who was married, they would both have looked severely at this abnormal person, and the American would doubtless have added a remark which had something to do with the matchless purity of Columbia's daughters.

If, again, they had been told that Ferdinand Lassalle had joined in the great movement initiated by Karl Marx, it is absolutely certain that neither the Englishman nor the American could have given you the slightest notion as to who these individuals were. Thrones might be tottering all over Europe; the red flag might wave in a score of cities—what would all this signify, so long as Britannia ruled the waves, while Columbia's feathered emblem shrieked defiance three thousand miles away?

And yet few more momentous events have happened in a century than the union which led one man to give his eloquence to the social cause, and the other to suffer for that cause until his death. Marx had the higher thought, but his disciple Lassalle had the more attractive way of presenting it. It is odd that Marx, today, should lie in a squalid cemetery, while the whole western world echoes with his praises, and that Lassalle—brilliant, clear-sighted, and remarkable for his penetrating genius—should have lived in luxury, but should now know nothing but oblivion, even among those who shouted at his eloquence and ran beside him in the glory of his triumph.

Ferdinand Lassalle was a native of Breslau, the son of a wealthy Jewish silk-merchant. Heymann Lassal—for thus the father spelled his name—stroked his hands at young Ferdinand's cleverness, but he meant it to be a commercial cleverness. He gave the boy a thorough education at the University of Breslau, and later at Berlin. He was an affectionate parent, and at the same time tyrannical to a degree.

It was the old story where the father wishes to direct every step that his son takes, and where the son, bursting out into youthful manhood, feels that he has the right to freedom. The father thinks how he has toiled for the son; the son thinks that if this toil were given for love, it should not be turned into a fetter and restraint. Young Lassalle, instead of becoming a clever silk-merchant, insisted on a university career, where he studied earnestly, and was admitted to the most cultured circles.

Though his birth was Jewish, he encountered little prejudice against his race. Napoleon had changed the old anti-Semitic feeling of fifty years before to a liberalism that was just beginning to be strongly felt in Germany, as it had already been in France. This was true in general, but especially true of Lassalle, whose features were not of a Semitic type, who made friends with every one, and who was a favorite in many salons. His portraits make him seem a high-bred and high-spirited Prussian, with an intellectual and clean-cut forehead; a face that has a sense of humor, and yet one capable of swift and cogent thought.

No man of ordinary talents could have won the admiration of so many compeers. It is not likely that such a keen and cynical observer as Heinrich Heine would have written as he did concerning Lassalle, had not the latter been a brilliant and magnetic youth. Heine wrote to Varnhagen von Ense, the German historian:

My friend, Herr Lassalle, who brings you this letter, is a young man of remarkable intellectual gifts. With the most thorough erudition, with the widest learning, with the greatest penetration that I have ever known, and with the richest gift of exposition, he combines an energy of will and a capacity for action which astonish me. In no one have I found united so much enthusiasm and practical intelligence.

No better proof of Lassalle's enthusiasm can be found than a few lines from his own writings:

I love Heine. He is my second self. What audacity! What overpowering eloquence! He knows how to whisper like a zephyr when it kisses rose-blooms, how to breathe like fire when it rages and destroys; he calls forth all that is tenderest and softest, and then all that is fiercest and most daring. He has the sweep of the whole lyre!

Lassalle's sympathy with Heine was like his sympathy with every one whom he knew. This was often misunderstood. It was misunderstood in his relations with women, and especially in the celebrated affair of the Countess von Hatzfeldt, which began in the year 1846—that is to say, in the twenty-first year of Lassalle's age.

In truth, there was no real scandal in the matter, for the countess was twice the age of Lassalle. It was precisely because he was so young that he let his eagerness to defend a woman in distress make him forget the ordinary usage of society, and expose himself to mean and unworthy criticism which lasted all his life. It began by his introduction to the Countess von Hatzfeldt, a lady who was grossly ill-treated by her husband. She had suffered insult and imprisonment in the family castles; the count had deprived her of medicine when she was ill, and had forcibly taken away her children. Besides this, he was infatuated with another woman, a baroness, and wasted his substance upon her even contrary to the law which protected his children's rights.

The countess had a son named Paul, of whom Lassalle was extremely fond. There came to the boy a letter from the Count von Hatzfeldt ordering him to leave his mother. The countess at once sent for Lassalle, who brought with him two wealthy and influential friends—one of them a judge of a high Prussian court—and together they read the letter which Paul had just received. They were deeply moved by the despair of the countess, and by the cruelty of her dissolute husband in seeking to separate the mother from her son.

In his chivalrous ardor Lassalle swore to help the countess, and promised that he would carry on the struggle with her husband to the bitter end. He took his two friends with him to Berlin, and then to Dusseldorf, for they discovered that the Count von Hatzfeldt was not far away. He was, in fact, at Aix-la-Chapelle with the baroness.

Lassalle, who had the scent of a greyhound, pried about until he discovered that the count had given his mistress a legal document, assigning to her a valuable piece of property which, in the ordinary course of law, should be entailed on the boy, Paul. The countess at once hastened to the place, broke into her husband's room, and secured a promise that the deed would be destroyed.

No sooner, however, had she left him than he returned to the baroness, and presently it was learned that the woman had set out for Cologne.

Lassalle and his two friends followed, to ascertain whether the document had really been destroyed. The three reached a hotel at Cologne, where the baroness had just arrived. Her luggage, in fact, was being carried upstairs. One of Lassalle's friends opened a trunk, and, finding a casket there, slipped it out to his companion, the judge.

Unfortunately, the latter had no means of hiding it, and when the baroness's servant shouted for help, the casket was found in the possession of the judge, who could give no plausible account of it. He was, therefore, arrested, as were the other two. There was no evidence against Lassalle; but his friends fared badly at the trial, one of them being imprisoned for a year and the other for five years.

From this time Lassalle, with an almost quixotic devotion, gave himself up to fighting the Countess von Hatzfeldt's battle against her husband in the law-courts. The ablest advocates were pitted against him. The most eloquent legal orators thundered at him and at his client, but he met them all with a skill, an audacity, and a brilliant wit that won for him verdict after verdict. The case went from the lower to the higher tribunals, until, after nine years, it reached the last court of appeal, where Lassalle wrested from his opponents a magnificently conclusive victory—one that made the children of the countess absolutely safe. It was a battle fought with the determination of a soldier, with the gallantry of a knight errant, and the intellectual acumen of a learned lawyer.

It is not surprising that many refuse to believe that Lassalle's feeling toward the Countess von Hatzfeldt was a disinterested one. A scandalous pamphlet, which was published in French, German, and Russian, and written by one who styled herself "Sophie Solutzeff," did much to spread the evil report concerning Lassalle. But the very openness and frankness of the service which he did for the countess ought to make it clear that his was the devotion of a youth drawn by an impulse into a strife where there was nothing for him to gain, but everything to lose. He denounced the brutality of her husband, but her letters to him always addressed him as "my dear child." In writing to her he confides small love-secrets and ephemeral flirtations—which he would scarcely have done, had the countess viewed him with the eye of passion.

Lassalle was undoubtedly a man of impressionable heart, and had many affairs such as Heine had; but they were not deep or lasting. That he should have made a favorable impression on the women whom he met is not surprising, because of his social standing, his chivalry, his fine manners, and his handsome face. Mr. Clement Shorter has quoted an official document which describes him as he was in his earlier years:

Ferdinand Lassalle, aged twenty-three, a civilian born at Breslau and dwelling recently at Berlin. He stands five feet six inches in height, has brown, curly hair, open forehead, brown eyebrows, dark blue eyes, well proportioned nose and mouth, and rounded chin.

We ought not to be surprised, then, if he was a favorite in drawing-rooms; if both men and women admired him; if Alexander von Humboldt cried out with enthusiasm that he was a wunderkind, and if there were more than Sophie Solutzeff to be jealous. But the rather ungrateful remark of the Countess von Hatzfeldt certainly does not represent him as he really was.

"You are without reason and judgment where women are concerned," she snarled at him; but the sneer only shows that the woman who uttered it was neither in love with him nor grateful to him.

In this paper we are not discussing Lassalle as a public agitator or as a Socialist, but simply in his relations with the two women who most seriously affected his life. The first was the Countess von Hatzfeldt, who, as we have seen, occupied—or rather wasted—nine of the best years of his life. Then came that profound and thrilling passion which ended the career of a man who at thirty-nine had only just begun to be famous.

Lassalle had joined his intellectual forces with those of Heine and Marx. He had obtained so great an influence over the masses of the people as to alarm many a monarch, and at the same time to attract many a statesman. Prince Bismarck, for example, cared nothing for Lassalle's championship of popular rights, but sought his aid on finding that he was an earnest advocate of German unity.

Furthermore, he was very far from resembling what in those early days was regarded as the typical picture of a Socialist. There was nothing frowzy about him; in his appearance he was elegance itself; his manners were those of a prince, and his clothing was of the best. Seeing him in a drawing-room, no one would mistake him for anything but a gentleman and a man of parts. Hence it is not surprising that his second love was one of the nobility, although her own people hated Lassalle as a bearer of the red flag.

This girl was Helene von Donniges, the daughter of a Bavarian diplomat. As a child she had traveled much, especially in Italy and in Switzerland. She was very precocious, and lived her own life without asking the direction of any one. At twelve years of age she had been betrothed to an Italian of forty; but this dark and pedantic person always displeased her, and soon afterward, when she met a young Wallachian nobleman, one Yanko Racowitza, she was ready at once to dismiss her Italian lover. Racowitza—young, a student, far from home, and lacking friends—appealed at once to the girl's sympathy.

At that very time, in Berlin, where Helene was visiting her grandmother, she was asked by a Prussian baron:

"Do you know Ferdinand Lassalle?"

The question came to her with a peculiar shock. She had never heard the name, and yet the sound of it gave her a strange emotion. Baron Korff, who perhaps took liberties because she was so young, went on to say:

"My dear lady, have you really never seen Lassalle? Why, you and he were meant for each other!"

She felt ashamed to ask about him, but shortly after a gentleman who knew her said:

"It is evident that you have a surprising degree of intellectual kinship with Ferdinand Lassalle."

This so excited her curiosity that she asked her grandmother:

"Who is this person of whom they talk so much—this Ferdinand Lassalle?"

"Do not speak of him," replied her grandmother. "He is a shameless demagogue!"

A little questioning brought to Helene all sorts of stories about Lassalle—the Countess von Hatzfeldt, the stolen casket, the mysterious pamphlet, the long battle in the courts—all of which excited her still more. A friend offered to introduce her to the "shameless demagogue." This introduction happened at a party, and it must have been an extraordinary meeting. Seldom, it seemed, was there a better instance of love at first sight, or of the true affinity of which Baron Korff had spoken. In the midst of the public gathering they almost rushed into each other's arms; they talked the free talk of acknowledged lovers; and when she left, he called her love-names as he offered her his arm.

"Somehow it did not appear at all remarkable," she afterward declared. "We seemed to be perfectly fitted to each other."

Nevertheless, nine months passed before they met again at a soiree. At this time Lassaller gazing upon her, said:

"What would you do if I were sentenced to death?"

"I should wait until your head was severed," was her answer, "in order that you might look upon your beloved to the last, and then—I should take poison!"

Her answer delighted him, but he said that there was no danger. He was greeted on every hand with great consideration; and it seemed not unlikely that, in recognition of his influence with the people, he might rise to some high position. The King of Prussia sympathized with him. Heine called him the Messiah of the nineteenth century. When he passed from city to city, the whole population turned out to do him honor. Houses were wreathed; flowers were thrown in masses upon him, while the streets were spanned with triumphal arches.

Worn out with the work and excitement attending the birth of the Deutscher Arbeiterverein, or workmen's union, which he founded in 1863, Lassalle fled for a time to Switzerland for rest. Helene heard of his whereabouts, and hurried to him, with several friends. They met again on July 25,1864, and discussed long and intensely the possibilities of their marriage and the opposition of her parents, who would never permit her to marry a man who was at once a Socialist and a Jew.

Then comes a pitiful story of the strife between Lassalle and the Donniges family. Helene's father and mother indulged in vulgar words; they spoke of Lassalle with contempt; they recalled all the scandals that had been current ten years before, and forbade Helene ever to mention the man's name again.

The next scene in the drama took place in Geneva, where the family of Herr von Donniges had arrived, and where Helene's sister had been betrothed to Count von Keyserling—a match which filled her mother with intense joy. Her momentary friendliness tempted Helene to speak of her unalterable love for Lassalle. Scarcely had the words been spoken when her father and mother burst into abuse and denounced Lassalle as well as herself.

She sent word of this to Lassalle, who was in a hotel near by. Scarcely had he received her letter, when Helene herself appeared upon the scene, and with all the intensity of which she was possessed, she begged him to take her wherever he chose. She would go with him to France, to Italy—to the ends of the earth!

What a situation, and yet how simple a one for a man of spirit! It is strange to have to record that to Lassalle it seemed most difficult. He felt that he or she, or both of them, had been compromised. Had she a lady with her? Did she know any one in the neighborhood?

What an extraordinary answer! If she were compromised, all the more ought he to have taken her in his arms and married her at once, instead of quibbling and showing himself a prig.

Presently, her maid came in to tell them that a carriage was ready to take them to the station, whence a train would start for Paris in a quarter of an hour. Helene begged him with a feeling that was beginning to be one of shame. Lassalle repelled her in words that were to stamp him with a peculiar kind of cowardice.

Why should he have stopped to think of anything except the beautiful woman who was at his feet, and to whom he had pledged his love? What did he care for the petty diplomat who was her father, or the vulgar-tongued woman who was her mother? He should have hurried her and the maid into the train for Paris, and have forgotten everything in the world but his Helene, glorious among women, who had left everything for him.

What was the sudden failure, the curious weakness, the paltriness of spirit that came at the supreme moment into the heart of this hitherto strong man? Here was the girl whom he loved, driven from her parents, putting aside all question of appearances, and clinging to him with a wild and glorious desire to give herself to him and to be all his own! That was a thing worthy of a true woman. And he? He shrinks from her and cowers and acts like a simpleton. His courage seems to have dribbled through his finger-tips; he is no longer a man—he is a thing.

Out of all the multitude of Lassalle's former admirers, there is scarcely one who has ventured to defend him, much less to laud him; and when they have done so, their voices have had a sound of mockery that dies away in their own throats.

Helene, on her side, had compromised herself, and even from the view-point of her parents it was obvious that she ought to be married immediately. Her father, however, confined her to her room until it was understood that Lassalle had left Geneva. Then her family's supplications, the statement that her sister's marriage and even her father's position were in danger, led her to say that she would give up Lassalle.

It mattered very little, in one way, for whatever he might have done, Lassalle had killed, or at least had chilled, her love. His failure at the moment of her great self-sacrifice had shown him to her as he really was—no bold and gallant spirit, but a cringing, spiritless self-seeker. She wrote him a formal letter to the effect that she had become reconciled to her "betrothed bridegroom"; and they never met again.

Too late, Lassalle gave himself up to a great regret. He went about trying to explain his action to his friends, but he could say nothing that would ease his feeling and reinstate him in the eyes of the romantic girl. In a frenzy, he sought out the Wallachian student, Yanko von Racowitza, and challenged him to a mortal duel. He also challenged Helene's father. Years before, he had on principle declined to fight a duel; but now he went raving about as if he sought the death of every one who knew him.

The duel was fought on August 28, 1864. There was some trouble about pistols, and also about seconds; but finally the combatants left a small hotel in a village near Geneva, and reached the dueling-grounds. Lassalle was almost joyous in his manner. His old confidence had come back to him; he meant to kill his man.

They took their stations high up among the hills. A few spectators saw their figures outlined against the sky. The command to fire rang out, and from both pistols gushed the flame and smoke.

A moment later, Lassalle was seen to sway and fall. A chance shot, glancing from a wall, had struck him to the ground. He suffered terribly, and nothing but opium in great doses could relieve his pain. His wound was mortal, and three days later he died.

Long after, Helene admitted that she still loved Lassalle, and believed that he would win the duel; but after the tragedy, the tenderness and patience of Racowitza won her heart. She married him, but within a year he died of consumption. Helene, being disowned by her relations, prepared herself for the stage. She married a third husband named Shevitch, who was then living in the United States, but who has since made his home in Russia.

Let us say nothing of Lassalle's political career. Except for his work as one of the early leaders of the liberal movement in Germany, it has perished, and his name has been almost forgotten. As a lover, his story stands out forever as a warning to the timid and the recreant. Let men do what they will; but there is just one thing which no man is permitted to do with safety in the sight of woman—and that is to play the craven.


Outside of the English-speaking peoples the nineteenth century witnessed the rise and triumphant progress of three great tragic actresses. The first two of these—Rachel Felix and Sarah Bernhardt—were of Jewish extraction; the third, Eleanor Duse, is Italian. All of them made their way from pauperism to fame; but perhaps the rise of Rachel was the most striking.

In the winter of 1821 a wretched peddler named Abraham—or Jacob—Felix sought shelter at a dilapidated inn at Mumpf, a village in Switzerland, not far from Basel. It was at the close of a stormy day, and his small family had been toiling through the snow and sleet. The inn was the lowest sort of hovel, and yet its proprietor felt that it was too good for these vagabonds. He consented to receive them only when he learned that the peddler's wife was to be delivered of a child. That very night she became the mother of a girl, who was at first called Elise. So unimportant was the advent of this little waif into the world that the burgomaster of Mumpf thought it necessary to make an entry only of the fact that a peddler's wife had given birth to a female child. There was no mention of family or religion, nor was the record anything more than a memorandum.

Under such circumstances was born a child who was destined to excite the wonder of European courts—to startle and thrill and utterly amaze great audiences by her dramatic genius. But for ten years the family—which grew until it consisted of one son and five daughters—kept on its wanderings through Switzerland and Germany. Finally, they settled down in Lyons, where the mother opened a little shop for the sale of second-hand clothing. The husband gave lessons in German whenever he could find a pupil. The eldest daughter went about the cafes in the evening, singing the songs that were then popular, while her small sister, Rachel, collected coppers from those who had coppers to spare.

Although the family was barely able to sustain existence, the father and mother were by no means as ignorant as their squalor would imply. The peddler Felix had studied Hebrew theology in the hope of becoming a rabbi. Failing this, he was always much interested in declamation, public reading, and the recitation of poetry. He was, in his way, no mean critic of actors and actresses. Long before she was ten years of age little Rachel—who had changed her name from Elise—could render with much feeling and neatness of eloquence bits from the best-known French plays of the classic stage.

The children's mother, on her side, was sharp and practical to a high degree. She saved and scrimped all through her period of adversity. Later she was the banker of her family, and would never lend any of her children a sou except on excellent security. However, this was all to happen in after years.

When the child who was destined to be famous had reached her tenth year she and her sisters made their way to Paris. For four years the second-hand clothing-shop was continued; the father still taught German; and the elder sister, Sarah, who had a golden voice, made the rounds of the cafes in the lowest quarters of the capital, while Rachel passed the wooden plate for coppers.

One evening in the year 1834 a gentleman named Morin, having been taken out of his usual course by a matter of business, entered a BRASSERIE for a cup of coffee. There he noted two girls, one of them singing with remarkable sweetness, and the other silently following with the wooden plate. M. Morin called to him the girl who sang and asked her why she did not make her voice more profitable than by haunting the cafes at night, where she was sure to meet with insults of the grossest kind.

"Why," said Sarah, "I haven't anybody to advise me what to do."

M. Morin gave her his address and said that he would arrange to have her meet a friend who would be of great service to her. On the following day he sent the two girls to a M. Choron, who was the head of the Conservatory of Sacred Music. Choron had Sarah sing, and instantly admitted her as a pupil, which meant that she would soon be enrolled among the regular choristers. The beauty of her voice made a deep impression on him.

Then he happened to notice the puny, meager child who was standing near her sister. Turning to her, he said:

"And what can you do, little one?"

"I can recite poetry," was the reply.

"Oh, can you?" said he. "Please let me hear you."

Rachel readily consented. She had a peculiarly harsh, grating voice, so that any but a very competent judge would have turned her away. But M. Choron, whose experience was great, noted the correctness of her accent and the feeling which made itself felt in every line. He accepted her as well as her sister, but urged her to study elocution rather than music.

She must, indeed, have had an extraordinary power even at the age of fourteen, since not merely her voice but her whole appearance was against her. She was dressed in a short calico frock of a pattern in which red was spotted with white. Her shoes were of coarse black leather. Her hair was parted at the back of her head and hung down her shoulders in two braids, framing the long, childish, and yet gnome-like face, which was unusual in its gravity.

At first she was little thought of; but there came a time when she astonished both her teachers and her companions by a recital which she gave in public. The part was the narrative of Salema in the "Abufar" of Ducis. It describes the agony of a mother who gives birth to a child while dying of thirst amid the desert sands. Mme. de Barviera has left a description of this recital, which it is worth while to quote:

While uttering the thrilling tale the thin face seemed to lengthen with horror, the small, deep-set black eyes dilated with a fixed stare as though she witnessed the harrowing scene; and the deep, guttural tones, despite a slight Jewish accent, awoke a nameless terror in every one who listened, carrying him through the imaginary woe with a strange feeling of reality, not to be shaken, off as long as the sounds lasted.

Even yet, however, the time had not come for any conspicuous success. The girl was still so puny in form, so monkey-like in face, and so gratingly unpleasant in her tones that it needed time for her to attain her full growth and to smooth away some of the discords in her peculiar voice.

Three years later she appeared at the Gymnase in a regular debut; yet even then only the experienced few appreciated her greatness. Among these, however, were the well-known critic Jules Janin, the poet and novelist Gauthier, and the actress Mlle. Mars. They saw that this lean, raucous gutter-girl had within her gifts which would increase until she would be first of all actresses on the French stage. Janin wrote some lines which explain the secret of her greatness:

All the talent in the world, especially when continually applied to the same dramatic works, will not satisfy continually the hearer. What pleases in a great actor, as in all arts that appeal to the imagination, is the unforeseen. When I am utterly ignorant of what is to happen, when I do not know, when you yourself do not know what will be your next gesture, your next look, what passion will possess your heart, what outcry will burst from your terror-stricken soul, then, indeed, I am willing to see you daily, for each day you will be new to me. To-day I may blame, to-morrow praise. Yesterday you were all-powerful; to-morrow, perhaps, you may hardly win from me a word of admiration. So much the better, then, if you draw from me unexpected tears, if in my heart you strike an unknown fiber; but tell me not of hearing night after night great artists who every time present the exact counterpart of what they were on the preceding one.

It was at the Theatre Francais that she won her final acceptance as the greatest of all tragedians of her time. This was in her appearance in Corneille's famous play of "Horace." She had now, in 1838, blazed forth with a power that shook her no, less than it stirred the emotions and the passions of her hearers. The princes of the royal blood came in succession to see her. King Louis Philippe himself was at last tempted by curiosity to be present. Gifts of money and jewels were showered on her, and through sheer natural genius rather than through artifice she was able to master a great audience and bend it to her will.

She had no easy life, this girl of eighteen years, for other actresses carped at her, and she had had but little training. The sordid ways of her old father excited a bitterness which was vented on the daughter. She was still under age, and therefore was treated as a gold-mine by her exacting parents. At the most she could play but twice a week. Her form was frail and reed-like. She was threatened with a complaint of the lungs; yet all this served to excite rather than to diminish public interest in her. The newspapers published daily bulletins of her health, and her door was besieged by anxious callers who wished to know her condition. As for the greed of her parents, every one said she was not to blame for that. And so she passed from poverty to riches, from squalor to something like splendor, and from obscurity to fame.

Much has been written about her that is quite incorrect. She has been credited with virtues which she never possessed; and, indeed, it may be said with only too much truth that she possessed no virtues whatsoever. On the stage while the inspiration lasted she was magnificent. Off the stage she was sly, treacherous, capricious, greedy, ungrateful, ignorant, and unchaste. With such an ancestry as she had, with such an early childhood as had been hers, what else could one expect from her?

She and her old mother wrangled over money like two pickpockets. Some of her best friends she treated shamefully. Her avarice was without bounds. Some one said that it was not really avarice, but only a reaction from generosity; but this seems an exceedingly subtle theory. It is possible to give illustrations of it, however. She did, indeed, make many presents with a lavish hand; yet, having made a present, she could not rest until she got it back. The fact was so well known that her associates took it for granted. The younger Dumas once received a ring from her. Immediately he bowed low and returned it to her finger, saying:

"Permit me, mademoiselle, to present it to you in my turn so as to save you the embarrassment of asking for it."

Mr. Vandam relates among other anecdotes about her that one evening she dined at the house of Comte Duchatel. The table was loaded with the most magnificent flowers; but Rachel's keen eyes presently spied out the great silver centerpiece. Immediately she began to admire the latter; and the count, fascinated by her manners, said that he would be glad to present it to her. She accepted it at once, but was rather fearful lest he should change his mind. She had come to dinner in a cab, and mentioned the fact. The count offered to send her home in his carriage.

"Yes, that will do admirably," said she. "There will be no danger of my being robbed of your present, which I had better take with me."

"With pleasure, mademoiselle," replied the count. "But you will send me back my carriage, won't you?"

Rachel had a curious way of asking every one she met for presents and knickknacks, whether they were valuable or not. She knew how to make them valuable.

Once in a studio she noticed a guitar hanging on the wall. She begged for it very earnestly. As it was an old and almost worthless instrument, it was given her. A little later it was reported that the dilapidated guitar had been purchased by a well-known gentleman for a thousand francs. The explanation soon followed. Rachel had declared that it was the very guitar with which she used to earn her living as a child in the streets of Paris. As a memento its value sprang from twenty francs to a thousand.

It has always been a mystery what Rachel did with the great sums of money which she made in various ways. She never was well dressed; and as for her costumes on the stage, they were furnished by the theater. When her effects were sold at public auction after her death her furniture was worse than commonplace, and her pictures and ornaments were worthless, except such as had been given her. She must have made millions of francs, and yet she had very little to leave behind her.

Some say that her brother Raphael, who acted as her personal manager, was a spendthrift; but if so, there are many reasons for thinking that it was not his sister's money that he spent. Others say that Rachel gambled in stocks, but there is no evidence of it. The only thing that is certain is the fact that she was almost always in want of money. Her mother, in all probability, managed to get hold of most of her earnings.

Much may have been lost through her caprices. One instance may be cited. She had received an offer of three hundred thousand francs to act at St. Petersburg, and was on her way there when she passed through Potsdam, near Berlin. The King of Prussia was entertaining the Russian Czar. An invitation was sent to her in the shape of a royal command to appear before these monarchs and their guests. For some reason or other Rachel absolutely refused. She would listen to no arguments. She would go on to St. Petersburg without delay.

"But," it was said to her, "if you refuse to appear before the Czar at Potsdam all the theaters in St. Petersburg will be closed against you, because you will have insulted the emperor. In this way you will be out the expenses of your journey and also the three hundred thousand francs."

Rachel remained stubborn as before; but in about half an hour she suddenly declared that she would recite before the two monarchs, which she subsequently did, to the satisfaction of everybody. Some one said to her not long after:

"I knew that you would do it. You weren't going to give up the three hundred thousand francs and all your travelling expenses."

"You are quite wrong," returned Rachel, "though of course you will not believe me. I did not care at all about the money and was going back to France. It was something that I heard which made me change my mind. Do you want to know what it was? Well, after all the arguments were over some one informed me that the Czar Nicholas was the handsomest man in Europe; and so I made up my mind that I would stay in Potsdam long enough to see him."

This brings us to one phase of Rachel's nature which is rather sinister. She was absolutely hard. She seemed to have no emotions except those which she exhibited on the stage or the impish perversity which irritated so many of those about her. She was in reality a product of the gutter, able to assume a demure and modest air, but within coarse, vulgar, and careless of decency. Yet the words of Jules Janin, which have been quoted above, explain how she could be personally very fascinating.

In all Rachel's career one can detect just a single strand of real romance. It is one that makes us sorry for her, because it tells us that her love was given where it never could be openly requited.

During the reign of Louis Philippe the Comte Alexandre Walewski held many posts in the government. He was a son of the great Napoleon. His mother was that Polish countess who had accepted Napoleon's love because she hoped that he might set Poland free at her desire. But Napoleon was never swerved from his well-calculated plans by the wish of any woman, and after a time the Countess Walewska came to love him for himself. It was she to whom he confided secrets which he would not reveal to his own brothers. It was she who followed him to Elba in disguise. It was her son who was Napoleon's son, and who afterward, under the Second Empire, was made minister of fine arts, minister of foreign affairs, and, finally, an imperial duke. Unlike the third Napoleon's natural half-brother, the Duc de Moray, Walewski was a gentleman of honor and fine feeling. He never used his relationship to secure advantages for himself. He tried to live in a manner worthy of the great warrior who was his father.

As minister of fine arts he had much to do with the subsidized theaters; and in time he came to know Rachel. He was the son of one of the greatest men who ever lived. She was the child of roving peddlers whose early training had been in the slums of cities and amid the smoke of bar-rooms and cafes. She was tainted in a thousand ways, while he was a man of breeding and right principle. She was a wandering actress; he was a great minister of state. What could there be between these two?

George Sand gave the explanation in an epigram which, like most epigrams, is only partly true. She said:

"The count's company must prove very restful to Rachel."

What she meant was, of course, that Walewski's breeding, his dignity and uprightness, might be regarded only as a temporary repose for the impish, harsh-voiced, infinitely clever actress. Of course, it was all this, but we should not take it in a mocking sense. Rachel looked up out of her depths and gave her heart to this high-minded nobleman. He looked down and lifted her, as it were, so that she could forget for the time all the baseness and the brutality that she had known, that she might put aside her forced vivacity and the self that was not in reality her own.

It is pitiful to think of these two, separated by a great abyss which could not be passed except at times and hours when each was free. But theirs was, none the less, a meeting of two souls, strangely different in many ways, and yet appealing to each other with a sincerity and truth which neither could show elsewhere.

The end of poor Rachel was one of disappointment. Tempted by the fact that Jenny Lind had made nearly two million francs by her visit to the United States, Rachel followed her, but with slight success, as was to be expected. Music is enjoyed by human beings everywhere, while French classical plays, even though acted by a genius like Rachel, could be rightly understood only by a French-speaking people. Thus it came about that her visit to America was only moderately successful.

She returned to France, where the rising fame of Adelaide Ristori was very bitter to Rachel, who had passed the zenith of her power. She went to Egypt, but received no benefit, and in 1858 she died near Cannes. The man who loved her, and whom she had loved in turn, heard of her death with great emotion. He himself lived ten years longer, and died a little while before the fall of the Second Empire.



The story of Jonathan Swift and of the two women who gave their lives for love of him is familiar to every student of English literature. Swift himself, both in letters and in politics, stands out a conspicuous figure in the reigns of King William III and Queen Anne. By writing Gulliver's Travels he made himself immortal. The external facts of his singular relations with two charming women are sufficiently well known; but a definite explanation of these facts has never yet been given. Swift held his tongue with a repellent taciturnity. No one ever dared to question him. Whether the true solution belongs to the sphere of psychology or of physiology is a question that remains unanswered.

But, as the case is one of the most puzzling in the annals of love, it may be well to set forth the circumstances very briefly, to weigh the theories that have already been advanced, and to suggest another.

Jonathan Swift was of Yorkshire stock, though he happened to be born in Dublin, and thus is often spoken of as "the great Irish satirist," or "the Irish dean." It was, in truth, his fate to spend much of his life in Ireland, and to die there, near the cathedral where his remains now rest; but in truth he hated Ireland and everything connected with it, just as he hated Scotland and everything that was Scottish. He was an Englishman to the core.

High-stomached, proud, obstinate, and over-mastering, independence was the dream of his life. He would accept no favors, lest he should put himself under obligation; and although he could give generously, and even lavishly, he lived for the most part a miser's life, hoarding every penny and halfpenny that he could. Whatever one may think of him, there is no doubt that he was a very manly man. Too many of his portraits give the impression of a sour, supercilious pedant; but the finest of them all—that by Jervas—shows him as he must have been at his very prime, with a face that was almost handsome, and a look of attractive humor which strengthens rather than lessens the power of his brows and of the large, lambent eyes beneath them.

At fifteen he entered Trinity College, in Dublin, where he read widely but studied little, so that his degree was finally granted him only as a special favor. At twenty-one he first visited England, and became secretary to Sir William Temple, at Moor Park. Temple, after a distinguished career in diplomacy, had retired to his fine country estate in Surrey. He is remembered now for several things—for having entertained Peter the Great of Russia; for having, while young, won the affections of Dorothy Osborne, whose letters to him are charming in their grace and archness; for having been the patron of Jonathan Swift; and for fathering the young girl named Esther Johnson, a waif, born out of wedlock, to whom Temple gave a place in his household.

When Swift first met her, Esther Johnson was only eight years old; and part of his duties at Moor Park consisted in giving her what was then an unusual education for a girl. She was, however, still a child, and nothing serious could have passed between the raw youth and this little girl who learned the lessons that he imposed upon her.

Such acquaintance as they had was rudely broken off. Temple, a man of high position, treated Swift with an urbane condescension which drove the young man's independent soul into a frenzy. He returned to Ireland, where he was ordained a clergyman, and received a small parish at Kilroot, near Belfast.

It was here that the love-note was first seriously heard in the discordant music of Swift's career. A college friend of his named Waring had a sister who was about the age of Swift, and whom he met quite frequently at Kilroot. Not very much is known of this episode, but there is evidence that Swift fell in love with the girl, whom he rather romantically called "Varina."

This cannot be called a serious love-affair. Swift was lonely, and Jane Waring was probably the only girl of refinement who lived near Kilroot. Furthermore, she had inherited a small fortune, while Swift was miserably poor, and had nothing to offer except the shadowy prospect of future advancement in England. He was definitely refused by her; and it was this, perhaps, that led him to resolve on going back to England and making his peace with Sir William Temple.

On leaving, Swift wrote a passionate letter to Miss Waring—the only true love-letter that remains to us of their correspondence. He protests that he does not want Varina's fortune, and that he will wait until he is in a position to marry her on equal terms. There is a smoldering flame of jealousy running through the letter. Swift charges her with being cold, affected, and willing to flirt with persons who are quite beneath her.

Varina played no important part in Swift's larger life thereafter; but something must be said of this affair in order to show, first of all, that Swift's love for her was due only to proximity, and that when he ceased to feel it he could be not only hard, but harsh. His fiery spirit must have made a deep impression on Miss Waring; for though she at the time refused him, she afterward remembered him, and tried to renew their old relations. Indeed, no sooner had Swift been made rector of a larger parish, than Varina let him know that she had changed her mind, and was ready to marry him; but by this time Swift had lost all interest in her. He wrote an answer which even his truest admirers have called brutal.

"Yes," he said in substance, "I will marry you, though you have treated me vilely, and though you are living in a sort of social sink. I am still poor, though you probably think otherwise. However, I will marry you on certain conditions. First, you must be educated, so that you can entertain me. Next, you must put up with all my whims and likes and dislikes. Then you must live wherever I please. On these terms I will take you, without reference to your looks or to your income. As to the first, cleanliness is all that I require; as to the second, I only ask that it be enough."

Such a letter as this was like a blow from a bludgeon. The insolence, the contempt, and the hardness of it were such as no self-respecting woman could endure. It put an end to their acquaintance, as Swift undoubtedly intended it should do. He would have been less censurable had he struck Varina with his fist or kicked her.

The true reason for Swift's utter change of heart is found, no doubt, in the beginning of what was destined to be his long intimacy with Esther Johnson. When Swift left Sir William Temple's in a huff, Esther had been a mere schoolgirl. Now, on his return, she was fifteen years of age, and seemed older. She had blossomed out into a very comely girl, vivacious, clever, and physically well developed, with dark hair, sparkling eyes, and features that were unusually regular and lovely.

For three years the two were close friends and intimate associates, though it cannot be said that Swift ever made open love to her. To the outward eye they were no more than fellow workers. Yet love does not need the spoken word and the formal declaration to give it life and make it deep and strong. Esther Johnson, to whom Swift gave the pet name of "Stella," grew into the existence of this fiery, hold, and independent genius. All that he did she knew. She was his confidante. As to his writings, his hopes, and his enmities, she was the mistress of all his secrets. For her, at last, no other man existed.

On Sir William Temple's death, Esther John son came into a small fortune, though she now lost her home at Moor Park. Swift returned to Ireland, and soon afterward he invited Stella to join him there.

Swift was now thirty-four years of age, and Stella a very attractive girl of twenty. One might have expected that the two would marry, and yet they did not do so. Every precaution was taken to avoid anything like scandal. Stella was accompanied by a friend—a widow named Mrs. Dingley—without whose presence, or that of some third person, Swift never saw Esther Johnson. When Swift was absent, how ever, the two ladies occupied his apartments; and Stella became more than ever essential to his happiness.

When they were separated for any length of time Swift wrote to Stella in a sort of baby-talk, which they called "the little language." It was made up of curious abbreviations and childish words, growing more and more complicated as the years went on. It is interesting to think of this stern and often savage genius, who loved to hate, and whose hate was almost less terrible than his love, babbling and prattling in little half caressing sentences, as a mother might babble over her first child. Pedantic writers have professed to find in Swift's use of this "little language" the coming shadow of that insanity which struck him down in his old age.

As it is, these letters are among the curiosities of amatory correspondence. When Swift writes "oo" for "you," and "deelest" for "dearest," and "vely" for "very," there is no need of an interpreter; but "rettle" for "let ter," "dallars" for "girls," and "givar" for "devil," are at first rather difficult to guess. Then there is a system of abbreviating. "Md" means "my dear," "Ppt" means "poppet," and "Pdfr," with which Swift sometimes signed his epistles, "poor, dear, foolish rogue."

The letters reveal how very closely the two were bound together, yet still there was no talk of marriage. On one occasion, after they had been together for three years in Ireland, Stella might have married another man. This was a friend of Swift's, one Dr. Tisdall, who made energetic love to the sweet-faced English girl. Tisdall accused Swift of poisoning Stella's mind against him. Swift replied that such was not the case. He said that no feelings of his own would ever lead him to influence the girl if she preferred another.

It is quite sure, then, that Stella clung wholly to Swift, and cared nothing for the proffered love of any other man. Thus through the years the relations of the two remained unchanged, until in 1710 Swift left Ireland and appeared as a very brilliant figure in the London drawing-rooms of the great Tory leaders of the day.

He was now a man of mark, because of his ability as a controversialist. He had learned the manners of the world, and he carried him self with an air of power which impressed all those who met him. Among these persons was a Miss Hester—or Esther—Vanhomrigh, the daughter of a rather wealthy widow who was living in London at that time. Miss Vanhomrigh—a name which she and her mother pronounced "Vanmeury"—was then seventeen years of age, or twelve years younger than the patient Stella.

Esther Johnson, through her long acquaintance with Swift, and from his confidence in her, had come to treat him almost as an intellectual equal. She knew all his moods, some of which were very difficult, and she bore them all; though when he was most tyrannous she became only passive, waiting, with a woman's wisdom, for the tempest to blow over.

Miss Vanhomrigh, on the other hand, was one of those girls who, though they have high spirit, take an almost voluptuous delight in yielding to a spirit that is stronger still. This beautiful creature felt a positive fascination in Swift's presence and his imperious manner. When his eyes flashed, and his voice thundered out words of anger, she looked at him with adoration, and bowed in a sort of ecstasy before him. If he chose to accost a great lady with "Well, madam, are you as ill-natured and disagreeable as when I met you last?" Esther Vanhomrigh thrilled at the insolent audacity of the man. Her evident fondness for him exercised a seductive influence over Swift.

As the two were thrown more and more together, the girl lost all her self-control. Swift did not in any sense make love to her, though he gave her the somewhat fanciful name of "Vanessa"; but she, driven on by a high-strung, unbridled temperament, made open love to him. When he was about to return to Ireland, there came one startling moment when Vanessa flung herself into the arms of Swift, and amazed him by pouring out a torrent of passionate endearments.

Swift seems to have been surprised. He did what he could to quiet her. He told her that they were too unequal in years and fortune for anything but friendship, and he offered to give her as much friendship as she desired.

Doubtless he thought that, after returning to Ireland, he would not see Vanessa any more. In this, however, he was mistaken. An ardent girl, with a fortune of her own, was not to be kept from the man whom absence only made her love the more. In addition, Swift carried on his correspondence with her, which served to fan the flame and to increase the sway that Swift had already acquired.

Vanessa wrote, and with every letter she burned and pined. Swift replied, and each reply enhanced her yearning for him. Ere long, Vanessa's mother died, and Vanessa herself hastened to Ireland and took up her residence near Dublin. There, for years, was enacted this tragic comedy—Esther Johnson was near Swift, and had all his confidence; Esther Vanhomrigh was kept apart from him, while still receiving missives from him, and, later, even visits.

It was at this time, after he had become dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, in Dublin, that Swift was married to Esther Johnson—for it seems probable that the ceremony took place, though it was nothing more than a form. They still saw each other only in the presence of a third person. Nevertheless, some knowledge of their close relationship leaked out. Stella had been jealous of her rival during the years that Swift spent in London. Vanessa was now told that Swift was married to the other woman, or that she was his mistress. Writhing with jealousy, she wrote directly to Stella, and asked whether she was Dean Swift's wife. In answer Stella replied that she was, and then she sent Vanessa's letter to Swift himself.

All the fury of his nature was roused in him; and he was a man who could be very terrible when angry. He might have remembered the intense love which Vanessa bore for him, the humility with which she had accepted his conditions, and, finally, the loneliness of this girl.

But Swift was utterly unsparing. No gleam of pity entered his heart as he leaped upon a horse and galloped out to Marley Abbey, where she was living—"his prominent eyes arched by jet-black brows and glaring with the green fury of a cat's." Reaching the house, he dashed into it, with something awful in his looks, made his way to Vanessa, threw her letter down upon the table and, after giving her one frightful glare, turned on his heel, and in a moment more was galloping back to Dublin.

The girl fell to the floor in an agony of terror and remorse. She was taken to her room, and only three weeks afterward was carried forth, having died literally of a broken heart.

Five years later, Stella also died, withering away a sacrifice to what the world has called Swift's cruel heartlessness and egotism. His greatest public triumphs came to him in his final years of melancholy isolation; but in spite of the applause that greeted The Drapier Letters and Gulliver's Travels, he brooded morbidly over his past life. At last his powerful mind gave way, so that he died a victim to senile dementia. By his directions his body was interred in the same coffin with Stella's, in the cathedral of which he had been dean.

Such is the story of Dean Swift, and it has always suggested several curious questions. Why, if he loved Stella, did he not marry her long before? Why, when he married her, did he treat her still as if she were not his wife? Why did he allow Vanessa's love to run like a scarlet thread across the fabric of the other affection, which must have been so strong?

Many answers have been given to these questions. That which was formulated by Sir Walter Scott is a simple one, and has been generally accepted. Scott believed that Swift was physically incapacitated for marriage, and that he needed feminine sympathy, which he took where he could get it, without feeling bound to give anything in return.

If Scott's explanation be the true one, it still leaves Swift exposed to ignominy as a monster of ingratitude. Therefore, many of his biographers have sought other explanations. No one can palliate his conduct toward Vanessa; but Sir Leslie Stephen makes a plea for him with reference to Stella. Sir Leslie points out that until Swift became dean of St. Patrick's his income was far too small to marry on, and that after his brilliant but disappointing three years in London, when his prospects of advancement were ruined, he felt himself a broken man.

Furthermore, his health was always precarious, since he suffered from a distressing illness which attacked him at intervals, rendering him both deaf and giddy. The disease is now known as Meniere's disease, from its classification by the French physician, Meniere, in 1861. Swift felt that he lived in constant danger of some sudden stroke that would deprive him either of life or reason; and his ultimate insanity makes it appear that his forebodings were not wholly futile. Therefore, though he married Stella, he kept the marriage secret, thus leaving her free, in case of his demise, to marry as a maiden, and not to be regarded as a widow.

Sir Leslie offers the further plea that, after all, Stella's life was what she chose to make it. She enjoyed Swift's friendship, which she preferred to the love of any other man.

Another view is that of Dr. Richard Garnett, who has discussed the question with some subtlety. "Swift," says Dr. Garnett, "was by nature devoid of passion. He was fully capable of friendship, but not of love. The spiritual realm, whether of divine or earthly things, was a region closed to him, where he never set foot." On the side of friendship he must greatly have preferred Stella to Vanessa, and yet the latter assailed him on his weakest side—on the side of his love of imperious domination.

Vanessa hugged the fetters to which Stella merely submitted. Flattered to excess by her surrender, yet conscious of his obligations and his real preference, he could neither discard the one beauty nor desert the other.

Therefore, he temporized with both of them, and when the choice was forced upon him he madly struck down the woman for whom he cared the less.

One may accept Dr. Garnett's theory with a somewhat altered conclusion. It is not true, as a matter of recorded fact, that Swift was incapable of passion, for when a boy at college he was sought out by various young women, and he sought them out in turn. His fiery letter to Miss Waring points to the same conclusion. When Esther Johnson began to love him he was heart-free, yet unable, because of his straitened means, to marry. But Esther Johnson always appealed more to his reason, his friendship, and his comfort, than to his love, using the word in its material, physical sense. This love was stirred in him by Vanessa. Yet when he met Vanessa he had already gone too far with Esther Johnson to break the bond which had so long united them, nor could he think of a life without her, for she was to him his other self.

At the same time, his more romantic association with Vanessa roused those instincts which he had scarcely known himself to be possessed of. His position was, therefore, most embarrassing. He hoped to end it when he left London and returned to Ireland; but fate was unkind to him in this, because Vanessa followed him. He lacked the will to be frank with her, and thus he stood a wretched, halting victim of his own dual nature.

He was a clergyman, and at heart religious. He had also a sense of honor, and both of these traits compelled him to remain true to Esther Johnson. The terrible outbreak which brought about Vanessa's death was probably the wild frenzy of a tortured soul. It recalls the picture of some fierce animal brought at last to bay, and venting its own anguish upon any object that is within reach of its fangs and claws.

No matter how the story may be told, it makes one shiver, for it is a tragedy in which the three participants all meet their doom—one crushed by a lightning-bolt of unreasoning anger, the other wasting away through hope deferred; while the man whom the world will always hold responsible was himself destined to end his years blind and sleepless, bequeathing his fortune to a madhouse, and saying, with his last muttered breath:

"I am a fool!"


A great deal has been said and written in favor of early marriage; and, in a general way, early marriage may be an admirable thing. Young men and young women who have no special gift of imagination, and who have practically reached their full mental development at twenty-one or twenty-two—or earlier, even in their teens—may marry safely; because they are already what they will be. They are not going to experience any growth upward and outward. Passing years simply bring them more closely together, until they have settled down into a sort of domestic unity, by which they think alike, act alike, and even gradually come to look alike.

But early wedlock spells tragedy to the man or the woman of genius. In their teens they have only begun to grow. What they will be ten years hence, no one can prophesy. Therefore, to mate so early in life is to insure almost certain storm and stress, and, in the end, domestic wreckage.

As a rule, it is the man, and not the woman, who makes the false step; because it is the man who elects to marry when he is still very young. If he choose some ill-fitting, commonplace, and unresponsive nature to match his own, it is he who is bound in the course of time to learn his great mistake. When the splendid eagle shall have got his growth, and shall begin to soar up into the vault of heaven, the poor little barn-yard fowl that he once believed to be his equal seems very far away in everything. He discovers that she is quite unable to follow him in his towering flights.

The story of Percy Bysshe Shelley is a singular one. The circumstances of his early marriage were strange. The breaking of his marriage-bond was also strange. Shelley himself was an extraordinary creature. He was blamed a great deal in his lifetime for what he did, and since then some have echoed the reproach. Yet it would seem as if, at the very beginning of his life, he was put into a false position against his will. Because of this he was misunderstood until the end of his brief and brilliant and erratic career.


In 1792 the French Revolution burst into flame, the mob of Paris stormed the Tuileries, the King of France was cast into a dungeon to await his execution, and the wild sons of anarchy flung their gauntlet of defiance into the face of Europe. In this tremendous year was born young Shelley; and perhaps his nature represented the spirit of the time.

Certainly, neither from his father nor from his mother did he derive that perpetual unrest and that frantic fondness for revolt which blazed out in the poet when he was still a boy. His father, Mr. Timothy Shelley, was a very usual, thick-headed, unromantic English squire. His mother—a woman of much beauty, but of no exceptional traits—was the daughter of another squire, and at the time of her marriage was simply one of ten thousand fresh-faced, pleasant-spoken English country girls. If we look for a strain of the romantic in Shelley's ancestry, we shall have to find it in the person of his grandfather, who was a very remarkable and powerful character.

This person, Bysshe Shelley by name, had in his youth been associated with some mystery. He was not born in England, but in America—and in those days the name "America" meant almost anything indefinite and peculiar. However this might be, Bysshe Shelley, though a scion of a good old English family, had wandered in strange lands, and it was whispered that he had seen strange sights and done strange things. According to one legend, he had been married in America, though no one knew whether his wife was white or black, or how he had got rid of her.

He might have remained in America all his life, had not a small inheritance fallen to his share. This brought him back to England, and he soon found that England was in reality the place to make his fortune. He was a man of magnificent physique. His rovings had given him ease and grace, and the power which comes from a wide experience of life. He could be extremely pleasing when he chose; and he soon won his way into the good graces of a rich heiress, whom he married.

With her wealth he became an important personage, and consorted with gentlemen and statesmen of influence, attaching himself particularly to the Duke of Northumberland, by whose influence he was made a baronet. When his rich wife died, Shelley married a still richer bride; and so this man, who started out as a mere adventurer without a shilling to his name, died in 1813, leaving more than a million dollars in cash, with lands whose rent-roll yielded a hundred thousand dollars every year.

If any touch of the romantic which we find in Shelley is a matter of heredity, we must trace it to this able, daring, restless, and magnificent old grandfather, who was the beau ideal of an English squire—the sort of squire who had added foreign graces to native sturdiness. But young Shelley, the future poet, seemed scarcely to be English at all. As a young boy he cared nothing for athletic sports. He was given to much reading. He thought a good deal about abstractions with which most schoolboys never concern themselves at all.

Consequently, both in private schools and afterward at Eton, he became a sort of rebel against authority. He resisted the fagging-system. He spoke contemptuously of physical prowess. He disliked anything that he was obliged to do, and he rushed eagerly into whatever was forbidden.

Finally, when he was sent to University College, Oxford, he broke all bounds. At a time when Tory England was aghast over the French Revolution and its results, Shelley talked of liberty and equality on all occasions. He made friends with an uncouth but able fellow student, who bore the remarkable name of Thomas Jefferson Hogg—a name that seems rampant with republicanism—and very soon he got himself expelled from the university for publishing a little tract of an infidel character called "A Defense of Atheism."

His expulsion for such a cause naturally shocked his father. It probably disturbed Shelley himself; but, after all, it gave him some satisfaction to be a martyr for the cause of free speech. He went to London with his friend Hogg, and took lodgings there. He read omnivorously—Hogg says as much as sixteen hours a day. He would walk through the most crowded streets poring over a volume, while holding another under one arm.

His mind was full of fancies. He had begun what was afterward called "his passion for reforming everything." He despised most of the laws of England. He thought its Parliament ridiculous. He hated its religion. He was particularly opposed to marriage. This last fact gives some point to the circumstances which almost immediately confronted him.

Shelley was now about nineteen years old—an age at which most English boys are emerging from the public schools, and are still in the hobbledehoy stage of their formation. In a way, he was quite far from boyish; yet in his knowledge of life he was little more than a mere child. He knew nothing thoroughly—much less the ways of men and women. He had no visible means of existence except a small allowance from his father. His four sisters, who were at a boarding-school on Clapham Common, used to save their pin-money and send it to their gifted brother so that he might not actually starve. These sisters he used to call upon from time to time, and through them he made the acquaintance of a sixteen-year-old girl named Harriet Westbrook.

Harriet Westbrook was the daughter of a black-visaged keeper of a coffee-house in Mount Street, called "Jew Westbrook," partly because of his complexion, and partly because of his ability to retain what he had made. He was, indeed, fairly well off, and had sent his younger daughter, Harriet, to the school where Shelley's sisters studied.

Harriet Westbrook seems to have been a most precocious person. Any girl of sixteen is, of course, a great deal older and more mature than a youth of nineteen. In the present instance Harriet might have been Shelley's senior by five years. There is no doubt that she fell in love with him; but, having done so, she by no means acted in the shy and timid way that would have been most natural to a very young girl in her first love-affair. Having decided that she wanted him, she made up her mind to get Mm at any cost, and her audacity was equaled only by his simplicity. She was rather attractive in appearance, with abundant hair, a plump figure, and a pink-and-white complexion. This description makes of her a rather doll-like girl; but doll-like girls are just the sort to attract an inexperienced young man who has yet to learn that beauty and charm are quite distinct from prettiness, and infinitely superior to it.

In addition to her prettiness, Harriet Westbrook had a vivacious manner and talked quite pleasingly. She was likewise not a bad listener; and she would listen by the hour to Shelley in his rhapsodies about chemistry, poetry, the failure of Christianity, the national debt, and human liberty, all of which he jumbled up without much knowledge, but in a lyric strain of impassioned eagerness which would probably have made the multiplication-table thrilling.

For Shelley himself was a creature of extraordinary fascination, both then and afterward. There are no likenesses of him that do him justice, because they cannot convey that singular appeal which the man himself made to almost every one who met him.

The eminent painter, Mulready, once said that Shelley was too beautiful for portraiture; and yet the descriptions of him hardly seem to bear this out. He was quite tall and slender, but he stooped so much as to make him appear undersized. His head was very small-quite disproportionately so; but this was counteracted to the eye by his long and tumbled hair which, when excited, he would rub and twist in a thousand different directions until it was actually bushy. His eyes and mouth were his best features. The former were of a deep violet blue, and when Shelley felt deeply moved they seemed luminous with a wonderful and almost unearthly light. His mouth was finely chiseled, and might be regarded as representing perfection.

One great defect he had, and this might well have overbalanced his attractive face. The defect in question was his voice. One would have expected to hear from him melodious sounds, and vocal tones both rich and penetrating; but, as a matter of fact, his voice was shrill at the very best, and became actually discordant and peacock-like in moments of emotion.

Such, then, was Shelley, star-eyed, with the delicate complexion of a girl, wonderfully mobile in his features, yet speaking in a voice high pitched and almost raucous. For the rest, he arrayed himself with care and in expensive clothing, even though he took no thought of neatness, so that his garments were almost always rumpled and wrinkled from his frequent writhings on couches and on the floor. Shelley had a strange and almost primitive habit of rolling on the earth, and another of thrusting his tousled head close up to the hottest fire in the house, or of lying in the glaring sun when out of doors. It is related that he composed one of his finest poems—"The Cenci"—in Italy, while stretched out with face upturned to an almost tropical sun.

But such as he was, and though he was not yet famous, Harriet Westbrook, the rosy-faced schoolgirl, fell in love with him, and rather plainly let him know that she had done so. There are a thousand ways in which a woman can convey this information without doing anything un-maidenly; and of all these little arts Miss Westbrook was instinctively a mistress.

She played upon Shelley's feelings by telling him that her father was cruel to her, and that he contemplated actions still more cruel. There is something absurdly comical about the grievance which she brought to Shelley; but it is much more comical to note the tremendous seriousness with which he took it. He wrote to his friend Hogg:

Her father has persecuted her in a most horrible way, by endeavoring to compel her to go to school. She asked my advice; resistance was the answer. At the same time I essayed to mollify Mr. Westbrook, in vain! I advised her to resist. She wrote to say that resistance was useless, but that she would fly with me and throw herself on my protection.

Some letters that have recently come to light show that there was a dramatic scene between Harriet Westbrook and Shelley—a scene in the course of which she threw her arms about his neck and wept upon his shoulder. Here was a curious situation. Shelley was not at all in love with her. He had explicitly declared this only a short time before. Yet here was a pretty girl about to suffer the "horrible persecution" of being sent to school, and finding no alternative save to "throw herself on his protection"—in other words, to let him treat her as he would, and to become his mistress.

The absurdity of the situation makes one smile. Common sense should have led some one to box Harriet's ears and send her off to school without a moment's hesitation; while as for Shelley, he should have been told how ludicrous was the whole affair. But he was only nineteen, and she was only sixteen, and the crisis seemed portentous. Nothing could be more flattering to a young man's vanity than to have this girl cast herself upon him for protection. It did not really matter that he had not loved her hitherto, and that he was already half engaged to another Harriet—his cousin, Miss Grove. He could not stop and reason with himself. He must like a true knight rescue lovely girlhood from the horrors of a school!

It is not unlikely that this whole affair was partly managed or manipulated by the girl's father. Jew Westbrook knew that Shelley was related to rich and titled people, and that he was certain, if he lived, to become Sir Percy, and to be the heir of his grandfather's estates. Hence it may be that Harriet's queer conduct was not wholly of her own prompting.

In any case, however, it proved to be successful. Shelley's ardent and impulsive nature could not bear to see a girl in tears and appealing for his help. Hence, though in his heart she was very little to him, his romantic nature gave up for her sake the affection that he had felt for his cousin, his own disbelief in marriage, and finally the common sense which ought to have told him not to marry any one on two hundred pounds a year.

So the pair set off for Edinburgh by stagecoach. It was a weary and most uncomfortable journey. When they reached the Scottish capital, they were married by the Scottish law. Their money was all gone; but their landlord, with a jovial sympathy for romance, let them have a room, and treated them to a rather promiscuous wedding-banquet, in which every one in the house participated.

Such is the story of Shelley's marriage, contracted at nineteen with a girl of sixteen who most certainly lured him on against his own better judgment and in the absence of any actual love.

The girl whom he had taken to himself was a well-meaning little thing. She tried for a time to meet her husband's moods and to be a real companion to him. But what could one expect from such a union? Shelley's father withdrew the income which he had previously given. Jew Westbrook refused to contribute anything, hoping, probably, that this course would bring the Shelleys to the rescue. But as it was, the young pair drifted about from place to place, getting very precarious supplies, running deeper into debt each day, and finding less and less to admire in each other.

Shelley took to laudanum. Harriet dropped her abstruse studies, which she had taken up to please her husband, but which could only puzzle her small brain. She soon developed some of the unpleasant traits of the class to which she belonged. In this her sister Eliza—a hard and grasping middle-aged woman—had her share. She set Harriet against her husband, and made life less endurable for both. She was so much older than the pair that she came in and ruled their household like a typical stepmother.

A child was born, and Shelley very generously went through a second form of marriage, so as to comply with the English law; but by this time there was little hope of righting things again. Shelley was much offended because Harriet would not nurse the child. He believed her hard because she saw without emotion an operation performed upon the infant.

Finally, when Shelley at last came into a considerable sum of money, Harriet and Eliza made no pretense of caring for anything except the spending of it in "bonnet-shops" and on carriages and display. In time—that is to say, in three years after their marriage—Harriet left her husband and went to London and to Bath, prompted by her elder sister.

This proved to be the end of an unfortunate marriage. Word was brought to Shelley that his wife was no longer faithful to him. He, on his side, had carried on a semi-sentimental platonic correspondence with a schoolmistress, one Miss Hitchener. But until now his life had been one great mistake—a life of restlessness, of unsatisfied longing, of a desire that had no name. Then came the perhaps inevitable meeting with the one whom he should have met before.

Shelley had taken a great interest in William Godwin, the writer and radical philosopher. Godwin's household was a strange one. There was Fanny Imlay, a child born out of wedlock, the offspring of Gilbert Imlay, an American merchant, and of Mary Wollstonecraft, whom Godwin had subsequently married. There was also a singularly striking girl who then styled herself Mary Jane Clairmont, and who was afterward known as Claire Clairmont, she and her brother being the early children of Godwin's second wife.

One day in 1814, Shelley called on Godwin, and found there a beautiful young girl in her seventeenth year, "with shapely golden head, a face very pale and pure, a great forehead, earnest hazel eyes, and an expression at once of sensibility and firmness about her delicately curved lips." This was Mary Godwin—one who had inherited her mother's power of mind and likewise her grace and sweetness.

From the very moment of their meeting Shelley and this girl were fated to be joined together, and both of them were well aware of it. Each felt the other's presence exert a magnetic thrill. Each listened eagerly to what the other said. Each thought of nothing, and each cared for nothing, in the other's absence. It was a great compelling elemental force which drove the two together and bound them fast. Beside this marvelous experience, how pale and pitiful and paltry seemed the affectations of Harriet Westbrook!

In little more than a month from the time of their first meeting, Shelley and Mary Godwin and Miss Clairmont left Godwin's house at four o 'clock in the morning, and hurried across the Channel to Calais. They wandered almost like vagabonds across France, eating black bread and the coarsest fare, walking on the highways when they could not afford to ride, and putting up with every possible inconvenience. Yet it is worth noting that neither then nor at any other time did either Shelley or Mary regret what they had done. To the very end of the poet's brief career they were inseparable.

Later he was able to pension Harriet, who, being of a morbid disposition, ended her life by drowning—not, it may be said, because of grief for Shelley. It has been told that Fanny Imlay, Mary's sister, likewise committed suicide because Shelley did not care for her, but this has also been disproved. There was really nothing to mar the inner happiness of the poet and the woman who, at the very end, became his wife. Living, as they did, in Italy and Switzerland, they saw much of their own countrymen, such as Landor and Leigh Hunt and Byron, to whose fascinations poor Miss Clairmont yielded, and became the mother of the little girl Allegra.

But there could have been no truer union than this of Shelley's with the woman whom nature had intended for him. It was in his love-life, far more than in his poetry, that he attained completeness. When he died by drowning, in 1822, and his body was burned in the presence of Lord Byron, he was truly mourned by the one whom he had only lately made his wife. As a poet he never reached the same perfection; for his genius was fitful and uncertain, rare in its flights, and mingled always with that which disappoints.

As the lover and husband of Mary Godwin, there was nothing left to wish. In his verse, however, the truest word concerning him will always be that exquisite sentence of Matthew Arnold:

"A beautiful and ineffectual angel beating his luminous wings against the void in vain."


To most persons, Tennyson was a remote and romantic figure. His homes in the Isle of Wight and at Aldworth had a dignified seclusion about them which was very appropriate to so great a poet, and invested him with a certain awe through which the multitude rarely penetrated. As a matter of fact, however, he was an excellent companion, a ready talker, and gifted with so much wit that it is a pity that more of his sayings have not been preserved to us.

One of the best known is that which was drawn from him after he and a number of friends had been spending an hour in company with Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle. The two Carlyles were unfortunately at their worst, and gave a superb specimen of domestic "nagging." Each caught up whatever the other said, and either turned it into ridicule, or tried to make the author of it an object of contempt.

This was, of course, exceedingly uncomfortable for such strangers as were present, and it certainly gave no pleasure to their friends. On leaving the house, some one said to Tennyson:

"Isn't it a pity that such a couple ever married?"

"No, no," said Tennyson, with a sort of smile under his rough beard. "It's much better that two people should be made unhappy than four."

The world has pretty nearly come around to the verdict of the poet laureate. It is not probable that Thomas Carlyle would have made any woman happy as his wife, or that Jane Baillie Welsh would have made any man happy as her husband.

This sort of speculation would never have occurred had not Mr. Froude, in the early eighties, given his story about the Carlyles to the world. Carlyle went to his grave, an old man, highly honored, and with no trail of gossip behind him. His wife had died some sixteen years before, leaving a brilliant memory. The books of Mr. Froude seemed for a moment to have desecrated the grave, and to have shed a sudden and sinister light upon those who could not make the least defense for themselves.

For a moment, Carlyle seemed to have been a monster of harshness, cruelty, and almost brutish feeling. On the other side, his wife took on the color of an evil-speaking, evil-thinking shrew, who tormented the life of her husband, and allowed herself to be possessed by some demon of unrest and discontent, such as few women of her station are ever known to suffer from.

Nor was it merely that the two were apparently ill-mated and unhappy with each other. There were hints and innuendos which looked toward some hidden cause for this unhappiness, and which aroused the curiosity of every one. That they might be clearer, Froude afterward wrote a book, bringing out more plainly—indeed, too plainly—his explanation of the Carlyle family skeleton. A multitude of documents then came from every quarter, and from almost every one who had known either of the Carlyles. Perhaps the result to-day has been more injurious to Froude than to the two Carlyles.

Many persons unjustly speak of Froude as having violated the confidence of his friends in publishing the letters of Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle. They take no heed of the fact that in doing this he was obeying Carlyle's express wishes, left behind in writing, and often urged on Froude while Carlyle was still alive. Whether or not Froude ought to have accepted such a trust, one may perhaps hesitate to decide. That he did so is probably because he felt that if he refused, Carlyle might commit the same duty to another, who would discharge it with less delicacy and less discretion.

As it is, the blame, if it rests upon any one, should rest upon Carlyle. He collected the letters. He wrote the lines which burn and scorch with self-reproach. It is he who pressed upon the reluctant Froude the duty of printing and publishing a series of documents which, for the most part, should never have been published at all, and which have done equal harm to Carlyle, to his wife, and to Froude himself.

Now that everything has been written that is likely to be written by those claiming to possess personal knowledge of the subject, let us take up the volumes, and likewise the scattered fragments, and seek to penetrate the mystery of the most ill-assorted couple known to modern literature.

It is not necessary to bring to light, and in regular order, the external history of Thomas Carlyle, or of Jane Baillie Welsh, who married him. There is an extraordinary amount of rather fanciful gossip about this marriage, and about the three persons who had to do with it.

Take first the principal figure, Thomas Carlyle. His life until that time had been a good deal more than the life of an ordinary country-man. Many persons represent him as a peasant; but he was descended from the ancient lords of a Scottish manor. There was something in his eye, and in the dominance of his nature, that made his lordly nature felt. Mr. Froude notes that Carlyle's hand was very small and unusually well shaped. Nor had his earliest appearance as a young man been commonplace, in spite of the fact that his parents were illiterate, so that his mother learned to read only after her sons had gone away to Edinburgh, in order that she might be able to enjoy their letters.

At that time in Scotland, as in Puritan New England, in each family the son who had the most notable "pairts" was sent to the university that he might become a clergyman. If there were a second son, he became an advocate or a doctor of medicine, while the sons of less distinction seldom went beyond the parish school, but settled down as farmers, horse-dealers, or whatever might happen to come their way.

In the case of Thomas Carlyle, nature marked him out for something brilliant, whatever that might be. His quick sensibility, the way in which he acquired every sort of learning, his command of logic, and, withal, his swift, unerring gift of language, made it certain from the very first that he must be sent to the university as soon as he had finished school, and could afford to go.

At Edinburgh, where he matriculated in his fourteenth year, he astonished every one by the enormous extent of his reading, and by the firm hold he kept upon it. One hesitates to credit these so-called reminiscences which tell how he absorbed mountains of Greek and immense quantities of political economy and history and sociology and various forms of metaphysics, as every Scotsman is bound to do. That he read all night is a common story told of many a Scottish lad at college. We may believe, however, that Carlyle studied and read as most of his fellow students did, but far beyond them, in extent.

When he had completed about half of his divinity course, he assured himself that he was not intended for the life of a clergyman. One who reads his mocking sayings, or what seemed to be a clever string of jeers directed against religion, might well think that Carlyle was throughout his life an atheist, or an agnostic. He confessed to Irving that he did not believe in the Christian religion, and it was vain to hope that he ever would so believe.

Moreover, Carlyle had done something which was unusual at that time. He had taught in several local schools; but presently he came back to Edinburgh and openly made literature his profession. It was a daring thing to do; but Carlyle had unbounded confidence in himself—the confidence of a giant, striding forth into a forest, certain that he can make his way by sheer strength through the tangled meshes and the knotty branches that he knows will meet him and try to beat him back. Furthermore, he knew how to live on very little; he was unmarried; and he felt a certain ardor which beseemed his age and gifts.

Through the kindness of friends, he received some commissions to write in various books of reference; and in 1824, when he was twenty-nine years of age, he published a translation of Legendre's Geometry. In the same year he published, in the London Magazine, his Life of Schiller, and also his translation of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister. This successful attack upon the London periodicals and reviews led to a certain complication with the other two characters in this story. It takes us to Jane Welsh, and also to Edward Irving.

Irving was three years older than Carlyle. The two men were friends, and both of them had been teaching in country schools, where both of them had come to know Miss Welsh. Irving's seniority gave him a certain prestige with the younger men, and naturally with Miss Welsh. He had won honors at the university, and now, as assistant to the famous Dr. Chalmers, he carried his silk robes in the jaunty fashion of one who has just ceased to be an undergraduate. While studying, he met Miss Welsh at Haddington, and there became her private instructor.

This girl was regarded in her native town as something of a personage. To read what has been written of her, one might suppose that she was almost a miracle of birth and breeding, and of intellect as well. As a matter of fact, in the little town of Haddington she was simply prima inter pares. Her father was the local doctor, and while she had a comfortable home, and doubtless a chaise at her disposal, she was very far from the "opulence" which Carlyle, looking up at her from his lowlier surroundings, was accustomed to ascribe to her. She was, no doubt, a very clever girl; and, judging from the portraits taken of her at about this time, she was an exceedingly pretty one, with beautiful eyes and an abundance of dark glossy hair.

Even then, however, Miss Welsh had traits which might have made it certain that she would be much more agreeable as a friend than as a wife. She had become an intellectuelle quite prematurely—at an age, in fact, when she might better have been thinking of other things than the inwardness of her soul, or the folly of religious belief.

Even as a young girl, she was beset by a desire to criticize and to ridicule almost everything and every one that she encountered. It was only when she met with something that she could not understand, or some one who could do what she could not, that she became comparatively humble. Unconsciously, her chief ambition was to be herself distinguished, and to marry some one who could be more distinguished still.

When she first met Edward Irving, she looked up to him as her superior in many ways. He was a striking figure in her small world. He was known in Edinburgh as likely to be a man of mark; and, of course, he had had a careful training in many subjects of which she, as yet, knew very little. Therefore, insensibly, she fell into a sort of admiration for Irving—an admiration which might have been transmuted into love. Irving, on his side, was taken by the young girl's beauty, her vivacity, and the keenness of her intellect. That he did not at once become her suitor is probably due to the fact that he had already engaged himself to a Miss Martin, of whom not much is known.

It was about this time, however, that Carlyle became acquainted with Miss Welsh. His abundant knowledge, his original and striking manner of commenting on it, his almost gigantic intellectual power, came to her as a revelation. Her studies with Irving were now interwoven with her admiration for Carlyle.

Since Irving was a clergyman, and Miss Welsh had not the slightest belief in any form of theology, there was comparatively little that they had in common. On the other hand, when she saw the profundities of Carlyle, she at once half feared, and was half fascinated. Let her speak to him on any subject, and he would at once thunder forth some striking truth, or it might be some puzzling paradox; but what he said could never fail to interest her and to make her think. He had, too, an infinite sense of humor, often whimsical and shot through with sarcasm.

It is no wonder that Miss Welsh was more and more infatuated with the nature of Carlyle. If it was her conscious wish to marry a man whom she could reverence as a master, where should she find him—in Irving or in Carlyle?

Irving was a dreamer, a man who, she came to see, was thoroughly one-sided, and whose interests lay in a different sphere from hers. Carlyle, on the other hand, had already reached out beyond the little Scottish capital, and had made his mark in the great world of London, where men like De Quincey and Jeffrey thought it worth their while to run a tilt with him. Then, too, there was the fascination of his talk, in which Jane Welsh found a perpetual source of interest:

The English have never had an artist, except in poetry; no musician; no painter. Purcell and Hogarth are not exceptions, or only such as confirm the rule.

Is the true Scotchman the peasant and yeoman—chiefly the former?

Every living man is a visible mystery; he walks between two eternities and two infinitudes. Were we not blind as molea we should value our humanity at infinity, and our rank, influence and so forth—the trappings of our humanity—at nothing. Say I am a man, and you say all. Whether king or tinker is a mere appendix.

Understanding is to reason as the talent of a beaver—which can build houses, and uses its tail for a trowel—to the genius of a prophet and poet. Reason is all but extinct in this age; it can never be altogether extinguished.

The devil has his elect.

Is anything more wonderful than another, if you consider it maturely? I have seen no men rise from the dead; I have seen some thousands rise from nothing. I have not force to fly into the sun, but I have force to lift my hand, which is equally strange.

Is not every thought properly an inspiration? Or how is one thing more inspired than another?

Examine by logic the import of thy life, and of all lives. What is it? A making of meal into manure, and of manure into meal. To the cui bono there is no answer from logic.

In many ways Jane Welsh found the difference of range between Carlyle and Irving. At one time, she asked Irving about some German works, and he was obliged to send her to Carlyle to solve her difficulties. Carlyle knew German almost as well as if he had been born in Dresden; and the full and almost overflowing way in which he answered her gave her another impression of his potency. Thus she weighed the two men who might become her lovers, and little by little she came to think of Irving as partly shallow and partly narrow-minded, while Carlyle loomed up more of a giant than before.

It is not probable that she was a woman who could love profoundly. She thought too much about herself. She was too critical. She had too intense an ambition for "showing off." I can imagine that in the end she made her choice quite coolly. She was flattered by Carlyle's strong preference for her. She was perhaps repelled by Irving's engagement to another woman; yet at the time few persons thought that she had chosen well.

Irving had now gone to London, and had become the pastor of the Caledonian chapel in Hatton Garden. Within a year, by the extraordinary power of his eloquence, which, was in a style peculiar to himself, he had transformed an obscure little chapel into one which was crowded by the rich and fashionable. His congregation built for him a handsome edifice on Regent Square, and he became the leader of a new cult, which looked to a second personal advent of Christ. He cared nothing for the charges of heresy which were brought against him; and when he was deposed his congregation followed him, and developed a new Christian order, known as Irvingism.

Jane Welsh, in her musings, might rightfully have compared the two men and the future which each could give her. Did she marry Irving, she was certain of a life of ease in London, and an association with men and women of fashion and celebrity, among whom she could show herself to be the gifted woman that she was. Did she marry Carlyle, she must go with him to a desolate, wind-beaten cottage, far away from any of the things she cared for, working almost as a housemaid, having no company save that of her husband, who was already a dyspeptic, and who was wont to speak of feeling as if a rat were tearing out his stomach.

Who would have said that in going with Carlyle she had made the better choice? Any one would have said it who knew the three—Irving, Carlyle, and Jane Welsh.

She had the penetration to be certain that whatever Irving might possess at present, it would be nothing in comparison to what Carlyle would have in the coming future. She understood the limitations of Irving, but to her keen mind the genius of Carlyle was unlimited; and she foresaw that, after he had toiled and striven, he would come into his great reward, which she would share. Irving might be the leader of a petty sect, but Carlyle would be a man whose name must become known throughout the world.

And so, in 1826, she had made her choice, and had become the bride of the rough-spoken, domineering Scotsman who had to face the world with nothing but his creative brain and his stubborn independence. She had put aside all immediate thought of London and its lures; she was going to cast in her lot with Carlyle's, largely as a matter of calculation, and believing that she had made the better choice.

She was twenty-six and Carlyle was thirty-two when, after a brief residence in Edinburgh, they went down to Craigenputtock. Froude has described this place as the dreariest spot in the British dominions:

The nearest cottage is more than a mile from it; the elevation, seven hundred feet above the sea, stunts the trees and limits the garden produce; the house is gaunt and hungry-looking. It stands, with the scanty fields attached, as an island in a sea of morass. The landscape is unredeemed by grace or grandeur—mere undulating hills of grass and heather, with peat bogs in the hollows between them.

Froude's grim description has been questioned by some; yet the actual pictures that have been drawn of the place in later years make it look bare, desolate, and uninviting. Mrs. Carlyle, who owned it as an inheritance from her father, saw the place for the first time in March, 1828. She settled there in May; but May, in the Scottish hills, is almost as repellent as winter. She herself shrank from the adventure which she had proposed. It was her husband's notion, and her own, that they should live there in practical solitude. He was to think and write, and make for himself a beginning of real fame; while she was to hover over him and watch his minor comforts.

It seemed to many of their friends that the project was quixotic to a degree. Mrs. Carlyle delicate health, her weak chest, and the beginning of a nervous disorder, made them think that she was unfit to dwell in so wild and bleak a solitude. They felt, too, that Carlyle was too much absorbed with his own thought to be trusted with the charge of a high-spirited woman.

However, the decision had been made, and the newly married couple went to Craigenputtock, with wagons that carried their household goods and those of Carlyle's brother, Alexander, who lived in a cottage near by. These were the two redeeming features of their lonely home—the presence of Alexander Carlyle, and the fact that, although they had no servants in the ordinary sense, there were several farmhands and a dairy-maid.

Before long there came a period of trouble, which is easily explained by what has been already said. Carlyle, thinking and writing some of the most beautiful things that he ever thought or wrote, could not make allowance for his wife's high spirit and physical weakness. She, on her side—nervous, fitful, and hard to please—thought herself a slave, the servant of a harsh and brutal master. She screamed at him when her nerves were too unstrung; and then, with a natural reaction, she called herself "a devil who could never be good enough for him." But most of her letters were harsh and filled with bitterness, and, no doubt, his conduct to her was at times no better than her own.

But it was at Craigenputtock that he really did lay fast and firm the road to fame. His wife's sharp tongue, and the gnawings of his own dyspepsia, were lived down with true Scottish grimness. It was here that he wrote some of his most penetrating and sympathetic essays, which were published by the leading reviews of England and Scotland. Here, too, he began to teach his countrymen the value of German literature.

The most remarkable of his productions was that strange work entitled Sartor Resartus (1834), an extraordinary mixture of the sublime and the grotesque. The book quivers and shakes with tragic pathos, with inward agonies, with solemn aspirations, and with riotous humor.

In 1834, after six years at Craigenputtock, the Carlyles moved to London, and took up their home in Cheyne Row, Chelsea, a far from fashionable retreat, but one in which the comforts of life could be more readily secured. It was there that Thomas Carlyle wrote what must seem to us the most vivid of all his books, the History of the French Revolution. For this he had read and thought for many years; parts of it he had written in essays, and parts of it he had jotted down in journals. But now it came forth, as some one has said, "a truth clad in hell-fire," swirling amid clouds and flames and mist, a most wonderful picture of the accumulated social and political falsehoods which preceded the revolution, and which were swept away by a nemesis that was the righteous judgment of God.

Carlyle never wrote so great a book as this. He had reached his middle style, having passed the clarity of his early writings, and not having yet reached the thunderous, strange-mouthed German expletives which marred his later work. In the French Revolution he bursts forth, here and there, into furious Gallic oaths and Gargantuan epithets; yet this apocalypse of France seems more true than his hero-worshiping of old Frederick of Prussia, or even of English Cromwell.

All these days Thomas Carlyle lived a life which was partly one of seclusion and partly one of pleasure. At all times he and his dark-haired wife had their own sets, and mingled with their own friends. Jane had no means of discovering just whether she would have been happier with Irving; for Irving died while she was still digging potatoes and complaining of her lot at Craigenputtock.

However this may be, the Carlyles, man and wife, lived an existence that was full of unhappiness and rancor. Jane Carlyle became an invalid, and sought to allay her nervous sufferings with strong tea and tobacco and morphin. When a nervous woman takes to morphin, it almost always means that she becomes intensely jealous; and so it was with Jane Carlyle.

A shivering, palpitating, fiercely loyal bit of humanity, she took it into her head that her husband was infatuated with Lady Ashburton, or that Lady Ashburton was infatuated with him. She took to spying on them, and at times, when her nerves were all a jangle, she would lie back in her armchair and yell with paroxysms of anger. On the other hand, Carlyle, eager to enjoy the world, sought relief from his household cares, and sometimes stole away after a fashion that was hardly guileless. He would leave false addresses at his house, and would dine at other places than he had announced.

In 1866 Jane Carlyle suddenly died; and somehow, then, the conscience of Thomas Carlyle became convinced that he had wronged the woman whom he had really loved. His last fifteen years were spent in wretchedness and despair. He felt that he had committed the unpardonable sin. He recalled with anguish every moment of their early life at Craigenputtock—how she had toiled for him, and waited upon him, and made herself a slave; and how, later, she had given herself up entirely to him, while he had thoughtlessly received the sacrifice, and trampled on it as on a bed of flowers.

Of course, in all this he was intensely morbid, and the diary which he wrote was no more sane and wholesome than the screamings with which his wife had horrified her friends. But when he had grown to be a very old man, he came to feel that this was all a sort of penance, and that the selfishness of his past must be expiated in the future. Therefore, he gave his diary to his friend, the historian, Froude, and urged him to publish the letters and memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle. Mr. Froude, with an eye to the reading world, readily did so, furnishing them with abundant footnotes, which made Carlyle appear to the world as more or less of a monster.

First, there was set forth the almost continual unhappiness of the pair. In the second place, by hint, by innuendo, and sometimes by explicit statement, there were given reasons to show why Carlyle made his wife unhappy. Of course, his gnawing dyspepsia, which she strove with all her might to drive away, was one of the first and greatest causes. But again another cause of discontent was stated in the implication that Carlyle, in his bursts of temper, actually abused his wife. In one passage there is a hint that certain blue marks upon her arm were bruises, the result of blows.

Most remarkable of all these accusations is that which has to do with the relations of Carlyle and Lady Ashburton. There is no doubt that Jane Carlyle disliked this brilliant woman, and came to have dark suspicions concerning her. At first, it was only a sort of social jealousy. Lady Ashburton was quite as clever a talker as Mrs. Carlyle, and she had a prestige which brought her more admiration.

Then, by degrees, as Jane Carlyle's mind began to wane, she transferred her jealousy to her husband himself. She hated to be out-shone, and now, in some misguided fashion, it came into her head that Carlyle had surrendered to Lady Ashburton his own attention to his wife, and had fallen in love with her brilliant rival.

On one occasion, she declared that Lady Ashburton had thrown herself at Carlyle's feet, but that Carlyle had acted like a man of honor, while Lord Ashburton, knowing all the facts, had passed them over, and had retained his friendship with Carlyle.

Now, when Froude came to write My Relations with Carlyle, there were those who were very eager to furnish him with every sort of gossip. The greatest source of scandal upon which he drew was a woman named Geraldine Jewsbury, a curious neurotic creature, who had seen much of the late Mrs. Carlyle, but who had an almost morbid love of offensive tattle. Froude describes himself as a witness for six years, at Cheyne Row, "of the enactment of a tragedy as stern and real as the story of Oedipus." According to his own account:

I stood by, consenting to the slow martyrdom of a woman whom I have described as bright and sparkling and tender, and I uttered no word of remonstrance. I saw her involved in a perpetual blizzard, and did nothing to shelter her.

But it is not upon his own observations that Froude relies for his most sinister evidence against his friend. To him comes Miss Jewsbury with a lengthy tale to tell. It is well to know what Mrs. Carlyle thought of this lady. She wrote:

It is her besetting sin, and her trade of novelist has aggravated it—the desire of feeling and producing violent emotions.... Geraldine has one besetting weakness; she is never happy unless she has a grande passion on hand.

There were strange manifestations on the part of Miss Jewsbury toward Mrs. Carlyle. At one time, when Mrs. Carlyle had shown some preference for another woman, it led to a wild outburst of what Miss Jewsbury herself called "tiger jealousy." There are many other instances of violent emotions in her letters to Mrs. Carlyle. They are often highly charged and erotic. It is unusual for a woman of thirty-two to write to a woman friend, who is forty-three years of age, in these words, which Miss Jewsbury used in writing to Mrs. Carlyle:

You are never out of my thoughts one hour together. I think of you much more than if you were my lover. I cannot express my feelings, even to you—vague, undefined yearnings to be yours in some way.

Mrs. Carlyle was accustomed, in private, to speak of Miss Jewsbury as "Miss Gooseberry," while Carlyle himself said that she was simply "a flimsy tatter of a creature." But it is on the testimony of this one woman, who was so morbid and excitable, that the most serious accusations against Carlyle rest. She knew that Froude was writing a volume about Mrs. Carlyle, and she rushed to him, eager to furnish any narratives, however strange, improbable, or salacious they might be.

Thus she is the sponsor of the Ashburton story, in which there is nothing whatsoever. Some of the letters which Lady Ashburton wrote Carlyle have been destroyed, but not before her husband had perused them. Another set of letters had never been read by Lord Ashburton at all, and they are still preserved—friendly, harmless, usual letters. Lord Ashburton always invited Carlyle to his house, and there is no reason to think that the Scottish philosopher wronged him.

There is much more to be said about the charge that Mrs. Carlyle suffered from personal abuse; yet when we examine the facts, the evidence resolves itself into practically nothing. That, in his self-absorption, he allowed her to Sending Completed Page, Please Wait... overflowed toward a man who must have been a manly, loving lover. She calls him by the name by which he called her—a homely Scottish name.


You said you would weary, and I do hope in my heart you are wearying. It will be so sweet to make it all up to you in kisses when I return. You will take me and hear all my bits of experiences, and your heart will beat when you find how I have longed to return to you. Darling, dearest, loveliest, the Lord bless you! I think of you every hour, every moment. I love you and admire you, like—like anything. Oh, if I was there, I could put my arms so close about your neck, and hush you into the softest sleep you have had since I went away. Good night. Dream of me. I am ever YOUR OWN GOODY.

It seems most fitting to remember Thomas Carlyle as a man of strength, of honor, and of intellect; and his wife as one who was sorely tried, but who came out of her suffering into the arms of death, purified and calm and worthy to be remembered by her husband's side.


Victor Hugo, after all criticisms have been made, stands as a literary colossus. He had imaginative power which makes his finest passages fairly crash upon the reader's brain like blasting thunderbolts. His novels, even when translated, are read and reread by people of every degree of education. There is something vast, something almost Titanic, about the grandeur and gorgeousness of his fancy. His prose resembles the sonorous blare of an immense military band. Readers of English care less for his poetry; yet in his verse one can find another phase of his intellect. He could write charmingly, in exquisite cadences, poems for lovers and for little children. His gifts were varied, and he knew thoroughly the life and thought of his own countrymen; and, therefore, in his later days he was almost deified by them.

At the same time, there were defects in his intellect and character which are perceptible in what he wrote, as well as in what he did. He had the Gallic wit in great measure, but he was absolutely devoid of any sense of humor. This is why, in both his prose and his poetry, his most tremendous pages often come perilously near to bombast; and this is why, again, as a man, his vanity was almost as great as his genius. He had good reason to be vain, and yet, if he had possessed a gleam of humor, he would never have allowed his egoism to make him arrogant. As it was, he felt himself exalted above other mortals. Whatever he did or said or wrote was right because he did it or said it or wrote it.

This often showed itself in rather whimsical ways. Thus, after he had published the first edition of his novel, The Man Who Laughs, an English gentleman called upon him, and, after some courteous compliments, suggested that in subsequent editions the name of an English peer who figures in the book should be changed from Tom Jim-Jack.

"For," said the Englishman, "Tom Jim-Jack is a name that could not possibly belong to an English noble, or, indeed, to any Englishman. The presence of it in your powerful story makes it seem to English readers a little grotesque."

Victor Hugo drew himself up with an air of high disdain.

"Who are you?" asked he.

"I am an Englishman," was the answer, "and naturally I know what names are possible in English."

Hugo drew himself up still higher, and on his face there was a smile of utter contempt.

"Yes," said he. "You are an Englishman; but I—I am Victor Hugo."

In another book Hugo had spoken of the Scottish bagpipes as "bugpipes." This gave some offense to his Scottish admirers. A great many persons told him that the word was "bagpipes," and not "bugpipes." But he replied with irritable obstinacy:

"I am Victor Hugo; and if I choose to write it 'bugpipes,' it IS 'bugpipes.' It is anything that I prefer to make it. It is so, because I call it so!"

So, Victor Hugo became a violent republican, because he did not wish France to be an empire or a kingdom, in which an emperor or a king would be his superior in rank. He always spoke of Napoleon III as "M. Bonaparte." He refused to call upon the gentle-mannered Emperor of Brazil, because he was an emperor; although Dom Pedro expressed an earnest desire to meet the poet.

When the German army was besieging Paris, Hugo proposed to fight a duel with the King of Prussia, and to have the result of it settle the war; "for," said he, "the King of Prussia is a great king, but I am Victor Hugo, the great poet. We are, therefore, equal."

In spite, however, of his ardent republicanism, he was very fond of speaking of his own noble descent. Again and again he styled himself "a peer of France;" and he and his family made frequent allusions to the knights and bishops and counselors of state with whom he claimed an ancestral relation. This was more than inconsistent. It was somewhat ludicrous; because Victor Hugo's ancestry was by no means noble. The Hugos of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were not in any way related to the poet's family, which was eminently honest and respectable, but by no means one of distinction. His grandfather was a carpenter. One of his aunts was the wife of a baker, another of a barber, while the third earned her living as a provincial dressmaker.

If the poet had been less vain and more sincerely democratic, he would have been proud to think that he sprang from good, sound, sturdy stock, and would have laughed at titles. As it was, he jeered at all pretensions of rank in other men, while he claimed for himself distinctions that were not really his. His father was a soldier who rose from the ranks until, under Napoleon, he reached the grade of general. His mother was the daughter of a ship owner in Nantes.

Victor Hugo was born in February, 1802, during the Napoleonic wars, and his early years were spent among the camps and within the sound of the cannon-thunder. It was fitting that he should have been born and reared in an age of upheaval, revolt, and battle. He was essentially the laureate of revolt; and in some of his novels—as in Ninety-Three—the drum and the trumpet roll and ring through every chapter.

The present paper has, of course, nothing to do with Hugo's public life; yet it is necessary to remember the complicated nature of the man—all his power, all his sweetness of disposition, and likewise all his vanity and his eccentricities. We must remember, also, that he was French, so that his story may be interpreted in the light of the French character.

At the age of fifteen he was domiciled in Paris, and though still a schoolboy and destined for the study of law, he dreamed only of poetry and of literature. He received honorable mention from the French Academy in 1817, and in the following year took prizes in a poetical competition. At seventeen he began the publication of a literary journal, which survived until 1821. His astonishing energy became evident in the many publications which he put forth in these boyish days. He began to become known. Although poetry, then as now, was not very profitable even when it was admired, one of his slender volumes brought him the sum of seven hundred francs, which seemed to him not only a fortune in itself, but the forerunner of still greater prosperity.

It was at this time, while still only twenty years of age, that he met a young girl of eighteen with whom he fell rather tempestuously in love. Her name was Adele Foucher, and she was the daughter of a clerk in the War Office. When one is very young and also a poet, it takes very little to feed the flame of passion. Victor Hugo was often a guest at the apartments of M. Foucher, where he was received by that gentleman and his family. French etiquette, of course, forbade any direct communication between the visitor and Adele. She was still a very young girl, and was supposed to take no share in the conversation. Therefore, while the others talked, she sat demurely by the fireside and sewed.

Her dark eyes and abundant hair, her grace of manner, and the picture which she made as the firelight played about her, kindled a flame in the susceptible heart of Victor Hugo. Though he could not speak to her, he at least could look at her; and, before long, his share in the conversation was very slight. This was set down, at first, to his absent-mindedness; but looks can be as eloquent as spoken words. Mme. Foucher, with a woman's keen intelligence, noted the adoring gaze of Victor Hugo as he silently watched her daughter. The young Adele herself was no less intuitive than her mother. It was very well understood, in the course of a few months, that Victor Hugo was in love with Adele Foucher.

Her father and mother took counsel about the matter, and Hugo himself, in a burst of lyrical eloquence, confessed that he adored Adele and wished to marry her. Her parents naturally objected. The girl was but a child. She had no dowry, nor had Victor Hugo any settled income. They were not to think of marriage. But when did a common-sense decision, such as this, ever separate a man and a woman who have felt the thrill of first love! Victor Hugo was insistent. With his supreme self-confidence, he declared that he was bound to be successful, and that in a very short time he would be illustrious. Adele, on her side, created "an atmosphere" at home by weeping frequently, and by going about with hollow eyes and wistful looks.

The Foucher family removed from Paris to a country town. Victor Hugo immediately followed them. Fortunately for him, his poems had attracted the attention of Louis XVIII, who was flattered by some of the verses. He sent Hugo five hundred francs for an ode, and soon afterward settled upon him a pension of a thousand francs. Here at least was an income—a very small one, to be sure, but still an income. Perhaps Adele's father was impressed not so much by the actual money as by the evidence of the royal favor. At any rate, he withdrew his opposition, and the two young people were married in October, 1822—both of them being under age, unformed, and immature.

Their story is another warning against too early marriage. It is true that they lived together until Mme. Hugo's death—a married life of forty-six years—yet their story presents phases which would have made this impossible had they not been French.

For a time, Hugo devoted all his energies to work. The record of his steady upward progress is a part of the history of literature, and need not be repeated here. The poet and his wife were soon able to leave the latter's family abode, and to set up their own household god in a home which was their own. Around them there were gathered, in a sort of salon, all the best-known writers of the day—dramatists, critics, poets, and romancers. The Hugos knew everybody.

Unfortunately, one of their visitors cast into their new life a drop of corroding bitterness. This intruder was Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, a man two years younger than Victor Hugo, and one who blended learning, imagination, and a gift of critical analysis. Sainte-Beuve is to-day best remembered as a critic, and he was perhaps the greatest critic ever known in France. But in 1830 he was a slender, insinuating youth who cultivated a gift for sensuous and somewhat morbid poetry.

He had won Victor Hugo's friendship by writing an enthusiastic notice of Hugo's dramatic works. Hugo, in turn, styled Sainte-Beuve "an eagle," "a blazing star," and paid him other compliments no less gorgeous and Hugoesque. But in truth, if Sainte-Beuve frequented the Hugo salon, it was less because of his admiration for the poet than from his desire to win the love of the poet's wife.

It is quite impossible to say how far he attracted the serious attention of Adele Hugo. Sainte-Beuve represents a curious type, which is far more common in France and Italy than in the countries of the north. Human nature is not very different in cultivated circles anywhere. Man loves, and seeks to win the object of his love; or, as the old English proverb has it:

    It's a man's part to try,
    And a woman's to deny.

But only in the Latin countries do men who have tried make their attempts public, and seek to produce an impression that they have been successful, and that the woman has not denied. This sort of man, in English-speaking lands, is set down simply as a cad, and is excluded from people's houses; but in some other countries the thing is regarded with a certain amount of toleration. We see it in the two books written respectively by Alfred de Musset and George Sand. We have seen it still later in our own times, in that strange and half-repulsive story in which the Italian novelist and poet, Gabriele d'Annunzio, under a very thin disguise, revealed his relations with the famous actress, Eleanora Duse. Anglo-Saxons thrust such books aside with a feeling of disgust for the man who could so betray a sacred confidence and perhaps exaggerate a simple indiscretion into actual guilt. But it is not so in France and Italy. And this is precisely what Sainte-Beuve attempted.

Dr. George McLean Harper, in his lately published study of Sainte-Beuve, has summed the matter up admirably, in speaking of The Book of Love:

He had the vein of emotional self-disclosure, the vein of romantic or sentimental confession. This last was not a rich lode, and so he was at pains to charge it secretly with ore which he exhumed gloatingly, but which was really base metal. The impulse that led him along this false route was partly ambition, partly sensuality. Many a worse man would have been restrained by self-respect and good taste. And no man with a sense of honor would have permitted The Book of Love to see the light—a small collection of verses recording his passion for Mme. Hugo, and designed to implicate her.

He left two hundred and five printed copies of this book to be distributed after his death. A virulent enemy of Sainte-Beuve was not too expressive when he declared that its purpose was "to leave on the life of this woman the gleaming and slimy trace which the passage of a snail leaves on a rose." Abominable in either case, whether or not the implication was unfounded, Sainte-Beuve's numerous innuendoes in regard to Mme. Hugo are an indelible stain on his memory, and his infamy not only cost him his most precious friendships, but crippled him in every high endeavor.

How monstrous was this violation of both friendship and love may be seen in the following quotation from his writings:

In that inevitable hour, when the gloomy tempest and the jealous gulf shall roll over our heads, a sealed bottle, belched forth from the abyss, will render immortal our two names, their close alliance, and our double memory aspiring after union.

Whether or not Mme. Hugo's relations with Sainte-Beuve justified the latter even in thinking such thoughts as these, one need not inquire too minutely. Evidently, though, Victor Hugo could no longer be the friend of the man who almost openly boasted that he had dishonored him. There exist some sharp letters which passed between Hugo and Sainte-Beuve. Their intimacy was ended.

But there was something more serious than this. Sainte-Beuve had in fact succeeded in leaving a taint upon the name of Victor Hugo's wife. That Hugo did not repudiate her makes it fairly plain that she was innocent; yet a high-spirited, sensitive soul like Hugo's could never forget that in the world's eye she was compromised. The two still lived together as before; but now the poet felt himself released from the strict obligations of the marriage-bond.

It may perhaps be doubted whether he would in any case have remained faithful all his life. He was, as Mr. H.W. Wack well says, "a man of powerful sensations, physically as well as mentally. Hugo pursued every opportunity for new work, new sensations, fresh emotion. He desired to absorb as much on life's eager forward way as his great nature craved. His range in all things—mental, physical, and spiritual—was so far beyond the ordinary that the gage of average cannot be applied to him. The cavil of the moralist did not disturb him."

Hence, it is not improbable that Victor Hugo might have broken through the bonds of marital fidelity, even had Sainte-Beuve never written his abnormal poems; but certainly these poems hastened a result which may or may not have been otherwise inevitable. Hugo no longer turned wholly to the dark-haired, dark-eyed Adele as summing up for him the whole of womanhood. A veil was drawn, as it were, from before his eyes, and he looked on other women and found them beautiful.

It was in 1833, soon after Hugo's play "Lucrece Borgia" had been accepted for production, that a lady called one morning at Hugo's house in the Place Royale. She was then between twenty and thirty years of age, slight of figure, winsome in her bearing, and one who knew the arts which appeal to men. For she was no inexperienced ingenue. The name upon her visiting-card was "Mme. Drouet"; and by this name she had been known in Paris as a clever and somewhat gifted actress. Theophile Gautier, whose cult was the worship of physical beauty, wrote in almost lyric prose of her seductive charm.

At nineteen, after she had been cast upon the world, dowered with that terrible combination, poverty and beauty, she had lived openly with a sculptor named Pradier. This has a certain importance in the history of French art. Pradier had received a commission to execute a statue representing Strasburg—the statue which stands to-day in the Place de la Concorde, and which patriotic Frenchmen and Frenchwomen drape in mourning and half bury in immortelles, in memory of that city of Alsace which so long was French, but which to-day is German—one of Germany's great prizes taken in the war of 1870.

Five years before her meeting with Hugo, Pradier had rather brutally severed his connection with her, and she had accepted the protection of a Russian nobleman. At this time she was known by her real name—Julienne Josephine Gauvin; but having gone upon the stage, she assumed the appellation by which she was thereafter known, that of Juliette Drouet.

Her visit to Hugo was for the purpose of asking him to secure for her a part in his forth-coming play. The dramatist was willing, but unfortunately all the major characters had been provided for, and he was able to offer her only the minor one of the Princesse Negroni. The charming deference with which she accepted the offered part attracted Hugo's attention. Such amiability is very rare in actresses who have had engagements at the best theaters. He resolved to see her again; and he did so, time after time, until he was thoroughly captivated by her.

She knew her value, and as yet was by no means infatuated with him. At first he was to her simply a means of getting on in her profession—simply another influential acquaintance. Yet she brought to bear upon him the arts at her command, her beauty and her sympathy, and, last of all, her passionate abandonment.

Hugo was overwhelmed by her. He found that she was in debt, and he managed to see that her debts were paid. He secured her other engagements at the theater, though she was less successful as an actress after she knew him. There came, for a time, a short break in their relations; for, partly out of need, she returned to her Russian nobleman, or at least admitted him to a menage a trois. Hugo underwent for a second time a great disillusionment. Nevertheless, he was not too proud to return to her and to beg her not to be unfaithful any more. Touched by his tears, and perhaps foreseeing his future fame, she gave her promise, and she kept it until her death, nearly half a century later.

Perhaps because she had deceived him once, Hugo never completely lost his prudence in his association with her. He was by no means lavish with money, and he installed her in a rather simple apartment only a short distance from his own home. He gave her an allowance that was relatively small, though later he provided for her amply in his will. But it was to her that he brought all his confidences, to her he entrusted all his interests. She became to him, thenceforth, much more than she appeared to the world at large; for she was his friend, and, as he said, his inspiration.

The fact of their intimate connection became gradually known through Paris. It was known even to Mme. Hugo; but she, remembering the affair of Sainte-Beuve, or knowing how difficult it is to check the will of a man like Hugo, made no sign, and even received Juliette Drouet in her own house and visited her in turn. When the poet's sons grew up to manhood, they, too, spent many hours with their father in the little salon of the former actress. It was a strange and, to an Anglo-Saxon mind, an almost impossible position; yet France forgives much to genius, and in time no one thought of commenting on Hugo's manner of life.

In 1851, when Napoleon III seized upon the government, and when Hugo was in danger of arrest, she assisted him to escape in disguise, and with a forged passport, across the Belgian frontier. During his long exile in Guernsey she lived in the same close relationship to him and to his family. Mme. Hugo died in 1868, having known for thirty-three years that she was only second in her husband's thoughts. Was she doing penance, or was she merely accepting the inevitable? In any case, her position was most pathetic, though she uttered no complaint.

A very curious and poignant picture of her just before her death has been given by the pen of a visitor in Guernsey. He had met Hugo and his sons; he had seen the great novelist eating enormous slices of roast beef and drinking great goblets of red wine at dinner, and he had also watched him early each morning, divested of all his clothing and splashing about in a bath-tub on the top of his house, in view of all the town. One evening he called and found only Mme. Hugo. She was reclining on a couch, and was evidently suffering great pain. Surprised, he asked where were her husband and her sons.

"Oh," she replied, "they've all gone to Mme. Drouet's to spend the evening and enjoy themselves. Go also; you'll not find it amusing here."

One ponders over this sad scene with conflicting thoughts. Was there really any truth in the story at which Sainte-Beuve more than hinted? If so, Adele Hugo was more than punished. The other woman had sinned far more; and yet she had never been Hugo's wife; and hence perhaps it was right that she should suffer less. Suffer she did; for after her devotion to Hugo had become sincere and deep, he betrayed her confidence by an intrigue with a girl who is spoken of as "Claire." The knowledge of it caused her infinite anguish, but it all came to an end; and she lived past her eightieth year, long after the death of Mme. Hugo. She died only a short time before the poet himself was laid to rest in Paris with magnificent obsequies which an emperor might have envied. In her old age, Juliette Drouet became very white and very wan; yet she never quite lost the charm with which, as a girl, she had won the heart of Hugo.

The story has many aspects. One may see in it a retribution, or one may see in it only the cruelty of life. Perhaps it is best regarded simply as a chapter in the strange life-histories of men of genius.


To the student of feminine psychology there is no more curious and complex problem than the one that meets us in the life of the gifted French writer best known to the world as George Sand.

To analyze this woman simply as a writer would in itself be a long, difficult task. She wrote voluminously, with a fluid rather than a fluent pen. She scandalized her contemporaries by her theories, and by the way in which she applied them in her novels. Her fiction made her, in the history of French literature, second only to Victor Hugo. She might even challenge Hugo, because where he depicts strange and monstrous figures, exaggerated beyond the limits of actual life, George Sand portrays living men and women, whose instincts and desires she understands, and whom she makes us see precisely as if we were admitted to their intimacy.

But George Sand puzzles us most by peculiarities which it is difficult for us to reconcile. She seemed to have no sense of chastity whatever; yet, on the other hand, she was not grossly sensual. She possessed the maternal instinct to a high degree, and liked better to be a mother than a mistress to the men whose love she sought. For she did seek men's love, frankly and shamelessly, only to tire of it. In many cases she seems to have been swayed by vanity, and by a love of conquest, rather than by passion. She had also a spiritual, imaginative side to her nature, and she could be a far better comrade than anything more intimate.

The name given to this strange genius at birth was Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin. The circumstances of her ancestry and birth were quite unusual. Her father was a lieutenant in the French army. His grandmother had been the natural daughter of Marshal Saxe, who was himself the illegitimate son of Augustus the Strong of Poland and of the bewitching Countess of Konigsmarck. This was a curious pedigree. It meant strength of character, eroticism, stubbornness, imagination, courage, and recklessness.

Her father complicated the matter by marrying suddenly a Parisian of the lower classes, a bird-fancier named Sophie Delaborde. His daughter, who was born in 1804, used afterward to boast that on one side she was sprung from kings and nobles, while on the other she was a daughter of the people, able, therefore, to understand the sentiments of the aristocracy and of the children of the soil, or even of the gutter.

She was fond of telling, also, of the omen which attended on her birth. Her father and mother were at a country dance in the house of a fellow officer of Dupin's. Suddenly Mme. Dupin left the room. Nothing was thought of this, and the dance went on. In less than an hour, Dupin was called aside and told that his wife had just given birth to a child. It was the child's aunt who brought the news, with the joyous comment:

"She will be lucky, for she was born among the roses and to the sound of music."

This was at the time of the Napoleonic wars. Lieutenant Dupin was on the staff of Prince Murat, and little Aurore, as she was called, at the age of three accompanied the army, as did her mother. The child was adopted by one of those hard-fighting, veteran regiments. The rough old sergeants nursed her and petted her. Even the prince took notice of her; and to please him she wore the green uniform of a hussar.

But all this soon passed, and she was presently sent to live with her grandmother at the estate now intimately associated with her name—Nohant, in the valley of the Indre, in the midst of a rich country, a love for which she then drank in so deeply that nothing in her later life could lessen it. She was always the friend of the peasant and of the country-folk in general.

At Nohant she was given over to her grand-mother, to be reared in a strangely desultory sort of fashion, doing and reading and studying those things which could best develop her native gifts. Her father had great influence over her, teaching her a thousand things without seeming to teach her anything. Of him George Sand herself has written:

Character is a matter of heredity. If any one desires to know me, he must know my father.

Her father, however, was killed by a fall from a horse; and then the child grew up almost without any formal education. A tutor, who also managed the estate; believed with Rousseau that the young should be reared according to their own preferences. Therefore, Aurore read poems and childish stories; she gained a smattering of Latin, and she was devoted to music and the elements of natural science. For the rest of the time she rambled with the country children, learned their games, and became a sort of leader in everything they did.

Her only sorrow was the fact that her mother was excluded from Nohant. The aristocratic old grandmother would not allow under her roof her son's low-born wife; but she was devoted to her little grandchild. The girl showed a wonderful degree of sensibility.

This life was adapted to her nature. She fed her imagination in a perfectly healthy fashion; and, living so much out of doors, she acquired that sound physique which she retained all through her life.

When she was thirteen, her grandmother sent the girl to a convent school in Paris. One might suppose that the sudden change from the open woods and fields to the primness of a religious home would have been a great shock to her, and that with her disposition she might have broken out into wild ways that would have shocked the nuns. But, here, as elsewhere, she showed her wonderful adaptability. It even seemed as if she were likely to become what the French call a devote. She gave herself up to mythical thoughts, and expressed a desire of taking the veil. Her confessor, however, was a keen student of human nature, and he perceived that she was too young to decide upon the renunciation of earthly things. Moreover, her grandmother, who had no intention that Aurore should become a nun, hastened to Paris and carried her back to Nohant.

The girl was now sixteen, and her complicated nature began to make itself apparent. There was no one to control her, because her grandmother was confined to her own room. And so Aurore Dupin, now in superb health, rushed into every sort of diversion with all the zest of youth. She read voraciously—religion, poetry, philosophy. She was an excellent musician, playing the piano and the harp. Once, in a spirit of unconscious egotism, she wrote to her confessor:

Do you think that my philosophical studies are compatible with Christian humility?

The shrewd ecclesiastic answered, with a touch of wholesome irony:

I doubt, my daughter, whether your philosophical studies are profound enough to warrant intellectual pride.

This stung the girl, and led her to think a little less of her own abilities; but perhaps it made her books distasteful to her. For a while she seems to have almost forgotten her sex. She began to dress as a boy, and took to smoking large quantities of tobacco. Her natural brother, who was an officer in the army, came down to Nohant and taught her to ride—to ride like a boy, seated astride. She went about without any chaperon, and flirted with the young men of the neighborhood. The prim manners of the place made her subject to a certain amount of scandal, and the village priest chided her in language that was far from tactful. In return she refused any longer to attend his church.

Thus she was living when her grandmother died, in 1821, leaving to Aurore her entire fortune of five hundred thousand francs. As the girl was still but seventeen, she was placed under the guardianship of the nearest relative on her father's side—a gentleman of rank. When the will was read, Aurore's mother made a violent protest, and caused a most unpleasant scene.

"I am the natural guardian of my child," she cried. "No one can take away my rights!"

The young girl well understood that this was really the parting of the ways. If she turned toward her uncle, she would be forever classed among the aristocracy. If she chose her mother, who, though married, was essentially a grisette, then she must live with grisettes, and find her friends among the friends who visited her mother. She could not belong to both worlds. She must decide once for all whether she would be a woman of rank or a woman entirely separated from the circle that had been her father's.

One must respect the girl for making the choice she did. Understanding the situation absolutely, she chose her mother; and perhaps one would not have had her do otherwise. Yet in the long run it was bound to be a mistake. Aurore was clever, refined, well read, and had had the training of a fashionable convent school. The mother was ignorant and coarse, as was inevitable, with one who before her marriage had been half shop-girl and half courtesan. The two could not live long together, and hence it was not unnatural that Aurore Dupin should marry, to enter upon a new career.

Her fortune was a fairly large one for the times, and yet not large enough to attract men who were quite her equals. Presently, however, it brought to her a sort of country squire, named Casimir Dudevant. He was the illegitimate son of the Baron Dudevant. He had been in the army, and had studied law; but he possessed no intellectual tastes. He was outwardly eligible; but he was of a coarse type—a man who, with passing years, would be likely to take to drink and vicious amusements, and in serious life cared only for his cattle, his horses, and his hunting. He had, however, a sort of jollity about him which appealed to this girl of eighteen; and so a marriage was arranged. Aurore Dupin became his wife in 1822, and he secured the control of her fortune.

The first few years after her marriage were not unhappy. She had a son, Maurice Dudevant, and a daughter, Solange, and she loved them both. But it was impossible that she should continue vegetating mentally upon a farm with a husband who was a fool, a drunkard, and a miser. He deteriorated; his wife grew more and more clever. Dudevant resented this. It made him uncomfortable. Other persons spoke of her talk as brilliant. He bluntly told her that it was silly, and that she must stop it. When she did not stop it, he boxed her ears. This caused a breach between the pair which was never healed. Dudevant drank more and more heavily, and jeered at his wife because she was "always looking for noon at fourteen o'clock." He had always flirted with the country girls; but now he openly consorted with his wife's chambermaid.

Mme. Dudevant, on her side, would have nothing more to do with this rustic rake. She formed what she called a platonic friendship—and it was really so—with a certain M. de Seze, who was advocate-general at Bordeaux. With him this clever woman could talk without being called silly, and he took sincere pleasure in her company. He might, in fact, have gone much further, had not both of them been in an impossible situation.

Aurore Dudevant really believed that she was swayed by a pure and mystic passion. De Seze, on the other hand, believed this mystic passion to be genuine love. Coming to visit her at Nohant, he was revolted by the clownish husband with whom she lived. It gave him an esthetic shock to see that she had borne children to this boor. Therefore he shrank back from her, and in time their relation faded into nothingness.

It happened, soon after, that she found a packet in her husband's desk, marked "Not to be opened until after my death." She wrote of this in her correspondence:

I had not the patience to wait till widowhood. No one can be sure of surviving anybody. I assumed that my husband had died, and I was very glad to learn what he thought of me while he was alive. Since the package was addressed to me, it was not dishonorable for me to open it.

And so she opened it. It proved to be his will, but containing, as a preamble, his curses on her, expressions of contempt, and all the vulgar outpouring of an evil temper and angry passion. She went to her husband as he was opening a bottle, and flung the document upon the table. He cowered at her glance, at her firmness, and at her cold hatred. He grumbled and argued and entreated; but all that his wife would say in answer was:

"I must have an allowance. I am going to Paris, and my children are to remain here."

At last he yielded, and she went at once to Paris, taking her daughter with her, and having the promise of fifteen hundred francs a year out of the half-million that was hers by right.

In Paris she developed into a thorough-paced Bohemian. She tried to make a living in sundry hopeless ways, and at last she took to literature. She was living in a garret, with little to eat, and sometimes without a fire in winter. She had some friends who helped her as well as they could, but though she was attached to the Figaro, her earnings for the first month amounted to only fifteen francs.

Nevertheless, she would not despair. The editors and publishers might turn the cold shoulder to her, but she would not give up her ambitions. She went down into the Latin Quarter, and there shook off the proprieties of life. She assumed the garb of a man, and with her quick perception she came to know the left bank of the Seine just as she had known the country-side at Nohant or the little world at her convent school. She never expected again to see any woman of her own rank in life. Her mother's influence became strong in her. She wrote:

The proprieties are the guiding principle of people without soul and virtue. The good opinion of the world is a prostitute who gives herself to the highest bidder.

She still pursued her trade of journalism, calling herself a "newspaper mechanic," sitting all day in the office of the Figaro and writing whatever was demanded, while at night she would prowl in the streets haunting the cafes, continuing to dress like a man, drinking sour wine, and smoking cheap cigars.

One of her companions in this sort of hand-to-mouth journalism was a young student and writer named Jules Sandeau, a man seven years younger than his comrade. He was at that time as indigent as she, and their hardships, shared in common, brought them very close together. He was clever, boyish, and sensitive, and it was not long before he had fallen at her feet and kissed her knees, begging that she would requite the love he felt for her. According to herself, she resisted him for six months, and then at last she yielded. The two made their home together, and for a while were wonderfully happy. Their work and their diversions they enjoyed in common, and now for the first time she experienced emotions which in all probability she had never known before.

Probably not very much importance is to be given to the earlier flirtations of George Sand, though she herself never tried to stop the mouth of scandal. Even before she left her husband, she was credited with having four lovers; but all she said, when the report was brought to her, was this: "Four lovers are none too many for one with such lively passions as mine."

This very frankness makes it likely that she enjoyed shocking her prim neighbors at Nohant. But if she only played at love-making then, she now gave herself up to it with entire abandonment, intoxicated, fascinated, satisfied. She herself wrote:

How I wish I could impart to you this sense of the intensity and joyousness of life that I have in my veins. To live! How sweet it is, and how good, in spite of annoyances, husbands, debts, relations, scandal-mongers, sufferings, and irritations! To live! It is intoxicating! To love, and to be loved! It is happiness! It is heaven!

In collaboration with Jules Sandeau, she wrote a novel called Rose et Blanche. The two lovers were uncertain what name to place upon the title-page, but finally they hit upon the pseudonym of Jules Sand. The book succeeded; but thereafter each of them wrote separately, Jules Sandeau using his own name, and Mme. Dudevant styling herself George Sand, a name by which she was to be illustrious ever after.

As a novelist, she had found her real vocation. She was not yet well known, but she was on the verge of fame. As soon as she had written Indiana and Valentine, George Sand had secured a place in the world of letters. The magazine which still exists as the Revue des Deux Mondes gave her a retaining fee of four thousand francs a year, and many other publications begged her to write serial stories for them.

The vein which ran through all her stories was new and piquant. As was said of her:

In George Sand, whenever a lady wishes to change her lover, God is always there to make the transfer easy.

In other words, she preached free love in the name of religion. This was not a new doctrine with her. After the first break with her husband, she had made up her mind about certain matters, and wrote:

One is no more justified in claiming the ownership of a soul than in claiming the ownership of a slave.

According to her, the ties between a man and a woman are sacred only when they are sanctified by love; and she distinguished between love and passion in this epigram:

Love seeks to give, while passion seeks to take.

At this time, George Sand was in her twenty-seventh year. She was not beautiful, though there was something about her which attracted observation. Of middle height, she was fairly slender. Her eyes were somewhat projecting, and her mouth was almost sullen when in repose. Her manners were peculiar, combining boldness with timidity. Her address was almost as familiar as a man's, so that it was easy to be acquainted with her; yet a certain haughtiness and a touch of aristocratic pride made it plain that she had drawn a line which none must pass without her wish. When she was deeply stirred, however, she burst forth into an extraordinary vivacity, showing a nature richly endowed and eager to yield its treasures.

The existence which she now led was a curious one. She still visited her husband at Nohant, so that she might see her son, and sometimes, when M. Dudevant came to town, he called upon her in the apartments which she shared with Jules Sandeau. He had accepted the situation, and with his crudeness and lack of feeling he seemed to think it, if not natural, at least diverting. At any rate, so long as he could retain her half-million francs, he was not the man to make trouble about his former wife's arrangements.

Meanwhile, there began to be perceptible the very slightest rift within the lute of her romance. Was her love for Sandeau really love, or was it only passion? In his absence, at any rate, the old obsession still continued. Here we see, first of all, intense pleasure shading off into a sort of maternal fondness. She sends Sandeau adoring letters. She is afraid that his delicate appetite is not properly satisfied.

Yet, again, there are times when she feels that he is irritating and ill. Those who knew them said that her nature was too passionate and her love was too exacting for him. One of her letters seems to make this plain. She writes that she feels uneasy, and even frightfully remorseful, at seeing Sandeau "pine away." She knows, she avows, that she is killing him, that her caresses are a poison, and her love a consuming fire.

It is an appalling thought, and Jules will not understand it. He laughs at it; and when, in the midst of his transports of delight, the idea comes to me and makes my blood run cold, he tells me that here is the death that he would like to die. At such moments he promises whatever I make him promise.

This letter throws a clear light upon the nature of George Sand's temperament. It will be found all through her career, not only that she sought to inspire passion, but that she strove to gratify it after fashions of her own. One little passage from a description of her written by the younger Dumas will perhaps make this phase of her character more intelligible, without going further than is strictly necessary:

Mme. Sand has little hands without any bones, soft and plump. She is by destiny a woman of excessive curiosity, always disappointed, always deceived in her incessant investigation, but she is not fundamentally ardent. In vain would she like to be so, but she does not find it possible. Her physical nature utterly refuses.

The reader will find in all that has now been said the true explanation of George Sand. Abounding with life, but incapable of long stretches of ardent love, she became a woman who sought conquests everywhere without giving in return more than her temperament made it possible for her to do. She loved Sandeau as much as she ever loved any man; and yet she left him with a sense that she had never become wholly his. Perhaps this is the reason why their romance came to an end abruptly, and not altogether fittingly.

She had been spending a short time at Nohant, and came to Paris without announcement. She intended to surprise her lover, and she surely did so. She found him in the apartment that had been theirs, with his arms about an attractive laundry-girl. Thus closed what was probably the only true romance in the life of George Sand. Afterward she had many lovers, but to no one did she so nearly become a true mate.

As it was, she ended her association with Sandeau, and each pursued a separate path to fame. Sandeau afterward became a well-known novelist and dramatist. He was, in fact, the first writer of fiction who was admitted to the French Academy. The woman to whom he had been unfaithful became greater still, because her fame was not only national, but cosmopolitan.

For a time after her deception by Sandeau, she felt absolutely devoid of all emotions. She shunned men, and sought the friendship of Marie Dorval, a clever actress who was destined afterward to break the heart of Alfred de Vigny. The two went down into the country; and there George Sand wrote hour after hour, sitting by her fireside, and showing herself a tender mother to her little daughter Solange.

This life lasted for a while, but it was not the sort of life that would now content her. She had many visitors from Paris, among them Sainte-Beuve, the critic, who brought with him Prosper Merimee, then unknown, but later famous as master of revels to the third Napoleon and as the author of Carmen. Merimee had a certain fascination of manner, and the predatory instincts of George Sand were again aroused. One day, when she felt bored and desperate, Merimee paid his court to her, and she listened to him. This is one of the most remarkable of her intimacies, since it began, continued, and ended all in the space of a single week. When Merimee left Nohant, he was destined never again to see George Sand, except long afterward at a dinner-party, where the two stared at each other sharply, but did not speak. This affair, however, made it plain that she could not long remain at Nohant, and that she pined for Paris.

Returning thither, she is said to have set her cap at Victor Hugo, who was, however, too much in love with himself to care for any one, especially a woman who was his literary rival. She is said for a time to have been allied with Gustave Planche, a dramatic critic; but she always denied this, and her denial may be taken as quite truthful. Soon, however, she was to begin an episode which has been more famous than any other in her curious history, for she met Alfred de Musset, then a youth of twenty-three, but already well known for his poems and his plays.

Musset was of noble birth. He would probably have been better for a plebeian strain, since there was in him a touch of the degenerate. His mother's father had published a humanitarian poem on cats. His great-uncle had written a peculiar novel. Young Alfred was nervous, delicate, slightly epileptic, and it is certain that he was given to dissipation, which so far had affected his health only by making him hysterical. He was an exceedingly handsome youth, with exquisite manners, "dreamy rather than dazzling eyes, dilated nostrils, and vermilion lips half opened." Such was he when George Sand, then seven years his senior, met him.

There is something which, to the Anglo-Saxon mind, seems far more absurd than pathetic about the events which presently took place. A woman like George Sand at thirty was practically twice the age of this nervous boy of twenty-three, who had as yet seen little of the world. At first she seemed to realize the fact herself; but her vanity led her to begin an intrigue, which must have been almost wholly without excitement on her part, but which to him, for a time, was everything in the world.

Experimenting, as usual, after the fashion described by Dumas, she went with De Musset for a "honeymoon" to Fontainebleau. But they could not stay there forever, and presently they decided upon a journey to Italy. Before they went, however, they thought it necessary to get formal permission from Alfred's mother!

Naturally enough, Mme. de Musset refused consent. She had read George Sand's romances, and had asked scornfully:

"Has the woman never in her life met a gentleman?"

She accepted the relations between them, but that she should be asked to sanction this sort of affair was rather too much, even for a French mother who has become accustomed to many strange things. Then there was a curious happening. At nine o'clock at night, George Sand took a cab and drove to the house of Mme. de Musset, to whom she sent up a message that a lady wished to see her. Mme. de Musset came down, and, finding a woman alone in a carriage, she entered it. Then George Sand burst forth in a torrent of sentimental eloquence. She overpowered her lover's mother, promised to take great care of the delicate youth, and finally drove away to meet Alfred at the coach-yard.

They started off in the mist, their coach being the thirteenth to leave the yard; but the two lovers were in a merry mood, and enjoyed themselves all the way from Paris to Marseilles. By steamer they went to Leghorn; and finally, in January, 1834, they took an apartment in a hotel at Venice. What had happened that their arrival in Venice should be the beginning of a quarrel, no one knows. George Sand has told the story, and Paul de Musset—Alfred's brother—has told the story, but each of them has doubtless omitted a large part of the truth.

It is likely that on their long journey each had learned too much of the other. Thus, Paul de Musset says that George Sand made herself outrageous by her conversation, telling every one of her mother's adventures in the army of Italy, including her relations with the general-in-chief. She also declared that she herself was born within a month of her parents' wedding-day. Very likely she did say all these things, whether they were true or not. She had set herself to wage war against conventional society, and she did everything to shock it.

On the other hand, Alfred de Musset fell ill after having lost ten thousand francs in a gambling-house. George Sand was not fond of persons who were ill. She herself was working like a horse, writing from eight to thirteen hours a day. When Musset collapsed she sent for a handsome young Italian doctor named Pagello, with whom she had struck up a casual acquaintance. He finally cured Musset, but he also cured George Sand of any love for Musset.

Before long she and Pagello were on their way back to Paris, leaving the poor, fevered, whimpering poet to bite his nails and think unutterable things. But he ought to have known George Sand. After that, everybody knew her. They knew just how much she cared when she professed to care, and when she acted as she acted with Pagello no earlier lover had any one but himself to blame.

Only sentimentalists can take this story seriously. To them it has a sort of morbid interest. They like to picture Musset raving and shouting in his delirium, and then, to read how George Sand sat on Pagello's knees, kissing him and drinking out of the same cup. But to the healthy mind the whole story is repulsive—from George Sand's appeal to Mme. de Musset down to the very end, when Pagello came to Paris, where his broken French excited a polite ridicule.

There was a touch of genuine sentiment about the affair with Jules Sandeau; but after that, one can only see in George Sand a half-libidinous grisette, such as her mother was before her, with a perfect willingness to experiment in every form of lawless love. As for Musset, whose heart she was supposed to have broken, within a year he was dangling after the famous singer, Mme. Malibran, and writing poems to her which advertised their intrigue.

After this episode with Pagello, it cannot be said that the life of George Sand was edifying in any respect, because no one can assume that she was sincere. She had loved Jules Sandeau as much as she could love any one, but all the rest of her intrigues and affinities were in the nature of experiments. She even took back Alfred de Musset, although they could never again regard each other without suspicion. George Sand cut off all her hair and gave it to Musset, so eager was she to keep him as a matter of conquest; but he was tired of her, and even this theatrical trick was of no avail.

She proceeded to other less known and less humiliating adventures. She tried to fascinate the artist Delacroix. She set her cap at Franz Liszt, who rather astonished her by saying that only God was worthy to be loved. She expressed a yearning for the affections of the elder Dumas; but that good-natured giant laughed at her, and in fact gave her some sound advice, and let her smoke unsentimentally in his study. She was a good deal taken with a noisy demagogue named Michel, a lawyer at Bourges, who on one occasion shut her up in her room and harangued her on sociology until she was as weary of his talk as of his wooden shoes, his shapeless greatcoat, his spectacles, and his skull-cap, Balzac felt her fascination, but cared nothing for her, since his love was given to Mme. Hanska.

In the meanwhile, she was paying visits to her husband at Nohant, where she wrangled with him over money matters, and where he would once have shot her had the guests present not interfered. She secured her dowry by litigation, so that she was well off, even without her literary earnings. These were by no means so large as one would think from her popularity and from the number of books she wrote. It is estimated that her whole gains amounted to about a million francs, extending over a period of forty-five years. It is just half the amount that Trollope earned in about the same period, and justifies his remark—"adequate, but not splendid."

One of those brief and strange intimacies that marked the career of George Sand came about in a curious way. Octave Feuillet, a man of aristocratic birth, had set himself to write novels which portrayed the cynicism and hardness of the upper classes in France. One of these novels, Sibylle, excited the anger of George Sand. She had not known Feuillet before; yet now she sought him out, at first in order to berate him for his book, but in the end to add him to her variegated string of lovers.

It has been said of Feuillet that he was a sort of "domesticated Musset." At any rate, he was far less sensitive than Musset, and George Sand was about seventeen years his senior. They parted after a short time, she going her way as a writer of novels that were very different from her earlier ones, while Feuillet grew more and more cynical and even stern, as he lashed the abnormal, neuropathic men and women about him.

The last great emotional crisis in George Sand's life was that which centers around her relations with Frederic Chopin. Chopin was the greatest genius who ever loved her. It is rather odd that he loved her. She had known him for two years, and had not seriously thought of him, though there is a story that when she first met him she kissed him before he had even been presented to her. She waited two years, and in those two years she had three lovers. Then at last she once more met Chopin, when he was in a state of melancholy, because a Polish girl had proved unfaithful to him.

It was the psychological moment; for this other woman, who was a devourer of hearts, found him at a piano, improvising a lamentation. George Sand stood beside him, listening. When he finished and looked up at her, their eyes met. She bent down without a word and kissed him on the lips.

What was she like when he saw her then? Grenier has described her in these words:

She was short and stout, but her face attracted all my attention, the eyes especially. They were wonderful eyes—a little too close together, it may be, large, with full eyelids, and black, very black, but by no means lustrous; they reminded me of unpolished marble, or rather of velvet, and this gave a strange, dull, even cold expression to her countenance. Her fine eyebrows and these great placid eyes gave her an air of strength and dignity which was not borne out by the lower part of her face. Her nose was rather thick and not over shapely. Her mouth was also rather coarse, and her chin small. She spoke with great simplicity, and her manners were very quiet.

Such as she was, she attached herself to Chopin for eight years. At first they traveled together very quietly to Majorca; and there, just as Musset had fallen ill at Venice, Chopin became feverish and an invalid. "Chopin coughs most gracefully," George Sand wrote of him, and again:

Chopin is the most inconstant of men. There is nothing permanent about him but his cough.

It is not surprising if her nerves sometimes gave way. Acting as sick nurse, writing herself with rheumatic fingers, robbed by every one about her, and viewed with suspicion by the peasants because she did not go to church, she may be perhaps excused for her sharp words when, in fact, her deeds were kind.

Afterward, with Chopin, she returned to Paris, and the two lived openly together for seven years longer. An immense literature has grown around the subject of their relations. To this literature George Sand herself contributed very largely. Chopin never wrote a word; but what he failed to do, his friends and pupils did unsparingly.

Probably the truth is somewhat as one might expect. During the first period of fascination, George Sand was to Chopin what she had been to Sandeau and to Musset; and with her strange and subtle ways, she had undermined his health. But afterward that sort of love died out, and was succeeded by something like friendship. At any rate, this woman showed, as she had shown to others, a vast maternal kindness. She writes to him finally as "your old woman," and she does wonders in the way of nursing and care.

But in 1847 came a break between the two. Whatever the mystery of it may be, it turns upon what Chopin said of Sand:

"I have never cursed any one, but now I am so weary of life that I am near cursing her. Yet she suffers, too, and more, because she grows older as she grows more wicked."

In 1848, Chopin gave his last concert in Paris, and in 1849 he died. According to some, he was the victim of a Messalina. According to others, it was only "Messalina" that had kept him alive so long.

However, with his death came a change in the nature of George Sand. Emotionally, she was an extinct volcano. Intellectually, she was at her very best. She no longer tore passions into tatters, but wrote naturally, simply, stories of country life and tales for children. In one of her books she has given an enduring picture of the Franco-Prussian War. There are many rather pleasant descriptions of her then, living at Nohant, where she made a curious figure, bustling about in ill-fitting costumes, and smoking interminable cigarettes.

She had lived much, and she had drunk deep of life, when she died in 1876. One might believe her to have been only a woman of perpetual liaisons. Externally she was this, and yet what did Balzac, that great master of human psychology, write of her in the intimacy of a private correspondence?

She is a female bachelor. She is an artist. She is generous. She is devoted. She is chaste. Her dominant characteristics are those of a man, and therefore, she is not to be regarded as a woman. She is an excellent mother, adored by her children. Morally, she is like a lad of twenty; for in her heart of hearts, she is more than chaste—she is a prude. It is only in externals that she comports herself as a Bohemian. All her follies are titles to glory in the eyes of those whose souls are noble.

A curious verdict this! Her love-life seems almost that of neither man nor woman, but of an animal. Yet whether she was in reality responsible for what she did, when we consider her strange heredity, her wretched marriage, the disillusions of her early life—who shall sit in judgment on her, since who knows all?


Perhaps no public man in the English-speaking world, in the last century, was so widely and intimately known as Charles Dickens. From his eighteenth year, when he won his first success in journalism, down through his series of brilliant triumphs in fiction, he was more and more a conspicuous figure, living in the blaze of an intense publicity. He met every one and knew every one, and was the companion of every kind of man and woman. He loved to frequent the "caves of harmony" which Thackeray has immortalized, and he was a member of all the best Bohemian clubs of London. Actors, authors, good fellows generally, were his intimate friends, and his acquaintance extended far beyond into the homes of merchants and lawyers and the mansions of the proudest nobles. Indeed, he seemed to be almost a universal friend.

One remembers, for instance, how he was called in to arbitrate between Thackeray and George Augustus Sala, who had quarreled. One remembers how Lord Byron's daughter, Lady Lovelace, when upon her sick-bed, used to send for Dickens because there was something in his genial, sympathetic manner that soothed her. Crushing pieces of ice between her teeth in agony, she would speak to him and he would answer her in his rich, manly tones until she was comforted and felt able to endure more hours of pain without complaint.

Dickens was a jovial soul. His books fairly steam with Christmas cheer and hot punch and the savor of plum puddings, very much as do his letters to his intimate friends. Everybody knew Dickens. He could not dine in public without attracting attention. When he left the dining-room, his admirers would descend upon his table and carry off egg-shells, orange-peels, and other things that remained behind, so that they might have memorials of this much-loved writer. Those who knew him only by sight would often stop him in the streets and ask the privilege of shaking hands with him; so different was he from—let us say—Tennyson, who was as great an Englishman in his way as Dickens, but who kept himself aloof and saw few strangers.

It is hard to associate anything like mystery with Dickens, though he was fond of mystery as an intellectual diversion, and his last unfinished novel was The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Moreover, no one admired more than he those complex plots which Wilkie Collins used to weave under the influence of laudanum. But as for his own life, it seemed so normal, so free from anything approaching mystery, that we can scarcely believe it to have been tinged with darker colors than those which appeared upon the surface.

A part of this mystery is plain enough. The other part is still obscure—or of such a character that one does not care to bring it wholly to the light. It had to do with his various relations with women.

The world at large thinks that it knows this chapter in the life of Dickens, and that it refers wholly to his unfortunate disagreement with his wife. To be sure, this is a chapter that is writ large in all of his biographies, and yet it is nowhere correctly told. His chosen biographer was John Forster, whose Life of Charles Dickens, in three volumes, must remain a standard work; but even Forster—we may assume through tact—has not set down all that he could, although he gives a clue.

As is well known, Dickens married Miss Catherine Hogarth when he was only twenty-four. He had just published his Sketches by Boz, the copyright of which he sold for one hundred pounds, and was beginning the Pickwick Papers. About this time his publisher brought N. P. Willis down to Furnival's Inn to see the man whom Willis called "a young paragraphist for the Morning Chronicle." Willis thus sketches Dickens and his surroundings:

In the most crowded part of Holborn, within a door or two of the Bull and Mouth Inn, we pulled up at the entrance of a large building used for lawyers' chambers. I followed by a long flight of stairs to an upper story, and was ushered into an uncarpeted and bleak-looking room, with a deal table, two or three chairs and a few books, a small boy and Mr. Dickens for the contents.

I was only struck at first with one thing—and I made a memorandum of it that evening as the strongest instance I had seen of English obsequiousness to employers—the degree to which the poor author was overpowered with the honor of his publisher's visit! I remember saying to myself, as I sat down on a rickety chair:

"My good fellow, if you were in America with that fine face and your ready quill, you would have no need to be condescended to by a publisher."

Dickens was dressed very much as he has since described Dick Swiveller, minus the swell look. His hair was cropped close to his head, his clothes scant, though jauntily cut, and, after changing a ragged office-coat for a shabby blue, he stood by the door, collarless and buttoned up, the very personification of a close sailer to the wind.

Before this interview with Willis, which Dickens always repudiated, he had become something of a celebrity among the newspaper men with whom he worked as a stenographer. As every one knows, he had had a hard time in his early years, working in a blacking-shop, and feeling too keenly the ignominious position of which a less sensitive boy would probably have thought nothing. Then he became a shorthand reporter, and was busy at his work, so that he had little time for amusements.

It has been generally supposed that no love-affair entered his life until he met Catherine Hogarth, whom he married soon after making her acquaintance. People who are eager at ferreting out unimportant facts about important men had unanimously come to the conclusion that up to the age of twenty Dickens was entirely fancy-free. It was left to an American to disclose the fact that this was not the case, but that even in his teens he had been captivated by a girl of about his own age.

Inasmuch as the only reproach that was ever made against Dickens was based upon his love-affairs, let us go back and trace them from this early one to the very last, which must yet for some years, at least, remain a mystery.

Everything that is known about his first affair is contained in a book very beautifully printed, but inaccessible to most readers. Some years ago Mr. William K. Bixby, of St. Louis, found in London a collector of curios. This man had in his stock a number of letters which had passed between a Miss Maria Beadnell and Charles Dickens when the two were about nineteen and a second package of letters representing a later acquaintance, about 1855, at which time Miss Beadnell had been married for a long time to a Mr. Henry Louis Winter, of 12 Artillery Place, London.

The copyright laws of Great Britain would not allow Mr. Bixby to publish the letters in that country, and he did not care to give them to the public here. Therefore, he presented them to the Bibliophile Society, with the understanding that four hundred and ninety-three copies, with the Bibliophile book-plate, were to be printed and distributed among the members of the society. A few additional copies were struck off, but these did not bear the Bibliophile book-plate. Only two copies are available for other readers, and to peruse these it is necessary to visit the Congressional Library in Washington, where they were placed on July 24, 1908.

These letters form two series—the first written to Miss Beadnell in or about 1829, and the second written to Mrs. Winter, formerly Miss Beadnell, in 1855.

The book also contains an introduction by Henry H. Harper, who sets forth some theories which the facts, in my opinion, do not support; and there are a number of interesting portraits, especially one of Miss Beadnell in 1829—a lovely girl with dark curls. Another shows her in 1855, when she writes of herself as "old and fat"—thereby doing herself a great deal of injustice; for although she had lost her youthful beauty, she was a very presentable woman of middle age, but one who would not be particularly noticed in any company.

Summing up briefly these different letters, it may be said that in the first set Dickens wrote to the lady ardently, but by no means passionately. From what he says it is plain enough that she did not respond to his feeling, and that presently she left London and went to Paris, for her family was well-to-do, while Dickens was living from hand to mouth.

In the second set of letters, written long afterward, Mrs. Winter seems to have "set her cap" at the now famous author; but at that time he was courted by every one, and had long ago forgotten the lady who had so easily dismissed him in his younger days. In 1855, Mrs. Winter seems to have reproached him for not having been more constant in the past; but he replied:

You answered me coldly and reproachfully, and so I went my way.

Mr. Harper, in his introduction, tries very hard to prove that in writing David Copperfield Dickens drew the character of Dora from Miss Beadnell. It is a dangerous thing to say from whom any character in a novel is drawn. An author takes whatever suits his purpose in circumstance and fancy, and blends them all into one consistent whole, which is not to be identified with any individual. There is little reason to think that the most intimate friends of Dickens and of his family were mistaken through all the years when they were certain that the boy husband and the girl wife of David Copperfield were suggested by any one save Dickens himself and Catherine Hogarth.

Why should he have gone back to a mere passing fancy, to a girl who did not care for him, and who had no influence on his life, instead of picturing, as David's first wife, one whom he deeply loved, whom he married, who was the mother of his children, and who made a great part of his career, even that part which was inwardly half tragic and wholly mournful?

Miss Beadnell may have been the original of Flora in Little Dorrit, though even this is doubtful. The character was at the time ascribed to a Miss Anna Maria Leigh, whom Dickens sometimes flirted with and sometimes caricatured.

When Dickens came to know George Hogarth, who was one of his colleagues on the staff of the Morning Chronicle, he met Hogarth's daughters—Catherine, Georgina, and Mary—and at once fell ardently in love with Catherine, the eldest and prettiest of the three. He himself was almost girlish, with his fair complexion and light, wavy hair, so that the famous sketch by Maclise has a remarkable charm; yet nobody could really say with truth that any one of the three girls was beautiful. Georgina Hogarth, however, was sweet-tempered and of a motherly disposition. It may be that in a fashion she loved Dickens all her life, as she remained with him after he parted from her sister, taking the utmost care of his children, and looking out with unselfish fidelity for his many needs.

It was Mary, however, the youngest of the Hogarths, who lived with the Dickenses during the first twelvemonth of their married life. To Dickens she was like a favorite sister, and when she died very suddenly, in her eighteenth year, her loss was a great shock to him.

It was believed for a long time—in fact, until their separation—that Dickens and his wife were extremely happy in their home life. His writings glorified all that was domestic, and paid many tender tributes to the joys of family affection. When the separation came the whole world was shocked. And yet rather early in Dickens's married life there was more or less infelicity. In his Retrospections of an Active Life, Mr. John Bigelow writes a few sentences which are interesting for their frankness, and which give us certain hints:

Mrs. Dickens was not a handsome woman, though stout, hearty, and matronly; there was something a little doubtful about her eye, and I thought her endowed with a temper that might be very violent when roused, though not easily rousable. Mrs. Caulfield told me that a Miss Teman—I think that is the name—was the source of the difficulty between Mrs. Dickens and her husband. She played in private theatricals with Dickens, and he sent her a portrait in a brooch, which met with an accident requiring it to be sent to the jeweler's to be mended. The jeweler, noticing Mr. Dickens's initials, sent it to his house. Mrs. Dickens's sister, who had always been in love with him and was jealous of Miss Teman, told Mrs. Dickens of the brooch, and she mounted her husband with comb and brush. This, no doubt, was Mrs. Dickens's version, in the main.

A few evenings later I saw Miss Teman at the Haymarket Theatre, playing with Buckstone and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Mathews. She seemed rather a small cause for such a serious result—passably pretty, and not much of an actress.

Here in one passage we have an intimation that Mrs. Dickens had a temper that was easily roused, that Dickens himself was interested in an actress, and that Miss Hogarth "had always been in love with him, and was jealous of Miss Teman."

Some years before this time, however, there had been growing in the mind of Dickens a certain formless discontent—something to which he could not give a name, yet which, cast over him the shadow of disappointment. He expressed the same feeling in David Copperfield, when he spoke of David's life with Dora. It seemed to come from the fact that he had grown to be a man, while his wife had still remained a child.

A passage or two may be quoted from the novel, so that we may set them beside passages in Dickens's own life, which we know to have referred to his own wife, and not to any such nebulous person as Mrs. Winter.

The shadow I have mentioned that was not to be between us any more, but was to rest wholly on my heart—how did that fall? The old unhappy feeling pervaded my life. It was deepened, if it were changed at all; but it was as undefined as ever, and addressed me like a strain of sorrowful music faintly heard in the night. I loved my wife dearly; but the happiness I had vaguely anticipated, once, was not the happiness I enjoyed, AND THERE WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING WANTING.

What I missed I still regarded as something that had been a dream of my youthful fancy; that was incapable of realization; that I was now discovering to be so, with some natural pain, as all men did. But that it would have been better for me if my wife could have helped me more, and shared the many thoughts in which I had no partner, and that this might have been I knew.

What I am describing slumbered and half awoke and slept again in the innermost recesses of my mind. There was no evidence of it to me; I knew of no influence it had in anything I said or did. I bore the weight of all our little cares and all my projects.

"There can be no disparity in marriage like unsuitability of mind and purpose." These words I remembered. I had endeavored to adapt Dora to myself, and found it impracticable. It remained for me to adapt myself to Dora; to share with her what I could, and be happy; to bear on my own shoulders what I must, and be still happy.

Thus wrote Dickens in his fictitious character, and of his fictitious wife. Let us see how he wrote and how he acted in his own person, and of his real wife.

As early as 1856, he showed a curious and restless activity, as of one who was trying to rid himself of unpleasant thoughts. Mr. Forster says that he began to feel a strain upon his invention, a certain disquietude, and a necessity for jotting down memoranda in note-books, so as to assist his memory and his imagination. He began to long for solitude. He would take long, aimless rambles into the country, returning at no particular time or season. He once wrote to Forster:

I have had dreadful thoughts of getting away somewhere altogether by myself. If I could have managed it, I think I might have gone to the Pyrenees for six months. I have visions of living for half a year or so in all sorts of inaccessible places, and of opening a new book therein. A floating idea of going up above the snow-line, and living in some astonishing convent, hovers over me.

What do these cryptic utterances mean? At first, both in his novel and in his letters, they are obscure; but before long, in each, they become very definite. In 1856, we find these sentences among his letters:

The old days—the old days! Shall I ever, I wonder, get the frame of mind back as it used to be then? Something of it, perhaps, but never quite as it used to be.

I find that the skeleton in my domestic closet is becoming a pretty big one.

His next letter draws the veil and shows plainly what he means:

Poor Catherine and I are not made for each other, and there is no help for it. It is not only that she makes me uneasy and unhappy, but that I make her so, too—and much more so. We are strangely ill-assorted for the bond that exists between us.

Then he goes on to say that she would have been a thousand times happier if she had been married to another man. He speaks of "incompatibility," and a "difference of temperaments." In fact, it is the same old story with which we have become so familiar, and which is both as old as the hills and as new as this morning's newspaper.

Naturally, also, things grow worse, rather than better. Dickens comes to speak half jocularly of "the plunge," and calculates as to what effect it will have on his public readings. He kept back the announcement of "the plunge" until after he had given several readings; then, on April 29, 1858, Mrs. Dickens left his home. His eldest son went to live with the mother, but the rest of the children remained with their father, while his daughter Mary nominally presided over the house. In the background, however, Georgina Hogarth, who seemed all through her life to have cared for Dickens more than for her sister, remained as a sort of guide and guardian for his children.

This arrangement was a private matter, and should not have been brought to public attention; but it was impossible to suppress all gossip about so prominent a man. Much of the gossip was exaggerated; and when it came to the notice of Dickens it stung him so severely as to lead him into issuing a public justification of his course. He published a statement in Household Words, which led to many other letters in other periodicals, and finally a long one from him, which was printed in the New York Tribune, addressed to his friend Mr. Arthur Smith.

Dickens afterward declared that he had written this letter as a strictly personal and private one, in order to correct false rumors and scandals. Mr. Smith naturally thought that the statement was intended for publication, but Dickens always spoke of it as "the violated letter."

By his allusions to a difference of temperament and to incompatibility, Dickens no doubt meant that his wife had ceased to be to him the same companion that she had been in days gone by. As in so many cases, she had not changed, while he had. He had grown out of the sphere in which he had been born, "associated with blacking-boys and quilt-printers," and had become one of the great men of his time, whose genius was universally admired.

Mr. Bigelow saw Mrs. Dickens as she really was—a commonplace woman endowed with the temper of a vixen, and disposed to outbursts of actual violence when her jealousy was roused.

It was impossible that the two could have remained together, when in intellect and sympathy they were so far apart. There is nothing strange about their separation, except the exceedingly bad taste with which Dickens made it a public affair. It is safe to assume that he felt the need of a different mate; and that he found one is evident enough from the hints and bits of innuendo that are found in the writings of his contemporaries.

He became a pleasure-lover; but more than that, he needed one who could understand his moods and match them, one who could please his tastes, and one who could give him that admiration which he felt to be his due; for he was always anxious to be praised, and his letters are full of anecdotes relating to his love of praise.

One does not wish to follow out these clues too closely. It is certain that neither Miss Beadnell as a girl nor Mrs. Winter as a matron made any serious appeal to him. The actresses who have been often mentioned in connection with his name were, for the most part, mere passing favorites. The woman who in life was Dora made him feel the same incompleteness that he has described in his best-known book. The companion to whom he clung in his later years was neither a light-minded creature like Miss Beadnell, nor an undeveloped, high-tempered woman like the one he married, nor a mere domestic, friendly creature like Georgina Hogarth.

Ought we to venture upon a quest which shall solve this mystery in the life of Charles Dickens! In his last will and testament, drawn up and signed by him about a year before his death, the first paragraph reads as follows:

I, Charles Dickens, of Gadshill Place, Higham, in the county of Kent, hereby revoke all my former wills and codicils and declare this to be my last will and testament. I give the sum of one thousand pounds, free of legacy duty, to Miss Ellen Lawless Ternan, late of Houghton Place, Ampthill Square, in the county of Middlesex.

In connection with this, read Mr. John Bigelow's careless jottings made some fifteen years before. Remember the Miss "Teman," about whose name he was not quite certain; the Hogarth sisters' dislike of her; and the mysterious figure in the background of the novelist's later life. Then consider the first bequest in his will, which leaves a substantial sum to one who was neither a relative nor a subordinate, but—may we assume—more than an ordinary friend?


I remember once, when editing an elaborate work on literature, that the publisher called me into his private office. After the door was closed, he spoke in tones of suppressed emotion.

"Why is it," said he, "that you have such a lack of proportion? In the selection you have made I find that only two pages are given to George P. Morris, while you haven't given E. P. Roe any space at all! Yet, look here—you've blocked out fifty pages for Balzac, who was nothing but an immoral Frenchman!"

I adjusted this difficulty, somehow or other—I do not just remember how—and began to think that, after all, this publisher's view of things was probably that of the English and American public. It is strange that so many biographies and so many appreciations of the greatest novelist who ever lived should still have left him, in the eyes of the reading public, little more than "an immoral Frenchman."

"In Balzac," said Taine, "there was a money-broker, an archeologist, an architect, an upholsterer, a tailor, an old-clothes dealer, a journeyman apprentice, a physician, and a notary." Balzac was also a mystic, a supernaturalist, and, above all, a consummate artist. No one who is all these things in high measure, and who has raised himself by his genius above his countrymen, deserves the censure of my former publisher.

Still less is Balzac to be dismissed as "immoral," for his life was one of singular self-sacrifice in spite of much temptation. His face was strongly sensual, his look and bearing denoted almost savage power; he led a free life in a country which allowed much freedom; and yet his story is almost mystic in its fineness of thought, and in its detachment, which was often that of another world.

Balzac was born in 1799, at Tours, with all the traits of the people of his native province—fond of eating and drinking, and with plenty of humor. His father was fairly well off. Of four children, our Balzac was the eldest. The third was his sister Laure, who throughout his life was the most intimate friend he had, and to whom we owe his rescue from much scandalous and untrue gossip. From her we learn that their father was a combination of Montaigne, Rabelais, and "Uncle Toby."

Young Balzac went to a clerical school at seven, and stayed there for seven years. Then he was brought home, apparently much prostrated, although the good fathers could find nothing physically amiss with him, and nothing in his studies to account for his agitation. No one ever did discover just what was the matter, for he seemed well enough in the next few years, basking on the riverside, watching the activities of his native town, and thoroughly studying the rustic types that he was afterward to make familiar to the world. In fact, in Louis Lambert he has set before us a picture of his own boyish life, very much as Dickens did of his in David Copperfield.

For some reason, when these years were over, the boy began to have what is so often known as "a call"—a sort of instinct that he was to attain renown. Unfortunately it happened that about this time (1814) he and his parents removed to Paris, which was his home by choice, until his death in 1850. He studied here under famous teachers, and gave three years to the pursuit of law, of which he was very fond as literary material, though he refused to practise.

This was the more grievous, since a great part of the family property had been lost. The Balzacs were afflicted by actual poverty, and Honore endeavored, with his pen, to beat the wolf back from the door. He earned a little money with pamphlets and occasional stories, but his thirst for fame was far from satisfied. He was sure that he was called to literature, and yet he was not sure that he had the power to succeed. In one of his letters to his sister, he wrote:

I am young and hungry, and there is nothing on my plate. Oh, Laure, Laure, my two boundless desires, my only ones—to be famous, and to be loved—they ever be satisfied?

For the next ten years he was learning his trade, and the artistic use of the fiction writer's tools. What is more to the point, is the fact that he began to dream of a series of great novels, which should give a true and panoramic picture of the whole of human life. This was the first intimation of his "Human Comedy," which was so daringly undertaken and so nearly completed in his after years. In his early days of obscurity, he said to his readers:

Note well the characters that I introduce, since you will have to follow their fortunes through thirty novels that are to come.

Here we see how little he had been daunted by ill success, and how his prodigious imagination had not been overcome by sorrow and evil fortune. Meantime, writing almost savagely, and with a feeling combined of ambition and despair, he had begun, very slowly indeed, to create a public. These ten years, however, had loaded him with debts; and his struggle to keep himself afloat only plunged him deeper in the mire. His thirty unsigned novels began to pay him a few hundred francs, not in cash, but in promissory notes; so that he had to go still deeper into debt.

In 1827 he was toiling on his first successful novel, and indeed one of the best historic novels in French literature—The Chouans. He speaks of his labor as "done with a tired brain and an anxious mind," and of the eight or ten business letters that he had to write each day before he could begin his literary work.

"Postage and an omnibus are extravagances that I cannot allow myself," he writes. "I stay at home so as not to wear out my clothes. Is that clear to you?"

At the end of the next year, though he was already popular as a novelist, and much sought out by people of distinction, he was at the very climax of his poverty. He had written thirty-five books, and was in debt to the amount of a hundred and twenty-four thousand francs. He was saved from bankruptcy only by the aid of Mme. de Berny, a woman of high character, and one whose moral influence was very strong with Balzac until her early death.

The relation between these two has a sweetness and a purity which are seldom found. Mme. de Berny gave Balzac money as she would have given it to a son, and thereby she saved a great soul for literature. But there was no sickly sentiment between them, and Balzac regarded her with a noble love which he has expressed in the character of Mme. Firmiani.

It was immediately after she had lightened his burdens that the real Balzac comes before us in certain stories which have no equal, and which are among the most famous that he ever wrote. What could be more wonderful than his El Verdugo, which gives us a brief horror while compelling our admiration? What, outside of Balzac himself, could be more terrible than Gobseck, a frightful study of avarice, containing a deathbed scene which surpasses in dreadfulness almost anything in literature? Add to these A Passion in the Desert, The Girl with the Golden Eyes, The Droll Stories, The Red Inn, and The Magic Skin, and you have a cluster of masterpieces not to be surpassed.

In the year 1829, when he was just beginning to attain a slight success, Balzac received a long letter written in a woman's hand. As he read it, there came to him something very like an inspiration, so full of understanding were the written words, so full of appreciation and of sympathy with the best that he had done. This anonymous note pointed out here and there such defects as are apt to become chronic with a young author. Balzac was greatly stirred by its keen and sympathetic criticism. No one before had read his soul so clearly. No one—not even his devoted sister, Laure de Surville—had judged his work so wisely, had come so closely to his deepest feeling.

He read the letter over and over, and presently another came, full of critical appreciation, and of wholesome, tonic, frank, friendly words of cheer. It was very largely the effect of these letters that roused Balzac's full powers and made him sure of winning the two great objects of his first ambition—love and fame—the ideals of the chivalrous, romantic Frenchman from Caesar's time down to the present day.

Other letters followed, and after a while their authorship was made known to Balzac. He learned that they had been written by a young Polish lady, Mme. Evelina Hanska, the wife of a Polish count, whose health was feeble, and who spent much time in Switzerland because the climate there agreed with him.

He met her first at Neuchatel, and found her all that he had imagined. It is said that she had no sooner raised her face, and looked him fully in the eyes, than she fell fainting to the floor, overcome by her emotion. Balzac himself was deeply moved. From that day until their final meeting he wrote to her daily.

The woman who had become his second soul was not beautiful. Nevertheless, her face was intensely spiritual, and there was a mystic quality about it which made a strong appeal to Balzac's innermost nature. Those who saw him in Paris knocking about the streets at night with his boon companions, hobnobbing with the elder Dumas, or rejecting the frank advances of George Sand, would never have dreamed of this mysticism.

Balzac was heavy and broad of figure. His face was suggestive only of what was sensuous and sensual. At the same time, those few who looked into his heart and mind found there many a sign of the fine inner strain which purified the grosser elements of his nature. He who wrote the roaring Rabelaisian Contes Drolatiques was likewise the author of Seraphita.

This mysticism showed itself in many things that Balzac did. One little incident will perhaps be sufficiently characteristic of many others. He had a belief that names had a sort of esoteric appropriateness. So, in selecting them for his novels, he gathered them with infinite pains from many sources, and then weighed them anxiously in the balance. A writer on the subject of names and their significance has given the following account of this trait:

The great novelist once spent an entire day tramping about in the remotest quarters of Paris in search of a fitting name for a character just conceived by him. Every sign-board, every door-plate, every affiche upon the walls, was scrutinized. Thousands of names were considered and rejected, and it was only after his companion, utterly worn out by fatigue, had flatly refused to drag his weary limbs through more than one additional street, that Balzac suddenly saw upon a sign the name "Marcas," and gave a shout of joy at having finally secured what he was seeking.

Marcas it was, from that moment; and Balzac gradually evolved a Christian name for him. First he considered what initial was most appropriate; and then, having decided upon Z, he went on to expand this into Zepherin, explaining minutely just why the whole name Zepherin Marcas, was the only possible one for the character in the novel.

In many ways Balzac and Evelina Hanska were mated by nature. Whether they were fully mated the facts of their lives must demonstrate. For the present, the novelist plunged into a whirl of literary labor, toiling as few ever toiled—constructing several novels at the same time, visiting all the haunts of the French capital, so that he might observe and understand every type of human being, and then hurling himself like a giant at his work.

He had a curious practise of reading proofs. These would come to him in enormous sheets, printed on special paper, and with wide margins for his corrections. An immense table stood in the midst of his study, and upon the top he would spread out the proofs as if they were vast maps. Then, removing most of his outer garments, he would lie, face down, upon the proof-sheets, with a gigantic pencil, such as Bismarck subsequently used to wield. Thus disposed, he would go over the proofs.

Hardly anything that he had written seemed to suit him when he saw it in print. He changed and kept changing, obliterating what he disliked, writing in new sentences, revising others, and adding whole pages in the margins, until perhaps he had practically made a new book. This process was repeated several times; and how expensive it was may be judged from the fact that his bill for "author's proof corrections" was sometimes more than the publishers had agreed to pay him for the completed volume.

Sometimes, again, he would begin writing in the afternoon, and continue until dawn. Then, weary, aching in every bone, and with throbbing head, he would rise and turn to fall upon his couch after his eighteen hours of steady toil. But the memory of Evelina Hanska always came to him; and with half-numbed fingers he would seize his pen, and forget his weariness in the pleasure of writing to the dark-eyed woman who drew him to her like a magnet.

These are very curious letters that Balzac wrote to Mme. Hanska. He literally told her everything about himself. Not only were there long passages instinct with tenderness, and with his love for her; but he also gave her the most minute account of everything that occurred, and that might interest her. Thus he detailed at length his mode of living, the clothes he wore, the people whom he met, his trouble with his creditors, the accounts of his income and outgo. One might think that this was egotism on his part; but it was more than that. It was a strong belief that everything which concerned him must concern her; and he begged her in turn to write as freely and as fully.

Mme. Hanska was not the only woman who became his friend and comrade, and to whom he often wrote. He made many acquaintances in the fashionable world through the good offices of the Duchesse de Castries. By her favor, he studied with his microscopic gaze the beau monde of Louis Philippe's rather unimpressive court.

In a dozen books he scourged the court of the citizen king—its pretensions, its commonness, and its assemblage of nouveaux riches. Yet in it he found many friends—Victor Hugo, the Girardins—and among them women who were of the world. George Sand he knew very well, and she made ardent love to him; but he laughed her off very much as the elder Dumas did.

Then there was the pretty, dainty Mme. Carraud, who read and revised his manuscripts, and who perhaps took a more intimate interest in him than did the other ladies whom he came to know so well. Besides Mme. Hanska, he had another correspondent who signed herself "Louise," but who never let him know her name, though she wrote him many piquant, sunny letters, which he so sadly needed.

For though Honore de Balzac was now one of the most famous writers of his time, his home was still a den of suffering. His debts kept pressing on him, loading him down, and almost quenching hope. He acted toward his creditors like a man of honor, and his physical strength was still that of a giant. To Mme. Carraud he once wrote the half pathetic, half humorous plaint:

Poor pen! It must be diamond, not because one would wish to wear it, but because it has had so much use!

And again:

Here I am, owing a hundred thousand francs. And I am forty!

Balzac and Mme. Hanska met many times after that first eventful episode at Neuchatel. It was at this time that he gave utterance to the poignant cry:

Love for me is life, and to-day I feel it more than ever!

In like manner he wrote, on leaving her, that famous epigram:

It is only the last love of a woman that can satisfy the first love of a man.

In 1842 Mme. Hanska's husband died. Balzac naturally expected that an immediate marriage with the countess would take place; but the woman who had loved him mystically for twelve years, and with a touch of the physical for nine, suddenly draws back. She will not promise anything. She talks of delays, owing to the legal arrangements for her children. She seems almost a prude. An American critic has contrasted her attitude with his:

Every one knows how utterly and absolutely Balzac devoted to this one woman all his genius, his aspiration, the thought of his every moment; how every day, after he had labored like a slave for eighteen hours, he would take his pen and pour out to her the most intimate details of his daily life; how at her call he would leave everything and rush across the continent to Poland or to Italy, being radiantly happy if he could but see her face and be for a few days by her side. The very thought of meeting her thrilled him to the very depths of his nature, and made him, for weeks and even months beforehand, restless, uneasy, and agitated, with an almost painful happiness.

It is the most startling proof of his immense vitality, both physical and mental, that so tremendous an emotional strain could be endured by him for years without exhausting his fecundity or blighting his creativeness.

With Balzac, however, it was the period of his most brilliant work; and this was true in spite of the anguish of long separations, and the complaints excited by what appears to be caprice or boldness or a faint indifference. Even in Balzac one notices toward the last a certain sense of strain underlying what he wrote, a certain lack of elasticity and facility, if of nothing more; yet on the whole it is likely that without this friendship Balzac would have been less great than he actually became, as it is certain that had it been broken off he would have ceased to write or to care for anything whatever in the world.

And yet, when they were free to marry, Mme. Hanska shrank away. Not until 1846, four years after her husband's death, did she finally give her promise to the eager Balzac. Then, in the overflow of his happiness, his creative genius blazed up into a most wonderful flame; but he soon discovered that the promise was not to be at once fulfilled. The shock impaired that marvelous vitality which had carried him through debt, and want, and endless labor.

It was at this moment, by the irony of fate, that his country hailed him as one of the greatest of its men of genius. A golden stream poured into his lap. His debts were not all extinguished, but his income was so large that they burdened him no longer.

But his one long dream was the only thing for which he cared; and though in an exoteric sense this dream came true, its truth was but a mockery. Evelina Hanska summoned him to Poland, and Balzac went to her at once. There was another long delay, and for more than a year he lived as a guest in the countess's mansion at Wierzchownia; but finally, in March, 1850, the two were married. A few weeks later they came back to France together, and occupied the little country house, Les Jardies, in which, some decades later, occurred Gambetta's mysterious death.

What is the secret of this strange love, which in the woman seems to be not precisely love, but something else? Balzac was always eager for her presence. She, on the other hand, seems to have been mentally more at ease when he was absent. Perhaps the explanation, if we may venture upon one, is based upon a well-known physiological fact.

Love in its completeness is made up of two great elements—first, the element that is wholly spiritual, that is capable of sympathy, and tenderness, and deep emotion. The other element is the physical, the source of passion, of creative energy, and of the truly virile qualities, whether it be in man or woman. Now, let either of these elements be lacking, and love itself cannot fully and utterly exist. The spiritual nature in one may find its mate in the spiritual nature of another; and the physical nature of one may find its mate in the physical nature of another. But into unions such as these, love does not enter in its completeness. If there is any element lacking in either of those who think that they can mate, their mating will be a sad and pitiful failure.

It is evident enough that Mme. Hanska was almost wholly spiritual, and her long years of waiting had made her understand the difference between Balzac and herself. Therefore, she shrank from his proximity, and from his physical contact, and it was perhaps better for them both that their union was so quickly broken off by death; for the great novelist died of heart disease only five months after the marriage.

If we wish to understand the mystery of Balzac's life—or, more truly, the mystery of the life of the woman whom he married—take up and read once more the pages of Seraphita, one of his poorest novels and yet a singularly illuminating story, shedding light upon a secret of the soul.


The instances of distinguished men, or of notable women, who have broken through convention in order to find a fitting mate, are very numerous. A few of these instances may, perhaps, represent what is usually called a Platonic union. But the evidence is always doubtful. The world is not possessed of abundant charity, nor does human experience lead one to believe that intimate relations between a man and a woman are compatible with Platonic friendship.

Perhaps no case is more puzzling than that which is found in the life-history of Charles Reade and Laura Seymour.

Charles Reade belongs to that brilliant group of English writers and artists which included Dickens, Bulwer-Lytton, Wilkie Collins, Tom Taylor, George Eliot, Swinburne, Sir Walter Besant, Maclise, and Goldwin Smith. In my opinion, he ranks next to Dickens in originality and power. His books are little read to-day; yet he gave to the English stage the comedy "Masks and Faces," which is now as much a classic as Goldsmith's "She Stoops to Conquer" or Sheridan's "School for Scandal." His power as a novelist was marvelous. Who can forget the madhouse episodes in Hard Cash, or the great trial scene in Griffith Gaunt, or that wonderful picture, in The Cloister and the Hearth, of Germany and Rome at the end of the Middle Ages? Here genius has touched the dead past and made it glow again with an intense reality.

He was the son of a country gentleman, the lord of a manor which had been held by his family before the Wars of the Boses. His ancestors had been noted for their services in warfare, in Parliament, and upon the bench. Reade, therefore, was in feeling very much of an aristocrat. Sometimes he pushed his ancestral pride to a whimsical excess, very much as did his own creation, Squire Raby, in Put Yourself in His Place.

At the same time he might very well have been called a Tory democrat. His grandfather had married the daughter of a village blacksmith, and Reade was quite as proud of this as he was of the fact that another ancestor had been lord chief justice of England. From the sturdy strain which came to him from the blacksmith he, perhaps, derived that sledge-hammer power with which he wrote many of his most famous chapters, and which he used in newspaper controversies with his critics. From his legal ancestors there may have come to him the love of litigation, which kept him often in hot water. From those who had figured in the life of royal courts, he inherited a romantic nature, a love of art, and a very delicate perception of the niceties of cultivated usage. Such was Charles Reade—keen observer, scholar, Bohemian—a man who could be both rough and tender, and whose boisterous ways never concealed his warm heart.

Reade's school-days were Spartan in their severity. A teacher with the appropriate name of Slatter set him hard tasks and caned him unmercifully for every shortcoming. A weaker nature would have been crushed. Reade's was toughened, and he learned to resist pain and to resent wrong, so that hatred of injustice has been called his dominating trait.

In preparing himself for college he was singularly fortunate in his tutors. One of them was Samuel Wilberforce, afterward Bishop of Oxford, nicknamed, from his suavity of manner, "Soapy Sam"; and afterward, when Reade was studying law, his instructor was Samuel Warren, the author of that once famous novel, Ten Thousand a Year, and the creator of "Tittlebat Titmouse."

For his college at Oxford, Reade selected one of the most beautiful and ancient—Magdalen—which he entered, securing what is known as a demyship. Reade won his demyship by an extraordinary accident. Always an original youth, his reading was varied and valuable; but in his studies he had never tried to be minutely accurate in small matters. At that time every candidate was supposed to be able to repeat, by heart, the "Thirty-Nine Articles." Reade had no taste for memorizing; and out of the whole thirty-nine he had learned but three. His general examination was good, though not brilliant. When he came to be questioned orally, the examiner, by a chance that would not occur once in a million times, asked the candidate to repeat these very articles. Reade rattled them off with the greatest glibness, and produced so favorable an impression that he was let go without any further questioning.

It must be added that his English essay was original, and this also helped him; but had it not been for the other great piece of luck he would, in Oxford phrase, have been "completely gulfed." As it was, however, he was placed as highly as the young men who were afterward known as Cardinal Newman and Sir Robert Lowe (Lord Sherbrooke).

At the age of twenty-one, Reade obtained a fellowship, which entitled him to an income so long as he remained unmarried. It is necessary to consider the significance of this when we look at his subsequent career. The fellowship at Magdalen was worth, at the outset, about twelve hundred dollars annually, and it gave him possession of a suite of rooms free of any charge. He likewise secured a Vinerian fellowship in law, to which was attached an income of four hundred dollars. As time went on, the value of the first fellowship increased until it was worth twenty-five hundred dollars. Therefore, as with many Oxford men of his time, Charles Reade, who had no other fortune, was placed in this position—if he refrained from marrying, he had a home and a moderate income for life, without any duties whatsoever. If he married, he must give up his income and his comfortable apartments, and go out into the world and struggle for existence.

There was the further temptation that the possession of his fellowship did not even necessitate his living at Oxford. He might spend his time in London, or even outside of England, knowing that his chambers at Magdalen were kept in order for him, as a resting-place to which he might return whenever he chose.

Reade remained a while at Oxford, studying books and men—especially the latter. He was a great favorite with the undergraduates, though less so with the dons. He loved the boat-races on the river; he was a prodigious cricket-player, and one of the best bowlers of his time. He utterly refused to put on any of the academic dignity which his associates affected. He wore loud clothes. His flaring scarfs were viewed as being almost scandalous, very much as Longfellow's parti-colored waistcoats were regarded when he first came to Harvard as a professor.

Charles Reade pushed originality to eccentricity. He had a passion for violins, and ran himself into debt because he bought so many and such good ones. Once, when visiting his father's house at Ipsden, he shocked the punctilious old gentleman by dancing on the dining-table to the accompaniment of a fiddle, which he scraped delightedly. Dancing, indeed, was another of his diversions, and, in spite of the fact that he was a fellow of Magdalen and a D.C.L. of Oxford, he was always ready to caper and to display the new steps.

In the course of time, he went up to London; and at once plunged into the seething tide of the metropolis. He made friends far and wide, and in every class and station—among authors and politicians, bishops and bargees, artists and musicians. Charles Reade learned much from all of them, and all of them were fond of him.

But it was the theater that interested him most. Nothing else seemed to him quite so fine as to be a successful writer for the stage. He viewed the drama with all the reverence of an ancient Greek. On his tombstone he caused himself to be described as "Dramatist, novelist, journalist."

"Dramatist" he put first of all, even after long experience had shown him that his greatest power lay in writing novels. But in this early period he still hoped for fame upon the stage.

It was not a fortunate moment for dramatic writers. Plays were bought outright by the managers, who were afraid to risk any considerable sum, and were very shy about risking anything at all. The system had not yet been established according to which an author receives a share of the money taken at the box-office. Consequently, Reade had little or no financial success. He adapted several pieces from the French, for which he was paid a few bank-notes. "Masks and Faces" got a hearing, and drew large audiences, but Reade had sold it for a paltry sum; and he shared the honors of its authorship with Tom Taylor, who was then much better known.

Such was the situation. Reade was personally liked, but his plays were almost all rejected. He lived somewhat extravagantly and ran into debt, though not very deeply. He had a play entitled "Christie Johnstone," which he believed to be a great one, though no manager would venture to produce it. Reade, brooding, grew thin and melancholy. Finally, he decided that he would go to a leading actress at one of the principal theaters and try to interest her in his rejected play. The actress he had in mind was Laura Seymour, then appearing at the Haymarket under the management of Buckstone; and this visit proved to be the turning-point in Reade's whole life.

Laura Seymour was the daughter of a surgeon at Bath—a man in large practise and with a good income, every penny of which he spent. His family lived in lavish style; but one morning, after he had sat up all night playing cards, his little daughter found him in the dining-room, stone dead. After his funeral it appeared that he had left no provision for his family. A friend of his—a Jewish gentleman of Portuguese extraction—showed much kindness to the children, settling their affairs and leaving them with some money in the bank; but, of course, something must be done.

The two daughters removed to London, and at a very early age Laura had made for herself a place in the dramatic world, taking small parts at first, but rising so rapidly that in her fifteenth year she was cast for the part of Juliet. As an actress she led a life of strange vicissitudes. At one time she would be pinched by poverty, and at another time she would be well supplied with money, which slipped through her fingers like water. She was a true Bohemian, a happy-go-lucky type of the actors of her time.

From all accounts, she was never very beautiful; but she had an instinct for strange, yet effective, costumes, which attracted much attention. She has been described as "a fluttering, buoyant, gorgeous little butterfly." Many were drawn to her. She was careless of what she did, and her name was not untouched with scandal. But she lived through it all, and emerged a clever, sympathetic woman of wide experience, both on the stage and off it.

One of her admirers—an elderly gentleman named Seymour—came to her one day when she was in much need of money, and told her that he had just deposited a thousand pounds to her credit at the bank. Having said this, he left the room precipitately. It was the beginning of a sort of courtship; and after a while she married him. Her feeling toward him was one of gratitude. There was no sentiment about it; but she made him a good wife, and gave no further cause for gossip.

Such was the woman whom Charles Reade now approached with the request that she would let him read to her a portion of his play. He had seen her act, and he honestly believed her to be a dramatic genius of the first order. Few others shared this belief; but she was generally thought of as a competent, though by no means brilliant, actress. Reade admired her extremely, so that at the very thought of speaking with her his emotions almost choked him.

In answer to a note, she sent word that he might call at her house. He was at this time (1849) in his thirty-eighth year. The lady was a little older, and had lost something of her youthful charm; yet, when Reade was ushered into her drawing-room, she seemed to him the most graceful and accomplished woman whom he had ever met.

She took his measure, or she thought she took it, at a glance. Here was one of those would-be playwrights who live only to torment managers and actresses. His face was thin, from which she inferred that he was probably half starved. His bashfulness led her to suppose that he was an inexperienced youth. Little did she imagine that he was the son of a landed proprietor, a fellow of one of Oxford's noblest colleges, and one with friends far higher in the world than herself. Though she thought so little of him, and quite expected to be bored, she settled herself in a soft armchair to listen. The unsuccessful playwright read to her a scene or two from his still unfinished drama. She heard him patiently, noting the cultivated accent of his voice, which proved to her that he was at least a gentleman. When he had finished, she said:

"Yes, that's good! The plot is excellent." Then she laughed a sort of stage laugh, and remarked lightly: "Why don't you turn it into a novel?"

Reade was stung to the quick. Nothing that she could have said would have hurt him more. Novels he despised; and here was this woman, the queen of the English stage, as he regarded her, laughing at his drama and telling him to make a novel of it. He rose and bowed.

"I am trespassing on your time," he said; and, after barely touching the fingers of her outstretched hand, he left the room abruptly.

The woman knew men very well, though she scarcely knew Charles Reade. Something in his melancholy and something in his manner stirred her heart. It was not a heart that responded to emotions readily, but it was a very good-natured heart. Her explanation of Reade's appearance led her to think that he was very poor. If she had not much tact, she had an abundant store of sympathy; and so she sat down and wrote a very blundering but kindly letter, in which she enclosed a five-pound note.

Reade subsequently described his feelings on receiving this letter with its bank-note. He said:

"I, who had been vice-president of Magdalen—I, who flattered myself I was coming to the fore as a dramatist—to have a five-pound note flung at my head, like a ticket for soup to a pauper, or a bone to a dog, and by an actress, too! Yet she said my reading was admirable; and, after all, there is much virtue in a five-pound note. Anyhow, it showed the writer had a good heart."

The more he thought of her and of the incident, the more comforted he was. He called on her the next day without making an appointment; and when she received him, he had the five-pound note fluttering in his hand.

She started to speak, but he interrupted her.

"No," he said, "that is not what I wanted from you. I wanted sympathy, and you have unintentionally supplied it."

Then this man, whom she had regarded as half starved, presented her with an enormous bunch of hothouse grapes, and the two sat down and ate them together, thus beginning a friendship which ended only with Laura Seymour's death.

Oddly enough, Mrs. Seymour's suggestion that Reade should make a story of his play was a suggestion which he actually followed. It was to her guidance and sympathy that the world owes the great novels which he afterward composed. If he succeeded on the stage at all, it was not merely in "Masks and Faces," but in his powerful dramatization of Zola's novel, L'Assommoir, under the title "Drink," in which the late Charles Warner thrilled and horrified great audiences all over the English-speaking world. Had Reade never known Laura Seymour, he might never have written so strong a drama.

The mystery of Reade's relations with this woman can never be definitely cleared up. Her husband, Mr. Seymour, died not long after she and Reade became acquainted. Then Reade and several friends, both men and women, took a house together; and Laura Seymour, now a clever manager and amiable hostess, looked after all the practical affairs of the establishment. One by one, the others fell away, through death or by removal, until at last these two were left alone. Then Reade, unable to give up the companionship which meant so much to him, vowed that she must still remain and care for him. He leased a house in Sloane Street, which he has himself described in his novel A Terrible Temptation. It is the chapter wherein Reade also draws his own portrait in the character of Francis Bolfe:

The room was rather long, low, and nondescript; scarlet flock paper; curtains and sofas, green Utrecht velvet; woodwork and pillars, white and gold; two windows looking on the street; at the other end folding-doors, with scarcely any woodwork, all plate glass, but partly hidden by heavy curtains of the same color and material as the others.

At last a bell rang; the maid came in and invited Lady Bassett to follow her. She opened the glass folding-doors and took them into a small conservatory, walled like a grotto, with ferns sprouting out of rocky fissures, and spars sparkling, water dripping. Then she opened two more glass folding-doors, and ushered them into an empty room, the like of which Lady Bassett had never seen; it was large in itself, and multiplied tenfold by great mirrors from floor to ceiling, with no frames but a narrow oak beading; opposite her, on entering, was a bay window, all plate glass, the central panes of which opened, like doors, upon a pretty little garden that glowed with color, and was backed by fine trees belonging to the nation; for this garden ran up to the wall of Hyde Park.

The numerous and large mirrors all down to the ground laid hold of the garden and the flowers, and by double and treble reflection filled the room with delightful nooks of verdure and color.

Here are the words in which Reade describes himself as he looked when between fifty and sixty years of age:

He looked neither like a poet nor a drudge, but a great fat country farmer. He was rather tall, very portly, smallish head, commonplace features, mild brown eye not very bright, short beard, and wore a suit of tweed all one color.

Such was the house and such was the man over both of which Laura Seymour held sway until her death in 1879. What must be thought of their relations? She herself once said to Mr. John Coleman:

"As for our positions—his and mine—we are partners, nothing more. He has his bank-account, and I have mine. He is master of his fellowship and his rooms at Oxford, and I am mistress of this house, but not his mistress! Oh, dear, no!"

At another time, long after Mr. Seymour's death, she said to an intimate friend:

"I hope Mr. Reade will never ask me to marry him, for I should certainly refuse the offer."

There was no reason why he should not have made this offer, because his Oxford fellowship ceased to be important to him after he had won fame as a novelist. Publishers paid him large sums for everything he wrote. His debts were all paid off, and his income was assured. Yet he never spoke of marriage, and he always introduced his friend as "the lady who keeps my house for me."

As such, he invited his friends to meet her, and as such, she even accompanied him to Oxford. There was no concealment, and apparently there was nothing to conceal. Their manner toward each other was that of congenial friends. Mrs. Seymour, in fact, might well have been described as "a good fellow." Sometimes she referred to him as "the doctor," and sometimes by the nickname "Charlie." He, on his side, often spoke of her by her last name as "Seymour," precisely as if she had been a man. One of his relatives rather acutely remarked about her that she was not a woman of sentiment at all, but had a genius for friendship; and that she probably could not have really loved any man at all.

This is, perhaps, the explanation of their intimacy. If so, it is a very remarkable instance of Platonic friendship. It is certain that, after she met Reade, Mrs. Seymour never cared for any other man. It is no less certain that he never cared for any other woman. When she died, five years before his death, his life became a burden to him. It was then that he used to speak of her as "my lost darling" and "my dove." He directed that they should be buried side by side in Willesden churchyard. Over the monument which commemorates them both, he caused to be inscribed, in addition to an epitaph for himself, the following tribute to his friend. One should read it and accept the touching words as answering every question that may be asked:

Here lies the great heart of Laura Seymour, a brilliant artist, a humble Christian, a charitable woman, a loving daughter, sister, and friend, who lived for others from her childhood. Tenderly pitiful to all God's creatures—even to some that are frequently destroyed or neglected—she wiped away the tears from many faces, helping the poor with her savings and the sorrowful with her earnest pity. When the eye saw her it blessed her, for her face was sunshine, her voice was melody, and her heart was sympathy.

This grave was made for her and for himself by Charles Reade, whose wise counselor, loyal ally, and bosom friend she was for twenty-four years, and who mourns her all his days.