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Title: Madame Adam (Juliette Lambert), la grande Française

Author: Winifred Stephens Whale

Release date: December 21, 2018 [eBook #58510]

Language: French

Credits: Produced by Clarity, Christian Boissonnas and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
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Printed in Great Britain by
Richard Clay & Sons, Limited

[Pg v]


La Grande Française [1]

Professor of Energy,” a term first applied to Napoléon I, is a title which has been bestowed on more than one living Frenchman. None has better claim to it than Mme. Adam, La Grande Française, as she has been happily called, the story of whose life, which is now running into its eighty-first year, is told in the following pages.

To write Mme. Adam’s biography is also to write one of the most momentous chapters of French history. For this remarkable woman has lived through the Revolution of 1848, the coup d’état of 1851, the agony of the siege of Paris, the civil war of the Commune, and two invasions of her beloved patrie.

As the mistress of a leading political salon, as the founder and editor for twenty years of an influential fortnightly magazine, La Nouvelle Revue, as for many years the intimate friend of Gambetta, of Thiers, of other French ministers, of the representatives of foreign powers and of such eminent French writers as George Sand, Flaubert, Victor Hugo, Alphonse Daudet, Pierre Loti, Paul Bourget and Maurice Barrès, she has not only kept her finger on the pulse of her great nation, but she has to some extent modulated its heart-beats.

The key to Mme. Adam’s temperament and to all the varied phases of her career is her passionate belief in self-government, in that cause of national independence for which the powers of L’Entente are now engaging in this world-embracing conflict. We may call it a belief, but originally in Mme. Adam’s case it was an instinct born in her and inherited from her father, one of the most ardent of revolutionaries. Mme. Adam is a revoltée to the core. Toujours hors des rangs, Gambetta said of her. In numerous incidents of her childhood her rebelliousness revealed [Pg vi] itself. The growth of her reasoning powers, however, led her to submit to discipline, to embrace with fervour—she can never do anything by halves—the republican creed, and to become the irreconcilable adversary of the Second Empire. Then the national defeat of 1871, acting upon what she has described as her combativité rentrée (her suppressed combativeness), turned her passion for self-government into an ardent advocacy of the principle of nationality, into a vehement protest against everything which could in even the remotest manner be suspected of undermining that principle.

Consequently we shall find Mme. Adam loudly lifting up her voice, vigorously wielding her pen most frequently against Prussian aggressiveness, but also against imperialistic ideas, no matter in what shape or form, no matter in what part of the world she can detect them. We shall find her opposing alike the French tendency to colonial expansion and the Austrian Drang nach Osten, Mr. Gladstone’s later policy in Egypt and the Conservative coercion of Ireland, the Magyar domination over the Slav peoples and our war with the Boer Republic in South Africa. We shall find her also ever glorifying the army and navy as the most effective guarantee of national independence.

Nationalism is Mme. Adam’s creed, patriotism her religion. French Nationalists, like Léon Daudet, regard her as having been the strong tower of the French idea (la forteresse de l’idée française) throughout the forty-four years separating the war of 1914 from the war of 1870. If in later years Mme. Adam has renounced her father’s agnosticism and returned to the bosom of the Church, it is primarily because she considers that only by submitting to the Roman obedience can she best continue the traditions of her country.

I am very fortunate, for Mme. Adam has throughout taken a deep interest in this biography. We have discussed it together at length. Despite her multifarious war activities she has found time to write me some forty letters in response to my questions. She has also introduced me to her friend and collaborator in La Nouvelle Revue, Mme. Jeanne Krompholtz, who has kindly furnished me with valuable information.

For the greater part of Mme. Adam’s life, however, from her birth in 1836 down to 1880, my main authority has been [Pg vii] her seven volumes of Souvenirs. These living documents, written, many of them, under the immediate impression of the events they record, I have carefully compared with contemporary and more recent writings, indicated by foot-notes throughout these pages. For the quarter of a century and more which has elapsed since the close of Mme. Adam’s Souvenirs I have consulted her numerous other autobiographical works, her contributions to La Nouvelle Revue and to other periodical literature, and also the frequent references to her personally, and to her books, which have appeared from time to time in the French press and elsewhere.

I have to thank Sir Sidney Colvin, who frequently visited Mme. Adam at her salon’s most brilliant moment, in the seventies, for generously bringing forth from the rich treasure-house of his remembrance and for permitting me to incorporate in this book valuable recollections which enhance, confirm and complement impressions derived from other sources.

Had he lived to see this work completed I should have gladly taken this opportunity to thank another of Mme. Adam’s acquaintances and admirers, M. Elie Mercadier, Director in London of L’Agence Havas. For to his lively talk about La Grande Française and her circle I am indebted for many a striking trait and useful suggestion.

Winifred Stephens.

London, 1917.


[1]Celui qui l’a baptisée ‘la Grande Française’ a bien dit.”—Léon Daudet, L’Entre-Deux-Guerres, 231 (1915).

[Pg ix]


II. CHILDHOOD. 1839-1848 10
V. HER FIRST BOOK. 1858 51
VIII. HER PRE-WAR SALON. 1864-1870 97
XI. THE SIEGE OF PARIS. 1870-1871 144
XII. THE COMMUNE. 1871 158
XIII. GAMBETTA’S EGERIA. 1871-1878 170
XIV. LA REVANCHE. 1870-1880 188
XV. DISILLUSIONMENT. 1878-1880 204
XVI. LA NOUVELLE REVUE. 1879-1899 212
XVIII. THE ABBESS OF GIF. 1880-1917 236
INDEX. 247

[Pg xi]


JULIETTE LAMBERT. (From a portrait by Léopold Flameng, 1860) 71


[Pg 1]





L’émotion, l’ébullition sont en permanence dans nos âmes.”—Mme. Adam, Souvenirs.

In the opening pages of her Recollections Mme. Adam has told, with more vivid detail than is unhappily here possible, the story of two generations of her ancestors. Her own career has not lacked romance; but many of its most thrilling incidents pale beside the experiences of her forbears. Tracing them back to the Napoleonic Wars, she presents us with a lively picture of domestic history, which is as far from being commonplace as it is possible to imagine. For it embraces moving scenes of rapturous love affairs, extraordinary marriages, a startling infidelity, quarrels about dowries, and the story of a son who had a rare precocious experience. At the age of nine, he found himself already disinherited and sent forth in the world, cast upon the mercy of the family milkman, with whom he took refuge. This juvenile outcast was Mme. Adam’s maternal grandfather, of whom, under the name of Dr. Seron, we shall hear much more anon. Only by unwavering persistence, and stern resolution did this unhappy boy escape from his benefactor’s vocation. Tramping to Paris, boots in hand, to save shoe-leather, he educated himself into the medical profession and ultimately married Mme. Adam’s grandmother, Pélagie Raincourt. Pélagie also was a highly romantic person, no less remarkable than her husband. For on her wedding morning, as the result of a family broil, by no means rare among Mme. Adam’s forbears, she escaped in a pet from her mother’s house, and was found sitting by the roadside, clad only in a nightcap and [Pg 2] dressing-gown, by her bridegroom, who had pursued her on horseback. Swinging her into the saddle, in order to avoid further escapades, he carried her off to the church and there married her out of hand. Her sole bridal adornment was a white carnation, which a woman of the people pinned into her cap.

Juliette in later years was shown the cap and the carnation to illustrate the story, which she heard from the runaway’s own lips.

Mme. Seron continued all her life addicted to romance. When it became a question of marrying her daughter, Olympe, Mme. Adam’s mother, Mme. Seron, a catholic, chose a son-in-law who was an agnostic, because she was attracted by his appearance and his history. Jean Louis Lambert, Mme. Adam’s father, had for the sake of his opinions sacrificed brilliant ecclesiastical prospects, and from the prospective secretary of the Archbishop of Beauvais had become an usher in the boys’ school opposite Mme. Seron’s house. This heroic youth was taken by Mme. Adam’s grandmother, educated as a doctor, and married to the reluctantly quiescent Olympe, who from that time forward adopted that attitude of injured passivity which was expressed by her favourite phrase “where you have tethered the goat there it will graze.”

All this happened in Picardy, a province where people lived well and washed sparingly. The very name of Mme. Adam’s birthplace, Verberie, with its suggestion of oyster patties and sauterne, made Robert Louis Stevenson’s mouth water, as he paddled towards it in his canoe. Juliette remembers how on Fridays at ten in the morning the oyster cart from Boulogne would arrive, bringing twelve dozen oysters for her family, how they would all sit round the table, the oyster barrel in the centre, and how each with his or her knife would open his or her oysters. Juliette’s grandfather and father would consume four dozen each, her grandmother and mother two dozen each, while sometimes there would be a friend who would abstract as many as possible from his hosts’ respective shares. Wine flowed freely at these feasts. Dr. Seron was a twelve-bottle man. But fortunately his beverage was only light Macon; and this, happily for his patients, was not consumed until he had performed his operations at the hospital. Operations! One trembles at the very word [Pg 3] when associated with Dr. Seron. For, according to his granddaughter, that country surgeon was a most diligent cultivator of microbes. Ablutions, as we have said, were rare in Picard households. A bath was unheard of. Dr. Seron held that the face should be washed as little as possible for fear of bringing out a rash. Soap was only used on Sundays. The windows, of course, were kept tightly shut. Physical exercise was carefully avoided. The women of Mme. Adam’s family, like old-fashioned Frenchwomen down to the present day, seldom went beyond their own house and garden, declining even the attractions of the provincial theatre, for they agreed with Mme. de Sévigné that une grande dame ne doit pas remuer les os (a true lady should not move about her bones).

Nevertheless, though their bodies were cribbed, cabined and confined, these Frenchwomen’s minds moved in the great world of romance, their fancies glowed with all the fervent imaginings of that effervescent age. Mme. Adam’s grandmother lived, moved and had her being in the “Human Comedy” of Balzac. Turning over the pages of his ninety-seven novels, or sitting over her embroidery frame, she lived the lives of his five thousand characters. Her unfortunate choice of a husband for her granddaughter, Juliette, was largely dictated by the suitor’s resemblance to one of her favourite novelist’s heroes.

Mme. Adam, as we have said, was born at the little Picard town of Verberie, a famous place in mediæval times, the residence of Frankish kings, whither in the ninth century had come Ethelbald, King of Wessex, to wed his thirteen-year-old bride, Charles the Bald’s daughter, Judith. Verberie in the last century was a favourite place of call for tourists, who in pre-motor-car days used to drive leisurely from Senlis to Compiègne. Our English poetess, Mary Robinson (Mme. Duclaux)[2], tells how from the steep brow of a down, known as “la Montagne de Verberie,” she saw through “the poplar screens of the precipitous hill-side, a lovely blue expanse of country with the Oise lying across it like a scimitar of silver”; how her carriage dashed down the hill “and clattered along the sleepy, pebbly ... street, past the inn, full of blouses and billiards.”

[Pg 4]

It was in that very inn, “Les Trois Monarques,” at Verberie that Mme. Adam was born, at half-past five on the 4th of October, 1836.

Was it a glimpse into their daughter’s future that made her parents name her “Juliette” after that most seductive of all the queens of French salons, Mme. Récamier?

No gold or even silver spoon was in our Juliette’s mouth when she made her first appearance on this world’s stage. At the time of her birth, her parents’ fortunes had reached a low ebb. Dr. Lambert had been in practice with his great-uncle in a village not far from Verberie, and thither to his uncle’s house he had brought home his girl wife. For the first years of their marriage everything had gone well with the young couple. Then had come a deluge of misfortunes. Their first baby, a boy, died in convulsions. Then the uncle died, and his estate was divided among numerous legatees. Finally, a fire broke out which nearly consumed the whole village, and, despite Mme. Lambert’s heroic efforts, burned her husband’s house to the ground.

Thus were Juliette’s parents driven to seek harbourage in the inn at Verberie, where Juliette was born.

Very shortly after this event, her father, one of the most unpractical but at the same time most attractive of scientists, was fascinated by the report of some marvellous scientific experiments, which were being made in the neighbouring town of Compiègne, by a well-known chemist, a Dr. Bernhardt. Leaving his wife and daughter to the tender mercies of mine host of “The Three Monarchs,” Dr. Lambert went off to join his confrère. This Dr. Bernhardt came to be regarded by Juliette’s family as a veritable German Mephistopheles; for the only result of his experiments was the consumption of Mme. Lambert’s dowry.

During her husband’s scientific adventures Mme. Lambert and her baby girl in the Verberie inn were suffering serious privations. And they might have come near starvation had it not been for the assistance they received from Mme. Lambert’s parents. But this timely aid could only be given surreptitiously; for Juliette had had the misfortune to be born, not into poverty merely, but into one of the numerous family feuds which were to chequer all her childhood. Between her parents and her grandparents at the time of the first baby’s death there had arisen a misunderstanding. For some time there had been no communication [Pg 5] between the Lamberts at Verberie and the Serons, who lived not far away at Chauny, then a flourishing manufacturing town, now converted by German vandalism into a heap of ruins. It was only by the curtest of notes that Dr. Lambert had announced to Dr. and Mme. Seron their granddaughter’s advent. Had it not been for the report, brought by one of Dr. Seron’s patients, a friendly commercial traveller, Juliette’s grandmother would never have known of the sorry plight to which her son-in-law’s scientific vagaries had reduced his wife and child.

On hearing the commercial traveller’s news, Mme. Seron, with characteristic impetuousness, flew into a passion and declared that she would set off at once for Verberie to rescue her granddaughter from the parents who were obviously incapable of taking care of her. Dr. Seron, however, succeeded in convincing his wife that a family scene would be injurious for the infant, whom her mother was nursing. He reminded Mme. Seron that the first Lambert baby had died in convulsions; and finally he induced her to postpone her intervention until the child was nine months old and might leave her mother without danger.

Meanwhile the landlord of “The Three Monarchs” was secretly given to understand that Mme. and Mlle. Lambert must be made comfortable, and that Dr. Seron might be held responsible for the reckoning.

With great difficulty during those interminable nine months did the ardent grandmother possess her soul in patience. She occupied the time, however, in working out the details of the cleverly devised plot by which she ultimately succeeded in carrying off her grandchild.

Juliette in after years used to delight to hear her grandmother describe all the stages of that famous coup: how the landlord of the inn was made privy to the plot; how there stood ready a coach, nothing less than a berline, recalling another flight, more famous but less successful; how in the coach had been placed a warm shawl and a bottle of hot milk; how, while Mme. Lambert was haggling over the bill with the landlord, Mme. Seron, bearing a certain precious bundle, was stealthily stealing to the berline and then speeding away with baby Juliette to join the diligence outside the town; how ultimately the stolen jewel was deposited safely at Chauny, whither not long afterwards her mother followed her.

[Pg 6]

In vain did Dr. Lambert, penniless and disillusioned, plead for the return of his wife and daughter. “Not until you have proved yourself able to support them,” was Mme. Seron’s stern reply; and, she added relentlessly, “I adopt the child whom you abandoned, whom you left a prey to the direst poverty. She is mine, and shall be as long as I live.”

Thus ended the first of those kidnappings which were to recur at intervals through the first sixteen years of Juliette’s life, until her first marriage. They arose not merely from the rival claims of parents and grandparents to possess the child, but from the fact that each of these four persons held pronounced and divergent opinions as to the upbringing of their adored one. In the quarrels which ensued, Mme. Seron and Dr. Lambert were the protagonists; Dr. Seron and Mme. Lambert played the parts of supers, or supported one side or the other.

We are all, even the most obstinate and strong-minded, moulded, though often unconsciously, by various intellectual influences. To this rule Juliette, despite her indomitable will and personal idiosyncrasy, was no exception. And a study of her mental development shows her passing through three distinct phases: her childhood and youth, when her grandmother’s or her father’s influence dominated alternately: middle life, when broadly speaking she sympathised with her father’s opinions: her later years, after the war of 1870, when more or less she was returning to her grandmother’s point of view.

With these two formative forces, with these two remarkable persons, Mme. Seron and her son-in-law, Dr. Lambert, we must become intimately acquainted if we would understand Juliette’s character and career. We must also remember that the time of Juliette’s upbringing was the hey-day of the romantic period, a time when individualism ran rampant, when the most Utopian of dreamers believed they were about to realise their wildest hopes. It was true that after half a century of experiments in government France had practically settled down for a while into the jog-trot of Louis Philippe’s reign. But beneath the veil of the moderate and the commonplace which this compromise of constitutional monarchy had cast over the country, there bubbled and boiled a welter of effervescence which twelve years after Juliette’s birth exploded in the Revolution of 1848.

[Pg 7]

The national temperament of France during the first half of the last century partly accounts for the temperament of Juliette’s family, and for the atmosphere of intellectual and emotional feverishness in which she was brought up. Looking back from the vantage point of old age on the stormy scenes of her childhood, she asked: “Were we more sensitive then, more susceptible, more dramatic than to-day? I believe we were.”[3] It is not improbable also that Mme. Adam, regarding her childhood through the long vista of years, may have unconsciously exaggerated the violence of her sentiments and experiences. One of her charms is that feeling for the dramatic, with which Gambetta once reproached her, saying, “Vous dramatisez trop, madame!

“My love for my grandmother and for my daughter,” said Mme. Adam to me shortly before her eightieth birthday, “have been the two great passions of my life.”

Of her grandmother, she announces in the beginning of her Souvenirs: “I shall write of her often, but shall I ever ... be able to make her live with that originality, that passion for the romantic which she infused into us all, lifting on to the plane of high romance the whole of our family life and each one of our daily actions?”

Though Mme. Seron hardly ever went outside her own domestic domain except to attend mass on Sunday, her granddaughter could say that never had she met a mind “more avid of adventure, more scornful of the every-day and the commonplace, more eager for the romantic in life and in literature.”

In no point, save in their passionate adoration of Juliette, did Mme. Seron and her son-in-law agree. Yet in temperament they were not altogether unlike; for they were both dreamers. But Juliette’s grandmother, if she did not possess it, at least respected that worldly wisdom which Dr. Lambert regarded with the utmost contempt. He was an idealist pure and simple. We have seen him sacrificing a brilliant ecclesiastical career to conscientious scruples. We have seen him risking the happiness of his wife and child in his pursuit of science. We shall see him again, more than once risking not only his family’s happiness but his own life in the cause of political reform.

“I am the daughter,” writes Mme. Adam, “of a sincere [Pg 8] sectary ... of one who dreamed of absolute liberty, absolute equality.... Only for a moment, during the Commune, did he believe his dream realised.”

Jean Louis Lambert was one of those rare persons with tastes both scientific and literary. But it was only classical literature that appealed to him. He was a passionate Grecian and an ardent admirer of the French masterpieces of le grand siècle. In the remarkable literary works which his own day was producing, in the novels of Balzac and George Sand, which were his mother-in-law’s meat and drink, he took not the slightest interest. His Homer, on the other hand, he almost knew by heart; and he made his little daughter as familiar with tales from the Iliad as are most children with “Red Riding Hood” or “Cinderella.” Dr. Lambert himself wrote verses in the classic style, which he would recite to his mother-in-law; but there were others which were red republican, and which he would have kept from her hearing had not that enfant terrible of a Juliette caught them up and repeated them parrot-like to her grandparents. Dr. Seron, an old soldier of la grande armée, was infuriated by poems in which his son-in-law dared to attack his idol, the Emperor.

Indeed, the family tendency to wrangle was considerably accentuated by the fact that three of its members (Juliette’s mother took no interest in public affairs) held directly divergent political opinions. Mme. Seron was a liberal monarchist, Dr. Seron a Buonapartist, and Dr. Lambert a social democrat. None of these fervent partisans had the remotest idea of keeping their opinions to themselves. Consequently, whenever Dr. Lambert and his wife drove over from Blérancourt, a village nine miles from Chauny, where Juliette’s father had set up in practice, the voice of controversy rose high. These debates generally occurred at meal time. And baby Juliette, accustomed to have the attention of her doting elders fixed upon herself, strongly objected to these diversions. She tells how to restore herself to the limelight she would clamber into the middle of the table and begin to upset the plates and glasses. The device never failed. Discussion ceased; the three controversialists would be overcome with laughter, while the silent member of the group, Juliette’s mother, would suddenly become active. Snatching her daughter from the wreck on the table, she would be administering a [Pg 9] sound smacking when three pairs of hands would be eagerly outstretched to rescue the culprit. Thus Juliette learnt two lessons: first, not to fear her mother’s severity, from which she might always count upon the indulgence of her other relatives to deliver her; second, to appreciate “that first born of common sense,” the comic spirit. In her earliest years it was her inestimable privilege to have “laughter for nurse, pure fun for friend.”

George Meredith, it will be remembered, divides humanity[4] into three classes: the non-laughers, the excessive laughers and those who stand where the comic spirit places them, “at middle distance between the inveterate opponents and the drum and fife supporters of comedy.”

In the table scene just described, each of these three classes is represented. Juliette’s mother was a non-laugher, a morbid person whose lack of fun, as is inevitable with women, degraded her to be a mere household drudge. Juliette’s grandfather, the jovial doctor, whose funny stories, nicknamed Seronnades, enlivened the countryside, was of the drum and fife order, an apostle of le gros rire. Juliette’s grandmother and father, though differing in so many respects, were alike endowed with the true comic spirit. Long years later, looking back on her turbulent childhood, Mme. Adam wrote: “I should probably have been intolerable, had not the gay and merry temperaments of my grandparents ... introduced into our relationship a jocular spirit which did not admit of solemnity, even in our grievances. Whenever I succeeded in reconciling them after one of their disputes, it was because I had made them laugh.”[5] “Certainly,” exclaimed a character in one of Pierre Mille’s stories, “he was no Latin, for he took everything seriously.”[6] Juliette Adam, Gallic by birth, Græco-Latin by education, as she likes to describe herself, has always been ready to see a joke, even when it was at her own expense. Thus she is proud to relate, how when at one of George Sand’s dinner-parties, Flaubert, in Dumas’ presence, pointed out that in one of her books she had made a man who had lost an arm take a box in both hands, she joined in the laugh, saying gaily, “Merci, Maître.”[7]


[2] Fields of France, 163.

[3] Souvenirs, I. 350.

[4] An Essay on the Spirit of Comedy, 62, 1903.

[5] Souvenirs, I. 127.

[6] Le Monarque, 169.

[7] Souvenirs, III. 163.

[Pg 10]




De l’amour et de l’indignation furent les aliments dont on nourrit notre jeune cœur.”—Juliette Adam, Preface to her Souvenirs, I. v.

Despite his intense desire to have his adored child in his own home, Dr. Lambert constrained himself to permit Juliette to remain with her grandparents until she was three. But on his daughter’s fourth anniversary her father put in his paternal claim.

Looking back over more than three score years and ten Mme. Adam still sees that day as the first which stands out clearly in her memory. She remembers it for several reasons—because of the new white frock she wore, embroidered by her grandmother; because the bonne Arthémise on that day called her “Mademoiselle” for the first time; because her grown-up friend Charles, professor at the boys’ school opposite, embraced her; because when her parents arrived late as usual from Blérancourt, on account of the bad roads, her father took her up in his arms, kissed her, and with tears in his eyes said, “Juliette, how you have grown, it is so long since I have seen you—three months.”

But above all that day stands engraved on Juliette’s recollection because in the midst of the birthday feast, there fell like a bombshell descending on the hitherto harmonious family party, her father’s words: “This time we shall take Juliette home with us.” Then there ensued one of those impassioned family scenes which were so frequent in Juliette’s childhood. Mme. Seron refused to give up her granddaughter, Dr. Lambert protested vehemently that he would have his child. The little girl, hardly out of babyhood, was herself appealed to: whom did she love most—her parents or her grandparents? Where would [Pg 11] she like to live—at Chauny or at Blérancourt? But in the end Mme. Seron won the day, as she usually did, and probably for the excellent reason that it was she who held the family purse-strings.

There was, however, in this vehement, romantic, impulsive lady a strain of consistency and logic. Because during that dinner-table wrangle with her son-in-law she had based her claim to Juliette’s remaining with her on the fact that there were better educational facilities at Chauny than at Blérancourt, she felt compelled to act on that assertion. Consequently, she lost no time in sending Juliette, tiny as she was, to school.

But this important crisis in Juliette’s career could not pass without yet another drame de famille. To send so young a child to the pension, to “prison,” as they called it, seemed to the easygoing Dr. Seron and to the bonne Arthémise, who doted on her little charge, as nothing short of cruelty. Like a servant out of one of Molière’s comedies, Arthémise rated her mistress soundly, whereupon she received an entirely disregarded notice to pack up her baggage and be off.

Of this scene the little victim was herself a spectator. And it was as a captive, therefore, that she regarded herself, when her grandmother led her off and delivered her up to her schoolmistress, the grim, moustached Mme. Dufey, who, with what appeared to Juliette a veritable turnkey’s smile, received her with the announcement: “I had the mother, now I have the daughter.”

Then followed a hurricane of a day. Cries, sobs and physical protestations landed the new pupil in the school garret, wherefrom she was extricated in the afternoon by Arthémise, who had come to take her home. But home to her cruel grandmother this wilful child absolutely refused to go. No sooner was she outside the school gates than she set off running in the direction of the village where Arthémise lived. There Arthémise weakly followed her. And it was only late in the evening that the runaway, having been put to sleep in another and pleasanter garret, was driven back to Chauny by her grandfather in his gig.

Juliette felt that she had won a victory. Her grandmother had certainly learnt a lesson. She now realised that her granddaughter was the kind of child she herself had been—one of those who must be led and not driven. [Pg 12] Henceforth Juliette was brought up on what we now call the Montessori system. And the time came when she herself elected to go with one of her playmates to that same school, which she now found quite amusing.

Indeed, considering the strongly pronounced and utterly divergent opinions held as to her upbringing by the four persons who desired to control her, the only possible course was for the child, as soon as she was able, to train herself as far as possible.

But there were certain questions which even this head-strong little girl found settled without her participation. There was notably the religious question. Dr. Lambert, as we have seen, was a bitter anti-clerical, an aggressive agnostic of the old-fashioned Voltairean stamp. Mme. Lambert, Dr. and Mme. Seron were all catholics. And there gnawed at Mme. Lambert’s heart the painful secret that Juliette was still a little heathen, for, as the result of her father’s anti-clericalism, she had never been baptized. To remedy this omission, without confessing it to her parents, Juliette’s mother devised a clever and effectual stratagem. Under the pretext of being present at the wedding of one of her mother’s friends, the little girl was brought over to Blérancourt by her grandfather. Then at the end of the wedding ceremony, she was hurried into one corner of the church and held over what seemed to her a yawning gulf of a basin, where, amidst her violent protestations, she was transformed, as her grandfather afterwards told her, from “a poor little unbaptized girl” into “a big, happy baptized girl.” But this blessed conversion she was carefully enjoined not to mention to her father, because he did not like churches.

Whether the youthful convert would have kept the secret is doubtful. But the opportunity of doing so was reft from her by one of her playmates, who during the wedding festivities called her, in her father’s presence, by her baptismal names of “Camille Ambrosine.” This led to inquiries and to a disclosure, followed, of course, by the inevitable drame de famille. Fortunately for the conspirators an accident to one of Dr. Lambert’s patients put an end to this extremely unpleasant situation. And while the Blérancourt doctor was at the injured man’s bedside his father-in-law seized the occasion to drive the “little bone of contention” back to Chauny.

[Pg 13]

Juliette, having been once captured by her catholic relatives, Dr. Lambert agreed to surrender her mind to their keeping until she had taken her first communion. And he must have been pleased that Mme. Seron, with her usual ambitious desire to force the pace in Juliette’s education, persuaded the Dean to admit her clever little granddaughter into the Church one year earlier than was customary, at ten instead of eleven.

“We must furnish the little brain,” was Mme. Seron’s favourite expression. She herself had never acquired much book learning. But, in order to educate her grandchild, she for a while put on one side her adored novels and studied French history, of which she was most eager that Juliette should take a correct view. That correct view was, of course, Mme. Seron’s own, and was the contradiction of her husband’s and son-in-law’s opinions. Juliette’s grandmother taught her to regard the French middle-class, the bourgeoisie, as the salt of the earth, and the government of Louis Philippe as the only possible government, infinitely superior to the Buonapartism which Dr. Seron and to the Jacobinism which Dr. Lambert would have liked to restore.

So Juliette, surrounded by piles of lesson-books, was kept hard at work till late in the evening, while her grandfather laughed at her for being a blue-stocking, and dubbed her “Mlle. Phénomène.”

But even the jocular Dr. Seron could sometimes be serious: and he gravely warned his wife that if she continued thus to press the little girl beyond her years misfortune would follow.

His warning being unheeded, the prognostication came true. Its fulfilment was hastened by three weeks at Blérancourt, where Dr. Lambert talked to his little daughter as if she were grown up, and by a tempestuous journey home with her mother, followed by an even stormier drame de famille on her arrival at Chauny.

Juliette fell seriously ill. On her recovery, Dr. Seron, who seems to have been the only member of the family endowed with common sense, insisted on his granddaughter being removed from the atmosphere of school-books and drames de famille to a serener and healthier air.

The child was sent to visit her grandmother’s three step-sisters, three maiden ladies who lived with their mother, [Pg 14] in the heart of the country, at a village called Chivres, not far from Soissons.

“My aunts! Ah! you must love my aunts!” exclaimed Mme. Adam, as one day, in the salon at Gif, we talked of these delectable virgins. And indeed one could not help loving the charming, though eccentric ladies, les demoiselles Sophie, Constance and Anastasie Raincourt. They represent a type totally unknown in Great Britain, though I suspect it might not at that time have been altogether impossible to discover their counterparts in other French country districts, or perhaps in remote corners of New England.

The aunts were a bundle of contradictions and surprises. In their short gathered print skirts, aprons and kerchiefs, they looked like peasant women, and they worked like peasant women too, at hay-making, poultry-keeping and fruit-farming. But so distinguished was their bearing that in their humble attire they had the air of great ladies in disguise, while their discussion during hay-making of Sismondi’s Italian Republics showed them to be veritable femmes savantes. Though living in the heart of the country, these original spinsters took a deep interest in all the literary and political movements of the town. Though, with their step-sister, Mme. Seron, they were firmly convinced that a constitutional monarchy was the only ideal form of government, they did not altogether share Mme. Seron’s admiration for Louis Philippe. They criticised his policy and approved of the opposition led by M. Odillon Barot.

In almost every respect Juliette’s life at Chivres was a complete contrast to her life at Chauny or Blérancourt. Instead of, as at Chauny, sitting up late over her books and then going to bed in her grandmother’s stuffy chamber, with the windows tightly closed and the atmosphere infested by the midnight oil burnt to enable Mme. Seron to read her romances, Juliette at Chivres, after a day spent in healthy open-air exercise, lay down with the lamb and rose with the lark, having slept by herself in a large airy room with the windows wide open.

Whereas at Chauny no interest was taken in house arrangement, while picturesque old family heirlooms were regarded as lumber and relegated to the attic, and any artistic feeling found its only expression in personal adornment, [Pg 15] at Chivres it was just the opposite: Juliette’s fine clothes were all folded away, and she was dressed like her aunts in peasant costume; but her natural love of the beautiful was gratified by the daintiness and artistry of all the household arrangements, by the handsome old chests and commodes, the embroidered draperies, the nosegays of fresh wild flowers, and the beautifully bound books ranged trimly on their shelves.

The intellectual atmosphere of Chivres was likewise entirely different from that of Chauny and Blérancourt. Dr. Lambert’s heroes, Louis Blanc and Proudhon, were anathema to such worshippers of the established order as the aunts. In the light of her aunts’ wide interest in all manifestations of nature, her grandmother’s concentration on the merely human aspect of life suddenly appeared to Juliette as intensely narrow. It was at Chivres that Juliette first acquired that passionate love of nature which she was later to express so eloquently in her books. It was at Chivres that Juliette learnt to take an interest in birds and beasts and flowers, and also in inanimate things, to find—

“... tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones and good in everything.”

In her aunts’ company the simplest actions of rural life acquired for the little girl some deep significance: watering flowers in the garden she seemed to be quenching their thirst, gathering fruit in the orchard she was easing the burden of overladen trees, cutting clover in the paddock she was receiving a gift from bountiful earth.

For Aunt Sophie even stones and metals had a voice or resonance. She would place upon a crystal tray various substances differing in form, some round, some flat, and with a little hammer would play upon them curious melodies.

While Juliette’s father had brought her up on tales from the Iliad, Aunt Sophie, who was an accomplished Latin scholar, told her stories from the Æneid, which seemed to her strangely like an echo of her beloved Homer. While her grandmother’s favourite novelist had been Balzac, the aunts talked to her admiringly of George Sand’s peasant romances, and vaguely hinted at longer novels by the same author, which they did not altogether like, but which Juliette would read when she grew up.

[Pg 16]

But the greatest contrast of all was the atmosphere of calm which pervaded Chivres, the harmony in which the aunts and their mother lived, so different from the perpetual wrangling of Chauny and Blérancourt. No wonder that Juliette after two months of this serenity returned to her grandmother a new creature, in mens sana in corpore sano. No wonder that the perfect success of this first visit caused it to be repeated annually throughout Juliette’s childhood. Indeed, as time went on, as Juliette grew in years, as the feverish intellectuality of Chauny and Blérancourt intensified, the summer visit to Chivres became more and more necessary.

Having done his best to keep his word to his mother-in-law and to permit her to dominate Juliette’s mind until her first communion, once that event was consummated Dr. Lambert felt at liberty to educate his little girl in his own way, in his own ideas, and to make her, as he expressed it, “his daughter according to the spirit as well as according to the flesh.”

In his earlier talks with Juliette he had endeavoured to impose a certain reserve upon his expansive nature. Though finding it impossible to exclude his beliefs, his hopes and enthusiasms altogether from their conversation, he had but alluded to them vaguely, saying, “when you are older I will explain to you such and such, when you are older you will understand this or that.”

This seed, though sown in an almost infantile mind, had not fallen on barren ground. Not one of these remarks had been lost on Juliette’s precocious and naturally speculative intelligence. She was therefore well prepared to receive with enthusiasm those hopeful doctrines of liberty, fraternity and equality with which her father now set seriously to work to inculcate his eleven-year-old little daughter.

On Juliette’s return from Chivres in the autumn of 1847, she paid a visit to her parents at Blérancourt. And it was then that her father said to her: “Now that you have discharged your obligations to your grandmother’s religion, I can speak to you frankly of mine.”

The chief articles of Dr. Lambert’s creed were a belief in human solidarity and a conviction in the inherent goodness of nature. With the great Jean Jacques he held society, not nature, responsible for all the evils which have [Pg 17] befallen mankind. His “great negation,” as his daughter was later to call it, consisted in the denial that the finite can ever be capable of comprehending the infinite. Nature, he held, was rich enough and vast enough to satisfy all man’s craving for knowledge, sociability and love. “If you must worship something,” he would say to Juliette, “then worship the sun which lightens and warms you, in whose rays all things germinate, breathe and blossom.” While for the Christian religion Dr. Lambert had little respect, its Founder he held in the greatest veneration. While Christ came to obliterate all distinctions of race and caste, Christianity seemed to Juliette’s father ever raising barriers between man and man. “Christ,” he used to say, “came to save what he called ‘souls,’ we [the social democrats] come to save society (la personne sociale) by establishing equality, fraternity, liberty.”

In days when trade unionism was beginning in Great Britain, and when Proudhon’s teaching was laying the foundations of future syndicalism in France, Dr. Lambert was a firm believer in the right of all men to work, and to insist on receiving for that work a just wage. “Juliette,” he would say, “I rejoice to see you talking to a working-man ... as if he were your brother. I want you to be an apostle of human happiness and universal good. I love the weak and helpless more than myself. To see struggle and suffering tortures me. To those who have nothing one must give oneself up entirely, keeping nothing back.”

At such words the little girl’s heart glowed within her. With all her passionate little soul she responded to her father’s pity for the unfortunate, with all the determination of her strong will she resolved to spend her life helping them.

Though in years to come some of her father’s notions were to appear to her quixotic, though even then she and her grandmother laughed at his affecting the workman’s blouse, for example, though as time went on his extravagance and lack of common sense were frequently to make her tremble for his safety, she never—not even when intellectually they had drifted apart—ceased to reverence the breadth of his knowledge, the range of his charity and his unfailing good nature. The words apostle and charity ever conjured up before her a vision of her father. In spite of their perpetual disagreement, even Juliette’s grandmother [Pg 18] would say of her son-in-law: “He is a dreamer, but he is sincere, and he has a heart of gold.”

Dr. Lambert was indeed one of those intellectual enthusiasts who were largely responsible for the Revolution of 1848. For these men of 1848 Mme. Adam has always cherished the most profound respect. Though in after life she came to regard them as childishly ingenuous and heedless of the possibility of realising their dreams, she has ever venerated their “passionate altruism,” their “craving to sacrifice themselves in the people’s cause,” their revolt against that famous formula ascribed to M. Guizot, “enrich yourselves.” “The men of 1848,” writes Mme. Adam, “were apostles and saints. Never have there been more honesty, more virtue, a nobler simplicity. They were no mere politicians. They were souls in love with the ideal. All those whom I have known were as sincere as my father ... and to have associated with them is to honour and cherish their memory.”

[Pg 19]




(From a Schoolgirl’s Point of View)

Les hommes de 1848 étaient des apôtres, des saints.”—Mme. Adam, Souvenirs.

Mme. Adam has lived through four Revolutions. The first, that of 1848, occurred when she was eleven. In the previous year, when she paid her usual summer visit to Chivres, she found her aunts perturbed by the political situation. They were eagerly devouring the columns of the National. They were talking of politics from morn till night. Much to their mother’s disapproval, they brought their eleven-year-old niece into their discussions. “You are tiring the poor little thing to death!” remonstrated Juliette’s great-grandmother.

“No,” rejoined her daughters, “the child is quite old enough to listen and to understand.”

“Besides,” continued Aunt Constance, who was the ironist of the three, “it will not be unprofitable to you, mademoiselle, to learn, if not with your ears, at least with your mouth as you yawn, the views on public affairs held by such highly intelligent persons as your aunts.”

“But,” writes Juliette, “I did not yawn, for my mind was interested in all matters political and literary.”[8]

From her aunts’ point of view the child saw those surging political movements of the day at an angle quite different from that at which, under her father’s direction, she had been accustomed to regard them.

At Chivres her father’s heroes, Louis Blanc, Ledru-Rollin, Proudhon, were held in horror. As utterly subversive of all public order the aunts regarded Ledru-Rollin’s [Pg 20] famous speech, when, pleading before the Court of Cassation, the republican barrister had challenged the Procureur Général, crying: “Procureur Général, who appointed you?” “The Ministry.” “I, being an elector, may dismiss ministries. In whose name do you speak?” “In the king’s name.” “I, being an elector—history proves it—can make and unmake kings. Procureur Général, on your knees, on your knees before my sovereignty.” While as for Proudhon’s famous maxim, “Property is theft,” the aunts exclaimed: “Why, it’s the end of the world.” Social reform had no place in these good ladies’ political programme. They were content with the existing order. They had no sympathy with Dr. Lambert’s doctrine of the right to work, nor with Ledru-Rollin when he declared: “The workers have been slaves; they have been serfs; to-day they are wage-earners; we must strive to make them partners.”[9] The reforms which the aunts advocated in their talks with their niece were merely administrative. What they desired above all was to see Paris dethroned from her seat as the one centre of influence in the kingdom. They wanted decentralisation, the revival of the old provincialism. “Remember,” said Aunt Sophie to Juliette, “a time will come, I am sure of it, when, after various Jacobin and Buonapartist experiments, after a series of revolutions, you will remember how wise, how essentially French, how truly national, were the opinions of your old aunts.”[10]

The last months of 1847 Juliette was permitted to spend with her parents. Blérancourt in those days was becoming, under Dr. Lambert’s influence, a centre of violent political agitation. The number of Dr. Lambert’s disciples was increasing daily, and his socialistic ideas were being promulgated in the neighbouring villages. Mme. Seron wrote constantly demanding her granddaughter’s return. She feared that from being a Republican, which was bad enough, Juliette would be made into a socialist, converted from a pagan naturiste, as she called it, into an atheist. Finally, such remonstrances passing unheeded, she threatened that if her granddaughter were not immediately restored she would disinherit her, and Juliette would be reduced to depend for her dowry on such savings as her father might accumulate. This practically [Pg 21] meant that Juliette would have no dowry at all. For Dr. Lambert, far from saving, could never keep any money in his pocket. In face of poverty and distress he was a veritable St. Martin of Tours, and would give away the very clothes from his back. But to one whose mind was set so far above filthy lucre Mme. Seron’s threat was meaningless. And to his mother-in-law’s letter he replied that Juliette would not need a dowry as he had decided to marry her to a working-man. But such a destiny did not suit Mlle. Juliette at all. She had often dreamed of a cottage, of a farm, but always with a gentleman (un monsieur) for husband. And when her father told her of this letter, she exclaimed: “Of course you are joking.” “But no,” he replied; “that really is my idea.” “Then it is not mine,”[11] retorted this eleven-year-old socialist, to whom her father’s design seemed utterly preposterous and cruel to the last degree.

True, she loved the people more and more every day. True, it seemed to her in moments of exaltation that she was ready to sacrifice herself in their service; but that she, whom generations had raised above them, should become one of them, no. Father and daughter were equally violent. This, their first disagreement, was, to say the least of it, tempestuous. And it was well that Mme. Seron arrived the next day to take her granddaughter back to the less exalted atmosphere of Chauny.

Though Dr. Lambert continued to cherish his dream of a working-class marriage for Juliette, for the time being he ceased to urge its fulfilment; and for the time being Juliette found it not impossible to reconcile her socialism with filial devotion.

At Chauny she found that her grandmother’s political principles, like those of the aunts at Chivres, had undergone a change. Mme. Seron had lost her passion for the citizen king. She had come to realise the necessity for reform. Juliette was delighted, and she expected her father to be equally pleased by his mother-in-law’s partial conversion. But she did not then know human nature. It was not until much later that she understood how a partisan is far more distrustful of opinions differing slightly from his own than of those which are more remote. Dr. Lambert mistrusted a reform movement led by M. Odillon [Pg 22] Barot as strongly as the aunts at Chivres mistrusted any reform advocated by that extreme liberal, M. Ledru-Rollin.

Juliette’s schooling had been interrupted by her three months at Chauny, and also by a visit to Boulogne, to which we shall refer later, paid in company with her father in the summer of 1847.

After Christmas she returned to the pensionnat. Many changes had taken place in the school during the five years which had elapsed since that eventful day when she made her début as a scholar. The ogress, Mme. Dufey, had been succeeded by two friends of Juliette’s mother, the Mlles. André. The school had expanded, and a new building had been erected on the site, alas! of Mme. Seron’s garden, in which Juliette had spent some of her most entrancing hours. On the occasion of the destruction of this her land of delight, her “temple of verdure,” as she called it, there had been a long and violent battle between this little devotee of nature and her grandmother. The excuse that the garden had been sold in order to provide Juliette with a dowry did not appeal to her in the least. Money had never loomed large in the child’s imagination. She loathed the mention of it; for it always seemed to her to lead to family quarrels. The only use she had for it personally was for the purchase of sugar-drops, which she distributed among her schoolfellows.

It was long before the little girl could be persuaded to enter the building which seemed to her the grave of her brightest dreams and her most cherished joys.

Now, in the early weeks of 1848, Juliette found her school seething with a political excitement, which she, with her violent views, was the last person to allay.

With an important air the young politicians of the Pensionnat André went about announcing “l’heure des réformes a sonné.” The playground echoed with cries of “Vive la Réforme!” “A bas Guizot!” The sympathies of the youthful reformers were entirely with the people, le grand peuple. They were transported into a veritable fury on the day when they heard that “the people” had been massacred, the inoffensive people, engaged in a manifestation strictly within the bounds of the law! Upon the heels of these tidings, however, followed quickly the news that “the people” were revenged. Louis [Pg 23] Philippe, after having twice failed to form a ministry, the Duchess of Orléans, after a vain attempt to establish a regency, were in flight. “The people” had raised barricades, “the people” had proclaimed the Republic. “The people,” read Juliette and her schoolfellows in the columns of La Démocratie Pacifique, had behaved magnificently, they had shown themselves worthy of every kind of liberty. Not a theft, not a single violation of property, had been committed. “The people,” in rags (loqueteux) put up notices, “Death to Thieves,” in the corridors of the Tuileries. “The people,” themselves penniless, had protected the treasures in the Bank.

On the great day of the Revolution, the 26th of February, Dr. Lambert came over to Chauny. He was in the seventh heaven of delight. Even Mme. Seron did not seem alarmed at the monarchy’s collapse. Her husband, however, was less pleased. He had thought that the Revolution would be made on behalf of his hero, Louis Buonaparte. And this soldier of la grande armée vented his spleen on the first republican who came to his hand. This unhappy republican[12] chanced to be his son-in-law. “Your Republic,” he jeered, “your stupidly democratic Republic!”

“But,” writes Juliette, “father only laughed, grandmother smiled, and I said—

“‘Ah! my poor grandfather, your Buonaparte must be very sick at our Republic, however socialist he has pretended to be.’”

Juliette remembers that, towards the end of dinner on that fateful 26th of February, her grandfather, having, by way of consolation for his disappointment, drunk an extra bottle or so of his petit Macon, opening his eyes very wide, addressed his family, and said: “Well! I see the future as clear as day!... I see your Republic, do you hear me, Lambert? Do you hear me, Juliette? I see it trampled under foot by my Buonaparte. I tell you, I scream it at you: revolutions, don’t you know, always end in empires.”[13]

At school next day Juliette found all her friends in a state of great agitation. Half of the scholars had stayed away. Their parents had been afraid to let them leave home. The Revolution might spread into the provinces. There was a glass factory in the town, and all the workmen [Pg 24] were in favour of the Republic. Might they not proclaim it at Chauny, and revolt and perhaps plunder?

Hardly had Juliette arrived at school than she was summoned to the study of the Mlles. André. There she was questioned as to what her father thought of the situation.

“‘Well, Juliette, your father must be highly pleased, he who has always been a republican. Have you seen him?’

“‘Yes, mesdemoiselles, he came yesterday, and he is delighted. He says that at last France will show herself worthy of her history, that she will govern herself, that all the European nations will admire us and perhaps follow our example, that it is the coming of the people, the real people, which is not corrupt like the middle-class, and which ...’

“‘That is enough,’ interrupted the eldest Mlle. André drily. ‘I hope, Juliette, that you will keep your father’s fine notions to yourself. I forbid you to speak of them here.’

“‘In the schoolroom, mademoiselle?’

“‘In the schoolroom and in the playground.’

“I looked Mlle. André in the face,” writes Juliette. I was almost as tall as she; and I replied—

“‘That, mademoiselle, I can’t promise you; for there are a great many of us republicans in the school, and no one can prevent our talking about the Republic and loving it.’

“‘But France has not accepted your Republic,’ replied the youngest Mlle. André, Mlle. Sophie.

“‘It will accept it, mademoiselle, because this time the people will vote.’”

The Mlles. André were perplexed. They hesitated between their desire to shut the mouth of their precocious and self-assertive pupil, and their reluctance to be hard on their friend’s daughter, and also to annoy the republican parents of the other scholars.

Finally they decided to bring the interview to a close by the following judicious remark: “When you see your father, Juliette, you may tell him from us that we hope his Republic will bring peace to France and not agitate it further.”

On coming forth from the mistresses’ presence, Juliette [Pg 25] was, of course, the object of universal interest among the scholars. They were burning to know what had passed in the principals’ sanctum. But they could not satisfy their curiosity until school was over. The lessons that morning were not well known, and the general excuse was the Republic. “Mademoiselle, I have not had time to do my lessons because of the Republic.”

“Mademoiselle, I couldn’t work because of the Republic.”

“I fail to understand,” was the icy retort, “how the Republic can be any concern of yours.”

There was a deep silence, and then a voice—it was Juliette’s—made answer.

“But, mademoiselle, it interests us passionately.”

The end of morning school was a regular riot. The pupils rushed out into the playground, where they surrounded Juliette, in a crowd, clamouring to receive a full account of her famous interview. She, on her part, was only too eager to relate it in every detail, and to follow it by an appeal to her comrades to bear themselves like true and worthy republicans, not to be insolent towards their teachers, but to make them realise that, although younger than they, the Republic regarded them as their elders’ equals. Then followed a babel of conversation. Each schoolgirl had her own idea of what the Republic should do. But all were agreed that the first reform must be the establishment of universal suffrage. No mere tax-payers’ franchise would satisfy these ardent suffragettes. Every one must vote, men, women, and, of course, schoolgirls. Only thus could the Mlles. André’s pupils conceive of a really universal suffrage, and later they prided themselves on having invented it.

Nothing in the Revolution pleased Juliette’s father better than the opening of the National Workshops. An ardent believer in the right to work, he, with his idol, Louis Blanc, had always advocated them. And though Louis Blanc did not appear to be directly concerned with those that the Government was establishing, Dr. Lambert, like most people, believed that he was secretly connected with them. They had not been running more than a few weeks, however, when he began to suspect that he had been mistaken. As time went on he grew less and less satisfied with the Republic. There were too many reactionaries in the National Assembly. This Republic, [Pg 26] from which he had hoped so much, was too pleasing to comfortable middle-class people like his mother-in-law.

“Jean Louis,” she would say, “I find that I agree very well with your Republic.” “Wait a little,” her son-in-law would reply at first. By and by he would answer: “You agree with it better than I do.” And finally there came a day when he exclaimed: “No wonder you approve of the Republic, for it is constituted for your advantage! The Orléans may come back and they will not need to alter anything as far as their bourgeois supporters are concerned.”[14]

Seeing his dream of a Christian, classical, social, scientific Republic vanish, Dr. Lambert resumed his old part of malcontent, and, of course, Juliette followed suit. She filled the house with her recriminations. She made herself excessively disagreeable to her grandparents. Her grandfather infuriated her by chuckling with delight and repeating: “All this augurs well for the Empire.”

That which most distressed Juliette and her father was the failure of the National Workshops. It had become obvious that, far from being organised by Louis Blanc, they had been initiated by his enemies. Émile Thomas, who directed them, was suspected of being Louis Napoléon’s agent. Far from constituting, as Dr. Lambert had fondly dreamed, a national benefit and a model for the whole civilised world, they proved useless and costly. They grew like an ulcer; as many as 119,000 men were on the pay-roll. They were a club of loafers, a reserve army of insurrection, a perpetual strike supported out of public money. No wonder there was talk of suppressing them. But Dr. Lambert, though bitterly disappointed with the way they were conducted, was horrified at the idea of suddenly depriving of occupation and turning adrift these thousands of workmen. It would mean, he thought, nothing short of a sanguinary revolution. Juliette, of course, shared her father’s horror. What had “the people,” “the people” who had behaved so admirably on the 26th of February, done to deserve such treacherous treatment? She could think of nothing else. Her rage and disappointment were such that she became absolutely insupportable. And when her grandmother remonstrated with her, she implored to be allowed to go to Blérancourt [Pg 27] to her father, who shared her disappointment. But Mme. Seron was still living in dread of her son-in-law’s threat of a working-class marriage for his daughter. She had other ideas for Juliette. “Already,” she told her little granddaughter, “you have pleased young X——, who is seventeen; and his father, half in jest, half in earnest, because of your age, has suggested that in a few years’ time there might be an alliance between the families.” Moreover, Mme. Seron did not wish again to interrupt her daughter’s studies. So she proposed a compromise. Instead of going to Blérancourt, Juliette might become a boarder at the pension.[15]

This suggestion was a terrible blow to Juliette. That such a proposal should come from her grandmother, that she, who generally complained of the length of the school hours which deprived her of her idolised granddaughter’s company, should now of her own free will suggest a far longer separation, seemed incredible. The child was quick to see that her own behaviour had brought her grandmother to such a pass. By her ravings and recriminations she had made herself intolerable. Her grandmother was glad to get rid of her.

“I was thunderstruck,” she writes. “Nothing but wicked pride kept me from throwing myself on my grandmother’s neck and asking pardon for my folly; for I realised how wild and extravagant I had been. But what grandmother had told me about X——, a tall youth, whom I thought both handsome and clever, had so puffed me up that I could not see a young person like myself, close upon twelve, kneeling to ask forgiveness like a little girl. So, though my heart was in my mouth all the while, I merely said—

“‘Very well, grandmother, it is understood, I will be a boarder as soon as you like.’

“‘To-morrow,’ she replied.”

It will be seen from these reflections that her father’s and grandmother’s adoration had not, as it might well have done, completely warped their idolised Juliette’s disposition. They had made her absurdly vain, but they had not stifled a certain critical sense which even at that early age the little girl was beginning to turn upon herself. In this wholesome exercise she was encouraged by [Pg 28] her mother’s severity. Whenever her father praised, her mother scolded.

“When father,” she writes, “spoke of my intelligence and my good looks, mother declared that I was as stupid as I was plain. It seemed to me that both of them exaggerated. And I began to judge myself, as I have done ever since, with a certain detachment. At heart I am really grateful to my mother for having preserved me from complete self-satisfaction.”[16]

Juliette’s career as a boarding-school miss, which resulted from her enthusiasm for and her disappointment with the scheme of National Workshops, was destined to be as short-lived as that great national experiment.

It was bad enough to be un enfant gâté removed from her fond relatives and subjected to all the rules of an institution. But her personal sorrows were intensified by the thought of hundreds of thousands of workpeople about to be threatened with starvation. By this apprehension Juliette’s schoolfellows were likewise depressed. An atmosphere of gloom pervaded the playground. Instead of playing games, the girls gathered together to discuss the fate of their unfortunate compatriots. “There was not one of us,” Juliette writes, “who did not deny herself goodies in order to save a few pence with which to help these poor people. We were always counting up our resources. We thought we might just be able to feed one of them. I decided that we would address an elegant epistle to the minister Trélat,[17] whom we abhorred. For him we held responsible for everything. We would propose to him to undertake the support of one of the workmen from the National Workshops. Certainly one out of a hundred thousand (sic)[18] was not much; but if every pension did the same, some would be saved in any case.”[19]

The composition of such a letter was not easy. In [Pg 29] order to bring to bear upon it as much intelligence as possible, the republican scholars classified themselves in groups, eleven in all. Each group drew up a draft of the letter. These drafts were compared, the best passages selected from each, and finally the letter was dispatched to a friend of Juliette in Paris, that same Professor Charles who had embraced her on her fourth birthday. He was now a public functionary, and he was requested to deliver to the minister the all-important missive.

“Daily,” records Juliette, “we expected the arrival of our protégée, our atelier national, as we called him. He had been instructed by the famous letter to present himself at the Pensionnat André, and to announce himself as Juliette Lambert’s protégée. His benefactresses meanwhile were busily preparing for his arrival. Cakes and sweetmeats were tabooed. ”Nous économisions avec frénésie,“ writes Juliette. They also, under every imaginable pretext, begged from their friends and relatives.

One of them had been so fortunate as to obtain a suit of clothes belonging to her brother. Having cleaned and mended it with the greatest care, she kept it in readiness for the atelier national, who would doubtless arrive in rags.

Meanwhile the plot was kept a dead secret; for the conspirators were well aware that their sympathy for ces monstres des ateliers nationaux would meet with no encouragement at home.

While at Chauny the Mlles. André’s pupils were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their expected monstre, at Paris affairs were moving quickly. The men who had been paid forty cents a day for digging trenches in the Champs de Mars and filling them up again were sticking to their job in defiance of the Government’s orders to disband. The Socialists sympathised with them and organised street manifestations in their favour. Finally, on the 23rd of June, the capital broke out into open insurrection. It was at this juncture that Juliette received, not the eagerly expected atelier national, but a letter from Professor Charles which dashed all her hopes to the ground. He, to whom had been entrusted that elegant epistle to the minister, had basely deserted the young friends who had confided in him. Professor Charles had no sympathy with the State-employed workmen; he described them in his letter to Juliette as ces misérables qui t’intéressent. Charles was [Pg 30] immediately banished from Juliette’s heart. Her ex-ami Charles, she called him, severely, when she announced to her comrades this terrible disappointment.

Then there followed much secret confabulation among the Republican groups of the pension. The pupils agreed that while blood was flowing in the streets of Paris, they at Chauny could not remain inactive. Already the revolution in the capital was finding an echo in the provincial town. Bands of rebels were marching down the streets. Why should not les demoiselles de la pension André join them? Juliette counted among her treasures a large handkerchief given her by her father and emblazoned with the words: Vive la République, Démocratique et Sociale. Attaching this emblem to a pole abstracted from the wood-shed, the girls, under Juliette’s leadership, organised themselves into a procession and marched round the playground, crying: “Long live the Democratic and Social Republic. Long live the rebels. We will not disband. We will not disband.”

This manifestation, the tumultuous scenes to which it led, the defiant words which she addressed to her governesses, resulted in Juliette’s expulsion from school. For the Mlles. André rightly regarded her as the leader of the revolution.

Mlle. Sophie conducted her back to her grandmother’s house. Mme. Seron was already regretting having sent her granddaughter away. She would, therefore, have been glad to see her back under almost any circumstances. But to find her distinguishing herself as the originator and ringleader of a rebellion gratified the pride and ambition of her own rebellious heart. So, after listening to Mlle. Sophie’s story, Mme. Seron said with dignity: “If you regard her behaviour as a defiance of your authority, then you are quite right to dismiss her.... But this episode shows me Juliette as I like to see her, displaying a determination and a courage such as are not given to every one. Since, without my seeking her, the child has been brought back to me, neither she nor I will be distressed. I have rather, mademoiselle, to thank you than to ask you to reconsider your decision.”

Thus after a few weeks terminated Juliette’s career as a boarder, and, indeed, her schooldays, for she never returned to the pension.

[Pg 31]

At Chivres, whither, on the 1st of July, Juliette went for a three months’ visit, she found herself promptly deposed from the pedestal on to which, as a reward for her defiance of authority, her grandmother and her father, too, had elevated her. The aunts had never heard of such nonsense; they scolded her roundly for her conduct. They had no sympathy whatever with the ateliers nationaux. And, during the violent suppression of the rising which followed, their sympathies were entirely with the bourgeoisie. Juliette was condemned to keep her opinions to herself, and even to read the newspaper by stealth. Instead of arguing about things she did not understand, she worked hard at her Latin. And in the serenity of her aunts’ presence, contrasting with their educated minds her own empty little head, she came to see herself as she really was: a pretentious young person, very ignorant, and fond of airing opinions she had borrowed from other people.

Consequently it was in a chastened frame of mind that Juliette returned in the autumn to Chauny. And her grandmother found her quite willing to fall in with the new scheme of life which she suggested. The storms of the past had strengthened Mme. Seron’s conviction that Juliette was a child to be led and not driven. In broaching the subject of her future studies, therefore, Mme. Seron began with this tactful observation—

“Now, my Juliette, you will do exactly as you like. You will learn what you wish, or you will, if you prefer it, learn nothing at all. But there is one thing in which I do ask you to take an interest: that is housekeeping. I will give you complete charge of our house for six months. You shall be its mistress to order and to spend. I shall merely advise you. As you are fond of the appointing, the arrangement, the decoration of a home, you will have full scope for the development of your taste. If you would like lessons in cooking and sewing, you have only to say so. I want to persuade you, too, that an art, and above all arts, music, embellishes life. The new organist is a remarkably good teacher. The piano bores you, but I wish you to cultivate your voice. And then I have another wish: I want you to try the violin. But, I repeat, you shall do as you like in everything.”[20]

[Pg 32]

To these diplomatic suggestions Juliette was graciously pleased to reply—

“Grandmother, I shall be delighted to keep house; it will be very interesting. I will certainly learn the violin. That will be quite out of the common: and I will cultivate my voice.”

How the Seron household fared during the régime of this young lady of twelve Juliette has not told us. But that her grandmother’s somewhat bold experiment was in the end eminently successful is attested by the fact that throughout her long life Mme. Adam has been renowned as a first-rate maîtresse de maison; and that this reputation is fully justified is the experience of all those who, like the present writer, have partaken of her lavish hospitality.

As for the rest of her studies, Mme. Seron had been well advised to leave it to her granddaughter to decide as to whether she would continue them. Juliette was far too ambitious to be content with her very meagre knowledge. And it was at her own suggestion that her father was asked to draw up a time-table for his daughter.

A professor from the boys’ school opposite was engaged to give her lessons; and Dr. Lambert himself, when he came to Chauny, superintended her studies. He read her Racine, and persuaded her to copy daily five pages from the pen of that great French classic. The doctor, as we have said, was himself a pure classicist. He used to say to his daughter, “Be a Grecian, Juliette, if you desire initiation into the worship of the eternally beautiful, into all that raises man above the age in which he lives.”[21]

In order to accustom his daughter to what he called the admirable sonority of notre langue initiatrice he read her passages from Homer in the Greek original. He dictated to her word by word translations of whole chapters of the Iliad and the Odyssey. In these lessons, in his own reading and in his talks with Juliette, Dr. Lambert found consolation for his bitter political disillusionment. “Books,” he would say, “are our greatest solace, when everything else is taken from us they remain.”[22]

He refused to talk of politics. The collapse of the June insurrection, its brutal suppression by General Cavaignac, [Pg 33] and, finally, the election on the 10th of December, 1848, of his enemy, Louis Napoléon, as President of the Republic had disappointed all his hopes.

In the glorious days of the Republic’s dawn Dr. Lambert had consented to be Mayor of Blérancourt. His daughter describes how she and her grandmother came over from Chauny to see the Mayor, attired in a workman’s blue blouse and wearing the tricolour scarf tied with red, plant the Tree of Liberty, a young poplar, in the village square. In his delight at what seemed to promise the realisation of all his dreams, this agnostic had become reconciled even to the curé. The village priest was present to bless the Tree of Liberty. And in his speech this broad-minded cleric declared that the Republic, if it practised its doctrines of liberty, fraternity and equality, would realise the gospel ideal, but that it could only rise to such a height provided that all republicans in spirit, if not in form, were as Christian as the new Mayor. Then, much to his daughter’s astonishment, Dr. Lambert replied that the Republic, with its principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, had without doubt originated in Christianity; that Jesus Christ was the first Socialist and the first Republican; that republicans had much to learn from the Church, but that the Church on its side had to learn from republicans to adore nature and to follow science. “My dear Mayor,” said M. le Curé after the ceremony, “you would accept the Christian religion blindfold if only it would consent to become pagan.” “Yes,” replied the Mayor, laughing, “but I want you in return to accept my paganism, which is founded on a love of nature, on condition that it is inspired by Christian virtues.”

Alas! only a few months later that roseate dawn of optimistic idealism had faded into the night of grim reaction. One by one the socialistic experiments of 1848 had failed. The socialist leader, Louis Blanc, had been discredited and driven into exile. The more moderate Ledru-Rollin, having, like most moderates, failed to please any party, had been excluded from the Government. And by the end of the year, after all her bright dreams of liberty, the one cry which went up from France was for a strong government. The cry was answered by Louis Napoléon’s election to the presidency. Old Dr. Seron’s prophecy had come true. Encouraged by the success of [Pg 34] his divinations, Juliette’s grandfather continued to prognosticate. “Sure as my name is Seron,” he declared, “Louis Napoléon Buonaparte, from simple Prince Louis, from simple Buonaparte, will, before the expiration of his presidency, become Emperor Napoléon III.”[23]

“Alas! he is right,” said Dr. Lambert[24].... “All my beautiful fabric has fallen, stone by stone; and I am crushed beneath its ruins.... Juliette, I shall never again talk or write to you of politics.” But, though abstaining from political talk, Dr. Lambert could not withdraw from interest in political affairs. Though he had resigned his mayoralty, though he had severed all official connection with this sad travesty of a Republic, though the Tree of Liberty which he had planted had been dug up, he still clung to the vestige of his political dreams. And he continued to try to carve out a new destiny for France. If he could not work for her in the open, he would plot and plan in secret. Dr. Lambert, like many another disillusioned French republican, joined one of those secret societies which were being formed all over France. Juliette, when she next visited Blérancourt, found her parents’ home the centre of mysterious meetings, her father the recipient of mysterious correspondence which his wife urged him to destroy. One day, rummaging in the attic, Juliette chanced upon a hoard of papers, lists of names and letters, the import of which, enlightened by her parents’ conversation, she was quick to guess; and instantly there flashed on her vivid imagination the whole danger of the situation. With Juliette Adam action has never failed to follow swiftly upon the heels of thought. An hour or two after that discovery Juliette was busy making herself a big pocket, which she tied round her waist and wore beneath her frock. In a day or two that which she dreaded happened. Dr. Lambert’s house was visited by the Procureur de la République, accompanied by an escort of gendarmes. To the dismay of Juliette’s parents the Procureur produced a document entitling him to search the house. He began with the doctor’s desk in the room where the family was then sitting at lunch.

“What you are doing is not at all nice. It is even indiscreet,” said Juliette, much to the functionary’s [Pg 35] amusement. It was a sultry midsummer day. Said Juliette to her terrified mother: “May I not go and tell Blatier” (the gardener, who, with a scared look, was peeping through the window) “to cool some cider for these gentlemen?” Mme. Lambert made a sign of assent. A minute before, when she had wished to go into another room, a gendarme had prevented her. But no objection was offered to her little girl’s departure. All the while, however, that she was telling Blatier to draw water from the well she felt a gendarme’s eyes fixed upon her through the window. While the gardener was drawing the water, she went down into the cellar, brought up some bottles, placed them in a pail. Intentionally prolonging the operation, she went down to fetch another pail, then, turning round, made as if she would return slowly to the room. But no sooner was she out of the gendarme’s sight than with one bound, having taken off her shoes, she flew upstairs to the attic, seized the papers, slipped them into her pocket, and in a trice had put on her shoes again, was back in the sitting-room, having apparently come straight from her cider-cooling in the courtyard. M. le Procureur was still busily searching. Having examined the living-rooms, he and his escort searched the stable, the coach-house, the cellar. Then, leaving one gendarme below, he went up into the attic.

“When father heard them go upstairs,” writes Juliette, “he rose, he looked very agitated, and I saw mother, saying to herself: ‘The papers must be there; we are lost.’

“Then, taking a glass of cider, I went up to father, whom the gendarme was closely observing. He put away the glass I offered him, but I, as if persuading him to drink, bent towards him and whispered: ‘Be calm. I have the papers.’ Father drank the glass of cider at one gulp. I embraced him. The gendarme was touched by our affection. Father clasped[25] me in his arms so tight that I thought I should have been stifled!...”

The Procureur de la République came downstairs. Before leaving he said to Juliette: “Mademoiselle, I am glad to tell you that we have found nothing to compromise your father. Had we discovered proofs of the matters of which he stands accused it would have been [Pg 36] serious. For your father’s name figures on the list of those liable to arrest, imprisonment, or even deportation. He is reputed a dangerous revolutionary and propagandist to boot.”

“Thank you, sir,” replied Juliette. “As you are so fatherly to me, you, too, must have a daughter.” The Procureur smiled, but did not reply.

For the time, this child of thirteen had saved her father’s liberty, perhaps his life. But she had not placed him out of danger, because she had not cured him of plotting against the Government. Henceforth, indeed, until Dr. Lambert’s death, his daughter was to live in constant dread of her father’s so embroiling himself with the authorities as to be clapped into prison or even deported. The episode we have just related was only the first of many times when he narrowly escaped arrest. When, years later, Juliette was living with her father in Paris and he was late in returning to meals, she always expected to hear that he was in prison.

Not long after this domiciliary visit, in the spring of 1850, Dr. Lambert entertained the idea of giving up his practice at Blérancourt, and joining one of the phalansteries or socialistic communities then in vogue. However, he listened to the entreaties of his family and renounced this project.

“Juliette,” said Mme. Seron to her granddaughter, “how can you wish a country to be led by persons so wild as your father?” “And, for the moment,” writes Juliette, “I agreed with her.”


[8] Souvenirs, I. 247.

[9] Biographie Générale under “Ledru-Rollin.”

[10] See post, 243.

[11] Souvenirs, I. 272.

[12] Souvenirs, I. 280.

[13] Ibid., 281.

[14] Souvenirs, I. 295.

[15] Souvenirs, I. 300.

[16] Souvenirs, I. 348.

[17] Trélat, Minister of Education, so Dr. Lambert had told Juliette, had been one of the bitterest opponents of the National Workshops. But, seeing the danger of closing them suddenly, he had proposed to dismiss the workmen gradually, and he had appointed his son-in-law, Lalanne, to reorganise the whole movement. But it was too late.—Souvenirs, I. 298-9.

[18] Nineteen hundred thousand is the number given by Professor Guérard.—French Civilisation in the Nineteenth Century, 201.

[19] Souvenirs, I. 305.

[20] Souvenirs, I. 325.

[21] Souvenirs, I. 317.

[22] Ibid., 326.

[23] Souvenirs, I. 328.

[24] Ibid., 329.

[25] Souvenirs, I. 337.

[Pg 37]




Je vais devenir quelqu’un. J’irai à Paris.”—Mme. Adam, Roman de mon Enfance.

It will be seen from the events recorded in the last chapter that Juliette at thirteen was both mentally and morally much more developed than a young English girl of eighteen or even twenty. Children in France, largely because they associate constantly with their elders instead of being relegated to the nursery, grow up more quickly than in England. A little French girl often is quite a little woman. She will go with her mother to pay calls, and at home help her mother to entertain visitors. The system in vogue in Juliette’s childhood of marrying girls at fifteen or sixteen naturally favoured their early development. The early marriage was the outcome of the mariage de convenance, which was more general in Juliette’s youth than now. When marriages were arranged by the family it was unnecessary to wait until the young people, the bride at any rate, was old enough to choose wisely for herself. Though it would not have been admitted that girls were married against their will, though their consent to the marriage was generally asked, not by the aspirant, usually, but by the girls’ parents, it was a mere matter of form, everything having been settled beforehand. Moreover, the girl in question, when appealed to in this perfunctory manner, was not encouraged to consult her heart. Indeed, that very uncertain and awkward factor is not supposed to intervene in what is known as the real French marriage. It is essentially a business affair, a matter of social position and of pounds, shillings and pence. We shall find, for instance, that in arranging a marriage for her granddaughter, Mme. Seron’s chief concern was that Juliette [Pg 38] should have an establishment in Paris. This, in the first place, would give her an opportunity of displaying to full advantage her many gifts, and, secondly, would enable her fond grandmother to shine in metropolitan circles, for Mme. Seron hoped to make some arrangement whereby she could for a considerable part of the year reside with her granddaughter.

Juliette was not married until she was sixteen. But, as we have seen, no sooner had she entered her teens than her grandmother and father began—in divergent directions, of course—to make plans for her alliance.

It was about this time, that the parents of young X——, a youth of seventeen, proposed to Mme. Seron that in a few years he should marry Juliette. The following year brought a renewal of this proposal and also a second offer of marriage from another quarter. Dr. Lambert refused to listen to either of these requests for his daughter’s hand. His persistence in his idea of a working-class marriage for his daughter drove his mother-in-law into a frenzy and produced another drame de famille. Mme. Seron threatened her son-in-law with the gendarmes if he attempted to carry out his nefarious scheme. Dr. Lambert threatened to take Juliette abroad out of her grandmother’s reach. But in the end Mme. Seron conquered, and Dr. Lambert went off in a towering rage. For several months he ceased to visit Chauny.

Juliette, who had now grown into a handsome girl, had already attracted considerable attention at Chauny. Those who are privileged to know her now, in her declining years, can see how lovely she must have been in her youth. “She has had that singular good fortune ...,” writes one of her friends to-day, “to have been adorably beautiful (adorablement belle).”[26] The delicately moulded features, the animated expression, the satirical glance, the dignified bearing, the vivacious manner, which at eighty never fail to charm, must have indeed been dazzling in her far-off girlhood. In a word, Juliette Lambert was as gifted physically as mentally. No wonder that when, wearing a pretty blonde cap with pink roses, and escorted by her grandfather and an old friend, Blondeau, who lived in the same house, she made her first appearance at the Chauny theatre, there was quite a sensation, although [Pg 39] when she returned her grandmother had to scold her for having marred her beauty by weeping over the play.

The quarrel between Mme. Seron and her son-in-law having died down, Juliette was permitted to spend the Christmas of 1850, and to stay on into the New Year, at Blérancourt.

It was during this visit that she made the acquaintance of the man who was to be her first husband. She was told one day that her father expected a friend to lunch, that the guest was an advanced republican and a Comtist to boot. This was the first time that Juliette had heard that name of Comte, which she was to learn to know only too well later. The guest came. He was a barrister (avocat) at the Paris Court of Appeal. But he lived at Soissons, where he was conducting a series of law-suits on behalf of an aunt. His name was Lamessine. He was of the south Italian type, with dark eyes, olive skin and shining black hair, for his grandfather had been a Sicilian who had settled in France and been naturalised during the Revolution. Dr. Lambert’s visitor was reputed a man of talent. His brilliant conversation pleased Juliette; but she detested the scepticism which led him to maintain that good is merely the necessary balance to evil, and that society must grow increasingly corrupt until it produces a new “vegetation.” Against such doctrines Juliette could not refrain from protesting. There was an animated discussion between the Sicilian, who believed in nothing, and his host’s idealist daughter, who was ready to believe in everything that was good. The guest departed with the words, “And I hope you bear me no grudge, Mademoiselle la Batailleuse.” “I only pray,” she replied, “that Heaven may reveal to you some knowledge, however slight, of the good and the beautiful.”[27]

In the spring, while Juliette was visiting her aunts, M. Lamessine came to Chivres. There, though he found La Batailleuse more charming than ever in her peasant’s costume, which by clever contrivances and adaptations she had learnt to make extremely becoming, he met with a cold welcome from the aunts and was not encouraged to return. In June, however, while Juliette was at Blérancourt, he came to see her again. Political affairs were moving towards Napoléon’s December coup d’état and the [Pg 40] empire which Dr. Seron had so persistently prophesied. There was a mysterious meeting at Dr. Lambert’s. And the next day Juliette’s father said to her, “The crisis is grave; but we have with us a man in whose veins flows the blood of the carbonari. He will do something.” That man was M. Lamessine.

In December the barrister came to plead at Chauny. He presented a letter of introduction to Dr. and Mme. Seron. They, unlike the aunts, received him most cordially. Having been invited to dinner, he told Juliette that, influenced by her arguments he had become less sceptical. She did not believe him. She was vaguely conscious of some ulterior motive in his words. She felt ill at ease and left the salon early. On the morrow her grandmother announced that M. Lamessine had asked for her hand in marriage, that his treatment of the important matter of settlements was satisfactory, and that he was willing for Mme. Seron to spend every winter with her granddaughter and her husband when they should go to live in Paris.

But Juliette was not the kind of young person thus to be married out of hand and merely to please her grandmother. She was thunderstruck at such an announcement. She would not dream, she protested, of marrying a man who was twice her age. In vain did Mme. Seron plead that M. Lamessine was très bien, that his coming was providential, that resembling feature for feature one of the heroes of her favourite novelist Balzac, he could not fail to be the most suitable of husbands. “You must admit that I am right, Juliette,” she said, and forthwith she took down the volume in question and read the description. But even this striking likeness failed to reconcile her recalcitrant granddaughter to the match. Juliette appealed to her grandfather and to her old friend Blondeau, to save her from so uncongenial a mating, but to no purpose, for Mme. Seron had already won them over to her side. There was, however, one member of the family who would be less easy to convince. And Juliette, as was her custom, called in Blérancourt to redress the balance at Chauny. Dr. Lambert, knowing more about the proposed bridegroom than his mother-in-law, was horrified at the idea of his marrying his daughter. A few days later when he and his wife came over to Chauny, he was aghast to [Pg 41] find how far things had gone. He would, he declared, never give his consent to the marriage.

Throughout the succeeding months there followed a long-drawn-out war of words, enlivened by perpetual drames de famille. At one time Juliette was forcibly carried off by her father to Blérancourt, then brought back to Chauny by her mother, who desired the match and kept her at Chauny out of her father’s influence. He, unhappy man, worn out by domestic grief and political disappointment, fell ill, and during his illness once again narrowly escaped arrest. Finally, his wife and mother-in-law broke down his resistance. By their importunity they had rendered his life unbearable. In a moment of passion he seems to have said: “Very well, do what you will,” then to have given his formal consent, without which they could do nothing, and to have signed the fatal document which sealed Juliette’s unhappiness. Almost immediately Dr. Lambert repented; but it was too late, and all he could do was to signify his disapproval by absenting himself from the wedding.

The unhappy subject of so much dissension had been reduced almost to welcome marriage even with so uncongenial a mate as M. Lamessine as one way of escape from perpetual family quarrels.

But alas! experience proved that Dr. Lambert’s objections to the union had been only too well founded. “The man whom they have chosen for your husband,” her father had written to her, “is not one whom you can ever love or who will ever love you.”

With a delicate hand and in a few poignant phrases Mme. Adam in her Souvenirs passes lightly over her married misery. Until after her daughter was born, in September 1854, she kept her sufferings to herself, dreading the anguish which a revelation of them would inflict on her loved ones. It was during her confinement at Blérancourt that Dr. Lambert discovered her unhappiness. Some months later, while she was visiting her granddaughter, it was borne in on Mme. Seron that she had committed the gravest of blunders in marrying Juliette against her will. Now that the last instalment of his wife’s dowry had been paid, M. Lamessine shamelessly avowed that he had never intended to keep his promise of receiving his wife’s grandmother as an inmate of his home every winter.

[Pg 42]

“You imagine Juliette happy,” he said. “She is not. Our misunderstandings are perpetual. If we had you as a third, what would they be like?”

“Is it true, Juliette, that you are unhappy?”

“Yes,” she replied, “as unhappy as it is possible to be.”

Mme. Seron rose. She leant against a piece of furniture to avoid falling, for she shook like a tree which has been uprooted.

She reminded her son-in-law of his promises. “They were only necessary,” he remarked cynically, “as long as you had not completely fulfilled yours.”

Mme. Seron left the house abruptly. Juliette never saw her again. She went home to Chauny to die. In eleven months she was followed by her husband, Dr. Seron, for, as he said, he could not live without “his dear scold” (sa chère grondeuse).

During the first three years of their married life the Lamessines resided at Soissons. But during that time they paid a visit to Paris; and Juliette had her first unforgettable impression of that brilliant city which had figured so large in the dreams of herself and her grandmother.

When Lamessine first proposed to her that she should wean her baby, Alice, and come with him to Paris, she trembled. For in Paris, she felt, her lot would be cast. Paris held her destiny. Her grandmother’s spirit seemed to dominate hers as soon as Paris entered into her life.

“Bah,” said her father, when she told him of her hesitation. “Don’t be afraid of it. Set foot in it bravely. Look it in the face, this Paris. One of two things will happen: either you will make your name there, as your poor grandmother desired, and then the trials of your unhappy marriage will not have been in vain; or you will break your bonds and come back to your father. With us you will lead a life, if not happy, at least free from those marital responsibilities which fill me with fear for your future.”[28]

The Paris which Juliette visited in 1855 was Paris of the early Second Empire, “still in the freshness of its hopes and enthusiasm.” It was Paris of the first universal [Pg 43] exhibition, which was visited by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Paris at the close of the Crimean War.

This Paris fully came up to Juliette’s expectations. Never had she been so impressed save when as a little girl she had caught her first glimpse of the sea at Boulogne.[29]

“It is impossible,” she writes, “to imagine the complete amazement of a young provincial beholding Paris for the first time, overwhelmed by myriads of sights never dreamed of.” From that moment Juliette adored Paris with all the enthusiasm of her passionate soul. At a closer acquaintance, during a residence in the heart of Paris extending through several decades, it has never loosened its hold on her vivid imagination. We shall find her friend, Gambetta, in future years, speaking to her of votre Paris.

After a fortnight spent with her husband in an hotel on the Place Louvois, she still found herself, “uninitiated into the hundredth part of what she wanted to know.”[30] Herein lies the secret of the overpowering impression which Paris made upon her: “What she wanted to know!” Paris was to her the master-key to all knowledge. In Paris lived the great leaders of thought, with whose ideas her father had made her familiar, the idealist politicians, whose Utopian dreams she had made her own. In the streets of Paris had ebbed and flowed the tide of that wonderful revolution which had found an echo in Chauny streets, and even in Mlle. André’s pension. In Paris might be seen those exquisite masterpieces of Greek art, the living symbols of her divine Homer.

Nevertheless a shadow fell even over the radiant exultation of those first weeks in Paris. From infancy to old age Juliette Adam has always been ambitious. It was no mere obscure existence in the great city that she had pictured in her youthful dreams. Hers was to be no diary of a nobody. Encouraged by her grandmother, she longed for fame. But alas! her hopes were dashed when she found herself lost in the vast crowds which thronged the boulevards, when she regarded the miles of well-filled shelves in the immense halls of the Imperial Library. It seemed as if the only homage Paris would ever render her would be the admiring glances of street arabs, who distinguished her as they had done another Juliette. The [Pg 44] young Mme. Lamessine despaired of ever emerging from the mass, of ever carving for herself even the tiniest niche in the temple of literary renown. For it was to be a distinguished writer that she aspired. Already she had quite a hoard of youthful scribblings, infantile verses which her grandparents thought wonderful, romances over whose patriotic incidents the youthful authoress had wept bitter tears, a prize essay, written in competition with the pupils of the boys’ school opposite her Chauny home.

During her life at Soissons, it was in study and in literary composition that Juliette had sought distraction from domestic unhappiness. Some of her verses, a poem entitled Myosotis, had actually been published and set to music by the cathedral organist.

But it was after her return from Paris that she achieved a success which encouraged her to hope that, perhaps, after all she might not pass her life unnoticed.

The popular novelist, Alphonse Karr, was then contributing to the Siècle weekly articles on social subjects, entitled “Buzzings” (Bourdonnements). A girl friend of Juliette’s, Pauline Barbereux, used to bring her the Siècle and together they read Karr’s articles. One of these was on the crinoline, then at the height of its vogue. After having thoroughly enjoyed himself at the expense of all its absurdities, Karr declared that there was not a single young and pretty woman in France with sufficient independence of mind not to wear it. “There is I,” cried Juliette. “And what if I wrote and told him so?” For though affecting the full skirt, pretty Mme. Lamessine had always stopped short of the crinoline. Pauline was delighted with the idea. So together they set to work to concoct the letter, which should, of course, be anonymous. The writer, therefore, was able to enlarge on the charms of this independent young female who refused to answer to the beck and call of fashion.

“Yes, sir,” wrote Juliette, “there is a pretty woman of twenty who does not wear the crinoline, who has never worn it, there is one in France, in the provinces, and that one is I, Juliette.”[31]

Mme. Adam, throughout her long life, has ever been a fervent feminist, passionately interested in woman’s rôle and position in society. In her childhood’s desultory [Pg 45] reading she had eagerly devoured a volume on the Fronde. It interested her because women played the principal part in it. And she was thinking of those frondeuses when she led her schoolfellows round the playground behind the banner of the social democratic handkerchief.

It was not unnatural, therefore, that Juliette should insinuate into this, her first contribution to the press, her own views on feminism, though they were expressed as far as possible in the style of Alphonse Karr. To the accompaniment of little Alice’s baby gurglings, she read the rough draft to Pauline, who, having declared it superb, dictated it solemnly while Juliette copied it on to magnificent paper. Then the wonderful document, “the article,” as Pauline christened it, was re-read, folded carefully, put into an imposing envelope, signed with a beautiful seal, which was engraved with the writer’s Christian name. Thereupon, writes Juliette, we repaired (no word less ceremonious could express such an act) with our precious packet to the post.

Oh, that week, how interminable it seemed! Could it be possible that Alphonse Karr would reply to the letter? On the night before the Siècle’s appearance Juliette dreamed of her poem, Myosotis. She interpreted that dream as a good sign. The 20th of February, 1856, dawned. Would Paris read that letter signed Juliette?... Pauline comes in breathless, pale with excitement. The Siècle flutters in her hand. “Juliette,” she cries, “it is all there.” “All.” “And then,” writes Juliette,[32] “we take two chairs and we draw them close to one another. We unfold the paper, and each holding one corner, we read. Yes, the whole of my letter is there. I read it. Pauline reads it. Not a word has been changed. I burst into tears. Pauline weeps too. Baby Alice, playing on the carpet, when she sees us crying, begins to howl. Her godmother, Pauline, soothes and consoles her. I think of my grandmother ... and I cry: ‘Grandmother, I shall be a writer.’

“I send father my article and tell him how I came to write it.”

This somewhat severe critic replied at length, and for the first time, it appeared, discerned in his daughter a promise of literary talent.

[Pg 46]

For the rest of her time at Soissons Juliette read voraciously, desiring to prepare herself for Paris. Whirled suddenly into the great vortex of metropolitan life, as she expected to be, she could not hope to have any time for study. She must, therefore, work hard to fill up the gaps in her desultory education and to equip herself for the brilliant career awaiting her.

Finally her hopes were realised. She found herself the mistress of a flat in Paris in the Rue de Rivoli, with a balcony looking on to the Louvre and close to the Museum of Antiquities, the temple of her gods. Her grandmother’s faith in her seemed to be justified.

But alas! as the weeks went on, Juliette herself suffered disappointment. The society in which she moved was utterly uncongenial. Her husband’s friends bored and revolted her; they talked of nothing but business; and her husband himself, when not discussing affairs, was for ever extolling the doctrines of Auguste Comte, whose positivism seemed to Juliette the negation of all her idealism. This disappointment, and the unhappiness of her home life, brought on an attack of neuralgia. She consulted the doctor of her quartier, a certain Dr. Bonnard, who had already corresponded with her father about a medical pamphlet, of which Dr. Lambert was the author. The doctor was quick to see that what Juliette needed was the physic of congenial society. He himself fortunately was in touch with literary people. He introduced her to two circles, one poetical, the other philosophical, where his young patient speedily felt herself at home. It was through Dr. Bonnard that the charming young Mme. Lamessine became a member of L’Union des Poètes. And it was a member of the Union, who, on a certain memorable day, took Juliette to see her first great Paris celebrity. This was the aged Béranger, a poet, whose name had been one of the household words of her childhood, whose songs exalting his adored Emperor her grandfather had known by heart.

Never had Juliette seen “a simpler, more charming, more paternal, more kindly satirical old man.”[33] The poet had read some of his young visitor’s compositions. And the verdict he passed on them was frank and somewhat brutal.

[Pg 47]

“My child,” he said, “you will never be a poet, but you may one day be a writer.”

Juliette’s reception of this crushing dictum, while showing her sensitiveness to criticism, proves that her reason had not been warped by all the extravagant adulation she had received in childhood. For she bore the veteran poet no grudge for his disappointment of her hopes. But, from that day, she ceased to write poetry and withdrew from the Poet’s Union.

As she was leaving, Béranger said to her, “Good-bye, my child. You will soon forgive me.”

“Good-bye?” said Juliette, “why not au revoir? Don’t you like me? Don’t you wish ever to see me again?”

Shrugging his shoulders and looking through the open windows, he said, “I think that I shall soon be going up there to see the Dieu des bonnes gens.” He died shortly afterwards at the age of seven-and-seventy, in July 1857.

Before her reluctant resignation from the Poet’s Union Juliette had begun to frequent a philosophical circle to which Dr. Bonnard introduced her. We have seen how from her tenderest childhood her father had made her acquainted with most of the numerous philosophical systems—the ideas of Cousin, Fourier, Comte, Proudhon, and others—which were at that time revolutionising human thought. With her natural quickness and keenness of intuition Juliette had comprehended their main principles. Consequently she was not the least confused by the learned discussions which took place in the salon of her new friends, M. and Mme. Fauvety.

M. Charles Fauvety was founder and editor of a well-known publication, La Revue Philosophique. Among the chief contributors to this erudite magazine was the philosopher, M. Charles Renouvier, the author of a learned work, Essais de Critique Générale, in four volumes, which he was then preparing, and which was not completed until 1864.

M. Renouvier possessed that inestimable gift of lucid exposition, which is so essentially French. Listening to, engaging in, and noting down his conversations with his editor, Juliette continued and carried to a point far advanced for one of her age and sex that philosophical education which her father had begun. It had long been [Pg 48] her habit to keep a diary and to insert in it accounts of any discussion which interested her. And it is to this habit that we owe the reproduction in her Souvenirs of those entrancing conversations which give us so vivid a picture of the intellectual life of the period.

Throughout Juliette’s early womanhood and maturity there was no one who exercised a greater influence on French thought than Hippolyte Taine. His influence was at its zenith in the sixties; but already in this year, 1857, those who like Fauvety and Renouvier were gifted with prophetic insight could discern his coming greatness.

The publication of Taine’s Essais de Critique et d’Histoire was a great event in the circle of La Revue Philosophique.

“These young men[34] are admirable,” cried Renouvier.[35] “And seldom has it been given to forerunners, such as I, to take so great a delight in their disciples. For I, in a way, hatched Taine.”

“Taine,” said the editor of La Revue Philosophique, “will remain the hope or the anxiety of every philosophical system. He has taken a scourge in his hands. For the next half-century, he will enthrone himself on the judgment seat, and he will scathe every idea which wears out with use. I, as a philosopher, fear him and rely upon him alone.”

Mme. Lamessine was not the only woman member of that erudite circle. There was Mme. Fauvety, a clever woman, who had been an actress, and for a time the rival of Rachel. She mingled intelligently in the philosophical discussions of her husband and his friends. There was also a certain Mme. Jenny d’Héricourt, the only member of the circle whom Juliette disliked. She too contributed to La Revue Philosophique; and she was tainted with that narrow bigotry and dogmatism which were characteristic of the publication, but from which the broad-minded Renouvier was entirely free. A blue-stocking of the most objectionable type, une vertu farouche, as Juliette called her, la forte Jenny was conceited, censorious, pedantic and an inveterate scandalmonger. Such a person would naturally refuse to believe that any one so young and pretty as Juliette could have the slightest comprehension of philosophy. Nevertheless, on one subject at least the feminine Juliette and the Amazonian Jenny were agreed: they both detested [Pg 49] Proudhon. Jenny had attacked his doctrines in an extremely able book, which Juliette had read and appreciated; for the materialistic and purely economic ideas of the father of modern syndicalism had never appealed to her, and she had fought many a battle of words on that subject with Dr. Lambert, who admired him. But, when Juliette ventured to discuss the economist with his female critic, Mme. d’Héricourt was furious. “Would you believe it,” she exclaimed to Fauvety, “that young lady actually dares to take upon herself to underline Proudhon!” It was bold, doubtless, in one so young and so charming. But Mme. Lamessine, nothing daunted by Jenny’s gibes, was to be bolder still, as we shall see in the next chapter.

We should convey a very wrong impression of Juliette’s early womanhood if we represented her as entirely absorbed in abstruse studies and frequenting only philosophers and blue-stockings. The lighter sides of life have always appealed to her. As a schoolgirl she excelled in games, and she has ever loved play as well as work. Now she was eagerly grasping the opportunities of amusement which Paris of the Empire knew so well how to offer, especially to one as attractive as Mme. Lamessine.

Mme. Fauvety took her to the theatre—not to first nights, this wise ex-actress preferred to wait until the players had perfected their parts, and it was not until the last performances were announced that she considered a play really worth seeing. Alexandre Dumas fils was then at the height of his popularity. La Dame aux Camélias, Diane de Lys, La Question d’Argent, were the talk of the town. Though Juliette had ceased to write poetry, she had not ceased to associate with poets. And it was a member of the Poet’s Union who took her to her first fancy-dress ball, where her escort appeared as Vercingetorix, and she herself was disguised as the Gallic Cassandra, Vellèda. She wore a long white robe, confined by a golden girdle from which hung a gilded scythe. Her arms were bare to the shoulder, and it was for the first time in her life, she writes, “for even at dances in those days we wore sleeves.” Her light brown hair with its gleam of gold hung over her shoulders, crowned with a wreath of mistletoe. Meyerbeer, the musical idol of the early Empire, happened to be present. Vellèda made a great impression on this queer little old man. “Why! she will make me [Pg 50] forget my Selika!” (the composition on which he was then engaged), he is said to have exclaimed. “I am too old to fall in love with a new face,” and he left the ball-room abruptly. For months afterwards every morning Juliette received a bunch of violets with the words, Souvenir ému à Vellèda—and one day came a ticket for a box for the first night of the Pardon de Ploërmel. But she never saw her aged admirer again. Some years after his death, on the occasion of the first performance of his L’Africaine, Juliette received a ticket for a box in a little casket with a bunch of violets, tied with a ribbon on which was written le dernier. “She will come to the first night of L’Africaine wherever she is,” Meyerbeer had said.

Already the Lamessines were in the whirl of political life. On the 14th of January, 1858, the evening of Orsini’s attempted assassination of the Emperor, while they were shopping in the Palais Royal, a Sicilian friend, who was with them, was arrested. On the next morning their flat was searched. But this time there were no compromising documents for Juliette to conceal. M. Lamessine had no difficulty in proving his friend’s innocence and obtaining his speedy release.

Those were the days when the long conflict between sermentistes and abstentionistes, which later was to rage high in Juliette’s salon, was just beginning. The sermentistes were those who consented to take the oath of allegiance to the Empire, the abstentionistes those who held themselves completely aloof.

Juliette and her friends at Mme. Fauvety’s were all ardent abstentionistes. They were disgusted when, in June 1857, the first so-called republican, Émile Ollivier, took the oath, on his election to the Corps Legislatif. Ollivier’s betrayal of the republican cause, they regarded as all the more inexcusable because his father, one of the stalwarts of 1848, was then in exile through his loyalty to the principles his son had sacrificed. But Ollivier and many others, who speedily followed his example, had on their side no less a democrat than Proudhon. That unflinching advocate of the people’s cause maintained that to take the oath to the Emperor was merely to recognise the people’s sovereignty embodied in the chief of the State. Such an argument did not raise Proudhon in the esteem of so uncompromising a person as Juliette.


[26] Léon Daudet, L’Entre-Deux-Guerres, 235 (1915).

[27] Souvenirs, I. 353.

[28] Souvenirs, II. 13.

[29] Souvenirs, I. 214.

[30] Ibid., 16.

[31] Souvenirs, II. 25.

[32] Souvenirs, II. 26.

[33] Souvenirs, II. 30.

[34] Taine, born in 1828, was then twenty-nine.

[35] Souvenirs, II. 39.

[Pg 51]




L’œuvre de Mme. Juliette Lambert n’est que l’hymne triomphante des sentiments humains les plus nobles et les plus joyeux.”—Jules Lemaître.

Born and bred in an atmosphere of controversy, inheriting from her grandmother and father an argumentative disposition, it is not surprising that in the field of polemics Juliette won her first literary laurels. Neither was it inconsistent with her ambitious nature that she should have chosen for adversary the most distinguished controversialist of the day. The socialist Proudhon was regarded not only as an eminent economist but as a master of dialectics.

Proudhon’s masterpiece appeared on the 22nd of April, 1858. It was a work in three volumes, entitled La Justice dans la Révolution et dans l’Eglise. Announced in 1854, this book had been eagerly awaited by philosophic readers, among whom was Juliette’s father.

Dr. Lambert wrote to his daughter that she must buy La Justice at once, and that, as she finished each volume, she must send it down to him at Chauny. It was well that Juliette carried out her father’s recommendation, for in a few days the book was suppressed[36] and its author, who had fled to Belgium, condemned to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 4000 francs.

Juliette, as she read these pages, was compelled to recognise the excellence of the writer’s style and the skill of his dialectics. But the so-called “justice” which Proudhon here metes out to women could not but infuriate so fervent a feminist. For even a cursory survey of this book will [Pg 52] serve to reveal that the writer here carries the anti-feminist argument to its extreme verge. No self-respecting woman could possibly read these pages without being moved to indignation, unless she resolve to treat the matter as a huge joke; but unfortunately Proudhon, like most pure economists, had no sense of humour: he only stumbled into being funny. A breath of the blessed illuminating comic spirit would have saved him from many a ludicrous absurdity.

Juliette’s resentment of the philosopher’s sweeping indictment of her sex was aggravated by his singling out for special condemnation the two women whom among her contemporaries she admired most. “J’ai la folie d’admirer,” she has said of herself; and with all the ardour of her passionate soul she admired George Sand and Daniel Stern (la Comtesse d’Agoult). It was precisely against these two distinguished writers that Proudhon directed all the vitriol of his invective. In George Sand’s work he would see nothing but une orgueilleuse impuissance.[37] Daniel Stern,[38] because in her Esquisses Morales she had ventured to maintain that woman need not necessarily be inferior to man, he decried as une femme savante qui parle sans raison ni conscience.[39]

Writhing under these insults, Juliette went one evening to Mme. Fauvety’s. There she said to Jenny d’Héricourt, “You ought to defend the women who are thus insulted, you who know so well how to wield a pen against the terrible Proudhon. It would be disgraceful to leave unanswered such abominable charges.”

“George Sand and Daniel Stern,” replied this vertu farouche, “have only what they deserve. I insist upon virtue and I practise it. Proudhon has not dared to insult me, I am certain of it, though I have not yet read his book.”

“Very well,” said Juliette. “I am nobody, it is true, although I am as virtuous as you, and I will reply to Proudhon. Women, they must be defended by women.”

This esprit de corps, this loyalty not to her sex alone, but to any cause or party, political, social or religious with [Pg 53] which she has chosen to identify herself, has ever characterised Mme. Adam, and the conflict of her sense of solidarity with her innate Celtic rebelliousness is one of the most interesting traits in her psychology.

Thus bravely did this young woman of twenty-two take up the glove thrown down by the most eminent and the most skilful dialectician of the day. For two months she was absorbed in the writing of this, her first book. Most of the work was done at night. She would shut herself up in her room, where she was alone with little Alice. Whenever she found time to go to the Fauvety’s, M. Fauvety and M. Renouvier inquired eagerly after the progress of the great work. Mme. d’Héricourt continued scornful.

“Well, and this defence of your famous friends, how is it getting on?” she would inquire derisively. “If you succeed in carrying it through, God send those great ladies be grateful to you, seeing all the pains you seem to be taking.”[40]

“Madame,” replied Juliette, “I am taking great pains. But then you must remember I am but a novice; and you can’t expect one of my age to have the experience of veterans.”

“Veterans! Veterans!” cried the irate lady. “You mean me, doubtless. Well, if you defend some of us you are very impertinent to others.”

Finally the book was finished, and entitled Idées Anti-Proudhoniennes. It was read to M. Fauvety, who approved and gave useful advice. But to Juliette’s dismay he expressed a doubt whether a reply to so powerful an adversary, so acrimonious a controversialist, so consummate a master of dialectics would ever find a publisher.

In her passionate enthusiasm for her task, such a horrid fear had never once entered Juliette’s mind.

“What!” she cried, “my poor book which has devoured my nights will never see day?”

“You have made a mot,” replied the editor of La Revue Philosophique, laughing. “But now you must captivate some great publisher. Don’t write, but offer your manuscript in person. Who knows? However, I doubt whether you will succeed when your book has been read.”

Such an opinion from so competent a critic would have [Pg 54] discouraged most writers. But Juliette, with a buoyant hopefulness which has ever supported her throughout all the trials of her long career, was not deterred. She merely concluded that such difficulties in the way of publication would involve her having to defray the expenses of the book’s appearance. Consequently she went down to Chauny to demand her father’s fulfilment of a rash promise that should she ever give birth to a volume he would pay for its publication.

“I told him,” writes Juliette, “that I had written a book.” “What is it?” he asked, not unnaturally. But the subject of her book was the last thing Juliette meant to reveal to this disciple of Proudhon. It would seem a thing unheard of that Dr. Lambert should be asked to pay for the publication of a book when he was ignorant of its contents. But this was Juliette’s request; and she knew her father could refuse her nothing. She was encouraged, moreover, when she heard him express his annoyance with the philosopher for his gross attacks on such devoted republicans as George Sand and Daniel Stern. “You must have been sadly wounded, Juliette?” he inquired. “Yes, I was heart-broken,” she replied. Yet she did not enlighten him any further. Nevertheless she returned to Paris with the thousand francs, which her doting parent calculated would suffice for the publication of her literary first-born.

Then followed the search for a publisher. Always ambitious, Juliette applied to one of the greatest publishing houses in the world. She addressed herself to M. Michel Lévy,[41] the publisher of Victor Hugo, of Sainte-Beuve, of Alexandre Dumas, who had recently discovered Renan in his garret. That famous master used to declare that Michel Lévy had been ordained by a special decree of Providence to become his publisher. Such was not Juliette’s experience; for M. Lévy’s reception of her was, to put it mildly, not encouraging.[42]

“Here is a young lady,” said his clerk, and in what a tone! “who has come about a book she has written, which she wants the firm to publish.”

[Pg 55]

Smiling, M. Lévy looked at his visitor and asked: “The subject of the book?”

“A reply to the attacks made on George Sand and Daniel Stern in La Justice dans la Révolution.”

“And this reply is by you, mademoiselle?”

“Madame, sir.”

“And you think that a book like this will be published by the house of Michel Lévy?”

“Oh, sir, I quite realise that I must bear the expense of the publication of my first book. If you would be so kind as to read it.”

“Useless, madame.”

“What! Do you decide without having looked at it?”

“Oh! I can see perfectly what your ... work is like merely by looking at you. What do you think, my good Scholl?”[43] said he, addressing some one who had just come in.

“It would be a pity,” said Scholl, “for madame to become a commonplace blue-stocking. You are quite right to discourage her, my dear Lévy. She has something better to do.”

“Monsieur Aurélien Scholl,” replied Juliette proudly, “M. Huegel, near by, has published a poem[44] by me which may not be as good as your Denise, but my prose may quite well be equal to yours.”[45]

And with her heart in her mouth, her literary personality, as she puts it, thoroughly humiliated, she left Michel Lévy’s office. Scholl, with whom she was often to discuss that scene in after years, told her he had advised Lévy to call her back.

Though for the moment her hopes were all dashed to the ground, Juliette was unconquered. Her courage has ever been roused by opposition. And M. Lévy’s impertinence had provided her with a further incentive to succeed: she desired ardently to prove him in the wrong. So she continued her search for a publisher; and always it was the leaders of the publishing world whom she visited. No less than eight did she approach, not omitting even [Pg 56] Proudhon’s own publisher. He was extremely polite, but he said: “You will understand, madame, that such things are not done.” At that time Hetzel, one of the most literary of Paris publishers, was in exile at Brussels. Juliette wrote to him. He replied:[46] “Either your book is very bad or you use a coloured handkerchief, and possibly you take snuff. I can’t believe a woman, who is probably ugly and certainly middle-aged, can have any right to defend against Proudhon the youth of George Sand and Daniel Stern or their position in the world. You would expose them to ridicule, and they would never forgive you. For doubtless Proudhon would reply to you.”

Here was a dilemma. What was Juliette to do? Evidently none of the recognised publishers would even read her MS., for they all either found her too pretty or suspected her of being plain.

On the ground floor of her house in the Rue de Rivoli was a bookseller, Taride by name, of whom Juliette was an excellent customer. She took him into her confidence. Would he publish her book if she stood all the expense? “Why not, madame?” he replied. “We neither of us run any risk, for we are both unknown, and if we fail, no one will hear of it.”

Consequently, Juliette put down eight hundred francs, and the book appeared, in defiance of the bookseller’s advice, in the summer, on the 15th of August, when, as the saying went, there was not “a cat in Paris.” But the impatient young authoress, whose hopes had been so long delayed, refused to wait until the autumn.

On the 19th of the month Juliette installed herself in the bookseller’s back shop, and inscribed on the fly-leaves of fifty copies suitable dedications to the most important figures in the world of journalism and letters: George Sand, Daniel Stern, Littré, Émile de Girardin, Prosper Mérimée, Edmond About, Octave Feuillet, Jules Grévy, Hippolyte Carnot and others. Then dispatching an errand-boy with the celebrities’ copies, she herself took a cab and delivered the books at the newspaper offices.

This done, her next concern was to go down to Chauny and put a volume into her father’s hands. What would he say to her impudence in attacking so great a philosopher, to her Idées Anti-Proudhoniennes? And, indeed, the title [Pg 57] was a shock to him. He took the little volume in his hand, turned it round and round. “What if it’s bad?” he began. “But if it’s good?” interposed Juliette. “Ah, at your age, even if you have half a success, you are distinguished for life.”[47]

After dinner, finding her very agitated, he sent her to bed. “Va te coucher, Basile,” he said. “I will read your book to-night, and tell you what I think of it in the morning.”

“At three o’clock in the morning he came into his daughter’s room and awakened her with the words:[48] ”It is good, it is good. But it is mine. I sowed the seed in your mind of these Idées Anti-Proudhoniennes. My dear child, this means your success, your salvation,[49] influential friendships, your grandmother’s wishes realised. Why is she not here at this moment?“

The next morning at breakfast even the usually despondent Mme. Lambert was gay, although she could not help her customary gloom breaking out in the exclamation, “I tremble to think what a life of work and worry this will mean for you.”

Dr. Lambert was eager for his daughter to be off to Paris, there to receive the congratulations which he was convinced were awaiting her. And he was not mistaken. Every day brought some new proof of the attention this little volume had attracted. The book was widely noticed in the press. The review which pleased her most, even to the point, she confesses, of for the moment making her lose her head (cet article me monta un peu à la tête),[50] was by Eugène Pelletan, in La Presse. The writer came to see her the day after the article’s appearance: and from that moment he became one of her most faithful and devoted friends. The Siècle, the periodical which had published her first prose effort,[51] in the following terms noticed her volume only a few days after its publication—

“We received yesterday a book destined to produce a profound sensation. It is a reply to Proudhon and to the insulting attack upon George Sand and Daniel Stern [Pg 58] contained in his last work. This book, despite its virility, is said to be by a very young woman. The title of the volume is Idées Anti-Proudhoniennes. It is signed ‘Juliette Lamessine.’”

Virility is, indeed, the dominating feature of this, Juliette’s first production, as it was to be of all her work. She writes as one having authority. Her style is crisp, terse, dramatic, vivid and, above all, forcible. It is essentially the style of a woman of action as well as of thought. In controversy she has always been at her best. And she could not possibly have found a subject better suited to her temperament and training than this answer to Proudhon’s attack on women. That in this year, 1858, three years before John Stuart Mill began to write his Subjection of Women, three years before our first woman doctor, Mrs. Garrett Anderson, began to study medicine, a young woman of twenty-two should have been able to present a bird’s-eye view of the whole field of feminist reform; that she should, in such forcible terms, have enunciated feminist principles and contended for those rights which it has required half a century of conflict to win, was a very remarkable achievement.

This little book of one hundred and ninety-six pages, polished off in two months, naturally makes no pretence at being an adequate answer to Proudhon’s great work, the result of years of laborious effort. It is, indeed, only with the last part of the book, that treating of women and of marriage, that the authoress of Idées Anti-Proudhoniennes is concerned. “Therein,” she writes, “are things which every woman who knows how to hold a pen has the right to regard as personal insults, and it is to these personalities that I intend to reply.”

Nevertheless, in her first chapter, entitled “Generalities,” she permits herself a few remarks on the main trend of her adversary’s book. She blames the narrow dogmatism which blinds him to the complexity of the social problem. A pure economist, this founder of the People’s Bank had attempted to solve the social problem in terms of pounds, shillings and pence. This Proudhon was the J. A. Hobson of that day. His absorption in the idea of justice caused him to forget what is equally important, passion, affection, solidarity and mercy. “There is no heart in your dialectics,” writes Juliette. “Now to understand life, you [Pg 59] must be yourself alive. Had you the most powerful brain in the universe, you would never comprehend man and humanity.”

“Justice,” wrote Proudhon, “had been nothing, it must be everything.” But for this hide-bound economist justice could exist only between man and man, for all men should be equal; but between man and woman, who must ever be unequal, justice need not be considered, for man must ever dominate woman. And why? Because man regarded as a working member of the community is more productive than woman, who is physically, intellectually and morally man’s inferior. Such an argument gives us pause in these days of the Great War, when manufacturers are telling us that the average output of women in factories is twenty per cent. higher than that of men.

Woman, man’s inferior physically, maintains Proudhon, must necessarily be mentally his inferior also. For physical strength is no less necessary to the work of the mind than to the work of the body. Here the retort was obvious; and we may be sure Proudhon’s young opponent did not miss it. “What, M. Proudhon,” she rejoins; “then a porter will be a better thinker than a philosopher. M. Proudhon’s God is obviously the dynamometer.... Force, always force. In force lies the millennium. That was the opinion of the Prætorian Guard when they chose for emperor the great Maximin, because he was stronger than a horse.”

Instead of the subjection of woman to man, which Proudhon maintains to be inevitable, his young adversary contends that the progress of society requires that men and women shall work together as equals. “A mere glance at the history of mankind,” she argues, “will suffice to show that among nations civilisation is in proportion to the part played by woman, to her influence, to her moral worth; and, as civilisation increases, the greater will be the value set upon the position accorded to woman.” This is an argument which no profound observer of human nature could deny. Unless men and women laugh together you cannot have that true comedy which is the very salt of the intellectual life, was the opinion of George Meredith.[52] “Where the veil is over women’s faces,” he wrote, referring to the silence of comedy among Eastern peoples, “you [Pg 60] cannot have society, without which the senses are barbarous, and the comic spirit is driven to the gutters of grossness to slake its thirst.” Nous avons débrutalisé la société française was the proudest boast of Juliette’s forerunner, La Marquise de Rambouillet, foundress of the first great French salon.

Mme. Lamessine was one of the earliest French women writers to divine that which this war is proving: woman’s capacity for work, for which her asserted inferiority to man had been held to unfit her.

Anticipating John Stuart Mill, Mme. Lamessine demanded that all the liberal professions should be thrown open to women, and that women should be admitted to a share, if not in the legislation at least in the administration, of their country. The rôle of mayoress she considered particularly appropriate to women. She demanded the admission of women to those conseils de prud’hommes which in France regulate disputes between employers and employed.

O Nazaréen incorrigible!” she exclaims, when her adversary falls a prey to the ancient myth that woman is ever the source of evil and the mother of impurity. “Men who, like M. Proudhon,” she continues, “desire to restore the patriarchate by imprisoning women in the family are des abstractions de quintessence who are blind to all that is going on around them, who misjudge the collective life which is daily developing new needs, engendering new forces, and giving rise to social institutions responding to these needs and organising these forces. They mean well, doubtless, and they think they are serving the cause of progress, or at least of morality, which always comes to be that of progress. By compelling woman to shut herself up in her family, by limiting her to the rôle of wife and mother, they hope to put an end to her growing passion for luxury and dissipation.... But they are mistaken. It is not by limiting the scope of her activity that they will arrest this disorder, but rather by opening up new channels for the wholesome play of her energy. Women must be educated thoroughly, and, wherever it is possible, professionally. They must be made productive. Work alone has emancipated man. Work alone can emancipate woman. Let woman provide herself by honest work with clothes which will adorn and become her. Then, instead of dragging [Pg 61] in the dust of the pavement her lace shawls and her silk skirts, she will walk free and proud in the modesty of clothes which will reveal her beauty, without tarnishing her virtue or selling her honour....

“But do not let me be accused of undervaluing woman’s rôle in the family: I, like Proudhon, believe that a woman’s first duty is to be wife and mother. But I maintain that family life need not absorb all woman’s activities, physical, moral and intellectual. The part of a broody hen is honourable without doubt, but it is not suited to every one, neither is it so absorbing as it is represented.”

In Juliette’s childhood her father had given her a catechism embodying the principles of democratic socialism. Now in the last pages of this book she expressed in another catechism her views of society and of women’s rôle in it.

The question of the parliamentary franchise Mme. Lamessine did not discuss in this volume. It is obvious that so ardent an advocate of sex equality must have believed in woman’s right to vote. Woman’s suffrage, we remember, was one of the reforms demanded by the Mlles. André’s pupils when, in 1848, Juliette marshalled them in the playground at Chauny beneath the banner of her father’s social democratic handkerchief. But the so-called universal, in reality manhood, suffrage of 1851 had led to the Empire, and Mme. Lamessine abhorred the Empire: henceforth therefore she placed no great faith in the people’s vote, not even if, as she believed, in all justice it should do, the people included women.


[36] The edition from which I quote is that of 1870 in four volumes. The suppressed edition of 1858, according to Mme. Adam’s Souvenirs, II. 66, was in three volumes. In a few years the condemnation was removed and permission given to Proudhon to return to France. He elected, however, to remain in Belgium.

[37] La Justice dans la Révolution et dans l’Eglise (ed. 1870), vol. iv. 203.

[38] Her best-known works are a novel, Nélida, and her History of the Revolution of 1848.

[39] Proudhon, La Justice, vol. iv. 140.

[40] Souvenirs, II. 68.

[41] M. Michel Lévy on his death in 1875, was succeeded as head of the firm by M. Calmann Lévy, father of the M. Calmann Lévy, who to-day presides over the business at 3, rue Auber.

[42] Souvenirs, II. 74.

[43] A brilliant and fashionable journalist of the day, who was also a poet and critic. His best-known work is Le Nain Jaune. Later, Mme. Lamessine was to see him frequently.

[44] Myosotis.

[45] For the discussion of Denise at the Poet’s Union see Souvenirs, II. 49.

[46] Souvenirs, II. 75.

[47] Souvenirs, II. 79.

[48] Ibid., 80.

[49] Referring to the unhappiness of her married life.

[50] Souvenirs, II. 81.

[51] Her reply to Alphonse Karr’s article on the crinoline. See ante, 44.

[52] An Essay on Comedy and the Uses of the Comic Spirit (1903), 57.

[Pg 62]




Le Salon était alors ... l’ambition suprême de la Parisienne, la consolation de sa maturité, la gloire de sa vieillesse.”—Daniel Stern (la Comtesse d’Agoult).

Dr. Lambert was right. Juliette’s book brought her influential friendships and distinguished acquaintances. It flung her right into the whirl of Parisian literary and political society.

The two women writers, whom Idées Anti-Proudhoniennes had defended, both wrote to thank their young champion. Of George Sand’s letter and of the friendship which some years later ensued between her and Juliette we shall hear much in another chapter. La Comtesse d’Agoult (Daniel Stern), after having read Juliette’s book, wrote to her—

“It is surprising, sir, that you should have assumed a woman’s name, while we women write under masculine pseudonyms.”[53]

“I replied to her,” writes Juliette, “that I was a woman, and very much a woman.”

Then there followed an invitation to one of the great lady’s evenings. This was a high honour. For Mme. d’Agoult’s salon in the Rue Presbourg was not only the centre of the Republican opposition to the Empire, it was a brilliant and cosmopolitan assembly, a meeting-place for many of the most distinguished men of the day. Renan, Littré and Émile de Girardin, here foregathered with Emerson, Heine and Kossuth. The life of Mme. d’Agoult herself had been as eventful as that of any of her guests. Born at Frankfort in 1805, she was the daughter of a German banker’s daughter and the Comte de Flavigny, [Pg 63] a French emigré, who had been page to Marie Antoinette. When the Revolution had subsided, the Comte de Flavigny brought his wife and his daughter, Marie, back to France. Marie soon grew into an intelligent and beautiful girl of Germanic type—tall, golden-haired and blue-eyed. Having set her heart upon a man who married some one else, she refused offer after offer until well on in what was then regarded as spinsterhood. At the age of twenty-two she submitted to a mariage de convenance with the Comte d’Agoult. In a loveless life she found consolation in that joy of every clever Parisienne’s heart, the creation of a salon. She delighted to gather the élite of the aristocracy round her in her town house on the Quai Malaquais, facing the Louvre, or in her country château of Croissy, fifteen miles out of Paris. Soon this “Corinne of the Quai Malaquais,” as she was called, became one of the most attractive of Parisian hostesses. She aspired even to emulate the seductive Mme. Récamier, whose salon at L’Abbaye-aux-Bois was then at the height of its glory. But the Comtesse realised that without le grand homme, in other words, without a literary lion, a salon is nothing. Mme. Récamier had her Chateaubriand. Mme. d’Agoult selected for her “great man” the poet, Alfred de Vigny. So, while Chateaubriand was entrancing Mme. Récamier’s guests by the reading of his Mémoires d’Outre Tombe, the Countess invited her friend, Alfred de Vigny, to read his new poem, La Frégate, to an assembly of ambassadresses, duchesses, and countesses at Croissy. But alas! de Vigny, though a gifted poet, was no reader. And the chilling silence at the end of the reading was broken by the freezing question: “Is your friend an amateur, madame?” “Decidedly,” said de Vigny to his hostess, “my frigate has been shipwrecked in your salon.”

But a worse shipwreck than that of La Frégate was to attend the fair châtelaine of Croissy. Some one had described this statuesque beauty in terms she herself found not inaccurate as “six inches of snow on twenty feet of lava.” And the lava was soon to melt the snow. Mme. d’Agoult’s apparent coldness vanished before the noontide heat of an irresistible attraction, that of the most fatal Don Juan of Europe, none other than the musician, Franz Liszt, who had already melted many a distinguished feminine heart.

[Pg 64]

Casting to the winds her social reputation, her marriage vows, and her maternal affection (she had borne the Comte d’Agoult two children), she suffered herself to be carried off from a ball, and spent the next years of her life wandering over Europe with her lover.

Then, having quarrelled with Liszt, she returned to Paris in 1846, and settled down, in the Rue Presbourg, to write under the pseudonym of “Daniel Stern.”

Of course all the doors of her aristocratic friends in the Faubourg St. Germain were closed against her. But even before her flight she had made some friends in the bourgeoisie; and among them were M. and Mme. Émile de Girardin. Mme. de Girardin, the Countess had known when, as the clever and beautiful Delphine Gay, she was the poetess laureate of the Restoration. Now, married to Émile de Girardin, the Lord Northcliffe of that day, Delphine was one of the most successful of Parisian hostesses. While her mysterious husband, that Napoléon of the Press, that homme fatal, of whose origin no one was sure, muffled himself in a shawl and slumbered in a corner of the salon until such time as he should go to his newspaper,[54] the vivacious Mme. de Girardin gathered round her all the great literary celebrities of the hour, Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Balzac, Théophile Gautier and Eugène Sue. And in this brilliant circle, the Countess, ostracised elsewhere, was made warmly welcome. Here she formed her Republican opinions, here she came into contact with the leading figures of that Revolution of 1848, of which she was to become the historian.[55] Here, in Mme. de Girardin’s salon in the Rue Lafitte, the Countess replenished her emptied visiting-list and gathered material for her second salon.

With most of this story Juliette had become acquainted through the gossip of Mme. Fauvety’s drawing-room. And what she did not already know was told her by Mme. d’Agoult’s friend, de Ronchaud, whom the Countess had sent to escort the young Mme. Lamessine to the Rue Presbourg. Mme. d’Agoult could not have assigned Juliette a more congenial cavalier. De Ronchaud was a fervent classicist, one of the founders of that new Hellenic school [Pg 65] which was just then coming into prominence. His delightful talk about Greek art in the book-shop of Père France on the Quai Voltaire had seduced young Anatole into playing truant from the Collège Stanislas in order to spend a whole day wandering through the Galerie des Antiques in the Louvre. Juliette found de Ronchaud’s conversation equally entrancing. “Our first talk,” she writes, “was one long hymn to Greece.” De Ronchaud promised to introduce his young friend to other Hellenists, and he foretold that together they would bring about a second Renaissance.

What an all-important event was Juliette’s first evening in Mme. d’Agoult’s salon may easily be imagined. She found the Countess, like many other distinguished Frenchwomen, anticipating her age, for although she was only fifty-three, she wore over her silver hair a light black lace mantilla. At the first glance she gave Juliette the impression of strength, almost virile, and yet of femininity. “J’ai atteint l’âge d’homme,” she used to say, echoing Catherine of Russia’s sentiment when she welcomed Diderot with the words: “As man to man we can discuss anything.” Tall and superbly graceful, it seemed to Juliette that she had never seen a more complete great lady. When Mme. d’Agoult described herself as a Democrat, it was difficult to suppress a smile, so anomalous on her lips sounded such a word. Her bearing, the pose of her head, her features, the lines of her face which betrayed no trace of the tempestuous passion that had swept over her in youth; everything about Mme. d’Agoult was aristocratic.

In the general conversation of her salon the Countess took little part, but, seated on the right of the fireplace, she would carry on a tête-à-tête with some single person. Unlike many another salon lady, Mme. du Deffand or Mme. de Staël or Juliette herself, she was no maker of mots; nor was she ready with repartee. She herself could never understand how she came by her reputation of a wit;[56] for she knew that she never appeared at her best in conversation. She was too reserved, too self-conscious to be a vivacious talker, and she could only be eloquent when intense feeling took her out of herself.[57]

Grave and a trifle solemn, her salon was frequented by [Pg 66] serious students, such as Littré, who rarely went anywhere else, as well as by more sociable philosophers like Renan. The subjects discussed were politics, philosophy, art (music especially), serious literature, but seldom plays or novels. The guests were too addicted to monologue; and too often some weighty personage, leaning against the mantel-piece would discourse at such length that his talk became a veritable lecture. Sometimes Mme. d’Agoult would read a letter from some foreign correspondent, a famous revolutionary like Mazzini or Kossuth; for she had relations with the whole of Europe, including those illustrious Frenchmen whom Louis Napoléon’s coup d’état of December 1851 had driven into exile.

Though all Mme. d’Agoult’s friends were republicans and therefore opposed to the Empire, they were not all agreed as to the best way of conducting the opposition. About this year, 1858, two distinct parties were beginning to define themselves: the extreme republicans who, like Juliette and her father, believed in keeping entirely aloof from imperial politics, and who regarded as traitors to Republicanism any who should, no matter for what purpose, consent to swear allegiance to the Emperor. These uncompromising anti-imperialists went by the name of abstentionistes. But there was also coming into existence a more moderate party led by Mme. d’Agoult’s son-in-law, Émile Ollivier.[58] They held that opposition to the Empire could be most effectively carried out by entering the Corps Legislatif, for which it was necessary to take the oath of allegiance. This party, known as sermentistes, was to grow in strength until it succeeded in forcing its so-called Liberalism on the Emperor, and establishing what is known as L’Empire Libéral.

Juliette’s uncompromising nature, as we have seen, made it impossible for her to approve of the Sermentistes. And she loses no opportunity of ridiculing les petits Olliviers, as Ollivier’s followers were called, when they appeared in Mme. d’Agoult’s salon. Indeed, the Countess herself opposed her son-in-law’s policy; and, after her daughter’s death, there was an open breach between them.

From the very first the pretty, vivacious Mme. Lamessine made a highly favourable impression on Mme. d’Agoult. [Pg 67] “She took the trouble,” writes Juliette, “to convert a little provincial into a society lady.[59] She encouraged me to talk of my work. When you are perplexed, come and tell me,” she would say. “I shall be delighted to give you the benefit of my observation of mankind and of all I have learnt in the hard school of experience.”

Soon Juliette’s invitation to the Countess’s evenings was extended to those smaller intimate parties, which met around the luncheon or the dinner-table. On these occasions the Hellenist, Louis de Ronchaud, was almost invariably her fellow-guest.

Mme. d’Agoult laughed at Juliette’s passion for antiquity. “My dear child,” she would say, “you must be of your time. At your age you ought not to be so antique.... I shall take you to the Opéra Bouffes” (the Italian theatre). “That will modernise you a little.”

“For the love of Greece, remain Greek,” pleaded de Ronchaud. But, indeed, there was no fear of the Opéra Bouffes perverting Juliette from Hellenism; for Offenbach’s caricaturing of her Homeric deities in Orphée aux Enfers so outraged her Grecian sympathies that Mme. d’Agoult was constrained to make amends by inviting her to a neo-Grecian dinner. “It will be a pagan party,” the Countess said. “De Ronchaud has arranged it.” The other guests were two brilliant Hellenists, Ménard and Saint Victor. They began by discussing the now much-disputed importance of a classical education. These neo-Grecians were firmly persuaded that the classics alone can inculcate those superior ideas of justice and heroism, which are all the more salutary because for ages they have permeated the race. Naturally they lamented over what seemed to them the decadence of French society under the Empire. Ménard maintained that periods of intellectual decadence are invariably periods of mechanical progress and of political despotism.

Then the worshippers of ancient Hellas fell with equal zest and vivacity to discussing the antiquity of the Orphic mysteries.

How intensely alive for Juliette was this Hellenic past she has proved over and over again in her literary work, and most notably in three novels she was to produce some [Pg 68] years later, Laide (1878), Grecque (1879), and Païenne (1883).[60]

That great wave of philosophic speculation which was sweeping through France could not fail to affect so intellectual a salon as Mme. d’Agoult’s. An earlier dinner-party, Juliette’s first at the Rue Presbourg, had been a veritable symposium of philosophers. The great Littré,[61] the eloquent exponent of Comte’s philosophy, was the lion of the evening. His famous Etymological Dictionary of the French Language was then going through the Press.

“Littré,” writes Juliette, “inspired me with a sentiment which was almost worship.” When they had met before they had talked of Greece. The editor of Hippocrates and Pliny, though laughing at his young friend’s fervent passion for ancient Hellas, had been able to reveal to her things in the Iliad which neither she nor her father had dreamed of.

Among the other guests were De Ronchaud, of course; Hippolyte Carnot, son of the “Organiser of Victory,” and editor of one of the leading magazines of the day, La Revue Encyclopédique;[62] Dupont-White, the friend of John Stuart Mill, a bold thinker and an ardent apologist of centralisation in government. In the presence of such an august philosophic trio Juliette for the first part of the dinner was content to listen; and we may be sure that, like her illustrious namesake, Mme. Récamier, she listened “with seduction.” But towards the end of the evening we find her warmed to take part in the discussion. Although she [Pg 69] admired, almost worshipped Littré, she could not tolerate his positivism. Positivism suggested Comte, and Comte suggested the husband whose conduct was rendering her domestic life unbearable. But Littré seemed to her to out-Comte even Comte; for Littré would stifle the slightest breath of idealism. While Comte admitted that there are as many arguments for as against the existence of an unknowable, Littré seemed to Juliette absolutely to deny it. This may have been so at that time; but surely Littré must later have become less dogmatic. For we remember Paul Bourget’s description of “Old Littré” as a saint who spoke eloquently of that ocean of mystery washing our very shores, but over the waters of which we have no barque to carry us.[63]

When Littré maintained that as “light cannot exist without a luminous body, neither can life without organs nor spirit without matter,” Juliette protested that vehicles are not essences. “The Homeric past,” she added, “presents us with a poetic conception of things which encourages the belief that the future has something better in store than your immutable law and its brutality.”

“Yes, I agree,” replied Littré, “the immutable law is brutal in its partial manifestations, but its general action, based on the unvarying conditions of proportion and order, inspires us with the idea of absolute justice.”

Against such determinism Juliette revolted with all the fervour of her rebellious and romantic soul.

“I protest,” she said. “If I feel myself a mere atom of dust swept about by the wind and not an intelligence dominating matter, why should I make any effort?”

“Because action is the law of humanity.”

“Ah! but for me belief in man led by the spirit and nature by the divine is a necessity.” Here, in these words indicating so plainly the wish to believe, lies the key to Juliette’s whole mental and spiritual evolution. It was a key which her philosopher friends were quick to grasp.

“We shall see this pagan turning Christian,” said Littré.

“And I should not be at all sorry,” remarked Mme. d’Agoult, “if it were only for the pleasure of exasperating that Hellenising Ronchaud.”

Juliette and her hostess would appear to have been the [Pg 70] only women at these dinner-parties. There may have been others, whom Juliette does not mention. But Mme. d’Agoult was essentially a man’s woman. The wives of her guests, with very few exceptions, did not interest her. There were, however, a few clever and distinguished women who frequented her salon. There was the masculine Mme. Royer, who was as much of a blue-stocking as her friend Jenny d’Héricourt, and whom Juliette equally detested; there was the heroic Mme. Hippolyte Carnot, the Cornelia of French republicans, who, when her husband was resisting Louis Napoléon in December 1851, said, “If you die you will bequeath to your sons the example you inherited from your father.” Then there was that queen of raconteuses, the witty but rather Rabelaisian Comtesse de Pierreclos, the poet Lamartine’s niece. This tall and powerfully-built lady, with large prominent features, was one of the most striking figures in salon society. She was pleased to joke about her own appearance. Being asked what part she would take in a play, she replied, “I think mine should be the part of the bust of Louis Philippe.” But if other people attempted to make fun of her she resented it strongly. Thus when she said she had met a certain person face to face, which in French is “nose to nose,” and some one ejaculated, “Then it must have been yours that conquered,” she was on the point of bursting into tears.[64] But Mme. de Pierreclos passed as quick as lightning from tears to laughter. She and Juliette were equally exuberant and impulsive. Perhaps it was this that made them sworn friends. They corresponded regularly, and during Juliette’s frequent absences from Paris she depended on her friend to keep her au courant with all the doings of the metropolis, with the latest mot, the last scandal, the newest play and the best music.

For Juliette’s interests were far from being concentrated on philosophy or even on neo-Hellenism. Plays, picture-shows, fancy-dress balls and the opera crowded her days, leaving her, one might have thought, no time for literary work. Nevertheless, she had contrived before 1863 to produce a novel, Le Mandarin, three volumes of short stories, Mon Village, Récits d’une Paysanne, Voyage autour du Grand Pin, besides pamphlets on public questions and newspaper articles.

From a portrait by Léopold Flameng, 1860

[Pg 71]

Among all these various pleasures and duties one wonders what became of Juliette’s little daughter Alice. The child was now old enough to notice the strained relations between her parents, and in order to remove her from the unedifying disputes between her mother and father, Alice had been sent to her grandparents at Chauny.

As far as her literary and social life was concerned Juliette’s most ambitious dreams were about to be realised. She was on the way to become a queen of society. True, she had enemies, chiefly pedants like Mme. d’Héricourt and Mlle. Royer, or the friends of Proudhon. No one so convinced, so outspoken as Juliette could avoid arousing opposition. But, with the exception of that little coterie, all hearts were hers, won by her good nature, her charm, her genius for friendship, her vivacity, her intelligence and her loveliness.

A leading French journalist, now no longer living, who followed Mme. Adam’s career with interest and admiration, told me that in her youth she was entrancingly beautiful. Referring to the salon she was shortly to establish, to the princes, ambassadors, writers and artists who crowded round the brilliant young hostess, that journalist said: “We were all in love with her.”

Moreover Juliette, though an advocate of the rights of woman in days when feminists tended to affect masculine attire, discarded none of her femininity. It has always been her opinion that Pour une femme, c’est une infériorité que se deféminiser. She who had been independent enough to abstain from the crinoline, knew how to dress. One of her gowns, velvet gorge de tourterelle, with large steel buttons, worn at Alphonse Daudet’s dinner-party, made such an impression on Edmond de Goncourt that he described it in detail, in the pages of that Journal which has now become a classic.[65]

It is not surprising that more than one distinguished artist—Flameng, Charpentier, for example—painted Mme. Lamessine’s portrait. Charpentier’s picture was exhibited in the salon. Mme. d’Agoult’s friend, the famous sculptor, Adam Salomon, photographed her in a Charlotte Corday costume, which she had worn at a fancy-dress ball, and wished to model her bust. The photograph was a success, not so the bust. After having made many attempts in [Pg 72] clay, the sculptor gave it up. Some time later, however, when Mme. Lamessine was in his studio, he persuaded her to let him take a caste of her face. “It was horrible,” she writes.[66] “I thought I should have been suffocated; and I felt as if my eyebrows and eyelashes were being torn off. The agony of those few seconds when Adam Salomon was piercing holes for my nostrils and making slits for my lips, when I could hardly breath, pursued me for months.” “I quite understand,” she adds, “that a cast of the head and face is not usually taken until after death.”

It was at the Adam Salomons’ that Juliette met Lamartine. He came there every day: and it saddened her to see this great poet worried by financial embarrassments and attempting to retrieve his fallen fortunes by soliciting subscriptions to his Cours Familier de Littérature. Ce pauvre Lamartine, wrote the witty Mme. Mohl, ce n’est plus une lyre, c’est une tire-lire (a sealed earthen pot with a slit into which a peasant puts his money). The poet’s fine, handsome countenance still lit up when he spoke of art, letters or politics, but that unhappily was but seldom.[67]

There are those for whom socially the Second Empire signifies little more than hollow splendour, ostentatious display and vulgar luxury. No doubt these tendencies were strongly marked; but at the same time there flourished a rich and original development of art, music and literature. When Juliette was making her début in Paris drawing-rooms, Alexandre Dumas’ La Dame aux Camélias and his Fils Naturel were being played at Le Théâtre Français, Millet and Puvis de Chavannes were exhibiting their first pictures in the Salon, Renan was writing his Vie de Jésus, Erckmann and Chatrian their Napoleonic romances, and Victor Hugo, in exile, his Légende des Siècles. Those were the days when two of the greatest composers of the modern world, Berlioz and Wagner, were rivalling one another on the Parisian operatic stage.

Juliette first met Berlioz at the representation of Orpheo at the Théâtre Lyrique. Mme. Viardot’s sublime rendering of the part of Orpheo avenged Juliette and her neo-Grecian friends, Ménard and de Ronchaud, who accompanied her, for the insults Offenbach had offered to their Greek gods. During the song “I have lost my [Pg 73] Eurydice,” Juliette, overcome by emotion, paid the singer the superb compliment of momentarily losing consciousness. When Berlioz himself came round to their box at the end of the act, Ménard did not neglect to tell him of the beautiful Mme. Lamessine’s little swoon. Highly flattered the composer took her hand in his and kept it there.[68]

“Yes,” he said, “it is quite beautiful.... Orpheo is near enough to the real Orpheo for the expression of grief rendered as we have just heard it to overwhelm the senses.”

Juliette appreciated Wagner’s art, though she was far too much of a Latin to prefer this Teuton to Berlioz. “Berlioz,” she wrote, “is the initiator, he stands above all others. He can well afford to let the Wagnerian fanatics assert that Wagner’s is the music of the future.”

Juliette first met Wagner and heard him play at the Comtesse de Charnacé’s. The Comtesse was Mme. d’Agoult’s daughter by her husband, the Comte d’Agoult, and, strangely enough it may seem to us, she was in the habit of receiving her half-sister, daughter of Liszt and Mme. d’Agoult, and wife of the celebrated pianist, Hans von Bülow. Von Bülow was Wagner’s shadow; and it was Von Bülow who brought Wagner to the Rue Vaugirard. About twenty-five people were present. Juliette thought Wagner’s enormous head not lacking in character, at least the upper part of it. His forehead was broad and high. His questioning eyes were now tender, now hard; but his ugly mouth, with its sarcastic expression, seemed to press back his cheeks and like nut-crackers to bring together an authoritative chin and an arrogant nose. She found him caustic and witty as he talked of everything and seemed to know everything. Then suddenly he would become vulgar, personal, conceited.

He played the Prelude to Lohengrin. “Never has anything been written to equal it,” exclaimed Von Bülow.

“I alone,” said Wagner ..., “can do these things. No one else in the world would dare to attempt them.”

Then laughing, and, with a strong Germanic accent, he added: “People can never tell whether I am hydrocephalous or a man of genius.”

“Something of the first,” whispered Juliette to Mme. d’Agoult.

[Pg 74]

“A great deal of the second,” rejoined the Countess, rather severely.

Wagner, who was extremely quick of hearing, had caught this whispered conversation.

“He gave to each of us,” writes Juliette, “the ‘thank you’ we deserved.” Then he talked well of Parisians and their mocking spirit. He said how it grieved him not to be understood in France, and to have for a rival any one so eminent as Berlioz.

“It is impossible for you ever to understand one another,” said Mme. d’Agoult.

Despite the personal antipathy with which Wagner inspired her, Juliette made enormous efforts to sell tickets for the three concerts he was to give at Paris. And she disposed of so many that the musician actually sent de Ronchaud to her with a message of thanks from “the Hydrocephalous.”

The first two concerts at least were a distinct success. At the second even Berlioz applauded.

Mme. d’Agoult, unlike most aristocratic Frenchwomen of her day, was a brave pedestrian. That was what kept her such a good figure, said Juliette; and her young friend often accompanied her on her walks. In May 1859, after having visited the Salon, they walked through the Bois. Juliette seldom refers to her own toilettes. But on that day, she tells us, she was wearing a specially becoming costume, a frock of black taffetas with no trimming, but wide sleeves of white lace, a fichu of black chantilly and a Leghorn hat with a cluster of cornflowers and strings of black velvet. It was a glorious May day. All Paris seemed to be out enjoying itself. As the Countess and Juliette walked past the Arc de Triomphe, Mme. d’Agoult said—

“The war is imminent. Perhaps it will be declared to-morrow. God send we may see France victorious and Italy delivered.”[69]

For months Mme. d’Agoult and her friends had been eagerly following Italy’s struggle for liberty. With the whole of France they ardently desired their Latin sister’s liberation from the Austrian yoke. The Countess herself had Italian connections. She was related to a well-known Florentine family, the Peruzzi.

[Pg 75]

Juliette, before she came to Paris, had known little of foreign politics. Save for a vague prejudice against England, the legacy of the Napoleonic Wars, a mistrust of Prussia and a liking for the Russians because Russian soldiers, billeted in the house of Chauny, had been kind to her grandmother, Juliette had no very decided sympathies or antipathies towards countries not her own. But in Mme. d’Agoult’s salon such indifference speedily vanished. On the very first evening in the Rue Presbourg she met the Alsatian, Nefftzer, who had been editor of La Presse and was later to direct Le Temps. “By him,” she writes, “for the first time in my life I heard foreign politics lucidly discussed, and it was then that I began to take an interest in them.”[70]

Among the European nations outside France, Italy was Juliette’s first love and Garibaldi her greatest hero. Next to Italy, as one might expect from so ardent a Hellenist, came Greece. She and her Grecian friends were highly delighted when the Ionian Isles were reunited to Greece. She was in the South of France at the time, but de Ronchaud wrote announcing the good news and exclaiming “Vive l’indépendence.”

But that was in 1862. To return to 1859 and to the cause of Italian unity as it appealed to Mme. d’Agoult’s salon. Napoléon’s declaration of war against Austria so delighted Juliette and her friends that for a moment they almost forgot their opposition to the Empire. The news of the victories which followed increased their rejoicing, but their joy was short-lived; for in a few weeks came a bitter disillusionment. In July the Peace of Villafranca was signed. Instead of fulfilling Napoléon’s proud boast and freeing Italy from the Alps to the Adriatic, it delivered her tied hand and foot into the power of Austria. Francis Joseph remained master of Italy, the most powerful member of the Italian Confederation, over which the Pope, Pio-Nono, presided.

“Ah! we felt that Napoléon’s promises had been too good to be true,” exclaimed Juliette and her Republican friends. And, with more reason, “I told you so,” exclaimed M. Thiers. For the ex-Minister had advised the Emperor not to engage in war against Austria. Italian unity, he foretold, would be followed by Prussian unity. [Pg 76] And now he pointed out that France had not only made an enemy of Austria, but she had offended Italy, who saw that she had been duped. Italy was still further offended when Napoléon in direct violation of the Treaty of Villafranca insisted on annexing Savoy and Nice. Then, not content with ranging against him Italy and Austria, the Emperor proceeded to alienate the Pope, whom he was pledged to support.

Out of that mind which, as Lord Palmerston said, “was as full of schemes as a warren of rabbits,” Napoléon III produced at this juncture one of his numerous pamphlets. In this one he attacked nothing more nor less than the Pope’s temporal power, urging him to acquiesce in the independence of Romagna. This dangerous policy of playing first with one party then with another made Juliette and her friends tremble for France, despite their anti-clericalism.

They were kept closely in touch with Italian affairs by a friend of Mme. d’Agoult’s, a man equally remarkable in the three fields of science, literature, and politics, Alessandro Bixio, the founder with Buloz of the Revue des deux Mondes. Born in 1808, Bixio was a Genoese by birth, but had been educated in France. A moderate Republican, during the terrible insurrection of July 1848, in an attempt to keep order in Paris streets, he had been severely wounded. Having lost consciousness he was taken for dead, and left lying near one of the barricades. Not having been heard of afterwards, his death was announced, a memorial service was arranged, mourning was ordered, when suddenly his friend Hetzel, the publisher, received a letter from him. A concierge had found the wounded man lying in the street, had taken him into the house, and there, after some days of coma, he had returned to consciousness. He wrote to Hetzel entreating him to announce his resurrection as delicately as possible.

Earlier in the year, Bixio had been French Ambassador at Turin, later, during Prince Louis Napoléon’s presidency, he was French Minister of Agriculture. After the coup d’état he had retired into private life. But he remained in close touch with Turin, which he visited every fortnight, never failing on his return to bring to the Rue Presbourg the latest news from the Piedmontese capital. On one [Pg 77] occasion, when Mme. d’Agoult was going to Turin to see the performance of one of her plays, Bixio was her escort. The Countess’s story on her return of her reception by Victor Emmanuel and of her having seen Cavour, fanned into yet greater ardour her guests’ passion for Italian unity.

Alessandro’s brother, Nino Bixio, played a prominent part in Garibaldi’s Sicilian expedition, having commanded one of the two ships which sailed from Genoa. This adventure he related in detail to Juliette some time later. Nino Bixio was one of the most fearless of men; he was said to have plucked a bullet out of his own flesh, saying to his men, “See, such things are quite harmless.” When Juliette in conversation with his brother, referred to Nino’s intrepidity, “Yes, by my faith,” exclaimed Alessandro. “Did I not bring him up not to know fear? Did I not, when he was a boy, hold him by one foot and let him dangle from the balcony over the street?”

Juliette eagerly and sympathetically followed Garibaldi’s adventures. She collected all the details she could glean about her hero, and, in 1859, published a pamphlet[71] which caused her to be regarded as an authority on the Italian liberator.

Her admiration for Garibaldi did not prevent her from appreciating the services rendered to Italian liberty by the more judicious Cavour. The tidings of Cavour’s illness, broken to Mme. d’Agoult in a letter from Turin, cast a gloom over the salon of the Rue Presbourg. “Cavour,” wrote the Countess’s correspondent, “is in extremis, the Italian doctors are killing him. They are butchers. They have bled him fourteen times.”[72] “Alas,” adds Juliette, “they bled him once more, and he died on the 6th of June” (1861).

Almost as fruitless as the Italian War was Napoléon III’s expedition to Syria on behalf of the Christians of Mt. Lebanon, threatened with extermination by a neighbouring Mussulman tribe, the Druses. This expedition, which was much discussed in Mme. d’Agoult’s salon, had ended in the French, as the result largely of Lord Palmerston’s intervention, evacuating Syria and leaving the cause of [Pg 78] the persecuted Christians to the Sultan’s somewhat uncertain championship. Renan, appointed to an archæological mission in Syria by the French Government, had chanced to sail with the expedition. As soon as he came back, and returned to the Rue Presbourg, he was eagerly questioned by Juliette and her friends as to his opinion of the settlement.

“What do you think of it?” inquired Dupont-White, referring to the Sultan’s protectorate and the French evacuation of Syria.

“I think well of it,” replied Renan. “It will put an end to the massacres.”

“ What,” exclaimed Dupont-White, “then do I understand that you were sent there to stir up religious fanaticism? I knew you received your mission through Prince Napoléon, so I thought your object would be rather to come to an understanding with the infidels. For I regard your prince and you as being two of the finest specimens of infidelity in the world.”

“But Prince Napoléon is a deist,” said Renan.

“Very well. And you?”

“I have no objection to saying Mon Dieu,” replied Renan. “But ...”

“I don’t see Renan going to preach a crusade in Syria or anywhere else,” said Littré, who had seemed to be dreaming.[73]

Two years later, on the 23rd of June, 1863, after Juliette had separated from her first husband and was living with her parents at Chauny, appeared Renan’s Vie de Jésus. From the point of view of its influence on free thought Dr. Lambert considered the publication of this book the most significant event of the latter half of the nineteenth century. Juliette received twenty letters from her friends, some extolling, others attacking the book. Mme. de Pierreclos thought it abominable and pernicious, all the more because of the perfection of its style. Ronchaud wrote admiring its poetry. “Even those,” he added, “who disbelieve in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth must henceforth worship him.”

“Renan,” said Dr. Lambert, “was like myself, a simple-minded, sincere and pious student of theology. But when [Pg 79] he found the sacred text distorted by those to whom it had been entrusted, he lost faith as I did.”

Dr. Lambert on hearing that Renan had been deprived of his chair of Hebrew at the Collège de France, exclaimed, “You see, imperialism, by treating Renan as an enemy, is pointing him out to us as our friend.”[74]


[53] Souvenirs, II. 83. Idées Anti-Proudhoniennes was signed “Juliette Lamessine.”

[54] See Daniel Stern, Mes Souvenirs, 311.

[55] Daniel Stern, Histoire de la Révolution de 1848, 2 vols., Paris, Charpentier, 1862.

[56] Daniel Stern, Mes Souvenirs, 346.

[57] Ibid., 349.

[58] He had married Blandine, daughter of Mme. d’Agoult and Liszt.

[59] Mme. Adam, Souvenirs, I. 108-9, “Elle prenait la peine de faire d’une petite provinciale une dame.”

[60] See post, 209.

[61] Born in 1801, Littré had studied and qualified as a doctor of medicine, though he never practised his profession. He, like most of Mme. d’Agoult’s friends, was a “man of 1848.” Immediately after the Revolution he served for a few months as unpaid municipal councillor of Paris. But, disillusioned after the violent suppression of the July rising, he had retired from office and since then had lived in retirement.

[62] Hippolyte Carnot, born in 1801, had accompanied his father into exile. After the elder Carnot’s death, Hippolyte returned to France. There he became one of the leaders of the Saint-Simonian group of philosophers, see post, 86-90. During the Revolution of 1848 Carnot was Minister of Education. Like Littré, disillusioned by the reactionary movement which followed the July insurrection, he resigned. After the coup d’état of December 1851, he went into voluntary exile. During his absence he was elected member of the Corps Legislatif. But although he returned to France, he refused to take the oath to the Empire, thus forfeiting his seat. Since then he too had lived in retirement.

[63] Le Disciple, Preface.

[64] Mémoires de la Comtesse Diane, 146-7.

[65] Journal des Goncourt, VI. 184.

[66] Souvenirs, II. 155.

[67] Ibid., 147.

[68] Souvenirs, II. 214.

[69] Souvenirs, II. 166.

[70] Souvenirs, II. 85.

[71] Garibaldi: Sa vie d’après Documents Inédits, avec un portrait, Paris, 1859.

[72] Souvenirs, II. 315.

[73] Souvenirs, II. 317.

[74] Souvenirs, II. 421.

[Pg 80]




“Often in the years that are darkening around me, I remember our beautiful scheme of a noble and unselfish life and how fair in that first summer appeared the prospect that it might endure for generations.”—Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance.

Moi qui ait vécu une partie de ma jeunesse avec des cabétiens, des phalansteriens, des saint-simonians.”—Mme. Adam, Souvenirs.

Juliette’s energy was crowding her life with a variety of interests and occupations: literary work, plays, parties, picture shows and two distinct sets of acquaintances: Mme. d’Agoult’s rather aristocratic and elegant republican friends, and a much less fashionable circle. While Mme. d’Agoult and her associates concentrated on political reform, coming more and more into prominence in Parisian society was another group of reformers, the collectivists, who were followers of Fourier and Saint-Simon. They, placing little faith in politics, were working for a social revolution. With the latter’s schemes for humanity’s regeneration, her father’s enthusiasm had already made Juliette familiar. But we, too, if we would enter into her life at this time, must take note of these somewhat Bohemian reformers and of their Utopian aspirations, which, stimulating many of Juliette’s most intimate friends, could not fail to affect her own mind and character.

After extreme individualism had permeated the thought of the first half of the nineteenth century, a tendency towards solidarity began to declare itself among certain bold thinkers. A feeling for association was in the air. Association of whom and with whom was perhaps not quite clear. But, however defined, association, or, as we should to-day describe it, human solidarity, seemed in many enlightened circles to offer the only possible remedy for the ills of society. Even such an ardent idealist as George Sand [Pg 81] had been converted to this comparatively new point of view. “Are there not misfortunes that call more urgently for relief than the boredom of this or the whims of that individual?” she writes.[75] Louis Napoléon himself, before he became Emperor, had shown in certain of those pamphlets, for which he was famous, that he was not unaffected by this new current of opinion. The feeling of solidarity had declared itself definitely in the early months of the 1848 Revolution. But its germs must be sought much earlier. We must go back fifty years to the time when the French Revolution was shaking society to its foundations. Then there appeared a man, who, standing apart, aloof from the great scuffle of parties, entertained the daring thought of reconciling them all and making them all pull together in a new system. That man was François Marie Charles Fourier. Born at Besançon in 1772, the son of a tradesman from whom he inherited a small fortune, Fourier became a commercial traveller in the grocery line. Then he served for a while in Napoléon’s campaigns. But, returning to his original occupation, he found employment in a wholesale house at Marseilles. There his employers instructed him secretly to throw into the sea a whole cargo of rice which that firm, in order to send up the price, had stored until it had become useless.[76] This commission opened Fourier’s eyes to the iniquitous waste proceeding in modern industry. Henceforth one of the most wildly imaginative minds that has ever existed outside a lunatic asylum was concentrated on social problems. To the ideas that resulted Fourier gave expression in a whole library of voluminous works, of which the best known is his Théorie des Quatre Mouvements. In this welter of elaborate theorising, wild schemes and absurd prophecies, such as that the ocean may one day be replaced by a sea of lemonade, and that humanity may once more develop a tail, it is possible to discover certain sane and essentially practical suggestions for social reform.

It seems incredible that this commercial traveller, who on one side of his brain was so completely unreasonable, should have produced a scheme which has in many respects now come to be regarded as fundamentally right. Fourierism, divested of its absurd extravagance, contains the [Pg 82] germ of much modern socialism. For Fourier was one of the first to realise “that social organisation should rest on a comprehensive conception of human nature.” The first task of a reformer, he held, is to analyse human passions and to study their combinations. But Fourier’s psychology, as one might expect, is extremely fanciful. He discovered twelve major passions which can be combined into eight hundred and ten characteristic types. No one of these types can be fully himself, nor reap the greatest benefit from his labour in a state of isolation or in the state of permanent warfare, which we call competition. In our present inorganic condition, legitimate desires clash and may often be called vices. In the free and communistic régime of the future they will all be harmonised. Production will be increased a thousandfold by the association of efforts. Labour will be no longer a curse, for it will become attractive through the free choice and constant change of occupation.

The part of Fourier’s scheme which most appealed to his contemporaries was his ideal community, in which he hoped to embody his ideas in concrete form. This community he called the Phalanstery.

Juliette well remembered how, when she was a child, a fervent Fourierist had visited her father at Blérancourt. He had talked in such glowing terms of this ideal community that she forthwith resolved that on her return to Chauny she and her schoolfellows would lose no time in establishing a phalanstery. She was, however, reluctantly compelled to admit the justice of her father’s remark that at the age of nine and a half she was rather young to launch out on so complicated an experiment. For, indeed, simplicity was no part of the root idea of the phalanstery. This may be seen from the following enunciation of his principle by the master himself.

“Since there are only eight hundred and ten characters,” argued Fourier, “a phalanx of that number (or rather one thousand eight hundred with old men over one hundred and twenty and children under four) will be sufficient to realise Harmony on about a square league of ground. This phalanx would live in a handsome and comfortable building—farm, workshop and palace combined—called the Phalanstery. In this association capital and talent as well as labour would have their proper reward.”

[Pg 83]

Few of the various attempts to establish phalansteries met with any success. Fourier himself, aided by one of his most eminent disciples, Victor Considérant, and financed by a French Député, endeavoured in vain to apply his theories at Condé sur Vesgres.[77] After Fourier’s death in 1837, another vain attempt at a phalanstery was made at Citeaux.

But it was on the virgin soil of America, in the light of the New World’s sanguine hopefulness and fervent enthusiasm for social progress that the phalansterians were most confident of success. In America Fourierism had aroused intense interest. There it had met with its most ardent advocates and its bitterest opponents.[78] Victor Considérant, who after Fourier’s death became the chief apostle of Fourierism, had founded a newspaper La Démocratie Pacifique for the advocacy of his doctrines. In the columns of this paper in the year 1853, he sketched the outline of an ideal community, La Réunion, to be founded in Texas on the banks of the Red River. Subscriptions to the experiment flowed in from all parts of the world. The chief subscriber was a rich American, Albert Brisbane. He had sat at Fourier’s feet in Paris. Fascinated by this new gospel, he was spending his life translating the reformer’s colossal and for the most part incoherent works, vainly endeavouring to introduce into them something like order.

But, despite its brilliant prospects, La Réunion too was a failure. Victor Considérant, though a clever organiser, possessed neither legislative nor administrative gifts. He was an apostle, nothing more. And when adherents from all parts of the world flocked to the Red River, they found [Pg 84] this anticipated ideal community, not, as they had fondly hoped, the embodiment of perfect harmony, but a chaos of hopeless confusion.

Warned by Brisbane’s experience and much to his disappointment, George Ripley, Nathaniel Hawthorne and others, when they were organising the comparatively successful socialist community of Brook Farm, at West Roxbury (Mass.), carefully kept off phalansterian lines.[79]

Thus by the time Juliette came to live in Paris the Phalansterian Movement had been tried and found wanting. Nevertheless it was not dead. Its spirit still breathed in the numerous co-operative experiments, which were being tried on every hand; and one of these, the famous foundry at Guise, run on something approaching phalansterian lines, met with considerable success, owing to the organising genius of the founder, the Fourierist Godin. It endured until shortly before the Great War.

Fourier’s disciples, when in 1858 Juliette first came into personal contact with them, had grouped themselves into what was called l’École Sociétaire, which numbered some four thousand adherents. The school had its headquarters in the Rue de Beaune, in a shop for the sale of Fourierist literature, kept by a certain Mlle. Aimé Beuque.

It was to this shop that Juliette, soon after the publication of Idées Anti-Proudhoniennes, was taken by her good friend Dr. Bonnard. She found Mlle. Beuque an odd creature. A quaint birth-marked, shrivelled-up little old maid, wearing a rough black serge gown, a big black poke bonnet tied with broad strings, she had invariably hanging over her arm, a capacious bag, half satchel, half basket. Aimé Beuque had known Fourier when he was a grocer at Lyons. Sitting at his feet she had imbibed his doctrine and become one of its most convincing advocates, winning for the new philosophy many a distinguished adherent. For in that poor little wizened unattractive body there burned a great soul passionately convinced that perfect harmony would one day evolve out of all our apparently hopeless social chaos.

This little woman so charmed Juliette that she came away from the Fourier shop feeling that in la chère petite vieille [Pg 85] Beuque, she had made a life-long friend. And for many a year whenever she was downhearted, depressed by the domestic trials which were now thickening around her, Juliette’s due feet would not fail to cross the bridge to Mlle. Beuque’s shop, in search of that encouragement and consolation which the “adorable” little spinster never failed to give her.

One of the most delightful features of Paris literary society has ever been the habit of writers and readers to foregather for leisurely afternoon talk in some well-known book-shop—at Anatole France’s father’s, for example, on the Quai Voltaire; at his successor’s, Honoré Champion’s, on the Quai Malaquais, or at Charles Péguy’s at the office of “Les Cahiers de la Quinzaine,” in the Rue de la Sorbonne.

Mlle. Beuque, too, had her afternoons; le Jour des amis de notre vieille Beuque was an institution highly valued by Juliette and her Fourierist friends.

The great and shining light, le grand homme of Tante Beuque’s shop parlour, was the eminent writer on natural history, Alphonse Toussenel.

His name had been a household word for Juliette in her childhood. Out of Toussenel’s book L’Esprit des Bêtes, Dr. Lambert had told his little girl many a thrilling tale about the habits of insects. And when, in their walks, they came to an ant-hill, father and daughter would both lie down flat while the red republican parent showed the ants at their work, designating the fighters, the layers of eggs and so forth, and declaiming loudly against the laziness of the queen ant as against that of all other royalties.

Now that Juliette made the acquaintance of Toussenel in the flesh she found him no less delightful than in his books. Though in certain respects wildly extravagant and greatly given to paradox, in others he appeared abundantly gifted with common sense. Some of his theories were almost as curious as those of his master, Fourier. In his manner of life he was as eccentric as his devoted comrade, Mlle. Beuque. In appearance, however, he presented a striking contrast to his meagre little companion. For Toussenel was a fine figure of a man, an athlete, whose face was tanned by life in the open air, a sportsman in spite of his love for animals, and also a bitter anti-semite[80] in spite of his aspirations after social [Pg 86] harmony. Toussenel’s attractive personality and eloquent talk brought into the Rue de Beaune book-shop an atmosphere of the most brilliant salon.

Toussenel was an enthusiastic feminist; so, of course, he had read and appreciated Idées Anti-Prudhoniennes; and for its charming author he speedily developed a rapturous adoration. One of his eccentricities was to illustrate human intelligence by that of animals. He likened Juliette to the falcon, because in that species of birds apparently the intelligence of the female is superior to that of the male bird. To his “falcon,” or gerfaut, he wrote ecstatic love-letters. Though she laughed at her elderly amoureux, she kept his letters; and one of them, she quotes in her Souvenirs.[81] It closes pathetically with this sentence—

“It is not your fault if you hold a larger place in my life than I in yours. I do not write to complain, but to tell you that, whenever any happiness comes to you, you may know that one of my wishes has been fulfilled.

“Yours in heart, mind and soul,


As well as in the shop in the Rue de Beaune, Fourierists used to gather in the salon of Mme. Charles Reybaud. She was a novelist of distinction, whom Juliette thought the only contemporary woman of letters worthy to be compared with George Sand.

At Mme. Reybaud’s Juliette met many prominent socialists, belonging to various groups. Some were Saint-Simonians, the followers of that extraordinary person Claude Henri, Comte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825). This philosopher, realising, like Fourier, the disastrously chaotic condition of society, had propounded various comprehensive schemes for its reformation. Saint-Simon’s life had been one long series of romantic experiences, wild adventures and hair-breadth escapes. Born of a noble family, priding himself on being descended from Charlemagne, at sixteen he was a volunteer under Washington. Returning to Europe, he grew rich on land speculations and stock jobbing under the Revolution, but was imprisoned at the time of the Terror. In prison his ancestor Charlemagne, appearing in a vision, revealed to his descendant that he [Pg 87] was destined to be a second Messiah. On his release, to prepare for the accomplishment of this high mission, Saint-Simon entered on a course of scientific study and European travel. He had married; but he divorced his wife in order to marry Mme. de Stäel, who had recently become a widow. Journeying to Geneva, he asked the author of Corinne to unite her life to his, for he pleaded: “You are, madame, the most extraordinary woman in the world. I am the most extraordinary man. Our offspring ought therefore to be still more extraordinary.” To such an argument, however, unfortunately for the human race, this otherwise public-spirited lady turned a deaf ear.

Having wasted his substance in wild schemes and extravagant living, Saint-Simon was reduced to poverty. At one time he attempted to blow out his brains, but only succeeded in disfiguring himself for life and in blinding one eye. He died in 1825, leaving behind him the reputation of a crack-brained Bohemian.

Saint-Simon had been fortunate, however, in meeting with clever collaborators, Augustin Thierry and Auguste Comte. These two eminent writers helped him to formulate his somewhat incoherent notions, and to express them in a series of works[82] which exercised no little influence. Some of Saint-Simon’s ideas discussed in these works, notably the piercing by a canal of the Isthmus of Panama, have already been carried out; others, like the institution of a parliament of nations for the regulation of international affairs, are still in the air.

The dominant aim of all Saint-Simon’s schemes was the moral and physical well-being of the least favoured and most numerous class of humanity. His doctrines had at once a practical and a mystical tendency. This dreamer, at a time when French industry was still in its infancy, “had a prophetic vision of modern production, with its scientific management and its unlimited capacity. He communicated his enthusiasm to his disciples, most of whom never saw him in the flesh.”

For it was not until after the apostle’s death that the Saint-Simonian school of philosophy was formed. Its rapid success, its acceptance by “all the superior and even [Pg 88] all the exceptional young men of the day,” was largely due to the proselytising vigour and organising faculty of Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin, a man whom Lord Morley describes as “the most wonderful and impressive figure of modern enthusiasm.”[83]

Father Enfantin, as he was called, had only been introduced to Saint-Simon as he lay on his death-bed.

Barely initiated (à peine catéchisé), writes Mme. Adam, this Elisha of Saint-Simonianism went forth to preach throughout the towns and villages of France the golden age of the future. Signal success attended his crusade. There was much in the Saint-Simonian doctrine which accorded with the romantic humanitarianism of the age. “Its key-note was love—love and pity for the oppressed, for the poor, for the fallen woman, for the sinner, for Satan himself.” The service of mankind was the essence of this religion. For Saint-Simonianism was a religion. As such, its founder and many of its disciples regarded it. Le Nouveau Christianisme is the title of Saint-Simon’s last book, published in the year of his death.

But, as we have said, this new philosophy had also its extremely practical side. Its adherents preached “the gospel of great public works, railroads, maritime canals, free trade.” Here again they were responding to one of the great needs of the age.

A striking characteristic of society under the Empire was the intensity of its material activity. Industry on a large scale had begun to develop under Louis Philippe. It had received a powerful impetus from railroad construction.

One of the most wonderful experiences of Juliette’s childhood was her first railway journey. When she was ten and a half, her father took her by train from Amiens to Boulogne. This line, the first in France, had recently been opened. Juliette was horribly frightened. Everything terrified her: the snorting of the engine, the diabolical air of the engine-driver and fireman, the piercing shriek of the whistle, and, above all, the darkness of the tunnel, in which, she was told, a poor lady, who had put her head out of the window, had only that morning been guillotined by a passing train. When Juliette returned to Chauny, quite a heroine, because she had been in a train, this story told to her schoolfellows had a brilliant success. That [Pg 89] unhappy passenger’s tragic fate remained for many a long day an object of intense interest to the Mlles. André’s pupils, to whose inquisitiveness it suggested all manner of questions.

“Why did she lean out of window?” asked the elder girls. “People who go on journeys ought to take care.”

“Had she any children?” asked the juniors, “and, if so, were they present?”

And when Juliette replied that they were, the horror was indescribable.

Juliette’s fame as a train traveller, however, soon faded, for so rapid was the spread of railway construction throughout France that train journeys soon became every-day occurrences. Chauny was before long united by a railway line to Paris, which Haussman was rapidly rendering almost unrecognisable. And in all this mechanical activity the Saint-Simonians were playing a prominent part. With them originated many industrial enterprises: the Saint-Simonian Pereires founded the Magasin du Louvre and the General Transatlantic Company. Father Enfantin himself, a capable railroad administrator, was the first to conceive the project of the Suez Canal.

Mme. Adam inclines to the opinion that as employers the Saint-Simonians were inferior to the Fourierists; for the latter practised division of profits among employers and employed, whereas the Saint-Simonians showed a tendency to exploit their workers. They encouraged trusts. Their system Benjamin Constant described as le papisme industriel.

By the time that Juliette came to Paris the Saint-Simonians had split up into two sects. The scission had first declared itself during the Revolution of 1830, when Enfantin insisted on standing aloof from politics, while his colleagues, Bazard and Rodrigues, declared that the Master’s teaching rendered it incumbent upon them to take an active part in political affairs. Further contention occurred over the relations of the sexes. Enfantin declared himself the apostle of free love, Bazard and Rodrigues upheld marriage; and it was on this point that the Saint-Simonians finally separated into a school which was entirely political and philosophical—that of Bazard and Rodrigues—and the so-called church of Enfantin, which represented the mystic and individualist side of the Saint-Simonian doctrine.

[Pg 90]

Enfantin and such followers as remained to him, only forty in number, left the Rue Taitbout, which had been the Saint-Simonian headquarters, and went off to the suburb Menilmontant, where they established a settlement. Singing songs especially composed for them, and attired in tam-o’shanters and light blue dalmaticas, the brethren, most of whom were university students, cultivated the ground under the supervision of Father Enfantin, who wore a scarlet robe with a violet girdle and a large metal necklace, each link of which represented one of his disciples.

Father Enfantin and his followers lived in the hope of the coming of a feminine Messiah, who, in conjunction with the Father, was to redeem the world. But their labours were interrupted and their hopes dashed to the ground by the intervention of justice. In the columns of the Saint-Simonian newspaper, Le Globe, the Father had enunciated his views of marriage and sexual morality, with the result that he found his settlement at Menilmontant broken up, and himself (in 1832) condemned to a year’s imprisonment. It was on his release that he went to Egypt and studied the feasibility of cutting a canal through the Isthmus of Suez.

When Juliette published her Idées Anti-Proudhoniennes Father Enfantin was back again in Paris acting as director of the Paris-Lyons Mediterranée Railway. Struck by the cleverness of Juliette’s first book, he sent two of his followers to invite the young authoress to a Saint-Simonian banquet. But she thought it prudent to refuse the invitation, having heard that the Father regarded her in the same light as his Master had regarded Mme. de Staël, viz. as a possible feminine Messiah, who with the Father should make all things new. “Enfantin,” remarks Juliette, “at the age of sixty-two, was somewhat late in discovering his fellow-saviour,” though for her at twenty-two the discovery was premature, for she did not feel herself ripe for so exalted a mission. “Just think what I was expected to bring to the world!” she exclaims. “Nothing less than the golden age!”

Though Juliette had refused the invitation to the banquet, she permitted her friend Arlès Dufour to take her to one of Enfantin’s evening receptions, where she found him assisted by a stout and comely lady. Arlès Dufour had been one of those who had brought her the invitation [Pg 91] to the Father’s banquet. From the first he had taken a fatherly interest in the young Mme. Lamessine; and she felt drawn to him by a sentiment of filial devotion which never left her. He must indeed have been an attractive character. An ardent Saint-Simonian, a pacifist, an advocate of women’s rights and an Anglophil, he was the friend of John Stuart Mill and Richard Cobden. “It is charming to see him, at sixty-five, with his heart still running off with his head,” writes Cobden in 1860.[84] “He would not allow the word ‘obey’ to be used by women in the marriage ceremony, and has other very rebellious notions.”

Though in practice a staid citizen of Lyons, a devoted husband and father of a family, theoretically Dufour, like his master, Enfantin, believed in free love. This was the only point on which he and his young friend Juliette disagreed. “Woman needs a certain dignity,” she argued, “which can never be hers if she violates convention and neglects her duty to society.”

Arlès Dufour, a convinced free trader, was deeply interested in his friend Cobden’s mission to Paris, for the purpose of arranging a commercial treaty between France and England. During these negotiations, Arlès, who was regarded as an authority on free trade, was more than once consulted by the Emperor, and at a restaurant dinner in the autumn of 1860 he entertained Juliette, Mme. Reybaud, Girardin and some Saint-Simonian friends with the story of his imperial audiences. Unlike most of Juliette’s acquaintances, Dufour was an Imperialist. But he had spoken rather freely to Napoléon on the subject of his Saint-Simonian faith and his dreams for the future. Thereupon the Emperor had remarked, “Don’t you think, M. Arlès, that people may not be far wrong when they call you a crank?”

“Yes, sir,” replied Arlès Dufour, “I am a crank, but your Majesty knows it is only the cranks who succeed.”

The Emperor laughed loudly; then he rose and said: “Go, you bold man, and don’t return until to-morrow at two o’clock.”

At the same restaurant dinner the talk fell on the Suez Canal, which had been begun two years earlier. The Saint-Simonians were aggrieved by Ferdinand de Lesseps’ appropriation of an idea which they regarded as the property [Pg 92] of their sect. Girardin argued that de Lesseps had conceived the idea independently; that it was he who had communicated it to Saïd Pasha, who had received it with enthusiasm, and that de Lesseps alone could carry the project through, particularly in the face of England’s opposition. Lord Palmerston, always suspicious of Napoléon’s designs, was, as Girardin remarked, conducting a veritable campaign against the making of the canal.

“Come, Arlès,” said Girardin. “You know how malicious Palmerston can be when it is a question of any French enterprise. Your friend Cobden has suffered enough from that. Palmerston’s campaign against the canal ought to make you support de Lesseps instead of attacking him.... When de Lesseps comes to Paris I will take you to him, and you are too much of a Frenchman not to say, ‘Succeed, and you will have deserved well of the Saint-Simonian School in France.’”

Thus did this wily journalist of a Girardin win Arlès Dufour to his side. But with the other Saint-Simonians present he was not so successful; and one of them, who had a prophetic soul, was heard to mutter: “We shall see. But if the canal is a failure it will remain French; if it succeeds the English will buy it, as they buy everything that is worth buying.”

It was in this year, 1860, that Mme. Lamessine published her second volume, Mon Village,[85] a series of charming rural sketches, stories, dialogues, quaint old country ballads put into the mouth of a village weaver. From the beginning to the end of this little book, one breathes the atmosphere of the Picard countryside, when it was still remote, before railways and motor-cars had brought it within reach of the capital. Juliette had written the book at the suggestion of George Sand, who, replying to a letter in which Juliette had said that the days spent at her village of Blérancourt were the happiest of her life, enjoined her to write her memories while they were fresh. “Your title is found,” she added, “Mon Village.” The publishers were, by a curious irony of fate, Hetzel and Lévy, the very two who had most emphatically refused her first book. M. Lamessine, having taken advantage of the power given him by the Code Napoléon, had appropriated the profits [Pg 93] of her earlier publications. Juliette now, at Hetzel’s suggestion, by dropping the last letter of her maiden name, made use of the pseudonym “Juliette Lamber.” “It is a clever trick,” said her husband. “But I will make you pay for it.”

Juliette’s domestic life was growing steadily more and more unhappy. Arlès Dufour, her bon père, as she called him, advised her to separate from her husband. But to such a course Dr. Lambert was strongly opposed. However, the two fathers—the adopted and the natural one—met at Chauny. There Arlès, “the white-haired old gentleman,” whom little Alice described as un bon génie, arranged everything, and for a time Juliette gave up her life in Paris and returned to her parents’ home.

Mme. d’Agoult approved of the course her young friend had taken. And Juliette for some months devoted herself entirely to her literary work. She was writing her third volume, a study of a Chinaman, who visits Europe and somewhat in the manner of the travellers in Montesquieu’s Persian Letters compares Eastern with Western civilisation. Under the title of Un Mandarin this book appeared in the same series as Mon Village, before the end of the year 1860.

Juliette at Chauny, now that the railway line had been opened, was not altogether isolated from her beloved Paris. Her friends were able to come and visit her on Sundays. Hetzel on his way to Brussels made a point of calling at Chauny; and Juliette herself sometimes went to town.

On one occasion she went to Paris to visit her friend Eugène Pelletan,[86] who was in Sainte Pélagie prison. The Imperial Government always kept a watchful eye on the press; and Pelletan had been sentenced to three months imprisonment for an article attacking the Government, entitled La Liberté comme en Autriche, which had appeared in the Courier du Dimanche.

This was the first time that Juliette had been in a prison. The visit left an impression of horror on her mind, which obsessed her for many weeks. Pelletan took her to see one of his fellow-prisoners, that famous “monomaniac of conspiracy, Blanqui, who spent half his political life in the prisons of four different régimes.” Juliette respected and pitied Blanqui as a martyr to Republicanism and the only [Pg 94] kind of martyr with whom she could ever sympathise, the kind that returns blow for blow. Passive resistance never appealed to Juliette’s rebellious spirit. Not even now, when she has become a Christian, does she believe in the doctrine of turning the other cheek. In Blanqui she found all the bitterness and disillusionment of the defeated rebel. When she offered him Daniel Stern’s History of that Revolution of 1848, in the first months of which he had played a prominent part, he seemed to regard it as an insult and refused even to touch the volume.

Juliette returned to Chauny depressed and ill. She had contracted a severe cold, which speedily developed into hæmorrhage of the lungs. She concealed this alarming symptom from her parents, however, and made an excuse to return to Paris, where she saw her doctor, not Dr. Bonnard, but a throat specialist, a Dr. Cabarrus, whom she had lately been in the habit of consulting. He thought so seriously of her case that he hurried her off to the South of France at once. From Paris to Cannes in those days was a long journey. The train took a day and night to reach Toulon, which was the terminus. Then before Cannes was reached there were two days of driving.

The much-vaunted Riviera seemed to this young Picarde at first extremely dull. In her Voyage autour du Grand Pin, a book published in 1863, she writes: “I loathe travelling. I love the things I know, old books, old friends, familiar landscapes, familiar melodies, familiar enthusiasms.... I feel much worse at Cannes than I did at Paris, and I can’t forgive the people who are for ever praising Provence.... What has happened to the sun? I have been asking. I am told that it will soon come out. I wait. If you have heard any news of Phœbus do be kind enough to send me a telegram. I fear that some accident may have befallen him. Perhaps a seal may have devoured him over there at the back of the sea, where he is said to set in this country.”

But it was as she had been told, she had not long to wait, Phœbus Apollo soon rose radiant from the sea; and with the glorious sun of Provence returned Juliette’s health and spirits.

Introductions from the north speedily surrounded her with interesting acquaintances: her physician, Dr. Maure, the friend of Thiers; Dr. Maure’s friends, Prosper Mérimée [Pg 95] and Victor Cousin; Jean Reynaud, an eminent Saint-Simonian, but not of Enfantin’s group. At Jean Reynaud’s villa, la Bocca, she met Lord Brougham. Mme. Reynaud, one of Chopin’s most accomplished pupils, entranced Juliette by her rendering of Beethoven. Jean Reynaud took her long rambles. In one of these he related how he had come to leave Enfantin, having found his views on sexual morality quite impossible.

Next winter, when Juliette returned to Cannes, her little Alice, now seven and a half, came with her and joined in these rambles at her mother’s side. Jean Reynaud was amused by Juliette’s respect for her daughter’s personality. For Mme. Lamessine, mindful of the suffering endured in her own childhood through the proselytising ardour of her grandmother and father, was careful not to impose on Alice any of her own ideas. With regard to fundamental things Juliette would say to the child: “Grandfather thinks so and so, my view is such and such. You must form your own opinion.”

The first time Jean Reynaud heard this kind of conversation he burst out laughing, and was about to repeat the phrase in jest, when Juliette stopped him with a look, and sending her little girl away to pick some flowers, said: “Joke with me as much as you like, but not before her. Remember she has only me to respect.”

So charmed was the young author with her life at Cannes, so beneficial for her own health and her daughter’s did she find the climate of Provence, that, before the end of her second winter there, she had persuaded her father to buy a building site on the Golfe Juan; and before her return to the north in the spring of 1862, the walls of her villa of Bruyères were already rising.

Dr. and Mme. Lambert were thinking of selling their house at Chauny, in order to spend the summer months with their daughter in a Paris flat and their winters on the shore of the Mediterranean.

The winter of 1862-3 found Juliette and Alice installed in their villa of Bruyères. Mme. de Pierreclos was their first visitor. Dr. Maure called frequently, always bringing with him his last letter from his friend Thiers, which he was proud to read to his friends at Bruyères. But, alas! he by whose advice Juliette had settled on the Golfe Juan, Jean Reynaud, her “third father,” as she called him, was [Pg 96] no more. He had died in Paris, during the summer, after a surgical operation. His loss left his adopted daughter disconsolate. Her book Mon Voyage autour du Grand Pin she dedicated to his memory; for every one of its pages, she writes, had been inspired by their walks and talks at Cannes.

Dr. Lambert, when he came to Bruyères, was as charmed as his daughter and granddaughter with the villa and its surroundings. He was delighted with the garden which Juliette had planned. But, above all, he was enraptured by the Mediterranean, which he saw for the first time, and by the view of the island of Corsica in the distance.

Gazing upon this lovely prospect, the fervent classicist cried: “Ah! this is Greece. And to think that I could ever have imagined that I understood Homer and all he described! Why, I must read him again, in the light of this new experience. And I will begin this very day. Juliette, have you our old Homer here? If not, I must go and buy a copy at Cannes, at Nice, or even in Corsica, if need be.”

Henceforth Dr. Lambert had no hesitation as to leaving Chauny. He wrote to his wife that the house must be sold. Juliette, as soon as the winter months were past, returned to Paris to look for a flat.

Dr. Lambert, le vieil étudiant, as his daughter called him, would have liked to settle in the Latin quarter, but Alice was bent on the Rue de Rivoli, opposite the Tuileries Gardens, where she loved to play. And it was Alice who had her way. Besides, as Juliette explained to her father, all Revolutions began in the Rue de Rivoli, and a flat in that street would be like a place in the stalls at the theatre.


[75] Lettres à Marcie, III. (1837).

[76] Biographie Générale under “F. M. C. Fourier.”

[77] With regard to this phalanstery there is a slight discrepancy in Mme. Adam’s Souvenirs. According to vol. i. p. 342, Condé was the phalanstery which her father, during her childhood, wished to join, whereas according to vol. ii. p. 136, that phalanstery was Guise. Probably Guise is correct. For the Condé movement had been abandoned before Juliette was born.

[78] Among the latter was Donald McLaren, author of a virulent diatribe against Fourierism, published at Caledonia, Livingstone County, in 1844, entitled The Boa Constrictor, in which Fourier’s gospel is denounced “for the licentiousness of its principles, its hypocrisy and sinister aims.” In this connection it should be noticed that, as a concession to the prejudices of the times, Fourier never attempted to give practical application to his theories as to the relations between the sexes, to that “Phanerogamy” which is but another name for promiscuity.

[79] Founded in 1841, the Brook Farm Community broke up in 1847. In his delightful story, The Blithedale Romance, Hawthorne describes this settlement.

[80] Author of Les Juifs, Rois de l’Epoque, 1844.

[81] Souvenirs, II. 216.

[82] La Réorganisation de la Société Européenne, l’Industrie ou Discussions politiques, morales et philosophiques and others.

[83] Morley, Life of Cobden, 1910 ed., 760.

[84] Morley, Life of Cobden, ed. 1910, 830.

[85] Mon Village, Collection Hetzel, Michel Lévy Frères, Paris; Méline, Cans et Cie, Brussels.

[86] See ante, 57.

[Pg 97]




Le Petit Salon de la Rue de Rivoli.
Le Grand Salon de la Maison Sallandrouze.

Sociability has ever been one of Mme. Adam’s gifts. It declared itself in her childhood. At school she was always the centre of a band, grouping, organising her schoolfellows. When she came to live in Paris, to create a salon became her dominating ambition. And it was no less a personage than that most distinguished and aristocratic of salonnières, Mme. d’Agoult, who first suggested to her young friend the possibility of realising her aspiration.

“Mine will remain the great salon of the winter,” said Mme. d’Agoult, who frequently left Paris during the summer months, “and yours shall be the little summer salon.” For Juliette, as we have seen, had begun to spend her winters in the south.

Then the Countess proceeded to draw up a code of rules for Juliette’s guidance in the execution of her great social enterprise. “Mme. d’Agoult,” writes Juliette, “sent me la très belle page suivante.[87]

“‘Happiness depends on renunciation and wisdom. If you would gather around you a number of men and a few intelligent women you must appear serene or happy.

“‘Your life, though in reality it may be agitated, must appear to others to be without complications and not lacking in unity.

“‘Friendships can only be retained in an atmosphere which is impersonal and restful.

“‘In order that the founders of your salon may regard themselves as such you must consult them before you introduce any new-comers.

[Pg 98]

“‘You should avoid exchanging confidences; for they create too close an intimacy; and they may lead you to give advice with which some day you may be reproached.

“‘Be modest, but not self-effacing. Be simple, but distinguished. Express your opinions with a certain confidence. Appear firm, but also tolerant.

“‘If you would preserve your salon your first duty should be to stimulate the intellectual curiosity of those whom you have gathered round you.

“‘Be careful to make them feel that you are more occupied with them than with yourself.

“‘Twenty men friends and five women will suffice to found a salon. You have them already.’”

Juliette had not only the requisite number of friends, but now, in the spring of 1864, she had also a home in the very heart of Paris, where she could receive them. And the dinner-party which, by way of house-warming, she gave in the flat in the Rue de Rivoli may be regarded as inaugurating her salon, that salon minuscule, as she called it, which was to be the summer ante-chamber to Mme. d’Agoult’s grand salon d’Hiver.

Seven out of her twenty men friends were invited to dinner. They all accepted, and hence may be regarded as the pious founders of Juliette’s first salon. They were Edmond Adam, a wealthy financier, an ardent republican, one of the men of 1848, of whom we shall hear much later; Edmond Texier, a distinguished writer and a brilliant wit; the amorous Toussenel, of course; Peyrat, the most bigoted of anti-clericals; Nefftzer, now editor of the Temps; that polished Jacobin, Challemel-Lacour; and the ever-faithful Ronchaud.

Following Mme. d’Agoult’s instructions, and preserving, roughly, the feminine proportion of one quarter which she had indicated, Juliette had invited two women guests—Mme. d’Agoult herself and Mme. de Pierreclos. But neither was able to come. The Countess, who seldom went out anywhere, considered herself excused from accepting her young friend’s invitation by the recent death of her daughter, Mme. Ollivier. Mme. de Pierreclos was away at Macon, staying with her uncle, Alphonse de Lamartine.

The conversation that evening gave the tone for the [Pg 99] conversations in all Juliette’s salons: of the little salon in the Rue de Rivoli, of the greater salon in the Boulevard Poissonnière, of the pre-war and the post-war salon, of that extension of her salons which was La Nouvelle Revue, and likewise of those latter-day assemblies which, since her retirement from La Nouvelle Revue, seventeen years ago, Mme. Adam has gathered round her on the terrace or in the spacious drawing-room of her beautiful country home in the Abbey of Gif.

Whether the late M. Émile Faguet ever visited either of these salons, I do not know. But if he did, he must have been ill at ease, for he was one of those who found the political salon “uninhabitable.”[88] And at Mme. Adam’s, though literature, art, philosophy, and other subjects were by no means excluded, politics held the first place. Throughout the Empire Juliette’s salon, first in the Rue de Rivoli, later on the Boulevard Poissonnière, was a centre of energetic republican opposition to the Empire. The hostess’s chief desire was to reconcile the diverse currents of republican sentiment, to blend in the broad stream of freedom the various and too often conflicting strands of progress.

Already on that initial evening we find three shades of republican opposition represented in the Rue de Rivoli salon. There was Peyrat, the most rabid of reformers, who cared not what the Government might be so long as it was a Republic. “Qu’elle soit d’abord la République! on verra après,” he exclaimed.[89] There was the more moderate Edmond Adam, who feared what he called a pseudo-Republic; and there was the nationalist Nefftzer, the Alsatian, who steadily refused to avert his gaze from the peril lowering across the north-eastern frontier. Nefftzer, though calling himself a republican, would have supported the Emperor had he shown himself capable of inaugurating a vigorous foreign policy. The editor of the Temps was one of the few who in those days perceived Bismarck’s true aims and character. “Il est plus que dangereux, il est effrayant,” exclaimed Nefftzer that evening. But the editor’s lugubrious prognostications were jeered at by most of his fellow-guests. “Here comes to life again the illustrious Jeremiah,” said Peyrat. Only Juliette and her amoureux Toussenel experienced any [Pg 100] consternation at Nefftzer’s warnings. “I have long felt,” said Toussenel, “that some one was undermining our race, our character, our heroism.... You, Nefftzer, declare this some one to be Prussia. You have not wasted your time here this evening. You have warned a patriot, and one who is not stoney-hearted. Thank you.”[90]

In Juliette’s salon at this time everything was an open question; for in these years, though she was swayed by strong preferences, she had no exclusions. Different shades of religious as well as of political opinion were represented. Anti-clericalism, though it dominated, did not have everything its own way.

When Juliette’s physician, Dr. Clavel, announced that the Masonic Lodges were intending to drive Catholicism from France, Peyrat applauded, but Saint-Victor put in a plea for liberty.[91]

“Whether one believes or disbelieves,” said Saint-Victor, “freedom is essential.”

Eugène Pelletan agreed with him; not so Peyrat, who uttered his usual cry: “The Republic before everything. And then....”

“And then what?” inquired Duclerc,[92] who was one of the 1848 revolutionists.

“After we have extirpated all error, then...”

“But who shall decide what is error?”

“We shall.”

“Then you consider yourselves infallible?”

“Is it or is it not a question of overthrowing the adversary?”

“Yes; but I should like to know in favour of whom and of what the adversary is to be overthrown.”

“In favour of the principles of the Great Revolution.”

“The principles of ’92 or ’93?”

“Oh!” said Peyrat; “not the Revolution as understood by Quinet, the Revolution emasculated of all that [Pg 101] was most powerful in it. Michelet ... has accepted the Revolution, including the Terror.”[93]

“What!” exclaimed Duclerc, “the French Revolution may not be considered apart from its ferocity?”

“Ferocity which was necessary.”

“And which may again become necessary.”

“That may be.”

“When Peyrat and Duclerc were discussing,” comments their hostess, “arguments flew so rapidly from side to side that we listened without interrupting. Moreover, there was not the slightest chance of getting in a phrase or even a word edgeways.”

Though politics held the first place in Juliette’s salon, as we have said, literature and art were by no means neglected.

The hostess herself, an ardent romanticist and idealist, if ever there were one, had no sympathy with the realism which in the middle sixties was beginning to invade French art and literature. Manet’s “Olympia,” when it was exhibited in the Salon, filled her with loathing. When she first saw it, she knew not whether to laugh or to cry.

Quelle horreur et aussi quels rires,” she exclaims. “Voici l’Olympia de Manet. Nue, étendue, accoudée sur un drap blanc. Derrière elle une negresse tient un bouquet. Sur le drap blanc un chat noir déteint et laisse la trace de ses pattes sales. Germinie Lacerteux en littérature, le chat noir aux pattes sales en peinture, c’est complet! O idéal, idéal! Je vais revoir Picardia.

The de Goncourts’ novel, Germinie Lacerteux, on its recent appearance, had been vehemently discussed in the Rue de Rivoli. “It is Lucrèce Borgia graillonnante,” exclaimed Lamartine’s niece, Mme. de Pierreclos. And most of her fellow-guests as well as her hostess were up in arms at once when some one described the de Goncourts [Pg 102] and Flaubert as the leaders of the realistic school. Flaubert, they contended, would never have condescended to wallow in the mud which seemed as much the de Goncourts’ natural element as it was to be that of their disciple Zola. For the author of La Terre and for all his tribe Juliette has ever manifested an extreme aversion.

From the de Goncourts’ realism our passionate idealist turned with relief to the classicism of her Grecian friends, Ronchaud, Saint-Victor, Ménard, and to those poets of the new Parnassian school who shared her enthusiasm for the gods and ideals of antiquity.[94]

Juliette’s Salon Minuscule, as she modestly called it, had now become a regular institution in Parisian intellectual society. Possibly it had been a greater success than its originator, Mme. d’Agoult, had ever anticipated. Possibly this may have accounted for the clouds which now began to appear on the horizon of Juliette’s friendship with that great lady, clouds which threatened to repeat in the nineteenth century that earlier story of the jealous Mme. du Deffand and her gifted young protégée, Mlle. de Lespinasse. Certain of Mme. d’Agoult’s friends were thought to be too often in the Rue de Rivoli. Consequently, Juliette began to be coldly received in the Rue Presbourg. Mischief-makers were not lacking: they told the Countess that in the Rue de Rivoli her works were somewhat severely criticised. While Juliette was at Bruyères in the winter of 1866-67 she received a letter from Mme. de Pierreclos[95] warning her that somehow she was not in the Countess’s good books.

Attention, petite Juliette!” wrote Lamartine’s niece. “Vous n’êtes pas en faveur. Je ne jurerais qu’à votre retour vous ne subissiez une bourrasque qui vous écarte à tout jamais de la Rue de Presbourg.

In the crisis now approaching, one of the most momentous of Juliette’s life, Mme. d’Agoult vouchsafed her young friend no sympathy whatever.

For some years, as we have seen, Juliette had been living apart from her husband. M. Lamessine had used to the full the powers, which until a few years ago the French law gave a husband, of appropriating his wife’s earnings. Little Alice lived in terror that one day her father might even claim that house and garden on the [Pg 103] Golfe Juan, the beloved Bruyères, where she and her mother spent happy winter months. “You must make haste and grow up,” Dr. Lambert used to say to his granddaughter, “and then you will marry and Bruyères shall be your dowry.”

It was in the summer of 1867 that Juliette received from her lawyer, M. Matthieu, a letter asking her to come and see him on a certain evening about a communication he had received from her husband.[96] M. Lamessine, in return for 15,000 francs, consented to relinquish his claim to the royalties on his wife’s books published before their separation. Distressed by the exorbitance of this demand, Juliette and Alice, who had accompanied her, on leaving the lawyer, tried to divert themselves by watching the crowds of merry-makers in the Champs Elysées. All Paris seemed en fête, for it was the summer of the Great Exhibition. But these gay sights afforded Juliette no solace. Tired and sad, she and Alice returned home. On the table lay a letter marked urgent. “Never mind,” said Juliette to herself, “I have enough worries for one evening. I will not open the letter till morning.” It was late. Her father and mother had gone to bed. She wished her daughter a sad good-night and followed her parents’ example. But she could not sleep, neither could she forget that letter marked urgent. The writing seemed familiar. She rose and read it. The letter was from her lawyer.

Dear Madam,” it ran, “among the papers which I had set aside to finish examining to-night is a letter from Algeria, which tells me that your husband, M. Lamessine, died six weeks ago.... Thus the question of your royalties is decided.[97]—Yours, etc....”

Juliette has never been one of those who feign sentiments they do not feel. About her first husband’s death she is in her Souvenirs perfectly frank: she makes no attempt to conceal the feeling of intense relief which the news brought to her. Dr. Lambert, when he heard it, exclaimed: “I know some one who will be glad to have me for a father-in-law.”

That “some one” was Edmond Adam. One of the [Pg 104] pious founders of Juliette’s salon, he had also been a member of Mme. d’Agoult’s circle. Originally a journalist on the staff of the famous National, he had made a considerable fortune and had become one of the mainstays of the Comptoir d’Escompte, a republican bank founded by his friend Alessandro Bixio and others. But that which had above all things attracted Juliette to the man who was to be her second husband—for he was considerably Juliette’s senior—was his uncompromising republicanism, dating back to the Revolution of 1848, in which he had played a prominent part. Edmond Adam united to high principles and fervent idealism a distinguished appearance and ingratiating manners. Among his friends he passed for a pleasant fellow. “A fine old Senator” he appeared some years later to a foreigner who visited Mine. Adam’s salon. “The chivalrous Adam,” she herself used to call him.

She noticed him first at a Wagner concert, standing opposite to her by a mirror in which their eyes met. “Who is that tall gentleman?” she inquired of Mme. d’Agoult, who sat next to her.

“Edmond Adam,” replied the Countess. “We are great friends. You don’t see him at my receptions because of Girardin, whom he is always wishing to fight. He will fight for anything or nothing. After Carrel’s death,[98] when Adam was editor of an Angers newspaper, Armand Marrast invited him to join the staff of the National. His friends are Duclerc,[99] Grévy,[100] Carnot,[101] all abstentionistes, and so is Adam, though he is essentially a man of action.... On the 2nd of December[102] he was a Councillor of State. But he refused to serve the Empire.... I don’t know any man who is more highly esteemed, and I like him very much.... He is fidelity and devotion itself.”

During the insurrection of June 1848, Adam with his friend Bixio,[103] both of them unarmed, had gone up on to the Paris barricades to endeavour to restore order. Afterwards, when the National Assembly wished to decorate [Pg 105] the hero with the Cross of the Legion of Honour, Adam refused it on the ground that he could not wear a decoration won in a civil war, and, moreover, that he had merely done his duty. “Ronchaud,” added the Countess, “has just told me that he [Adam] has read your book,[104] and that he would like me to introduce him to you.”

But Juliette, moved by a sentiment not uncommon in women of deep feelings, a kind of subconscious fear of a man who has profoundly impressed them, refused that evening to make her new admirer’s acquaintance. Later, on the publication of her book Mon Village, he wrote his congratulations. She replied somewhat curtly. But her correspondent was not discouraged. Some time afterwards, when she was at the theatre with her friend, Mme. Fauvety,[105] whom he knew, he joined their party. Mme. Fauvety admired him no less than Mme. d’Agoult. Dr. Lambert, too, had a high opinion of his daughter’s new acquaintance. “He is pure gold,” said Juliette’s father, “and when you see him next you can tell him your father would like to shake hands with him; for he is one of those—and they are few—of whom an old republican may be proud.”[106]

Juliette’s betrothal to Edmond Adam took place on the day after she received her lawyer’s letter. Congratulations poured in from all her friends, with the one exception of Mme. d’Agoult. Yet she was aware of her young friend’s happiness. Ronchaud had told her. Since Mme. de Pierreclos’ warning letter,[107] Juliette and her old friend had not met. Now, with some misgiving, Juliette determined to go and see her. She received her kindly. But in a few minutes the discordant note was struck.[108] “The misfortune of being a widow,” said the Countess, “is that one is seized by a foolish desire to remarry. But I don’t think you capable of such folly. An intelligent woman should remain free and mistress of her own thoughts.”

“I have greater need of happiness than of freedom,” replied Juliette.

Then followed a distressing scene. Mme. d’Agoult completely lost her temper. She told Juliette she hoped never to see her again. They parted; and the Countess’s wish was fulfilled. But when, some time later, Juliette [Pg 106] heard that her former friend had entered as a patient the house of the famous nerve specialist, Dr. Blanche, she felt that Mme. d’Agoult’s lack of self-control on that sorrowful day was accounted for.

In the spring of the following year Juliette Lamber and Edmond Adam were married. The intervening winter had been spent on the Golfe Juan, where Adam, like other friends of Juliette, the Texiers, for example, had built himself a villa, Le Grand Pin. There had been a somewhat heated discussion as to whether after marriage the Adams should spend their winters at Le Grand Pin or at Bruyères. Juliette could not tolerate the idea of leaving the house which she had built and the garden she had planned. Though, as she had told Mme. d’Agoult, she longed more for happiness than for freedom, she was determined to hold her own in her new life. Already she had consented to abandon her flat in the Rue de Rivoli for one in a famous house, la Maison Sallandrouze,[109] on the Boulevard Poissonnière, opposite Adam’s favourite restaurant, the Café Brébant. She was making no small sacrifice by consenting to leave what seemed to her the hub of the universe, that Rue de Rivoli with its delightful proximity to the Louvre, to the Corps Legislatif, the doings of which this ardent young politician followed feverishly, and to those Tuileries Gardens, where, while Alice was at play, her mother, in conversation with members of Parliament on their way from the Assembly, could glean all the latest political news. Not unnaturally, therefore, Juliette’s keen sense of justice was outraged when Adam asked her to make the further sacrifice and give up her beloved Bruyères in favour of Le Grand Pin, although this villa was much more spacious and imposing than her own dear home.

“I entreat you,” pleaded Adam,[110] “do consent to live at Le Grand Pin for at least two or three years after our marriage. I really cannot run the risk of being called M. Lambert in a district where you are so well known.”

“Oh, you need not fear; I can assure you I shall be called Mme. Adam.”

“No, I don’t think so,” persisted Adam.... “And [Pg 107] however I may love your name when borne by you, it would humiliate me.”

“Very well then, I will keep it,” retorted Juliette.

They parted, and did not meet for several days. They were both miserable. Then that kind physician, the good Dr. Maure, Thiers’ friend, effected a reconciliation.

“Oh, you fools,” he cried, “at your age to lay down conditions and to be obstinate. When happiness runs to meet you, you turn away. Be reconciled at once.”

Adam holds out his arms. Juliette hesitates. Dr. Maure makes a grimace. “He will live at Bruyères. Embrace him. But it costs him dear. It is the greatest sacrifice he can make.”

The quarrel was at an end. Juliette threw herself into her lover’s arms. He asked her pardon.

“I ought to have understood, Juliette,” he said. “I was mad. I ought to have realised that your beloved Bruyères, which you had made with your own hands, you could not leave for another house so close. It was with money only that I created Le Grand Pin. To-morrow I will summon the builders. I will enlarge Bruyères, and next year, when we return, we shall be at home in your own house.”

The year 1868, the year of her second marriage, opened well for Juliette. “Tellement riante,” she writes, “que j’y vois tout en beau. Je suis heureuse autant qu’on peut imaginer....[111] As she awoke on New Year’s Day, Alice whispered, “Dear mother, I wish you what you already possess.”

Her father, who had not come to Bruyères that year, wrote that he, too, was the happiest of men. For cet étudiant rive gauche, ce fanatique de science, as Juliette called him, was now at liberty to quit cette rue impériale, as he called the Rue de Rivoli, infestée par les allées et venues de l’empereur et de l’impératrice, and to inhabit the quarter of his dreams, to take a flat in the Rue S. Jacques close to the lecture-rooms and laboratories of those eminent scientists, Paul Bert and Claude Bernard.

In every respect it was well that the two families should separate. The discordant temperaments of Juliette and her mother rendered it impossible for them to agree long together. Neither their summers in Paris nor their winters [Pg 108] on the Riviera had been very happy. And as for Juliette, the bliss of life with a husband who adored her and shared all her interests soon compensated her for the loss of her favourite street. “Nous sommes heureux à rendre jaloux,” she wrote soon after her marriage.[112] “But, on the contrary, our friends enjoy our happiness. Their assiduity in visiting us grows. They love our home, and they cannot pass along the Boulevard Poissonnière without coming up to see us, especially in the evening.”

Thus the minuscule salon of the Rue de Rivoli was transformed into the Great Salon of the Boulevard Poissonnière.

In the two troubled years which were to elapse before the outbreak of war, the Adams’ salon was to serve, as we have said, as a meeting-place for representatives of all parties in opposition: for abstentionistes and for sermentistes, for the elder republicans who followed M. Thiers, and for les Jeunes who followed Gambetta.

Bientôt,” writes Juliette, “notre salon réunit toutes les opinions, depuis les orléanistes jusqu’aux irréconciliables.”[113]

Mme. Adam’s own attitude remained irreconcilably abstentioniste. She had no sympathy whatever with those who, like her husband’s friend, Jules Grévy, took the oath to the Empire in order to upset it. “Prêter un serment qu’on est résolu à ne pas tenir,” she writes, “c’est être déloyal et coupable.”[114] Imagine her horror, therefore, when she found her own husband wavering—first inclined to listen to the arguments of his friend Thiers, and then, on the eve of the 1869 election, announcing that he is going to his native Normandy, there to stand as candidate for the village of Brionne.[115]

“And you will take the oath—you?”

“Yes; I have thought it well over. Whatever objection you may have to offer has been considered and rejected.”

“It seemed,” writes Juliette, “as if a gulf had opened between us. What I could not say to him when he started, I wrote to him.” With her letter she enclosed others from friends who had written expressing their astonishment at his decision. One was from Louis Blanc.

“That the young who never witnessed the crime of [Pg 109] December should swear allegiance to the murderer I can understand,” he wrote. “But how can one who saw the blood flow, who heard the oath broken, forget, if his heart be kind and loyal?”

One morning, shortly after this packet had been dispatched, Mme. Adam received a telegram from Brionne containing one word: “Come.” She and Alice obeyed. They arrived at Brionne on the very day when Adam was to take the oath. “I could not take it,” he said, “without being sure that you approve and that you realise its significance. Have you become any less narrow, any less bigoted, Juliette?”[116]

But no, Mme. Adam was as resolute as ever. And her husband, yielding to her arguments, or unwilling to create between himself and his wife an impassable breach, told his electors that he found himself incapable of taking the oath. “The candidate who replaced him,” adds Juliette, “did so well that the electors bore him no grudge. As for me, I am prouder than ever to bear his name.”

Léon Gambetta was now, as the acknowledged leader of that wing of the republican party known as les Jeunes, attracting considerable attention. He was a complete meridional, for his parents were a Provençal mother and a father of Genoese origin. He was born in 1837 at Cahors, where his father kept a small grocer’s shop. Léon and one sister were their only children. It having been prophesied to Mme. Gambetta, before her son’s birth, that he would one day be a great man, she denied herself in every way in order to give him the best of educations. He entered the legal profession and went to Paris. There, among the students of the Latin quarter, he rapidly made his mark. No students’ manifestation was complete without him, neither was any fête. He showed a marvellous capacity for repeating verses and drinking beer. He hated the Empire with exuberance, but not with fanaticism. He was well read. Montaigne and Rabelais were his favourite authors, and he was seldom seen without a tattered copy of the latter protruding from his slovenly coat pocket. Passionately interested in public affairs, he hardly missed a sitting of the Corps Legislatif. He was equally assiduous at the Café Voltaire and the Café Procope. There, no matter what subject was under [Pg 110] discussion—books, plays, women, or politics—he never failed to monopolise the conversation.

Gambetta first appears in Mme. Adam’s Souvenirs when Eugène Pelletan describes him to her as one of the riff-raff of the party (les voyous du parti).[117] Later Girardin in Mme. d’Agoult’s salon had praised his exuberance tempered by common sense.

Vous n’imaginez pas la vitalité de ce gaillard-là,” said Girardin.[118] “If only he were better put on, I would introduce him to you. But it is impossible. Nevertheless, he is a man of letters.”

But soon Juliette began to feel that without ce gaillard-là, ce jeune monstre, ce dompteur des foules, as Gambetta was beginning to be called, her Grand Salon was incomplete. Adam was meeting Gambetta constantly at Laurent Pichat’s, and was ever quoting to his wife this rising young demagogue’s astute sayings.

“We must introduce him into our circle; you must bring him to me,” said Juliette.[119]

“But,” objected Adam, “he is very unfledged. Neither in manner nor in words does he know any restraint. His accent is impossible. He is insolent in discussion. Moreover, I do not wish you to hear him talk of the men of 1848.”

For the idealists of 1848, for their lack of worldly wisdom, for their failure to take advantage of the situation they had created, Gambetta did not scruple to express his profound contempt.

“But,” interjected Juliette, “is he really out of the common? Is he worth knowing? Yes or no?”

“Yes, he is out of the common. He is worth knowing. But he is Bohemian, vulgar, brutal. His manner of life is extraordinary. He is a typical man of the masses, as Danton, plus retors. He has an air of authority and dominates the conversation, no matter where he is.”

“We will invite him,” said Juliette. Nevertheless, before making the final plunge, she took the precaution of consulting her old friend, Hetzel, the publisher, who knew about Gambetta through a mutual friend, Alphonse Daudet, another brilliant young Provençal, who was at that time making his mark in Paris.

Hetzel pronounced the jeune monstre to be quite impossible. [Pg 111] “You should hear Alphonse Daudet describe Gambetta’s southern clan, the clan of the bas-midi, composed of howling Gascons, of blatant windbags of Provençals. He himself a kind of political commercial traveller ... provincial to the marrow of his bones, a provincial grocer withal, one-eyed and chemisé et cravaté et pantalonné en dégringolade.”

Such a picture gave Mme. Adam pause. But her husband pronounced it a caricature. Alphonse Daudet had only seen Gambetta at restaurants. In Laurent Pichat’s salon he was better. Certainly he was too vehement, but he was not a windbag. So he was invited to one of the Adams’ famous Friday dinner-parties to meet a number of distinguished guests, with most of whom he was previously acquainted: his friend Laurent Pichat, Eugène Pelletan, Jules Ferry,[120] Hetzel, who came to form his own opinion of le monstre, those two faithful friends Challemel-Lacour and de Ronchaud, d’Artigues, Duclerc, the Orleanist de Reims. L’hôte exceptionnel,[121] as Mme. Adam puts it, was another Orleanist, no less a personage than the grandson of General La Fayette, the Marquis Jules de Lasteyrie. He had fought in Portugal for Don Pedro in 1832; he had sat on the left centre in the Chambre des Députés under Louis Philippe; he had been exiled in 1852, but had returned after the amnesty. Now, backed by Thiers, he was endeavouring, as candidate for Seine et Marne, to re-enter political life.

Adam had told the Marquis that he was to meet Gambetta, and full of curiosity, congratulating his hostess on her boldness, Lasteyrie arrived early. “I shall tell Thiers about this party,” he said, “for he is deeply interested in le jeune monstre.”

Gambetta, imagining that he was going to dine with a blue-stocking, dressed anyhow. He arrived wearing a nondescript kind of coat, with a suggestion of a flannel shirt appearing between his high-buttoned waistcoat and collar.[122] He looked thunderstruck when he saw every one else in evening dress. Eugène Pelletan, who knew him well, presented him to his hostess. Adam was talking in another salon. Gambetta begged Mme. Adam to excuse his not having dressed.

[Pg 112]

“If I had known,” he said.

“You would not have come,” she replied, laughing. “That is not nice of you.”

M. de Lasteyrie, who was generally most tolerant, whispered in her ear.... “If he had come in a workman’s blouse, I might have passed him ... but ... that!”

Jules Lasteyrie was to have taken Mme. Adam in to dinner.

“The only way to rehabilitate him, my dear friend,” she said, “is to give him the first place. I deprive you of it. But I am sure you will agree with me.”

The Marquis assumed his fine lordly air and replied: “You are right, the servants might neglect him. Besides, we shall see whether he understands le grand.”

The hostess took Gambetta’s arm. He was overwhelmed at being placed on her right. Lasteyrie sat on her left. Adam could not believe his eyes.

Hardly had they sat down at table when Gambetta, leaning towards Mme. Adam whispered—

“Madame, I shall never forget the lesson you have taught me.” Evidently he understood le grand.

Many another lesson was Juliette to teach her illustrious friend. In matters sartorial and social she was to find him an apt pupil. As Mme. d’Agoult had transformed the provincial young person into une grande dame, so Juliette was to turn the Provençal grocer, the political commercial traveller, into a man of the world.

When some ten years later she saw him at the opera faultlessly attired, with light gloves, a hat slightly tipped over one ear, a gardenia in his buttonhole, she felt proud of her handiwork.

While Gambetta was ready enough to employ Adam’s tailor, he was not ready to adopt all his or his wife’s political opinions. At that first dinner-party Mme. Adam and her guest, as Adam had foreseen, disagreed on the question of the oath of allegiance to the Empire and on their estimate of the republicans of 1848.

Despite these differences, however, for the next seven years, at least, bonds of mutual admiration united Mme. Adam and Gambetta. During the national disasters now approaching her esteem for him steadily increased;[123] she admired not his patriotism only, but his wisdom, his moderation; [Pg 113] she came to regard him as the one hope of la patrie, the cariatide of her beloved France.[124]

It was by his speech at the famous trial of Delescluze that Gambetta first established his fame as an orator. The days that proceeded that trial, writes the historian Pierre de la Gorce,[125] in his vivid account of these incidents, were les derniers de sa vie obscure. That trial and the incidents leading up to it thrilled with excitement Mme. Adam’s salon. They originated in a manifestation which had taken place on the 2nd of November, 1868, round the grave of the republican leader Baudin. After Louis Napoléon’s coup d’état of December 1851, Baudin, an ardent republican deputy, had endeavoured to incite the Parisian populace to resist. They taunted him with caring chiefly to secure the daily sum of twenty-five francs, which he received as a Member of Parliament. “Why should we be killed for your twenty-five francs?” they cried. “You will see how one can die for twenty-five francs,” cried Baudin, and he climbed on to the barricade, expecting the crowd to follow him. But troops were coming up the street. Baudin was seen to wave a flag, and then to fall dead after having called to the people to come on. The republicans, who gathered round Baudin’s grave in the Montmartre Cemetery, did not lose this opportunity of expressing their opinions of the Imperial Government and of prophesying its speedy dissolution. They took themselves very seriously, and rather expected their little group of some sixty persons to be dispersed by the authorities. But what they thought to be the roll of the guns of approaching troops turned out to be nothing more than an announcement that it was time to close the cemetery. Afterwards, however, it occurred to certain Republican journalists, first to Delescluze of Le Reveil, later to Peyrat of L’Avenir National and to Challemel-Lacour of La Revue Politique to open a subscription for a monument to be erected to Baudin. The Imperial Government, ever with its eye on the press, determined to nip in the bud this project of honouring one of its arch enemies. Delescluze, Peyrat and Challemel, with certain of the manifestants, were summoned before the Sixth Chamber Correctionelle. It was Edmond Adam who had urged Peyrat to bring L’Avenir National into [Pg 114] the movement. His friend Thiers had rated him soundly for so doing. “Cette affaire est insensée,” said le grand petit homme,[126] always the soul of moderation. “C’est de la faction! Ces choses-là conduisent aux émeutes et aux révolutions.

“You are mistaken,” replied Adam calmly. “We are placing an instrument in the hands of the opposition. You will soon recognise it. The Empire’s enemies figure in the subscribers’ lists, and those lists will one day furnish a basis for a coalition, which you will find useful.”

A few days later M. Thiers admitted that Adam was right. This eventful year was now drawing to a close. The late autumn had come, and it was time for the Adams to shut up their salon and go to Bruyères for the winter. “But how,” writes Juliette, “could we discontinue our evenings in the midst of so much agitation, when our friends passing along the boulevard like to come up and talk in our salon?”

There was considerable discussion as to the advocate to defend Delescluze, who was regarded as the most important among the accused. Finally the choice fell on Gambetta.

The trial took place on the 13th of November. “La surexcitation est extrême parmi nos amis. Les plus calmes s’emportent,” wrote Juliette.[127]

The speeches for the defence were numerous and eloquent. But one alone has survived. Needless to say it was Gambetta’s. With consummate skill he converted his defence of his client into an attack upon the Empire. Posing that difficult question which has of late so often presented itself in French political life, Gambetta asked, “Can there ever be a moment, when for the sake of the public weal it is right to violate the law, to overthrow the constitution, to treat as criminal those who defend the right at the risk of their lives? Louis Napoléon, when in December 1851 he effected his coup d’état, considered that such a moment had arrived. But surely,” exclaimed this fearless republican, “this is not the time to justify such an act, for here we are in the prætorium of the judge, here the voice of the law alone should make itself heard.”

These words, as it may well be imagined, created an enormous effect in the court. There was absolute silence. The audience seemed to hold its breath. The parts were transposed: the defender had become the accuser. Several [Pg 115] times the President endeavoured to interrupt. But such remonstrances as “Really, Maître Gambetta, you ought to reserve that for your peroration,” as well as the objections of the opposing counsel, passed unobserved amidst the thunder of that tremendous voice. Gambetta merely redoubled his vehemence. He walked up and down, he struck with his hand on the bar in front of him. His attitude no longer was one of defence, but rather of rebellion. His disordered hair, his floating gown, his collar thrown open, his crumpled cap, which he was constantly putting on and taking off—everything betrayed the intensity of an avenging wrath indifferent to everything save the one matter which kindled it.

“On the 2nd of December,” cried Gambetta, “they tried to deceive Paris with the provinces, the provinces with Paris. Steam and telegraphy were instruments in the hands of the new régime. Throughout the departments ran the announcement, Paris submits. Paris submits? Why, Paris was assassinated, shot down, cannonaded.”

Then like a defiance resounded the concluding ironical appeal to the Empire—

“Listen; for seventeen years you have been absolute masters, you have held France in your power.... Yet you have never dared to place among the national festivals that 2nd of December!... Well, we claim it, that anniversary of the 2nd of December. We claim it for ourselves. We shall never cease to celebrate it. Every year it will be the anniversary of our dead, until the day when the country, once more having become the master, shall exact from you the great expiation in the name of liberty, equality and fraternity.”[128]

After a long deliberation the court pronounced sentence, and all the accused were condemned. But few thought of them. Gambetta, though he had failed to obtain his client’s acquittal, was the hero of the hour, for he had brought a more serious indictment against a far greater criminal. Fêted and congratulated on every hand, he was conducted to the famous Restaurant Magny. No false modesty was his. He knew he had dealt faithfully with the tyrants, and he was not ashamed to own it. “Comme je leur ai dit leur quatre vérités,” he exclaimed.

[Pg 116]

In Juliette’s salon that night there was wild enthusiasm. Adam and his friends had heard the speech. They repeated passages of it. “You must read it,” Adam said to his wife. “But it will not be the same as having heard it.”

“The 13th of November,” writes Juliette, “was a fatal day for the Empire.[129] ... The imperial tree had been sapped by the little Cahors lawyer. It was not that Gambetta’s oratory was so very exceptional. His power lay in making his ardent soul vibrate to the emotion of the crowd.”

The Adams had found it well worth their while to postpone their departure for Bruyères in order to be in Paris at such a time.

Juliette, on her arrival at her villa, was overwhelmed by the transformation which Adam had worked in it. “Mon Bruyères,” she writes, “est embelli, transformé joliment à l’intérieur, sans avoir perdu quoi que ce soit de sa gracieuse et modeste physionomie.”[130]

Now that in her glorified Bruyères Juliette had three guest-chambers instead of one, she could receive numerous friends from Paris. During this winter Garnier-Pagès, one of her husband’s old friends, a man of “1848,” one of the founders of the Comptoir d’Escompte, came with his family, and Juliette’s publisher Hetzel. On the Golfe Juan, as at Paris, Mme. Adam gathered her friends round her; and Bruyères became a veritable salon, with Prosper Mérimée for its grand homme. Of this illustrious writer, in the evening of his days, Mme. Adam in her Souvenirs[131] paints a striking picture. She draws to the life his elegant figure, always well put on. He affected grey trousers, white waistcoats, large soft blue cravats tied in an artistic bow. She describes his eyeglasses, well posed on un nez qu’on ne voyait qu’à lui tant la forme en était particulière, his wrinkled, careworn forehead, his thick eyebrows, which gave him a cold, haughty and somewhat severe air. There was something English about his appearance. His mother was an Englishwoman, and he loved England. It was an admirable country, he used to say, where reforms proposed by liberals are executed by conservatives. This statement, which like most generalisations is more striking than accurate, was natural to an observer of British politics so soon after the Reform Bill of 1867.


[Pg 117]

Each winter Mérimée and Juliette Adam became better friends. He paid her one of the compliments she appreciated most when he told Dr. Maure that she had made him understand fraternity.[132]

She enjoyed his conversation immensely. “A talk with Mérimée,” she writes, “is always full of surprises,[133] so wide is his knowledge and of a quality so superior.” His eclecticism delighted her. He belonged to no school, but was ready to appreciate anything that appealed to him, modern or ancient, idealist or realist, romantic or classical. His bête noir was exaggeration. He was artistic to the finger-tips. He detested the photographic method of treating life and nature. “Every artist at the beginning of his life,” he would say, “must, I admit, be carried away by passion, by rapture, but before long he must deny himself any ecstasy which might cloud his imagination and dim his vision of reality; he must retain of his passion only so much as is necessary for its description.”

Mérimée, like Juliette’s friend Flaubert, was a heroic worker. He would not hesitate to rewrite a page ten times. A term erased seemed to him but “a jumping-off place from which to reach le mot juste.” Mme. Adam highly prized the lessons he gave her on style.

In general conversation he was not at his best. However interesting the subject might be, he was ill at ease if the speaker did not appeal to him. He would assume a frigid manner. On the other hand, if the speaker pleased him, he would hasten to pour forth all the treasures of his accumulated reflections.

The events of the summer of 1868, and the troubles of L’Avenir National, an opposition newspaper founded in 1865, edited by Peyrat, and in which Adam had a large financial interest, had prevented Juliette and her husband from taking any honeymoon immediately after their marriage. Now, in the spring of 1869, accompanied by Alice, they took their postponed wedding-tour to Italy. They visited Florence, then the capital of the Italian kingdom, Milan, Turin and Genoa. Furnished with useful introductions by Thiers and other friends, they met many interesting people, Cairoli, the Marquis Alfieri, Nino Bixio, the Garibaldian soldier, whose brother Alessandro had been so intimate a friend of Adam. At Florence they [Pg 118] rejoiced to meet again the Italian exiles whom they had known in Paris. Mme. Adam, while admiring the intense patriotism of the Italians, was grieved to perceive how Napoléon’s papal policy had alienated them from France. At the meetings of the Italian Chamber, the opposition’s violent attacks on France cut her to the heart.

C’est pour Adam et moi une grande tristesse,” she writes. “Quoi! tout le sang versé, nos sacrifices, notre amitié, notre dévouement, notre enthousiasme, à nous, républicains, qui nous à fait accepter un armistice dans notre lutte contre l’Empire, n’ont servi qu’à nous faire une ennemi violente de l’Italie.[134]

Juliette was glad to see her last novel, L’Education de Laure, displayed in the book-shops of Milan. Driving home, along the Corniche Road, in company with Nino Bixio, they had a memorable journey, to which we shall refer later.

Arriving in Paris in April, they found the capital in the throes of preparing for the general election, fixed for the 23rd and 24th of May—the third election held since the establishment of the Empire, the two previous had been in 1857 and 1863. But this, remarks Mme. Adam, was the first election which had been held since the granting of liberty of public meetings and of the Press, two reforms which had resulted from Ollivier’s establishment of what is known as l’Empire Libérale.

Juliette in her salon on the Boulevard Poissonnière found herself quite as much in the movement as she would have been in the Rue de Rivoli. From her windows she saw, or imagined she saw, all manner of wonderful happenings: strange meetings and consultations after midnight between policemen and les blouses blanches, those socialists, the mistrusted tail of the radical party, whom Gambetta, in his famous Belleville speech, was accused of humouring. His more moderate friends thought he had promised too much: tariff and tax reform, election of all Government functionaries, suppression of standing armies. “You must cut off this tail of yours,” remonstrated his anti-socialist supporters. “Cut off my tail,” said Gambetta gaily, “not as long as I live. I will tie a white sash round it and lead it into society.”[135]

Gambetta, at the head of les Jeunes was opposing at Belleville Hippolyte Carnot, that vieille barbe as the heroes of 1848 were called. Baucel, another of les Jeunes in [Pg 119] another Paris constituency, was successfully opposing Ollivier himself; and the founder of l’Empire Libérale was driven to a provincial constituency in the Department of Var. So unpopular was the minister in the capital that his public meeting at Le Châtelet became a riot, during which the famous beer-house Dréher was sacked before the police could effectually intervene.

The election cries of the opposition were “Away with personal government,” “Away with a standing army and substitute a national militia.” With the latter neither Juliette nor her husband were in agreement. Jules Simon in their salon represented this party. And when Adam argued against him, upholding a standing army, maintaining that without it a nation is lost, Nefftzer intervened saying, “You are right both of you. We must have a standing army and a national militia to defend the country against the German invasion which is approaching.”[136]

Though many of her friends were standing as candidates, Madame Adam’s salon continued to be well frequented all through the election. The guests, however, came later and went away earlier. Occasionally some one would disappoint her. Jules Ferry, for instance, in one of the most adroit of notes excused himself at the last moment.

Madame,” he wrote,[137]je n’appartiens plus ni à mes amis, ni à moi-même, ni aux choses gracieuses de la vie.... Or voici qu’une réunion d’électeurs apparaît à l’horizon, un peu plus farouche que votre salon. L’électeur est un maître, vous le savez, et nous ne sommes pas sur un lit de roses; vous m’excuserez donc et vous me permettrez si ce mercredi soir m’est enlevé, de vous porter mes excuses un matin.

At the request of their friends the Adams, as will be seen, had changed their day from Friday to Wednesday. Throughout the election Juliette had been full of hope. And the result did not disappoint her. For, although the Government maintained a majority in the House, the opposition had won a striking moral victory. The forces of the opposition now led by Gambetta in the Chamber, had shown their growing power. Many of its candidates, Rochefort, for example, though defeated, had obtained a large number of votes. The Empire was visibly tottering. Napoléon, ill and irresolute, was driven to grant the reformers concession after concession.

[87] Souvenirs, II. 462-3.

[88] Propos Littéraires, 5ième série, 285.

[89] Souvenirs, II. 450.

[90] Souvenirs, II. 453.

[91] Ibid., III. 29.

[92] He had held office in the Provisional Government, had attempted to stem the tide of insurrection in the summer of 1848, and, having failed, had retired into private life, occupying himself with the writing of books and articles on political and economic subjects. After the war he returned to politics, and was Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1883.

[93] Quinet and Michelet had both recently published histories of the Revolution. The appearance of these volumes ended that close friendship which until then had united them. For each regarded himself as having said the last word on the subject; and according to Mme. Adam, who disliked Michelet, the latter could not forgive his sometime friend for not having mentioned him in his book (see Souvenirs, III. 314). Michelet was astonished, he wrote to Quinet, “at this amazing neglect of one qui seul avait frayé, les voies.”


[94] See post, 209.

[95] Souvenirs, III. 123.

[96] Souvenirs, III. 131.

[97] Ibid., 133.

[98] Armand Carrel, editor of the National, killed in a duel by Girardin.

[99] See ante, 100.

[100] Afterwards President of the French Republic.

[101] Hippolyte, see ante, 68.

[102] 1851, at the time of Louis Napoléon’s coup d’état.

[103] See ante, 76.

[104] Idées Anti-Proudhoniennes.

[105] See ante, 48.

[106] Souvenirs, II. 236.

[107] See ante, 102.

[108] Souvenirs, III. 136.

[109] It was said to have been bombarded during the coup d’état of December 2, 1851.

[110] Souvenirs, III. 249.

[111] Souvenirs, III. 193.

[112] Souvenirs, III. 251.

[113] Ibid., 307.

[114] Ibid., 261.

[115] Ibid., 363.

[116] Souvenirs, III. 364.

[117] Souvenirs, II. 373.

[118] Ibid., 416.

[119] Ibid., III. 309.

[120] Later Prime Minister of France.

[121] Souvenirs, III. 311.

[122] Ibid., 312.

[123] Souvenirs, V. 143, 154, 156, 161.

[124] Souvenirs, IV. 309.

[125] Histoire du Second Empire, chap. v. p. 412.

[126] Souvenirs, III. 315.

[127] Ibid., 317.

[128] Pierre de la Gorce, op. cit., 418, and the speeches of Gambetta, published by Joseph Reinach, I. 5-17.

[129] Souvenirs, III. 318-19.

[130] Ibid., 409-13 et passim.

[131] Ibid., 412.

[132] Souvenirs, III. 412.

[133] Ibid., 410.

[134] Souvenirs, III. 345.

[135] Pierre de la Gorce, op. cit., V. 483.

[136] Souvenirs, III. 358.

[137] Ibid., 361.

[Pg 120]




Ma grande amie maternelle a été mon guide.”—Mme. Adam, Souvenirs.

To have been intimately associated with George Sand during the last fifteen years of that distinguished woman’s life, Mme. Adam regards as one of her greatest privileges.

Each of Mme. Adam’s seven volumes of Souvenirs has its hero and heroine: her grandmother, Mme. Seron, dominates the first, Mme. d’Agoult the second, Gambetta the four last. George Sand, while intervening in several volumes, figures most prominently in the third, Mes Sentiments et Nos Idées avant 1870. Here we find a striking portrait of that celebrated novelist whom her English critic, W. H. Myers, considers “the most noteworthy woman, with perhaps one exception, who has appeared since Sappho.”[138] Mme. Adam knew George Sand in the evening of her days, when she had lived down her enemies, partisanships, scandals, loves. They had passed away and left her “in grand old age sitting beneath the roof that sheltered her earliest years, and writing for her grandchildren stories in which her own childhood lives anew.”

It is not surprising that Juliette Adam and George Sand should have been attracted to one another; for they had many natural affinities. They were both passionately romantic and idealist. “Je suis restée troubadour,” writes Mme. Sand in January 1867,[139]c’est à dire croyant à l’amour, à l’art, à l’idéal.” They were both incurable optimists, ardent adorers of nature, lovers of humble folk, and of peasants especially; delighting in simple things, in the joys of friendship, in the pleasures of family life, though both had known [Pg 121] marital miseries. Their upbringing had not been unlike, penetrated in each case with a strong strain of paganism. Neither was a rationalist, for surging up from the subconsciousness of them both was a keen sense of the unseen and a lively curiosity in the occult.

Their creeds differed: George Sand was a deist, Juliette in those days a pantheist. But Mme. Sand was not mistaken when she prophesied that one day her young friend’s faith would approximate more nearly to her own. “Essayez donc de vous convertir à mon Dieu unique,” she said. “Il y’a en votre âme un grand vide de spiritualité dont vous ne vous apercevez pas a cette heure, parce que vous avez la vie la plus pleine que se puisse imaginer, mais un beau jour vous sentirez l’insufficence que vous apporte votre croyance en l’incroyance.[140]

It was in 1858, on the publication of her first book, Idées Anti-Proudhoniennes, written as we have seen partly in defence of George Sand, that Juliette first came into personal relationship with the writer whom she had long admired. “George Sand me remercia par une fort belle lettre pleine de gratitude,” she writes.[141] Later the young authoress received a visit from one of Mme. Sand’s friends, a certain Captain d’Arpentigny, who explained to her that, as she was the friend of the Comtesse d’Agoult, with whom Mme. Sand had quarrelled,[142] the latter deemed it prudent that she and her young champion should not meet. If some day Juliette should break off her relations with Mme. d’Agoult, then she might come to see George Sand.

Such a condition was neither petty nor vindictive, though such at first it might seem. Considering the temperaments of these two distinguished women—one endowed with the passionate vehemence and frankness of the Celt, the other not lacking in a certain Teutonic vindictiveness—for Juliette to have been a loyal friend to them both at the same time would have been impossible.[143]

There was no reason, however, why Juliette and George Sand should not correspond. Mme. Sand never failed to take an interest in her correspondent’s literary career.

[Pg 122]

She read all her books and gave the young author the invaluable benefit of her criticism. Though her book Mon Village was dedicated to Mme. d’Agoult, it was, as we have seen, written at the suggestion of George Sand.

For nine years Juliette and her unknown friend, her amie éloignée, as Mme. Sand called herself, continued to correspond. And it was not until Juliette’s final breach with Mme. d’Agoult, in 1867, that the former considered herself at liberty to see in the flesh her whose spirit and whose writings she had admired so long.

Mme. Adam’s graphic description of the memorable meeting in the third volume of her Souvenirs[144] has become almost a classic.

With her whole being throbbing with emotion, Juliette went by appointment to Mme. Sand’s flat, No. 97, Rue des Feuillantines. In a large arm-chair, which made her appear quite a little woman, Mme. Sand sat with both arms on a table in front of her, rolling a cigarette.

“I approached,” writes Juliette; “she did not rise, but she pointed to a seat, which I was to take, quite near the table. Her large kind eyes enveloped, attracted me. My pulse beat violently.

“I made a great effort to greet her with a word. I found nothing to say. My heart came into my mouth.

“She lit her cigarette and began to smoke. She also seemed searching for a word to address to me; but she no more than I could find anything to say.

“Later I knew how reserved she felt in the presence of any one whom she saw for the first time.

“Then, realising that I must appear idiotic, my feelings overcame me, and I burst into tears.

“George Sand threw away her cigarette and held out her arms to me. I threw myself into them, possessed by that filial tenderness which I had longed to experience, and which has remained with me to this hour.”

Naturally they could not avoid talking of that disagreement with Mme. d’Agoult which had rendered the meeting possible.

Then they discussed a theme constantly recurring in the conversation of serious persons in that day: the frivolity and corruption of Parisian society under the Empire, and the reign of opportunism.

[Pg 123]

They rejoiced at the boldness of the manager of the Théâtre français, who had dared to represent a play by Victor Hugo, then a political exile, and they delighted to think of the consolation it must bring to the author in his banishment.

“I left Mme. Sand,” writes Juliette, “after two hours of confidences, confirmed in my adoration of her and in our friendship.

“Would that I could tell and tell again all her delicacy of feeling, her nobility of heart, her moral elevation, her wide comprehension of life, her serenity learnt in so hard a school, won at the price of such cruel experiences.”

That Juliette on her part had favourably impressed her new acquaintance may be seen by the terms in which Mme. Sand refers to her in her correspondence. Writing to Flaubert in September 1867, she calls Juliette une charmante jeune femme de lettres,[145] and again to the same correspondent she exclaims later, Mme. Juliette Lamber est vraiment charmante. George Sand took a deep interest in all the members of her young friend’s family. At her invitation Juliette’s betrothed, Edmond Adam, went to see her. They talked of 1848. Speaking of Juliette, Mme. Sand said to Adam, “I have waited long for cette fille adoptive”; of Adam to his bride, “He has a loyal hand:[146] you must be proud to give him yours.”[147] Henceforth nothing would satisfy Juliette and her affianced but that Mme. Sand should visit them on the Golfe Juan. Juliette described her Bruyères as modest but gay, Adam’s villa, Le Grand Pin, as fine and equipped with every possible comfort and convenience. George decided for Bruyères.

Et me voilà,” writes Juliette, “aussi joyeuse qu’Edmond Adam va devenir jaloux.”[148] Mme. Sand, who adored children and was never tired of talking of her own little granddaughter Aurora, insisted on seeing Alice. With Juliette’s daughter it was a case of love at first sight. For Mme. Sand, who had a nickname for every one she loved, Alice was henceforth Topaz, because of the dark olive complexion she had inherited from her Sicilian father, Lamessine.

[Pg 124]

Henceforth Juliette lived in the hope of that promised winter visit to Bruyères. But before her southern flight in November, she was to see a great deal of her friend in Paris. In September they went together to Rouen and Jumièges.[149] They dined together in town. Once at Mme. Sand’s favourite restaurant, the famous Magny’s, on the left bank,[150] Juliette met for the first time an illustrious quartette of whom she was to see much later: Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, Gustave Flaubert and Dumas fils. The friendship between Juliette and Flaubert, which dates from that evening, endured until the novelist’s death. With Flaubert’s family Mme. Adam has continued intimate, and the opening weeks of this year (1917) she spent with Flaubert’s niece at her country house in the department of Var. The talk, chez Magny, that evening[151] was lively and frank, to say the least of it. The youth, the beauty, the charm of Mme. Sand’s new friend, provoked Dumas to scoff at the idea of her becoming a writer and a bas bleu. He, like Michel Lévy of old,[152] believed, as he put it, that she had something better to do. “Il faut aimer, aimer, aimer,” he cried. And Flaubert and the de Goncourts repeated, “Il faut aimer.” “To learn that, gentlemen, I have not waited for your words of wisdom,” replied Juliette. “I love to love whom I love, and he, whom I love, loves to see me write.”

“The fool,” cried Dumas.

“What an extraordinary idea,” exclaimed Mme. Sand, “to attempt to prove in my presence that a woman who is a writer cannot love.”

“There is truth in it all the same,” said Edmond de Goncourt.

“Never,” protested George Sand. “The reproach which may be brought against women writers is precisely that they have loved too much. Et la preuve, dedans moi-même, je la treuve,” she added, relapsing into patois.

“You,” cried Dumas, “why you have never loved anything but the prefigurings of the heroes of your future [Pg 125] novels, something like the marionettes,[153] whom you have rigged out to repeat your play. Can that be called loving?”

“Come,” said Flaubert. “Now, we four are writers of some standing. Can we be called great lovers?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care,” replied Mme. Sand. “But, to confine oneself to recent examples, it is absurd to maintain that Mme. de Staël, Mme. d’Agoult, Mme. de Girardin and I have not been passionate lovers. Indeed, on the contrary, what remains to be proved is the possibility of a pretty woman writer, who is really gifted, continuing a simple, loving, faithful wife like any other woman.”

“Yes, that is an interesting problem,” said Jules de Goncourt.

That evening Mme. Sand talked more than usual. Generally she preferred to listen, delighting to emphasise some witty remark, which she relished more than any one by a frank outburst of laughter or a brief exclamation.

In conversation Mme. Sand was best in tête-à-tête. Some of the most memorable of her confidential talks with her friend, Mme. Adam has reproduced in her Souvenirs.

One evening in Paris, when they were to have gone to the Odéon together, the play having been suddenly changed through an actor’s illness, “Let us stay at home and talk, dear Juliette,” said George.

That conversation marked the beginning of George Sand’s ascendancy over her young friend’s mind. “A partir de cette heure,” writes Juliette, “ma grande amie maternelle a été mon guide”.[154]

At the end of a long silence, during which she had been smoking cigarettes, throwing them into a bowl of water after a few whiffs, George said, as if resuming the thoughts that had been occupying her—

“I want my life to be useful to another, to the daughter whom I choose to adopt, to you, my child. As we learn to know one another better, as we talk more and more to one another, I will tell you by what paths, always roughest when I most sought to find them smooth, I have climbed the hill of existence.”

Through all that she has written of George Sand, we find Juliette ever attempting to excuse, or at least to account [Pg 126] for, the irregularities, the ebullience, the wild passions of her friend’s exuberant and turbulent youth. She attributes them to the extravagance and effervescence of that romantic movement, in the hey-day of which Mme. Sand lived the first half of her life. For this view of her friend’s career Juliette had the authority of George herself.

“In my young days,” said Mme. Sand on this memorable evening, “I moved in a purely artificial world, in which we were all resolved to feel, to experience, to love, to think, differently from the vulgar herd. Determined to avoid the bank, to swim out into the open, we were constantly losing our foothold and floundering in unfathomable depths. Remote from the crowd, remote from the shore, always more and more remote. How many of us have not perished body and soul!

“And those who would not be drowned, who struggled, who were thrown back on to the bank, they recovered their footing, they became like other people, through contact with the earth, and especially with the common sense of humble folk. How often have I not become myself again in the midst of peasants! How often has not Nohant cured me of and saved me from Paris!”

For George Sand, as for Joan of Arc four centuries ago, as for Anatole France to-day, the most adorable, the most salutary, the most indispensable of all human sentiments is pity. Looking back from the vantage point of old age on the mad, passionate adventures of her youth, Mme. Sand saw herself ever swayed from the bottom of her heart by une grand pitié. It was often that pity which caused her to quarrel with her lovers. She loved them as a mother loves her child. But they demanded from her the love of a mistress.

Quand je m’examine,” she said to Juliette, “je vois que les deux seules passions de ma vie ont été la maternité et l’amitié.”[155]

After numerous delays and postponements Mme. Sand, accompanied by her son Maurice and her friend Planet, at length, in February 1868, arrived at Bruyères. The date of the visit had been so frequently changed that Juliette and Alice had begun to fear that it might never take place at all. “Cold outside, comfort within, and [Pg 127] especially the happiness of living surrounded by one’s family,” writes Mme. Sand to a friend in Paris,[156] “have delayed my journey.” But on the 22nd of February she was able to write to a friend at Toulon from “Golfe Juan, Villa Bruyères.” “We are very comfortably installed, very much spoilt, very energetic, very happy. The day after to-morrow we are going to Nice, Monaco and Mentone. We shall be away three or four days. Consequently you must try not to let your business bring you here before the end of the week. Friday, for example, we are always at home. For on that day Mme. Lambert receives. But if you come on another day you must let us know; for we generally spend the whole day out of doors, and sometimes go a considerable distance.”[157]

In picnics, in visits to Monte Carlo and other scenes of gaiety, in sailing in La Petite Fadette, the yacht which had been Edmond Adam’s New Year’s gift to his affianced bride, the time passed very pleasantly. George Sand was a fervent geologist and botanist. “Give me a piece of stone,” she would say, “and I will tell you the kind of flora it will produce.” By such means and without visiting the country she is said to have given a background to some of her novels. On one of their picnics Mme. Sand suggested that they should found a new Abbey of Thelema, in which Juliette was to be housekeeper and caterer. And she could not have made a better choice, as will testify all who have tasted of Mme. Adam’s hospitality.

The fortnight which Mme. Sand passed on the Golfe Juan was for Juliette one of the happiest in that happy year, 1868, the year of her marriage with Edmond Adam. Bruyères was a home of delight to those who enjoyed its charming hospitality and had the good fortune to stay there. La Villa du Bon Repos some of them christened it, and later it was known as “the Adam’s earthly Paradise.” During the February of 1868 it was the gayest house on the Riviera.

Mme. Sand was a delightful person to entertain, so simple, so contented, so entirely occupied with other people, never permitting her hosts to perceive in her the slightest suggestion of care, anxiety, or fatigue. Perfectly regular and orderly in her manner of life, every day she made her first appearance at the twelve-o’clock lunch, and from [Pg 128] that hour until ten her friends had her to themselves. At ten in the evening she bade them good-night and retired to her room to work, frequently until the small hours of the morning. Juliette, whose room was beneath Mme. Sand’s and who also went to bed late, used to hear her moving about. Her cigarettes and a glass of water were all she required for her long vigils.

Maurice Sand, her son, himself a gifted writer, one of the wittiest and gayest of companions, the inventor and manager of the celebrated marionette theatre at Nohant, entertained the company with his jokes—no one could long be serious in his presence.

Mme. Sand’s friend Planet had been brought up to laugh at Nohant (élevé à rire), for Mme. Sand believed in mirth as the most effectual of sanitives. La gaieté est la meilleure hygiène de l’esprit. “Consequently,” writes Juliette, “I assure you we are not sad.”[158]

George Sand used to say that she was never sure of her friends until she had stayed with them and lived some days of their life. Her visit to Bruyères drew more closely the cords of her intimacy with Juliette, and sealed their friendship.

On their return to Paris, and after their marriage, which took place in the spring, the Adams were constantly being urged by Mme. Sand to visit her at Nohant. “Chers enfants,” wrote George, “quand vous verra t’on? On vous attend maintenant tout l’été, sans aucun projet que le bonheur de vous embrasser tous trois[159] (Edmond Adam, Juliette and Alice). Adam had a horror of country visits. But in this case he was willing to set aside his prejudice, and to accept the great George’s invitation. The Adams only waited until Juliette’s father, Dr. Lambert, had recovered from an operation for stone. Finally, on the 4th of July, in time for their hostess’s sixty-fifth birthday, jour de bouquets et d’embrassades, they arrived at Mme. Sand’s picturesque home at Nohant, in the heart of that beloved Berry, which readers of her novels know so well.

The birthday of the mistress of Nohant was a fête for the neighbourhood. Maurice had spent the previous night decorating the hall and reception-rooms with garlands woven by the peasants. In the art of decoration, the [Pg 129] creator of the Marionette Theatre was a past master; and the whole house appeared a bower of flowers and verdure.[160]

The firing of a gun announced the luncheon hour. Marshalled by Maurice, the entire household, guests, servants and even the tiny granddaughter Aurora, holding Alice’s hand, assembled in grande toilette. Alice and her mother had been early out in the fields gathering wild flowers for the birthday nosegays, which they were to present to their hostess. Then she appeared. The servants cried: “Vive la bonne dame.” Maurice read an address which he had prepared for the occasion. “Ce que tu es adorablement stupide,” cried his mother, embracing him. Then all the guests in turn expressed their good wishes. Luncheon passed gaily, the afternoon was spent out of doors. But the great event of the day was the evening performance in the marionette theatre.

To the description of this highly ingenious, perfectly artistic and most entrancing of entertainments Mme. Adam devotes six pages of her Souvenirs. The spectators were encouraged to express their opinions audibly as the play went on. Each had his favourite actor or actress. Mme. Adam, having declared her preference for a certain Coq-en-Bois, he from the stage invited her to dine with him in a cabinet particulier at the Café Brébant. “Ah! no, I protest!” cried Adam; and led by the queen of the festival, the whole audience was convulsed with laughter.

In theory, and in practice during her early days, always a rebel against order and discipline, in her home George Sand had ever been the personification of orderliness. Perfect tidiness reigned in her simply furnished study. In her desk and her large cupboards, every drawer and shelf was furnished with a label indicating the contents. Equally precise was the arrangement of her bedroom, opening out of the study, with its fine old furniture and its hangings of blue—the colour of the Golfe Juan, as she said to Juliette. In her gardens, where she had acclimatised an immense variety of plants, collected during her travels, Mme. Sand took great delight. But no one was allowed to cut the flowers. Those used for house decoration were all gathered in the woods and fields.

Serious conversation, profound discussions, Mme. Sand reserved for her tête-à-têtes. The general talk at Nohant [Pg 130] was of the mirth-provoking order, that intelligent nonsense which clears the brain and sharpens the wits. If any one was inclined to be too serious, he was immediately prodded into liveliness by one of those practical jokes in which the mistress of Nohant revelled. The unhappy Edmond Adam had all his worst prejudices against country-house parties confirmed when he was roused from his slumbers by the crowing of a cock, which Maurice had hidden in the wood-chest of his bedroom. The wretched victim’s vociferations, mingling with the voice of chanticleer, as in night attire this much-tried guest searched for his tormentor, afforded intense amusement to the household assembled in the passage, as well as to Juliette, who, being in the secret, was cowering beneath the sheets, trying to suppress her laughter, and to Alice in the adjoining room.

Several days of the Nohant visit were occupied in excursions to places of interest in the neighbourhood, to the Druidical monuments of Crevant and to La Mare au Diable.

After they had left Nohant the Adams continued to see a great deal of George Sand. In the autumn of 1868 they accompanied her on a tour to the Meuse Valley, which she intended to make the scene of her next novel, Malgré Tout. The great George was a valiant traveller. None of the discomforts of country tours in days when inns were close and filthy disturbed her. With what she called the poltronnerie of Juliette and Alice, who complained of sleepless nights spent in hunting vermin, their friend had no sympathy. She only jeered at them for not following her example and keeping the pests away by smoking cigars and cigarettes.

Mme. Sand returned with her friends to Paris. There she established herself in a flat in the Rue Gay-Lussac, from the windows of which she could see her beloved Luxembourg. Her chambermaid, who had not the remotest idea of her mistress’s distinction, always addressed her as “Madame de Cendre,” and George forbade any one to enlighten her.

Mme. Sand had come to Paris to assist at the rehearsals at the Porte-Saint-Martin of her play Cadio. This indefatigable old lady of threescore years and more, went every evening to the theatre, where she stayed from six till two. In her company Juliette for the first time penetrated “behind.” She was also present on the first night. But [Pg 131] the play was a failure. According to the author, this was chiefly because the principal actor, one Roger, persisted in wearing a hat with a white feather instead of a battered and weather-stained cap. As the curtain was about to rise Mme. Sand tore out the feather and broke it. But swift as lightning Mme. Roger, an ex-milliner, sewed it together again. The actor entered beplumed. “La pièce est perdu!” cried the authoress.

The next year the Adams were staying at Pierrefonds. There George Sand joined them, and they spent together a delightful fortnight there. In all that concerned her young friend, in Juliette’s spiritual, professional, domestic and physical welfare, Mme. Sand took the deepest interest. She marvelled at the numerous activities Juliette continued to crowd into her life.

J’admire q’étant ‘mondaine’ et toujours par monts et par vaux,” she writes, “et très occupée de la famille et du ménage, vous ayez le temps d’écrire et de penser. Au reste, cette activité est bonne à l’esprit, mais n’usez pas trop le corps.[161]

Sometimes George Sand feared for her friend the consequences of her excitable temperament and her untiring energy. She would have liked to have seen in her something of the serenity which the great George had herself acquired. But she realised that with Juliette, as with herself, this calm, this aloofness from life’s petty worries, would come with old age. “We must not ask youth to anticipate age,” she wrote. “And youth’s charm is in its impressionability.”[162] Nevertheless, she adjures her friend to cultivate moderation in all things, not to strive after violent sensations. “You are passionate and exalted,” she wrote to Juliette; “that is good and beautiful, and we love you for it.” “But,” she adds, “do not, in your craving for emotion, afflict yourself unnecessarily. Spend yourself, but do not waste yourself.... Your sleeplessness is not natural to youth.” It indicated, thought Mme. Sand, that something was wrong in Juliette’s ordering of her life. She advised her not to work at night, but to go to bed at eleven, to rise at six and to write then, before the time came for her daughter’s morning lessons. The writer of this letter did not herself follow these precepts. But she had long passed out of Juliette’s condition of nervous [Pg 132] excitability. “Work,” she added, “is an act of lucidity. Now, perfect lucidity is impossible without preliminary rest.”

Alas! the course of international affairs was rapidly rendering impossible that calm restfulness to which George Sand was so wisely exhorting Juliette.

In the summer of 1870 the Adams repeated their visit to Nohant. On the 15th of July diplomatic relations between France and Prussia were severed. On the 25th, M. Émile Ollivier read before the Corps Legislatif the French Government’s declaration of war.

The house-party at Nohant immediately broke up, and the Adams returned to Paris.


[138] W. H. Myers, Modern Essays (1883).

[139] George Sand, Correspondance, V. 164.

[140] Souvenirs, III. 282-3.

[141] Ibid., II. 83.

[142] That Liszt was the cause of their quarrel was well known. Mme. Sand had written of it in her novel Horace, Mme. d’Agoult in Nélida.

[143] For the bitterness of Mme. d’Agoult’s resentment, see Souvenirs, II. 201-4.

[144] pp. 145-7.

[145] Correspondance, V. 220.

[146] The great George, apparently like Juliette herself, was a believer in palmistry. See Souvenirs, II. 97.

[147] Souvenirs, III. 161, 239.

[148] Ibid.

[149] See George Sand’s letter to Flaubert, Correspondance, V. 220.

[150] It was at this restaurant that Sainte-Beuve gave that Good Friday dinner which clerical circles regarded as a shocking blasphemy.

[151] Souvenirs, III. 165-8.

[152] See ante, 55.

[153] Dumas was thinking of George Sand’s famous marionette theatre at Nohant. See post, 129.

[154] Souvenirs, III. 172.

[155] Souvenirs, III. 170.

[156] George Sand, Correspondance, V. 243.

[157] Ibid., 245.

[158] Souvenirs, III. 205.

[159] Ibid., 259, and George Sand’s Correspondance, V. 258-9.

[160] Souvenirs, III. 268.

[161] George Sand, Correspondance, V. 317.

[162] Ibid., 250.

[Pg 133]




Nous serons vaincus. Il n’y a qu’à voir le désordre, l’impossibilité des armements.”—George Sand to Mme. Adam, August 18, 1870.

For years a few clear-sighted Frenchmen had seen the German Peril approaching. Now it was at the gates of France. George Sand and Edmond Adam had been more afraid of the “Anglo-Saxon Contagion.” They had been inclined to scoff at Nefftzer’s jeremiads;[163] but now, alas! they proved to be only too well founded.

The Adams in the anguish of their souls recalled their memorable drive,[164] in the spring of 1869, along the Corniche Road, in the company of Nino Bixio, the Garibaldian hero, who was then Commander-in-Chief of the Italian army. Bixio had just returned from Germany, whither he had gone at Victor Emmanuel’s command in order to ascertain the precise condition of the Prussian army. Bixio had come back firmly convinced that Bismarck was preparing war against France.

“And you are not ready,” he had said to the Adams; “you will be thoroughly beaten.”[165]

Then Adam, ghastly pale and half rising from his seat, had cried: “Silence, Nino, or I will throw you into the sea. France, beaten by the Prussians! Never, do you hear? Never.”

“And do you think it would give me pleasure?” the Italian had retorted. “But understand, if you don’t wish to be beaten ... then make an end of your opposition’s foolish, wicked, criminal campaign against militarism. It is militarism which, entering into the very marrow of Prussian bones, has for half a century been preparing her to take her revenge for Jena. Ah! my poor Adam! How [Pg 134] blind is France.... Your Napoléon III is a provoker of invasion, and you republicans, you will be ready to eat your hearts out for having been party men before Frenchmen. When you refuse him soldiers, you are idiotic.”

Then Bixio had spoken of the negotiations for a triple alliance between France, Italy and Austria against Germany. According to the Italian General, it was Napoléon’s support of the papacy, in which he was encouraged by his ultramontane Empress, that had rendered these negotiations fruitless.

In order to pass on to their political friends Bixio’s warnings, the Adams had hastened their return to Paris. But they might have spared themselves the trouble. For, with the exceptions of Thiers and Nefftzer, no one had paid any heed whatever to the Italian General’s prognostications. French politicians were then absorbed in domestic affairs. But in a few weeks international matters forced themselves upon their attention. For a new cloud appeared on the horizon. This was General Prim’s offer of the Spanish crown to a prince of the House of Hohenzollern. With feverish eagerness Juliette and her friends had followed these negotiations. Instead of the usual weekly dinner-party, followed by a reception, in Mme. Adam’s salon there had been an assembly every evening. Juliette and her husband were full of alarm. Their German friend, Louis Bamberger, said: “This time, my children, you will have to give in.”[166] One evening Adam, who had been to see Thiers in the afternoon, related how the petit grand homme had entreated him to supplicate his friends not to play with fire. “It is pure folly,” he exclaimed, “we are on a volcano.”

Then had come the news that Prince Anthony of Hohenzollern had on his son’s behalf renounced the candidature. “The incident is closed,” said the chief minister, Émile Ollivier. “We were on the eve of war,” said Thiers, “but now everything is arranged.”

With immense relief, believing peace to be assured, the Adams, who had postponed their visit to George Sand on account of the national crisis, now left Paris for Nohant.

But, alas! their equanimity had soon been disturbed. The French Government, not content with Prince Anthony’s undertaking, had required from the King of Prussia a [Pg 135] promise that henceforth no Hohenzollern should ascend the Spanish throne. King William’s refusal of this demand, and the events of the following fortnight, had culminated in the French Government’s declaration of war on July 20th.

On the afternoon of that day George Sand and her guests were sitting in the park at Nohant. Conversation languished, for the menace of war was in the air. Suddenly the sound of a drum was heard. Every member of the company trembled.... Maurice came towards them, girded with a drum, and crying, Vive la France! George Sand and Juliette Adam burst into tears, while all echoed that cry Vive la France, which henceforth was to be the motive power of all Mme. Adam’s being.[167]

On their return to Paris the Adams found awaiting them numerous letters from their friends, containing various opinions as to the declaration of war. France in those days was not without her conscientious objectors. The pacifist Arlès Dufour would have preferred civil to international war. “The former would have cost less in men and in money,” he wrote. M. Adam’s German friend, Louis Bamberger, took his leave of him, saying, “Love your country, Adam, as I love mine. I send you a last remembrance before the shock of arms.” Bamberger, desiring with all his heart German unity, was the fervent admirer of Bismarck, whom he regarded as alone able to achieve it.

Hetzel reported in Juliette’s salon how he had just seen Mérimée. In the previous winter, at Bruyères, Juliette had found her friend obsessed by the impending calamity.[168] “You republicans,” he had said, “you have disarmed France; and we imperialists, asleep in our false security, have abandoned her.” “Now,” said Hetzel, “Mérimée is deploring his country’s unpreparedness.” “We have soldiers, but we have no generals,” he lamented.... “Je supplie le grand Mécanicien, si nous devons être vaincus, de faire cesser mes tours de roue.[169] Mérimée’s prayer was granted: dying on the 24th of September, 1870, he did not live to see the consummation of his country’s defeat.[170]

Paul de Saint-Victor, Juliette’s Catholic friend, was furious against Renan, whom he accused of being pro-German. It was true that Renan had admired much that [Pg 136] was German, and that he had often despaired of the future of France. He believed that the Germans would be the teachers of the world.[171]

“Several of the University professors,” remarks Mme. Adam, “have not yet been able to bring themselves to love France as much as they have admired Germany.”[172]

Nevertheless, despite these differences of opinion, a great wave of patriotism swept through the country. “Il n’y a plus de petits crevés,” writes Juliette, “ils ont disparu comme par miracle et sont devenus les soldats de notre France.”[173]

“People are beginning once more to use the word patrie.[174] It had been forgotten, buried beneath humanitarianism. Now it returns. It is uttered with reverence and devotion. Adam and I, when we pronounce it, feel that to us both it is equally sacred.”

Mérimée had deplored the lack of generals in France. Bixio had said, “You have neither a Moltke, nor a Bismarck, nor a William.” When Bazaine was appointed to command the Lorraine army, Mme. Adam went to see her old friend Toussenel, who had known Bazaine at the time of the Mexican expedition. “He is no soldier,” said Toussenel; “I am more of one than he. He may be a politician. He is probably not lacking in diplomacy, neither will he be above intrigue.”[175]

The hesitations and inactivity of the French army during the first days of the war filled with misgiving the Adams and their friends. “We had thought,” writes Juliette,[176] “that we could arrest the Prussian advance by throwing ourselves before the enemy with all our furia francese and our united forces. But already our troops are scattered. There are marches and countermarches, but no advance. As during the Italian war, so now, there is no unity of command.” In those days Parisians, like ourselves during the present war, were troubled by the lack of news. Silence, suspense, were harder to bear than anything. “A frightful silence fills the boulevard,” writes Edmond de Goncourt. “There is not a carriage to be heard, not a child’s cry of joy, and on the horizon is a Paris where sound itself seems dead.” When it did arrive the news was as bad as could be. All through August came tidings of defeat after defeat: Wissembourg [Pg 137] on the 4th; Forbach and Woerth on one day, the 6th; then, on the 9th, the fall of Ollivier and the Ministry; finally, on the 1st of September, the rout of Sedan.

On the evening of the 3rd, when about six o’clock the terrible tidings began to spread like wild-fire through Paris, people came out into the streets, crowds thronged the boulevards, growing every hour. By ten o’clock, Paris between the Rue Montmartre and the Grand Opéra presented the appearance of one immense forum. Juliette went down and mingled with the people, listening to their conversation.

Everywhere the humiliation and disgrace of France were described as unbearable. All manner of charges were brought against the Emperor. Napoléon was said to have surrendered, not himself alone, but the munitions of the army. His own personal baggage, however, that long train of wagons encumbering the march of his soldiers, which had won for him the nickname of Empereur Colis (Luggage Emperor), he had saved from the hands of the enemy.[177]

“The Prussians will be at Laon to-morrow, and in three days before Paris,” murmured one. “Wherever you look it is ruin. Our last army has capitulated. We are a nation no longer. We are nothing but a troop of prisoners.”

“Down with the Empire!” shouted hundreds of voices. All the hatred of the crowd at first focussed on Buonaparte, then it turned against the Corps Legislatif, the Parliament, which had voted this accursed war, and by its baseness had consummated the national disaster. The Chamber had been hastily convoked, and at midnight it was still sitting. “We must march against it and turn it out,” howled the crowd. But on the point of falling in for this purpose there was a hesitation. “What should be the rallying cry?” Parisians more than any other people in the world have ever been dominated by fine and appropriate words. And it was perfectly characteristic of the Paris mob that it found itself incapable of proceeding until it should have discovered le mot juste, the rallying cry, which should lead it like a banner.

“Down with the Corps Legislatif?” was suggested.

“No! No!”

“Long live the Republic?”

“No, it is too soon for that.”

“Vive la France?”

[Pg 138]

“No, that is too well known.”

“Death to the Prussians?”

“Better wait for that.”

But suddenly the crowd found the word, a word which indicated the tenor of the Revolution which was to follow: a word which like a ray of light was to conciliate a hundred opinions, to gather into one collective act a hundred individual energies, a simple, powerful, irresistible, sonorous word, the voice of the people pronouncing the people’s sentence upon that imperial régime, which, for close on a score of years, had been preparing the ruin of France; the word was déchéance (dethronement). To the refrain of that word scanned thus—Dé—ché—ance, and sung to the refrain of Les Lampions, the crowd thronged westward on to the Place de la Bastille, to awake that revolutionary quarter, the Faubourg Saint Antoine, asleep for twenty years. Then back again it surged on to the boulevards, there to deliberate and to postpone the attack on the Corps Legislatif until the morrow, Sunday.

In the small hours of that Sabbath morning Juliette from her window watched the boulevards emptying, the people going home, but not to sleep. Lights in the windows announced a vigil—la veillée des larmes.

“Il semble”, writes Mme. Adam, “que sous chaque toit un malade est à toute extrêmité et qu’on passe la nuit à son chevet. Ce malade c’est La France à l’agonie.”[178]

The 4th of September dawned resplendent, an ideal autumn day. “The sun shines to-day,” writes Juliette in her diary.[179] “It is the people’s sun. There is no fear of rain damping our patriotism.”[180]

In this diary, which she kept for her daughter, who was away in Normandy, staying near Granville with her grandparents, Mme. Adam, as they passed, described the events of those memorable hours. By ten o’clock all Paris was in the streets, thronging towards the Place de la Concorde and the bridge leading to the Chambre des Députés, where the members of the Corps Legislatif were to meet at twelve o’clock. [Pg 139] Meanwhile, as the surging crowd outside grew larger and larger and more and more clamant, in the smoking-room of the House of Representatives perplexed deputies were vainly seeking some new form of government to replace the Empire. They were hurriedly turning over pages describing those numerous constitutional experiments which France had been trying since the Great Revolution; between the Palais Legislatif and the Palais des Tuileries, where the Empress was on the point of flight, all the time despairing ministers were hurrying to and fro. To Thiers’ house on the Place St. Georges the dying Mérimée was dragging himself to entreat, on behalf of a woman and her son, the intervention of le petit grand homme on whose wisdom every one counted.

Mme. Adam, from her place of vantage in a corner of the bridge close to the balustrade and the great lamps, listened to the talk which surged around her. Some wanted a republic, others feared that a republic would mean a revolution. With the fire of republicanism burning in her own heart like a religion, Juliette felt moved to intervene in what she describes as her first public speech.

“The Republic,” she exclaimed, “is not decreed, it is made, it is born of yourselves. It represents the highest degree of courage, of intelligence, of activity, of expansion to which a nation can attain. If society be a magnified edition of individuals, then the Republic is the result of our noblest actions, a living assemblage of our broadest and most progressive duties, rights and interests. Henceforth no social malady, no monarchical canker shall kill it. Then long live the Republic.”[181]

“My pathos,” writes Mme. Adam, “was not without its success. But my chief delight was to hear repeated around me by thousands of voices: Vive la République.

From twelve till three, while ministers were deliberating and Eugénie de Montijo was escaping from her Palace, the mob continued to surge round the Chambre des Députés.

At half-past three the deputies heard the crashing noise of doors being broken open: the crowd had invaded the Chamber. But, like Charles I, the Parisians found that the birds had flown; no ministers were present, there were only a few deputies of the left. Among them was Gambetta. He vainly tried to address the mob. But even that [Pg 140] resonant voice could not obtain a hearing. Amidst cries of “Where are the ministers?” he was howled down. And it was not until the ministers had reappeared, and the President of the Chamber, M. Schneider, from his official seat, had reminded the people of the danger threatening them, with the enemy barely one hundred miles away, that there was something like order. The ministers, fearing the violence of the mob, stayed but a brief space in the Chamber. After their departure, Gambetta entered the tribune and declared that Louis Napoléon Buonaparte and his dynasty had for ever ceased to reign in France.

Forthwith, at the invitation of another deputy of the left, Jules Favre, the crowd followed Favre himself and Gambetta to the Hôtel de Ville. There at half-past four the Republic was proclaimed and the Government of National Defence declared. Its President was General Trochu, Governor of Paris and Minister of War. Of the fourteen members, all deputies either for Paris or the department of Seine, nine were the Adams’ personal friends. Gambetta was Minister of the Interior, Ernest Picard of Finance, Jules Simon of Education, Jules Favre of Foreign Affairs, Dorian of Public Works. Garnier-Pagès, Pelletan, Emmanuel Arago and Rochefort were all ministers without portfolios.[182] When the Revolution broke out Rochefort was in prison on a charge of high treason, based on his attacks on the Empire in his paper La Lanterne. On the afternoon of the 4th, he was liberated by the crowd and brought in triumph to the Hôtel de Ville.

“The end of that day was splendid,” writes Juliette.[183] “A fresh breeze blew from the old river of Paris on to the assembled multitude. Once again the Hôtel de Ville had become le Louvre superbe des révolutions. The last rays of the setting sun gilded that people’s palace, played upon its windows, causing them to sparkle with a brilliance far surpassing the glitter of all the diamonds in the imperial crown.”

The Revolution had passed without the shedding of a drop of blood, without a single deed of violent disorder. The forecast of a working man, whom Juliette had overheard that afternoon, had come true. “Ah, well!” he [Pg 141] had exclaimed, looking round on the crowd,[184] “we are all here—we, the robbers, les partageux, the assassins! Here we are on this fine Sunday. And there will be no robbery and no assassination.... Every one is pleased, even the omnibus company; for not one of their ‘buses has been held up and they have not lost a threepence.”

Indeed, there was universal rejoicing. Confidence and determination shone on all faces. Old friends met in the street and embraced one another. The fall of that oppressive régime established on the 2nd of December brought intense relief. On the day after the Revolution, George Sand wrote to Mme. Adam from Nohant a letter of fervent rejoicing: “Quelle grande chose,” she exclaims, “quelle belle journée au milieu de tant de désastres! Je n’espérais pas cette victoire de la liberté sans résistance.”[185] Even with the enemy advancing to their gates Parisians breathed again, realising that henceforth it was for la patrie and not for a dynasty that they would fight.

Search as we will among the numerous records of those memorable hours, penned by those who lived through them, we shall find none describing more vividly than these forty pages of Mme. Adam’s Souvenirs, the talk, the incidents and the movements of that vast crowd, thronging the Paris streets, all swayed by the excitement of a revolution. For la grande Française, as Mme. Adam was later to be called, never lives more intensely than when in a crowd. “Je vis d’une autre existence dès que je me mèle à la foule,” she writes.[186]

The gladness of that September evening, however, was but a rift in the clouds now rapidly enveloping Paris. The Prussians were expected to reach the capital on Thursday, the 8th of September. They did not arrive until the 19th. In the interval, Mme. Adam took a hasty night journey to Granville, in order that Alice might have a glimpse of her mother before she was shut up in the besieged city. After waiting five hours in a queue at the Gare Montparnasse, she obtained tickets for herself and her maid, and caught one of the few trains running. Adam feared that she might not be able to return. But after spending a few hours with her family, whom she was not to see again for many months, she tore herself away and entered the Paris train, which was said to be the last. Indeed, whether it would continue as far [Pg 142] as Paris seemed doubtful. Juliette and her maid, who, with three fellow-travellers and a dog, were the only passengers bound for that destination, were, however, promised by the driver that, if compelled to abandon his train, he would take them on his engine into Paris. This was unnecessary, for, to the immense joy of Adam, who had almost ceased to hope for his wife’s return, the whole train steamed into the Gare Montparnasse.

This was on the 11th of September. During the following days Juliette was busy stocking her larder ready for the siege.

“Je vais, je trotte, pour compléter mes provisions,” she writes. “Il faut tant de choses! Tout peut manquer a un moment donné, jusqu’au sel, jusqu’au poivre, jusqu’à la moutarde. Je déploie dans mes recherches tout mon génie domestique. Je ne rève que mouton d’Australie, Liebig, jambon, légumes Chollet, épicerie, comestibles. Mes poches, ma robe, mes bas, mes mains, sont toujours encombrés quand je rentre. Si je découvre une conserve nouvelle, je rève à l’étonnement qu’elle causera dans trois mois, aux amis que j’inviterai à la manger! Verrai-je des héros surgir dans mon entourage: au lieu de leur tresser des, d’orner leur maison de guirlandes, je leur offrirai une bouteille de jeunes carottes confites, un sac de choux frisés: il faut qu mon héros ait accompli les plus grands exploits pour que je lui présente un fromage tête de mort de Hollande.”[187]

All Juliette’s friends were similarly employed. “Le fanatisme de la provision nous possède tous!” she exclaims, on meeting a Member of Parliament loaded with boxes of sardines.

Having furnished her larder, Mme. Adam next volunteered to nurse the wounded, who were pouring into Paris. Her father’s lessons in anatomy, her grandfather’s lessons in the dressing of wounds, now stood her in good stead. She was appointed to install in the Conservatoire de Musique a private hospital with fifty beds. Henceforth the provisioning and equipping of this hospital and the others which she organised later became her chief concern. “I hold out my hand to every one; I beg, I write, I do everything to get money,” she says. It was a grand day when the hospital workers, well provided with bags, bottles and baskets, were permitted to penetrate into the Tuileries, now [Pg 143] given back to the nation, and to replenish their stores from the imperial larder. Lists had been made out of the viands to which each hospital was entitled: macaroni for the Conservatoire de Musique, sausages for the Picpus Hospital, kidney beans for the Théâtre français, oil for the Grand Orient, jam for all.

In connection with the Conservatoire Hospital, Mme. Adam organised a workroom where the wives, mothers and daughters of the men who were fighting, instead of staying at home and eating their hearts out with anxiety, could meet together, and, while sewing for the wounded, encourage one another and sympathise with one another’s sufferings.

Edmond Adam was a member of the Government Committee appointed to investigate the condition of the general hospitals. This he found so lamentable, that in many instances, owing to the infection of wards and operating theatres, amputation cases had no chance of recovery.

Despite the difficulties and dangers which beset her on every hand, Mme. Adam’s heart burned with a courage and a hope, which her friend, George Sand, appreciated to the full, when she wrote to her from Nohant on the 15th of September.[188] “Vous êtes généreusement exaltée par un peril prochain et défini.” This was one of the last letters Mme. Adam received before the gates of Paris were closed.


[163] See ante, 99.

[164] Ibid., 118.

[165] Souvenirs, III. 349 et seq.

[166] Souvenirs, III. 448.

[167] Souvenirs, III. 464.

[168] Ibid., 409.

[169] Ibid., 470.

[170] For Mme. Adam’s description of the grim incident which occurred at his funeral, see Souvenirs, V. 66.

[171] Grant Duff in Notes from a Diary, September 1864.

[172] Souvenirs, III. 471.

[173] Ibid., 468.

[174] Ibid., 471.

[175] Ibid., 470.

[176] Ibid., 473.

[177] Souvenirs, IV. 2.

[178] Souvenirs, IV. 7.

[179] This diary, first published in Le Rappel, was afterwards embodied in the series of Mme. Adam’s Souvenirs, of which it constitutes the fourth volume, entitled Mes Illusions et nos Souffrances pendant le siège de Paris.

[180] To Edmond de Goncourt (Journal under September 4, 1870) the 4th of September seemed a “grey day.” Jules Favre, Gouvernement de la Défense Nationale, I. 64, writes, “la journée ... se leva tiède et radieuse.”

[181] Souvenirs, IV. 23.

[182] For the complete list of members of the Government, see Jules Favre, Gouvernement de la Défense Nationale, I. 89.

[183] Souvenirs, IV. 40.

[184] Souvenirs, IV. 30.

[185] George Sand, Correspondance, VI. 29.

[186] Souvenirs, IV. 244.

[187] Souvenirs, IV. 62.

[188] Correspondance de George Sand, VI. 34.

[Pg 144]



September 19, 1870-January 28, 1871

“Ce caractère parisien, qu’on peut aujourd’hui résumer en un seul mot: héroïsme?.”—Mme. Adam, Souvenirs, December 7, 1870.

“At present,” said Mme. Adam to a friend on the 27th of September, 1870, “we have barely endured ten days of siege. And I will wager that in three months I shall not be any more disgusted with it than I am at present.”[189]

Juliette won her bet, for during the first three months of the siege she bore her sufferings cheerfully and without flinching. And even during the fourth month, though her health broke down, her courage did not fail.

During those interminable four months the two million souls cooped up in Paris knew every misery which has ever fallen to the lot of the besieged: internal discontent and disorder, resulting in the abortive revolution of the 31st of October; extreme scarcity of food and munitions of war for nearly three weeks, the 20th of December until the 8th of January; complete isolation from the rest of France and from the whole outer world.[190] To these sufferings, which Juliette shared with her fellow-citizens, was added her personal anxiety for her daughter’s safety. She did not even know where her daughter was. She hoped that Alice, with her grandparents, had succeeded in crossing to Jersey; for the Prussians were said to have invaded Normandy. But for many a long week, from the 19th of September until the 20th of December, no news came. Juliette endured this agony of suspense with fortitude. Then at length, through Mme. de Pierreclos, came tidings that Alice was well and with her grandparents at St. Helier. Straightway Juliette’s motherly mind flies at once to other anxious parents in the besieged city who are still [Pg 145] without news of their children. For all through those days of horror Mme. Adam’s heart never ceased to beat in unison with the hearts of her fellow-sufferers, to bleed with their sorrows, to throb with their anxieties and their fears. Living thus in constant communion with her neighbours, she was able to depict graphically in her journal the perpetual ebb and flow of public feeling and opinion: now it was confident and hopeful, now foreboding and doubtful, but never, not even in the ghastly days of the end, completely conquered by despair. Throughout, with the exception of the actual days of bombardment, the comic spirit, Juliette’s inseparable friend, never forsook her; and, while feeling to the tragic point the sufferings of others, she was able to joke about her own sorrows and privations.

Next to her separation from Alice, the hardest to bear of her personal trials during the siege was being compelled to leave her flat in the Boulevard Poissonnière. On the 11th of October, Adam having been appointed Prefect of Police, he and his wife had to take up their abode in the Préfecture.

In the halls and corridors of that gloomy building, what hours of weary waiting for a passport’s stamping have not many of us endured during this war-time! We can well sympathise, therefore, with Mme. Adam’s horror at the idea of spending not hours only, but days, weeks and months within the Préfecture’s lugubrious portals. We can understand her grief at being obliged to exchange her cheerful flat, her “dovecot” on the Boulevard Poissonnière, for l’affreuse prison in the Rue de Jérusalem.

To any one with her vivid imagination it was a perfect nightmare merely to watch the going and coming of the prison-vans, lumbering into the courtyard of La Sainte Chapelle, and to hear the cries of “No. 1 for Mazas, No. 2 for Ste. Pélagie.”[191]

It was during her residence in the Préfecture that occurred that insurrection of the 31st of October which proved a premonition of the Commune. The popular discontent with the Government, and especially with its President, General Trochu, who was also Governor of Paris, had been growing for some weeks. It was brought to a head by the news that Le Bourget, one of the forts [Pg 146] outside the capital, which had been captured from the Prussians on the 28th of October, had been retaken on the 29th. On the 30th, Mme. Adam, on her way to her hospital from a concert in the Cirque Pas de Loup, found the boulevard in an almost revolutionary ferment. The people were exclaiming: “We do not demand successes, but we will not have defeats resulting from our general’s frivolity, carelessness and incapacity.”[192] Later in the evening, when the time came for Juliette to return home, she found the tumult had increased. As she pressed her way through the crowd she felt its sentiments possessing her. “My sorrows mingled with theirs,” she writes, “my patriotism with their patriotism.”

As soon as she saw Adam she warned him of the state of Paris. But he knew it better than she, and her warning was unnecessary. There was a dinner-party at the Préfecture that evening. Both at table and afterwards in her salon, the guests, among whom was Rochefort, complained as loudly as the crowd of the Government’s incapacity. Every one found fault with the mismanagement which had resulted in the loss of Le Bourget. Rochefort and Adam were obliged to leave to attend a Cabinet meeting,[193] held to receive the report of Thiers, who had just returned from an official visit to the Great Powers on the subject of an armistice. Adam did not come back to the Préfecture until three o’clock in the morning.

The news that he brought was of the gravest. The Prefect of the Police placed no reliance whatever on the repeated assurances of the Governor of Paris that he would maintain order. Juliette had long since lost all faith in that polished, placid person, of whom every one said, c’est un homme très distingué. She would have preferred an energetic corporal.[194] She had no faith in the famous “plan.” It had never been confided to any one; but already it was being ridiculed by the besieged in the following couplets, sung up and down Paris streets—

[Pg 147]

“Je sais le plan de Trochu,
Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan.
Mon Dieu! quel beau plan!
Je sais le plan de Trochu;
Grâce à lui rien n’est perdu!
Quand sur du beau papier blanc,
Il eut écrit son affaire,
Il alla porter son plan
Chez maître Ducloux, notaire—
C’est là, qu’est l’plan de Trochu,
Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan.
Mon Dieu! quel beau plan!
C’est là, qu’est l’plan de Trochu;
Grâce à lui rien n’est perdu!”

Most happily, as it turned out, Adam had resolved on taking his own measures in order to guard peaceful citizens from the forces of violence and disorder. He depended on the Gardes Mobiles, recruited in the provinces. The Garde Nationale could not be trusted. It would probably side with the populace. And a parade of regular troops would only irritate the malcontents.

M. Thiers, after the Cabinet meeting, had taken Adam apart and confided to him his fear that the mob, furious against Thiers for his attempt to negotiate an armistice, might attack his house on the Place St. Georges and endanger the lives of his old, faithful servants. Adam promised to have the house guarded. And he now requested Juliette in case of danger to bring his friend’s servants into the Préfecture.

Neither sleep nor rest was possible for the Préfet de Police that night: reports from various parts of Paris were coming in every moment.

Between seven and eight in the morning Adam brought his wife the official newspaper L’Officiel. It contained three items of news, as little calculated as might be to calm the effervescence of the Parisian populace. It announced the capitulation of Metz and the possibility of an armistice, and it confirmed what had only been rumoured the day before, the Prussian capture of Le Bourget.

The Prefect went off at once to consult Trochu as to the measures for controlling the manifestation of popular fury which would be sure to greet these disastrous announcements. He found the general, as usual, irresolute—one moment proclaiming that the Government nominated by [Pg 148] public opinion must find therein its only support, the next declaring that a hostile manifestation must be met by a deployment of all the forces at the Government’s disposition. Determining to give his own interpretation to such contradictory instructions, Adam assembled twenty battalions of the Garde Nationale to defend the Hôtel de Ville. Thither he himself went about one o’clock. Juliette did not see him again until six. Overcome with restlessness and apprehension, Mme. Adam spent the afternoon with some friends at Romainville Fort, whence could be seen the lost Le Bourget. Returning through Belleville about four o’clock, they found the suburb in a state of extreme agitation. Angry crowds thronged the streets, vociferating loudly: “We won’t have an armistice. All our men must engage. Rather blow up Paris than surrender.”[195]

Round the Hôtel de Ville the crowd was so dense that it was impossible for the carriage to pass. Alighting, Juliette mingled with the people and asked, “What was happening?” The replies she received were so contradictory that she could learn nothing. From the windows of the Hôtel de Ville lists were being thrown out, containing the names, curiously assorted, of those who were being proposed for the new Government: on one list were Victor Hugo, Louis Blanc, Ledru-Rollin, Delescluze; on another, Blanqui, Delescluze, Flourens, Félix Peyrat. Every list contained the name of Dorian, an intimate friend of the Adams, the highly popular and capable Minister of Public Works. On one paper was written merely Commune décrétée, Dorian président.[196] Mingling in that self-same crowd were other distinguished diarists of the siege: Labouchère, then Paris correspondent for the Daily News, and Edmond de Goncourt, both of whom observed that list-making. De Goncourt saw workmen in round hats inscribing in pencil on thick writing-pads a list which was being dictated to them.[197] He caught the names of Blanqui, Flourens, Ledru-Rollin and Motte. “That will do now,” cried a workman in a blouse. And de Goncourt next found himself in a group of women timorously talking of the distribution of goods.

[Pg 149]

Up in the Hôtel de Ville, already invaded by the mob, were deliberating, in one room, the mayors of Paris, and in another the Government of National Defence.[198]

Where was her husband? was naturally Mme. Adam’s chief concern. Following a company of Gardes Nationaux, she penetrated through a little side door into the courtyard of the Hôtel de Ville. There she saw Gustave Flourens on horseback. He was a Revolutionist designated by one of the lists as leader of the Commune.

“Ce pauvre Gustave, brave garçon, mais un enfant,” murmured at her side a man who, perspiring freely and breathing deeply, like one who had been hustled in a crowd, seemed just to have escaped from the riot upstairs.

“You come from above, sir?” asked Mme. Adam. “What is going on there?”

“Everything is for the best, my little lady,” he replied. “Blanqui is proclaimed Dictator of the Commune.”

Juliette longed to ask about her husband. But she was afraid. She only dared to inquire—

“How about Dorian?”

“What would you have, madame? He himself replied to us, saying, ‘I refuse to preside over the Commune. I am no politician. I found cannon, and, in my opinion, this is a time when the country stands more in need of cannons than of insurrections!’”

“Fine words,” exclaimed Juliette.

“Yes, madame; take them away with you,” was the rejoinder.

Hoping that Adam had returned to the Préfecture, Juliette made her way home, but only to find her husband still absent. He returned, however, at half-past six. Only a few minutes before, his wife had heard from the lips of a friendly National Guard the news of her husband’s arrest and of his escape, which he owed to the good offices of the news-bearer. The Prefect had only a few minutes to stay. His wife spoke of dinner. He would not hear of it. He had come to take measures for the defence of the Préfecture. Those measures the events of that black, starless night proved to be only too necessary.[199]

But they must be read in Mme. Adam’s Souvenirs; for [Pg 150] the limits of this volume require us to pass over them and to hasten on to record briefly the agreement which, by the intervention of Adam and his friend Dorian, was arrived at in the small hours of the morning. Standing in a narrow staircase of the Hôtel de Ville, with the angry riflemen of the Commune above him, and the treacherous National Guards below, the Prefect conducted a parley. This intervention, seconded by the negotiations which Dorian in an upper room was carrying on between the Government and the Revolutionists, resulted in the signing of a convention.

By this agreement[200] the Government promised three things: first, to hold municipal elections on the following day; second, political elections on the day after; third, not to prosecute the leaders of the insurrection.

After the signing of this agreement, Adam, having, with considerable difficulty, secured the evacuation of the Hôtel de Ville by the invaders and the re-establishment of order, returned to the Préfecture at half-past five on the morning of November 1st.

Barely had the Prefect thrown himself on his bed and begun to enjoy the sleep which for two nights had been denied him, when his wife, who was writing in the adjoining room, heard her husband’s bedroom door violently opened. This early morning visitor was a member of the Government, M. Picard, who came to demand the arrest of the rebel leaders. Picard and certain of his colleagues, who had contrived to escape from the besieged Hôtel de Ville, and who were, therefore, absent at the time of the Convention’s signing, refused to hold themselves responsible for it. Adam, however, rather than break his pledged word, sent in his resignation. Negotiations continued throughout the day. The Prefect was implored to reconsider his decision; but he was deaf to all entreaties. His wife, who was lunching with Mme. Dorian when she first heard the news of her husband’s resignation, thoroughly approved of his action, deploring the treachery of the Government and its inevitably disastrous effect upon the people.

[Pg 151]

The question arose as to what should be the attitude of Dorian himself. He, as well as Adam, had undertaken that the leaders of the insurrection should go free. He, like Adam, was a man of unimpeachable honour. But his position was somewhat different. As Minister of Public Works he was entrusted with the all-important task of providing with munitions the army defending Paris. In his exercise of this function he had displayed marvellous ingenuity, energy and organising power. He had transformed the goldsmiths of Paris into engineers. He had commandeered every possible assistance. He had seemed to create guns out of nothing.[201]

“Twenty thousand shells are to-day being turned out,” wrote Mme. Adam, “in a city where, according to the Ministry of War, all the materials for munitions were exhausted.”

Here was Dorian, the right man in the right place: a minister who, if his colleagues had only possessed half his brains and energy, might possibly have saved Paris. What was he to do? His dignity dictated resignation. But though modesty itself, he was not blind to his own worth. He knew what he and he alone could do for his country, and for the country he cared far more than for his personal dignity. That day at lunch his wife, his son, and his beautiful daughter, Aline Dorian, one of the most ardent of patriots, and his daughter’s husband, Paul Ménard, all entreated him to resign.[202] With tears in his eyes and without the slightest hesitation, he replied: “When I left my home and my foundries to come to Paris, I was prepared for every sacrifice. When I consented to enter the Government of Defence, I vowed to the Republic’s service my fortune, my life, and yours, Ménard, and yours, Charles. You tell me that I ought to reserve my honour. I do not consider that my honour is in question. Rather it is the honour of others which is at stake. It is my dignity that is attacked. I feel it. Nevertheless I will go so far as to make that sacrifice. I have carved out my own part in the national task which [Pg 152] we are all performing. I found cannon. If I ceased to do so, then I am persuaded not another cannon, not a single bullet more would be manufactured.”

Dorian continued in office. Adam, as we have said, resigned; and after three weeks’ residence in her prison house, Juliette awoke on the morning of the 3rd of November to find herself back again in her “dovecot” of the Boulevard Poissonnière.

One of the privations of her sojourn across the water had been that she saw less of her friends. The Rue de Jérusalem was too far out of their beat. Now, sauntering along the boulevard, coming away from dinner at Brébant’s opposite, the Adams’ friends had only to climb their staircase on Wednesday or Friday evenings to find them at home and surrounded by interesting friends. Of this restored privilege the former frequenters of Mme. Adam’s salon were not slow to avail themselves. “Ah! que le salon du Boulevard Poissonnière est autrement fréquenté que celui de la Préfecture,” exclaims Juliette. On the 8th of November she writes: “This evening we have the whole Dorian family, for whom our friendship increases every day, also Eugène Pelletan, Rochefort, who had resigned after the 31st of October, Chenevard and Louis Blanc.”

As the siege dragged on and viands grew scarcer and scarcer, Mme. Adam was often hard put to it to provide dinners for her guests. They were dîners de guerre, which, of course, means guère de dîner.

“I invited our friends to dinner,” writes Mme. Adam on the 23rd of December. “But our dinners are now veritable picnics.” Jourdan, a well-known journalist, provided the butter, Peyrat the last box of Albert plums in Paris, another guest a little box of kidney beans, yet another had sent the joint—it was part of an interesting cow which for two months had been stabled in a salon. A few weeks later such a luxury as beef became quite unknown. Juliette for her New Year’s dinner-party considered herself lucky to be able to put before her friends a joint of elephant. It was part of the famous Castor from the Jardins d’Acclimation. The trunk of Castor’s twin, Pollux, which an English butcher of the Boulevard Haussman had temptingly displayed in a setting of camel kidneys, helped to furnish forth the war dinner-tables of Labouchère [Pg 153] and Edmond de Goncourt. The Daily News correspondent found it tough and oily, une pièce de résistance, but not in the usual sense of the term.

The sufferings of the rich, however, were as nothing compared with those of the poor. They were aggravated by the severity of the winter and the scarcity of fuel. Guards on the Paris ramparts were found frozen stiff.[203] Well-dressed women were to be seen carrying bundles of faggots along the street, or bearing home in triumph the hoop of a cask.

Walking along the Rue St. Honoré, Juliette was terrified to see a man fall down before her; he had fainted, and was on the point of dying of starvation. Mme. Adam learned that he was a whipmaker, whose occupation had forsaken him at a time when carriage-horses fetched a high price as a table delicacy. That day Juliette became possessed of a stock of whips large enough to furnish forth all the chariots of the Olympic Festival.

“When my portion of horseflesh is tough,” she writes,[204] “I try to console myself with the thought that it is part of one of those poor skeletons I used to see beaten almost to death along the streets. When the meat is fat and tender I am always afraid it comes from one of those fine dapple greys belonging to the Western Railway Line, which you, Alice, loved to watch ascending the slight incline of the Boulevard Poissonnière.”

The fortitude with which all classes in Paris endured the hardships of the siege Juliette is never tired of extolling. “Not a woman complains,” she writes. “The prevailing idea is devotion to la patrie. C’est une si grande chose que la patrie quand on y pense,” exclaimed a working man whom she met in the street.

Of course there were ugly scenes: ferocity resulting from the pangs of hunger, wild lawlessness arising from the relaxation of the bonds of family discipline in a time of so much distress. Juliette, with an idealist’s determination in an hour of heroic struggle to see only what is best in her fellow-men, passes lightly over such incidents, leaving them for de Goncourt’s more realistic pen. She was even prepared to condone drunkenness, because it frequently arose from scarcity of food.[205] Nevertheless, she [Pg 154] cannot refrain from remonstrating with an intoxicated National Guard. “I cannot bear to see a citizen of the Republic drunk,” she exclaimed. “The Republic! ... a citizen! ... no, I will never get tipsy again,” hiccuped the drunkard.[206]

The artists, the actors and actresses of Paris were among those who laboured hardest at doing their bit. “You would expect it of them,” writes Mme. Adam. They had been so far from becoming Buonapartiste. And she relates how Mme. Sarah Bernhardt, who had organised a hospital in the Odéon Theatre, se conduit en femme de grand cœur.

Juliette herself, by her untiring efforts to alleviate distress, won for herself the title of Notre Dame de Bon Secours. Besides having billeted on her three recruits from Auvergne, she nursed back to health in her flat a wounded convalescent soldier, and later, during the bombardment, she gave harbourage to a poor girl who had fled in panic from the outskirts of the city.

Much of Mme. Adam’s time was occupied in organising and directing two societies, L’Œuvre des Fourneaux, which provided the poor with cheap meals, and L’Œuvre du Travail des Femmes, destined to help poor sempstresses by enabling them to possess sewing-machines of their own.

With amazing endurance, though racked by her old enemies neuralgia and rheumatism, Mme. Adam kept up her energy and her spirits. For nine years she had been accustomed to spend the winter in the south. In November 1870 she had written: “In normal days we should now be preparing to go to Bruyères.” But, alas! for her there was to be no southern sunshine that winter. Such a deprivation alone could naturally not fail to tell upon her health. Then came, on the 2nd of December, the terrible disappointment of Champigny, the sortie which had raised so many hopes only to dash them to the ground. But it was not until January that Juliette was driven to admit to herself that she was ill and must stay in bed. The bombardment of Paris had begun on the 6th of January. It continued for a nightmare of three weeks.

As early as the 7th of November, Nefftzer, at no time a prophet of smooth things, had foretold the bombardment. [Pg 155] He predicted that bombs might fall even on the centre of Paris, probably on the Institute.

“Am I afraid?” Juliette had written in her diary under that date.

“Well, no. Why should I fear a bombardment? The quarters not struck and not likely to be must receive the unfortunate inhabitants of those that are. As for the houses! By my faith! so much the worse for them! I would willingly sacrifice my own and a hundred others if it would enable us to hold out two days longer.”[207]

The bombardment was less imminent than the editor of the Temps had thought. When it began on the 6th of January, it took the Parisians by surprise. The invaders, with a disregard of international law to which we in these latter days have grown accustomed, omitted to give the usual warning. “Oh, the barbarians,” cries Juliette. “More than three thousand bombs have fallen round the Jardin des Plantes and the Luxembourg.... Several persons have been killed in their beds.... Many flew into a panic, and, instead of seeking refuge in cellars, rushed out into the streets, where they were killed.”[208]

Nevertheless, the courage of the Parisians did not waver.... “If the European capitals,” writes Mme. Adam, “ask how Paris, the gay, the light-hearted, the witty, takes this bombardment, let them know Paris is proud to be bombarded! Let them look at her, let them behold her calm, courageous, and let them try to emulate her.”[209]

Experts pronounced the bombardment to be unheard-of in its violence and fury. The Prussians appeared to be using up all their siege ammunitions in this final coup. Forty thousand kilogrammes of powder were said to have been fired on the plateau of Avron alone. The noise was infernal. The tumult and the cold together were maddening. “Impossible,” wrote Mme. Adam after an interval of a week, “to sleep, to rest even for a moment. Parisians have not slept for ten days. The bombardment is fearful. How glad I am that I sent my daughter away!”

A gleam of hope came to the besieged when, on the 18th of January, another attempt was made at a sortie, and when, on the following day, came the news that all was going well, that Montretout had been taken, that the Prussians had been everywhere repulsed.

[Pg 156]

“All Paris at three o’clock in the afternoon was out on the boulevards and in the Champs Elysées. The Garde Nationale was said to be fighting magnificently, and already to have entered the Buzenval Park. Then suddenly the appearance of a startling placard cast down from the heights of sanguine anticipation into the depths of black despair the spirits of that hopeful and expectant crowd. Trochu announced that the attack had been abandoned. Instead of declaring a victory he referred to an armistice, and demanded that every cab remaining in Paris should be sent out to bring in the wounded. Groans escaped from every breast.

“Another enterprise, elaborately prepared, inefficiently executed, miserably terminated,” exclaims Mme. Adam. Indeed, an identical description might be given of every sortie since the opening of the siege.

The talk of capitulation which now began to circulate was unendurable to Juliette and to those who, like her, had come to be nicknamed les à l’Outrance (to the bitter end). “Never,” she writes, “during all the cruellest trials of these last months, have I suffered more than at this moment.”[210]

All Paris and the twenty mayors of Paris and the Garde Nationale were of Mme. Adam’s way of thinking: they also were les à l’Outrance; they preferred death to surrender. “If the Prussians dare to defile down our boulevards,” writes Juliette, “I believe we shall do as the Russians did in Moscow.... Death is twenty times less cruel than the degradation of la patrie.”[211]

The Paris mayors, convoked by the Government to receive the announcement that further resistance was impossible, declared they were ready to die. They preferred the horrors of famine to the humiliation of surrender.[212]

Many of the terrors of famine the Parisians had already endured. They had already suffered the pangs of hunger. But those that awaited them, should this heroic recommendation be adopted, would be unspeakably more horrible. “The men who speak thus,” wrote Favre in his last dispatch to Gambetta,[213] “still eat. They endure misery; but they do just contrive to maintain life. On the day, and that day is imminent, when they have nothing [Pg 157] but horseflesh, not even bread, the death-rate, now terribly high, will become too horrible.”

On the 21st of January one of the Adams’ friends announced in their salon that the food in Paris could not hold out for longer than two days. That was an exaggeration. Juliette maintained that it could last for fifteen. Jules Favre informed Gambetta that it might be made to suffice for ten.[214]

Had there been any chance of the capital’s deliverance by one of the armies which Gambetta had been organising in the provinces, then the Government might have been justified in holding out a few days longer, but the last hope of such a deliverance had faded when General Chanzy had been defeated on the 11th.

Nevertheless Juliette, dragging herself from her sick-bed out into the bitter January cold, spent the 21st visiting first one, than another, in the forlorn hope of inspiring some concerted anti-surrender movement.

“I have passed a horrible night,” she wrote on the 24th, “obsessed by hallucinations. The Republic, our France, taking to itself form and visage, appeared and spoke to me, called me....”[215]

“The Officiel this morning insults our grief. What! Our hearts are bleeding! ... the whole population of Paris is in despair, in tears!... And yet not a word, not a groan, not a cry escapes from the breasts of those who govern us. Would not M. Picard[216] and M. Vinoy[217] permit it?”

The armistice involving the surrender of Paris was signed on the 28th of January. The bombardment had ceased on the 26th. “Would that I could die at this hour,” wrote Mme. Adam.[218]


[189] Souvenirs, IV. 88.

[190] Sarcey, Le Siège de Paris, Eng. trans., 250.

[191] Souvenirs, IV. 143.

[192] Souvenirs, IV. 150.

[193] The Government usually met in the evening at nine o’clock, and the sessions always continued until after midnight, sometimes till two or three in the morning. “From the 4th of September till the 8th of February we never missed a day, and often we had additional meetings,” writes Jules Favre (Gouvernement de la Défense Nationale, I. 215).

[194] Souvenirs, IV. 89.

[195] Souvenirs, IV. 161.

[196] Labouchère, A Resident besieged in Paris, 161.

[197] See de Goncourt, Journal under October 31, 1870.

[198] A vivid description of the proceedings inside the Hôtel de Ville is given by Labouchère, op. cit.

[199] Souvenirs, IV. 167-87.

[200] The Revolutionists were discontented with the Provisional Government’s regulation of municipal affairs. After the 4th of September the twenty mayors of Paris had been appointed by the Minister of the Interior, Gambetta, and the Chief Mayor, Etienne Arago.

[201] See Jules Favre, Gouvernement de la Défense Nationale, I. 300. “M. Dorian déploya la plus louable activité pour obtenir de prompts résultats. Cet excellent et digne citoyen ... était à ce moment entouré d’une immense popularité.... Il semblait personnifier la défense.

[202] Souvenirs, IV. 193.

[203] De Goncourt, Journal, December 1870.

[204] souvenirs, IV. 273.

[205] Ibid., 129.

[206] Souvenirs, IV. 119.

[207] Souvenirs, IV. 210.

[208] Ibid., 303.

[209] Ibid., 306.

[210] Souvenirs, IV. 315.

[211] Ibid., 324.

[212] Favre, op. cit., III. 342.

[213] Ibid., 345.

[214] Favre, op. cit., III. 347.

[215] Souvenirs, IV. 324.

[216] Minister of Finance. See ante, 140.

[217] Trochu, who had resigned after Buzenval, had been succeeded as Governor of Paris by General Vinoy.

[218] Mme. Adam dates the signing of the armistice on the 26th, the day when firing ceased. But by an arrangement between Favre and Bismarck the bombardment closed two days before the signing of the capitulation. See Jules Favre, Gouvernement de la Défense Nationale, II. 403.

[Pg 158]




Cette Commune qui venait de faire sombrer le Paris héroique dans le Paris sanglant et incendiaire.”—Mme. Adam, Souvenirs.

“In each human heart terror survives
The ravin it has gorged.”—Shelley, Prometheus

For five months France had been ruled by an oligarchy. The ministers who took office on the 4th of September were responsible to no parliament. No legislative body had succeeded the Corps Legislatif, the members of which, as we have seen, had unceremoniously quitted the Palais Bourbon on that autumn Sunday which saw the birth of the Government of National Defence.

But now at the conqueror’s bidding there was to be a National Assembly. A clause in the Capitulation of Paris stipulated for its election. Accordingly, throughout France, even in the departments occupied by the enemy, elections were held on the 8th of February. They resulted in the return to “Bismarck’s Parliament,” as Mme. Adam called the National Assembly which on the 12th of February met at Bordeaux, of about one hundred and eighty republicans—radicals and moderates being almost equal—of about four hundred and fifty monarchical conservatives, legitimists and Orleanists being about equal, and finally of thirty Buonapartists.[219]

“The final result of the elections,” writes Mme. Adam,[220] “is heartrending. The majority is reactionary, nominated in order to make peace. Country gentlemen and capitulards will vote it. It is the chamber Bismarck desired. He [Pg 159] assisted at its nomination. He presided over the elections. In certain towns did not the Prussians themselves distribute the voting papers on behalf of the reactionary candidates? Bismarck is determined that the war shall end. Germany has had enough of it.... Coblentz has returned under another form. Only now it is at home and not abroad that Frenchmen have made a compact with the enemy. Old valiant France is dying, is dead.”

Mme. Adam was now at Bruyères. Her husband had been nominated as candidate for a Paris constituency and for Les Alpes Maritimes. Contrary to his wife’s advice he had insisted on leaving his Paris election to look after itself while he went to Nice. He had started on the 2nd of February, leaving Juliette, as she pathetically puts it, en tête-à-tête, avec la pensée de ma pauvre chère France vaincue, mutilée, broyée.[221]

A few days after her husband’s departure, to her grief and loneliness was suddenly added the most agonising apprehension. She read in the newspaper that her husband’s train carrying twenty thousand kilos of gunpowder had been blown up. Hastily gathering together a few valuables, which, considering the disordered state of the capital, she dare not leave in Paris, she was about to start for the south, when a friend arrived with the welcome news that her husband was alive though seriously injured. A few hours later, accompanied by her dear little friend Bibi, Rochfort’s eight-year-old son, who was staying with her at the time, Mme. Adam was in the train. The journey was terrible. Constantly she was confronted with Prussian soldiers, who insisted on seeing her papers. “Ils me demandent d’un ton rude mon laissez-passer. Celui qui me le rend touche ma main. Je frissonne comme au contact d’une bête venimeuse,”[222] she writes.

Arrived at Cannes, she is disappointed to find instead of Adam at the station a note brought by the coachman, explaining that her husband’s electoral duties detained him at Nice, but that he will be home for dinner. This disappointment, at the end of a long, fatiguing journey, exasperated her. “I would have gone back to Paris at once if I could,” she writes.

And Adam, when he returned, was treated to one of those drames de famille which Juliette herself had so often witnessed [Pg 160] in her youth. The scene, as Mme. Adam describes it in her Souvenirs, might strike the reader as somewhat brutal. But one must read between the lines, and remember Juliette’s overwrought condition. Then it is easy to see how it came about; how at that moment the sight of Adam’s poor scarred face, recalling how he had been on the brink of death, would make his wife furious to think of his disregard of her entreaties and his persistence in undertaking that disastrous journey.

“How could you have gone off like that, leaving me the sole guardian of our fortune?” she cried. “Why must you insist on pursuing this visionary Nice candidature, risking failure in Paris, where, but for me and Rochefort, you would never have been elected?” Fortunately Adam thoroughly understood his wife. Realising the strain already put upon her nerves, he indulged in no self-justification, but assumed the only possible attitude—one of lamb-like submission. Nevertheless, her agitation distressed him, and two big tears coursed slowly down his lacerated face.

“I am in favour of his being pardoned,” sententiously pronounced the comical little Bibi. Bibi’s advice was taken; and “nous dînons appaisés,” writes Mme. Adam. After dinner her husband told the story of his miraculous escape.[223]

In a few days when his wounds had somewhat healed he left for Bordeaux. There the Assembly had already held its first meeting. Its initial act had been to nominate Thiers President of the Republic, or, to be more exact, chef du pouvoir executif de la République Française. In spite of his three-and-seventy years le petit bourgeois was still in the perfection of health and vigour. He could still say to the friends who gathered round him: C’est nous qui sommes encore les jeunes aujourd’hui.“ Chateaubriand used to call Thiers the ”heir of the future“ (l’héritier de l’avenir). That future had now arrived. During his retirement from public affairs in the early days of the Empire it had been prophesied of him that only a great national disaster would draw him from his obscurity. Now that the disaster had occurred, everyone turned to le petit grand homme as the only man in France capable of confronting Bismarck and facing all the growing difficulties of an almost desperate situation. It was to those difficulties [Pg 161] that the third Republic owed its proclamation. For at first sight it seems incredible that an assembly in which monarchists had a substantial majority should decree a Republic. But neither legitimists nor Orleanists desired to assume the terrible responsibilities which would obviously devolve on the new ministers: to restore the monarchy under such circumstances, when the new king’s first act would be to sign the dismemberment of France, would be to discredit for ever the monarchical régime.

Thiers, though holding himself aloof from all parties and adopting no label save one, “La France,” was said to have Orleanist leanings. That is probable. Nevertheless, he realised that only a republic was feasible, because, as he said, “it is the form of government which divides us least.”[224]

Mme. Adam, although at this time of her life she was no admirer of Thiers, refrains from inveighing against the presidency of her husband’s friend. She felt under no such constraint, however, with regard to the chief ministers of his cabinet: Jules Favre, who continued Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ernest Picard, Minister of the Interior. “Deux clairvoyances, deux compétences rares ... comme insuffisance,”[225] she writes. She knew them both well. They were both habitués of her salon. She could never forgive Favre for having negotiated the capitulation of Paris. And she is not alone in censoring the terms of that surrender. Neither our Ambassador in Paris, Lord Lyons, nor Labouchère,[226] had a high opinion of Favre’s diplomatic gifts. “He is too much led away by his feelings,” wrote Lord Lyons to Lord Granville.[227] “He is essentially an orator rather than a statesman,” was Labouchère’s opinion. “When he went to meet Bismarck at Ferrières he was fully prepared to agree to the fortresses in Alsace and Lorraine being rased; but, when he returned, the phrase ni un pouce du territoire, ni une pierre des fortresses occurred to him, and he could not refrain from complicating the situation by publishing it.”[228] M. Gabriel Hanotaux[229] [Pg 162] marvels to think how a man whose intelligence was so mediocre, whose character was so weak, could ever have risen to a position of such authority.

The historian of contemporary France also shares Mme. Adam’s opinion of the Minister of the Interior, Picard. “Bourgeois de Paris, homme gras et de teint fleuri, orateur élégant et fin, esprit sceptique et dépris, il savait trouver de mots heureux,” is M. Hanotaux’s description of the new Home Secretary.[230]Il ne vise qu’aux mots d’esprit,”[231] writes Mme. Adam.

Jules Grévy, the eminent lawyer, who was now President of the New Chamber, had in the days of her matrimonial difficulties been Juliette’s guide, counsellor and friend, placing at her disposal all that sagesse pondérée, that finesse matoise,[232] with which this ideal bourgeois was so plentifully endowed. When she had first met him in Mme. d’Agoult’s salon, Grévy, like herself, was a republican abstentioniste, detached from any participation in the hated imperial régime. Mme. Adam had never forgiven him for abandoning that position, for yielding to Ollivier’s persuasions and entering the Corps Legislatif as one of the famous “five,” the first republicans to take the oath of allegiance to the Empire. “For me, henceforth,” she said to Adam, “Grévy is no longer a man whose political honour is intact.”[233]

These various appointments and other news sent by Adam from Bordeaux, his wife at Bruyères discussed at length with Thiers’ old friend, her neighbour, Dr. Maure, and with M. and Mme. Arlès Dufour, who had come to cheer her loneliness. Her mornings were spent in teaching her young friend Bibi. But all the while her heart was rent by maternal as well as national anxiety. For weeks she had had no news of Alice.

“All my friends speak of my daughter,” she writes; “she will soon be with you, they assure me. And the days and the hours pass, and silence, horrible silence, weighs upon me, broken only by the wailings of my patriotic grief.”

On Sunday, the 26th of February, Thiers and Jules Favre had signed the preliminaries of peace at Versailles. The next morning, as Mme. Adam was giving Bibi his [Pg 163] geography lesson, she wept to see lying before her the map of France, the tangible image of her adored and mutilated patrie.

“Why are you crying?” asked Bibi. He also cried when he heard the reason, and said: “They are taking from us the heart of France.”

Adam wrote briefly announcing the terms of the treaty. “Vae victis! I send you the text of the treaty which M. de Bismarck has dictated. ‘Session of the whole of Alsace, except Belfort. Session of a part of Lorraine with Metz. Five milliards indemnity. Entrance into Paris on the 1st of March of 30,000 Prussians through the Arc de Triomphe and as far as the Place de la Concorde, until the ratification of the treaty.’

“Such is our fate, Juliette. It is horrible. The stories of Bismarck’s insolence are ghastly. Indignation is universal. Nevertheless, the majority will vote for peace. Will the minority be large enough to show the Prussians that their victory might have been disputed?

“Every one is afraid of what may happen in Paris when the Prussians enter. Chanzy[234] said just now in my presence: ‘I have thought it over well. It will be better to resume hostilities. There is still a chance of our being able to pull ourselves together. I shall certainly feel justified in voting against the treaty of peace.’”[235]

Adam interrupted his letter to go and vote. The poor little minority was miserable—only 107 against 546 votes in favour of peace. Then in heartrending terms Adam proceeds to describe the famous protest of the twenty-five deputies of Alsace-Lorraine, and Grosjean’s sorrowful leave-taking uttered on their behalf and terminating with the words: “We shall ever cherish with a filial affection France absent from our hearths until the day when she returns to her place there.”

“I have always foreseen it,” writes Mme. Adam. “From the day of surrender I had grieved over that shameful, cowardly peace. The France I idolize! Now she sees torn from her those provinces which our husbands and our sons might have preserved.... The days may pass and [Pg 164] years be added unto them, but never, until the hour strikes for the deliverance of our brethren now handed over to Prussia, will the wound I receive to-day be healed.”[236]

The Treaty signed by Thiers and Jules Favre at Versailles was ratified by the Bordeaux Assembly on the 1st of March. Henceforth there was no reason why the Parliament should not return northwards.

“Just now,” wrote Adam to his wife,[237] “Thiers opened the question of the town in which the Assembly shall deliberate. He is resolved to leave Bordeaux immediately. This is foolish, unless he is prepared to return at once to Paris.”

But the conservative majority of the Assembly was averse to carrying on their deliberations in the capital. Paris they regarded as the hot-bed of revolution, creating a new government and imposing it by telegraph[238] on the rest of France every fifteen years. For the first time in French history a great gulf had opened between Paris and the provinces. Bourges and Fontainebleau were both suggested as suitable meeting-places. But the choice finally fell on Versailles, whose monarchical associations harmonised so well with the hopes cherished by the party in majority at Bordeaux.

Louis Blanc, one of the deputies for Paris, loudly protested against this decision. Thus to abandon Paris, he argued, would be to drive the metropolis to create a government of its own. Alas! cette vieille barbe of 1848 proved only too true a prophet. This slight put upon Paris was partly responsible for the institution of the Commune and all the horrors of civil war which followed. For the Government to turn its back upon Paris was not a measure likely to placate the discontent with which the city was seething, or to soothe the nerves of the heroic town all unstrung by the horrors of the siege.

The National Assembly held its last meeting at Bordeaux on the 11th of March. The Versailles session was to open on the 20th. By that time Paris was in open insurrection; and the President, who on leaving Bordeaux had with his ministers taken up his residence within the capital, deemed it expedient to decamp to Versailles. The declaration that the Commune est le pouvoir unique, son autorité est absolu appeared in the Officiel on the 26th.

[Pg 165]

“Between Paris and Versailles,” wrote Adam to his wife, “there is something more than the Great Wall of China, there is something more than a hundred leagues, there is a hundred years, a whole century.”[239] Nevertheless, throughout those hideous two months from the outbreak of insurrection to the fall of the Commune at the end of May, Edmond Adam, deputy of Paris, braving the dangers of arrest and execution, continued to pass to and fro, between the revolted city and Versailles, ever hoping that he might be able to facilitate some compromise between the rival authorities. From an interview with his old friend Thiers, however, he derived no encouragement. He feared that the President’s chief desire was to appear in the eyes of the world as conqueror of provincial France and of the Revolution at Paris.[240]

Of her husband’s attitude Mme. Adam strongly approved. “You owe it to Paris,” she wrote. “For to Paris you are indebted for everything since the day when you first joined the staff of the National. Paris has chosen you for its representative. Paris, though misguided, is well worth the risk you are running for her.”[241]

But Juliette longed to share her husband’s dangers. Alice, after weeks of agonising suspense, had been restored to her. “Alice and Bibi might well,” she wrote to Adam, “be left in the care of M. and Mme. Arlès Dufour,” le père and la mère, as Juliette called them, who were still at Bruyères. For was it not the place of a deputy’s wife to be at his side in the city which had elected him? Banished from Adam and from her friends her exile was intolerable. But her husband replied that he could not endure the anxiety of her presence in Paris; that while he was obliged to be at Versailles the thought of her in the revolted city, a prey to the horrors of that terrific insurrection, would drive him mad. “My only strength,” he continued, “arises from the thought that you are far from the terrible events which threaten us. Our friends think it is the end of the world. But I am resolved, even in this cataclysm, not entirely to despair. In all the darkness and chaos, I seem to discern a ray of hope. As for us, deputies of a capital in insurrection, our situation becomes terrifically difficult. I am on the boulevard this evening. But shall I be to-morrow? Every one is trying to persuade me to abandon my daily [Pg 166] journey, which is so likely to be interrupted either at Paris or at Versailles.”

While feeling that no reproach was too bitter to bring against the leaders of the Commune, against those who, under the conqueror’s very eye, had let loose the rabid hounds of civil war, with Paris and the rank and file of Parisians Mme. Adam never ceased to sympathise. “Most of the Communards,” she writes, “... are possessed by the madness of defeat, a madness which I understand, for I have suffered from it myself at the close of the siege. In that madness there is no cowardice. It consists rather in a passionate desire to assert, no matter where and how, the courage one has acquired, the courage which traitors have neglected to utilise.”[242]

The correspondence between the Adams throughout these weeks shows husband and wife in complete agreement. It also reveals great moderation and a desire to see both sides of many difficult questions.

It was not until the last days of May, as we have said, that Mme. Adam returned to Paris, to a Paris desolated by two bombardments, by ferocious street-fighting and by the madness of a defeated mob, raging throughout the days and nights of a hideous week of explosions and incendiarism. Mme. Adam returned to find the blackened ruins of the Tuileries, the smoking ashes of the Hôtel de Ville, a heap of stones in the square where the Vendôme Column had stood.

In the lives of many strong personalities there comes a crisis, a parting of the ways, when in a convulsion of the whole being character and disposition receive a new orientation. For how many is not such a crisis presented by the present war! In the religious world such a revolution is described as conversion. This crisis came to Mme. Adam through national humiliation and the civil strife which followed the catastrophe of 1870. La patrie’s defeat had planted deep in her nature an antagonism which will doubtless endure to the end. Henceforth we shall find accentuated more and more strongly in her character and disposition the irreconcilable note. She had always been emphatic. She was born to be as fervent a hater as she was an ardent lover. For her there had never been many open questions. Now in every cause she espouses she holds the [Pg 167] position of à l’outrance. The iron of national defeat and civil war had entered into her soul. On the 30th of October, 1870, on learning the loss of Le Bourget Fort, she had written:[243] “I cannot describe the vexation, the discouragement, the wrath, the moral perturbation which possess me.” On so patriotic and fervent a nature as hers these experiences could not fail to imprint an indelible mark. Her patriotism, as we have repeatedly seen, had always been ardent. Je prétends être Français plus que personne was her own sentiment put into the mouth of the Picard weaver in her first novel, Mon Village. After the war, growing with national disaster,[244] her patriotism became a consuming fire. Of herself she might have written the words she penned of Edmond About: “il s’est reveillé de l’horrible cauchemar patriote fanatique.”[245]Votre patriotisme,” wrote her friend General Gallifet,[246]est peint sur vos traits et pétille dans votre conversation.”

The Commune had taught her to regard socialism and internationalism as, after Germany, her country’s most formidable enemies. Her horror when her father proposed to marry her to a working man had shown that in those early days she was not free from a certain class prejudice. An ardent republican, she had believed in fraternity but not in equality. For her as for Plato the ideal state would be governed by the élite. Socialism she had ever abhorred. And as the years went on, she came to have less and less faith in the masses. During those disturbed months which preceded the war, when, looking down from her window on the Boulevard Poissonnière, she saw Paris workmen (les blouses blanches) holding nightly conferences with policemen, she had no doubt of their being agents provocateurs. That the Commune’s excesses should confirm and aggravate this suspiciousness was inevitable.

Her father’s sympathy with the revolutionists caused her unspeakable grief. Dr. Lambert, after sending Alice to Bruyères, had returned to Paris, where he remained to witness and to approve the insurrection. Nothing could ever induce him to blame the communards. He had welcomed the movement as the dawn of social regeneration. And for the crimes of the rebels he held Thiers and his government responsible. How painful for Mme. Adam [Pg 168] was all conversation with her father at this time will readily be imagined.

Closely associated with the communards throughout had been members of “the Internationale,”[247] that vast cosmopolitan organisation, inspired by Karl Marx and instituted in London in 1862. “The Internationale” had given its support to the Central Committee which ruled Paris, and it had fully approved of the message sent to the German commander assuring him that the German army had nothing to fear from the insurrection.[248] Indeed, it seemed to Mme. Adam that the Germans had everything to gain from the civil strife then rending France, and that the Communards were simply playing Bismarck’s game. Had they not purged of danger and disorder other European capitals by gathering into Paris from London, Rome, Vienna, and Berlin, anarchists whose railway fares “seemed to fall like manna from heaven!”[249]

For some years, while she had been gradually coming to perceive the danger which threatened from German aggression, Mme. Adam had been growing more and more suspicious of the internationalist movement. With the Germanising tendencies of Renan, Gaston Paris and other members of her circle she had no sympathy whatever. After the war she could not refrain from regarding all internationalists as traitors to their country.[250] Any sympathy with Germany appeared to her as nothing short of treason, and treason of the deepest dye. The bonds of friendship which united her to George Sand were strained almost to breaking-point when her friend wrote that she desired peace “not for the sake of France alone but for the sake of Germany, and in order to avert the ruin of two civilisations.”

“This is one of my most cruel sorrows,” wrote Mme. Adam.“ A gulf has opened between me and the friend whom I adored. Never shall we understand one another again. She ... has reverted to the old humanitarianism of 1848. She, like my friend Arlès Dufour, permits herself to be moved by pity for the Germans.”

[Pg 169]

Had Mme. Sand witnessed with Juliette all the horrors of the siege, could she have maintained that serenity which from henceforth she never wearied of preaching to her young friend? “Do not let us be nervous and agitated,” she writes, “but reasonable, for in that direction alone lies the path of duty.”[251] In those days it seemed to Mme. Adam that this sweet reasonableness was only possible for those who had remained aloof from the struggle; and between them and herself who had lived in the heart of the inferno there was a wide gulf fixed. How wide she realised painfully when, worn and wan, after that terrible railway journey from Paris, she was greeted by her friends at Cannes with the words, “Are you not glad to be at Bruyères once more?” “Glad!” She was aghast at that word. Yet it accorded well with their smiling faces and their perfect health. “But are you pleased that the war is over?” they persisted. “And our defeat?” she cried. “Do you not realise that it is going to tear out our very flesh?” And she dismissed them abruptly, horrified to find “French people so detached from France.”[252] Later she wrote: “The pure southern sky has never been defiled by the smoke of German bivouacs. For the people of Provence the war has been a blood-stained book, but one the pages of which they have hardly turned over.”[253]

With Mme. Adam it was very different. For la grande Française “the terrible year” stands out as the one ineffaceable landmark, dominating the whole of her subsequent career.


[219] M. Gabriel Hanotaux’s numbers are slightly different; but the main point is that a substantial balance remained on the side of the Monarchists. See Histoire de la France Contemporaine, I. 39.

[220] Souvenirs, V. 23.

[221] Souvenirs, IV. 341.

[222] Ibid., V. 5.

[223] Souvenirs, V. 12, 13.

[224] Hanotaux, op. cit., I. 64 et passim.

[225] Souvenirs, V. 25.

[226] Hanotaux, op. cit., I. 105, does not hesitate to condemn Favre’s conduct of these negotiations.

[227] From Bordeaux, on December 26, 1870. He repeats this judgment on February 16, 1871. See Life of Lord Lyons, by Lord Newton.

[228] Labouchère, The Besieged Resident in Paris.

[229] Histoire Contemporaine, I. 87.

[230] Op. cit., I. 89.

[231] Souvenirs, III. 44.

[232] Hanotaux, op. cit., 60.

[233] Souvenirs, III. 365.

[234] The general, who, during the siege of Paris, had commanded the army of Central France.

[235] Souvenirs, V. 44.

[236] Souvenirs, IV. 47.

[237] Ibid., 55.

[238] Hanotaux, op. cit., I. 130.

[239] Souvenirs, V. 120.

[240] Ibid., 83.

[241] Ibid., 92, 105.

[242] Souvenirs, V. 124.

[243] Souvenirs, IV. 149.

[244] Ibid., VII. 282.

[245] Ibid., V. 222.

[246] Ibid., VII. 355.

[247] That for the Commune’s excesses the Government held “the Internationale” partly responsible is proved by the introduction into the National Assembly of a Bill condemning as a criminal offence membership of this society. Favre, op. cit., III. 479.

[248] Souvenirs, V. 80.

[249] Ibid., 76; Hanotaux, op. cit., I. 188.

[250] Ibid., 81.

[251] Souvenirs, V. 158.

[252] Ibid., 9.

[253] Ibid., 213.

[Pg 170]




Adam et moi, nous n’avons pas d’autre espoir, pas d’autre culte que Gambetta. Il est pour nous la personnification même de la France, l’expression vivante et agissante de notre relèvement, de nos certitudes républicaines et nationales.”—Juliette Adam.

Mme. Adam’s attitude towards Gambetta passed through three phases. During the war she regarded him as the incarnation of national defence, after the defeat of 1871 as l’Homme de la Revanche; finally, when la Revanche was delayed she grew first impatient and then disappointed with her former hero. It is with the two first of these phases that we shall deal in this chapter.

As we have seen, Gambetta had already been admitted to Mme. Adam’s salon before the war. But from the opening of the siege until a year after the peace they met but seldom if at all. After Gambetta’s courageous balloon ascent from Paris, and his safe, if hazardous, landing in a wood near Montdidier, all through those darkest days of l’Année Terrible, Juliette Adam derived almost her only consolation and hope from Gambetta’s dispatches. The energy he was deploying in his country’s service made her pulse throb with confidence and courage. The news brought by carrier pigeon into the besieged capital of the armies he was creating—Faidherbe’s in the north, Chanzy’s on the Loire, Bourbaki’s in the east—seemed almost to compensate for the indecision and inaction of the defenders of Paris.

“On the 24th of November,” she wrote,[254] “this morning, I am mad with joy, mad with hope. I read and read again Gambetta’s dispatch to Jules Favre. I bless the great patriot who sends it to us. If Gambetta, a republican, [Pg 171] were to save our France! When others doubt him and his valour, I do not doubt.”

“Why, we have an army on the Loire two hundred thousand men strong! In a week we shall have another hundred thousand: two hundred thousand recruits are clamouring to be on the march. At last!... Long live France! ... and she will live, our patrie française. It will not be so easy to tread upon her. Frenchmen will be found to defend her, to prevent the invader from pillaging, from defiling her from one end of the land to the other. It seems to me that all Paris should thank Gambetta. I write to him.”

And when the superb movement of French energy, with which Gambetta alone had been able to inspire the provinces, seemed to Juliette Adam to have been nullified by the capital’s submission, she followed her hero more fervently than ever in his advocacy of war to the bitter end. She deplored the mistrust and suspicion with which the other members of the September Government regarded ce fou furieux, as they called him. She deplored his resignation on the 5th of February, 1871, of the office of Minister of the Interior.

Gambetta’s colleagues accused him of ruling France by terror, and endeavouring to make himself a dictator. To the statesman whom Bismarck regarded as the most superb organiser in Europe, no portfolio was assigned in the government Thiers was forming at Bordeaux.

So completely out of sympathy with the National Assembly and its monarchical majority did Gambetta find himself that, after the signing of the preliminaries of peace and after he had taken part in that memorable protest of the Alsace-Lorraine deputies against the session of those provinces, he resigned his seat and for some months withdrew from political life.

On his return to it, in the summer of 1871, he found his friends, the Adams, in Paris, and Juliette once more the mistress of a brilliant and influential political salon. No sooner had she re-established herself in the Maison Sallandrouze than her friends began to gather round her once more.

The social life of the metropolis was gradually being resumed. But it took at least a year before anything like the old brilliance revived. The first sign of that revival [Pg 172] was when Parisian women began to care about clothes. “Les femmes du siège,” writes Mme. Adam, “qui ne savaient plus ce que c’était que s’habiller, s’occupaient à nouveau de leurs robes,” of course she adds, “moi la première.”[255]

Now once again her Wednesday dinner-parties afforded an occasion for grande toilette. On other evenings any of the Adams’ friends, who happened to be passing along the boulevard, were welcome to come up just as they were. Among those evening callers was more than one well-known Englishman. Mr. Richard Whiteing, in his book My Harvest,[256] paints a vivid picture of Mme. Adam’s salon. He signals her out as one of those republican women who were reconstructing the salon on a Republican basis.

The great subjects of discussion on those Wednesday and Friday evenings were Gambetta’s speeches. Long passages from them were recited[257] by Spuller, the deputy who led the most moderate section of Gambetta’s supporters.[258]

Then one day in June the orator himself arrived. He had asked to spend the evening alone with his hosts. Adam had not seen him since the eve of his departure from Bordeaux.

Cette soirée,” writes Juliette,[259]a été longue et d’un interêt passionant.” While not entirely approving of their friend’s attitude, of his sympathy with the Commune, for example, the Adams congratulated him on his recent speech at Bordeaux.

“The level-headedness, the wisdom of that speech,” Adam told Gambetta, “confounded your enemies. You may now group around you a party recruited from the left and including a few members of the left centre. Juliette and I will be able to contrive for you a certain understanding with the left centre on the great questions of national policy.”

These words foretold what was to be the rôle of Mme. Adam’s salon in the days of its greatest brilliance. As the rallying ground for the various parties of republican opposition to the reactionary majority in the Assembly, it rendered important service, not only to Gambetta, but also to the President (Thiers) in his difficult task of keeping [Pg 173] the peace between the discordant elements of his nondescript and essentially provisional Government. Later, after Thiers’ resignation, during the days of the République Militante between 1873 and 1876, Mme. Adam’s salon continued to hold together various sections of the republican party: the left centre, the extreme left and the republican union, which consisted entirely of Gambetta’s friends. “Our house,” writes Mme. Adam, “became very useful to Gambetta. There he met artists whom he charmed, financiers whom he reassured, political adversaries whom he enrolled.”[260] Sir Sidney Colvin, who[261] in those years was often in Paris for two or three weeks at a time, used generally to go to her evening receptions, of which he has a very distinct recollection. He remembers Mme. Adam as the recognised Egeria of Gambetta, as very cultivated and intelligent. Obviously she had been very beautiful; she was still extremely handsome, and above all things full of graciousness and tact and good-will—the grace and the good-will of a cultivated bourgeoise accustomed to charm and determined to exercise her charm for a cause she had at heart. Sir Sidney used to find it interesting to watch her moving about, the only lady at her receptions, from some old dry doctrinaire of the Dufaure group to some fiery municipal Radical from the south; among deputies of all shades, wide asunder as the poles in tradition and feeling and temperament, and to see her throwing one after another into good humour by sheer womanly cordiality and grace.

Indeed, all who have seen Mme. Adam entertaining her guests will agree that she possesses the true salon manner, and that she is mistress of that enviable art of talking so as to make others talk.

Had it not been for his admiration of Gambetta, Edmond Adam would have thrown in his lot entirely with that section of the republican party known as the left centre. “As it was,” writes his wife, “he was to serve as a hyphen (à trait d’union) between the left centre, the republican union and the extreme left. There were those who thought that Juliette was chiefly responsible for her husband’s [Pg 174] sympathies with the extreme wing of the republican party. But this she will not admit,[262] though she does not deny that her special friends were radicals, while Adam’s were moderates. Thiers himself said to Adam one day, ”Quand votre femme rougit, bleuissez.“ And it is obvious that Juliette with her impulsive nature not infrequently lost patience with the grandes ombres élyséennes, as she dubbed Laurent Pichat, Victor Hugo, Louis Blanc, and those other vieilles barbes of 1848 who were the mainstay of the left centre. ”For them,“ she writes, ”République is a solemn and pompous word. The young, with Gambetta at their head, are more practical and utilitarian.“ They desired a government adapted to the phase of democracy to which France had then attained. Nevertheless, there was nothing commonplace or even opportunist in those bright visions of the future Republic which Gambetta painted in his speeches. ”Half smiling,“ writes Mme. Adam, ”he came straight to my Athenian Republic.[263]... He desired a France withdrawn into herself in order to heal her wounds. But when he spoke of her rôle after this enforced period of retirement, then he had a vision of her future prestige, when the army, chief symbol of the country’s revival, should be strengthened, glorified every day in order to raise la patrie from defeat. Then he saw numberless schools educating the people—the French schoolmaster playing as prominent a part as the German schoolmaster—secularism dissipating all the darkness of clericalism, liberating thought, correcting the errors of the past, until France, grown great by misfortune, astonished the whole world by her resurrection.“

Mme. Adam used to complain that in Paris during the first years of the Republic, while the National Assembly continued to sit at Versailles, anything like true sociability was impossible. And it was true that poor “capitulating Paris” was somewhat shorn of her brightest social glories. The whole of political society precipitated itself upon Versailles. On the days when some great oration was expected from Thiers, Dufaure, Batbie or Gambetta, the railway platform at the Gare St. Lazare was thronged, and the carriages in the Versailles train so crowded that it was almost impossible to find a place. Versailles itself was completely transformed. Never since its royal days [Pg 175] had it seen such life. It is true that the dull stream of black coats flowing along its streets made one long for the gay, beplumed, bejewelled courtiers of le Roi Soleil. Nevertheless, the political whirl of the place was much greater than ever during l’ancien régime. Constituents waylaid deputies in the streets and poured into their impatient ears whole cahiers of grievances. At the luncheon and dinner-hour the Hôtel des Réservoirs was packed. It was necessary to reserve tables days in advance. And how delightful it was to sit and sip one’s coffee in the delicious freshness of the park after a hot summer afternoon passed in the close atmosphere of the parliament chamber. In that charming verandah, which many of us know so well, ministers and deputies met together, while the gay frocks and the still gayer laughter of their women friends enlivened the scene. Centuries seemed to have passed since the evil days of l’Année Terrible. Nowhere was the miraculous recuperative force of France more striking, never had political society more entrain than during those parliament years at Versailles.

Of that sparkling world Mme. Adam was one of the brightest adornments, one of the gayest flashers, as Fanny Burney would have said. Always perfectly gowned—elle portrait admirablement la toilette was the opinion of every one—she never missed an important séance. After having dined at the Hôtel des Réservoirs in the evening, she would be at the Gare St. Lazare at nine the next morning; and surrounded by a coterie of eminent politicians, who were all in love with her, would make the journey to Versailles and take her accustomed place in a box of the theatre of the Château, which now served as a meeting-place for the Assembly. It had been built by Gabriel as an opera-house for Louis XIV. While what had been the stage, now shut off from the main building, had been converted into a lobby, a mahogany rostrum, approached by a double staircase of six steps, communicated to the theatre of that most autocratic of monarchs something of the air of a modern parliament house, and the constant movement among the seven hundred and twenty-eight representatives of the Republic, the perpetual lifting of the heavy red velvet portières which led into the lobby, suggested a political instability quite out of harmony with the traditions of le Grand Monarque.

[Pg 176]

Among the most striking figures in the Assembly hall were some of Juliette’s greatest friends. One might easily recognise the Orleanist Marquis de Lasteyrie by his green eye-shade, M. Jules Simon by his student’s stoop, M. Dufaure by his brown frock-coat, M. Littré by his blue velvet skull-cap, M. Garnier-Pagès by his famous faux col, and close by him that “Bull of Bashan of politics,” M. Gambetta,[264] by his leonine head and the half-recumbent attitude in which he listened attentively to every word of the debate.

Gambetta’s first appearance at Versailles in July 1871 was a great political event. At a by-election he had been chosen by three departments, Bouches-du-Rhone, Var and Seine. “The day of his first speech,” writes Mme. Adam, “was a day of profound emotion for us, and of great curiosity for others, who flocked to see the fou furieux.” In those days Gambetta, though only three-and-thirty, was already threatened with that stoutness which, in a man of his stature, required all the dignity of his strong personality to carry off. He had not yet, moreover, been taken in hand by Adam’s tailor. His black frock-coat, white drill trousers and panama hat made him appear something of a Tartarin. The unsuitability of his attire would sometimes diminish the effect of his orations.

On the July day when this political Bohemian, emerging from his five months’ retirement, suddenly burst upon the cultivated audience at Versailles, his power of utterance, his energy of thought, and above all his unexpected moderation carried every one away.

“He roared” (il a rugi), said the wife of a conservative deputy who sat next to Mme. Adam. “Yes,” replied Juliette, “he is a lion.” The moment was one when the bishops of France, led by Monseigneur Dupanloup, were petitioning the French Chamber to restore the Pope’s temporal power. Gambetta, while unchaining all the fervour of his anti-clerical wrath, nevertheless supported the government in its motion that the question, instead of being discussed by the Assembly, should be referred to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. His support of Thiers, whom he and his friends were supposed to regard as nothing but un vieillard sinistre, took every one by surprise. Coming [Pg 177] home in the train Adam, who was at once the friend of Thiers and of Gambetta, was bombarded with questions—

“Come, Adam, you must be in the know! Are they in agreement? If so, you must be acting as intermediary between them.”[265]

But Adam shrugged his shoulders and replied: “Alas! I only wish it were so. But it is very far from being the case now, or likely to be in the future.”

Indeed, Thiers, throughout the difficult months which were to follow, was to regard as a serious obstacle in his path Gambetta’s eloquent advocacy of la Revanche, which so delighted Mme. Adam. For at that time Thiers was engaged in those delicate negotiations with Bismarck which culminated in March 1873, in the paying off of the five milliards war indemnity, and in the consequent liberation of France from the Prussian occupation almost two years before the time stipulated by the Treaty of Frankfort.

This magnificent consummation, far surpassing the wildest hopes of the most sanguine, Thiers beheld constantly endangered by Gambetta’s revanchard fervour. The President trembled when he heard that to a deputation from Alsace Gambetta had declared that if ever France descended to such a depth of impiety as to put away from her the image of bleeding, mutilated Alsace, then and then alone might Alsatians give way to despair.[266] “This is not the moment for such a declaration,” exclaimed Thiers. “Let him wait. Let him wait.” The President was constantly entreating Adam to implore his friend to be moderate. His ideas, his speeches in the provinces, were impressing the Germans in a manner most unfavourable to the negotiations which were proceeding.[267] Never did the Great Tribune appear to Thiers more of a fou furieux than during the autumn and winter of 1872 and ’73, when the commis voyageux de la politique (the political commercial traveller), as he liked to call himself, was going up and down France delivering that famous series of speeches, intended to rouse the provinces to a great burst of republican ardour, which should dissolve the reactionary National Assembly, get rid of the temporising Thiers, and bring in Gambetta and his friends.

Mme. Adam, despite her respect for Thiers, deeply sympathised with Gambetta’s aims as he declared them [Pg 178] in those celebrated orations. Merely to read Gambetta’s speeches was to lose their finest flavour. Unlike the speeches of our own Edmund Burke and John Bright, they will never be classics. His eloquence, for its full appreciation, so I have heard Mme. Adam say, required the magic of his presence, the thrill of his sonorous voice, the dramatic emphasis of his gestures, and the inspiration of his whole presence.

On returning from Venice to Bruyères in the autumn of 1872, she and Adam read the first reports of these speeches in the newspapers. Vigilance and patience were the two qualities Gambetta most fervently enjoined on his compatriots. And vigilance for him involved two all-important reforms: the reorganisation of the army on the lines of universal military service, and compulsory education. Chaque citoyen soldat et instruit was his device.[268] Indeed, it is largely to the Great Tribune that we owe that systematic teaching of patriotism in French schools which in the present war is bearing such rich fruit. “Every child in our elementary schools,” said Gambetta, “must be taught that a cause exists to which it must give everything, sacrifice everything, its life, its future, its family, and that this cause is France.”

These words Mme. Adam and her husband read over and over again. “Yes,” exclaims Juliette, “we must sacrifice ourselves for France; we must keep nothing back, and we must also serve him who utters these patriotic words,[269] and who has never despaired of his country.”

With Gambetta’s requirement that national education must be as secular as the state itself the Adams were also in agreement. While every religion should be assured of absolute liberty, Gambetta declared at Havre, “the state must not identify itself with any dogma or philosophy. If such questions are admitted to be within its competency, then it becomes at once arbitrary, persecuting, intolerant.”

With the importance Gambetta attached to the army the Adams were in perfect sympathy. All three they shared the President’s emotion when, at the close of the Longchamps review in the summer of 1871, le petit bourgeois, descending from his seat, grasped the hands of [Pg 179] Marshal MacMahon as he marched past at the head of the army he had reformed, and in a voice choked by a sob murmured “Thank you.” “Gambetta,” wrote Juliette, “rejoices at the success of the review. He adores the army.”[270]

During their first talk with Gambetta after his return to political life the Adams had advised their friend to found a republican newspaper. “Il vous faut un grand journal,” said Adam.[271] “Would it not be possible,” asked Gambetta, “to revive L’Avenir National?” Founded in the middle sixties, largely financed by Adam, with his wife for one of its regular contributors, and her friend Peyrat as editor, the paper had at first been a brilliant success. Then it fell on evil days, and in order to keep it going at all, Adam had to subscribe large sums. Having been hard hit by this earlier journalistic adventure, Adam did not feel himself in a position to provide funds for a second. He suggested, however, that Gambetta might apply to other ardent republicans, to Dorian and to that fervent Alsatian, Scheurer-Kestner, for example. While for collaborators, he could not do better than appeal to Challemel-Lacour, Spuller, Ranc, Paul Bert, etc.

The outcome of this conversation was the foundation of La République Française. “Grandissime évènement,” writes Mme. Adam, “La République Française a paru.” Gambetta, assisted by Spuller, was its editor-in-chief, Challemel-Lacour its literary editor, Proust was to contribute articles on foreign politics. The new paper’s office was, of course, in the Rue Croissant.[272] Where else but in that most famous journalist street in Paris could an influential newspaper appear! And close at hand, only round the corner, in the Boulevard Poissonnière was the Adams’ flat. So, equally of course, when the editors’ work was done and they required some relaxation after their literary labours, they were always welcome to talk and dominoes in the hospitable Maison Sallandrouze. “The workshops of the République Française will be in the Rue Croissant, the Salon in the Maison Sallandrouze,” writes [Pg 180] Mme. Adam.[273] The paper’s success justified all the hopes inspired by the eminence of its editors and contributors.

In every detail of its organisation Mme. Adam took a deep interest. And she was delighted when Spuller satisfied her curiosity by describing how the office was worked: how Challemel arrived at five o’clock, looked through the dispatches and then summoned the various editors to discuss the day’s events; how barely had the conversation begun when Challemel saw, in a flash, what would be the subject of his own article; how Isambert, the leader-writer, invariably came late; how Paul Bert, who contributed articles on science, was punctuality itself.

La République Française, as may well be imagined, figured large in the conversation when in the spring of 1874 its three directors, Gambetta, Spuller and Challemel, visited Bruyères.

Gambetta stayed there a week, going over occasionally to visit his parents and sister, who were then living at Nice. Mme. Adam had made their acquaintance some time earlier. She found them excellent people of the shop-keeping class. Mme. Gambetta, a Frenchwoman of la bonne bourgeoisie, but with no dowry to speak of, had, as we have said, married a grocer of Genoese origin, who was then in business at Cahors. But when Mme. Adam first made the family’s acquaintance they were living at Nice. The household consisted of Gambetta’s father and mother, a widowed sister, Benedetta, her little boy Léon, and a servant, who, having entered the Gambettas’ service at thirteen, was regarded as one of the family. Gambetta’s aunt, the famous “Tata,” had followed her nephew to Paris. His mother, Mme. Adam could see at a glance, lived, moved and had her being in her celebrated son. She was proud to relate how before his birth she had consulted a soothsayer, a somnambulist, who had declared her about to be the mother of a man who would govern France. Gambetta’s relatives remained Mme. Adam’s life-long friends. They frequently visited Bruyères. She helped them in various ways, and at Gambetta’s request arranged a second marriage for his widowed sister, who became Mme. Léris; and when she is in the south of France Mme. Adam never fails to go and see her. Mme. Léris is now living at Cahors, in what was formerly a monastic dwelling. [Pg 181] She is surrounded by relics of her famous brother, trophies presented to him on great public occasions, which contrast strangely with the ecclesiastical fitments of the house.

One day in 1915, when I arrived at Gif, I found Mme. Adam reading a letter she had just received from Gambetta’s sister. This curious, original and highly entertaining document I was permitted to read. It showed plainly that though all the family money had been spent on the son’s education, by no means all the gifts had been showered upon him, for a plentiful dower of wit, common sense and originality has evidently fallen to the lot of Mme. Benedetta.

But here we are anticipating. We must leave Mme. Léris and go back to the year 1874, when her illustrious brother was visiting Bruyères.

Mme. Adam found Gambetta as delightful a guest as George Sand. She, by the way, was one of his bitterest foes. She regarded him as nothing but a windbag, un simple utilisateur.[274]

Gambetta’s voracious appetite, challenging comparison with that of the hero of his favourite author, Rabelais, did full justice to the good cheer which Mme. Adam never fails to put before her guests. He ate well, he drank well, and he enjoyed, to the full, all the picnics and the excursions which were planned for his entertainment, even the sailings in the barque named after one of his arch-enemy’s masterpieces, La Petite Fadette, and which ought, if there had been any consistency in the cosmos, to have foundered and shipwrecked one, at any rate, of its passengers.

Gambetta’s week at Bruyères afforded opportunities for many serious discussions. And although the friends were on the whole in perfect accord, we may, in the accounts Mme. Adam gives of these conversations, discern a difference of opinion, slight apparently, yet in reality fundamental, which, though at first a mere rift, was to widen into a chasm and finally to separate them. Mme. Adam even then began to see that the Republic of Gambetta’s dreams was not so Athenian as she thought. Between her aristocratic ideas and his radicalism there was a pronounced difference. She wanted to see the masses led by the élite. For Gambetta there was to be no élite: the masses were to be educated to guide and govern themselves. “Then we shall sink [Pg 182] to their level,” prophesied Juliette. “No, we shall merely stretch out our hands to them,” was Gambetta’s reply.[275]

That spring visit to Bruyères was repeated in the following winter (December, 1874) and many times afterwards. Gambetta would arrive tired, worn-out by his political battles and by his electoral campaigns. But he, like Challemel-Lacour and many other exhausted politicians, never failed to find Bruyères La Villa du Bon Repos. Perfect restfulness was the order of the day. Lunch was deferred until two, so that the tired guest might sleep till one. Even the house-dog, “Modeste,” was banished to the gardener’s cottage for fear his barkings might disturb the great man’s slumbers. Everything was devised to divert his mind from politics: plays, concerts and those charades in which his hostess excels even to-day in her eighty-first year. During excursions and picnics not a word so much as bearing on politics was permitted to be spoken. Against the crowds of supporters, admirers and curiosity-mongers who would have invaded his solitude his host and hostess protected him with une energie farouche.[276] But occasionally not even their devotion could prevent his being compelled to make a speech in the neighbourhood, or on one occasion from the balcony of Bruyères itself. Certain reactionary newspapers did not scruple to attribute a political significance to Gambetta’s visits to Bruyères. They hinted that Marshal MacMahon’s[277] government regarded with disapproval and had even made a raid on one of these conciliabules in order to detect and denounce a civil servant who was present.[278]

In the intervals of these visits, and while Mme. Adam was at Bruyères, Gambetta, despite his multifarious occupations and interests, found time to keep her au courant with affairs in Paris by long letters. “He made his Sévigné,” as his friend expressed it, in a delightful manner. At the length of his letters the Adams marvelled. In these lively pages he discussed in detail his own opinions and those of others of the political situation at home and abroad. No one who is interested in Gambetta should neglect to read this correspondence.

[Pg 183]

These letters show how serviceable was Mme. Adam to her friend and to his party when conservative machinations were placing the Republic in great jeopardy. The year 1875 was a critical year for the Republic. That constitution, which was to set it on a permanent basis, was then being debated in the National Assembly. The President’s powers were being defined, also his relations to the legislative body, now consisting of a lower house, la chambre des députés, and an upper, the senate, of which Adam became a member. The lively discussion of all these matters, which took place in Mme. Adam’s salon, she reproduces in her Souvenirs. To the disappointment of republicans, it appeared throughout the three following years that this constitution had not placed the Republic out of danger. More than once the conservatives seemed on the point of substituting for it some kind of monarchical régime.

The Republic’s greatest danger was in the spring and summer of 1877, when MacMahon, by what is known as his coup d’état of le seize Mai, brought in a conservative ministry. At that time Mme. Adam was passing through the deep waters of personal bereavement. Edmond Adam died in May. But before his death he had been able to render valuable service to the republican cause by helping to unite the various sections of the republican party, les vieilles barbes of 1848, the moderates who supported Thiers and the extremists who were led by Gambetta. The Adams brought about a meeting between Gambetta and Thiers. Le fou furieux and le vieillard sinistre found themselves called upon by the gravity of the political situation to sink their differences, and to unite their forces in opposition to MacMahon’s reactionary Government. This reconciliation practically assured the triumph of the republican cause. Adam had also been able to sell very advantageously a newspaper which Gambetta had recently founded, La Petite République. And the proceeds of this sale, so Gambetta himself admitted, furnished him with the sinews of war for his political campaign.

On the evening of Adam’s funeral his friend the ex-President Thiers, who himself had but three months to live, dragged his fourscore years up Mme. Adam’s staircase. “It was his wish and it is mine,” she said to her visitor, “that I should continue his life in my own.”

[Pg 184]

“I will help you in every way I can,” said Thiers.[279] Then he went on to impress upon her the importance of uniting their forces to win victory for the cause to which Adam had devoted his life.

There lay upon the table, among the numerous letters of sympathy Mme. Adam had received, one from Émile de Girardin. In the days of Mme. d’Agoult’s salon they had been great friends; but they ceased to meet when Juliette married Adam. He, it will be remembered, could never forgive Girardin for having killed in a duel Armand Carrel, his friend and collaborator on the National. Now Girardin wrote: “Adam in his life would not permit me to love him, will you permit it now he is dead?” “What am I to do?” Mme. Adam asked Thiers. “Let him come,” was Thiers’ advice. “In your salon, Girardin will feel that he is absolved from the guilt of Carrel’s death.... Moreover, you owe it to Adam to fill that vacancy in our ranks which his loss has created.”

Mme. Adam acted on her friend’s advice: she received Girardin, who became henceforth a constant habitué of her salon, and one of the most valuable assets of that Republican party from which hitherto he had held aloof. “Girardin is detested and at times is detestable,” wrote Mme. Adam, “but his friendship is the most faithful and courageous I have ever known.”[280]

Many another recruit did Mme. Adam’s charming persuasiveness enlist on the side of the opposition. The republican leaders were constantly appealing to her to see what she could do with first one, then another. One evening Gambetta said to her: “You have brought us Girardin; you have removed Raoul Duval from hostile influences; you are preserving for us the loyalty of many wavering friends; you are enrolling so many recruits, that now I ask you to do a very difficult thing—to attract Gallifet to our group.”[281] Needless to say, Gallifet was won over.


Throughout that critical summer Mme. Adam, despite her personal grief, followed in breathless expectation and with feverish interest every development of political affairs. The conservatives, dismayed by the large republican majority returned in 1876, persuaded MacMahon to dissolve the Chamber in the following June. They also brought [Pg 185] pressure to bear upon the President so as to induce him to manipulate the new elections. But all these reactionary efforts availed nothing. “We went out 363, we shall return 400,” said Gambetta of the Republican deputies, and though this prediction was not entirely fulfilled the Republican majority remained a substantial one, only thirty-three seats were lost. On the night of the 14th of October, when the results of the election were coming in, Mme. Adam was at the office of La République Française in the salon des tapisseries.[282] Through the open door she could hear Gambetta calling out the names of the elected. One of Gambetta’s secretaries, the brilliant Joseph Reinach, then a youth of twenty-one, now and again came into the salon and confirmed what she had overheard.

Two months earlier, at the urgent request of Thiers and Gambetta, she had reopened her salon and resumed her Wednesday and Friday dinner-parties. Now for some days after this triumphant election she had received her friends every evening. Gambetta had declared his readiness to lead the 330 republican deputies into the very heart of the citadel. Somehow or other the conservative ministers must be got rid of. They on their part were trying to persuade MacMahon to carry out another coup d’état. Gambetta and some of his friends were resolved in such an event to appeal to force. A discussion on this subject took place in Mme. Adam’s salon.[283] There, one evening, Girardin announced: “Fortou is preparing his coup d’état.” Fortou was Minister of the Interior in the seize Mai Cabinet. “Voisin (Préfet de Police) has told me,” continued Girardin, “that at any moment he may receive orders to arrest us all. He will not do so; he will send in his resignation. But on the day of that resignation we may all be arrested. And no doubt they will select one of Mme. Adam’s evenings for the raid.”

“Very well,” replied the Admiral Jauréguiberry, “we must prepare to defend ourselves.”

“With arms?” inquired Girardin.

“Why, of course,” replied the Admiral briefly.

“I was disappointed,” writes Mme. Adam, “to discover the timidity of some who were present. I became furious and cried out: ‘After all, one risks nothing worse than death in defending oneself.’

[Pg 186]

“My two hands were seized by General Billot and shaken violently, with an exclamation of ‘Bravo, comrade!’ which made me very proud.”

It was an amplification of this scene, doubtless, which caused the appearance in one of the newspapers of an article entitled “Attack on La Maison Sallandrouze.”

Happily, however, the expected raid never took place, for civil strife was averted. MacMahon, far from arresting Mme. Adam’s friends, called on them to form a government. The Dufaure Cabinet came into office in December 1877.

Most of the new ministers were habitués of Mme. Adam’s salon. The new Minister of Public Works, M. de Freycinet,[284] was Gambetta’s rival in her friendship. While for her Friday dinner-parties the Great Tribune in consultation with his hostess chose such fellow-guests as were likely to serve ce pouvoir occulte, which this statesman out of office was beginning to exercise, the Wednesday dinners were known as “The Freycinet Evenings.”

Mme. Adam’s friendship with M. de Freycinet has endured to the present day. Already, in the middle seventies, “so bleached,” writes Sir Sidney Colvin, “as to be known as la souris blanche,” he has lived to be a member of the War Cabinet of 1916.

Mme. Adam’s widowhood was still young when people began to speak of her re-marriage. “Several times over,” she writes, “rumour had married me to Gambetta.” Of another charming and wealthy Republican widow, Mme. Arnaud de l’Ariège, the same report was circulated. “Chacune son tour,” said Mme. Adam, laughing, to her supposed rival. And Mme. Arnaud replied: “Yes, but we know too well where Gambetta’s affections are fixed to believe any gossip about his marriage unless it should be to Mlle. L——”[285]

Far from becoming more intimate, as we shall see in the next chapter, Juliette Adam and Gambetta were now beginning to disagree. These differences and other reasons made her think of leaving Paris before her accustomed time. “As I emerge from my mourning,” she writes, “more than one among my friends begins to regard me rather as a woman than a widow.”[286] She was planning a [Pg 187] new novel, Grecque; and in order to study a suitable background she resolved to visit Naples. How strained her relations with Gambetta were becoming was proved by their farewell. “It would have been better for me had you started a few weeks earlier,” said her friend. “Ah! if you had been able to play Napoléon, you would have been delighted to give me un petit air de Mme. de Staël,” she retorted.[287]


[254] Souvenirs, IV. 286-7.

[255] Souvenirs, V. 276.

[256] p. 140.

[257] Souvenirs, V. 163.

[258] The extremists were led by Ranc, who was a much more sincere admirer of the Great Tribune.

[259] Souvenirs, V. 165.

[260] Souvenirs, V. 166.

[261] I am greatly indebted to Sir Sidney Colvin for having taken the trouble to send me these reminiscences, and for permitting me to use them.

[262] Souvenirs, V. 144-269.

[263] Ibid., I. 169.

[264] Souvenirs, V. 183.

[265] Souvenirs, V. 185.

[266] Ibid., 283.

[267] Ibid., 383.

[268] Gambetta’s speech at Havre. See Hanotaux, Hist. Contemporaine, I. 406.

[269] Souvenirs, I. 278.

[270] Souvenirs, V. 173.

[271] Ibid., 167.

[272] Here are published to-day the Echo de Paris, L’Intransigeant and many other well-known journals. It was in a café at the corner of this street that Jaurès was assassinated in 1914.

[273] Souvenirs, V. 214.

[274] Souvenirs, V. 304.

[275] Souvenirs, V. 76.

[276] Ibid., VI. 212.

[277] MacMahon had succeeded Thiers as President of the French Republic in May 1873.

[278] Souvenirs, VI. 92.

[279] Souvenirs, VI. 473.

[280] Ibid., VII. 5.

[281] Ibid., 49.

[282] Souvenirs, VII. 6-7.

[283] Ibid., VII. 78.

[284] M. de Freycinet’s two volumes of Mémoires should be read by all who are interested in this period.

[285] Souvenirs, VII. 245.

[286] Ibid., 185.

[287] Souvenirs, VII. 187.

[Pg 188]




“The passion of revenge is habitually over-estimated as a motive, possibly through the influence of the novelists and playwrights to whom it is so useful. When we examine man’s behaviour objectively we find that revenge, however deathless a passion it is vowed to be at emotional moments, is in actual life constantly having to give way to more urgent and more recent needs and feelings. Between nations there is no reason to suppose that it has any more reality as a motive of policy, though it perhaps has slightly more value as a consolatory pose.... In 1870 the former (France) was humiliated with brutal completeness and every element of insult. She talked of revenge, as she could scarcely fail to do, but she soon showed that her grasp on reality was too firm to allow her policy to be moved by that childish passion. Characteristically, it was the victorious aggressor who believed in her longing for revenge, and who at length attacked her again.”—Wilfred Trotter, Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War, 199 (1916).

Mme. Adam’s attitude towards that policy known in France as la Revanche offers an emphatic denial to one of Germany’s numerous misrepresentations as to the origin of the Great War. In their peace conversations with America, as on many other occasions, the Germans have declared that one of the chief causes of the present struggle was the Revancharde Policy of France. Nevertheless, for at least twenty years before the war that policy, which had never been adopted by the French Government, had ceased to be advocated by the majority of the French nation. One of the countless proofs of this may be found in the title Mme. Adam gives to the last volume of her Reminiscences, Après l’Abandon de la Revanche. About the year 1880 she began to find that those who advocated la Revanche were a constantly dwindling minority. This minority continued to diminish until, in the years immediately preceding the Great War, those whose national hopes were focussed on the reconquest of the lost provinces (for the word revanche means not so much “revenge” in our sense of the [Pg 189] word as a winning back of one’s own) came to number not more than one per cent. of the whole population. This was that infinitesimal group in whose Chauvinist activities and aspirations the German Empire professed to see a menace to the peace of Europe. And even among those Chauvinist nationalists, of whom Mme. Adam was one of the most fervent, there was hardly one, certainly not Mme. Adam herself, who would have ventured to advocate an immediate aggressive war for the purpose of reconquering Alsace-Lorraine. Not even the leader of French militarists, Boulanger, desired it. Nevertheless, it was true that Mme. Adam and a few fellow idealists desired to see la Revanche becoming once more what it had been during the first decade after 1870, l’idée reine, the governing idea of France.

La Revanche in this academic sense was the banner of the Ligue des Patriotes, presided over by Paul Déroulède, of the Action Française, a Royalist society founded by Alphonse Daudet’s son Léon, in collaboration with that gifted writer Charles Maurras.

But none of these people were practical politicians; and none of them, as we cannot repeat too often, advocated an immediate aggressive war for the reconquest of the lost provinces. They desired above all things that the brethren from whom they had been parted under such heartrending conditions should not feel themselves forgotten. And it was for the sake of these exiles that the revanchards protested against Gambetta’s counsel, pensons y toujours n’en parlons jamais. They spoke of them constantly, they spoke of them loudly—too constantly, and too loudly, perhaps; for they certainly failed to inspire the majority of their compatriots with that consuming desire for reunion which burnt in their own hearts.

To keep this idea alive, Mme. Adam has written and laboured for forty-five years. With this object, as we shall see, she founded a fortnightly magazine, La Nouvelle Revue. In an article in this review, dated September 1881, replying to an accusation made by the German Press that France was likely to appeal to force, Mme. Adam writes: “We have never ceased to ask M. Gambetta to remind our brethren separated from us that we have never renounced the hope of reunion with them.” Then she adds diplomatically: “Nothing in this affirmation need alarm [Pg 190] Germany’s military hegemony. Nevertheless, it is well for her to know that, though far from dreaming of a rash war, we shall never be guilty of the crime of forgetting.”

The wave of patriotic and nationalist fervour, which, as the result of the Tangier (1905) and Agadir (1911) incidents, swept over France during the ten years which preceded this war, indicated no desire for aggression even on the part of the most rabid revanchard. It was purely for a defensive war that France was preparing when in 1913, in reply to Germany’s threatening military measures, she increased to three years the term of military service, which in 1905 had been reduced to two. By that time any idea of la Revanche as a practical measure had vanished from the majority of French minds.[288] It was not on her eastern frontier so much as in her vast colonial empire that France now saw herself threatened by Germany.

Mme. Adam, still passionately clinging to the forlorn hope of la Revanche, had in her old age come to find herself practically alone except for a little group of literary idealists. Her adherence to this idea, which had been renounced by the majority of her nation, explains her political and religious evolution during the last thirty years.

Previous chapters of this book will have shown how completely in accord with Mme. Adam’s passionate, patriotic and energetic disposition was this persistent advocacy of la Revanche. Retaliation was in her blood. Even as a child, whenever she or any one else received an injury or suffered an injustice her first thought had been that some one must be made to pay for it. She had never been able to take any wrong lying down. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, was her motto; and nothing appeared to her so humiliating as the Christian doctrine of resignation.

After the war her desire for retaliation grew into a consuming passion. “I suffer acutely,”[289] she writes, “from that malady of defeat, that perpetual pain which maddens a Frenchwoman who has been conquered at every turning of the roads of Alsace, of Lorraine, who has been crushed at Sedan, deceived and surrendered at Paris.” That suppressed combativity (combativité rentrée),[290] which on the capitulation of Paris she felt well-nigh bursting her head [Pg 191] and her heart, pursued her from February 1871 until August 1914.

Mme. Adam argued like Mr. Wells’ Letty when she believed her husband, Teddy, to be dead.[291] “You see, if he is dead, then Cruelty is the Law, and some one must pay me for his death. Some one must pay me.... I shall wait for six months after the war, dear, and then I shall go off to Germany.... And I will murder some German. Not just a common German, but a German who belongs to the guilty kind....”

On much the same lines did Mme. Adam reason when the iron of defeat entered into her soul—she, too, would exact payment, not for any personal wrong, but for a national injury; she would murder some German, not only of the guilty but of the guiltiest kind, the arch-criminal himself—none other than Bismarck. Only she would murder him not with the sword, but with a weapon in the handling of which she was more expert—with her pen. With this object, as we have said, she founded, with the fortune her husband left her, La Nouvelle Revue. In the pages of this magazine, in a series of powerful articles entitled, “Letters on Foreign Politics,” she pursued unceasingly the Man of Iron, revealing his hidden designs, disclosing his plots, and warning France against the snares he was perpetually laying for her.

It was impossible that so terrific a disaster as l’Année Terrible should leave any serious-minded French person the same as before the war. But it had not the same effect upon every one. While most of Mme. Adam’s circle embraced the policy of la Revanche, there were some who, like George Sand and Arlès Dufour, turned their hatred not so much against Germany as against war as a whole, and who found their internationalist principles strengthened by defeat. With such ideas Mme. Adam had not a particle of sympathy. They sundered her from many of her friends. They caused her to turn with more enthusiasm than ever to the one man who seemed capable of realising her hopes, to Gambetta, l’Homme de la Revanche. Indeed, Gambetta’s immense energy, his marvellous organising power, marked him as the one man in Europe capable of confronting and checkmating that sauvage de génie, Bismarck.

[Pg 192]

But, as we have said, Mme. Adam’s hope in Gambetta as l’Homme de la Revanche was doomed to disappointment. In order to see how her idol came to be dethroned from his pedestal, we must retrace our steps, returning to that critical year for the Republic, 1875.

During the general election for the new Chamber, which took place after the Republic had been definitely established by the constitution of 1875, Gambetta resumed his provincial tours. The political bagman addressed immense audiences at Aix, at Arles, at Lyons. “I am rapidly spending the reserves of rest which I laid in at Bruyères,” he writes to Mme. Adam on the 17th of January. A few days later he is in Paris, then down in the south again at Marseilles, then up in the north at Lille, where he addresses four thousand persons. “Enthousiasme indescriptible,” he writes. “I made a speech with which I am much better contented than with my address at Aix. I explained to them what our next majority must be: republican, democratic, liberal, pacific. Those were the four heads of my sermon. I think I touched their hearts and converted many unbelievers, and some who were indifferent. The town is decorated with flags. The streets are crowded, despite the severe cold. I am delighted. I have ranged their ranks in something like order. All our friends are reconciled; and I count on having fourteen deputies out of the eighteen.”[292] The republican majority of the new chamber was largely owing to Gambetta’s colossal efforts.

Throughout the election the Adams had rendered their illustrious friend invaluable service. Juliette, while she was at Bruyères, in letters which Gambetta described as un vrai rapport de ministre plénipotentiaire,[293] had kept him well informed of the state of parties in the south. Adam, a well-seasoned politician, had placed at his disposal all the wealth of his varied political experience. He had accompanied him on his electoral tours, and once, on the occasion of a great meeting at Auxerre, Juliette had joined the party. Whenever she was at Paris, Gambetta could always count on meeting in her salon people who would be useful to him.

Every one of the triumphs of ce grand entraineur des masses Juliette persuaded herself brought nearer the longed-for day when her brethren would be released from their chains and reunited to the motherland.


[Pg 193]

Gambetta’s letters to Mme. Adam at this time show that he was firmly convinced of Bismarck’s intention to renew war. Party strife in France he believed was encouraging the Chancellor to become more and more insolent. “Le désarroi de la lutte anarchique de tous les partis en France,” he writes,[294]permet au plus terrible adversaire de Berlin de nous presser de plus près en attendant qu’il fasse un suprême effort pour arracher encore un lambeau de la patrie.”

Gambetta was filled with despair to think that under such desperate circumstances the French should have placed at their head le plus imbécile des Français. That at a moment when they needed a Richelieu, a Villars, a Mazarin, a Danton, or at least a Talleyrand, they should have unearthed the most insignificant of the Empire’s knights (reîtres de l’empire) and have confided to him the destinies of the nation. For Marshal MacMahon and his Government Gambetta has not a good word to say. And that, but for the intervention of Russia and England, France in 1875 would have again been at war with Germany, there now seems little doubt.

In a remarkable letter to Mme. Adam, written on the 24th of October, 1874,[295] Gambetta, with a true statesman’s insight, puts his finger on the danger spot of Europe, wherein forty years ago lay the embryo of this present conflict. “The powerful German Empire,” he writes, “is suffocating in Central Europe. With all its nervous energy it is striving to break through to the North Sea. It must have shores, canals, straits, fleets, and a sea-going population. Its Baltic ports are too remote from the high seas. They are in constant danger of being choked up. The straits leading to them are narrow and dangerous. To create a great fleet on those desolate and sandy shores is out of the question. Bismarck realises that he cannot raise Germany to the rank of a first-rate Power without giving her a fleet as formidable as her army. This design is Holland’s death-sentence.”

And Gambetta goes on to express his profound admiration of Holland, which he has just visited, and of the marvellous energy of the Dutch.

When the crisis of 1875 was past, when the elections of 1876 had resulted in a Republican majority in the Chamber, although MacMahon still remained President, Gambetta [Pg 194] became more hopeful. At length the Republic had been placed upon a definite footing. The four years’ provisional government was now over. The constitution had been established. On the eve of the election, towards the end of the debates on the constitution, Gambetta had written to Mme. Adam:[296] “At last we are nearing the end of our difficulties. And despite the malcontents and the mere office-seekers, we (i.e. the republican party) shall appear before the country in great force, offering it the two things we had promised—the dissolution of the Assembly[297] and the Republic. Thus we shall place the country in a position to send us a new political generation worthy to complete the work and capable of successfully accomplishing the regeneration of la patrie.”

Throughout the debates on the constitution, as we have seen, Mme. Adam’s salon continued to serve as a lobby to the chamber. Every new stage in the progress of that republican constitution she had so long desired, filled her with rejoicing. “On the 24th of February,” she writes,[298] “was passed the law establishing the Senate. Imagine our joy. Imagine the meetings in our salon.... Of course, as yet our Republic is but in its infancy; but it will grow. And we are certain that in a few days’ time the law defining the various parties of the constitution will be passed. All our gratitude as old republicans is due to Gambetta, who has conducted the negotiations with marvellous tact and diplomacy.”

Encouraged by the success of his labours, Gambetta began to take a more hopeful view of the European situation. The crisis of 1875 having been tided over, the French army having attained to a high degree of excellent organisation, something approaching universal service for five years having been instituted, he began to see his country in a position to hold her own against Germany. Alas! how very far this was from being the case was born in upon Gambetta when, in 1877, he visited that country. On his return Gambetta sent Mme. Adam an account of his journey. “This idea (the idea of the German visit), chère amie,” he wrote,[299] “originated with you in a friendly conversation.... We said to one another: ‘How useful it would be ... to go to Germany, and to take the opportunity afforded by [Pg 195] the manœuvres of studying on the spot, and with one’s own eyes, the results of that vast military organisation of which we have been the victims, and of which we remain the objective.’

“My only difficulty was how to carry out such an idea, how to observe closely, how to penetrate everywhere without exciting attention and suspicion, without being recognised.”

The simplest plan Gambetta found was to shave off his beard, thus rendering himself—as he puts it—uglier than ever, and quite unrecognisable even by his most intimate friends.

The result of that tour was to fill Gambetta with admiration of the work accomplished by M. de Bismarck. But he was quick to see also that Germany’s prosperity depended on the Prussian sword. Once that was allowed to rust, then the whole mechanism of the German State would fall out of gear. “The men of this nation,” he writes, “were well advised to concentrate their attention on the army. Their efforts have met with the most complete success. Unhappily,” he continues, “we possess no force which is worthy to be compared with the troops I have just seen.”

There is little doubt of the profound effect produced upon Gambetta by this and other visits to Germany. They convinced him that France was far from ready for la Revanche, at any rate for a revanche by force of arms. He did not, however, abandon altogether the hope of regaining the lost provinces by some diplomatic arrangement with Bismarck. He could not believe that Germany would long be able to endure the enormous burden of such vast military expenditure. To a deputation of Alsatians who visited him he held out this hope, adding,[300] “that the time would come when Germany would be willing to enter into some friendly agreement with France, and that for such an agreement there could only be one basis.”

Meanwhile, until that happy day should dawn, Gambetta advocated the strengthening of the French army. And henceforth, with renewed vigour, he never ceased to urge on the Government the necessity of perfecting every means of defence. No doubt it was partly due to this impulsion given by Gambetta that seven years after his death the [Pg 196] German military attaché in Paris was compelled to admit to Prince von Hohenlohe that the French army was superior to the German.[301]

But while France was improving and strengthening her defences, Gambetta was inclined to seek elsewhere compensation for the lost provinces. He advocated colonial expansion. He also advocated powerful alliances, notably with England; and with this object he more than once met the Prince of Wales (afterwards Edward VII) in Paris.

On every one of these points, with the exception of the strengthening of the army, he found himself in disagreement with Mme. Adam. “If I did not regard the establishment of a Republic as an absolute guarantee of the reconquest of Alsace-Lorraine,” she had said to Gambetta on the eve of the passing of the 1875 constitution, “then I would not support the Republic.”

“I thought you were a republican above all things.”

“No. I am first a Frenchwoman, then a passionate adorer of liberty, then a republican!”

“And you are always out of rank,” added her friend, not without impatience.[302]

It was during a picnic at Fontainebleau that Mme. Adam first heard Gambetta advocate the return of France to her old colonial traditions. It seemed to Juliette that by so doing he was postponing la Revanche.

“For love of France,” she entreated, “do not think of these diversions.”

Neither would she hear of an alliance with England. The Picard blood ran too strong in her veins.[303] Not until our entrance into this great war did she consistently display sympathy with great Britain.[304] Even during the Entente Cordiale she wondered whether England would not, after all, prove herself perfide Albion. Her grandmother had taught her to mistrust the English, hate the Prussians and love the Russians. As a young girl she detested the idea of fighting the Crimean War in alliance with England; and when peace came she rejoiced that now France could [Pg 197] return to friendship with Russia and enmity with England.[305] So now, if France must seek for an ally, let her go to Russia, not to England. Bismarck was eager to avert any understanding between France and Russia. For that very reason, she said to Gambetta, we should seek it.[306]

As to Gambetta’s real opinion of a Franco-Russian alliance there is considerable uncertainty. André Tardieu in his book Nos Alliances[307] quotes Gambetta as having said to a French Ambassador, Chaudordy, about to set out for Petrograd: appuyés sur la Russie et sur l’Angleterre, nous serons inattaquables. Mme. Adam tells of a mysterious journey she and her husband took with Gambetta to Geneva, where Princess Lise Troubetzkoi had arranged for him an interview with Gortschakoff.[308] The interview did not take place, however. And it is perfectly clear from Gambetta’s correspondence with Mme. Adam that then, for the time being, at any rate, he thought France should hold herself free from any alliances.

La France,” he wrote to Mme. Adam, “doit se tenir à l’écart, elle doit, tout en faisant des vœux pour la paix, ne rien faire, ne rien dire, qui puisse de près ou de loin l’engager même en parole avec personne.”

“Europe,” he continued, “had stood by while France was conquered. Let Europe now arrange her own affairs. It was the turn of France to stand aloof, to concern herself entirely with her own resurrection, to put her own house in order. When the day of her power and her strength returned, then would be the time for her to make her voice heard, and, as the price of her support to say, ‘What will you give me?’ On that day,” wrote Gambetta, “we may receive attractive proposals from a quarter whence we least expect them.”

What that quarter was Mme. Adam knew perfectly. Gambetta, it seemed to her, over-rated Bismarck’s power and influence. Her friend, she thought, was inclined to reduce the whole of French policy to the mere expectation of a day when from the Omnipotent, from the quarter “whence they were least expected,” France might receive propositions.[309]

Mme. Adam suspected Gambetta of being influenced in this direction by a certain salon which he had begun to [Pg 198] frequent. With a few exceptions, those of Duclerc, de Reims and Gambetta, there were no people who, after Bismarck, were more bitterly hated in Mme. Adam’s circle than Count Henckel de Donnersmarck and his wife, the widow of the Vicomte de Païva. Mme. Adam believed that la Païva, as she called her, had been Bismarck’s spy before the war; and it was rumoured that her husband, the Vicomte, on discovering it, had hanged himself. Count Donnersmarck was certainly on the best of terms with the German Chancellor, who after the surrender of Metz had made him its Prefect. The holding of such an office was in itself enough to make the Count detested in Paris. Nevertheless, finding Metz too hot for him, with brazen effrontery he returned to the French capital and to the mansion in the Champs Elysées, which before the war he had built on the site of the Jardin des Fleurs, and which has now been converted into the Travellers’ Club. The rumour that he had advised Bismarck to demand five milliards war indemnity instead of three did not increase the cordiality of his reception. And one of Mme. Adam’s friends, Xavier de Feuillant, so she tells us, horsewhipped him up the Champs Elysées.[310] Other Frenchmen, however, deemed it politic to cultivate the acquaintance of one who was in Bismarck’s confidence. And it was apparently in order to ascertain Germany’s real attitude towards France that politicians like Thiers and journalists like Émile de Girardin accepted invitations to the magnificent dinner-parties at Païva House.

To Mme. Adam such breaking of bread at an arch-enemy’s board was nothing short of the basest treachery. She wrote to her friend de Reims, who had visited the Donnersmarcks,[311] that if he continued to frequent Bismarck’s agent she would break with him for ever and deliver him up to Xavier Feuillant, who would treat him as he had done Henckel.

Imagine her horror, therefore, when Spuller told her that Gambetta, above all people, had actually dined at la Païva’s table. Spuller swore her to secrecy. She could not, therefore, unburden her mind in those torrential reproaches to which she was now in the habit of treating her former hero. But after Spuller had left her she gave way to despair. “I felt something die within me,” she writes.[312]

[Pg 199]

Yet another blow was in store for her; and again it was Spuller’s hand that was to inflict it. That Spuller who had been and was still thought to be Gambetta’s devoted friend, his right hand, his shadow, his Achates, should thus have sowed discord between Mme. Adam and Gambetta seems unaccountable until one considers that, while Spuller was a fervent deist, Gambetta was constantly inclining more and more to the extreme anti-clerical side, and to so-called atheists, represented by such politicians as Paul Bert. Further, after Edmond Adam’s death in 1877,[313] if rumours may be credited, both Spuller and Gambetta aspired to marry his widow.[314] Adam himself, in view of his wife’s impulsive temperament, and well aware how numerous would be the suitors who, after his death, would solicit her hand, on his death-bed exacted from her a promise not to remarry for three years. The promise was unnecessary. Mme. Adam, who has always believed in a life after death, feels that she and her husband have not been finally parted. Nous continuerons à vivre notre vie tous les deux,[315] were some of the last words she spoke to him. And in that belief she has continued faithful to his memory for forty years.

It was after Adam’s death that Spuller committed what one cannot help regarding as a treacherous betrayal of Gambetta’s confidence. He made a communication to Mme. Adam which for ever destroyed her belief in Gambetta as l’Homme de la Revanche. On the 23rd of December, 1877, Spuller wrote from Paris to Mme. Adam at Bruyères[316] that Gambetta was contemplating an interview with Bismarck at Varzin. Let us say at once that, as far as we know, the interview never took place. But that Gambetta ever should have entertained the idea was enough for Mme. Adam. Apparently the scheme had originated with Count Henckel and Prince von Hohenlohe,[317] then German Ambassador in Paris. They had communicated it to Thiers shortly before his death. He had passed it on to Gambetta.

A few weeks after she had received Spuller’s letter, Gambetta visited Mme. Adam at Bruyères. He was on his [Pg 200] way from a conference at Rome with the Italian Prime Minister, Crispi, well known to be Bismarck’s fervent admirer and staunch supporter. Mme. Adam determined, without betraying Spuller’s confidence, to reproach her friend with his politique bismarckienne. And in the last volume of her Souvenirs[318] she relates that memorable conversation in which she took him to task not alone for his abandonment of la Revanche, but also for his bitter anti-clerical policy.

They had been wandering along the shore till they found themselves on the point which forms the extremity of the Baie des Anges. There they sat down on a rock. Against it, at their feet, the waves were beating persistently.

Half joking, half in earnest, Mme. Adam said to Gambetta, “That sighing wave for ever repulsed by the rock is I.”

“And who is the rock?”

“You and your perverse foreign policy.”

“What policy?”

To avoid a direct reply, she asked a question: “And what was your object in going to Rome if not to seal your Crispian and Bismarckian policy?”

“I was compelled to choose between two evils: that of national effacement, called isolation, and that of participation in the diplomacy of Europe. I chose the latter, because it furnished me with a support, the importance of which you cannot divine, in my domestic policy.”

“I do divine it,” she replied. “My Russian friends tell me things which enable me to draw my own conclusions. But, my dear friend, in coming to terms with Bismarck (here Gambetta could not refrain from a movement of surprise, which Mme. Adam feigned not to notice) you are involving yourself in a Kulturkampf of which Bismarck himself is weary, for it disintegrates all parties. Your French Kulturkampf may serve Italy and her feud with the papacy, and Victor Emmanuel must have welcomed you as a friend. But it also benefits Paul Bert, Ranc, Ferry, Brisson, Clemenceau. Now, although they may call themselves your friends, they, the two last especially, have only one idea: viz. to remove you when you have removed all obstacles to the rise of these demagogues.”

[Pg 201]

“So you think me Bismarckian because I am anti-clerical.”

“Certain of your restrictions, the change in your way of referring to our lost provinces, have tortured me. As soon as you refrained from sympathising with Russia at the beginning of the Russo-Turkish War, I concluded that you had abandoned the idea of la Revanche; for the only way to regain Alsace-Lorraine is by winning the hearts of nations whose interests like our own render them the enemies of Germany and of England. This we may do by displaying our sympathy with those nations in their hours of trial.”

“My dear friend,” remonstrated Gambetta, “you must know that it is madness to think of reconquering Alsace-Lorraine.”

“Now; yes, I know. But later? Duclerc, whose efficiency and devotion as president of the army commission you yourself have so often admired in my presence, constantly tells me we shall be ready in 1880.”

Gambetta shrugged his shoulders and replied impatiently—

“We must experiment in a policy of expansion, we must conquer or by a tactful neutrality win the equivalent of that we have lost. Afterwards we shall see. As for my anti-clericalism at home, so much the better if it furthers my policy abroad. But rest assured, it will not blind me so far as to risk the loss of the advantage to France of being regarded as the upholder of Catholic traditions.”

“To carry out so double-faced a policy on a question which is so vital, surely that is impossible?”

Gambetta was convinced that it was possible. He went on to speak of Italy, of Victor Emmanuel, of his friendship for France, provided she would undertake not to restore the Pope’s temporal power, of the benefits of Italian unity. “Italy,” said Gambetta, “is now what France once was, a perfect organisation.”

“While with us,” replied Mme. Adam, “the loss of two of our organs is constantly destroying our equilibrium more and more.... Never shall we regain it until we have reconquered Alsace-Lorraine, as Italy has reconquered Lombardy and Venetia. Ah, my friend, how can I tell you my grief at suspecting you more and more implicated with Germany? You, our national defender—you, whose words, whose acts galvanised in her humiliation the France [Pg 202] to whom you promised a resurrection, you are false to your mission! You must forgive me, but the cruel words must be spoken: you betray your destiny. Never will Bismarck raise you to that pinnacle of greatness on which you were placed by your fidelity to Alsace-Lorraine. But I wound you.”

It argues well for Gambetta’s magnanimity and also for his patriotism that he could hear such reproaches and still remain the friend of her who uttered them.

“You cannot wound me, my dear friend,” he replied. “For you speak to me as you must speak—you, an idealist, whom reality does not restrain from arriving at contradictory conclusions.... You follow the dictates of your heart, I of my reason. We must each go our road.”

“Mine,” she replied, “is the national road, marked out by the great proud past of my race; yours is a combinazione with a scoundrel.”

“Whatever our differences,” replied Gambetta, smiling, “let us promise to remain faithful to our friendship.”

“I swear it,” she replied.

In taking that oath Mme. Adam was sincere. Despite their disagreement on such vital matters, she valued highly Gambetta’s friendship. Nevertheless, each pursuing so widely divergent a road, it was inevitable they should drift apart. The one great disagreement was magnified by a thousand minor differences. She, who had first made him un homme du monde, grew appalled to observe his increasing passion for luxury, for ostentation; his susceptibility to the flatteries of fashionable women who gathered round him; his neglect of the simple folk from whom he had sprung; his financial and amorous embarrassments.[319] Now that Adam was no longer at hand to extricate him from the latter, she did what she could. But it was obvious to Gambetta that he had forfeited her approval. Their meetings too often passed in mutual recrimination. Mme. Adam’s disappointment in her former hero was accentuated by a series of events: first, when on MacMahon’s fall in 1877, Gambetta, instead of, as she hoped, becoming President of the Republic, accepted the office of President of the Chamber; again, when in 1879, as President of the Council, he roused immense opposition by the irony of [Pg 203] appointing as Minister of Public Worship so pronounced an agnostic as Paul Bert; finally, when after a few months in this highest political eminence to which he ever attained, he was defeated on a motion for electoral reform, and went out of office.

By that time Mme. Adam and Gambetta had ceased to correspond. They met but seldom.

Of the mystery which surrounds his death in the December of 1882 she refuses to talk. “We never speak of those things,” she said sadly, when one day at Gif I referred to them. Equally silent is Mme. Adam about that veiled figure dominating the background of Gambetta’s later years, that Mlle. L. L——, who never missed one of Gambetta’s speeches in the Assembly, whose letters Gambetta used to read to Mme. Adam in the early years of their friendship.[320]

With her innate cheerfulness she now prefers to dwell on the early years of her friend’s career, when as an ardent young Bohemian meridional he was first making his appearance in her salon, or when at the height of his fame he kept his state at her evening parties, remaining in an ante-room apart and there receiving in solemn conclave those whom, as likely to help him in his political designs, his hosts thought it desirable he should meet. In those days he was still living with his old Aunt Tata in Paris, and in affectionate intimacy with his parents and sister in the south. His sister’s sons are to-day as dear to Mme. Adam as if they were her own. Of one of them, Léon, the younger, who is now a cavalry officer at the front, she relates with pride that he has sworn to be the first to ride into reconquered Strasbourg.


[288] See Marcel Sembat, Faites un Roi ou faites le Paix (1915), passim.

[289] Souvenirs, V. 2.

[290] Ibid., IV. 316.

[291] Mr. Britling Sees it Through, 378.

[292] Souvenirs, VI. 330.

[293] Ibid., 198.

[294] Souvenirs, VI. 157.

[295] Ibid., 182.

[296] Souvenirs, VI. 290.

[297] It had been sitting since February 1871.

[298] Souvenirs, VI. 226.

[299] Ibid., 388.

[300] Henri Galli, Gambetta et l’Alsace-Lorraine, p. 315.

[301] Prince von Hohenlohe, Mémoires, II. 405.

[302] Souvenirs, VI. 16.

[303] Ibid., I. 208.

[304] Her references to England in her articles contributed to La Nouvelle Revue are somewhat contradictory. When a commercial treaty between our two nations was on foot, she would argue that our interests are identical. Generally she maintained that we are doomed to be rivals.

[305] Souvenirs, II. 22.

[306] Ibid., VI. 405.

[307] p. 9.

[308] Souvenirs, VI. 272.

[309] Ibid., 405.

[310] Souvenirs, V. 297.

[311] Ibid., VI. 84.

[312] Ibid., VII. 73.

[313] Souvenirs, VI. 472.

[314] For those rumours with regard to Gambetta, see ante, 186.

[315] Souvenirs, VI. 471.

[316] Ibid., VII. 112.

[317] See Henri Galli, Gambetta et l’Alsace-Lorraine, 314.

[318] Souvenirs, VII. 121-7.

[319] See Mme. Adam’s story of the “Affaire de la Rue Roquépine,” Souvenirs, VII. 55-60.

[320] See ante, 186; also Souvenirs, VI. 80, and Le cœur de Gambetta, by Laur.

[Pg 204]



Petit à petit, la guerre, nos malheurs, la Commune, l’abandon de la revanche, m’auraient détachée du jacobinisme et de la grande Révolution.”—Mme. Adam.

L’âme de la France est-elle donc catholique, et ne peut-on être en contact absolu avec elle que par le catholicisme et sa plus pure tradition?”—Ibid.

“Something is dying within me” (quelque chose agonise en moi) Mme. Adam had written at the close of her most memorable talk with Gambetta in 1878. That something was not only her faith in her friend’s determination to achieve la Revanche, it was also her hope for the establishment of an ideal Republic. To her mind the Republic, for the sake of whose stability Gambetta had found it necessary to sacrifice la Revanche and to enter into an understanding with Bismarck, was not worth having.

“One does not make use of a Bismarck,”[321] Mme. Adam had said to her friend.

“Who knows?” was his rejoinder. “Perhaps it will be he who will give us the Republic.”

“Then it would be fatal to us,” she replied. And that this Republic was proving fatal to liberty and fatal to her hopes she was becoming more and more fully convinced. “It is disenchanting us all, alarming us all,” she wrote. “It is disappointing our dreams of greatness at home and showing itself incapable of any effort towards heroism and greatness abroad.”[322]

From the time of her rupture with Gambetta until the Great War, Mme. Adam was indeed what one of her contemporaries has most happily called her, la grande désabusée de la troisième république.[323]

Almost as strongly as of his abandonment of la Revanche did Mme. Adam disapprove of Gambetta’s virulent anti-clerical policy. She began to agree with Mérimée, who, [Pg 205] though an agnostic, feared lest so-called free-thinkers might prove as intolerant as the Church. “Do you think,” he had said, referring to the anti-clericals of those imperial days,[324] “that these men, if they were in the Government would ever give you liberty? They are the sons of Robespierre, Saint-Just and Marat. If ever they come into power, they will follow the example not merely of the Terrorists but of the Church in its darkest days. For they themselves, the fanatics of anti-clericalism, they are a church, smaller than the other but equally dogmatic.”

In his first speeches after the war Gambetta had declared himself in favour of strict liberty of opinion. But, finding the Republic’s enemies too often in close alliance with the Church, he had become embittered against the Catholic party.

Thirty years later Combes’ bitter attack on the Church was to arouse in many a free-thinker Catholic sympathies. In like manner Gambetta’s extreme anti-clericalism helped to make a Catholic of Mme. Adam. Towards the end of his life he tended more and more to throw in his lot with the extreme anti-clericals led by Paul Bert, who, adapting to the moment Peyrat’s famous phrase, le cléricalisme c’est l’ennemi,[325] declared le cléricalisme c’est le phylloxera.

That wily deist Spuller did not neglect this further opportunity of stealing a march on his rival.[326] He encouraged Mme. Adam in the idea that by waging war against the Church Gambetta was playing Bismarck’s game, and helping the Chancellor to carry on in France the Kulturkampf he was conducting with so much vigour in Germany. Had not Gambetta himself admitted that the Kulturkampf had changed the whole aspect of the struggle against the Church![327] In France, he had come to regard the separation between the Church and State as an almost necessary condition of any durable alliance with the Italian kingdom. “As long as we remain the eldest daughter of the Church,” he said to Mme. Adam,[328] “the papacy will rely upon our support, and this will inevitably endanger our friendly relations with Italy.”

Gambetta’s attitude in these vital matters was certainly changing his friend’s religious point of view. She was beginning to feel that she could no longer, as in 1866, [Pg 206] describe herself as a pagan and an anti-clerical.[329] Then to oppose the Church had been to oppose the Empire. Now it seemed to her that to oppose the Church was to unite with Bismarck. The Catholic traditions of her country were beginning to appeal to her. “I remembered,” she writes,[330] “how for centuries Catholic France had been superbly patriotic, how for centuries the association between God and the King, God and la patrie, had perhaps been more essential than I had ever believed.”

Already she had travelled far from the days of the siege of Paris, when, in admiration of the nuns’ fearlessness during the small-pox epidemic, she had reflected, “Ought not my philosophy to give me as much courage as they derive from their religion?”[331]

By a strange contradiction Mme. Adam’s passion for revenge was carrying her towards a religion whose Founder had refused to countenance such a sentiment. But in wending her way Romewards she was obeying not so much the dictates of reason as ancestral voices, impulses arising from her subconscious self, beckonings from that Catholic past which is never far removed from any child of France.

The years 1876 and ’77 were dark years for Juliette Adam. They had reft from her George Sand, her father, Dr. Lambert, and then her husband. Dr. Lambert had died early in 1876, while his daughter was at Bruyères. Mme. Sand’s death occurred on the 8th of June. In the August of the following year, it fell to Mme. Adam’s lot to perform a melancholy mission. George Sand, shortly before her death, had expressed a wish that her study should remain under lock and key for one year, at the end of which it should be opened by her son Maurice and Juliette Adam. For this purpose Mme. Adam went to Nohant, where she found awaiting her a strange and sorrowful experience. When the seal was broken, there was the study just as George Sand had left it, with a partly finished manuscript on the desk, with the arm-chair half turned round as when its occupant had risen from it for the last time. During those moments the spirit of the departed seemed to come very near to her friend.

By that time Mme. Adam was a widow. Her husband had died in the previous May. Throughout her bereavement, there was no one to whom she turned more willingly [Pg 207] for consolation than to Adam’s friend Thiers. He never tired of hearing her talk about her husband, whom he had known long and intimately, and whom he had never failed to appreciate. But three months after Adam’s death, Thiers followed him to the grave.

“Blow after blow falls upon me,” writes Mme. Adam. “Thiers’ loss creates another blank in my life.”

Her buoyant cheerfulness, however, her unquenchable hopefulness, her innate optimism would not permit her to remain long a prey to grief and melancholy. If earthly things disappointed her, if she failed to find here below the fulfilment of her hopes, the realisation of her dreams, then she would look elsewhere. She refused to be altogether disappointed. With Jean Jacques Rousseau she felt that she had wept too much in this life not to believe in another. Henceforth she began to dwell more and more on that other world, of faith in which her paganism had never succeeded in depriving her. With her the unseen had ever been vividly present.

Her exuberant Celtic imagination had projected itself into the spirit world. She believes that her grandmother appeared to her after her death, and that many important events of her life have been prophesied to her by some soothsayer, palmist or somnambulist. She herself used to tell fortunes; and, at the close of her evening receptions, to a few favoured guests, Gambetta, Girardin, Spuller, for example, who liked to linger after the rest had gone, she would predict the future by cutting cards. But her own soothsaying must not be taken too seriously. For she admits she was glad to take this opportunity of telling some home truths, and giving to her friends useful advice which, administered in any other way, might have offended them. Gambetta was frequently the recipient of such counsel. The cards, for instance, warned him that by a meeting as “diabolical as that of Christ’s temptation on the mountain” he was risking the loss of his prestige.[332] He was also enjoined to beware of women and their advice. Some would dash him into the abyss of ruin, he was told, while others would raise him on to dizzy heights no less dangerous. He was bidden to be a lover and a friend, but to choose only men for his confidants. Refusing to recognise in such warnings anything but the advice of the fair necromancer [Pg 208] herself, Gambetta replied mischievously, “You are rather hard on yourself. But perhaps it is in order that you may be still harder on others.”

In the past, the main object of Mme. Adam’s adoration had been la patrie. So it will continue to be until the end. In her pagan days, after la patrie, she had adored the gods and heroes of Greece and Rome. They had represented to her the ideals of a civilisation which she regarded as the highest and most complete to which humanity has yet attained. When Mme. Adam became a Christian the gods and heroes of antiquity made way for Christ and His Saints, and for Mme. Adam’s patriotic soul first among the latter is Jeanne d’Arc.[333] For even now la patrie remains enthroned in the first place in her hierarchy. Indeed, she has returned to the Catholic Church chiefly because thus she hopes best to fulfil her mission as a patriotic Frenchwoman. “I believe,” she said to me, “that a true French patriot can no more escape being a Catholic than can a truly patriotic Turk escape being a Mussulman.” Nevertheless, that it may not always be easy to reconcile patriotism and religion is suggested by the following letter, which Mme. Adam wrote in reply to my inquiry as to her views of the reputed pro-German attitude of the present Pope—

Abbaye de Gif,

“.... Pour le Pape—Je suis catholique, apostolique et romaine. Revenue aux croyances de ma grand’mère.... Vous comprendrez que je n’ai pas, si tardive croyante, le droit de discuter les actions du St. Père. Mais mes vœux étaient pour le Cardinal Rampolla, que l’Autriche détestait et que la France eut tant aimé! Là encore je dois me taire. Vous pouvez seulement dire à quel point mes vœux accompagnaient le Cardinal Rampolla, que j’avais la fierté de connaître.


We have seen how Mme. Adam’s father had brought her up in communion with the Hellenic soul; how in Mme. d’Agoult’s salon she delighted to fraternise with those enthusiastic Hellenists, de Ronchaud, Paul Saint-Victor, [Pg 209] and Louis Ménard. After her rupture with Mme. d’Agoult, and throughout all the vicissitudes of the intervening years, this Grecque ressuscitée, as Victor Hugo used to call her, had never ceased, whenever she met her Hellenic friends, with them to live and move and have her being in the world of ancient Greece. Together they dreamed of seeing established in France what they described somewhat vaguely as “the Athenian Republic.” Together they welcomed the advent of those young poets, “the incomparable Parnassians,” whom Ménard fathered, François Coppée, Sully Prudhomme,[334] Hérédia, Alphonse Daudet, Baudelaire, Villiers de l’Isle Adam, Anatole France and Lecomte de Lisle. Mme. Adam had been delighted when Gaston Paris brought to her salon that wonderful Sully Prudhomme, who from a workman in Creusot’s factory had developed into a poet, scholar and philosopher.[335] Volume by volume, as they appeared, she devoured Lemerre’s edition of the Parnassians’ collected works, becoming every day, she writes, sauf quelques réserves, a convinced admirer and an ardent propagandist of the new school of poets.[336]

The reserve she referred to was this: she could not bring herself to admire the marmoreal immobility cultivated by the Parnassians. “Ils ne rêvent pas comme moi” she writes,[337]de draperies flottantes au vent qui souffle du golfe de Phalère ou du mont Hymette: ils veulent le pli statuaire, moi je l’aime vivant.”

One, who attended Mme. Adam’s reception when her salon was at the height of its political influence, tells how eager she was to withdraw from political discussion whenever an opportunity offered of talking about Greece and things Greek.

Her three best novels, Laide, Grecque and Païenne, are inspired throughout by these Hellenic sympathies. In a delightful article on Le Néo-Hellenisme,[338] Jules Lemaître, that most eminent of French critics since Sainte-Beuve, bestows high praise on this trilogy of novels, which he describes as “a rare effort of sympathetic imagination.” Nevertheless, though in all sincerity Mme. Adam strove hard to attain to the Greek point of view, a mind so essentially actual as hers could not fail to introduce a certain modernity into her [Pg 210] portrayal of what seemed to her the Greek atmosphere and temperament. As Lemaître points out, in these novels every passion, every impression, every phrase, is obviously three thousand years older than a line of Homer, twenty-four centuries older than a line of Sophocles.

Mme. Adam, with her antipathy to everything Gothic, Teutonic and mediæval, may try to cultivate a dislike of romanticism, she remains notwithstanding, and her criticism of the Parnassians quoted above proves it, a romanticist, the child of Chateaubriand and Mme. de Staël. She may try to ignore the Middle Ages, but she cannot suppress them. And Jules Lemaître may well inquire whether “if the whole Middle Ages had not groaned and bled beneath the Cross Mme. Juliette Lambert would be able to rejoice so rapturously in her Greek gods.” For the vague paganism of that day depends for its very existence on the Christianity of which it was the negation. The paganism of Mme. Adam and her friends was provoked by the Christian’s enmity to all things carnal. It was a protest in favour of that joie de vivre, of that physical beauty, of those natural joys which the mediæval Christian had condemned as the works of the devil. When life’s joyfulness began to fade, Mme. Adam, like so many others, turned to Christianity. She had always, as she had confessed to Littré at Mme. d’Agoult’s dinner-party,[339] had the will to believe.

“Would you know how and why I became a Catholic, then you must read Chrétienne,” said Mme. Adam. And indeed this novel describes her conversion from paganism to Christianity. Here we see how that adoration of Greece, which she owed to her father’s upbringing had ceased to be a living inspiration, how it had been relegated to the past. That old conflict of her childhood between her father’s paganism and her grandmother’s Christianity recurring, resulted in her grandmother’s influence gradually alienating her soul from Greece, and transforming into a mere literary preference what was once a religious inspiration.

Chrétienne is the sequel to Païenne. The two novels tell the story of a beautiful Frenchwoman, Melissandre. She is married to a heartless rake, whom she has never loved, a M. de Noves. She has a lover, a gifted painter, Tiburce. Both novels are in the form of letters. They [Pg 211] contain few incidents. But they tell the story of a consuming passion, which in Païenne burns with fierce ardour and in Chrétienne cools down into serene affection. The death of the husband, M. de Noves, which occurs in a duel at the close of Païenne does not, as one might expect, lead to the lovers’ immediate marriage. Before the consummation of their legal union intervenes the whole of Chrétienne. For religious misgivings, which have arisen in the heart of Melissandre, cause her to banish her lover for a while. He goes to Greece. She remains in France. In the interval, Melissandre and Tiburce, who had both been fervent pagans, fall under Catholic influences, which convince them that their Hellenic ideals are only to be cherished so far as they lead to Christ. In the words of Tiburce, they follow “the great pagan” St. Paul on the road to Damascus.[340] And not until they have been received back into the Church of their fathers do they become man and wife.

In these two books Mme. Adam brilliantly displays one of her most eminent literary gifts, which she has shown in all her writings: her passion for the beauties of nature and her power of describing them. It was their love of nature that had first attracted her to the Greeks.

The idea of race has ever played a dominant part in Mme. Adam’s mentality. “Je suis Gauloise, je suis Grecque, Latine, mais rien d’autre,” she writes.[341] In returning to Christianity she flattered herself that she was returning to the traditions of her race, to the Roman Church which she regards as the highest expression of Latin culture, and of that Mediterranean tradition, which embodies all that she loves and respects, and which is the direct antithesis to the northern tradition, to the Kultur of Berlin.[342] Bismarck she hated, not only as the conqueror of France and the persecutor of Catholics, but as the sworn foe of Latin culture. Spuller had told her that the Chancellor had a horror of everything Latin, that in his Kulturkampf he was warring not merely against the religious idea, but against Latin influence in letters, philosophy and art.[343]


[321] Souvenirs, VI. 30.

[322] Ibid., VII. 356.

[323] Arthur Meyer, editor of Le Gaulois, Ce que mes yeux ont vu, 158-9.

[324] Souvenirs, III. 15.

[325] Ibid., VI. 128.

[326] Ibid., VII. 48.

[327] Ibid., 124.

[328] Ibid.

[329] Souvenirs, III. 86.

[330] Ibid., VII. 380.

[331] Ibid., IV. 119.

[332] Souvenirs, VII. 164.

[333] Technically, Jeanne d’Arc is not a saint. At present she is only “blessed,” having not yet attained to the third and final stage of canonisation.

[334] Souvenirs, III. 106.

[335] Ibid., 36, 37.

[336] Ibid., 106.

[337] Ibid., VII. 404-5.

[338] Les Contemporains, 1ère série, 119-64.

[339] See ante, 69.

[340] Chrétienne, 224.

[341] Souvenirs, III. 401.

[342] Hanotaux, Histoire de la France Contemporaine, I. 504.

[343] Souvenirs, VII. 395-6.

[Pg 212]




“La Nouvelle Revue devait être le foyer, de l’idée, de la revanche et le lien de réunion de la France régenerée.”—Léon Daudet.

La Nouvelle Revue ... was to be the organ of the young Republic in periodical literature.”—Richard Whiteing.

Intensity is a dominant note of Mme. Adam’s nature. It characterises alike her hatred and her loves, her preferences and her prejudices. While, as Gambetta remarked, she lets her rancour run dangerously near ferocity,[344] she treasures her friendships as the most precious gifts of the gods. Nothing pleases her better than to help her friends. “The surest way to my friendship,” she declares, “is to ask me to render some service.”

Sitting next to Edmond de Goncourt at one of Alphonse Daudet’s dinner-parties, she said, “I have a hundred friends ... and that is about the number I need.... I am always grateful to people who make demands on me. It is my life.... My energy loves to be serviceable.” She has ever been ready to wear herself out in the cause of the unfortunate, pour s’intéresser aux pauvres diables, as her friend Léon Daudet expresses it. I find in one of her letters to me this sentence: “Chacune de vos lettres m’attache maternellement à vous; c’est ainsi que j’aime le plus.” In another letter she expresses this very characteristic sentiment: “C’est tout de suite ou jamais avec moi. Vous avez senti qu’avec vous c’était tout de suite.” At a glance she has always decided whether she likes or dislikes a person. If the former, then she gives her confidence absolutely and completely. But woe to the unhappy wight whom she finds in any fundamental matter unworthy of that confidence. “I don’t envy any one who is [Pg 213] Mme. Adam’s enemy,” said Changarnier. “But,” replied Jules de Lasteyrie, “I do envy any one who is her friend.”

In everything which concerns the welfare of her friends Mme. Adam takes the deepest interest. I shall never forget her solicitude for my safety in my numerous war-time Channel crossings. Immediately the Sussex went down, she wrote asking if I knew any one who was on board. As the submarine menace grew more serious, whenever I returned to England she would bombard me with letters and postcards clamouring to be assured of my safety: “Chère amie, ecrivez-moi vite que vous êtes bien arrivée”; then another card: “Chère, très chère amie, je vous supplie de m’envoyez ce simple mot sur une carte ‘arrivée.’” Finally, after the torpedoing of a French man-of-war and the loss of the crew of six hundred, she writes: “Il ne faut plus venir en France sans une nécessité absolue, car je crois que les affreux Boches ajouteront des crimes à leurs crimes.” In another letter she had written: “Le dieu teuton demande des crimes journaliers.”

Some of the most entrancing pages of Mme. Adam’s Souvenirs tell the story of her literary friendships with Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, Alphonse Daudet. It was in friendship that she found her greatest consolation at the time of Adam’s death. Gambetta was with her when the doctor gave up all hope of his recovery. “I shall return this evening,” said her friend, “and many of us will come.” Her husband during his last days liked to know that she was receiving as usual.[345]

As the breach between Mme. Adam and Gambetta widened, her salon underwent a change. Its mistress, disappointed with politics, turned more and more to her artistic and literary friends. “If in politics there is much to sadden me,” she wrote,[346] “I have my literary consolations.” Coquelin was now to be found frequently at her receptions, so were the Alsatian painter, Henner, the battle-painter, Detaille, and Carolus Duran.

“My salon is quite changed,” she writes, “but it is no less lively than of yore. Conversation has gained in brilliance what it has lost in weight.”[347] Artists, authors, sculptors, musical composers were delighted to meet one another; and the politicians who still visited her were pleased to se dépolitiquer.

[Pg 214]

In this transformed salon there gradually materialised an idea which Mme. Adam had long cherished.

Even before the war it had more than once been suggested to the Adams that they should found a review. George Sand, while she was visiting Bruyères, had tried to induce her host and hostess to start a fortnightly magazine which might rival La Revue des Deux Mondes, from the tyranny of whose editor, Buloz, she was suffering much. “Adam,” she argued,[348] “has been a journalist, you are literary. He with his critical gift and sound common sense would be an ideal editor, you with your zeal and your passion for admiring would discover new talent; you would revel, as I have always done, in the joy of bringing others into notice.”

But Adam was too much of a politician to entertain the idea of inaugurating a publication which should have a strong literary as well as political strain. After Adam’s death, however, George Sand’s words often recurred to his widow.

She first communicated her idea to Flaubert. That consummate master of literary style had never made much money by his books. Mme. Adam, who had been his friend for years, was seriously distressed by his financial embarrassments, which he had vainly tried to conceal from her. His pride rendered him one of the most difficult people to help. But Mme. Adam, with his friends Taine, Tourguénieff, and others, succeeded in persuading Jules Ferry, then President of the Chamber, to appoint Flaubert librarian of the Arsenal Library. It was when he came to thank Mme. Adam for her kindness in this matter that she broached to him the subject of a magazine, in which he should be “the master of masters,” if he would agree to contribute one article a month.[349]

“What!” he exclaimed in horror; “like that—by the yard, so much a line!”

“No,” she replied, “so much the word, the letter! For anything by Flaubert is gold, it is rubies.”

“That is enough,” he interrupted. “When I have completed my revision of L’Education Sentimentale, of which I am publishing a new edition, I will finish Bouvard et Pecuchet, and you shall have that.”

“You will swear it?”

[Pg 215]

“I swear it.”

Flaubert was greatly taken with the idea of the new venture. He demanded a place in the review for his young disciple, Guy de Maupassant. Littré, too, approved of the enterprise. He agreed to write articles on philosophy. But Girardin was appalled at the capital such an undertaking would require. Mme. Adam was known to be wealthy, her husband having left her a considerable fortune. Nevertheless, so many other similar enterprises—La Revue Nationale, La Revue Germanique, La Revue de Paris—had foundered miserably, having failed to hold their own against the veteran Revue des Deux Mondes. Girardin had grave doubts as to the possibility of success. Nevertheless, he thought it an excellent idea to replace the waning influence of her salon by that of a review in which she could say anything and criticise everything. He advised her to found a company, in which she should take half the shares; and he himself promised to become a shareholder.

Gambetta Mme. Adam found far from encouraging. “Whatever is this mad idea of founding a review?” he exclaimed.

“Nothing is more serious,” she replied. “As republican politics seem to have resolved themselves into nothing more nor less than a distribution of rewards, my political salon has ceased to interest me. It is about to be transformed into a literary salon with the solid support of a review.”

“You won’t carry on your review for six months,” he retorted.... “You don’t know what you are undertaking. How could a woman ever possess enough authority, knowledge, energy, and business faculty to direct a review?” Gambetta carefully ignored the famous Revue Internationale, founded and successfully edited for some years by Napoléon I.’s great-niece, Mme. Ratazzi, better known by her nom de guerre of “Baron Stock.”

“My dear friend,” replied Juliette Adam, “will you take the trouble to remember this? I shall carry on my review for twenty years, and I shall introduce to my readers twenty new authors.”

The question of the title puzzled her for some time. Then she writes—

Tiens, j’ai trouvé mon titre La Nouvelle Revue. Ce [Pg 216] titre me plaît et plaît à tous. Je l’ai tant cherché, et il est venu tout seul.

Her old friend Laurent Pichat, one of those who had always recommended Adam, “that millionaire in wisdom and moderation,” as he called him, to found a review, threw himself heart and soul into the project. “You cannot have too many contributors,” he said.

It was chiefly among the young authors and writers that these contributors were recruited. “Our review,” they called it, for them it was founded. One of its main objects was to give the chance to the young and the unknown which La Revue des Deux Mondes denied them.

But, as we have seen, many of Mme. Adam’s old friends were also to be represented in its pages: Challemel-Lacour, Spuller, and her fellow-Hellenists Saint-Victor and de Ronchaud. Nothing pleased her more than the interest taken in it by M. Ferdinand de Lesseps, a new acquaintance whom she owed to Girardin.

Another of her great acquisitions was Alphonse Daudet, the writer who to her seemed more essentially French than any other author of that day. She considered him the equal of Balzac and Flaubert. She had hardly dared to hope for his collaboration. All the greater, therefore, was her joy when he assured her that any project destined to help forward young writers might count on his support. And Daudet was not one to give his name alone. As long as he lived the editress of La Nouvelle Revue found in him one of her most trusted supporters.

But the course of editing, like that of true love, does not always run smooth; and Mme. Adam had her disappointments. One of these was Taine’s refusal to collaborate. On the 29th of March, 1879,[350] he wrote excusing himself on account of bad health and absence from Paris. Though he was by no means devoted to La Revue des Deux Mondes, he reminded the new editress that when an attempt had been made fifteen years earlier to give that journal a rival, it had been calculated that such a project could not be realised in less than six years, and would necessitate an expenditure of a million of francs.

Mme. Adam hoped to carry out her design in two years, and with an expenditure of five hundred thousand francs. On this basis and before the summer of 1879 was over, [Pg 217] the company had been formed. In June, Mme. Adam had left her Paris flat for a house in the Parc de Séchan at Montmorency. But on a lower floor of the Maison Sallandrouze she established the office of the review. All through July, August and September she was busy buying paper, negotiating with printers, making all the preparations for her first number, which was to appear on the 1st of October.

Her salon—all that was left of it, for she had little time for receiving visitors either at Montmorency or at La Maison Sallandrouze—was becoming more and more le Salon de la Nouvelle Revue. “Je suis tout à la littérature,” she writes.[351] On her editor’s desk were accumulating piles and piles of MSS.—poems, plays, stories, novels, political articles.

There was no lack of contributors. “Les adhésions me viennent en foule,” she writes.[352] “All those who are suffering from disillusionment, who are indignant to see our politicians prefer their personal interests to the national cause, come to me.” On the whole, she displayed in her choice of contributors a certain eclecticism. Among her earliest collaborators we find women as well as men, Protestants as well as Catholics, not only Frenchmen but foreigners, the Russian novelist Tourguénieff, the Spanish statesman Castelar, the Hungarian general Turr, the Italian publicist Gioia, the Turk Abdul-Hakk, while English letters were represented by Sidney Colvin. Sarcey and Théodore Reinach were to contribute literary articles, Theuriet, François Coppée, Lecomte de Lisle poetry, General Gallifet and Paul Marchand military articles, Joseph Reinach political. Science was represented by Camille Flammarion and Stanislas Meunier, history by Thierry and Gebhart, mythology by Elie Reclus, fiction by Erckmann-Chatrian, and others whose names are to-day less known.

The first number appeared, as announced, on the 1st of October, 1879. It received an excellent welcome.

The main object of the review was avowedly nationalist, to glorify France. “With all my heart and soul,” writes the editor,[353] “I am determined to make my review a credit to French letters, a reflection of republican disinterestedness, patriotism and dignity. What should I [Pg 218] do ... did I not feel that I am about to create a work which shall be essentially republican and liberal?”

Disappointed by the Government’s abandonment of the policy of a territorial revanche, Mme. Adam set her heart on realising la revanche intellectuelle. The more she thought of gathering together all the talents, the more forcibly was she impressed by the intellectual vigour, the scientific, literary and artistic superiority of her country. “Notre France est grande,” she exclaims. “But every one plunders her, and no one dreams of making her wealth known. This is what I shall do.”

Gambetta, realising how far they had drifted apart, betrayed not a little anxiety as to the political line she was likely to follow.

“Shall you be as hostile to me as you are to my policy?” he asked.[354]

“The home truths that I can no longer tell you in my salon I shall certainly tell you in my review,” she replied.

“Why, this is practically a declaration of war,” he exclaimed.

“No, it is a proclamation of independence.”

In her opening address to her readers she did not fail to appear as la grande désabusée. Disappointed with party politics, she looked forward to a time when party strife should cease and politics rise into the serene air of social science. For the next twenty years of her life Juliette Adam, or Juliette Lamber, as she still signed herself, was to live her life in La Nouvelle Revue. Henceforth her editorial duties absorbed her too completely to permit of her taking notes of conversations and keeping the diary which she has reproduced in her Souvenirs.[355] The last of her seven volumes of reminiscences closes with the inauguration of La Nouvelle Revue.

Not content with a nominal editorship, Mme. Adam worked conscientiously in her office, herself reading most of the MSS. sent in. Methodically planning out her time, she rose early to read MSS., receive contributors, dictate to secretaries. She saw her milliner at breakfast, dispatching the meal and her orders together. To avoid wasting precious moments in trying on her own garments, she would criticise their fit on a dummy, another famous mannequin d’osier, moulded exactly to her shape. Then [Pg 219] her work would be resumed until it was time for the afternoon drive and dinner, followed by a party or the play. The small hours of the morning often found her again at her desk.

Such an expenditure of energy could not possibly continue indefinitely without a breakdown. There came a time when the doctor offered the alternative of rest or death. But Mme. Adam has always been one of those who would willingly die at her task. She prefers to wear out rather than to rust out. The doctor found his warning unheeded, consequently he changed his tactics. When he threatened her with the loss of her good looks, she immediately gave way. Leaving the review in the hands of a competent editor, she took several months’ rest; and when she returned to her directorship it was no longer to work with the feverish energy of yore. By that time she was surrounded by a band of talented and zealous helpers, les jeunes whom she had discovered and to whom she could entrust much of the personal supervision which in earlier years had devolved upon her alone. One of these lieutenants was M. Léon Daudet, the son of her friend Alphonse, and to-day editor of L’Action Française. In his book, L’Entre-deux-Guerres, published in 1915, M. Daudet draws to the life la grande Française, whom for a quarter of a century he has been proud to call ma chère patronne.

He illustrates Mme. Adam’s social tact in the story he tells of a dinner-party at his father’s house. That evening the guests were the Duc d’Aumale, M. de Freycinet, the General de Gallifet, Magnard, editor of the Figaro, the ill-fated Calmette, who was to succeed him, and about twenty others. Henry James used to say that French dinner-parties always somewhat resemble a session of the Convention. And at this party the noise of debate waxed especially high, for the talk fell on a subject still delicate: the Commune. And the discussion might well have culminated in more than one of the invited sending his representatives next morning to some fellow-guest, had not Mme. Adam skilfully smoothed down the angles of controversy and finally led the conversation on to less dangerous ground.

Fulfilled beyond her greatest expectations were Mme. Adam’s hopes that her review might serve young writers [Pg 220] and French literature by revealing new talent. For it was in the pages of this magazine that French readers first became acquainted with many of les jeunes who to-day occupy the very first rank. Pierre Loti, Paul Bourget, Marcelle Tinayre and Anatole France are some of those who in La Nouvelle Revue first began to climb the ladder of fame. Here appeared Pierre Loti’s first novel, Le Mariage de Loti, followed by Le Roman d’un Spahi and Fleurs d’Ennui. Those Essais de Psychologie Contemporaine, which many regard as Paul Bourget’s most valuable contribution to French letters, Mme. Adam had the honour of publishing in 1884, as well as several of the same author’s early novels: L’Irréparable, Deuxième Amour, Cruelle Enigme, Crime d’Amour, which all appeared in the early eighties. Many years later, in 1898, advised by Alphonse Daudet, who had read the manuscript, Mme. Adam introduced to her readers the first novel of that gifted woman writer, Marcelle Tinayre.

One of Mme. Adam’s first meetings with Anatole France was in 1879, when they travelled together to a party given by La Société des Gens de Lettres in Edmond About’s park at Malabry. Then, as we may well imagine, Mme. Adam was so charmed by the gifted young French author that she enrolled him among les jeunes of her review; and in the next year appeared in its pages Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard, followed two years later by Le Petit Bonhomme, which was to be published in volume under the title of Pierre Nozière.

Mme. Adam and Anatole France remained friends until the Dreyfus affair. Then, like so many other friends, they parted company. Mme. Adam’s nationalism involved antagonism to the Jews, whom she believed incapable of espousing the cause of any race but their own. It involved also a belief that the army can do no wrong. Hence she regarded as final the court-martial’s condemnation of Alfred Dreyfus. Anatole France, on the other hand, who was at that time le grand homme of a famous Semitic salon, became a fervent Dreyfusard. The Affaire resulted in a curious reshuffle in French social and political life. M. France found himself ranged with some who had once been his enemies. One of these was Émile Zola. In the past, his gross realism had outraged the classical and aristocratic taste of M. France as much as it had that of [Pg 221] Mme. Adam. But now, battling in a common cause, these two former foes found one another by no means antipathetic. While reconciled with old enemies, however, M. France found himself parted from old friends; not from Mme. Adam only, but from one who had been a close comrade of his earlier literary career, from Paul Bourget. With Pierre Loti and with her whom they were both proud to call their intellectual mother, M. Bourget took the nationalist side. He also, disappointed with the Republic’s failure to realise his ideals, was turning Romewards. We may regard him, with Mme. Adam, as the first fruits of that Catholic revival which was to be the dominant note of French intellectual society in the early twentieth century.


[344] Souvenirs, VII. 87.

[345] Souvenirs, VI. 470.

[346] Ibid., VII. 241.

[347] Ibid., 331.

[348] Souvenirs, III. 227.

[349] Ibid., VII. 321.

[350] Souvenirs, VII. 365.

[351] Souvenirs, VII. 404.

[352] Ibid., 366.

[353] Ibid., 392.

[354] Souvenirs, VII. 324.

[355] Après l’Abandon de la Revanche.

[Pg 222]




La Politique extérieure qui a toujours été la grande préoccupation, le grand apprentissage de ma vie.”—Mme. Edmond Adam, Souvenirs, VII. 218.

A fortnight after the appearance of the first number of La Nouvelle Revue, on the 17th of December, 1879, Émile de Girardin gave a dinner-party; un dîner de gala it was called by Mme. Adam, who was one of the guests. Among other distinguished persons present were Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone and Gambetta.[356] At dessert the talk fell on the new review; and Mr. Gladstone asked the editress what were its objects.

“I have three,” she replied: “to oppose Bismarck, to demand the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine, and to lift from the minds of our young writers the shadow of depression cast by national defeat by giving them fame ten years earlier than they would otherwise have acquired it.”

“And you expect to accomplish your three objects?” Mr. Gladstone inquired.

“Perhaps not all of them,” replied Mme. Adam. “But of one thing I am certain: that I shall see Bismarck’s fall during the existence of the review.”

“Gambetta, who was listening,” adds Mme. Adam, “smiled defiantly at these words. Gambetta, qui écoutait, eut un sourire et un regard de défi.” He may have smiled. But it is more than probable that his defiant air existed alone in his friend’s imagination. For, as she herself has frankly confessed elsewhere, Gambetta was never malicious.[357]

“What are you yourself going to write in your review?” Gambetta asked. “Doubtless you will appropriate foreign politics.”[358] Gambetta was right. And by no means the least valuable and striking contributions to the review were those fortnightly letters on foreign politics—Lettres [Pg 223] sur La Politique Extérieure, which for twenty years Mme. Adam never ceased to contribute, and which she continued to write for some months after the magazine had passed out of her hands. Her last letter appeared in June 1900. In 1916 she collected all her articles bearing on Bismarck and his policy and published them in a volume entitled L’Heure Vengeresse des Crimes Bismarckiens. Her articles on the Emperor William II have likewise been collected and published in book form under the title of Guillaume II. (1890-1899).

In everything Mme. Adam wrote throughout these one-and-twenty years, la Revanche was the dominating idea. Nevertheless, we cannot too often repeat that which we have said in a foregoing chapter:[359] she never advocated an aggressive war with Germany, even for the purpose of regaining the lost territory.

In 1887, at the close of the Schnœbele Incident, one of those Teutonic pin-pricks by which Germany was for ever stirring up French hostility, Mme. Adam wrote in La Nouvelle Revue:[360] “Whatever our enemy may think, his neighbours on the west have long ago lost their craving for the battle-field. Thither they no longer hasten madly; but thither if attacked they will march resolutely.”

Mme. Adam’s object in perpetually harping on la Revanche was to keep France in a state of preparedness for the attack she felt convinced could not fail to come, and also to assure her brethren in Alsace-Lorraine that they had not been forgotten. Her policy was the reverse of Gambetta’s pensons y toujours n’en parlons jamais. She believed in for ever, in season and out of season, speaking and writing of la Revanche.

La Revanche was by no means the only subject on which Juliette Adam and Gambetta had fundamentally disagreed. They had differed, for instance, on the question of the attitude which France, after her defeat, should assume towards Europe, notably at the time of the Berlin Congress, in 1878.

The place of the meeting alone would have sufficed to provoke Mme. Adam’s hostility to the Congress. For France, at the conqueror’s bidding, to go to his capital there to discuss, without mentioning her own wrong, the [Pg 224] affairs of Europe on the basis of the status quo, seemed to la grande Française nothing but a new humiliation. And this view finds justification in Professor Oncken’s contribution to the Cambridge Modern History.[361] Here, in accents of pride, the German Professor describes the Congress, which brought statesmen from every European country to the capital of the new empire, as a magnificent acknowledgment of the position of Germany, and one of Bismarck’s greatest achievements. One cannot help sympathising with Mme. Adam’s patriotism when she protests against a French contribution to this new crown of glory for the German Empire.

While Gambetta argued that France, by standing out of the Congress, would lose in prestige, Mme. Adam maintained that she would gain by standing aloof as a Power which it was necessary to win over. Moreover, she told Gambetta that her friend, Cialdini, the Italian Ambassador in Paris, had assured her that if France should refuse to be represented at the Congress Italy would follow her example.

Such having been Mme. Adam’s attitude towards the Congress from the beginning, she naturally inclined to find fault with all the decisions and arrangements made at Berlin.

She was in Rome when the Congress closed on the 13th of July. “Jour néfaste,” she writes, “s’il en fût jamais. Le Congrès de Berlin se termine. L’encouragement aux troubles, aux ambitions futures est signé.[362] And now that well-nigh forty years have passed she still regards ce jour néfaste as a black-letter day. “Le Congrès de Berlin,” she wrote only last year, “ma bête noire, l’un des deux motifs pour lesquels je me suis brouillée politiquement avec mes meilleurs amis.”[363]

As Russia’s faithful friend[364] and the ardent advocate of a Franco-Russian alliance, Mme. Adam strongly resented Russia’s treatment at Berlin. She suspected that one of Bismarck’s ideas in summoning the Congress had been to rob Russia of the fruits of her victories in the Russo-Turkish [Pg 225] War. She saw that as a result of the Congress Russia had become as isolated in the East as was France in the West. That Russians were themselves of this opinion was proved, when on leaving Berlin the Russian Chancellor Gortchakoff declared “the Congress to have been the darkest page in his career.”

Gambetta’s attitude towards Russia has puzzled not a few. It must ever be difficult to discover the personal views of so opportunist a statesman. “The real truth about Gambetta’s life, death and opinions will never be known,” said recently one of those with whom he was most intimately acquainted. In his early conversations with Mme. Adam he annoyed her extremely by his mistrust of Russia, which he shared with most French Radicals of that day, and which resulted from Russia’s autocratic Government and her treatment of the Poles. For Mme. Adam, to be the enemy of Germany was to be the friend of Russia. “Anti-allemande passionnée et violente, j’étais logiquement slavophile,” she writes.[365] And in one of the numerous quarrels with Gambetta at the time of his proposed interview with Bismarck, she confesses that she darted at him this insult: “You are Prussian, I remain Cossack.” But Gambetta was well inured to such venomous words from his too candid friend; and the patient endurance with which he suffered them speaks volumes both for his equanimity and for Mme. Adam’s powers of fascination.

If France must needs emerge from her isolation and form an alliance with some European Power, Gambetta would have preferred that Power to be England rather than Russia. Mme. Adam, animated by her Picard dislike of England, unable to forgive us for standing aloof in 1870, would not hear of an English Alliance. There came a time, however, when Gambetta began to see that both an English and a Russian alliance might be necessary to protect France against German aggression. Dimly foreshadowing the Triple Entente of a quarter of a century later, he began to overcome his dislike of Russia. Writing to Mme. Adam in January 1877,[366] he says in reference to Russia’s alarm at Bismarck’s designs on the Baltic Provinces: “Le ressentiment est flagrant chez les Russes, il s’agit de l’exploiter.” Gambetta, however, does not take to himself the credit of [Pg 226] originating the idea of the Franco-Russo-British Entente. In his recently published letters to his friend and supporter Ranc,[367] he ascribes this idea to the Prince of Wales (afterwards Edward VII), whom, in February 1878, he met more than once at the Café Anglais. By the Prince’s insight into European politics Gambetta was deeply impressed. In this matter he was far from sharing the views of a recent English writer on King Edward.[368] Was that growing passion for luxury, that love of fashionable life, which Mme. Adam so frequently deplores, casting a spell over Gambetta and warping his judgment so far as to make him attribute to his royal acquaintance opinions which were really his own? We cannot say. But at any rate, in this letter to Ranc, Gambetta describes His Royal Highness as predicting that Russia would find her political aspirations in the Near East thwarted by Austria, that Austria would influence Roumania, that together Austria, Roumania and Turkey would ally themselves against Russia. “What a conflict!” exclaims Gambetta. “Nevertheless, this is what the Prince of Wales foresees. He does not share that hostility to Russia which animates part of his nation. With all his young authority he opposes any measures likely to injure Russia. He has in him the stuff of a great statesman.”

That Gambetta over-rated the Prince’s “young authority” (jeune autorité) will be obvious to all acquainted with the British constitution, and to those who know what was the position accorded to the Prince of Wales during his mother’s reign.

The enthusiasm of the Prince of Wales for Russia ought to have pleased Mme. Adam. But she does not record that Gambetta confided it to her, although he spoke to her frequently of his meetings with the Prince.[369] Gambetta protested to her that the Prince was far from being what rumour represented him, a mere festoyeur. “He loves France seriously as well as gaily,” said Gambetta. “His great dream of the future is an understanding (une entente) with us.”

Thereupon Mme. Adam rejoined bitterly: “We know [Pg 227] what an understanding with England brings to any country, which is so simple as to enter into it.”

In those days, when Disraeli was Prime Minister, Mme. Adam regarded what she described as “the insatiableness of Great Britain” with an apprehension almost as grave as that inspired by her fear of Germany. While for our liberal statesmen, for Mr. Gladstone and John Bright notably, she had a profound admiration; Lord Beaconsfield and Lord Salisbury she regarded as hand and glove with Bismarck.

It was with this triumvirate, she believed, and not without reason,[370] that had originated at Berlin an idea, which, realised three years later, was to prove disastrous not to France alone, but to the peace of Europe. This idea was the French occupation of Tunis. The colonisation of Tunis had long been an Italian dream. To northern Africa Mazzini had directed the ambitions of his countrymen as early as 1838.[371] Probably British statesmen, by suggesting Tunis to France merely intended to give her something which should atone to her for the British occupation of Cyprus. But Bismarck had other designs: he wished above all things to distract French attention from the north-eastern frontier. As later he was to say to a French diplomatist: “Go to Morocco, it will help you to forget Alsace-Lorraine,” so now for the same reason he encouraged France to go to Tunis. But there is little doubt that when he gave this encouragement the wily fox at Varzin was entertaining a yet subtler design: already he had come to an understanding with Austria, and to the German-Austrian Entente he was eager to add Italy. By embroiling Italy with France he hoped to achieve this object, and he succeeded. The year after the French occupation of Tunis, Italy joined Germany and Austria; and on the 20th of May, 1882, the Triple Alliance was concluded. Its formation and its periodic renewal[372] rendered yet more imperative the conclusion of the Triple Entente. And it will generally be admitted that one of the causes of the present conflict lies in this [Pg 228] unfortunate, though possibly inevitable, arrayal of the great European Powers in two hostile camps.

Here, therefore, in the French colonisation of Tunis, we have an event fraught with momentous consequences. How did Mme. Adam regard it? In the last volume of her Souvenirs, which we must remember were compiled nearly twenty years later, she sees in it one of Bismarck’s designs for the ruin of France. But, in her articles contributed at the time to La Nouvelle Revue, it is interesting to find her refusing at first to believe in the possibility of any alliance between Italy and Austria. Bismarck may plot if he likes; but in that direction, not even such an arch-schemer as the German Chancellor could possibly succeed. Mme. Adam, herself an irreconcilable Revancharde, felt confident that her Latin brethren in Italy could never so far forget their unredeemed territory as to ally themselves with the Austrian plunderer, “and to consent to be dragged behind the chariot of Hapsburgs and Hohenzollerns.” But alas! that swift Gallic intuition, which had often led her to see into the future of European politics, had for the moment forsaken her. Italy was not true to la Revanche. She came to terms with the conqueror. When the Triple Alliance was formed Mme. Adam saw one of her brightest dreams vanish. She had hoped to substitute for Gambetta’s Triple Entente between France, England and Russia another three-cornered understanding, one between France, Italy and Russia.

Now that Italy had joined the enemy Mme. Adam turned with more enthusiasm than ever to Russia. Writing[373] of her articles on foreign politics in La Nouvelle Revue, she announces that she will give Russia a prominent part. “Pour mes lettres sur la politique extérieure,” she writes, “mon siège est fait, la lutte à plume armée contre Bismarck et pour l’alliance russe.”[374] Already her friendship with Tourguénieff had taught her something of the Russian soul. She studied Russian history, especially the history of the revolutionary movement. She was in constant correspondence with General Chanzy, the French Ambassador at Petrograd. Finally, in 1882, she visited Russia.

She stayed at the Hôtel de l’Europe. There she was visited by numerous persons of distinction. No one impressed her so much as General Skobeleff, the heroic [Pg 229] defender of Plevna. They were well matched, these two passionate patriots—this handsome Western woman, la grande Française, and this typical Cossack, this fervent Slav. He was called “the white General,” because it was his custom to wear, in battle, a white coat, which challenged the enemy’s bullets to defile its spotless purity with blood-stains. Alike for the Russian Pan-Slavist and the French Revancharde there was but one device, “the German is the enemy.” No one in Russia did Mme. Adam long more to see than this hero of the Russo-Turkish War. Their meeting, which occurred in the vast yellow drawing-room of the Hôtel de l’Europe in January 1882, she has vividly described in her little book on Skobeleff, first published in 1886, and reprinted in a revised edition in 1916.

“We looked at one another,” she writes, “not wishing to make any trivial remarks.... It was of his cause I spoke to him before my own. And this is what he said to me about the Balkan peoples: ‘I assure you they are tyrannised over. They must fill you with pity. For example, in Bosnia, in Herzegovina, the oppressor forces the children to serve in the very army which has slain their fathers and brothers. Into their hands is put a gun all dripping with the blood of Slavs. This thought drives me mad, as it must you when you think of the people of Alsace-Lorraine serving in the Prussian army.’

“‘Yes, but they were actually our brethren, they were so near to us, the Slavs of Bosnia and Herzegovina are not so intimately related to you.’

“‘Not these Slavs! Why, they are our brethren,’ he said in a tone which thrilled me through and through. ‘Pray do not let us argue about the relative acuteness of our suffering. Russia waged war in order to deliver the Slavs beyond the Danube from the Turkish yoke.... And now she cannot permit Austria’s yoke to be substituted for Turkey’s. The former is also more oppressive, for it tyrannises not merely over the individual’s person, but over his conscience....’

“‘Austria,’ I argued, ‘has for some years been hardly responsible for her action in the East. It is Germany who is urging her to dominate over the peoples of the Balkan Peninsula, and to conquer them both by force of arms and by diplomacy.’

[Pg 230]

“‘Germany!’ he repeated, and into that one word he breathed all the fire of his hatred.

“The preachers of the Crusades must have looked like that apostle of the Slavs.

“‘I no longer love war,’ said Skobeleff. ‘No, I love it no longer; I have waged it too often,’ he added, as if replying to his own inmost thought. ‘No victory is worth all it costs of energy, of strength, of public money and of men. Yet there is a war for which I should ever be ready, and which I should never deem too costly. It is a holy war. Sooner or later the devourers of the Slavs must be themselves devoured. On that day, I see it, I will it, I predict it, Germany will be devoured by the Slavs, the Latins, the Franks.’”

Mme. Adam and her new friend had far too much in common for their friendship to cease with her departure from Petrograd. He followed her to Paris. There he visited her salon. They agreed to work together, to unite all their forces in order to oppose what Skobeleff described as le système d’enveloppement bismarckien. But their hopes were disappointed by Skobeleff’s early death at the age of thirty-nine. Shortly before he died he said to one of his compatriots: “Carry on my work, and do not neglect to bring into all your plans our friend in Paris.” Mme. Adam is one of those who lay at Bismarck’s door the sudden passing of this brilliant soldier and irreconcilable Germanophobe. But the Chancellor has enough crimes accredited to him without this. A distinguished French journalist, who knew Skobeleff, and in many ways greatly admired him, wrote to me recently: “I do not believe he was assassinated by orders from Bismarck. I know too much of his death to believe that. Mais les défauts de ses propres qualités l’ont conduit à une mort rapide.

The effect of Skobeleff’s influence on Mme. Adam was to render truer than ever the words of her friend, Mme. Novikoff: elle a la Russie au cœur.[375] Now with all her heart and soul she began to work for a Franco-Russian Alliance. It was precisely this alliance that Bismarck feared. Mme. Adam’s persistent advocacy of it in the columns of La Nouvelle Revue, and the numerous charges on which she never ceased to indict the Chancellor, provoked him on one occasion to cry out: “Is there no one [Pg 231] who can silence cette diablesse de femme?” The German Ambassador at Paris is said to have repeated this question to M. Jules Ferry, then Prime Minister. “Only one person,” he replied, “and he unhappily is dead: her husband, Edmond Adam.” Ferry, however, Mme. Adam has told me, desiring to obtain German support or acquiescence in his policy of colonial expansion, and wishful, therefore, to please the German Government, did ask her to discontinue her Germanophobe articles. “Only if you imprison me,” she replied. “And what an honour! To be imprisoned for attacking Bismarck.”

Keeping closely in touch with her Russian friends Mme. Adam was overjoyed as the years went on to find sympathy with France growing in Russia. At first it had existed only among Russian Revolutionaries. But it began to spread to the conservatives, and finally to the Czar, Alexander III, himself. Then came the glorious days of Cronstadt and Toulon. When the French squadron, under Admiral Gervais, entered Cronstadt harbour, on the 25th of July, 1891, Mme. Adam was in an ecstasy to hear with what immense enthusiasm it had been received. When, in the following August, the Treaty of Alliance between France and Russia was signed, Count Ignatieff, the ex-Minister of Interior, sent her a telegram beginning: “To you is due the honour of having predicted the sentiments which unite French and Russian hearts,” and ending with the wish that “the bond which unites our two countries may endure for ever.”[376]

In October 1893 a detachment of the Russian fleet entered Toulon harbour on a return visit. Mme. Adam, we may be sure, took care to be in the South of France during that visit. In the festivities with which the Russian soldiers were entertained at Toulon, and later in Paris, she played a prominent part. On behalf of the women of France she presented the Russian sailors with numerous gifts, and each married officer received from her hand a gold bracelet for his wife. On another occasion, a distinguished Russian, visiting Paris, was proud to find that Mme. Adam had been deputed to bestow upon him his brevet de commandeur de la légion d’honneur.[377]

[Pg 232]

Mme. Adam’s sympathies as an ardent Slavophile were by no means confined to Russia. No Slavonic people is without a place in her heart. Their struggles against Teutonism have always appealed to her. With Gambetta she believed that one of the surest ways of pulling down the Germanic Tower of Babel is to hold out a helping hand to the Slavs of the Lower Danube.[378] She has ever been the friend of Roumania. In La Nouvelle Revue she wrote on the 1st of September, 1881: “Roumania’s attitude will never be aggressive.” Again, in the same publication, on the 15th of the month, she continued to preach confidence in Roumania: “I believe,” she wrote, “that Roumania, by reason of her smallness, constitutes the best safeguard of international interests and the surest guarantee of the liberty of a river (the Danube) which she has no intention of exploiting for her own personal ends.”

Throughout the eighties and nineties, whenever she could escape from her editorial duties in Paris, Mme. Adam would start off on some journey to Central Europe—to Vienna, Hungary, North Italy or Montenegro.[379] Thus she has been able to study on the spot the Near Eastern question. And for twenty years she conducted in Austria and the Balkans a veritable crusade on behalf of nationalism, anti-Teutonism and Slavism. Everywhere her charm of manner and her acquaintance with Ambassadors in Paris obtained for her an entry into diplomatic circles; and it may well be imagined that the insight she thus gained into the most complex of European problems was invaluable to her in writing her articles on foreign politics for La Nouvelle Revue.

In 1884, during her visit to Hungary, which she has described in her book, La Patrie Hongroise, she found herself up against a difficulty, the stubbornness of which she had not suspected. She was dismayed by the Magyar indignation at her Slavist propaganda. For the Magyars Russia was as much “the enemy” as was Germany for French Revanchards. Socially, the Nationalist party was charmed to receive her; on that field, as always, she proved irresistible; but her Slavist gospel they rejected with scorn. After her return to Paris the leader of the Hungarian [Pg 233] nationalists, Count Apponyi, wrote her a letter expressing irreconcilable antagonism to Russia. He declared that in case of a conflict between Russia and Germany, Hungary’s instinct of self-preservation would lead her to place her army of 600,000 men[380] at Germany’s disposal. Again, in June 1888, Count Apponyi wrote: “Even under the charm of your pen, madame, the most ingenuous of readers cannot help smiling to see the name of Russia coupled with any ideal whatsoever.... We for centuries have been the safeguard of civilisation. We arrested that wave of barbarism, the inflow of the Turks, which broke against our frontier. The same fate will attend the Russian wave.”

In no country did Mme. Adam more passionately espouse the national cause than in Egypt. Here her motto was, “Egypt for the Egyptians.” She had great faith in the Egyptian people, and she strongly approved of the French refusal to join the British in their bombardment of Alexandria.

Mr. Gladstone’s action in this matter was a sad blow to her admiration of this illustrious statesman. She had regarded him as the apostle of the oppressed, as “the initiator of democracy.” She had admired his championship of Armenia and Bulgaria and of Home Rule in Ireland. Of the Irish problem, she had written: “Mr. Gladstone is the only man, not in Great Britain alone, but in Europe, capable of dealing with such a desperate situation.”[381] Contrasting the British Prime Minister with the German Chancellor, she writes:[382] “While Europeans are accustomed to await in agonising suspense the acts and speeches of M. de Bismarck, they await in hope and in confidence the utterances of Mr. Gladstone.”

When she saw Mr. Gladstone taking what seemed to her the anti-nationalist side in Egypt, she could only believe that he had been forced into this concession fatale by “British mercantile Chauvinists” and Palmerstonians.[383] Mr. Gladstone’s good-will towards France she never doubted; but she deplored that it had been unable to permeate the British Foreign Office.[384]

[Pg 234]

The influence of mercantile Chauvinism Mme. Adam discerned in the Fashoda Affair. It was then giving birth to that British Imperialism, which whether advocated by Mr. Chamberlain or Lord Rosebery[385] seemed to her equally dangerous. In the South African War she saw what she had described as l’insatiable ambition des agents britanniques in Egypt, developing into la voracité scandaleuse de l’Angleterre en Transvaal.[386]

It was with some dismay, however, that on this question of the Boer Republic’s Independence Mme. Adam found herself in line with her arch-enemy, the Emperor of Germany. And one can hardly congratulate her on the fiction with which she tried to extricate herself from such a lamentable position; for she genuinely persuaded herself that William II was only supporting Kruger in order to please his subjects, and that in reality Queen Victoria’s grandson could not fail to side with his grandmother.

Mme. Adam’s hereditary suspicion of la perfide Albion was, as she herself confessed to me, by no means allayed by the Entente Cordiale. It was not until Great Britain retrieved the error of 1870, and definitely entered the Great War as the Ally of France, that this grande Française began to trust us.

That she has completely changed her opinion of us, and that she is not ashamed to own it, is proved by this extract from one of her letters written to me in 1916. She is referring to an Englishman who had recently visited her at Gif....

Abbaye de Gif,
S. et Oise,
Le 8 octobre, 1916.

“... Comme le grand député capitaine respire la volonté, la conviction, le patriotisme! Quelle joie d’apprendre nos alliés si autrement que je croyais les connaître.

One of her British confrères, she describes as le plus parfait gentilhomme du monde. Now in 1917 she writes: [Pg 235]L’Angleterre est admirable. Vive l’Angleterre. Her improvised army is worth the most ancient of armies. Be proud of it. Such words on my lips are not without their value. For I was once your enemy. I blamed your policy at the Berlin Congress and in Heligoland.” “Now, side by side, fer à fer, France and the United Kingdom will drive out of France, out of Lorraine, out of Belgium, the German, who is the enemy of us all.”[387]

In conclusion, we must not omit to note that Mme. Adam’s classical interests could not fail to lead her to sympathise with the national movement in Greece and with the ideals of her friend, Venizelos, with whom she has corresponded during the present war. We are not surprised to learn that the leader of Greek Nationalists welcomed with enthusiasm the publication of Mme. Adam’s book, L’Heure Vengeresse des Crimes Bismarckiens. For his poor distracted land has indeed been one of the worst sufferers from Bismarck’s crimes, and from the decisions taken by that bête noir of Mme. Adam, the Berlin Congress.


[356] Souvenirs, VII. 419.

[357] Ibid., VI. 312.

[358] Ibid., 324.

[359] See ante, 189.

[360] L’Heure Vengeresse des Crimes Bismarckiens, 100.

[361] Vol. XII. 143.

[362] Souvenirs, VII. 204.

[363] Article in Le Gaulois, February 20, 1916.

[364] The Russian Revolution has but served to strengthen Mme. Adam’s friendship for Russia. In a letter which appeared on April 4, 1917, in the Gaulois and other French papers, she writes, “Mon activité passionnée servira jusqu’à mes derniers jours la Russie slave, les Yougo-slaves, la cause Tchèque.”

[365] Souvenirs, VI. 166.

[366] Ibid., 440.

[367] See Le Matin, 29 December, 1915.

[368] See Sir Sidney Lee’s article on King Edward in the Dictionary of National Biography.

[369] Souvenirs, VII. 15, 16, 146.

[370] See Tardieu, La France et Ses Alliances, 46.

[371] Ibid., p. 99.

[372] Signed at first for five years, it was renewed in 1887 for another five years, in 1891 for six or twelve, in 1902 for another six or twelve; and, as we know, it endured for the longer term, until 1914.

[373] Souvenirs, VII. 373.

[374] Ibid., 380.

[375] Souvenirs, VII. 421.

[376] See article, The Birth of an Alliance, contributed by Mme. Adam to The Daily Chronicle, 18 May, 1916.

[377] De Goncourt, Journal, VI. 200.

[378] Souvenirs, VII. 165.

[379] See her picturesque article on “Montenegro” in La Nouvelle Revue, 1898.

[380] See The Daily Chronicle, 23 September, 1916, Mme. Adam’s article “Teuton and Slav,” where she quotes these remarkable letters in full.

[381] La Nouvelle Revue, XVI. 459.

[382] Ibid., XII. 897.

[383] Ibid., XVII. 496, 736, 739.

[384] Ibid., XVI. 978.

[385] La Nouvelle Revue, Vol. I. Series 2, December 9, 1899. “L’impérialisme de Lord Rosebery est le même que celui de M. Chamberlain d’une nuance de près. L’un veut aggrandir à tout prix l’Angleterre, accaparer tout ce qui peut être accaparé, et cela par tous les moyens: Lord Rosebery veut conserver tout ce qui aura été accaparé par M. Chamberlain.

[386] Ibid., Vol. I. Series 2, 254.

[387] While the first quotations in this paragraph occur in Mme. Adam’s letters to me, the last sentence is taken from her Preface to L’Heure Vengeresse des Crimes Bismarckiens.

[Pg 236]



“... a Soul whose master-bias leans
To homefelt pleasures and to gentle scenes.”—Wordsworth.

La vieillesse ... cet âge heureux on l’on n’est plus qu’amie, mère et grand’mère.”—Juliette Adam, Souvenirs, III. 211.

The editing of La Nouvelle Revue had, as we have seen, revolutionised Mme. Adam’s life. It had put an end to her salon and to her Mémoires. It had also prevented her from wintering in the South of France. Only at rare intervals could she find time to spend a few weeks at her beloved Bruyères. As time went on and as family, as well as business, ties multiplied in the north, Bruyères was more and more neglected, then entirely forsaken, and finally sold.

Now, in order to be near her work, and also to be near her daughter and her daughter’s children, she exchanged her villa on Le Golfe Juan for a picturesque country house, L’Abbaye de Gif, in Seine et Oise. This new abode is but an hour’s train journey from Paris. It also borders on the lands of that famous convent, Port Royal des Champs. With the spirit of the great Port Royalists, of Pascal and of Racine, Mme. Adam communes as she writes. It was in the Abbey of Gif that some of the nuns from Port Royal took refuge when their settlement was broken up and their lands confiscated by Louis-Quatorze. Now the present Abbess of Gif, as her friends like to call Mme. Adam, sitting up in her Abbey tower far on into the night, watching the white mist rising from the valley, beholds in it forms which seem to her the sisters of Old France beckoning la grande Française away from her early paganism.


It would be difficult to imagine surroundings more essentially French than those amidst which Juliette Adam spends the evening of her days. High above the large [Pg 237] and commodious house, with its spacious salon, filled with memorials of its mistress’s travels, rise in the park the ruins of the Abbey refectory and chapel. The ivy which covers them our Abbess, who has ever been an enthusiastic gardener, tenderly trims with her own hand, despite her fourscore years. Gradually, under her direction, new portions of the ruins are being excavated. Every time one visits Gif one finds some fresh part of the Abbey has been unearthed. Each stone as it is dug up Mme. Adam reveres as a relic of le Grand Siècle. There is not one of those mute memorials of past glory which Mme. Adam’s vivid Gallic imagination does not invest with some special physiognomy; this is like Juno’s sacred owl, that bears the semblance of a Gorgon. “And is not this the image of le Père Eternel?” she said to me, pointing to a rocky fragment in the centre of her bois sacré. I, alas! was afflicted with blindness. I was as dull of comprehension as the mother of the little boy who, asking her son what he was drawing and being told it was God, answered, “But no one knows what He is like,” and was promptly crushed by the answer, “When I have finished they will know.”

In this beautiful country home Mme. Adam practises with a success no less signal than that of her old friend, Victor Hugo, the art of being a grandparent.

Her daughter Alice had married in February 1873 a brilliant young medical student, Paul Segond, who became one of the leaders of the medical profession in France.[388] “Do not marry your daughter into a circle too political,” had been George Sand’s advice. But George Sand’s young friend “Topaz” had married herself; for her mother had suffered too much from a mariage de convenance to wish to impose one on her daughter. Though the bridegroom was no politician, his mother-in-law’s political fervour could not refrain from introducing into the wedding ceremony a political significance. The chief witnesses who signed the marriage register were Louis Blanc, the leader of the old Republicans, and Gambetta, the leader of the new. At the ball in the evening the appearance of the ex-Mayoress of the conquered town of Mulhouse, Mme. Koechlin-Schwartz, wearing in her white hair a tricolour cockade, reminded the guests of the [Pg 238] national defeat and of la Revanche. The ex-Mayoress was escorted by her husband the Mayor, whom the Prussians had two years before held as a hostage.

A few weeks before the wedding George Sand, in her New Year’s letter to Juliette Adam, had written: “Who knows whether the year which opens to-morrow may not make you a grandmother?”[389]

C’est aller vite,” exclaimed her friend. “My daughter will be married in February. But if the year does not bring me the joy of being a grandmother, it may give me the hope of being one. In any case, it will make me the mother of a big son, my daughter’s husband. To have children by my two children! Ah! I should go mad with joy. No persons in the world have I envied so much as Mme. Sand and Mme. Dorian, who are grandmothers. And I, who am much younger than they, I shall see my granddaughters marry and I shall become a great-grandmother. Ah! les superbes chaines enchainantes que celles de la famille! And to think that there are those who would break them! Les malheureux et les misérables!

Things did not move quite so quickly as George Sand had anticipated. Three years elapsed before Juliette Adam, at the age of forty, could revel in the raptures of grandmotherhood, before she could place in the adorable Moise, the gift of George Sand, Alice’s wee daughter, Pauline. Mme. Sand sent with the cradle a long letter of advice as to the conduct of a grandmother. Juliette had her own views on that subject: on the day of Pauline’s birth she began to powder her hair and to wish henceforth to be taken not so much for a woman of charm as for une femme de valeur.

“At what age did you first begin to love your grandchildren?” asked Victor Hugo, during one of their long talks on the mysteries of grandparentage.

“I loved my first little granddaughter passionately from the very first,” Mme. Adam replied; “as soon as I received her in my apron.”

“Ah! What blessed privileges you grandmothers enjoy!” sighed the mere grandfather. “You who can receive new-born infants in your apron!”[390]

Mme. Adam’s one regret as a grandmother is that her [Pg 239] three granddaughters did not marry earlier. Had they only taken to themselves husbands at her own early age, she would by now have been a great-great as well as a great-grandmother.

Nevertheless, it is a numerous petit monde which flocks out to Gif in the Easter and summer holidays to play round the palm-tree from Pierre Loti’s garden in the south, to act charades in the rustic theatre, to partake of goutte in the cabaret with its quaintly frescoed walls, and to awake with their merry laughter the shades of those gay damsels of la Vieille France, Mlle. de Sévigné and Mlle. Marie Racine, who in the days of le Grand Monarque were educated within the Abbey walls.

Ah! que c’est beau, que c’est Français,” we exclaim with an eminent French artist, as we gaze down from the terrace of Gif over the broad, fertile valley, with its white ribbon of a road winding up from the little railway station, to the low distant hills fringed with those graceful, feathery trees which Corot loved to paint. Here, at the arched Abbey gate, stands the Abbess herself, receiving her guests with the stateliness of une grande dame, a winning smile lighting up her grey eyes and illuminating her clear-cut features.

Mme. Adam has never been one who could completely cut herself off from Paris. Though she seldom goes to Paris now, Paris comes to her. And in her salon at Gif she keeps alive cette causerie française, which, alas! tends to disappear from the salons of the metropolis. In the hurly-burly of modern life that leisurely talk which alone, writes Mme. Adam, entretient les vitalités de notre esprit grows more and more impossible. Before the war conversation was already a lost art. “When I begin to talk in a modern drawing-room,” says Mme. Adam, “I am told to be silent because I am interrupting a game of bridge, or because some one is going to dance the tango.” And even on those rare occasions when conversation was permitted, it was found that the dull weight of the Germanic spirit, then permeating French intellectual society, had extinguished the sparkle of French talk, had blunted the rapier of French irony. The professor with his monologue had insinuated himself into French drawing-rooms, silencing those scintillating interruptions, forbidding the smart give-and-take of brilliant repartee. “We are [Pg 240] told,” protests Mme. Adam, “that our conversation is not documenté.”

La causerie française, banished from the salon, was taking refuge in the club and the café. Has not Mme. Adam’s own fils adoptif, Léon Daudet, lately written:[391]Le café est l’école de la franchise et de la drôlerie spontanée, tandis que le salon est en général l’école du poncif et de la mode imbécile”?

But of Mme. Adam’s salon Daudet makes a notable exception. Of the Sunday and Tuesday afternoons at Gif he has painted a vivid picture,[392] to which may be added not a few interesting features. While of yore to the Sundays and Tuesdays of Gif Paris came by carriage or train, to-day it comes by automobile. Motorists have everything made easy for them: they are provided with a clear road-plan printed on a neat little card indicating the route from the Suresne Gate of the Bois de Boulogne as far as the spot where, but a few miles from their destination, friendly sign-posts begin to point à l’Abbaye de Gif. Before the war, on fine Sunday afternoons, on the terrace of Gif, might be found assembled sometimes as many as fifty persons, Royalists and Republicans, generals and admirals, bishops and deputies, academicians and journalists, among whose conflicting opinions their hostess’s tact and cordiality contrived to keep the peace in a marvellous manner.

With a merry laugh as gay as the blue sky of France, she would set to play together or to act in a charade journalists and authors who but a few days before had been at loggerheads. To Judet of L’Eclair she would give the opportunity of being revenged at skittles on his antagonist, that abusive Léon Daudet who in L’Action Française was given to denouncing him as ce vain colosse, “outvying in foppishness the goose and the peacock.” She would compel Maurice Barrès to disguise his boredom as he listened to the latest lucubration of his aged fellow-academician, Jean Ricard. She would severely lecture Paul Bourget on the looseness of that unacademical expression cependant que. She would dispel the melancholy of the author of Fantôme d’Orient and Fleurs d’Ennui until, like the gayest of butterflies, he disported himself in the sunshine of her presence. And then, with a wave [Pg 241] of her wand, she would summon the whole company to her theatre to help in devising a charade which should render that impossible word autobus set by la Duchesse d’Uzès.

In the quietude of week-days at Gif, and after she had retired from La Nouvelle Revue in 1899, Mme. Adam found time to review the varied episodes of her romantic life, to sort her old papers, to fix her recollections of persons, things and movements, and to arrange and publish them in seven volumes of Souvenirs, which appeared at intervals between 1902 and 1910.[393]

“It may be well,” she writes in her Preface to the first volume, “to fix a departing age before the eyes of those who are hurrying towards an age which is dawning. It is the pleasure and the privilege of old people to tell of yesterday’s happenings, especially if they do not insist upon the superiority of and perpetually draw a moral from that which has disappeared.”

Juliette Adam had from an early age cultivated the excellent habit of keeping a diary, and making notes of the interesting conversations she heard while they were fresh in her memory.[394] Sometimes, in order to make sure of their accuracy, she would revise these notes with friends present on the same occasions. One of her volumes of Souvenirs, Mes Illusions et nos Souffrances pendant le siège de Paris, had appeared earlier, in 1871, first as a serial in the newspaper Le Rappel, and later in volume, with the title Journal du Siège. This part of her diary, originally intended for her daughter, had a great success. When it was appearing in Le Rappel, Mme. Adam’s life-long friend, Henri de Rochefort, was undergoing imprisonment for the part he had played in the Commune. He wrote to her from his prison:[395] “The success of your Siège de Paris here is insupportable. Every one tries to steal my newspaper, and I do nothing but endeavour to recover it. Some of our convicts are actually copying the serial. After the next amnesty you will have the greatest difficulty [Pg 242] in the world in escaping nomination as candidate for the chamber of deputies. So exactly have you photographed the physiognomy of Paris that every day, as I read you, I discover things which I had entirely forgotten, and which I see again as I did when they were happening.”

Mme. Adam had distinguished herself among her fellow-countrywomen by the foundation and brilliant editing of La Nouvelle Revue. Now in these seven volumes of recollections, written in a forcible and dramatic style, stamped each one with the hall-mark of sincerity, virility and passionate patriotism, she stood out above all other Frenchwomen. That such striking volumes should create a sensation, that they should cause antagonism as well as admiration, was inevitable.

Ardent republicans of the Gambettist school accused Mme. Adam of injustice towards one who had once been her idol and her friend. A fellow-nationalist, M. Henri Galli, wrote a book, Gambetta et Alsace Lorraine, with the set purpose of proving that Gambetta had not, as Mme. Adam declared, abandoned the policy of la Revanche. The only answer to such a contention is that Gambetta was an opportunist, and that passages from his speeches may be quoted to prove the correctness of both Mme. Adam’s and M. Galli’s points of view. To those who accuse Mme. Adam of having vilified and belittled the Great Tribune, we may reply that she passed over many things, revealing only those matters of his private life which were intimately connected with his public career. Against the attacks made upon her, the author of Mes Souvenirs defended herself ably in the columns of the Figaro and the Gaulois.

The most serious of the charges brought against Mme. Adam is that of being un génie démolisseur. To those who make this accusation we would reply that it reveals a complete misunderstanding of Mme. Adam’s mind and temperament. It is true that her recollections show la grande Française to be also la grande Désabusée, disappointed with the imperfect realisation of those high republican ideals held up before her youthful mind by her revolutionary father and his comrades of 1848. But that one in whom hopefulness and optimism had ever predominated should now give way to despair, that one so passionately patriotic should ever completely lose faith in la patrie, is impossible.

[Pg 243]

Even in the days when she saw, to her sorrow, la patrie forgetting la Revanche and pursuing what seemed to her the disastrous dream of colonial dominion, she could still write: “L’esprit ailé de l’avenir s’est posé aux confins de notre horizon; il nous apparaît là-bas, là bas, mais clairement.”[396] M. Léon Daudet believes that her great strength, sa principale force, resides in the fact that she has never despaired.[397]

In the most desperate of situations she is always convinced that il y a toujours dans un coin une petite chance que l’on n’a pas entrevue. And what is this petite chance dans un coin which, when the war is over and Frenchmen have time to think about domestic politics, Mme. Adam believes may deliver la patrie from the evils of political corruption and maladministration, the existence of which cannot be denied by the most fervent admirers of France? Mme. Adam’s opinion is that these serious flaws in the body politic proceed largely from over-centralisation.

With her fellow-nationalist, Charles Maurras,[398] Mme. Adam advocates decentralisation. She would like to see the revival of the old provincial assemblies. When, in Alsace, France comes into her own again, might not that ancient institution, the Alsatian Landschutz, respected by the autocratic Louis XIV and even to a certain extent by the despotic German, serve as a model for similar assemblies throughout the French provinces? Thus might provincial France be delivered from the octopus of Paris.

Enthusiastic for “her Paris” as Mme. Adam has ever been, she nevertheless realises that the hereditary virtues of France are best exemplified in the provinces. With the literary movement of “regionalism” initiated by Taine, continued by Mistral and Maurice Barrès, she has ever sympathised. Her own early novels are redolent with the breath of her native Picardy, her later books with the spirit of that gay Provence which is the land of her adoption.

We in England, with our age-long experience of local government, are only too well aware of its drawbacks. But institutions work differently in different countries. And there is no doubt that the over-centralisation of French administration does aggravate the evils of bureaucracy. Of the multiplicity of petty officials Mme. Adam constantly complains in her Souvenirs. Would they be [Pg 244] reduced if another of her favourite schemes were carried out? With René Bazin,[399] with her dead hero Skobeleff,[400] and other conservative reformers, she would like to see parliamentary government replaced by an assembly elected separately by and representing the various interests of the different classes, professions and trades throughout the country.

From such an assembly Mme. Adam would not exclude women. All her life, from the days when she wrote her first book[401] to champion George Sand and Daniel Stern, she has been an ardent feminist. In response to my inquiry as to whether she has in any way modified her feminist principles, she writes—

Callian Var,

“No, I am no less feminist than in the beginning. I have merely proved as editor for twenty years of an important review ... that a woman may be something besides a housekeeper and a courtisan.[402] I am not a suffragette, because I am an anti-parliamentarian. I desire to see great professional councils, of which, without any alteration in the law, women in France may become members. We have women bankers, women farmers and women traders. A great national council, composed not of the favourites of the licensed victuallers, but of men chosen by provincial councils and of exceptional women, would not present the lamentable spectacle offered by the parliaments of to-day.

“After the war we shall see so many widows, sonless mothers, taking the places of those who are dead. Woman, alas! will have paid dearly for the place to which she has a right, the place which she occupied in the great school of Alexandria and during the Renaissance.”

Among the numerous organisations with which Mme. Adam has associated herself since the war is that excellent movement La Croisade des Femmes Françaises, the object of which is to deny the calumnies circulated by Germans against Frenchwomen, and intended to prove that the typical woman of France is not, as Teutons have asserted, “a doll without morals, without heart, without courage, [Pg 245] a creature of mere coquetry, an instrument of perdition.” It was in the early months of the war that this crusade was initiated. Since then it has been rendered superfluous by the heroism, the endurance, the marvellous adaptability of our French sisters, which, eliciting the admiration of the whole world, has proved them veritable queens of womanhood.


Mme. Adam herself, despite her eighty years, engages valiantly in war work, toiling unceasingly in aid of those who have suffered from Teutonic violence. One of the works of mercy which is nearest to her heart is the voluntary effort she has initiated for the provision of a home and sustenance for those warriors of France who have suffered permanent disablement in the defence of their country. For the housing of these heroes Mme. Adam’s friend, le Comte de Rohan Chabot, has placed at her disposal his beautiful château of Vavey, at St. Jean-le-Vieux in the Department of Aisne. The fees Mme. Adam receives for her numerous articles on the international situation, which are now appearing throughout Europe, she consecrates to the prosecution of this good work, in which she is supported by the generals, whom she is proud to call her Fils d’Adoption—General Nivelle, Ex-Commander-in-Chief, General Lyautey, ex-Minister of War, General Marchand of Fashoda fame, Admiral Fournier, Commandant Viaud (Pierre Loti), and many others.

Pages would not suffice to describe all of Mme. Adam’s war activities. One might note in passing her gratification when certain artillerymen of the 21st Army Corps serving at the front had the happy idea of christening with her name, “Juliette Lamber,” one of their guns on the spot where the first Frenchman was killed in the war. Many a distinction has been conferred upon her in her long life. She has been godmother to a newly observed star, a Paris street has been called by her name. But none of these honours has pleased her like this homage rendered to la grande Française by a few brave gunners; not by the officers, she is proud to remark, but by les servants, les poilus.

Marvellous as are her activities, especially for a woman of her years, it is even more by her spirit than by her deeds that Juliette Adam deserves well of her country. For forty-four years she has seen this war coming—she foresaw even the route of the invading [Pg 246] forces, maintaining always that they would march through Belgium. She has realised how German aggressiveness “was placing the peace of Europe at the mercy of an incident.” But she has never for a moment doubted that when the struggle came la patrie would be triumphant. With Gambetta she has always believed that, however dark might be la patrie’s horizon, the spirit of France could not be overcast for ever. For this apostle of l’idée française has never failed to read aright the history of her noble land, to behold in it the country of reawakenings and resurrections.

There is hardly a family in France to which the war has not brought the sorrow of bereavement. Mme. Adam’s family is no exception. Lieutenant Madier, her youngest granddaughter’s husband, fell in the Battle of the Marne. He alone of all the officers of his battalion remained alive, when he was seriously wounded in the knee. Refusing to allow his men to bear him to a place of safety, he endeavoured to rise. “I am the only one left,” he cried. “Forward!” Barely had he uttered the word when a shell shattered the dwelling-place of this brave spirit.

Despite the unspeakable sufferings of France, despite her personal sorrows, she whom Gambetta used to call Madame Intégrale has ever flouted the remotest suggestion of a premature peace. When some of the women of the allied countries consented to go to the Hague, there to confer with the women of Germany, Mme. Adam addressed to them in the columns of the Figaro a stern rebuke, explaining at the same time how impossible it was for any Frenchwoman so much as to entertain the idea of taking part in such a conference. The heroic endurance, the unflinching faith of this stalwart woman animated the victors of the Marne, the defenders of Verdun. Now in this, the third year of the war, she is convinced that ultimate triumph cannot long be delayed. “1917,” exclaims la grande Française, “’71 reversed. That blessed date rings like the joy-bells of victory in my old veteran’s ears.”


[388] Souvenirs, V. 159.

[389] Souvenirs, V. 365.

[390] Ibid., VII. 79.

[391] Salons et Journaux (1917).

[392] L’Entre-deux-Guerres (1915).

[393] Vol. I. Le Roman de mon Enfance et de ma Jeunesse.
“  II. Mes Premières Armes Littéraires et Politiques.
” III. Mes Sentiments et nos Idées avant 1870.
“  IV. Mes Illusions et nos Souffrances pendant le siège de Paris.
”  V. Mes Angoisses et nos Luttes, 1871-3.
“  VI. Nos Amitiés Politiques avant l’Abandon de la Revanche.
” VII. Après l’Abandon de la Revanche.

[394] Souvenirs, I. 150; II. 264.

[395] Ibid., V. 334.

[396] L’Heure Vengeresse des Crimes Bismarckiens.

[397] Op. cit., 237.

[398] See his Étang de Berre (1915), passim.

[399] See his article “Crise de Metier,” Echo de Paris, 17 Dec. 1916.

[400] Cambridge Modern History, XII. 313.

[401] Idées Anti-Prudhoniennes, 1858, see ante, 51-61.

[402] That she must be one of the two Proudhon had contended in La Justice.


[Pg 247]




Russia as I Know It. By Harry de Windt, F.R.G.S. author of “Siberia as it is,” etc. With Illustrations. Demy 8vo, 10s. 6d. net.


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Memories. By Edward Clodd, author of “The Childhood of the World.” With 12 Autographed Portraits. Third Edition. Demy 8vo, 10s. 6d. net.


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Transcriber's Note: