The Magnificent Montez
by Horace Wyndham
From Courtesan to Convert
When you met Lola Montez, her reputation
made you automatically think of bedrooms.
* * * * *
CHAPTER III. THE
FLARE OF THE
CHAPTER V. A
CHAPTER VI. AN
LUDWIG THE LOVER
BURSTING OF THE
CHAPTER XI. A
CHAPTER XII. A
CHAPTER XIV. THE
FAREWELL TO THE
“ARTS OF BEAUTY”
Sweep a drag-net across the pages of contemporary drama, and it is
unquestionable that in her heyday no name on the list stood out, in
respect of adventure and romance, with greater prominence than did that
of Lola Montez. Everything she did (or was credited with doing) filled
columns upon columns in the press of Europe and America; and, from
first to last, she was as much news as any Hollywood heroine of our
own time. Yet, although she made history in two hemispheres, it has
proved extremely difficult to discover and unravel the real facts of
her glamorous career. This is because round few (if any) women has been
built up such a honeycomb of fable and fantasy and imagination as has
been built up round this one.
Even where the basic points are concerned there is disagreement.
Thus, according to various chroniclers, the Sultan of Turkey, an
Indian Rajah (unspecified), Lord Byron, the King of the Cannibal
Islands, and a wealthy merchant, each figure as her father, with a
beautiful Creole, a Scotch washerwoman, and a Dublin actress for
her mother; and Calcutta, Geneva, Limerick, Montrose, and Sevilleand
a dozen other cities scattered about the worldfor her birthplace.
This sort of thing isto say the least of itconfusing.
But Lola Montez was something of an anachronism, and had as lofty a
disregard for convention as had the ladies thronging the Court of
Merlin. Nor, it must be admitted, was she herself any pronounced
stickler for exactitude. Thus, she lopped half a dozen years off her
age, allotted her father (whom she dubbed a Spanish officer of
distinction") a couple of brevet steps in rank, and insisted on an
ancestry to which she was never entitled.
Still, if Lola Montez deceived the public about herself, others have
deceived the public about Lola Montez. Thus, in one of his books,
George Augustus Sala solemnly announced that she was a sister of Adah
Isaacs Menken; and a more modern writer, unable to distinguish between
Ludwig I and his grandson Ludwig II, tells us that she was intimate
with the mad King of Bavaria. To anybody (and there still are such
people) who accepts the printed word as gospel, slips of this sort
As a fount of information on the subject, the Autobiography
(alleged) of Lola Montez, first published in 1859, is worthless. The
bulk of it was written for her by a clerical ghost in America, the
Rev. Chauncey Burr, and merely serves up a tissue of picturesque and
easily disproved falsehoods. A number of these, by the way, together
with some additional embroideries, are set out at greater length in
other volumes by Ferdinand Bac (who confounds Ludwig I with Maximilian
II) and the equally unreliable Eugène de Mirecourt and Auguste Papon.
German writers, on the other hand, have, if apt to be long-winded, at
least avoided the more obvious pitfalls. Among the books and pamphlets
(many of them anonymous) of Teutonic origin, the following will repay
research: Die Gräfin Landsfeld (Gustav Bernhard); Lola
Montez, Gräfin von Landsfeld (Johann Deschler); Lola Montez und
andere Novellen (Rudolf Ziegler); Lola Montez und die Jesuiten
(Dr. Paul Erdmann); Die spanische Tänzerin und die deutsche Freiheit
(J. Beneden); Die Deutsche Revolution, 1848-1849 (Hans Blum);
Ein vormarzliches Tanzidyll (Eduard Fuchs); Abenteur der
beruhmten Tänzerin; Anfang und Ende der Lola Montez in Bayern
; Die Munchener Vergange; Unter den vier ersten Königen
Bayerns (Luise von Kobell); and, in particular, the monumental
Histeriche of Heinrich von Treitschke. But one has to milk a
hundred cows to get even a pint of Lola Montez cream.
With a view to gathering at first hand reliable and hitherto
unrecorded details, visits have recently been made by myself to Berlin,
Brussels, Dresden, Leningrad, Munich, Paris, and Warsaw, etc., in each
of which capitals some portion of colourful drama of Lola Montez was
unfolded. In a number of directions, however, the result of such
investigations proved disappointing.
Lola Montezh'mwhat sort of man was he? was the response of a
prominent actor, recommended to me as a leading authority on anything
to do with the stage; and the secretary of a theatrical club, anxious
to be of help, wrote: Sorry, but none of our members have any personal
reminiscences of the lady. As she had then been in her grave for more
than seventy years, it did not occur to me that even the senior
jeune premier among them would have retained any very vivid
recollections of her. Still, many of them were quite old enough to have
heard something of her from their predecessors.
But valuable assistance in eliciting the real facts connected with
the career of this remarkable woman, and disentangling them from the
network of lies and fables in which they have long been enmeshed, has
come from other sources. Among those to whom a special debt must be
acknowledged are Edmund d'Auvergne (author of a carefully documented
study), Lola Montez (an Adventuress of the 'Forties);
Gertrude Aretz (author of The Elegant Woman); Bernard Falk
(author of The Naked Lady); Arthur Hornblow (author of A
History of the Theatre in America); Harry Price (Hon. Sec.
University of London Council for Psychical Investigation); Philip
Richardson (editor of The Dancing Times); and Constance Rourke
(author of Troupers of the Gold Coast); and further information
has been forthcoming from Mrs. Charles Baker (Ruislip), and John Wade
Much help in supplying me with important letters and documents and
hitherto unpublished particulars relating to the trail blazed by Lola
Montez in America has been furnished by the following: Miss Mabel R.
Gillis (State Librarian, Californian State Library, Sacramento); Mrs.
Lillian Hall (Curator, Harvard Theatre Collection); Miss Ida M. Mellen
(New York); Mrs. Helen Putnam van Sicklen (Library of the Society of
Californian Pioneers); Mrs. Annette Tyree (New York); Mr. John
Stapleton Cowley-Brown (New York); Mr. Lewis Chase (Hendersonville);
Professor Kenneth L. Daughrity (Delta State Teachers' College,
Cleveland); Mr. Frank Fenton (Stanford University, California); Mr.
Harold E. Gillingham (Librarian, Historical Society of Pennsylvania);
Mr. W. Sprague Holden (Associate-Editor, Argonaut Publishing Company,
San Francisco); and Mr. Milton Lord (Director, Public Library, Boston).
In addition to these experts, I am also indebted to Monsieur Pierre
Tugal (Conservateur, Archives de la Danse, Paris); and to the directors
and staffs of the Bibliothèque d'Arsenal, Paris, and of the Theatrical
Museum, Munich, who have generously placed their records at my
Unlike his American and Continental colleagues, a public librarian
in England said (on a postcard) that he was too busy to answer
* * * * *
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
LOLA MONTEZ, COUNTESS OF LANDSFELD Frontispiece
JOHN COMPANY TROOPS ON THE MARCH IN INDIA
HER MAJESTY'S THEATRE, HAYMARKET, WHERE LOLA MONTEZ MADE HER DÉBUT
BENJAMIN LUMLEY, LESSEE OF HER MAJESTY'S THEATRE
LOLA MONTEZ, SPANISH DANCER. DÉBUT AT HER MAJESTY'S THEATRE
VISCOUNT RANELAGH, WHO ORGANISED A CABAL AGAINST LOLA MONTEZ
ABBÉ LISZT, MUSICIAN AND LOVER
FANNY ELSSLER, PREDECESSOR OF LOLA MONTEZ IN PARIS
PORTE ST. MARTIN THEATRE, PARIS, WHERE LOLA WAS A FLOP
SUPPER-PARTY AT LES FRÈRES PROVENÇAUX. FIRST ACT IN A TRAGEDY
RESIDENZ PALACE, MUNICH, IN 1848. RESIDENCE OF LUDWIG I.
COMMAND PORTRAIT. IN THE GALLERY OF BEAUTIES, MUNICH
KING OF BAVARIA. LUDWIG THE LOVER
LOLA MONTEZ IN CARICATURE. LOLA ON THE ALLEMANNEN HOUND
BERRYMEAD PRIORY, ACTON, WHERE LOLA MONTEZ LIVED WITH CORNET HEALD
LOLA MONTEZ IN LONDON. AGED THIRTY
A BELLE OF THE BOULEVARDS. LOLA MONTEZ IN PARIS
THE SPIDER DANCE. CAUSE OF MUCH CRITICISM
LOLA MONTEZ IN LOLA IN BAVARIA. A PLAY WITH A PURPOSE
LOLA AS A LECTURER. FROM STAGE TO PLATFORM
LOLA MONTEZ IN MIDDLE LIFE. A CHARACTERISTIC POSE
LECTURES AND LIFE. FROM STAGE TO PLATFORM
COUNTESS OF LANDSFELD. A FAVOURITE PORTRAIT
GRAVE OF LOLA MONTEZ, IN GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY, NEW YORK
* * * * *
THE MAGNIFICENT MONTEZ
CHAPTER I. PRELUDE TO ADVENTURE
In a tearful column, headed Necrology of the Year, a mid-Victorian
obituarist wrote thus of a woman figuring therein:
This was one who, notwithstanding her evil ways, had a share
in some public transactions too remarkable to allow her name
to be omitted from the list of celebrated persons deceased
in the year 1861.
Born of an English or Irish family of respectable rank, at a
very early age the unhappy girl was found to be possessed of
the fatal gift of beauty. She appeared for a short time on
the stage as a dancer (for which degradation her sorrowing
relatives put on mourning, and issued undertakers' cards to
signify that she was now dead to them) and then blazed forth
as the most notorious Paphian in Europe.
Were this all, these columns would not have included her
name. But she exhibited some very remarkable qualities. The
natural powers of her mind were considerable. She had a
strong will, and a certain grasp of circumstances. Her
disposition was generous, and her sympathies very large.
These qualities raised the courtesan to a singular position.
She became a political influence; and exercised a
fascination over sovereigns and ministers more widely
extended than has perhaps been possessed by any other member
of the demi-monde. She ruled a kingdom; and ruled it,
moreover, with dignity and wisdom and ability. The political
Hypatia, however, was sacrificed to the rabble. Her power
was gone, and she could hope no more from the flattery of
statesmen. She became an adventuress of an inferior class.
Her intrigues, her duels, and her horse-whippings made her
for a time a notoriety in London, Paris, and America.
Like other celebrated favourites who, with all her personal
charms, but without her glimpses of a better human nature,
have sacrificed the dignity of womanhood to a profligate
ambition, this one upbraided herself in her last moments on
her wasted life; and then, when all her ambition and vanity
had turned to ashes, she understood what it was to have been
the toy of men and the scorn of women.
Altogether a somewhat guarded suggestion of disapproval about the
subject of this particular memoir.
Three years after the thunderous echoes of Waterloo had died away,
and Boney, behind a fringe of British bayonets, was safely interned
on the island of St. Helena, there was born in barracks at Limerick a
little girl. On the same day, in distant Bavaria, a sovereign was
celebrating his thirty-fifth birthday. Twenty-seven years later the two
were to meet; and from that meeting much history was to be written.
The little girl who first came on the scene at Limerick was the
daughter of one Ensign Edward Gilbert, a young officer of good Irish
family who had married a Señorita Oliverres de Montalva, of Castle
Oliver, Madrid. At any rate, she claimed to be such, and also that she
was directly descended from Francisco Montez, a famous toreador of
Seville. There is a strong presumption, however, that here she was
drawing on her imagination; and, as for the Castle Oliver in Sunny
Spain, well, that country has never lacked castles.
The Oliver family, as pointed out by E. B. d'Auvergne in his
carefully documented Adventuresses and Adventurous Ladies, was
really of Irish extraction, and had been settled in Limerick since the
year 1645. The family pedigree, he says, reveals no trace of Spanish
or Moorish blood. Further, by the beginning of the last century, the
main line had, so far as the union of its members was blessed by the
Church, expired, and no legitimate offspring were left. Gilbert's
spouse, accordingly, must, if a genuine Oliverres, have come into the
world with a considerable blot on her 'scutcheon.
Still, if there were no hidalgos perched on her family tree, Mrs.
Gilbert probably had some good blood in her veins. As a matter of fact,
there is some evidence adduced by a distant relative, Miss D. M.
Hodgson, that she was really an illegitimate daughter of an Irishman,
Charles Oliver, of Castle Oliver (now Cloghnafoy), Co. Limerick, and a
peasant girl on his estate. This is possible enough, for the period was
one when squires exercised seigneurial rights, and when colleens were
complacent. If they were not, they had very short shrift.
Mrs. Gilbert's wedding had been a hasty one. Still, not a bit too
hasty, since the doctor and monthly nurse had to be summoned almost
before the ink was dry on the register. As a matter of fact, Mrs.
Gilbert must have gone to church in the condition of ladies who love
their lords, for this pledge of mutual affection was born in Limerick
barracks while the honeymoon was still in full swing, and within a
couple of months of the nuptial knot being tied. She was christened
Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna, but was at first called by the second of
these names. This, however, being a bit of a mouthful for a small
child, she herself soon clipped it to the diminutive Lola. The name
suited her, and it stuck.
While these facts are supported by documentary evidence, they have
not been romantic enough to fit in with the views of certain foreign
biographers. Accordingly, they have given the child's birthplace as in,
among other cities, Madrid, Lucerne, Constantinople, and Calcutta; and
one of them has even been sufficiently daring to make her a daughter of
Lord Byron. Larousse, too, not to be behindhand, says that she was
born in Seville, of a Spanish father; and, alternatively, in
Scotland, of an English father. Both accounts, however, are emphatic
that her mother was a young Creole of astonishing loveliness, who had
married two officers, a Spaniard and an Englishman.
It was to Edward Gilbert's credit that he had not joined the Army
with the King's commission in his pocket, but in a more humble
capacity, that of a private soldier. Gallant service in the field had
won him advancement; and in 1817 he was selected for an ensigncy in the
25th Foot, thus exchanging his musket and knapsack for the sword and
sash of an officer. From the 25th Foot he was, five years later,
transferred to the 44th Foot, commanded by Colonel Morrison. In 1822,
its turn coming round for a spell of foreign service, the regiment
moved from Dublin to Chatham and embarked for India. Sailing with his
wife and child, the young officer, after a voyage that lasted the best
(or worst) part of six months, landed at Calcutta and went into
barracks at Fort William. On arrival there, the newcomers, says an
account that has been preserved, were entertained with lavish
hospitality and in a fashion to be compared only with the festivities
pictured in the novels of Charles Lever. But all ranks had strong
heads, and were none the worse for it.
During the ensuing summer the regiment got the route, and was
ordered up country to Dinapore, a cantonment near Patna, on the Ganges,
that had been founded by Warren Hastings. It was an unhealthy station,
especially for youngsters fresh from England. A burning sun by day; hot
stifling nights; and no breath of wind sweeping across the parched
ghats. Within a few weeks the dreaded cholera made its appearance; the
melancholy roll of muffled drums was heard every evening at sunset; and
Ensign Gilbert was one of the first victims.
[Illustration: John Company troops on the march in India]
The widow, it is recorded, was left to the care and protection of
Mrs. General Brown, the wife of the brigadier. But events were already
marching to their appointed end; and, as a result, this charitable lady
was soon relieved of her charge.
Left a young widow (not yet twenty-five) with a child of five to
bring up, and very little money on which to do it (for her husband had
only drawn 108 rupees a month), the position in which Mrs. Gilbert
found herself was a difficult one. You can, wrote Lola, years
afterwards, have but a faint conception of the responsibility. Warm
hearts, however, were at hand to befriend her. The warmest among them
was that of a brother officer of her late husband, Lieutenant Patrick
Craigie, of the 38th Native Infantry, then quartered at Dacca. A
bachelor and possessed of considerable private means, he invited her to
share his bungalow. The invitation was accepted. As a result, there was
a certain amount of gossip. This, however, was promptly silenced by a
second invitation, also accepted, to share his name; and, in August,
1824, Mrs. Gilbert, renouncing her mourning and her widowhood,
blossomed afresh as Mrs. Craigie. It is said that the ceremony was
performed by Bishop Heber, Metropolitan of Calcutta, who happened to be
visiting Dacca at the time. Very soon afterwards the benedict received
a staff appointment as deputy-adjutant-general at Simla, combined with
that of deputy-postmaster at Headquarters. This sent him a step up the
ladder to the rank of captain and brought a welcome addition to his
pay. In the opinion of the station gup, some of it not too
charitable, the widow had done well for herself.
Captain Craigie, who appears to have been a somewhat Dobbin-like
individual, proved an affectionate husband and step-father. The little
girl's prettiness and precocity appealed to him strongly. He could not
do enough for her; and he spoiled her by refusing to check her wayward
disposition and encouraging her mischievous pranks. It was not a good
upbringing; and, as dress and society filled the thoughts of her
mother, the Miss Baba was left very much to the care of the swarms of
native servants attached to the bungalow. She was petted by all with
whom she came into contact, from the gilded staff of Government House
down to the humblest sepoy and bearer. Lord Hastings, the
Commander-in-Chiefa rigid disciplinarian who had reintroduced the
cat when Lord Minto, his predecessor in office, had abolished
itsmiled affably on her. She sat on the laps of be-medalled generals,
veterans of Assaye and Bhurtpore, and pulled their whiskers unchecked;
and she ran wild in the compounds of the civilian big-wigs and
mercantile nabobs who, as was the custom in the days of John Company,
had shaken the pagoda tree to their own considerable profit. After all,
as they said, when any protest filtered through to Leadenhall Street,
what were the natives for, except to be exploited; and busybodies who
took them to task were talking nonsense. Worse, they were disloyal.
As, however, there were adequate reasons why children could not stop
in the country indefinitely, Lola's step-father, after much anxious
consideration, decided that, since she was running wild and getting
into mischief, the best thing to do with her would be to have her
brought up by his relatives in Scotland. A suitable escort having been
found and a passage engaged, in the autumn of 1826 she was sent to
Montrose, where his own father, a venerable man occupying the position
of provost, and sisters were living.
From India to Scotland was a considerable change. Not a change for
the better, in the opinion of the new arrival there. The Montrose
household, ruled by Captain Craigie's elderly sisters, was a dour and
strict one, informed by an atmosphere of bleak and chill Calvinism. All
enjoyment was frowned upon; pleasure was worldly and had to be
severely suppressed. No more petting and spoiling for the little girl.
Instead, a regime of porridge and prayers and unending lessons. As a
result the child was so wretched that, convinced her mother would prove
unsympathetic, she wrote to her step-father, begging to be sent back to
him. This, of course, was impossible. Still, when the letter, blotted
with tears, reached him in Calcutta, Captain Craigie's heart was
touched. If she was unhappy among his kinsfolk at Montrose, he would
send her somewhere else. But where? That was the question.
As luck would have it, by the same mail a second letter, offering a
solution of the problem, arrived from an Anglo-Indian friend. This was
Sir Jasper Nicolls, K.C.B., a veteran of Assaye and Bhurtpore, who had
settled down in England and wanted a young girl as companion for, and
to be brought up with, his own motherless daughter. The two got into
correspondence; and, the necessary arrangements having been completed,
little Lola Gilbert, beside herself with delight, was in the summer of
1830 packed off to Sir Jasper's house at Bath.
Are you sorry to leave us? enquired the eldest Miss Craigie.
Not a bit, was the candid response.
Mark my words, Miss, you'll come to a bad ending, predicted the
But if Bath was to be a bad ending, it was certainly to be a good
beginning. There, instead of bleakness and constant reproof, Lola found
herself wrapped in an atmosphere of warmth and friendliness. Sir Jasper
was kindness itself; and his daughter Fanny made the newcomer welcome.
The two girls took to one another from the first, sharing each other's
pleasures as they shared each other's studies. Thus, they blushed and
gushed when required; sewed samplers and copied texts; learned a little
French and drawing; grappled with Miss Mangnall's Questions for the
Use of Young People; practised duets and ballads; touched the
strings of the harp; wept over the poems of L.E.L.; read Byron
surreptitiously, and the newly published Sketches by Boz openly;
admired the Books of Beauty and sumptuously bound Keepsake Annuals,
edited by the Countess of Blessington and the Hon. Mrs. Norton; laughed
demurely at the antics of that elderly figure-of-fun, Romeo Coates,
when he took the air in the Quadrant; wondered why that distinguished
veteran, Sir Charles Napier, made a point of cutting Sir Jasper
Nicolls; curtsied to the little Princess Victoria, then staying at the
York Hotel, and turned discreetly aside when the Duchess de Berri
happened to pass; and (since they were not entirely cloistered)
attended, under the watchful eye of a governess, select concerts in
the Assembly Rooms (with Catalini and Garsia in the programmes) and an
occasional play at the Theatre Royal, where from time to time they had
a glimpse of Fanny Kemble and Kean and Macready; and, in short,
followed the approved curriculum of young ladies of their position in
the far off-days when William IV was King.
Although Sir Jasper had a hearty and John Bullish contempt for
foreignersand especially for the Froggies he had helped to drub at
Waterloohe felt that they, none the less, had their points; and that
they were born on the wrong side of the Channel was their misfortune,
rather than their fault. Accordingly, there was an interval in Paris,
where the two girls were sent to learn French. There, in addition to a
knowledge of the language, Lola acquired a technique that was
afterwards to prove valuable amid other and very different
surroundings. If de Mirecourt (a far from reliable authority) is to be
believed, she was also, during this period, presented to King Charles X
by the British Ambassador. On the evidence of dates, however, this
could not have been the case, for Charles had relinquished his sceptre
and fled to England long before Lola arrived in the country.
After an interval, Sir Jasper felt that he ought to slip across to
Paris himself, if only to make sure that his daughter and ward were
not getting into mischief, or having their heads filled with ideas.
No sooner said than done and, posting to Dover, he took the packet.
Having relieved his mind as to the welfare of the two girls, he turned
his attention to other matters. As he had anticipated, a number of his
old comrades who had settled in Paris gave him a warm welcome and
readily undertook to show him round. He enjoyed the experience. Life
was pleasant there, and the theatres and cafés were attractive and a
change from the austerities of Bath. The ladies, too, whom he
encountered when he smoked his cheroot in the Palais Royal gardens,
smiled affably on the English Milord. Some of them, with very little
encouragement, did more. No nonsense about waiting for introductions.
But, despite its amenities, Paris in the early 'thirties was not
altogether a suitable resort for British visitors. The political
atmosphere was distinctly ruffled. Revolution was in the air. Sir
Jasper sniffed the coming changes; and was tactician enough to avoid
being engulfed in the threatened maelstrom by slipping back to England
with his young charges in the nick of time. Others of his compatriots,
not so fortunate or so discreet, found themselves clapped into French
Returning to the tranquillity of Bath, things resumed their normal
course. Sir Jasper nursed his gout (changing his opinion of French
cooking, to which he attributed a fresh attack) and the girls picked up
the threads they had temporarily dropped.
Always responsive to her environment, Lola expanded quickly in the
sympathetic atmosphere of the Nicolls household. Before long, Montrose,
with its blue Scotch Calvinism, was but a memory. Instead of being
snubbed and scolded, she was petted and encouraged. As a result, she
grew cheerful and vivacious, full of high spirits and laughter. Perhaps
because of her mother's Spanish blood, she matured early. At sixteen
she was a woman. A remarkably attractive one, too, givingwith her
raven tresses, long-lashed violet eyes, and graceful figurepromise of
the ripe beauty for which she was afterwards to be distinguished
throughout two hemispheres. Of a romantic disposition, she, naturally
enough, had her affaires. Several of them, as it happened. One
of them was with an usher, who had slipped amorous missives into her
prayer-book. Greatly daring, he followed this up by bearding Sir Jasper
in his den and asking permission to pay his addresses to his ward.
The warrior's response was unconciliatory. Still, he could not be angry
when, on being challenged, the girl laughed at him.
Egad! he declared. But, before long, Miss, you'll be setting all
the men by the ears.
During the interval that elapsed since they last met, Mrs. Craigie
had troubled herself very little about the child she had sent to
England. When, however, she received her portrait from Sir Jasper,
together with a glowing description of her attractiveness and charm,
the situation assumed a fresh aspect. Lola, she felt, had become an
asset, instead of an anxiety; and, as such, must make a good
marriage. Bath swarmed with detrimentals, and there was a risk of a
pretty girl, bereft of a mother's watchful care, being snapped up by
one of them. Possibly, a younger son, without a penny with which to
bless himself. A shuddering prospect for an ambitious mother.
Obviously, therefore, the thing to do was to get her daughter out to
India and marry her off to a rich husband. The richer, the better.
Mrs. Craigie went to work in business-like fashion, and cast a
maternal eye over the eligibles she met at Government House. The one
among them she ultimately selected as a really desirable son-in-law was
a Calcutta judge, Sir Abraham Lumley. It was true he was more than old
enough to be the girl's father, and was distinctly liverish. But this,
she felt, was beside the point, since he had accumulated a vast number
of rupees, and would, before long, retire on a snug pension.
Sir Abraham was accordingly sounded. Hardened bachelor as he was, a
single glance at Lola's portrait was enough to send his blood-pressure
up to fever heat. In positive rapture at the idea of such fresh young
loveliness becoming his, he declared himself ready to change his
condition, and discussed handsome settlements.
With everything thus cut and dried, as she considered, Mrs. Craigie
took the next step in her programme. This was to leave India for
England, during the autumn of 1836, and tell Lola of the good news in
store for her. She was then to bring her back to Calcutta and the
expectant arms of Sir Abraham.
Honest Captain Craigie looked a little dubious when he was
Perhaps she won't care about him, he suggested.
Fiddlesticks! retorted his wife. Any girl would jump at the
chance of being Lady Lumley. Think of the position.
I'm thinking of Lola, he said.
CHAPTER II. MARRIED IN HASTE
Among the passengers accompanying Mrs. Craigie on the long voyage to
Southampton was a Lieutenant Thomas James, a debonair young officer of
the Bengal Infantry, who made himself very agreeable to her and with
whom he exchanged many confidences. He was going home on a year's sick
leave; and at the suggestion of his ship-board acquaintance he decided
to spend the first month of it in Bath.
It's time I settled down, he said. Who knows, but I might pick up
a wife in Bath and take her back to India with me.
Who knows, agreed Mrs. Craigie, her match-making instincts
aroused. Bath is full of pretty girls.
The meeting between mother and daughter developed very differently
from the lines on which she had planned it. Contrary to what she had
expected, Lola did not evince any marked readiness to fall in with
them. Quite undazzled by the prospects of becoming Lady Lumley, and
reclining on Sir Abraham's elderly bosom, she even went so far as to
dub the learned judge a gouty old rascal, and declared that nothing
would induce her to marry him. Neither reproaches nor arguments had any
effect. Nor would she exhibit the smallest interest in the trousseau
for which (but without her knowledge) lavish orders had been given.
Poor Mrs. Craigie could scarcely believe her ears. For a daughter to
run counter to the wishes of her mother, and to snap her fingers at the
chance of marrying a title, was something she had considered
impossible. What on earth were girls coming to, she wondered. Either
the Paris finishing school or the Bath air had gone to her head. The
times were out of joint, and the theory that daughters did what they
were told was being rudely upset. It was all very disturbing.
In her astonishment and annoyance, Mrs. Craigie took to her bed.
However, she did not stop there long, for prompt measures had to be
adopted. As it was useless to tackle Sir Jasper Nicolls (whom she held
responsible for the upset to her plans) she sought counsel of somebody
else. This was her military friend, who, as luck would have it, was
still lingering in Bath, where he had evidently discovered some special
attraction. After all, he was a man of the world and would know what
to do. Accordingly, she summoned him to a consultation, and unburdened
her mind on the subject of Lola's oddness.
Of course, the girl's mad, she declared. Nothing else would
account for it. Can you imagine any girl in her senses turning up her
nose at such a match? I never heard such rubbish. I'm sure I don't know
what Sir Abraham will say. He expects her to join him in Calcutta by
the end of the year. As a matter of fact, I've already booked her
passage. The wedding is to be from our house there. Something will have
to be done. The question is, what?
Leave it to me, was the airy response. I'll talk to her.
Thomas James did talk. He talked to some effect, but not at all in
the fashion Mrs. Craigie had intended. Expressing sympathy with Lola,
he declared himself entirely on her side. She was much too young and
pretty and attractive, he said, to dream for an instant of marrying a
man who was old enough to be her grandfather, and bury herself in
India. The idea was ridiculous. He had a much better plan to offer.
When Lola, smiling through her tears, asked him what it was, he said
that she must run away with him and they would get married. Thus the
problem of her future would be solved automatically.
The luxuriant whiskers and dashing air of Lieutenant Thomas James
did their work. Further, the suggestion was just the sort of thing that
happened to heroines in novels. Lola Gilbert, young and romantic and
inexperienced, succumbed. Watching her opportunity, she slipped out of
the house early the next morning. Her lover had a post-chaise in
readiness, and they set off in it for Bristol. There they took the
packet and crossed over to Ireland, where James had relatives, who, he
promised, would look after her until their marriage should be
Elopement in High Life! A tit-bit of gossip for the tea-tables and
for the bucks at the clubs. No longer a sleepy hollow. Bath was in the
It was not until they were gone that Mrs. Craigie discovered what
had happened. Her first reaction was one of furious indignation. This,
however, was natural, for not only had her ambitious project gone
astray, but she had been deceived by the very man she had trusted. It
was more than enough to upset anybody, especially as she was also
confronted with the unpleasant task of writing to Sir Abraham Lumley,
and telling him what had happened. As a result, she announced that she
would wash her hands of the pair of them.
While it was one thing to run away, it was, as Lola soon discovered,
another thing to get married. An unexpected difficulty presented
itself, as the parish priest whom they consulted refused to perform the
ceremony for so young a girl without being first assured of her
mother's consent. Mrs. Craigie, erupting tears and threats, declined to
give it. Thereupon, James's married sister, Mrs. Watson, sprang into
the breach and pointed out that things have gone so far that it is now
too late to draw back, if scandal is to be avoided. The argument was
effective; and, a reluctant consent having been secured, on July 23,
1837, the position was regularised by the bridegroom's brother, the
Rev. John James, vicar of Rathbiggon, County Meath. Thomas James,
bachelor, Lieutenant, 21st Bengal Native Infantry, and Rose Anna
Gilbert, condition, spinster, was the entry on the certificate.
[Illustration: Her Majesty's Theatre, Haymarket, where Lola
Montez made her début]
After a short honeymoon in Dublin, first at the Shamrock Hotel, and
then in rather squalid lodgings (for cash was not plentiful), Lola was
taken back to her husband's relatives. They lived in a dull Irish
village on the edge of a peat bog, where the young bride found
existence very boring. Then, too, when the glamour of the elopement had
dimmed, it was obvious that her action in running away from Bath had
been precipitate. Thomas, for all his luxuriant whiskers and dash, was,
she reflected sadly, nothing but the outside shell of a man, with
neither a brain that she could respect nor a heart she could love. A
sorry awakening from the dreams in which she had indulged. As a matter
of fact, they had nothing in common. The husband, who was sixteen years
his wife's senior, cared for little but hunting and drinking, and
Lola's tastes were mainly for dancing and flirting.
It was in Dublin, where, much to her satisfaction, her spouse was
ordered on temporary duty, that she discovered a ready outlet for these
Dear dirty Dublin was, to Lola's way of thinking, a vast
improvement on Rathbiggon. At any rate, there was society, smart
young officers and rising politicians, instead of clodhopping squireens
and village boors, to talk to, and shops where the new fashions could
be examined, and theatres with real London actors and actresses. If
only she had had a little money to spend, she would have been perfectly
happy. But Tom James had nothing beyond his pay, which scarcely kept
him in cheroots and car fares. Still, this did not prevent him running
The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at that period was the Earl of
Mulgrave (the Elegant Mulgrave"), afterwards Marquess of Normanby. A
great admirer of pretty women, and fond of exercising the Viceregal
privilege of kissing attractive débutantes, the drawing-rooms at the
Castle were popular functions under his regime. He showed young Mrs.
James much attention. The aides-de-camp, prominent among whom were
Bernal Osborne and Francis Sheridan, followed the example thus set them
by their chief; and tickets for balls and concerts and dinner-parties
and drums and routs were showered upon her.
Thinking that these compliments and attentions were being overdone,
Lieutenant James took them amiss and elected to become jealous. He
talked darkly of calling out one of his wife's admirers. But before
there could be any early morning pistol-play in the Phoenix Park, an
unexpected solution offered itself. Trouble was suddenly threatened on
the Afghan frontier; and, in the summer of 1837, all officers on leave
from India were ordered to rejoin their regiments. Welcoming the
prospect of thus renewing her acquaintance with a country of which she
still had pleasant memories, Lola set to work to pack her trunks.
If she had followed the advice of a certain travellers' handbook,
written by Miss Emma Roberts, that was then very popular, she must have
had a considerable amount of baggage. Thus, according to this
authority, the List of Necessaries for a Lady on a Voyage from England
to India included, among other items, the following articles: 72
chemises; 36 nightcaps; 70 pocket-handkerchiefs; 30 pairs of drawers
(or combinations, at choice); 15 petticoats; 60 pairs of stockings; 45
pairs of gloves; at least 20 dresses of different texture; 12 shawls
and parasols; and 3 bonnets and 15 morning caps, together with biscuits
and preserves at discretion, and a dozen boxes of aperient pills.
Nothing omitted. Provision for all contingencies.
Officers were also required to provide themselves with an elaborate
outfit. Thus, the list recommended in the East India Voyage
gives, among other necessary items, 72 calico shirts; 60 pairs of
stockings; 18 pairs of drawers; 24 pairs of gloves; and 20 pairs of
trousers; together with uniform, saddlery, and camp equipment; and
such odds and ends as 60 lbs. of wax candles and several bottles of
ink. Nothing, however, about red-tape.
A helpful hint furnished by Miss Roberts was that A lady on
ship-board, spruced up for the Park or the Opera, would only be an
object of ridicule to her experienced companions. Frippery which would
be discarded in England is often useful in India. Members of my sex,
she adds, who have to study economy, can always secure bargains by
acquiring at small cost items of fashion which, while outmoded in
London, will be new enough by the time they reach Calcutta.
A lady with such sound views on managing the domestic budget as Miss
Emma Roberts should not have remained long in single blessedness.
Those were not the days of ocean greyhounds, covering the distance
between England and India in a couple of weeks. Nor was there then any
Suez Canal route to shorten the long miles that had to be traversed.
Thus, when Lola and her spouse embarked from England in an East
Indiaman, the voyage took nearly five months to accomplish, with calls
at Madeira, St. Helena, and the Cape, before the welcome cry, Land
Ahead! was heard and anchor was dropped at Calcutta.
Lola's first acquaintance with India's coral strand had been made as
a child of five. Now she was returning as a married woman. Yet she was
scarcely eighteen. She did not stop in Calcutta long, for her husband's
regiment was in the Punjaub, and a peremptory message from the
brigadier required him to rejoin as soon as possible. It was at Kurnaul
(as it was then spelled) that Lola began her experience of garrison
life. Among the other officers she met there was a young subaltern of
the Bengal Artillery, who, in the years to come, was to make a name for
himself as Lawrence of Lucknow.
The year 1838 was, for both the Company's troops and the Queen's
Army, an eventful one where India was concerned. During the spring Lord
Auckland, the newly-appointed Governor-General, hatched the foolish and
ill-conceived policy which led to the first Afghan war. His idea (so
far as he had one) was, with the help of Brown Bess and British
bayonets, to replace Dost Muhammed, who had sat on the throne there for
twenty years without giving any real trouble, by an incompetent upstart
of his own nomination, Shah Shuja.
Lieutenant James's regiment, the 21st Bengal Native Infantry, was
among those selected to join the expeditionary force appointed to
uphold the prestige of the British Raj; and, as was the custom at
that time, Lola, mounted on an elephant (which she shared with the
colonel's better half), and followed by a train of baggage camels and a
pack of foxhounds complete, accompanied her husband to the frontier.
The other ladies included Mrs. McNaghten and Mrs. Robert Sale and the
Governor-General's two daughters. It is just possible that Macaulay had
a glimpse of Lola, for a contemporary letter says that he turned out
to wish the party farewell.
The Army of the Indus was given a good send off by a loyal native
prince, Ranjeet Singh (the Lion of the Punjaub"), who, on their march
up country, entertained the column in a rest-camp at Lahore with showy
pageants and gay doings, among which were nautch dances, cock-fights,
and theatricals. He meant well, no doubt, but he contrived to upset a
chaplain, who declared himself shocked that a bevy of dancing
prostitutes should appear in the presence of the ladies of the family
of a British Governor-General. Judging from a luscious account that
Lola gives of a big durbar, to which all the officers and their wives
were bidden, these strictures were not unjustifiable. Thus, after Lord
Auckland (in sky blue inexpressibles") and his host had delivered
patriotic speeches (with florid allusions to the British Raj, the
Sahib Log, and the Great White Queen, and all the rest of it) gifts
were distributed among the assembled company. Some of these were of an
embarrassing description, since they took the form of beautiful
Circassian slave maidens, covered with very little beyond precious
gems. To the obvious annoyance, however, of a number of prospective
recipients, the Rajah was officially informed that English custom and
military regulations alike did not permit Her Majesty's warriors to
accept such tokens of goodwill.
But, if they could not receive them, the guests had to make presents
in turn, and Ranjeet Singh for his part had no qualms about accepting
them. With true Oriental politeness, and without moving a muscle, he
registered rapture at a miscellaneous collection of imitation gold and
silver trinkets and rusty old pistols offered him on behalf of the
Honourable East India Company.
A correspondent of the Calcutta Englishman was much
impressed. The particular gift, he says, before which the Maharajah
bent with the devotion of a preux chevalier was a full-length
portrait of our gracious little Queen, from the brush of the Hon. Miss
In a letter from Lord Auckland's military secretary, the Hon.
William Osborne, there is an account of these doings at Lahore:
Ranjeet has entertained us all most handsomely. No one in
the camp is allowed to purchase a single thing; and a list
is sent round twice a week in which you put down just what
you require, and it is furnished at his expense. It costs
him 25,000 rupees a day. Nothing could exceed his liberality
and friendship during the whole of the Governor-General's
A second durbar, held at Simla, was accompanied by much florid
imagery, all of which had to be interpreted for the benefit of Lord
Auckland. It took a quarter of an hour, says his sister, to satisfy
him about the Maharajah's health, and to ascertain that the roses had
bloomed in the garden of friendship, and the nightingales had sung in
the bowers of affection sweeter than ever since the two Powers had
approached each other.
The Afghan campaign, as ill conceived as it was ill carried out,
followed its appointed course. That is to say, it was punctuated by
regrettable incidents and quarrels among the generals (two of whom,
Sir Henry Fane and Sir John Keane, were not on speaking terms); and,
with the Afghans living to fight another day, a success for British
arms was announced. Thereupon, the column returned to India, bands
playing, elephants trumpeting a salute, and guns thundering a welcome.
The war, declared His Excellency (who had received an earldom) in an
official despatch, is all over. Unfortunately, however, it was all
over Afghanistan, with the result that there had to be another campaign
in the following year. This time, not even Lord Auckland's imagination
could call it successful.
There will be a great deal of prize money, was the complacent
fashion in which Miss Eden summed up the situation. Another man has
been put on the Khelat throne, so that business is finished. But it
was not finished. It was only just beginning. Within six months, says
Edward Thompson, Khelat was recaptured by a son of the slain Khan,
Lord Auckland's puppet ejected, and the English commander of the
Although the expedition that followed was the subject of a highly
eulogistic despatch from the Commander-in-Chief and the big-wigs at
headquarters, a number of regrettable incidents were officially
admitted. As a result, a regiment of Light Cavalry was disbanded, as a
punishment for poltroonery in the hour of trial and the dastards struck
off the Army List.
Later on, when Lord Ellenborough was Governor-General, a bombastic
memorandum, addressed To all the Princes and Chiefs and People of
India, was issued by him:
Our victorious army bears the gates of the Temple of Somnauth in
triumph from Afghanistan, and the despoiled tomb of Sultan Mahmood
looks down upon the ruins of Ghuznee. The insult of 800 years is at
To you I shall commit this glorious trophy of successful war. You
will yourselves with all honour transmit the gates of sandalwood to the
restored Temple of Somnauth.
May that good Providence, which has hitherto so manifestly
protected me, still extend to me its favour, that I may so use the
power entrusted to my hands to advance your prosperity and happiness by
placing the union of our two countries upon foundations that may render
There was a good deal more in a similar style, for his lordship
loved composing florid despatches. But this one had a bad reception
when it was sent home to England. At this puerile piece of business,
says the plain spoken Stocqueler, the commonsense of the British
community at large revolted. The ministers of religion protested
against it as a most unpardonable homage to an idolatrous temple.
Ridiculed by the Press of India and England, and laughed at by the
members of his own party in Parliament, Lord Ellenborough halted the
gates at Agra, and postponed the completion of the monstrous folly he
had more than begun to perpetrate.
Severe as was this criticism, it was not unmerited. Ellenborough's
theatrical bombast, like that of Napoleon at the Pyramids, recoiled
upon him, bringing a hornets' nest about his own ears and leading to
his recall. As a matter of fact, too, the gates which he held in such
reverence were found to be replicas of the pair that the Sultan Mahmood
had pilfered from Somnauth; and were not of sandalwood at all, but of
While following the drum from camp to camp and from station to
station, Lola spent several months in Bareilly, a town that was
afterwards to play an important part in the Mutiny. Colonel Durand, an
officer who was present when the city was captured in 1858, says that
the bungalow she occupied there was destroyed. Yet, the mutineers, he
noticed, had spared the bath house that had been built for her in the
During the hot weather of 1839, young Mrs. James, accompanied by her
husband, went off to Simla for a month on a visit to her mother, who,
yielding to pressure, had at last held out the olive-branch. The
welcome, howeverexcept from Captain Craigie, who still had a warm
corner in his heart for herwas somewhat frigid.
There is a reference to this visit in Up the Country, a once
popular book by Lord Auckland's sister, the Hon. Emily Eden. Following
the coy fashion of the period, however, she always refrained from
giving a name in full, but would merely allude to people as Colonel
A, Mr. B, Mrs. C, and Miss D, etc. Still, the identities of
Mrs. J and Mrs. C in this extract are clear enough:
September 8, 1839.
Simla is much moved just now by the arrival of a Mrs. J, who
has been talked of as a great beauty all the year, and that
drives every other woman quite distracted.... Mrs. J is the
daughter of a Mrs. C, who is still very handsome herself,
and whose husband is deputy-adjutant-general, or some
military authority of that kind. She sent this only child to
be educated at home, and went home herself two years ago to
see her. In the same ship was Mr. J, a poor ensign, going
home on sick leave. He told her he was engaged to be
married, consulted her about his prospects, and in the
meantime privately married this child at school. It was
enough to provoke any mother; but, as it now cannot be
helped, we have all been trying to persuade her for the last
year to make it up. She has withstood it till now, but at
last has consented to ask them for a month, and they arrived
three days ago.
The rush on the road was remarkable. But nothing could be
more satisfactory than the result, for Mrs. J looked
lovely, and Mrs. C has set up for her a very grand jonpaun,
with bearers in fine orange and brown liveries; and J is a
sort of smart-looking man with bright waistcoats and bright
teeth, with a showy horse, and he rode along in an attitude
of respectful attention to ma belle mère. Altogether,
was an imposing sight, and I cannot see any way out of it
but magnanimous admiration.
During this visit to Simla the couple were duly bidden to dine at
Auckland House, on Elysium Hill, where they met His Excellency.
We had a dinner yesterday, wrote their hostess. Mrs. J is
undoubtedly very pretty, and such a merry unaffected girl. She is only
seventeen now, and does not look so old; and when one thinks that she
is married to a junior lieutenant in the Indian Army, fifteen years
older than herself, and that they have 160 rupees a month, and are to
pass their whole lives in India, I do not wonder at Mrs. C's resentment
at her having run away from school.
Writing to Lady Teresa Lister in England, Miss Eden gives an
entertaining account of Simla at this date:
Everybody has been pleased and amused, except the two
clergymen who are here, and who have begun a course of
sermons against what they call a destructive torrent of
worldly gaiety. They had much better preach against the
destructive torrent of rain which has now set in for the
next three months, and not only washes away all gaiety, but
all the paths, in the literal sense, which lead to it.... I
do not count Simla as any grievancenice climate, beautiful
place, constant fresh air, plenty of fleas, not much
society, everything that is desirable.
In another letter, this indefatigable correspondent remarks:
Here, society is not much trouble, nor much anything else.
We give sundry dinners and occasional balls, and have hit
upon one popular device. Our band plays twice a week on one
of the hills here, and we send ices and refreshments to the
listeners, and it makes a nice little reunion with very
* * * * *
A further reference to the amenities of Government House at Simla
during the Aucklands' regime is instructive, as showing that it was not
a case of all work and no play:
There are about ninety-six ladies here whose husbands are gone to
the wars, and about twenty-six gentlemenat least, there will, with
good luck, be about that number. We have a very dancing set of
aides-de-camp just now, and they are utterly desperate at the notion of
our having no balls. I suppose we must begin on one in a fortnight; but
it will be difficult, and there are several young ladies here with whom
some of our gentlemen are much smitten. As they will have no rivals
here, I am horribly afraid the flirtations may become serious, and then
we shall lose some active aides-de-camp, and they will find themselves
on ensign's pay with a wife to keep. However, they will have
these balls, so it is not my fault.
* * * * *
After she had left Simla and its round of gaieties, Lola was to have
another meeting with the hospitable Aucklands. This took place in camp
at Kurnaul, a great ugly cantonment, all barracks and dust and guns
and soldiers. Miss Eden, who was accompanying her brother on a tour
through the district, wrote to her sister in England:
November 13, 1839.
We were at home in the evening, and it was an immense party;
but, except that pretty Mrs. J, who was at Simla, and who
looked like a star among the others, the women were all
[Illustration: Benjamin Lumley. Lessee of Her Majesty's Theatre
A couple of days later, she added some further particulars:
We left Kurnaul yesterday morning. Little Mrs. J was so
unhappy at our going that we asked her to come and pass
the day here, and brought her with us. She went from tent to
tent and chattered all day and visited her friend, Mrs. M,
who is with the camp. I gave her a pink silk gown, and it
was altogether a very happy day for her evidently. It ended
in her going back to Kurnaul on my elephant, with E.N. by
her side, and Mr. J sitting behind. She had never been on an
elephant before, and thought it delightful.
She is very pretty, and a good little thing apparently. But
they are very poor, and she is very young and lively, and if
she falls into bad hands, she would laugh herself into
foolish scrapes. At present the husband and wife are very
fond of each other, but a girl who marries at fifteen hardly
knows what she likes.
When she wrote this passage, Miss Eden might have been a Sibyl, for
her words were to become abundantly true.
Except when on active service, officers of the Company's Army were
not overworked. Everything was left to the sergeants and corporals;
and, while Thomas Atkins and Jack Sepoy trudged in the dust and sweated
and drilled in their absurd stocks and tight tunics, the commissioned
ranks, lolling in barracks, killed the long hours as they pleased.
Following form, Captain James (the Afghan business had brought him a
step in rank) did a certain amount of tiger-shooting and pig-sticking,
and a good deal of brandy-swilling, combined with card-playing and
gambling. As a husband, he was not a conspicuous success. He slept,
complained Lola, feeling herself neglected, like a boa-constrictor,
and, during the intervals of wakefulness, drank too much porter. The
result was, there were quarrels, instead of love-making, for they both
Runaway matches, like runaway horses, Lola had once written, are
almost sure to end in a smash-up. In this case there was a smash-up,
for Tom James was not always sleeping and drinking. He had other
activities. If fond of a glass, he was also fond of a lass. The one
among them for whom he evinced a special fondness was a Mrs. Lomer, the
wife of a brother officer, the adjutant of his regiment. His partiality
One morning when, without any suspicion of what was in store for
them, Mrs. James and Adjutant Lomer sat down to their chota-hazree, two members of the accustomed breakfast party were missing. Enquiries
having been set on foot, the fact was elicited that Captain James and
Mrs. Lomer had gone out for an early ride. It must have been a long
one, thought the camp, as they did not appear at dinner that evening.
Messengers sent to look for them came back with a disturbing report.
This was to the effect that the couple had slipped off to the Nilgiri
Hills and had decided to stop there.
The next morning a panting native brought a letter from the errant
lady addressed to her furious spouse. This missive is (without
explaining how he got it) reproduced by an American journalist, T.
Everett Harré, in a series of articles, The Heavenly Sinner: I
suggest, runs an extract, you come to your senses and give me my
freedom ... I am going with a man of parts who knows how to give a
woman the attentions she craves, and is himself glad to shake off a
young chit of a wife who is too brainless to appreciate him.
A first-class sensation. The entire cantonment throbbed and buzzed
with excitement. The colonel fumed; the adjutant cursed; and there was
talk of bringing the Don Juan Captain James to a court-martial for
conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. But Lola, as was her
custom, took it philosophically, doubtless reflecting that she was well
rid of a spouse for whom she no longer cared, and went back to her
mother in Calcutta.
Mrs. Craigie's maternal heart-strings should have been wrung by the
unhappy position of her daughter. They were not wrung. The clandestine
marriage, with the upsetting of her own plans, still rankled and
remained unforgiven and unforgotten. As a result, when she asked for
shelter and sympathy, Lola received a very frigid welcome. Her
step-father, however, took her part, and declared that his bungalow was
open to her until other arrangements could be made for her future. Not
being possessed of much imagination, his idea was that she should leave
India temporarily and stop for a few months in Scotland with his
brother, Mr. David Craigie, a man of substance and Provost of Perth.
After an interval for reflection there, he felt that the differences of
opinion that had arisen between her husband and herself would become
adjusted, and the young couple resume marital relations. Accordingly,
he wrote to his brother, asking him to meet her when she arrived in
London and escort her to Perth.
Lola, however, while professing complete agreement, had other views
as to her future. She wanted neither a reconciliation with her husband
nor a second experience of life with the Craigie family in Scotland.
One such had been more than sufficient, but she was careful not to
breathe a word on the subject. She kept her own counsel, and matured
her own plans.
CHAPTER III. THE CONSISTORY COURT
Sailing from Calcutta for London in an East Indiaman, at the end of
1840, Lola was consigned by her step-father to the special care of a
Mrs. Sturgis who was among the passengers. He obviously felt the
parting. Big salt tears, says Lola, coursed down his cheeks, when
he wished her a last farewell. He also gave her his blessing; and, what
was more negotiable, a cheque for £1000. The two never met again.
But although she had left India's coral strand, a memory of her
lingered there for many years. In this connection, Sir Walter Lawrence
says that he once found himself in a cantonment that had been deserted
so long that it was swallowed up by the ever advancing jungle. A
wizened villager, he says, recalled a high-spirited and beautiful
girl, the young wife of an officer, who would creep up and push him
into the water. 'Ah,' he said, with a smile of affection, 'she was a
badmash, but she was always very kind to me.' She was better known
afterwards as Lola Montez.
At Madras a number of fresh comers joined the good ship Larkins
in which Lola was proceeding to England. Among them was a certain
Captain Lennox, aide-de-camp to Lord Elphinstone, the Governor. An
agreeable young man, and very different from the missionaries and civil
servants who formed the bulk of the other male passengers. Lola and
himself were soon on good terms. Too good, was the acid comment of
the ladies in whose society Captain Lennox exhibited no interest. The
couple were inseparable. They sat at the same table in the saloon; they
paced the deck together, arm in arm, on the long hot nights, preferring
dark and unfrequented corners; their chairs adjoined; their cabins
adjoined; and, so the shocked whisper ran, they sometimes mistook the
one for the other.
Anybody can make a mistake in the dark, said Lola, when Mrs.
Sturgis, remembering Captain Craigie's injunctions, and resolved at all
costs to fulfil her trust, ventured on a remonstrance.
Ninety years ago, travellers had to rough it; and the conditions
governing a voyage from India to England were very different from those
that now obtain. None of the modern amenities had any place in the
accepted routine. Thus, no deck sports; no jazz band; no swimming-pool;
no cocktail bar; not even a sweepstake on the day's run.
But time had to be killed; and, as a young grass widow, Mrs. James
felt that flirting was the best way of getting through it. Captain
Lennox was the only man on board ship with whom she had anything in
common. He was sympathetic, good-looking, and attentive. Also, he swore
that he was madly in love with her. The old, old story; but it did
its work. Before the vessel berthed in London docks, Lola had come to a
decision. A momentous decision. She would give David Craigie the slip,
and, listening to his blandishments, cast in her lot with George
I'll look after you, he said reassuringly. Trust me for that, my
Lola did trust him. In fact, she trusted him to such an extent that,
on reaching London, she stopped with him at the Imperial Hotel in
Covent Garden; and then, when the manageress of that establishment took
upon herself to make pointed criticisms, at his rooms in Pall Mall.
Naturally enough, this sort of thing could not be hushed up for
long. Meaning nods and winks greeted the dashing Lennox when he
appeared at his club. Tongues wagged briskly. Some of them even wagged
in distant Calcutta, where they were heard by Lola's husband. Ignoring
his own amorous dalliance with a brother officer's spouse, he elected
to feel injured. Resolved to assert himself, he got into touch with his
London solicitors and instructed them to take the preliminary steps to
dissolve his marriage. The first of these was to bring an action for
what was then politely dubbed crim. con. against the man he alleged
to have wronged him.
The lawyers would not be hurried; and things moved in leisurely
fashion. Still, they moved to their appointed end; and, the necessary
red tape being unwound, interrogatories administered, and the evidence
of prying chambermaids and hotel servants collected and examined, in
May, 1841, the case of James v. Lennox got into the list and was heard
by Lord Denman and a special jury in the Court of Queen's Bench. Sir
William Follett, the Solicitor-General, was briefed on behalf of the
plaintiff, and Frederick Thesiger appeared for Captain Lennox.
In his opening address, Sir William Follett (who had not been too
well instructed) told the jury that the petitioner and his wife had
lived very happily together in India, and that the return of Mrs. James
to England was due to a fall from her horse at Calcutta. While on the
passage home, he continued, pulling out his vox humana stop, the
ship touched at Madras, where the defendant came on board; and, during
the long voyage, an intimacy sprang up between Mrs. James and himself
which developed in a fashion that left the outraged husband no choice
but to institute the present proceedings to recover damages for having
been wantonly robbed of the affection and society of his consort.
At this point, counsel for Captain Lennox (who, in pusillanimous
fashion, had loved and sailed away, rather than stop and help the woman
he had compromised) cut short his learned friend's tearful eloquence by
admitting that he was prepared to accept a verdict, with £1000 damages.
As the judge agreed, the case was abruptly terminated.
This, however, was only the first round. In December of the
following year, the next step was adopted, and a suit for divorce was
commenced in the Consistory Court. As neither Mrs. James nor the
Lothario-like Captain Lennox put in an appearance, Dr. Lushington,
declaring himself satisfied that misconduct had been committed,
pronounced a decree a mensa et thoro. All that this amounted to
was merely a judicial separation.
The report in The Times only ran to a dozen lines.
Considering that the paper cost fivepence a copy, this was not a very
liberal allowance. Still, readers had better value in respect of
another action in high life that was heard the same day, that of Lord
and Lady Graves, which had a full column allotted it.
This was all that the public knew of the case. It did not seem much
on which to blast a young wife's reputation. Dr. Lushington, the judge
of the Consistory Court, however, knew a good deal more about the
business than did the general public. This was because, during the
preliminary hearing, held some months earlier and attended only by
counsel and solicitors, a number of damaging facts had transpired.
Mrs. James, said learned counsel for the petitioner, had been
guilty of behaviour at which a crocodile would tremble and blush. A
serious charge to bring against a young woman. Still, in answer to the
judge, he professed himself equipped with ample evidence to support it.
His first witness was a retired civil servant, a Mr. Browne Roberts,
who had known the respondent's husband, first, as a bachelor in India,
and afterwards as a married man in Dublin. At the beginning of 1841, he
had received a call, he said, from a Major McMullen to whom Captain
Craigie had written, asking him to take charge of his step-daughter on
her arrival in London and see her off to his relatives in Scotland.
When, however, the major offered this hospitality, it was refused.
Thereupon, Mr. Roberts had himself called at the Imperial Hotel, Covent
Garden, and suggested that she should come and stop with his wife; and
this invitation was also refused.
Not much in this perhaps, but a good deal in what followed. Mrs.
Elizabeth Walters, the manageress of the Imperial Hotel, said that on
February 21, 1841, a lady and gentleman arrived in a hackney cab, with
luggage marked G. Lennox and Mrs. James, and booked a double room.
Mrs. Walters had not, she admitted, actually discovered them
undressed, or sharing the bed, but she would not have been surprised
to have done so. Accordingly, when her travelling companion left the
next morning, she taxed Mrs. James with misconduct. After telling her
to mind her own business, Mrs. James had declared that she and
Captain Lennox were on the point of being married, and had then packed
up and left the establishment.
What exactly did she say? enquired the judge.
She said, 'what I choose to do is my own affair and nobody
On leaving the somewhat arid hospitality of the Covent Garden Hotel,
Mrs. James had removed to a lodging-house just off Pall Mall, where she
stopped for a month. Mrs. Martin, the proprietress, told the court
that, during this period, Captain Lennox settled the bill, and called
there every day, often stopping till all hours of the night.
The testimony of Mrs. Sarah Watson, the sister of Captain James, was
that her brother had written to her in the autumn of 1840, saying that
his wife had been thrown from her horse and was coming to England for
medical treatment; and that he had written to his aunt, Mrs. Rae, of
Edinburgh, suggesting that his wife should stop with her. Mrs. Watson,
having been told things, then called on Mrs. James in Covent Garden.
I spoke to her, she said, of the shocking rumour that Captain Lennox
had passed a night with her there, and pointed out the unutterable ruin
that would result from a continuance of such deplorable conduct. I
begged her to entrust herself to the care of Mrs. Rae. My entreaties
were ineffectual. She positively declared, affirming with an oath, that
she would do nothing of the kind.
Among the passengers on board the East Indiaman by which Mrs. James
had voyaged to England was Mrs. Ingram, the captain's wife. The
conduct of Mrs. James, she said, was unguarded in the extreme, and
her general behaviour was what is sometimes called flirting. Captain
Ingram, who followed, had a still more disturbing story to recount. On
several occasions, he said, I heard Mrs. James address the gentleman
who joined us at Madras as 'Dear Lennox,' and she would even admit him
to the privacy of her cabin while the other passengers were attending
divine service on deck. When I spoke to her about it, she answered me
in a very cool fashion.
All this was distinctly damaging. The real sensation, however, was
provided by Caroline Marden, a stewardess.
During the voyage from Madras, she told the astonished judge, I
more than once saw Captain Lennox lacing up Mrs. James's stays.
Did you see anything else? faltered counsel.
Yes, I also saw her actually putting on her stockings while Captain
Lennox was in her cabin!
There were limits to intimacies between the sexes. This was clearly
among them. For a man to assist in adjusting a woman's stays, and watch
her changing her stockings, could, in the opinion of the learned and
experienced Dr. Lushington, only lead to one result. The worst result.
Hence, he had no difficulty in pronouncing the decree for which the
husband was applying.
All James had got for his activities in bringing his action was a
divorce a mensa et thoro, that is, from bed and board. But,
while it was all he got, this measure of relief was probably all he
wanted, as he was not contemplating a second experiment in matrimony,
either with Mrs. Lomer or anybody else. Where his discarded wife was
concerned, she would have to shift for herself. She no longer had any
legal claim upon him; nor could she marry again during his lifetime.
Her position was a somewhat pathetic one. Thus, she was alone and
friendless; besmirched in reputation; abandoned by her husband; and
deserted by her lover. But she still had her youth and her courage.
The London of the 1840's, where Lola found herself cast adrift, was
a curious microcosm and full of contrasts. A mixture of unabashed
blackguardism and cloistered prudery; of double-beds and primness; of
humbug and frankness; of liberty and restraint; of lust and license; of
brutal horse-play passing for wit, and of candour marching with cant.
The working classes scarcely called their souls their own; women and
children mercilessly exploited by smug profiteers; the Song of the
Shirt; Gradgrind and Boanerges holding high festival; Tom and Jerry
(on their last legs) and Corinthians wrenching off door knockers and
upsetting policemen; and Exeter Hall and the Cider Cellars both in full
swing. Altogether, an ill place of sojourn for an unprotected young
Exactly how this one supported herself during the next few months is
not very clear, for, if she kept a diary, she never published it.
According, however, to a Sunday organ, she entangled the virtuous Earl
of Malmesbury in a delicate kind of newspaper correspondence, an
assertion having been made in public that she visited that pious
nobleman at his own house. An odd story (of American origin, and quite
unfounded) has it that, about this period, she established contact with
a certain Jean François Montez, an individual of immense wealth who
lavished a fortune on her; and Edward Blanchard, a hack dramatist of
Drury Lane, contributes the somewhat unhelpful remark, She became a
Bohemian. Perhaps she did. But she had to discover a second career
that would bring a little more grist to the mill. Such a course was
imperative, since the balance of the £1000 her step-father had given
her would not last indefinitely. Looking round, she felt that, all
things considered, the stage offered the best prospects of earning a
livelihood. Not a very novel decision. Nowadays, as an attractive young
woman, with a little capital in her possession, she would have had more
choice. Thus, she might have opened a hat shop, or run tea-rooms, or
bred pet dogs, become a mannequin, or a dance club hostess, or even
gone on the films. But none of these avenues to feminine employment
existed in the eighteen-forties. Hence, it was the footlights or
[Illustration: Lola Montez, Spanish Dancer. Début at Her
She had the sense to put herself in the hands of an instructress.
The one she selected was Fanny Kelly (the only woman to whom Charles
Lamb had screwed up sufficient courage to propose marriage"), who
conducted a school of acting. Being honest, as well as capable, Miss
Kelly took the measure of the would-be Ophelia very promptly.
You'll never make an actress, was her decision. You've no talent
But, if the applicant had no talent, the other saw that she had
something else. This was a pair of shapely legs, which, as a
ballet-dancer, could yet twinkle in front of the footlights.
This opinion being shared by its recipient, she lost no time in
adopting it. As a preliminary, she went to Madrid. There, under expert
tuition, she learned to rattle the castanets, and practised the bolero
and the cachucha, as well as the classic arabesques and entrechats and
the technique accompanying them. But she did not advance much beyond
the simplest steps, for the time at her disposal was short, and the art
of the ballerina is not to be acquired without years of unceasing
According to a French journalist, an English Milord made Lola's
acquaintance in Madrid. This was Lord Malmesbury, who was so dazzled
by the purity of her Spanish accent that he adopted her as a
compagnon de voyage, and shared with her the horrors of bad cooking
and the joys of nights in Granada. This fact, however, if it be a
fact, is not to be found in the volume of memoirs that he afterwards
Still, it seems that Lord Malmesbury did meet Lola. His own account
of the incident is that, on returning to England from abroad, in the
spring of the year 1843, he was asked by the Spanish Consul at
Southampton to escort to London a young woman who had just landed
there. He found her, he says, a remarkably handsome person, who was in
deep mourning and who appeared to be in great distress. While they
were alone in the railway carriage, he improved the occasion and
extracted from his travelling companion the story of her life.
She informed me, he says, in bad English that she was the widow
of Don Diego Leon, who had lately been shot by the Carlists after he
was taken prisoner, and that she was going to London to sell some
Spanish property that she possessed, and give lessons in singing, as
she was very poor.
Notwithstanding his diplomatic training, Lord Malmesbury swallowed
this story, as well as much else with which it was embroidered. One
thing led to another; and the acquaintance thus fortuitously begun in a
railway carriage was continued in London. There he got up a concert for
her benefit at his town house, where, in addition to singing Castilian
ballads, his protégée sold veils and fans among the audience; and he
also gave her an introduction to a theatrical manager, with results
that neither of them had foreseen.
CHAPTER IV. FLARE OF THE FOOTLIGHTS
Times change. When Lola returned to London a passage through the
divorce court was not regarded as a necessary qualification for stage
aspirants. Also, being well aware that, to ensure a good reception, a
foreign-sounding name was desirable, this one decided to adopt that of
Lola Montez. This, she felt, would, among other advantages, effectively
mask her identity with that of Mrs. Thomas James, an identity she was
anxious to shed.
Her plans were soon made. On the morning after her arrival, she
presented her letter of introduction to the impressario of Her
Majesty's Theatre, in the Haymarket. This position was held by an
affable Hebrew, one Benjamin Lumley, an ex-solicitor, who had abandoned
his parchments and bills of costs and acquired a lease of Her
Majesty's. The house had long been looked upon as something of a white
elephant in the theatrical jungle; but Lumley, being pushful and
knowledgeable, soon built up a valuable following and set the
establishment on its legs.
As luck would have it, Lola's interview with him came at just the
right moment, for he was alternating ballet with opera and was in want
of a fresh attraction. Convinced that he recognised it in his caller
(or, perhaps, anxious to please Lord Malmesbury), he offered her an
engagement there and then to dance a pas seul between the acts
of Il Barbiere di Seviglia.
If you make a hit, he said, you shall have a contract for the
rest of the season. It all depends on yourself.
Lola, wanting nothing better, left the managerial office, treading
As was his custom, Lumley cultivated the critics, and would receive
them in his sanctum whenever he had a novel attraction to submit.
I have a surprise for you in my next programme, he said, when the
champagne and cigars had been discussed. This is that I have secured
Donna Lola, a Spanish dancer, direct from Seville. She is, I assure
you, deliciously beautiful and remarkably accomplished. I pledge you my
word, gentlemen, she will create a positive furore here.
In 1843 dramatic critics had the privilege of attending rehearsals
and penetrating behind the scenes. One of their number, adopting the
pseudonym Q, has left an account of the manner in which he first met
Lola Montez. He had called on Lumley for a gossip, and was invited by
that authority to descend to the stage and watch his new acquisition
practising a dance there.
At that period, he says, her figure was even more attractive than
her face, lovely as the latter was. Lithe and graceful as a young fawn,
every movement she made was instinct with melody. Her dark eyes were
blazing and flashing with excitement, for she felt that I was willing
to admire her.... As she swept round the stage, her slender waist
swayed to the music, and her graceful head and neck bent with it like a
flower that bends with the impulse given to its stem by the fitful
temper of the wind.
Lumley was tactful enough to leave the pressman alone with the star.
As the latter promised to give her a good puff in his paper, Lola,
who never missed an opportunity, made herself specially agreeable to
him. Her bright eyes did their work. When we separated, says Q in
his reminiscences, I found myself tumbled heels over head into the
profound depths of that which the French call a grande passion.
Lumley's next step was to draw up an announcement of the promised
novelty for inclusion in the programme:
HER MAJESTY'S THEATRE
June 3, 1843
Mr. Benjamin Lumley begs to announce that, between the acts
of the Opera, DONNA LOLA MONTEZ, of the Teatro Real,
Seville, will have the honour to make her first appearance
in England in the Original Spanish dance El Oleano.
After the cast list had been set out the rest of the reading matter
on the programme was given up to advertisements. Some of them would
appear to have been selected rather at haphazard. At any rate, their
special appeal to music lovers was a little difficult to follow. Thus,
one was of Jackson's patent enema machines, as patronised by the
nobility (either sex) when travelling; another of Mrs. Rodd's
anatomical ladies' stays (which ensure the wearer a figure of
astonishing symmetry;) and another of a Brilliant burlesque ballad,
'Get along, Rosey,' sung with the most positive triumph every evening
by Madame Vestris.
With much satisfaction, Manager Lumley, taking a preliminary peep at
the crowded house, saw that a particularly smart audience was
assembled on the night of June 3. The list of fashionables he handed
to the reporters resembled an extract from the pages of Messrs. Burke
and Debrett. Thus, the Royal Box was graced by the Queen Dowager, with
the King of Hanover and Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar for her guests;
and, dotted about the pit tier (then the fashionable part of the house)
were the Duke and Duchess of Wellington, the Marquess and Marchioness
of Granby, Lord and Lady Brougham, and the Baroness de Rothschild, with
the Belgian Minister, Count Esterhazy, and Baron Talleyrand. Even the
occupants of the pit had to accept an official intimation that only
black trousers will be allowed. Her Majesty's had a standard, and
Lumley insisted on its observance.
That long familiar feature, Fops' Alley, having disappeared from
the auditorium, the modish thing for unattached men was to make up a
party and hire an omnibus-box; and from that position to pronounce
judgment upon the legs of the dancers pirouetting in wispy gauze on the
stage. Then, when the curtain fell, they would be privileged to go
behind the scenes and chat with the coryphées.
On the evening of Lola's début one of the omnibus-boxes was occupied
by Lord Ranelagh, a raffish mid-Victorian roué, who had brought with
him a select party of Corinthians in frilled shirts and flowered
waistcoats. It was observed that he paid but languid attention to the
opera. As soon, however, as the promised novelty, El Oleano, was
reached, he exhibited a sudden interest and pushed his chair forward.
We shall see some fun in a moment, he whispered. Mind you fellows
keep quiet until I give the word.
A little ominous, perhaps, that the Haymarket entrepreneur should
bear the same name as the Calcutta judge who had unsuccessfully sought
her hand. But Lola experienced no qualms. As she stood at the wings, in
a black satin bodice and much flounced pink silk skirt, waiting for her
cue, Lumley passed her with a nod of encouragement.
Capital, he said, rubbing his whiskers. Most attractive. You'll
be a big success, my dear.
As he moved off, a bell tinkled in the prompt corner. In response,
the conductor lifted his baton; the heavy curtains were drawn aside;
and, under a cross-fire of opera glasses, Lola bounded on to the stage
and executed her initial piroutte. There was a sudden hush, as, at the
finish of the number, she stepped up to the footlights and awaited the
verdict. Had she made good, or not? In a moment, however, she knew that
all was well, for a storm of applause and clapping of hands filled the
air. Lumley, from his place in the wings, beamed approval. His
enterprise was to be rewarded. The débutante was a success. No doubt
about it. She should have a contract from him before any other manager
should step in and snap her up.
We do not believe (scribbled a critic, hurriedly jotting
down his impressions, to be expanded when he got back to his
office) that Donna Lola smiled once throughout her
performance. As she withdrew, numbers of bouquets fell on to
the stage. But the proud one of Seville did not deign to
return to pick them up, and one of the gentlemen in livery
was deputed for that purpose. When, however, her measure was
encored, she stepped down from her pinnacle and actually
condescended to accept an additional bouquet that had been
tossed by a fair one from a box.
Her Majesty's Theatre (added a colleague) may now be said to
be in its full zenith of grandeur and perfection of beauty
and splendour, and variety and fame of the ballet. A new
Spanish Donna has been introduced. Although the visitation
was unheralded by the customary flourish of trumpeting on
dits, it was extremely successful. The young lady came and
saw and conquered. Many floral offerings were shot at her as
a compliment, and the useful M. Coulosever at hand in such
an emergencyassisted very industriously in picking them
up. As for El Oleano, this is a sort of cachucha; and
certainly gives Donna Lola Montez an opportunity of
introducing herself to the public under a very captivating
aspect.... A lovely picture she is to contemplate. There is
before you the very perfection of Spanish beautythe tall
handsome figure, the full lustrous eye, the joyous animated
countenance, and the dark raven tresses. You gaze upon the
Donna with delight and admiration.
It was just after the third item on her programme and while she
stood before the curtain, bowing and smiling her acknowledgments, that
there was an unexpected interruption. An ominous hiss suddenly split
the air. The sound came from the occupants of the stage box in which
Lord Ranelagh and his party had ensconced themselves. As at a
prearranged signal, the occupants of the opposite box took it up and
repeated it. The audience gasped in astonishment, and looked to Lord
Ranelagh for a solution. He supplied one promptly. Egad! he exclaimed
in a loud voice, that's not Lola Montez at all. It's Betsy James, an
Irish girl. Ladies and gentlemen, we're being properly swindled!
Swindled was an ugly word. The pit and gallery, feeling that they
were in some mysterious fashion being defrauded, followed the cue thus
given them, and a volume of hisses and cat-calls sprang from the
throats that, a moment earlier, had bellowed vociferous cheers. The
great Michael Costa, who was conducting, dropped his baton in
astonishment, and, refusing to pick it up again, left his desk. There
is a theory that it was this untoward incident that led him to transfer
himself from the Haymarket to Covent Garden. Quite possible. Musicians
are temperamental folk.
It was left for Lumley to deal with the situation. He did so by
ringing down the curtain, while Lola, in tears and fury, rushed off to
Perhaps they left early, but none of the critics saw anything of
this dénouement. What, however, they did see they described in
rapturous, not to say, florid terms:
We saw, as in a dream (declared one of them), an Elssler or
a Taglioni descend from the clouds, under the traits of a
new dancer, whose fervent admirers lavished on her all the
enthusiasm and applause with which the rare perfection of
her predecessors has been rewarded.
On Saturday last, between the acts of the opera, Donna Lola
Montez was announced to appear on the programme at Her
Majesty's. A thousand ardent spectators were in feverish
anxiety to see her. Donna Lola enchanted everyone. There was
throughout a graceful flowing of the armsnot an angle
discerniblean indescribable softness in her attitude and
suppleness in her limbs which, developed in a thousand
positions (without infringing on the Opera laws), were the
most intoxicating and womanly that can be imagined. We never
remember seeing the habituésboth young and oldtaken
more agreeable surprise than the bewitching lady excited.
She was rapturously encored, and the stage strewn with
Lord Ranelagh and his friends must have grinned when they read this
I saw Lumley immediately after the fall of the curtain, says a
reporter who was admitted behind the scenes. He was surrounded by the
professors of morality from the omnibus-box, who said that Donna Lola
was positively not to reappear. They pointed out to him that it was
absolutely essential to have none but exemplary characters in the
ballet; but they did not tell him where he would procure females who
would have no objection to exhibiting their legs in pink silk
fleshings. As Lumley could not afford to offend his patrons, he was
compelled to accept the fiat of these virtuous scions of a moral
and ultra-scrupulous aristocracy. Carlotta Grisi might have had a score
of lovers; but, then, she had never turned up her charming little nose
at my Lord Ranelagh.
It was an age when the theatre had to kow-tow to the patron. Unless
My Lord approved, Mr. Crummles had no choice but to ring down the
curtain. As the Ranelagh faction very emphatically disapproved, Lumley
was compelled to give the recruit her marching-orders.
Lola's première had thus become her dernière.
By the way, a Sunday paper, writing some time afterwards, was guilty
of a serious slip in its account of the episode, and mistook Lord
Ranelagh for the Duke of Cambridge. The newcomer, says this critic,
was recognised as Mrs. James by a Prince of the Blood and his
companions in the omnibus-box. Her beauty could not save her from
insult; and, to avenge themselves on Mr. Lumley, for some pique, these
chivalrous English gentlemen of the upper classes hooted a woman from
What was behind Lord Ranelagh's cowardly attack on the débutante?
There was a simple explanation, and not one that redounded to his
credit in any way. It was that, during her Bohemian period, he had
endeavoured to fill the empty niche left in her affections by the
departure of that light-o'-love, Captain Lennox, and had been repulsed
for his pains. A bad loser, my Lord nursed resentment. He would teach a
mere ballet-dancer to snap her fingers at him. His opportunity came
sooner than he imagined. He made the most of it.
Fond as he was of biting, Lord Ranelagh was, some years afterwards,
himself bitten. He took a prominent part in an unsavoury scandal that
fluttered mid-Victorian dovecotes, when a Bond Street beauty
specialist, known as Madame Rachel, was clapped into prison for
swindling a wealthy and amorous widow. This was a Mrs. Borrodaile, whom
Madame had gulled by declaring that Lord Ranelagh's one desire was to
share his coronet with her. Although the raffish peer denied all
complicity, he did not come out of the business too well.
The peculiar prominence he has attained, remarked an obituarist,
has not always been of an enviable description. There are probably few
men who have had so many charges of the most varied and disagreeable
nature made against them. The resultant obloquy to which he had thus
been exposed is great, nor has it vanished, as it properly should have
done, with the charges themselves.
This, however, was looking ahead. The comments of 1843 came first.
In the clubs that night, we read, the bucks and bloods laughed
heartily when they discussed the mishap of the proud beauty who had
scorned the advances of my Lord. Lola Montez, however, did not regard
it as anything at which to laugh. She may, as she boasted, have had a
dash of Spanish blood in her veins, but she certainly had none of
George Washington's, for she immediately sat down and wrote a circular
letter to all the London papers. In this she sought to correct what she
described as a false impression. Swallowing it as gospel, a number of
them printed it in full:
To the Editor.
Since I had the honour of dancing at Her Majesty's Theatre,
on Saturday, the 3rd inst. (when I was received by the
English public in so kind and flattering a manner) I have
been cruelly annoyed by reports that I am not really the
person I pretend to be, but that I have long been known in
London as a woman of disreputable character. I entreat you,
Sir, to allow me, through the medium of your respected
journal, to assure you and the public, in the most positive
and unqualified manner, that there is not a word of truth in
such a statement.
I am a native of Seville; and in the year 1833, when ten
years old, was sent to a Catholic lady at Bath, where I
remained seven months, and was then taken back to my parents
in Spain. From that period, until the 14th of April, when I
landed in England, I have never set foot in this country,
and I never saw London before in my life.
In apologising for the favour I ask you, I feel sure that
you will kindly consider the anxiety of myself and my
friends to remove from the public any impression to my
disadvantage. My lawyer has received instructions to proceed
against all the parties who have calumniated me.
Believe me to be your obedient and humble servant,
June 13, 1843.
Ballet-dancers cannot, when making their débuts, be expected to
remember everything; and this one had obviously forgotten her sojourn
in India, just as she had forgotten her marriage to Thomas James (and
the subsequent Consistory Court action), as well as her amorous
dalliance with Captain Lennox during the previous year.
In spite of the encouraging reception accorded Donna Lola Montez,
she has not danced again, remarked a critic in the Examiner.
What is the reason?
Lumley could have supplied the information. He did so, some years
afterwards, in his book, Reminiscences of the Opera:
It is not my intention to rake up the world-wide stories of
this strange and fascinating woman. Perhaps it will be
sufficient to say frankly that I was, in this instance,
fairly taken in. A Noble Lord (afterwards closely
connected with the Foreign Office) had introduced the lady
to my notice as the daughter of a celebrated Spanish
Patriot and martyr, representing her merits as a dancer in
so strong a light that her appearance was granted.
... But this spurious Spanish lady had no real knowledge of
that which she professed. The whole affair was an imposture;
and on the very night of her first appearance the truth
exploded. On the discovery of the truth, I declined to allow
the English adventuress, for such she was, another
appearance on my boards. In spite of the expostulations of
the friends of the ladyin spite of the deprecatory
letters in which she earnestly denied her English
originin spite even of the desire expressed in high places
to witness her strange performanceI remained inflexible.
The Noble Lord thus referred to in this pompous disclaimer was
[Illustration: Viscount Ranelagh, who organised a cabal against
If she had a quick temper, Lola Montez had a good heart, and was
always ready to lend a helping hand to others. In this connection
Edward Fitzball, a hack dramatist with whom things were not going well,
has a story of how she volunteered to assist in a benefit performance
that was being got up to set him on his legs. It was difficult to
secure attractions; and the beneficiare, realising that, as was the
custom in such cases, he would have to make good any deficit himself,
was feeling depressed.
This benefit, he says, which I fully expected would prove to be a
decided loss, annoyed me sadly. I was sauntering along Regent Street
when I met Stretton, the popular singer, whose own benefit was just
coming off. He said that he had secured every attraction worthy of the
public, and that there was no hope for me, 'unless,' he added, 'you
could secure Lola Montez.'
'Pray, who is that?' I said in my ignorance.
'Lola Montez is a lady who appeared the other night at Her
Majesty's Theatre as a dancer, but, due to some aristocratic
disturbance, has left in disgust. The papers were full of it. I offered
her £50 to dance for me, and met with a decided refusal. Hence, I see
no hope for you.'
Fitzball, however, thinking it worth while taking a chance, hurried
to Lola's lodgings and begged her to contribute to the programme he was
offering. He had not expected to be successful, since he knew that she
was smarting under a sense of injury. To his surprise and delight,
however, she promised her services, and refused to accept any payment.
Overjoyed at the success of his embassy, Fitzball rushed off to the
printers and had the hoardings plastered with bills, directing special
attention to the novelty:
THEATRE ROYAL, COVENT GARDEN
Monday, July 10, 1843.
(For the Benefit of Mr. Fitzball)
EXTRAORDINARY COMBINATION OF TALENT!
During the evening the celebrated DONNA LOLA MONTEZ (whose
recent performance created so pronounced a sensation at Her
Majesty's Theatre) will execute, by special request, her
remarkable dance, El Oleano.
N.B.This will positively be the Donna's only appearance in
London, as she departs on Thursday next for St. Petersburg.
The theatre, says Fitzball, in his account of the evening, was
crammed. Lola Montez arrived in a splendid carriage, accompanied by her
maid. When she was dressed, she enquired if I thought her costume would
be approved. I have seen sylphs and female forms of the most dazzling
beauty in ballets and fairy dramas, but the most dazzling and perfect
form I ever did gaze upon was that of Lola Montez in her white and gold
attire studded with diamonds. Her bounding before the public was the
signal for general applause and admiration. On the conclusion of her
performance, there was a rapturous and universal call for her
CHAPTER V. A PASSIONATE PILGRIMAGE
The departure for St. Petersburg was a stretch of Fitzball's
imagination. Where Lola did go when she left England was not to Russia,
but to Belgium. The visit was not a success, as none of the theatres in
Brussels at which she applied for an engagement exhibited any interest
in ballet-dancers, whether they came from Seville, or elsewhere. A
spell of ill luck followed; and, if her own account of this period is
to be trusted, she was reduced to such a pass that in the Belgian
capital she became familiar with the inside of pawnshops and had to
sing in the streets, to secure a lodging. But this singing in the
streets business was, if a picturesque one, not an original touch. It
is still in active use, as a stock portion of the autobiographical
equipment of every stage and film heroine who wants publicity.
Further, if Lola Montez ever did anything of the kind, it was not for
long. A rich manshe had a knack of establishing contact with
thempromptly came to the rescue; and, assisted by, it is said, the
mysterious Jean Francois Montez, who had followed her from London, she
shook the inhospitable dust of the Brussels boulevards off her feet.
It was in Berlin that, in the autumn of 1843, long delayed Fortune
smiled on her. A novelty being wanted, she secured an engagement to
dance at a fête organised by Frederick William IV in honour of his
son-in-law, the Czar Nicholas, and a posse of Grand Dukes then visiting
Potsdam. The autocrat of all the Russias expressed himself as highly
pleased with the newcomer's efforts. The Berliners followed suit. Lola
was made; and every night for a month on end she was booked up to
While in the German capital, she is said to have had an encounter
with the arm of the law. The story is that, mounted on a blood horse,
she attended a review held in honour of the King and the Czar; and her
steed, being somewhat mettlesome, carried her at full tilt across the
parade ground and into the midst of the royal party assembled at the
When an indignant policeman, bellowing Verboten! at the top
of his voice, rushed up and clung to the bridle, he received for his
pains a vigorous cut from her whip. The next morning a summons was
delivered to the daring Amazon, ordering her to appear before a
magistrate and answer a charge of insulting the uniform. Thereupon,
Lola, feeling that the general atmosphere was unfavourable, packed her
trunks. She managed to get away just in time, as a warrant for her
arrest was actually being made out. But if she did not leave Berlin
with all the honours of war, it is at any rate recorded that she left
this city of pigs with a high head and a snapping of her fan.
The Odyssey continued. The next place where she halted was Dresden.
There the pilgrim swam into the orbit of Franz Liszt, who happened to
be giving a series of recitals. Born in 1811the year of the
Comethe was at the height of his powers when Lola Montez flashed
across his path. During an early visit to England, as a boy prodigy,
he had gathered considerable laurels. Windsor Castle had smiled upon
him, and he had played to George IV and to Queen Victoria. The chance
encounter with Lola was a fateful one for both of them. But, as it
happened, the virtuoso rather welcomed the prospect of a fresh intrigue
just then. Wearied of the romanticism of the phalanx of feminine
admirers, who clustered about him like bees, he found this one, with
her beauty and vivacious charm, to have a special appeal for him. He
responded to it avidly. The two became inseparable.
One evening, while Rienzi was being performed, his latest
charmer accompanied Liszt to the Opera House, and, during an interval,
joined him in the dressing-room of Josef Tichatschek, the tenor.
Hearing that he was there, Wagner was coming to speak to him, when he
saw that his companion was a painted and bejewelled woman with insolent
eyes. Thereupon, if his biographer is to be trusted, the composer
turned and fled. Lola had routed Rienzi.
Musicians will be musicians; and Liszt was no exception. With his
love affairs and his long catalogue of conquests in half the capitals
of Europe, he was generally regarded as a Don Juan of the keyboard. It
is said by James Huneker that, on leaving Dresden, Lola joined him in
Constantinople. In her memoirs she says nothing about wandering along
the shores of the Bosphorus in his company. Still, she says a good deal
about Sir Stratford Canning, the British Ambassador, by whom, she
declares, she was given a letter to the Chief Eunuch, admitting her to
the Sultan's harem. But this, like many of her other statements, must
be taken with a generous pinch of salt.
During that memorable summer Liszt was specially invited to Bonn, to
unveil the Beethoven monument that had been erected there. The ceremony
attracted a distinguished gathering, and was witnessed by the King and
Queen of Russia, together with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It was
also witnessed by Lola Montez, who accompanied Liszt. She was promptly
recognised by Ignatz Moscheles; and, when they discovered her presence,
the reception committee were so upset that they had her barred from the
hotel in which rooms had been engaged for the guest of honour. But it
took more than this to keep her in the background. While the speeches
were in full swing, she forced her way into the banquet-hall, and won
over the prudish burghers by jumping on the table and dancing to them.
The Prince Consort was shocked at the liberty. Frederick William,
however, being more broad-minded, cracked a Teutonic jest.
Lola is a Lorelei! he declared, with an appreciative grin, when
the episode was reported to him. What will she be up to next?
An inevitable result of Liszt's dalliance with his new Calypso in
the various capitals that they visited together during the months that
followed was to shatter the relations that had existed for years
between himself and Madame d'Agoult. The virtuoso emerged from the
business badly, for the woman he had discarded in summary fashion for a
younger and more attractive one had sacrificed her name and her
reputation for his sake, and had also presented him with three pledges
of mutual affection. Infuriated at his callousness, she afterwards, as
Daniel Stern, relieved her outraged feelings in a novel (written to
calm her agitated soul"), Nélida, where Liszt, under a
transparent disguise, figured as Guermann Regnier.
But the pace was too hot to last. Still, it was Liszt, and not Lola,
who cooled first. With Lola, as with others, known and unknown, it
was, observes William Wallace, Da capo al Segno. The story of
the final rupture between them, as given by Guy de Pourtales, has in it
something of the element of farce:
Liszt allowed her to make love to him, and amused himself
with this dangerous sweetheart. But without any conviction,
without any real curiosity. She annoyed, she irritated him
during his hours of work. Before long he planned to escape,
and, having arranged everything with the hotel porter, he
departed without leaving any address, but not without having
first locked this most wearisome of inamoratas up in her
room. For twelve hours Lola raised a fearful uproar,
breaking whatever she could lay her hands on.
Liszt, however, scenting this possibility, had settled the bill in
But the incident does not redound to his credit, for the spectacle
of a distinguished artist bribing a lackey to smuggle him out of an
hotel and imprison in her bedroom the woman with whom he had been
living, is a sorry one.
Having had enough of Germany for the time being, Lola decided to see
what France had to offer. The only place for a woman of spirit, she
once said, is Paris. Accordingly she betook herself there. As soon as
she arrived, she secured lodgings in a modest hotel near the Palais
Royal; and, well aware of her limitations, took some dancing lessons
from a ballet-master in the rue Lepelletier. When she had taken what
she considered enough, she called on Léon Pillet, the director of the
You have, of course, already heard of my immense success in
London, she announced with an assured air.
M. Pillet had not heard of it. But this did not matter. As had been
the case with Lumley before him, Lola's ravishing smile inflamed his
susceptible heart; and he promptly engaged her to dance in the ballet
that was to follow Halévy's Il Lazzarone, then in active
Lola's début as a première danseuse was made on March 30,
1844. It was not a successful one. Far from it. The fact was, the
Parisians, accustomed to the dreamy and sylph-like pirouettings of
Cerito and Elssler and Taglioni, and their own Adèle Dumilâtre, could
not appreciate the vigorous cachuchas and boleros now
offered them. When they voiced their disapproval, Lola lost the one
thing she could never keepher temper. She made a moue at the
audience; and, if de Mirecourt is to be trusted, pulled off her garters
(a second authority says a more intimate item of attire) and flung them
with a gesture of contempt among the jeering crowd in the first row of
As may be imagined, the Press was unsympathetic towards this
We will avoid damaging with our strictures, remarked Le
Constitutionnel in its next issue, a pretty young woman who,
before making her début, has obviously not had time to study our
A much more devastating criticism was published in Le Journal des
Débats by Jules Janin. He went out of his way, indeed, to be
positively offensive. Nor did Théophile Gautier, who in his famous
waistcoat of crimson velvet was present on this eventful evening, think
very much of the would-be ballerina's efforts to win Paris.
Beyond, he wrote, a pair of magnificent dark eyes,
Mademoiselle Lola Montez has nothing suggestively Andalusian
in her appearance. She talks poor Spanish, scarcely any
French, and only tolerable English. The question is, to what
country does she really belong? We can affirm that she has
small feet and shapely legs. The extent, however, to which
these gifts serve her is quite another story.
It must be admitted that the public's curiosity aroused by
her altercations with the police of the North and her
whip-cracking exploits among the Prussian gendarmes has not
been satisfied. We imagine that Mademoiselle Lola would do
better on horseback than on the stage.
An odd account, headed: Singular Début of Lola Montez in Paris,
was sent to New York by an American journalist:
When, a few days ago, it was announced that two foreign
dancers, Mlle Cerito and Mlle Lola Montez, had just entered
the walls of Paris, the triumphs achieved by the Italian
ballerina could not eclipse the horse-whipping exploits of
Mlle Lola. 'Let us have Lola Montez!' exclaimed the stalls
and pit. 'We want to see if her foot is as light as her
hand!' Never did they witness a more astounding entrée.
After her first leap, she stopped short on the tips of her
toes, and, by a movement of prodigious rapidity, detached
one of her garters from a lissome limb adjacent to her
quivering thigh (innocent of lingerie) and flung it to
occupants of the front row of the orchestra....
Notwithstanding the effect produced by this piquant
eccentricity, Mile Lola has not met with the reception she
anticipated; and it has been deemed proper by the management
to dispense with her reappearance.
But to give Lola her congé by word of mouth was a task which
M. Pillet did not care to undertake. So much was the haughty Amazon's
riding-whip dreaded that a letter of dismissal was prudently delivered.
As a result, bloodshed was avoided; and Mlle Lola has solaced herself
with the reflection that she has been the victim of the Machiavellian
cabal of Russia, still angry at her routing of Muscovite gendarmes in
With reference to the Warsaw episode, the slipshod de Mirecourt says
that she was dancing there in 1839. At that date, however, she was no
nearer Warsaw than Calcutta. None the less, she did go there, but it
was not until she had left Paris after her failure at the Académie
Royale. According to herself, the Czar Nicholas, who remembered her in
Berlin, invited her to visit St. Petersburg, and, having a month to
spare, she accepted a preliminary engagement in the Polish capital.
This began well enough, for, if her terpsichorean abilities still
left something to be desired, the Warsaw critics, ever susceptible to
feminine charms, went into positive raptures about her personal
attractions. One of them, indeed, became almost lyrical on the subject:
Her soft silken hair, was this authority's opinion, falls in
luxuriant wealth down her back, its glistening hue rivalling that of
the raven's wing; on a slender and delicate neckthe whiteness of
which eclipses swansdownis poised a lovely face.... Where the
proportions are concerned, Lola's little feet are somewhere between
those of a Chinese maiden and those of the daintiest Parisienne
imaginable. As for her bewitching calves, they suggest the steps of a
Jacob's ladder transporting one up to heaven; and her ravishing figure
resembles the Venus of Cnidus, that immortal masterpiece sculptured by
the chisel of Praxiteles in the 104th Olympiad. As for her eyes, her
very soul is enshrined in their blue depths.
There was a lot moreseveral columns morein a similar strain.
As was to be expected, such a tribute attracted the attention of
Prince Ivan Paskievich, the Viceroy of Poland. He had a weakness for
pretty women; and, after the long succession of lumpy and heavy-footed
ballerinas occupying the Warsaw stage, this new arrival sounded
promising. When a trusted emissary reported that the critics had not
said half what they might, he resolved to make her acquaintance. His
first step was to send her, through Madam Steinkeller, the wife of a
banker, an invitation to have supper with him at his private house.
Lola, flattered by the invitation, and less clear-headed than usual,
was sufficiently trusting to accept. She soon, however, discovered that
his Excellency's intentions were strictly dishonourable, for he made
her, she afterwards said, a most indelicate proposition. Her response
was to laugh in his face, and to tell him that she had no wish to
become his toy. Thereupon, Paskievich, furious at such a repulse (and
unaccustomed to being thwarted by anyone, must less by a
ballet-dancer), dismissed her with threats of reprisals. The first of
these took the form of a visit from Colonel Abrahamowicz, the official
charged with preserving morality in the Warsaw theatres. He
apparently interpreted his responsible functions in a fashion that left
something to be desired, for Lola complained that his conduct was so
free that I took serious exception to it.
Paskievich then dealt his next card. This was to instruct his
understrapper to fill the theatre with a rabble and have her hissed off
the stage. Lola, however, was equal to the occasion. Advancing to the
footlights, before the terror-stricken manager could stop her, she
pointed to Colonel Abrahamowicz, sitting in a box, and exclaimed:
Ladies and gentlemen, there is the dastard who attempts to revenge
himself on a pure woman who has scorned his infamous suggestions! I ask
Accompanied by M. Lesniowski, the editor of the Warsaw Gazette, she returned to her lodgings, wondering what would happen next. She
was soon to discover, for the angry Colonel and a squad of police
arrived with a warrant for her arrest as an undesirable. When,
however, they announced their purpose, she flourished a pistol in their
faces and declared that she would put a bullet through the first of
them who came near her. Realising that she meant what she said, and not
anxious to qualify for cheap martyrdom, Colonel Abrahamowicz was
tactician enough to withdraw. In the meantime, the public, learning
what had happened, sided with Lola and raised lusty shouts of Down
with the Viceroy! Long live the Montez!
Paskievich, who had crushed with an iron hand the rebellion of 1831,
had a short and sharp way with incipient revolutionaries; and, calling
out the troops, cleared the streets at the point of the bayonet. While
they were thus occupied, Lola slipped off to the French consul and
suggested that he should grant her his protection as a national. With
characteristic gallantry, he met her wishes. None the less, she had to
leave Warsaw the next morning, under escort to the frontier.
There were reprisals for a number of those who had taken her part.
Thus the manager of the theatre and the editor of the Warsaw Gazette
were dismissed; M. Steinkeller was imprisoned; and a dozen students
were publicly flogged.
Tranquillity has been restored, was the official view of the
According to Lola herself (not, by the way, a very sound authority)
she went straight from Warsaw and the clutches of the lustful
Paskievich to St. Petersburg. Considering, however, that Poland was at
that period under the domination of the Czar, it is highly improbable
that, after her expulsion, she could have set foot in Russia without a
passport. Had she been sufficiently daring to make the experiment, she
would assuredly have been clapped into fetters and packed off to
Lola's motto was courage, and shuffle the cards. Undeterred by her
previous failure there, she went back to Paris, to try her luck a
Luck came to her very soon, for she had scarcely arrived in the
capital when she encountered a young Englishman, Mr. Francis Leigh, an
ex-officer of the 10th Hussars. Within a week the two were on such
intimate terms that they set up housekeeping together. But the harmony
was shattered abruptly by Lola, who, in a jealous fit, one day fired a
pistol at her protector. As this was more than he could be expected
to stand, Mr. Leigh, deciding that they could not continue living under
the same roof, severed the relationship.
In 1845 the Paris of Louis-Philippe was, when Lola resumed her
acquaintance with it, a pleasant city in which to live. The star of
Baron Haussmann had not yet arisen; and the capital's vulgarisation
under the Second Empire had not then begun. John Bull still gave it a
wide berth; nor, except for a few stray specimens, were there any
hordes of tourists to gape at the Froggies. Everything was cheap; and
most things were nice. Paris really was La ville lumière. Dull
care had been given its marching orders. All that was required of a man
was that he should be witty, and of a woman that she should be
entertaining. The world of the boulevardswith its cafés and
restaurants and theatreswas the accepted rallying point of the
authors and poets, the painters and musicians, and the lights twinkling
in the theatrical and journalistic firmaments, the men in velveteen
jackets and peg-top trousers, the women in flounced skirts and shawls
and elastic-sided boots. The mode of the moment.
[Illustration: Abbé Liszt: Musician and Lover]
Lola settled down among them, and was given a warm welcome. Among
others with whom she was soon on friendly terms was the famous (or,
perhaps, it would be better to say, notorious) Alphonsine Plessis. The
Lady of the Camelias had a large heart and a wide circle; and Liszt,
who was also back in Paris, was to be found among the guests attending
her receptions at her house on the Boulevard de la Madeleine. Lola,
who never cherished rancour, was prepared to let bygones be bygones,
and resumed relations with him. But this time they were short lived,
for the maestro was already dangling after another charmer, and, as was
his habit, left for Weimar without saying farewell. Lola took his
defection philosophically. As a matter of fact, she rather welcomed it,
for it solved a situation that was fast threatening to become awkward.
This was that she herself had now formed an intimacy with somebody
Her new acquaintance was Charles Dujarier, a young man of five and
twenty, and a journalist of some distinction, being part proprietor and
feuilleton editor of La Presse. Lola met him in the friendly
atmosphere of a Bohemian café, where formal introductions were not
insisted upon. As was the custom in such an atmosphere, the friendship
ripened rapidly. Within a week of their first meeting the two set up
housekeeping together in the rue Lafitte. Before long there was talk of
marriage. But it did not get beyond talk, for Lola had put her head in
the matrimonial noose oncein her opinion, once too oftenand she had
no desire to do so a second time. Apart from this consideration, she
was probably well aware that her divorce from the philandering Thomas
James had never been completed.
As Dujarier's acknowledged mistress, Lola was accepted without demur
as one of themselves by the literary and artistic set thronging the
cafés and salons they frequented. Gautier and Sue, with Claudin and
Méry and Dumas, were those habitués of whom she saw most; and Ferdinand
Bac (but nobody else) says that she was on intimate terms with the
austere M. Guizot.
Gustave Claudin declared that he met Lola Montez in Paris in the
spring of 1841. That she made an impression on him is evident from a
passage in his Souvenirs:
Lola Montez was a charmer. There was somethingI do not
quite know whatabout her appearance that was provocative
and voluptuous, and which attracted one. She had a white
skin, hair suggestive of the tendrils of honeysuckle, and a
mouth that could be compared with a pomegranate. Added to
this was a ravishing figure, charming feet, and perfect
grace. Unfortunately, as a dancer, she had very little
Towards the year 1845 the author of these notes saw much of
her. She wanted him to write her memoirs, and gave him some
material for them.... She was born in Seville in 1823, with
a French officer for a godfather and (as is the custom in
Spain) the city of Seville for a godmother. The adventures
of her life were written out by her in an exercise-book. She
told me that, at a ball in Calcutta, she had once refused to
waltz with a wealthy gentleman who was so encrusted with
diamonds that he resembled a snuff-box. When he asked her
the reason for refusing to dance, she replied: Sir, I
cannot dance with you because you have hurt my foot. The
would-be waltzer was a chiropodist!
Writing, as he did, nearly fifty years after the episode to which he
thus refers, Claudin's memory was a little shaky. Thus Lola Montez was
born in Limerick in 1818, not, as he says, at Seville in 1823; nor
could Claudin have met her in Paris in the spring of 1841, as she had
not then left India.
Dujarier, according to Lola, was much impressed by her political
acumen, and employed her on secret service for the Government,
entrusting her as a preliminary with a mission to St. Petersburg. The
story is an obvious concoction, if merely because Dujarier, being
little beyond a penny-a-liner hack, had no power to employ anybody on
such a task. Still, Lola always stuck to it. Still, it is just possible
that she may have gone to Russia at this period, for Nicholas was
interested in the art of the ballet, and welcomed foreign exponents of
Terpsichore from wherever they came. He was a familiar figure in the
green-rooms of his capital. He patronised Taglioni and Elssler, and was
always ready to make up any deficit in the box-office receipts. It only
meant grinding more out of his army of serfs.
If she did go from Paris to Russia, Lola did not waste her time
there, for, she says, she nearly married Prince Schulkoski, whom she
had already met in Berlin. This, she adds, was one of the romances of
her life. But something went wrong with it, for the princely wooer,
while furiously telegraphing kisses three times a day, was discovered
to be enjoying the companionship of another charmer. Lola could put up
with a great deal. There were, however, limits to her toleration, and
this was one of them. First, Tom James; then, George Lennox; and now
Prince Schulkoski. Masculine promises were no more substantial than
pie-crust. Poor Lola was having a sad awakening. It is not remarkable
that she formed the conclusion that men were deceivers ever. After
such an experience, nothing else was possible.
Among other items in her repertoire of alleged happenings in Russia
at this period was one that certainly takes a good deal of swallowing.
This was that, while having a private audience with the Czar himself
and Count Benkendorf (the Chief of the Secret Police), an important
visitor was announced. Thereupon, and to avoid her presence being known
to the newcomer, she was locked up in a cupboard and left there for
several hours. When the Czar came back, he was full of apologies and
insisted that she should accept from him a gift of a thousand roubles.
Other details follow:
A great magnate conquers her at St. Petersburg; Grand Dukes
perform their tricks; and Circassian Princes die for her.
But soon she has enough of caviare and vodka. What, she
wonders, is the good of becoming fuddled with drunkards and
wasting valuable time on half-civilized Asiatics?
No good at all, was Lola's decision. Accordingly, she bade farewell
to Russian hospitality, and, relinquishing all prospects of wearing the
Muscovite diadem, returned to Paris and Dujarier. Her lover's influence
secured her an engagement in La Biche au Bois at the Porte St.
Martin Theatre; but, as had happened at the Académie Royale, she was a
flop. The critics said so with no uncertain voice; and the manager
announced that he agreed with them. Clearly, then, the ballet was not
Well, dancing isn't everything, said Lola, who always took a
reverse in philosophical fashion.
CHAPTER VI. AN AFFAIR OF HONOUR
The evening of March 7, 1845, was one pregnant with fate where
Dujarier was concerned. He had received, and accepted, an invitation to
a supper-party at the Frères-Provençaux restaurant, given by Mlle Anais
Liévenne, a young actress from the Vaudeville company. Among the other
convives gathered round the festive board were a quartet of
attractive damsels, Atala Beauchene, Victorine Capon, Cecile John, and
Alice Ozy, with, to keep them company, a trio of typical flâneurs
in Rosemond de Beauvallon (a swarthy Creole from Guadaloupe, with
ambitions to be considered a novelist), Roger de Beauvoir (a friend of
Alphonse Karr, and whose other claim to distinction was that he had
once challenged Balzac), and Saint-Agnan (an individual dubbed by
journalists a man-about-town"). Altogether, a gathering thoroughly
representative of the theatre, the press, the world, and the
Lola was invited to join the party; but, at Dujarier's special
request, she excused herself. If, however, she had gone with him, the
tragedy for which the evening was to be responsible might have been
averted. Still, nobody can look ahead.
For some time, all went merrily as the proverbial marriage bell. The
ladies were not too strait-laced; dull care was banished. Food and
drink without stint; music and lights and laughter; bright eyes and
pretty faces. Champagne corks popped; toasts were offered; jests were
cracked; and tongues wagged.
But it did not last. The clouds were gathering; and presently the
harmony was interrupted. Dujarier was to blame. Unable to carry his
liquor well, or else, under the spell of her bright eyes, he went so
far as to remark to his hostess: My dear Anais, figure to yourself, in
six months from now you and I will be sleeping together. The damsel's
acknowledged cavalier, de Beauvallon, a stickler for propriety, took
this amiss and declared the assertion to be unwarranted. Words
followed. Warm words. Mlle Liévenne, however, being good-tempered,
merely laughed, and peace was restored.
But the patched-up truce was only a temporary one. Feeling still ran
high. A few minutes later, de Beauvallon picked another quarrel with
Dujarier, this time complaining that he had neglected to publish a
feuilleton of his, Mémoires de M. Montholon, that had been
accepted by him. As was to be expected, the result of pestering the
sub-editor at such a moment was to receive the sharp response that he
must wait his turn, and that, in the meantime, there were more
important authors than himself to be considered.
With the idea of calming frayed nerves, somebody suggested that they
should all adjourn for a flutter at lansquenet, then ousting écarté.
The proposal was accepted; and, the revellers having settled down,
Saint-Agnan, having the best-lined wallet, took the bank.
Fortune did not smile on Dujarier. The luck seemed against him; and,
when the party broke up in the small hours, he was a couple of thousand
francs to the bad. Worse than this, he was unable to settle his losses
until he had borrowed the necessary billets from the head waiter. As a
result, his temper was soured, his nerves on edge. Accordingly, when de
Beauvallon was tactless enough to upset him again, he answered
This, however, was not all. The wine being in, the wit was out. A
woman's name cropped up, that of a certain Madame Albert, a young
actress in whose affections Dujarier had, before Lola Montez appeared
on the scene, been ousted by de Beauvallon. The recollection rankled,
and he made some sneering reference to the subject. With an obvious
effort, the other kept his temper and curtly remarking, You will hear
from me to-morrow, Monsieur, left the restaurant.
It might have been thought, is the comment of Larousse, that,
with the fever of the wine abated, these happenings and the
recollection of the indecorous words accompanying them would, by the
next morning, have been forgotten.
But they were not forgotten. They were remembered. On the following
afternoon, while Dujarier was in his office, lamenting the fact that he
had made such a fool of himself, and wondering how he was to explain
matters to Lola, two visitors were announced. One of them was the Comte
de Flers and the other was the Vicomte d'Ecquevillez. With ceremonious
bows, they stated the purport of their call. This was that they
represented de Beauvallon, who demanded satisfaction for the insults
he had received from M. Dujarier.
The quarrel, however, was really one between two rival papers, La
Presse and Le Globe, which had long been at daggers drawn.
Granier de Cassagnac, the editor of Le Globe, was the
brother-in-law of de Beauvallon, and Emile de Girardin, the proprietor
of La Presse, had systematically held him up to ridicule in his
columns. Hence, when the news of the restaurant fracas leaked out among
the café gossipers, the result was that everybody said: il n'y eut
qu'une voix pour dire 'c'est le Globe qui veut se battre avec la
Dujarier, who had no stomach for fightingexcept with his
penwould have backed out if he could. But he could not. Things had
already gone too far. Accordingly, he referred the visitors to his
friends, Arthur Bertrand (a god-son of the Emperor) and Charles de
Boignes, and then hurried off to consult them himself.
Pistols for two and coffee for one, was their decision when they
heard what he had to tell them. There was, they were emphatic, no other
way by which he could satisfy his honour. The code demanded it.
Clutching at a straw, Dujarier next sought counsel of Alexandre
I don't know why I am fighting, he said.
If it came to that, Dumas shared his ignorance. Still, he insisted
that a meeting was inevitable.
This was the case. For a Frenchman to refuse to go outno matter
what his reasonwould be to incur social ignominy. He would be looked
upon as a pariah; not a hand would be offered him; and he would have
bundles of white feathers showered upon him by his former
It was all very ridiculous. Still, it must be remembered that the
period was one when journalists aped fine gentlemen, and killed
themselves for nothing. Ferdinand Bac declares that this practice was
largely the fault of Dumas, who, in his romances, would describe
lovely women throwing themselves between the combatants to effect their
Since a meeting could be a serious affair, the seconds were
naturally anxious to protect themselves. Accordingly, the four of them,
putting their heads together, drew up a document which, in the event of
untoward consequences occurring, would, they felt, absolve them of
We, the undersigned, state that, as the result of a disagreement,
M. de Beauvallon has provoked M. Dujarier in a fashion that makes it
impossible for him to refuse an encounter. We ourselves have done all
we can to reconcile these gentlemen; and it is only at M. de
Beauvallon's urgent demand that we are proceeding in the matter.
As the challenged party, Dujarier had the choice of weapons. The
privilege, however, was not worth much to him. He had never handled
cold steel, while his adversary was an expert fencer, and he was also
such a poor marksman that he could not have made sure of hitting a
haystack at twenty yards. Still, he reflected that, although de
Beauvallon was unlikely to miss him with a rapier, he might possibly do
so with a bullet. Accordingly, he elected for pistols.
When Dujarier came back to her that evening, Lola, with womanly
intuition, saw that some trouble had befallen him. Under pressure, he
admitted that he was about to fight a duel for which he had no stomach.
At the same time, however, he led her to believe that his adversary was
de Beauvoir, and not de Beauvallon.
Having thus calmed her fears, for she knew that de Beauvoir was no
more a fire-eater than was he himself, he went off to have another
consultation with his seconds.
I shall not be back until late, he said, as I am supping with
Dumas. You must not stop up for me.
Instead, however, of returning that night, Dujarier, feeling that he
could not face Lola and tell her the truth, stopped with one of his
seconds. There he wrote and sealed a couple of letters, charging de
Boignes to deliver them if required by circumstances. The first was
to his mother:
If this letter reaches you, it will be because I shall be
dead or else dangerously wounded. To-morrow morning I am
going out to fight with pistols. My position requires it;
and, as a man of honour, I accept the challenge. If you, my
good mother, should have cause to weep, it is better that
you should shed tears for a son worthy of yourself than to
shed them for a coward. I go to the combat in the spirit of
a man who is calm and sure of himself. Justice is on my
A more difficult, although less flamboyant, letter to write was the
second one, for its recipient would be the woman who had given him her
heart: and was even then anxiously awaiting his return:
MY EVER DEAREST LOLA:
I want to explain why it was I slept by myself and did not
come to you this morning. It is because I have to fight a
duel. All my calmness is required, and seeing you would have
upset me. By two o'clock this afternoon everything will be
A thousand fond farewells to the dear little girl I love so
much, and the thoughts of whom will be with me for ever.
Having written his letters, he proceeded to draw up his will. This
document left, among specific bequests to his mother and sister,
certain shares that he held in the Palais Royal to Lola Montez.
The date of the meeting was March 11, and the rendezvous was a
retired spot in the Bois de Boulogne. A bitterly cold morning, with
snow on the ground and heavy clouds in a leaden sky. As the clock
struck the appointed hour, Dujarier, accompanied by his seconds, and M.
de Guise, a medical man, drove up in a cab. They were the first to
After waiting for more than an hour, Dujarier was in such a nervous
condition that his seconds declared he would be justified in leaving
the field, since his adversary had not kept the appointment. Instead,
however, of jumping at the chance, he took a swig at a flask of cognac.
The potent spirit gave him some measure of Dutch courage, and his teeth
I will fight, he announced grandiloquently. I am a Frenchman, and
my honour is very dear to me.
It was to be put to the test, for a few minutes later de Beauvallon
and his seconds arrived, with a tardy apology.
On behalf of their principal, Dujarier's seconds then made a last
appeal for an amicable settlement. It was coldly received; and they
were told that the insult offered was too serious to be wiped out by
words. There being nothing else for it, the preliminaries were
discussed, the conditions of the combat being that the adversaries
should stand thirty paces apart, advance six paces, and then fire.
The pistols were furnished by d'Ecquevillez, and it had been
expressly stipulated that his principal should not have handled them
until that moment. When, however, Bertrand examined the pair, he
remarked that, since the barrels were blackened and still warm to the
touch, it was obvious that somebody had already practised with them.
As, however, d'Ecquevillez swore that they had not been tried by de
Beauvallon, the protest was withdrawn.
The distance being measured and the adversaries placed in position,
the seconds stepped aside. Then, at a signal, the word was given. The
first to fire was Dujarier. He was, however, so agitated that he sent a
bullet wide of the mark. De Beauvallon, on the other hand, was
perfectly cool and collected. He lifted his weapon and aimed with such
deliberate care that de Boignes, unable to restrain himself, called out
excitedly: Mais, tirez donc, Monsieur! With a nod, de
Beauvallon pressed the trigger. There was an answering flash and a
report; and, as the smoke drifted away, Dujarier reeled and fell, blood
gushing from his mouth and nostrils.
When Dr. de Guise examined him, he looked grave. He saw at once that
the injury was serious. As a matter of fact, Dujarier was dead before
they returned to Paris.
As the cab reached the house in the rue Lafitte, Lola, waiting there
in an agony of suspense, heard the rumble of wheels. Rushing
downstairs, she stepped back with a cry of terror, for three men were
carrying a heavy burden into the hall. Instinctively, she realised that
the worst had happened, that her suspense was at an end.
Mademoiselle, we have ill tidings for you, said de Boignes.
I know it, said Lola. Dujarier is killed. I felt sure this would
happen. You should not have let him fight.
The funeral of Dujarier, which took place a couple of days later in
the cemetery at Montmartre, was attended by characteristic pomp. The
velvet pall above his coffin was held by Balzac, Dumas, and Joseph
Méry, and a flowery oration delivered at the graveside by Emile de
Whether it endure but a single day, or be deep and
prolonged, Man's sorrow is always barren and profitless. It
cannot restore to a disconsolate mother, bemoaning her
untimely loss, the son for whom she weeps, or give him back
to his friends.... Let the words written by Dujarier: 'I am
about to fight a duel for the most absurd and futile of
causes,' never be effaced from our memory. Farewell,
Dujarier! Rest in peace! Let us carry away from the
graveside the hope that the recollection of so lamentable an
end will last long enough to shield others from a similar
one. Let all mothersstill astounded and tremblingderive
some measure of confidence from this hope, and pray to God
for poor Dujarier with all the fervour of their souls!
As may be imagined, talk followed. A vast amount of talk, in the
newspapers and elsewhere. The topic was discussed, one reads, at the
royal table itself by the family of Louis-Philippe; and Queen Amelie
and Aunt Adelaide stigmatised the conduct of this wicked hussy, Lola
Montez, in severe terms.
After such an experience, Lola felt that she had had enough of
France for a time. Accordingly, she went back to Germany. There she
resumed relations with Liszt, who took her to a second Beethoven
Festival at Bonn. While allowance could be made for the artistic
temperament, this was considered to be straining it, and caustic
remarks on the subject appeared in the press.
During the absence of Lola from Paris, the relatives of Dujarier had
not been idle. Unpleasant whispers were heard that the dead man had not
fallen in a fair fight; and that the fatal bullet had come from a
weapon with which his adversary had already practised. As this was
contrary to the conditions of the encounter, the arm of the law reached
out, and de Beauvallon and his seconds were called upon for an
explanation. The one they furnished to them was deemed adequate by the
authorities. Still, if honour was satisfied, the friends of de
Beauvallon's victim were not. Accordingly, they set to work, and,
pulling fresh strings, managed to get the official decision upset.
[Illustration: Fanny Elssler. Predecessor of Lola Montez in Paris
An article on the subject that appeared in Le Droit took a
The grounds alleged to be responsible for this deplorable
business, declared an editorial, were utterly frivolous. As a result,
the public prosecutor has instructed an examining-magistrate to enquire
into all the circumstances, and an autopsy will be held. It is possible
that other measures will be adopted.
Other measures were adopted.
All duels, was the austere comment of the examining-magistrate who
conducted the enquiry, are marked by folly, and some by deliberate
baseness. Where this one was concerned, he hinted at something
sinister, and asked pointed questions about the pistols that
d'Ecquevillez had been obliging enough to furnish. The answer was that
they belonged to M. de Cassignac, who, for his part, declared that,
until the actual day of the meeting, they had been in the custody of
the gunsmith from whom he had bought them. The gunsmith, however, M.
Devismes, said that this was not the case; and another witness declared
that he had seen de Beauvallon having a little surreptitious practice
with them in the garden.
The next thing that happened was that, before the magisterial
enquiry was finished, de Beauvallon and d'Ecquevillez made a hurried
departure from Paris. During their absence, it was decided to abandon
further proceedings for want of evidence. Thinking himself safe, de
Beauvallon then returned. But he was not safe. The Supreme Court
cancelled the decision of the inferior one, and announced that he was
to stand his trial for murder.
As public feeling ran high, and it was felt that an impartial jury
could not have been secured in Paris, the trial was held at Rouen. The
date was March 26, 1846. Attracted by the special circumstances of the
case, the court was crowded.
Nearly all those who were present, says Claudin, belonged to the
world of the boulevards. Albert Vandam was among the spectators; and
with him for a companion was a much more distinguished person, Gustave
All being in readiness, and the stage set for the drama that was
about to be unfolded, the judges, in the traditional red robes, took
their seats, with M. Letendre de Tourville as president of the Court.
M. Salveton, the public prosecutor, and M. Rieff, the advocate-general,
represented the Government; and Mâitre Berryer and M. Léon Duval
appeared respectively on behalf of the accused and the dead man's
mother and sister.
As it had been suggested that de Beauvallon had purposely arrived
late on the ground, in order to have some preliminary practice, he was
told to give an account of his movements of the morning of the duel.
I got up at seven o'clock, he said, and went downstairs with the
pistols which had been waiting for me at the concierge's when I
returned home on the previous evening.
The concierge remembers nothing of that, interrupted M. Duval.
This is a fresh fact. We must certainly consider it. What happened
I went off in a cab to M. d'Ecquevillez, and handed the pistols to
him. At half-past ten I returned home, to wait for my seconds. We
arrived on the ground at half-past eleven. M. de Boignes received us
coldly, with his hands in his pockets, and said: 'You do well to keep
us waiting like this for you. Name of God! this isn't a summer morning.
We think there is not sufficient motive to fight a duel.' I answered
frigidly, but politely, that I did not agree with him, and that I was
in the hands of my seconds.
But one of them, M. de Flers, remarked the President, thought the
quarrel trifling and said so. Another thing. Why did M. d'Ecquevillez
tell us that the pistols belonged to him? Remember, he has given us
details as to where he got them.
I ignore details, was the lofty response.
If you do, we don't, returned the judge.
A vigorous denial was made by de Beauvallon to the suggestion that
he was familiar with the pistols used in the duel. To convince the jury
that he was not to be believed, the opposing counsel then told them
that he had once pawned a watch belonging to somebody else. When the
judge expressed himself shocked at such depravity, de Beauvallon, says
a report, hung his head and wept.
Nor did d'Ecquevillez, the other defendant, cut a very happy figure.
His real name was said to be Vincent, and aspersions were cast on his
right to dub himself a Count. He swore he had never admitted that the
pistols belonged to him, and that de Beauvallon had borrowed them from
the gunsmith, Desvismes. The latter, however, calling on heaven for
support, declared the statement to be a wicked invention.
Believing in the efficacy of numbers in getting up their case,
forty-six witnesses were assembled by the prosecution. Mlle Lièvenne,
the first of them to be examined, brought with her an atmosphere of the
theatre, adopting a flashy costume, in deplorably bad taste. This,
says a chronicler, took the form of a blue velvet dress, a scarlet
shawl, and a pearl-grey mantle. Altogether, a striking colour-scheme.
But it did not help her. To the indignation of the examining-counsel,
she affected to remember nothing, declaring that she had been too busy
at the supper-table, looking after the company.
The other young women, described as more or less actresses, who
had also been present, appeared to be suffering from a similar loss of
memory. Their minds, they protested, were absolutely blank as to what
had happened at the restaurant and very little could be extracted from
them. When they had given their evidence, they looked for seats in the
body of the court. The Rouen ladies, however, having somewhat rigid
standards, would not permit them to sit between the wind and their
Things are coming to a pretty pass, they declared, when
play-actresses imagine they can sit beside respectable women like
Thereupon, the discomfited damsels withdrew to the hard benches of
the public gallery.
Dumas, subpoenaed as a witness, drove all the way from Paris in a
four-horsed carriage, with Méry as a travelling companion. When he took
his place on the stand, M. de Tourville, affecting judicial ignorance,
enquired his profession.
If, returned the other, striking an attitude, I did not here
happen to find myself in the country of the illustrious Corneille, I
should call myself a dramatist.
Just so, was the caustic response, but there are degrees among
Taking this for encouragement, Dumas launched out into a
disquisition on the history of the duello through the ages that was
nearly as long as one of his own serials. In the middle of it, a member
of the jury, anxious to be in the limelight, asked him a question.
How does it happen, he enquired, that Dujarier, who considered
that a man of fashion must fight at least one duel, had never prepared
himself by learning to shoot and fence?
I cannot tell you, was the reply. My son, however, told me that
he once accompanied him to a shooting-gallery. Out of twenty shots, he
only hit the target twice.
Dumas made an exit as dramatic as his entry.
I beg, he said, that the honourable Court will permit me to
return to Paris, where I have a new tragedy in five acts being
performed this evening.
Lola Montez, garbed in heavy mourning, was the next summoned to give
When, says one who was there, she lifted her veil and removed her
glove, to take the prescribed oath, a murmur of admiration ran through
the gathering. To this an impressed reporter adds: Her lovely eyes
appeared to the judges of a deeper black than her lace ruffles.
The presiding judge had no qualms about enquiring her age; and she
had none about lopping five years off it and declaring that she was
just twenty-one. Nor did she advance any objection to being described,
with Gallic candour, as the mistress of Dujarier.
During her evidence, Lola Montez, probably coached by Dumas, did
just what was expected of her. Thus, she shed abundant tears, struck
pathetic attitudes, and several times looked on the point of
collapsing. But what she had to say amounted to very little. In fact,
it was nothing more than an assertion that ill-feeling existed between
Dujarier and de Cassagnac, the brother-in-law of de Beauvallon, and
that the quarrel was connected with an alleged debt.
Dujarier, she said, had forbidden her to make de Beauvallon's
acquaintance, or to attend the supper at the restaurant. He had
returned from it in an excited condition at 6 o'clock the next morning
and told her that he would have to accept a challenge.
I was troubled about it, she said, all day long. But for M.
Bertrand's assurance that the encounter was to be with M. de Beauvoir,
I would have gone to the police. You see, de Beauvoir was a high-minded
gentleman, and would not have condescended to profit from the poor
Dujarier's lack of skill.
Did you not, enquired counsel, say 'I am a woman of courage, and,
if the meeting is in order, I will not stop it'?
Yes, but that was because I understood it was to be with de
Beauvoir, and he would not willingly have harmed Dujarier. When I heard
it was to be with de Beauvallon I exclaimed, 'My God! Dujarier is as
good as dead!'
I myself, she added, could handle a pistol more accurately than
the poor Dujarier; and, if he had wanted satisfaction, I should have
been quite willing to have gone out with M. de Beauvallon myself.
A murmur of applause met this assurance. Lola's attitude appealed to
the spectators. She was clearly a woman of spirit.
During the proceedings that followed some sharp things were said
about M. Granier de Cassagnac, the accused's brother-in-law. Some of
them were so bitter that at last he protested.
Monsieur le President, he exclaimed hotly. I cannot bear these
abominable attacks on myself any longer.
If you can't bear them, you can always leave the court, was the
This gentleman's indignation does not disturb me in the least,
said the public prosecutor. I have already had experience of it, and I
consider it to be artificial.
After all the witnesses had been examined and cross-examined, and
bullied and threatened in the approved fashion, Mâitre Duval addressed
the jury on behalf of the dead man's relatives. In the course of this
he delivered a powerful speech, full of passion and invective, drawing
a parallel between this affaire d'honneur and the historic one
between Alceste and Oronte in Molière's drama. According to him,
Dujarier was a shining exemplar, while de Beauvallon was an unmitigated
scoundrel, with a past of the worst description imaginable. Having
once, years earlier, pledged a watch that did not belong to him, he had
no right to challenge anybody, much less a distinguished man of
letters, such as the noble Dujarier. The various causes of the quarrel
were discussed next. Counsel thought very little of them.
De Beauvallon had complained that Dujarier had cut him. Is it an
offence, enquired M. Duval, for one man to avoid another? Upon my
word, M. de Beauvallon will have to kill a number of people if he wants
to kill all those who decline the honour of his companionship. As for
the gambling quarrel, this was not serious. What, however, was serious
was that, on the morning of the encounter, de Beauvallon had gone to a
shooting gallery and had some private practice with the very pistols
that were afterwards used. This gave him an unfair advantage. If, was
the advocate's final effort to win a verdict, M. de Beauvallon is
acquitted, the result will be not only a victory for an improperly
conducted duel, but the very custom of the duel itself will be
dishonoured by such a decision.
Léon Duval having sat down, the President turned to the defendant's
The word is with you, M. Berryer, he said.
Mâitre Berryer, a master of forensic oratory, began his address by
contending that duelling was not prohibited by the law of France. In
support he quoted Guizot's dictum: Where the barbarian murders, the
Frenchman seeks honourable combat; legislation on the subject is
profitless; and this must be the case, since the duel is the complement
of modern civilization.
The judges were unprepared to accept this view off-hand; and, after
consulting with the assessors, the President insisted that, whatever M.
Berryer might say, duelling was illegal in France. Although he did not
tell him so, it was also quite as illegal in England, where Lord
Cardigan had, a little earlier, only just wriggled out of a conviction
for taking part in one by a combination of false swearing and the
subservience of his brother peers.
Not in the least upset, M. Berryer advanced another point. As might
have been expected of so accomplished an advocate, he had little
difficulty in demolishing the elaborate, but specious and unsupported,
hypothesis built up by the other side. Hard facts did more with the
stolid and unimaginative Rouen jury than did picturesque embroideries.
Is the accusation true? demanded the President.
On my honour and on my conscience, before God and before man,
announced the foreman, the declaration of the jury is that it is not
As a result of this finding, de Beauvallon was acquitted of the
charge of murder. But he did not escape without penalty, for he was
ordered to pay 20,000 francs compensation to the mother and
He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. Convinced
that there had been a miscarriage of justice and a vast amount of false
swearing, the dead man's friends set to work to collect other evidence.
By a stroke of luck, they got into touch with a gardener, who said that
he had seen de Beauvallon, in company with d'Ecquevillez, having some
surreptitious pistol practice on the morning of the duel. Thereupon,
the pair of them were rearrested and tried for perjury. Being
convicted, d'Ecquevillez was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment and
de Beauvallon to eight years. But neither couple stopped in durance
very long. The revolution of 1848 opened the doors of the Conciergerie
and they made good their escape, the one of them to Spain, and the
other to his Creole relatives in Guadeloupe.
CHAPTER VII. HOOKING A PRINCE
Immediately after the Rouen trial, Lola left France, returning once
more to Germany. Perhaps the Irish strain in her blood made her a
little superstitious. At any rate, just before starting, she consulted
a clairvoyante. She felt that she had her money's worth, for the Sibyl
declared that she would exercise much influence on a monarch and the
destiny of a kingdom. A long shot, and, as it happened, quite a sound
Her intention being, as she had candidly informed Dumas, to hook a
prince, she studied the Almanach de Gotha, and familiarised
herself with the positions and revenues of the various notables
accorded niches therein.
Germany was obviously the best field to exploit, for that country
just then was full of princes. As a matter of fact there were no less
than thirty-six of them waiting to be hooked. The first place to
which she went on this errand was Baden, where, according to Ferdinand
Bac, she bewitched the future Emperor William I. The Prince, however,
being warned of her syren spell, presently smiled and passed on.
Better luck befell the wanderer at her next attempt to establish
intimate contact with a member of the hoch geboren, Henry LXXII.
His principality, Reuss-Lobenstein-Ebersdorf (afterwards amalgamated
with Thuringia), had the longest name, but the smallest area, of any in
the kingdom, for it was only about the size of a pocket-handkerchief.
But to Lola this was of no great consequence. What, however, was of
consequence was that he was a millionaire (in thalers) and possessed an
A great stickler for etiquette, he once published the following
notice in his Court Gazette:
For twenty years it has been my express injunction that every
official shall always be alluded to by his correct title. This
injunction, however, has not always been obeyed. In future, therefore,
I shall impose a fine of one thaler on any member of my staff who
neglects to refer to another by his proper title or description.
But that the Prince could unbend on occasion is revealed by another
notification to his subjects:
His Most Serene Highness and All-Highest Self has graciously
condescended to approve the conduct of those six members of the Reuss
militia who recently assisted to put out a fire. With his own
All-Highest hand he is (on production of a satisfactory birth
certificate) even prepared to shake that of the oldest among them.
Risking a prosecution for lèse-majesté, a local laureate
described the incident in stirring verse. An extract from this effort,
translated by Professor J. G. Legge, in his Rhyme and Revolution in
Germany, is as follows:
HONOUR TO WHOM HONOUR IS DUE
Quite recently in Reuss
Militia at a fire
(I'm sure it will rejoice you)
Great credit did acquire.
When this, through a memorial,
Their gracious Prince by Right
Had learned; those territorials
He to him did invite.
And when the good men shyly
Stood up before him, each
His Gracious Highness highly
Praised in a Gracious speech.
A solemn affidavit
(With parents' names and date)
Each then produced and gave it
His birth certificate.
His Highness then demanded
The eldest of the band,
And clasped that horny-handed
With his All-Highest hand.
Now, this great deed recorded,
Who would not dwell for choice
Where heroes are rewarded
As in the land of Reuss?
Where Lola was concerned, she very soon put a match to the
inflammable, if arrogant, heart of Prince Henry, and, as a result, was
commanded to accompany him to his miniature court at Ebersdorf. She
did not, however, stop there very long, for, by her imperious attitude
and contempt of etiquette, she disturbed the petty officials and
bourgeois citizens surrounding it to such a degree that they made
formal complaints to his High-and-Mightiness. At first he would not
hear a word on the subject. Such was his favourite's position that
criticism of her actions was perilously near lèse-majesté and
incurred reprisals. As soon, however, as the amorous princeling
discovered that his bank balance was being depleted considerably beyond
the amount for which he had budgeted, he suffered a sudden spasm of
virtue and issued marching-orders to the Fair Impure, as his shocked
and strait-laced Ebersdorfians dubbed the intruder among them. There
was also some suggestion, advanced by a gardener, that she had a habit
of taking a short cut across the princely flower-beds when she was in a
hurry. This was the last straw.
Leave my kingdom at once, exclaimed the furious Henry. You are
nothing but a feminine devil!
Not in the least discomfited by this change of opinion, Lola
riposted by presenting a lengthy and detailed account for services
rendered; and, when it had been met (and not before), shook the dust
of Reuss-Lobenstein-Ebersdorf from her pretty feet.
You can keep your Thuringia, was her parting-shot. I wouldn't
have it as a gift.
The next places at which she halted were Homburg and Carlsbad, two
resorts then beginning to become popular and attracting a wealthy crowd
seeking a promised cure for their various ills. But, finding the
barons apt to be close-fisted, and the smart young lieutenants without
one pfennig in their pockets to rub against another, Lola was
soon continuing her travels.
In September, 1846, she found herself in Wurtemburg, where, much to
her annoyance, she discovered that a certain Amalia Stubenrauch, a
prepossessing damsel, who would now be called a gold-digger, had
conquered the spare affections of King William, on whom Lola herself
had designs. But that large-hearted monarch had, as it happened, few
affections to spare for anybody just then, for, when she encountered
him at Stuttgart, he was on the point of being married to Princess Olga
of Russia. A correspondent of the Athenæum, who was there to
chronicle the wedding festivities for his paper, registered disapproval
at her presence in the district. From the capital of Wurtemburg, he
announced sourly, Lola Montez departed in the schnellpost for
Munich, unimpeded by any luggage. Somebody else, however (perhaps a
more careful observer), is emphatic that she went off with three carts
full of trunks. As she always had a considerable wardrobe, this is
When, at the suggestion of Baron Maltitz (a Homburg acquaintance who
had suggested that she should try her luck in Munich"), Lola set off
for Bavaria, that country was ruled by Ludwig I. A god-child of
Marie-Antoinette, and the son of Prince Max Joseph of Zweibrucken and
Princess Augusta of Hesse-Darmstadt, he was born at Salzburg in 1786
and had succeeded his father in 1825. As a young man, he had served
with the Bavarian troops under Napoleon, and detesting the experience,
had conceived a hatred of everything military. This hatred was so
strongly developed that he would not permit his sons to wear uniform.
Under his regime the military estimates were cut down to the bone. The
army, he said, was a waste of money, and he grudged every pfennig
it cost the annual budget. He did his best to abolish conscription, but
had to abandon the effort. For all, too, that he was a god-son of
Marie-Antoinette, he had no love for France.
[Illustration: Porte St. Martin Theatre, Paris, where Lola was a
Ludwig's sister, Louisa, exchanging her religion for a consort's
crown, was the wife of the Czar Alexander I; and he himself was married
to the Princess Theresa of Saxe-Hildburghausen, a lady described as
plain, but exemplary. Still, so far as personal appearance goes,
Ludwig himself was no Adonis. Nestitz, indeed, has pictured him as
having a toothless jaw and an expressionless countenance. But his
consort did her duty; and, at approved intervals, presented him with a
quiverful of four sons and three daughters. Of his sons, one of them,
Otto, was, as a lad of sixteen, selected by the Congress of London to
be King of Greece, much to the fury of the Czar Nicholas, who held that
this was a cunning, if diplomatic, attempt to set up a Byzantine empire
among the Hellenes. Were I, he said in a despatch on the subject, to
give my countenance to such a step, I should nullify myself in the eyes
of my Church. Nesselrode, however, was of another opinion. It is
unbecoming, he was daring enough to inform his master, for the
Emperor of Russia to question a step upon which the Greeks themselves
are not in entire accord. A remarkable utterance. Politicians had gone
to Siberia for less. Palmerston, too, had his way, and Otto, escorted
by a warship, left his fatherland. On arriving in Athens, the joy-bells
rang out and the columns of the Parthenon were flood-lit. But the
choice was not to the popular taste; and it was not long before Otto
was extinguished, as well as the lights. By the irony of fate, he
returned to Munich on the very day that Ludwig had erected a Doric arch
to commemorate the activities of the House of Wittelsbach in securing
the Liberation of Greece.
Despite this untoward happening, Ludwig remained an ardent
Phil-Hellene; and, as such, conceived the idea of converting his
capital into a mixture of Athens and Florence and a metropolis of all
the arts. Under his fostering care, Munich was brought to bed of a
succession of temples and columns, and sprouted pillars and porticoes
in every direction. The slums and alleys and huddle of houses in the
old enceinte were swept away, and replaced by broad boulevards, fringed
with museums and churches and picture galleries. For many of the
principal public buildings he went to good models. Thus, one of them,
the Königsbau, was copied from the Pitti Palace; a second from the
Loggia de' Lanzi; and a third from St. Paul's at Rome. He also built a
Walhalla, at Ratisbon, in which to preserve the effigies of his more
distinguished countrymen. Yet, although it ran to size, there was no
niche in it for Luther.
In his patronage of the fine arts, Ludwig followed in the footsteps
of the Medici. During his regime, he did much to raise the standard of
taste among his subjects. Martin Wagner and von Hallerstein were
commissioned by him to travel in Greece and Italy and secure choice
sculpture and pictures for his galleries and museums. The best of them
found a home in the Glyptothek and the Pinakothek, two enormous
buildings in the Doric style, the cost of which he met from his privy
purse. Another of his hobbies was to play the Maecenas; and any budding
author or artist who came to him with a manuscript in his pocket or a
canvas under his arm was certain of a welcome.
We all have our little weaknesses. That of Ludwig of Bavaria was
that he was a poet. He was so sure of this that he not only produced
yards of turgid verse, defying every law of construction and metre, but
he even had some of it printed. A volume of selections from his Muse,
entitled Walhalla's Genossen, was published for him by Baron
Cotta, and, like the Indian shawls of Queen Victoria, did regular duty
as a wedding-gift. One effort was dedicated To Myself as King, and
another To my Sister, the Empress of Austria; and a number of choice
extracts were translated and appeared in an English guide-book.
Ignoring the divinity that should have hedged their author, Heine
was very caustic about this royal assault upon Parnassus. Ludwig
riposted by banishing him from the capital. Still, if he disapproved of
this one, he added to his library the output of other bards, not
necessarily German. But, while Browning was there, Tennyson had no
place on his shelves. One, however, was found for Martin Tupper.
Ludwig cultivated friendly relations with England, and did all he
could (within limits) to promote an entente. Thus, on the
occasion of a chance visit to Munich by Lord Combermere, he sent the
distinguished traveller a message to the effect that a horse and
saddlery, with aide-de-camp complete, were at his service. His
companion, however, a member of the Foreign Office Staff, who had
forgotten to pack his uniformor in John Bull fashion had declined to
do sodid not fare so well, since his name was struck off the list of
eligibles to attend the palace functions. Thereupon, says Lord
Combermere, he wrote an angry letter to the chamberlain, commenting on
the absurdity of the restriction.
But Ludwig's opinion of diplomatists was also somewhat unflattering,
for, of a certain embassy visited by him on his travels, he wrote:
A Theatre onceand now an Ambassador's dwelling.
Still, thou are what thou wastthe abode of deception.
A strange mixture of Henry IV and Haroun-al-Raschid, Ludwig of
Bavaria was a man of contradictions. At one moment he was lavishly
generous; at another, incredibly mean. He could be an autocrat to his
finger tips, and insist on the observance of the most minute points of
etiquette; and he could also be as democratic as anybody who ever waved
a red flag. Thus, he would often walk through the streets as a private
citizen, and without an escort. Yet, when he did so, he insisted on
being recognised and having compliments paid him. The traffic had to be
held up and hats doffed at his approach.
Nowadays, he would probably have been clapped into a museum as a
Such, then, was the monarch whose path was to be crossed, with
historic and unexpected consequences to each of them, by Lola Montez.
On arriving in Munich, Lola called on the manager of the Hof
Theatre. As this individual already knew of her Paris fiasco, instead
of an engagement from him, she met with a rebuff. Quite undisturbed,
however, by such an experience, she hurried off to the palace, and
commanded the astonished door-keeper to take her straight to the King.
The flunkey referred her to Count Rechberg, the aide-de-camp on
duty. With him Lola had more success. Boldness conquered where
bashfulness would have failed. After a single swift glance, Count
Rechberg decided that the applicant was eligible for admission to the
Presence, and reported the fact to his master.
But Ludwig already knew something of the candidate for terpsichorean
honours. As it happened, that very morning he had received from Herr
Frays, the director of the Hof Theatre, a letter, telling him that, on
the advice of his première-danseuse, Fräulein Frenzal, he had
refused to give her an engagement. Count Rechberg's florid description
of her charms, however, decided His Majesty to use his own judgment.
But he did not give in easily.
Is it suggested, he demanded acidly, that I should receive all
these would-be ballerinas and put them through their paces? They come
here by the dozen. Why am I troubled with such nonsense?
Sire, returned Rechberg, greatly daring, but with Lola's magnetism
still upon him, you will not regret it. I assure you this one is an
exception. She is delightful. That is the only word for it. Never have
I seen anybody to equal her. Such grace, such charm, such
Pooh! interrupted Ludwig, cutting short the threatened rhapsodies,
your swan is probably a goose. Most of them are. Still, now that she's
here, let her come in. If she isn't any good, I'll soon send her about
Brave words, but they availed him nothing. Ludwig shot one glance at
the woman who stood before him, and capitulated utterly.
A sudden thrill passed through him. His sixty years fell away in a
flash. A river of blood surged through his sexagenarian arteries. His
boast recoiled upon himself. Rechberg had not deceived him.
What has happened to me? he muttered feebly. I am bewitched.
Then, as the newcomer stood smiling at him in all her warm loveliness,
he found his tongue.
Mademoiselle, you say you can dance. Well, let me see what you can
do. Count Rechberg, you may leave us.
Do I dance here, in this room, Your Majesty?
Lola wanted nothing better. The opportunity for which she had been
planning and scheming ever since she left Paris had come at last. Well,
she would make the most of it. Not in the least perturbed that there
was no accompaniment, and no audience but His Majesty, she executed a
pas seul there and then. It was a royal performance, and
eminently successful. Her feet tripped lightly across the polished
floor, and danced their way straight into Ludwig's heart.
You shall dance before the public, he announced. I will myself
give orders to the director of the Hof Theatre.
Luise von Kobell, when a schoolgirl, encountered her by chance just
after her arrival, and thus records the impression she received:
As I was walking in the Briennerstrasse, not far from the
Bayersdorf Palace, I saw a veiled lady, wearing a black gown
and carrying a fan, coming towards me. Something flashed
across my vision, and I suddenly stood still, completely
dazzled by the eyes into which I stared, and which shone
from a pale countenance that lit up with a laughing
expression at my bewilderment. Then she swept past me; and
I, forgetting what my governess had said about looking
round, stared after her until she disappeared.... That,
said my father, when I reached home and recounted my
adventure, must have been Lola Montez, the Spanish dancer.
The next evening little Fräulein von Kobell saw her again at the Hof
Theatre, where her first appearance before the Munich public was made
on October 10, 1846.
Lola Montez assumed the centre of the stage. She was not
dressed in the customary tights and short skirts of a
ballerina, but in a Spanish costume of silk and lace, in
which shone at intervals a diamond. It seemed as if fire
darted from her wonderful blue eyes, and she bowed like one
of the Graces at the King in the royal box. She danced after
the manner of her country, bending on her hips and
alternating one posture with another, each rivalling the
former one in beauty.
While she was dancing she held the attention of all;
everybody's eyes followed her sinuous movements, now
indicative of glowing passion, now of frolicsomeness. Not
until she ceased her rhythmic swayings was the spell
interrupted. The audience went mad with rapture, and the
entire dance had to be repeated over and over again.
Ludwig, ensconced in the royal box, could not take his eyes off her.
During an entr'acte he scribbled a verse:
Happy movements, clear and near,
Are in thy living grace.
Supple and tender, as a deer
Art thou, of Andalusian race!
Wunderschön! declared an admiring aide-de-camp to whom he
Kolossal! echoed a second, not to be outdone in recognising
As, however, the cheers were mingled with a few hisses (due to the
report that the newcomer was an English Freemason, and wanted to
destroy the Catholic religion"), the next evening the management took
the precaution of filling the pit with a leather-lunged and
horny-handed claque. This time the bill consisted of a comedy,
Der Weiberseind von Benedix, followed by a cachucha and a fandango
with Herr Opsermann for a dancing-partner.
Lola's success was assured; and Herr Frays, who had started by
refusing to let her appear, was now full of grovelling apologies. He
offered her a contract. But Lola, having other ideas as to how her time
should be employed in Munich, would not accept it.
Thank you for nothing, she said. When I asked you for an
engagement, you told me I was not good enough to dance in your theatre.
Well, I have now proved to both Fräulein Frenzal and yourself that I
am. That is all I care about, and I shall not dance again, either for
you or for anybody else.
If she had known enough German, she would probably have added: Put
that in your pipe and smoke it!
Munich in those days must have proved attractive to people with
small incomes. Thus, Edward Wilberforce, who spent some years there,
says that meat was fivepence a pound, beer twopence-halfpenny a quart,
and servants' wages eight shillings a month. But there were drawbacks.
The city, says an English guide-book of this period, has the
reputation of being a very dissolute capital. Yet it swarmed with
churches. The police, too, exercised a strict watch upon the hotel
registers; and, as a result of their activities, a French visitor was
separated from his feminine companion on grounds of public morality.
None of your Parisian looseness for us! said the City Fathers.
But Lola appears to have avoided any such rigid censorship. At any
rate, a certain Auguste Papon (a mixture of pimp and souteneur),
whom she had met in Paris, happened to be in Munich at the same time as
herself. The intimacy was revived; and, as he did not possess the
entrée to the Court, for some weeks they lived together at the Hotel
Maulich. In the spring of 1847 a young Guardsman found himself in the
town, on his way back to England from Kissengen. He records that, not
knowing who she was, he sat next Lola Montez at dinner one evening, and
gives an instance of her quick temper. On the floor between us, he
says, was an ice-pail, with a bottle of champagne. A sudden quarrel
occurred with her neighbour, a Bavarian lieutenant; and, applying her
foot to the bucket, she sent it flying the length of the room.
Lola certainly made the running. Five days after she first met him,
Ludwig summoned all the officials of the Court, and astonished (and
shocked) them by introducing her with the remark: Gentlemen, I have
the honour to present to you my best friend. See to it that you accord
her every possible respect. He also compelled his long suffering
spouse to admit her to the Order of the Chanoines of St. Thérèse, a
distinction for whichconsidering her somewhat lurid pastthis new
recipient was scarcely eligible.
When he heard that instructions had been issued for paying special
compliments to her, Mr. Punch registered severe disapproval.
It is a good joke, he remarked, to call upon others to uphold the
dignity of one who is always at some freak or other to lower herself.
When she first sailed in dramatic fashion into the orbit of
Bavaria's sovereign, Lola Montez was just twenty-seven. In the full
noontide of her beauty and allurement, she was well equipped with what
the modern jargon calls sex-appeal. Big-bosomed and with generously
swelling curves, her form, says Eduard Fuchs, was provocation
incarnate. Fuchs, who was an expert on the subject of feminine
attractions, knew what he was talking about. Shameless and impudent,
adds Heinrich von Treitschke, and as insatiable in her voluptuous
desires as Sempronia, she could converse with charm among friends;
manage mettlesome horses; sing in thrilling fashion; and recite amorous
poems in Spanish. The King, an admirer of feminine beauty, yielded to
her magic. It was as if she had given him a love philtre. For her he
forgot himself; he forgot the world; and he even forgot his royal
The fact that Lola always wore a Byronic collar helped the theory,
held by many, that she was a daughter of the poet. But her real reason
for adopting the style was that she had a lovely neck, and this set it
off to the best advantage. She studied the art of dress and gave it an
immense amount of care. Where this matter was concerned, no trouble or
care was too much. Her favourite material was velvet, which she
consideredand quite justifiablyto exercise an erotic effect on men
of a certain age. She was insistent, too, that the contours of her
figure (her quivering thighs and all the demesnes adjacent thereto")
should be clearly revealed, and in a distinctly provocative fashion.
This, of course, was not far removed from exhibitionism. As a result,
bourgeois opinion was outraged. The wives of the petty officials
shopping in the Marienplatz shuddered, and clutched their ample skirts
when they saw her; anxious mothers instructed dumpy Fräuleins not to
look like the foreign woman. There is no authoritative record that any
of them did so.
CHAPTER VIII. LUDWIG THE LOVER
Lola Montez had done better than hook a prince. A lot better. She
had now hooked a sovereign. Her ripe warm beauty sent the thin blood
coursing afresh through Ludwig's sluggish veins. There it wrought a
miracle. He was turned sixty, but he felt sixteen.
The conversation of Robert Burns is said to have swept a duchess
off her feet. Perhaps it did. But that of Lola Montez had a similar
effect on a monarch. Under the magic of her spell, this one became
rejuvenated. The years were stripped from him; he was once more a boy.
With his charmer beside him, he would wander through the Nymphenburg
Woods and under the elms in the Englischer Garten, telling her of his
dreams and fancies. His passion for Greece was forgotten. Pericles was
In dem Suden ist die Liebe,
Da ist Licht und da ist Glut!
In the south there is love,
There is light and there is heat,
Yet Lola Montez was not by any means the first who ever burst into
the responsive heart of Ludwig I. She had many predecessors there. One
of them was an Italian syren. But that Lola soon ousted her is clear
from a poetical effort of which the royal troubadour was delivered.
Tropfen der Seligkeit und ein Meer von bitteren Leiden
Die Italienerin gabSeligkeit, Seligkeit nur
Lässest Du mich entzündend, begeistert, befändig empfinden,
In der Spanierin fand Liebe und Leben ich nur!
A free rendering of this passionate heart throb would read very much
Drops of bliss and a sea of bitter sorrow
The Italian woman gave me. Bliss, only bliss,
Thou gav'st my enraptured heart and soul and spirit.
In the Spanish woman alone have I found Love and Life!
Ludwig had a prettier name for his inamorata than the feminine
devil of Henry LXXII of Reuss. He called her the Lovely Andalusian
and the Woman of Spain. She also inspired him to fresh poetic
flights. One of these ran:
Thine eyes are blue as heavenly vaults
Touched by the balmy air;
And like the raven's plumage is
Thy dark and glistening hair!
There were several more verses.
A feature of the Residenz Palace was a collection of old masters.
Wanting to add a young mistress, Ludwig allotted a place of honour
among them to a portrait of Lola Montez, from the brush of Josef
Stieler. The work was well done, for the artist was inspired by his
subject; and he painted her wearing a costume of black velvet, with a
touch of colour added by red carnations in her head-dress.
Ludwig's heart being large, Die Schönheitengalerie (as the
Gallery of Beauties was called) filled two separate rooms. The one
qualification for securing a niche on the walls being a pretty face,
the collection included the Princess Alexandra of Bavaria (daughter of
the King of Greece), the Archduchess Sophie of Austria, and the
Baroness de Krüdener (catalogued as the spiritual sister of the Czar
Alexander I), a popular actress, Charlotte Hagen, a ballet-dancer,
Antoinette Wallinger, and the daughters of the Court butcher and the
municipal town-crier. To these were added a quartet of Englishwomen, in
Lady Milbanke (the wife of the British Minister), Lady Ellenborough,
Lady Jane Erskine, and Lady Teresa Spence. It was to this gallery that
Ludwig was accustomed to retire for a couple of hours every evening, to
meditate on the charms of its occupants. Being, however, possessed of
generous instincts, and always ready (within limits) to share his good
things, the public were admitted on Sunday afternoons.
But Ludwig could scratch, as well as purr. On one occasion he
chanced to meet a lady who had figured among the occupants of the
Schönheiten. She was considerably past the first flush of youth,
and Ludwig, exercising his prerogative, affected not to remember her.
But, Sire, she protested, I used to be in your gallery.
That, madame, was the response, must have been a very long time
ago. You would certainly not be there now.
From her modest hotel, where, soon tiring of his society, she left
Auguste Papon to stay by himself, Lola took up fresh quarters in a
small villa which the King had placed at her disposal in the
Theresienstrasse, a boulevard conveniently near the Hofgarten and the
Palace. While comfortable enough, it was held to be merely a temporary
arrangement. There was not enough room in it for Lola to expand her
wings. She wanted to establish a salon and to give receptions.
Accordingly, she demanded something more suitable. It meant spending
money, and Ludwig had already, he reflected, spent a great deal on her
whims and fancies. Still, under pressure, he came round, and, agreeing
that there must be a fitting nest for his love-bird (with a perch in it
for himself), he summoned his architect, Metzger, and instructed him to
build one in the more fashionable Barerstrasse.
No expense is to be spared, he said.
None was spared.
[Illustration: Supper-Party at Les Frères Provençaux. First act
in a Tragedy]
The new dwelling, which adjoined the Karolinen Platz, was really a
bijou palace, modelled on the Italian style. Everything in it was of
the best, for Ludwig had cash and Lola had taste. Thus, her toilet-set
was of silver ware; her china and glass came from Dresden: the rooms
were filled with costly nicknacks; mirrors and cabinets and vases and
bronzes; richly-bound books on the shelves; and valuable tapestries and
pictures on the walls. French elegance, added to Munich art, with a
touch of solid English comfort in the shape of easy chairs and couches.
To check a playful habit that the Munich mob had of throwing bricks
through them, when they had drunk more beer than they could carry, the
windows were fitted with iron grilles. As a further precaution, a
mounted officer always accompanied the Barerstrasse châtelaine when she
was driving in public, and sentries stood at the door, to keep the
curious at a respectful distance.
A description of the Barerstrasse nest was sent to London by a
privileged journalist who had inspected it:
The style of luxury in which Lola Montez lives here passes all
bounds. Nothing to equal it has been met with in Munich. It might
almost be an Aladdin's palace! The walls of her bed-chamber are hung
with guipure and costly satin. The furniture is of Louis XV era, and
the mantelpiece is of valuable Sèvres porcelain. The garden is filled
with rare flowers, and the carriages and horses in the stables are the
wonder and envy of the honest burghers.
The Queen herself could not be better housed, said Lola
delightedly, when she saw all the luxuries of which she was now the
You are my Queen, declared Ludwig fondly.
While Lola, to please her patron, grappled with the intricacies of
the German tongue, Ludwig, to please his charmer, took lessons from her
in Spanish. She still stuck to her Andalusian upbringing, and is said
(but the report lacks confirmation) to have introduced him to à Kempis.
This, however, is probably a misprint for Don Quixote. None the less,
her inspiration was such that her pupil could write:
Thou dost not wound thy lover with heartless tricks;
Nor dost thou play with him wantonly.
Thou art not for self; thy nature is generous and kind.
My beloved! Thou art munificent and unchanging.
* * * * *
Give me happiness! I begged with fierce longing.
And happiness I received from thee, thou Woman of Spain!
Notwithstanding the suggestion implied by this assurance, Lola
always insisted that her relations with the King were purely platonic.
While this view is a little difficult to accept, it is significant that
Ludwig's lawful spouse never objected to their friendship. Her
Majesty, however, was of a placid temperament. Perhaps, too, she
thought that the fancy would not endure. If so, she was wrong, for,
with the passage of time, the newcomer was obviously consolidating her
position. Lola Montez, of horse-whipping notoriety, remarked a
journalist, appears to be increasing in favour at the Court of
Bavaria. The Queen calls her 'My dear,' and the ladies consider it
their duty to caress the one who has all the world of Munich at her
During the summer, Ludwig, divesting himself of the cares of state,
retired to his castle at Bruckenau, picturesquely situated in the Fulda
Forest; and Lola, attended by a squadron of Cuirassiers, accompanied
him to this retreat. There, as in the Nymphenburg Park, Ludwig dreamed
dreams, while Lola amused herself with the officers of the escort.
Halcyon daysand nights. They inspired His Majesty with yet another
SONG OF WALHALLA
Through the holy dome, oh come,
Brothers, let us roam along;
Let from thousand throats the hum
Rise, like rivers, swift and strong!
When the notes have died away
Let us clasp each other's hand;
And, to high Heaven, let us pray
For our dearest Fatherland!
While she accorded it full value, Lola Montez did not depend on mere
beauty for her power. She had a markedly sadistic vein in her
composition; and, when annoyed, was not above laying about her right
and left with a dog-whip that she always carried. An impudent lackey
would be flogged into submission, or set upon by a fierce mastiff that
she kept at her heels. High office, too, meant nothing to her. She
boxed the ears of Baron Pechman; and, because he chanced to upset her,
she encouraged her four-coated companion to tear the best trousers of
Professor Lasaulx, the nephew of Görrez, a Cabinet Minister.
Her English bulldog (with apparently a strain of Presbyterian blood
in him) had an unerring scent for Jesuits. He seemed to disapprove of
their principles as much as his mistress did, and would attack them at
sight. This animal would also appear to have been something of a
prohibitionist. At any rate, he once bit a brewer's carman, delivering
goods to a bierkeller. When the victim expostulated, Lola struck
him with her whip. This infuriated the crowd to such an extent that she
had to take refuge in a shop. There she happened to jostle a
lieutenant, who, not recognising her, ventured on a protest. The next
morning he received a challenge from a fire-eating comrade, alleging
that he had insulted a lady. Because the challenge was refused, a
court of honour had him deprived of his commission.
What a distressed commentator has dubbed the equivocal position of
Lola Montez at Munich also stuck in the gullet of the Cabinet, and
heads were shaken. Public affronts were offered her. When she visited
the Odéon Theatre, the stalls adjoining the one she occupied were
promptly emptied. Respectable women drew back, exhibiting on their
countenances disgust and terror. But the masculine members of the
audience were less exclusive, or perhaps made of sterner material, for
they displayed eagerness to fill up the vacant stalls. A new chivalry
was born, says a chronicler of town gossip, and paladins were anxious
to act as a buckler.
With the passage of time the infatuation of the Wittelsbach Lovelace
became so marked that it could not be ignored in places beyond Munich.
The Countess Bernstorff grew seriously perturbed. There has long been
talk, she confided to a friend, as to whether King Ludwig would so
far presume on the kindness and indulgence of the Queen of Prussia as
to bring Lola Montez to Court during Her Majesty's forthcoming stay in
Munich. The problem, however, was solved by the tactful action of Lola
herself, who gave the palace a wide berth until the visit had come to
In his Memoirs of Madam Jenny Lind-Goldschmidt shocked horror
is similarly expressed by Canon Scott Holland at the possibility of the
Swedish Nightingale, who was arranging to give a concert there,
encountering Lola in her audience:
The time fixed for this visit to Munich was, in one respect,
most unpropitious; and, for a young artist, unsupported by
powerful moral protection, the visit itself might well have
proved extremely unpleasant. It was impossible to sing at
Court, for the reigning spirit in the household of King
Ludwig I was the notorious Lola Montez, who was then at the
climax of her ill-gotten power. To have been brought into
contact with such a person would have been intolerable. An
invitation to Court would have rendered such contact
But if Jenny Lind adopted a lofty attitude and refused to fulfil an
engagement in the Bavarian capital, lest she should have chanced to rub
shoulders with Ludwig's mistress, other visitors did not share these
qualms. They arrived in battalions, and evinced no disinclination to
make her acquaintance. To the shame of the aristocracy and the arts,
says a rigid commentator, every day there were to be found at the feet
of this Cyprian intruder a throng of princes and philosophers, authors
and painters, and sculptors and musicians.
Fresh tactics to get her out of Munich were then adopted. When,
however, somebody remarked that Ludwig was old enough to be her
grandfather, she sent him away with a flea in his ear.
It is ridiculous to talk like that, she said. My Ludwig's heart
is young. If you knew the strength of his passion, you would not credit
him with being more than twenty!
As for Ludwig himself he was bombarded with anonymous letters and
warnings, calling Lola by every evil name that occurred to the writers.
She was La Pompadour and the Sempronia of Sallust in one, a voluptuous
woman, and a flame of desire. There were also tearful protests from
the higher clergy, who, headed by Archbishop Diepenbrock, were positive
that the dancing woman was an emissary of Satan (sometimes they said
of Lord Palmerston) sent from England to destroy the Catholic religion
Ludwig was curt with His Grace. You stick to your stola, he
said, and let me stick to my Lola.
A soft answer, perhaps; but not a very satisfactory one.
It is all very well for kings to have mistresses, was the opinion
of the more broad-minded, but they should select them from their own
countrywomen. This one is a foreigner. Why should our hard-earned money
be lavished on her? The grievance was, as it happened, well founded,
for Lola was drawing 20,000 marks a year, wrung from the pockets of the
Baron Pechman, the Chief of Police, had a bad reception when he
suggested that the populace might get out of control.
If you can't manage the mob, said Ludwig, turning on him
furiously, I'll get someone who can. A change of air may do you good.
The next morning the discomfited Baron Pechman found himself
dégommé and a successor appointed to his office.
The intrigue was too openly conducted to be hushed up. Word of
what was happening in Munich soon filtered through to Vienna. Queen
Caroline-Augusta, Ludwig's sister, shook her head. Alas, she sighed,
my wretched brother is always bringing fresh shame on me. She wrote
him letters of tearful protest. They were ignored. She protested by
word of mouth. Ludwig, in unbrotherly fashion, told her to mind her
own business. Caroline's next move was to take clerical counsel.
These creatures are always venal, said the Jesuits. They only care
for cash. An emissary was accordingly despatched to the Barerstrasse
mansion, to convey an offer. Unfortunately, however, he had not
advanced beyond Gnädige Frau, erlauben, when he himself
capitulated to Lola's charms, and returned to the Hofburg, his task
unaccomplished. Still, he must have made out some sort of story to save
his face, for the Princess Mélanie wrote: Our good Senfft has come
back. He was unable to speak to Lola Montez. The poor country of
Bavaria is in a sad condition, which gets worse every day.
The least disturbed individual appeared to be Queen Thérèse. Her
attitude was one of placidity itself. But perhaps she was, by this
time, accustomed to the dalliance of her Ludwig along the primrose
path. Also, she probably knew by experience that it was not the
smallest use making a fuss. The milk was spilled. To cry over it now
would be a wasted effort.
The King's favourite was good copy for the Bavarian press; and the
Munich journals were filled with accounts of her activities. Not in the
least upset by their uncomplimentary references to himself, Ludwig
instructed his librarian, Herr Lichenthaler, to collect all the
pasquinades, lampoons, squibs, and caricatures (many of them far from
flattering, and others verging on the indecent) that appeared and have
them sumptuously bound. It was not long before enough had been
assembled to fill half a dozen volumes. His idea was to preserve for
posterity all this mountain of mud, as a witness of Bavaria's shame.
That somebody else was responsible for the shame did not occur to
A choice specimen among the collection was one entitled Lola
Montez, oder Des Mench gehört dem Könige (Lola Montez, or the
Wench who belongs to the King"). There was also a scurrilous, and
distinctly blasphemous, broadsheet, purporting to be Lola's private
version of the Lord's Prayer:
Our Father, in whom throughout my life, I have never yet
had much belief, all's well with me. Hallowed be thy
nameso far as I am concerned. Thy kingdom come, that is,
my bags of gold, my polished diamonds, and my unpolished
Alemannia. Thy will be done, if thou wilt destroy my
enemies. Give me this day champagne and truffles and
pheasant, and all else that is delectable, for I have a very
good appetite.... Lead me not into temptation to return to
this country, for, even if I were bullet-proof, I might be
arrested, clapped into a cage, and six francs charged for a
peep at me. Amen!
Those were the days when gentlemen (at any rate, Bavarians) did not
necessarily prefer blondes. Lola's raven locks were much more to their
taste. If she were not a success in the ballet, she was certainly one
in the boudoir. Of a hospitable and gregarious disposition, she kept
what amounted to open house in her Barerstrasse villa. Every morning
she held an informal levée there, at which any stranger who sent in his
card was welcome to call and pay his respects; and in the evenings,
when she was not dancing attendance on Ludwig at the Palace, the
Barerstrasse reception would be followed by a soirée. These gatherings
attractedin addition to a throng of artists and authors and
musiciansprofessors and scholars from all over Europe; and, as
Gertrude Aretz remarks, in her admirable study, The Elegant Woman
(with considerable reference to this one): the best intellects of her
century helped to draw her victorious chariot. The uncultured mob,
however, dubbed her a Fair Impire and a Light o' Love, and flung
even stronger and still more uncomplimentary epithets. Their subject,
however, received them with a laugh. The shopkeepers, with an eye to
business, embellished their wares with her portrait; and the University
students, headed by Fritz Peissner, serenaded her in front of her
Lolita schön, wie Salamoni's Weiber.
Welch 'suszer Reis flog über dich dahin!
they sang in rousing chorus.
Among the students engaged in amassing light and learning at the
University of Munich, there were a number of foreigners. One of them
was a young American, Charles Godfrey Leland (Hans Breitmann"), who
had gone there, he says, to study æsthetics. But this did not take up
all his time, for, during the intervals of attending classes, he
managed to see something of Lola Montez. I must, he says, have had a
great moral influence on her, for, so far as I am aware, I am the only
friend she ever had at whom she never threw a plate or a book, or
attacked with a dagger, poker, broom, or other deadly weapon.... I
always had a strange and great respect for her singular talents. There
were few, indeed, if any there, were, who really knew the depths of
that wild Irish soul.
In another passage Leland offers further details: The great, the
tremendous, celebrity at that time in Munich was also an opera dancer,
though not on the stage. This was Lola Montez, the King's last
favourite.... She wished to run the whole kingdom and government, kick
out the Jesuits, and kick up the devil, generally speaking.
One of her most intimate friends was wont to tell her that she and
I had many very strange characteristics in common, which we shared with
no one else, while we differed utterly in other respects. It was very
like both of us, for Lola, when defending the existence of the soul
against an atheist, to tumble over a great trunk of books of the most
varied kind, till she came to an old vellum-bound copy of Apuleius, and proceed to establish her views according to his subtle
neo-Platonism. But she romanced and embroidered so much in conversation
that she did not get credit for what she really knew.
Well, if it comes to that, Leland for his part was not above
romancing and embroidering. His books are full of these qualities.
Marvels, says a biographer, fill his descriptions of student life at
Munich. Interesting people figure in his reminiscences.... Prominent
among them was Lola Montez, the King's favourite of the day, cordially
hated by all Munich for an interference in public affairs, hardly to be
expected from the 'very small, pale, and thin or frèle little
person with beautiful blue eyes and curly black hair' who flits across
the pages of the Memoirs.
If this were Leland's real opinion of Lola's appearance, he must
have formed it after drinking too much of the Munich beer of which he
was so fond. He seems to have drunk a good deal at times, as he admits
in one passage: after the dinner and wine, I drank twelve schoppens. A dozen imperial pints would take some swallowing, and not leave the
memory unclouded as to subsequent events.
Despite the alleged Spanish blood in her veins, Lola (with, perhaps,
some dim stirring of memory for the far-off Montrose chapter) declared
herself a staunch Protestant, and, like her pet bull dog, disavowed the
Jesuits and all their works. Hence, she supported the Liberal
Government; and, as an earnest of her intentions, started operations by
attempting to establish contact with von Abel, the head of the
Ultramontane Ministry. He, however, affecting to be hurt at the bare
suggestion, would have nothing to do with the Scarlet Woman, as he
did not scruple to call her. Following his example, the clerical press
redoubled their attacks. As a result, Lola decided to form an
opposition and to have a party of her own. For this purpose she turned
to some of the younger students, among whom she had a particular
admirer in one Fritz Peissner. In response to her smiles, he, together
with Count Hirschberg and a number of his friends, embodied themselves
in a special corps, pledged to act as her bodyguard. Its members
elected to be known as the Alemannia, and invited her to accept the
position of Ehren-Schwester (honorary sister"). Lola was quite
agreeable, and reciprocated by setting apart a room in her villa where
the swash-bucklers could meet. Not to be outdone in paying compliments,
the Alemannia planted a tree in her garden on Christmas Day. Their
distinguishing badge (which would now probably be a black shirt) was a
red cap. As was inevitable, they were very soon at daggers drawn with
the representatives of the other University Corps, who, having
long-established traditions, looked upon the newcomers as upstarts, and
fights between them were constantly occurring when they met in public.
Altogether, Ludwig had reason to regret his action in transferring the
University from its original setting at Landshut. On the other hand,
Councillor Berks, a thick and thin champion of Lola (and not above
taking her lap-dogs for an airing in the Hofgarten), supported the
Alemannia, declaring them to be an example to corrupt youth. Prince
Leiningen retaliated by referring to him as that wretched substitute
for a minister, commonly held by public opinion in the deepest
The origin of the Alemannia was a little curious. Two members of the
Palatia Corps happened one afternoon, while peering through the windows
of the Barerstrasse mansion, to see Lola entertaining a couple of their
fellow-members. This they held to be an affront to the honour of the
Palatia, and the offenders, glorying in their conduct, were expelled
by the committee. Thereupon, they joined with Fritz Peissner when he
was thinking of establishing a fresh corps.
In her new position, Lola did not forget her old friends. Feeling
her situation with Ludwig secure, she wrote to Liszt, offering him the
highest order that Bavaria could grant. He declined the suggestion,
and sent word of her doings to Madame d'Agoult:
Apropos of this too celebrated Anglo-Spanish woman, have you
heard that King Louis of Bavaria has demanded the sacrifice
of her theatrical career? and that he is keeping her at
Munich (where he has bought her a house) in the quality of a
Later on, he returned to the subject:
I have been specially pleased with a couple of allusions to
Lola and this poor Mariette; but, to be perfectly
candidand being afraid that you would find the subject a
little indecorousI began to reproach myself for having
mentioned it to you in my last letter from Czernowitz.
In speaking of Lola, you tell me that you defend her (which
I do also, but not for the same reasons) because she stands
for progress. Then, a page further on, in resuming the
subject at Vienna, you find me very young to still believe
in justice, not realising that, in this little circle of
ideas and things, I represent in Europe a progressive and
intelligent movement. Alas! Who represents anything in
Europe to-day? you enquire with Bossuet.
Well, then, Lola stands for the nineteenth century, and
Daniel Stern stands for the woman of the ninth century; and,
were it not for having contributed to the representation of
others, I too shall finish by representing something else,
by means of the 25,000 francs of income it will be necessary
for me to end up by securing.
CHAPTER IX. MAÎTRESSE DU ROI
The role for which Lola cast herself was that of La Pompadour to the
Louis XV of Ludwig I. She had been a coryphée. Now she was a courtesan.
History was repeating itself. Like an Agnes Sorel or a Jane Shore
before her, she held in Munich the semi-official and quite openly
acknowledged position of the King's mistress. It is said of her that
she was so proud of the title and all it implied, that she would add
Maîtresse du Roi to her signature when communicating with
understrappers at the palace. Ludwig, however, thought this going too
far, and peremptorily forbade the practice. Lola gave way. Perhaps the
only time on record. In return, however, she advanced a somewhat
My position as a king's favourite, she said, entitles me to the
services of a confessor and a private chapel.
Ludwig was quite agreeable, and instructed Count Reisach, the
Ultramontane Archbishop of Munich, to select a priest for this
responsible office. His Grace, however, reported that all the clergy in
a body had protested to him that, fearing for their virtue, they could
not conscientiously accept the post.
Disappointed at the rebuff, Lola herself then applied to Dr.
Windischmann, the Vicar-General, telling him that if he would undertake
the office she would reciprocate by securing him a bishopric. This
dignitary, however, was not to be tempted. Madame, he said, my
confessional is in the Church of Notre-Dame; and you can always go
there when you want to accuse yourself of any of the numerous sins you
Nor would His Eminence, the Primate of Poland, give any help. All he
would do was to get into his carriage and set off to expostulate with
the King. But it was a wasted effort, for Ludwig insisted that his
relations with the conscience-stricken postulant were nothing more
than platonic. Thereupon, the superior clergy announced that the
designs of Providence were indeed inscrutable to mere mortals, but they
trusted that His Majesty would at any rate change his mistress.
Ludwig, however, brooking no interference with his amours, refused to
do anything of the kind.
What are you thinking about? he stormed. How dare you hint that I
am the man to roll myself in the mud of the gutter? My feelings for
this lady are of the most lofty and high-minded description. If you
drive me to extremes, heaven alone knows what will happen!
His Eminence met the outburst by whispering in the ear of the Bishop
of Augsburg that the King was possessed. As for the Bishop of
Augsburg, he wept every day. A leaky prelate.
It is a paradox, was the expert opinion of Archbishop Diepenbrock,
that the more shameful she is, the more beautiful is a courtesan. A
Day of Humiliation, with a special prayer composed by himself, was
his suggestion for mending matters; and Madame von Krüdener, not to be
outdone in coming to the rescue, preached the necessity of public
penance. Thus taken to task, Ludwig solemnly declared in writing that
he had never exacted the last favours from Lola Montez, and furnished
the entire episcopal bench with a copy of this declaration.
That only makes his folly the greater, was the caustic comment of
Canitz, who was not to be deluded by eye-wash of this description.
With the passage of time, Lola's influence at the Palace grew
stronger. Before long, it became abundantly clear to the Ministry that
she was the real channel of approach to the King and, in fact, his
political Egeria. During that period, says T. Everett Harré, when
she was known throughout the world as the 'Uncrowned Queen of Bavaria,'
Lola Montez wielded a power perhaps enjoyed by no woman since the
Empress Theodora, the circus mime and courtesan, was raised to imperial
estate by the Emperor Justinian. Well aware of this fact, and much as
they objected to it, the Cabinet, headed by von Abel, began by
attempting to win her to their side. When they failed, they put their
thick heads together, and, announcing that she was an emissary of
Palmerstonjust as La Paiva was credited with being in Bismarck's
employthey hinted that her room was preferable to her company. The
hints having no effect, other measures were adopted. Thus, Ludwig's
sister offered her a handsome sum (for the second time) to leave the
country, and Metternich improved on it; the Bishop of Augsburg, drying
his tears, composed another and longer special prayer; the Cabinet
threatened to resign; and caricatures and scurrilous paragraphs once
more appeared in Munich journals. But all to no purpose. Lola refused
to budge. Nothing could shake her resolve, J'y suis, j'y reste,
might well have been her motto.
I will leave Bavaria, she said, when it suits me, and not
For ten years Ludwig had been under the thumb of the Ultramontanes
and the clerical ministry of Carl von Abel. He was getting more than a
little tired of the combination. The advance of Lola Montez widened the
breach. To get rid of him, accordingly, he offered von Abel the
appointment of Bavarian Minister at Brussels. The offer, however, was
not accepted. Asked for his reason, von Abel said that he wanted to
stop where he was and keep an eye on things.
[Illustration: Residenz Palace, Munich, in 1848. Residence of
At this date Bavaria was Catholic to a manand a womanand the
Ultramontanes held the reins of government. While one would have been
enough, they professed to have two grievances. One was the political
poison of the Liberal opposition; and the other was the moral
perversion of the King. In March matters came to a crisis. A number of
University professors, headed by the rigid Lasaulx, held an indignation
meeting in support of the Ultramontane Cabinet and their efforts to
espouse the cause of good morals. This activity on the part of a
secular body was resented by the clergy, who considered that they, and
not the University, were the official custodians of the public's
morals. But if it upset the clergy, it upset Ludwig still more; and,
to mark his displeasure, he summarily dismissed four of the lecturers
he himself had appointed. As the general body of students sided with
them, they demonstrated in front of the house of Lola Montez, whom
they held responsible.
What began as a very ordinary disturbance soon developed into
something serious. Tempers ran high; brickbats were thrown, and windows
smashed; there were collisions with the police, who endeavoured to
arrest the ringleaders; and finally the Karolinen Platz had to be
cleared by a squadron of Cuirassiers. The Alemannia, joining arms,
forced a passage through which Lola managed to slip to safety and reach
the gates of the Residenz. But it was, as she said, a near thing.
The crowd relieved their feelings by breaking a few more windows;
and a couple of Alemannia, detached from their comrades, were ducked in
Vivat, Lola! bellowed one contingent.
Pereat, Lola! bellowed the opposition.
Accounts of the disturbance filtered through to England. There they
attracted much attention and acid criticism.
A lady, remarked the Examiner, has overthrown the Holy
Alliance of Southern Germany. Lola Montez, whose affecting testimony
during the trial of those who killed Dujarier in a duel cannot but be
remembered, was driven by that catastrophe to seek her fortunes in
other realms. Chance brought her to Munich, the Sovereign of which
capital has divided his time between poetry and the arts, gallantry and
What Paphian cestus, was another sour comment, does Lola wind
round the blade of her poniard? We all remember how much the
respectable Juno was indebted to the bewitching girdle of a less
regular fair one, but the properties of that talisman are still
The Thunderer, in its capacity as a European watch-dog, had
its eye on Ludwig and his dalliance along the primrose path.
Disapproval was registered. The King of Bavaria, solemnly announced a
leading article, has entirely forgotten the duties and dignities of
Freiherr zu Canitz, however, who had succeeded von Bülow as Minister
for Foreign Affairs, looked upon Ludwig's lapse with more indulgence.
It is not, he wrote from the Wilhelmstrasse, the first time by any
means that kings have chosen to live with dancers. While such conduct
is not, perhaps, strictly laudable, we can disregard it if it be
accompanied by a certain measure of decorum. Still, a combination of
ruler-ship and dalliance with a vagrant charmer is a phenomenon that is
as much out of place as is an attempt to govern a country by writing
Availing herself of what was then, as now, looked upon as a natural
safety-valve, Lola herself wrote to the Times, giving her own
version of these happenings:
I left Paris in June last on a professional trip; and, among
other arrangements, decided upon visiting Munich where, for
the first time, I had the honour of appearing before His
Majesty and receiving from him marks of appreciation, which
is not a very unusual thing for a professional person to
receive at a foreign Court.
I had not been here a week before I discovered that there
was a plot existing in the town to get me out of it, and
that the party was the Jesuit Party.... When they saw that
I was not likely to leave them, they tried what bribery
would do; and actually offered me 50,000 fcs. a year if I
would quit Bavaria and promise never to return. This, as you
may imagine, opened my eyes; and, as I indignantly refused
their offer, they have since not left a stone unturned to
get rid of me.... Within this last week a Jesuit professor
of philosophy at the university here, named Lasaulx, was
removed. Thereupon, the party paid and hired a mob to insult
me and break the windows of my house.
... Knowing that your columns are always open to protect
anyone unjustly accused, and more especially when that one
is an unprotected female, makes me rely upon you for the
insertion of this; and I have the honour to subscribe
myself, your obliged servant,
A couple of weeks later Printing House Square was favoured with a
To the Editor of The Times.
SIR:In consequence of the numerous reports circulated in
various papers regarding myself and family, I beg of you,
through the medium of your widely circulated journal, to
insert the following:
I was born at Seville in the year 1833; my father was a
Spanish officer in the service of Don Carlos; my mother, a
lady of Irish extraction, born at the Havannah, and married
to an Irish gentleman, which, I suppose, is the cause of my
being called sometimes Irish and sometimes English, and
Betsy Watson, and Mrs. James, etc.
I beg leave to say that my name is Maria Dolores Porres
Montez, and I have never changed that name.
As for my theatrical qualifications, I never had the
presumption to think I had any. Circumstances obliged me to
adopt the stage as a profession, which profession I have now
renounced for ever, having become a naturalised Bavarian,
and intending in future making Munich my residence.
Trusting that you will give this insertion, I have the
honour to remain, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
The assumption that she had ever been known as Betsy Watson was
due to the fact that she was said at one period to have lived under
this name in Dublin, protected there by an Irishman of rank and
fortune. With regard to the rest of the letter, this was much the same
as the one she had circulated after her London fiasco. It was very far
from being well founded. Still, she had repeated this story so often
that she had probably come to believe in it herself.
As The Times at that period was not read in Munich to any
great extent, Lola, wanting a larger public, sent a letter to the
Allegemeine Zeitung. This, she thought, would secure her a measure
of sympathy not accorded her elsewhere:
I object to being made a target for countless malicious
attackspublic and private, written and printedsome whispered in
secret, and others uttered to the world. I therefore now stigmatise as
a wicked liar and perverter of the truth any individual who shall,
without proving it, disseminate any report to my detriment.
The letter was duly published. The attacks, however, did not end. On
the contrary, they redoubled in virulence. All sorts of fresh charges
were brought against her. Many of them were quite unfounded, and
deliberately ignored much that might have been put to her credit. Lola
had not done nearly as much harm as some of Ludwig's lights o' love.
Her predecessors, however, had made themselves subservient to the
Jesuits and clericals. When her friends sent protests to the editor,
refuge was taken in the stereotyped reply: pressure on our space does
not permit us to continue this correspondence.
By those who wished her ill, any stick was good enough with which to
beat Lola Montez. Thus, when a dignitary diedno matter what the
medical diagnosisit was announced in the gutter press that he died of
grief, caused by the national shame. The alleged last words of a
certain politician were declared to be: I die because I cannot
continue living under the orders of a strumpet who rules our dear
Bavaria as if she were a princess. Ludwig took it calmly. The real
trouble with this poor fellow, he said, is that he never experienced
the revivifying effects of the love of a beautiful woman. A popular
prescription. The local doctors, however, were coy about recommending
it to their patients.
That the Munich disturbances had an aftermath is clear from a news
item that appeared in the Cologne Gazette of July, 3, 1847.
Lola, wanting a change of air and scene, had gone on a tour, travelling
incognita and without any escort. Still, as she was to discover, it
was impossible for her to move without being recognised:
According to letters from Bavaria, it is obvious that the
animosities excited against Lola Montez earlier in the year
are far from having subsided. On passing through Nuremberg,
she was received with coldness, but decency. At Bamberg,
however, it was very different. At the railway station she
was hissed and hooted, and, stones being thrown at her
carriage, she presented her pistols and threatened to punish
her assailants. The upper classes were thoroughly ashamed of
such excesses; and the chief magistrate has been instructed
to appoint a deputation of the leading citizens to apologise
In a letter to his brother, dated July 7, 1847, a University student
says: Lola Montez was near being assassinated three days ago, but he
gives no particulars. Hence, it was probably gossip picked up in a beer
A grievance felt by Lola was that she was not accorded recognition
among the aristocracy. But there was an obvious remedy. This was to
grant her a coronet. After all, historic examples were to hand by the
dozen. In modern times the mistress of Frederick William III had been
made a duchess. Hence, Lola felt that she should be at least a
What special services have you rendered Bavaria? bluntly demanded
the minister to whom she first advanced the suggestion.
If nothing else, I have given the King many happy days, was Lola's
Curiosity was then exhibited as to whether she was sufficiently
hoch-geboren, or not. The applicant herself had no doubts on the
subject. Her father, Ensign Gilbert, she said, had the blood of
Coeur-de-Lion in his veins, and her mother's ancestors were among the
Council of the Inquisition.
When the matter was referred to him, Ludwig was sympathetic and
readily promised his help. But as she was a foreigner, she would, he
pointed out, have to start by becoming naturalised as a Bavarian
subject; and, under the constitution, the necessary indigenate
certificate must bear the signature of a Cabinet Minister. For this
purpose, and never thinking that the slightest difficulty would be
advanced, he had one drawn up and sent to Count Otto von Steinberg.
Much to his annoyance and surprise, however, that individual, suddenly
developing conscientious objections, excused himself. Thereupon, von
Abel, as head of the Government, was instructed to secure another
Do not worry. It will be settled to-morrow, announced Ludwig, when
Lola enquired the reason of the hitch.
He was, however, speaking without his book. The Ministry,
Ultramontane to a man, could swallow a good deal, in order to retain
their portfolios (and salaries), but this, they felt, was asking too
much of them. In unctuous terms, and taking refuge in offended virtue,
they declared they would resign, rather than countenance the grant of
Bavarian nationality for the foreign woman. Neither pressure nor
threats would shake them. Ludwig could do what he pleased; and they
would do what they pleased.
The manifesto in which the Cabinet's decision was delivered is
little short of an historic document:
February 11, 1847.
Sir: Public life has its moments when those entrusted by
their Sovereign with the proper conduct of public affairs
have to make their choice between renouncing the duties to
which they are pledged by loyalty and devotion, and, by
discharging those duties in conscientious fashion, incurring
the displeasure of their beloved Sovereign. We, the faithful
servants of Your Majesty, have now found ourselves in this
situation owing to the decision to grant Bavarian
nationality to Senora Lola Montez. As we cannot forget the
duties that our oath compels us to observe, we cannot flinch
in our resolve....
It is abundantly clear that reverence for the Throne is
becoming weakened in the minds of your subjects; and little
is now heard in all directions but blame and disapproval.
National sentiment is wounded, because the country considers
itself to be under the dominion of a foreign woman of evil
reputation. The obvious facts are such that it is impossible
to adopt any other view.... The public journals print the
most shocking anecdotes, together with the most degrading
attacks on your Royal Majesty. As a sample of this, we
append a copy of No. 5 of the Ulner Chronic. The
of the police is powerless to check the circulation of these
journals, and they are read everywhere.... Not only is the
Government being jeopardised, but also the very existence
of the Crown. Hence, the delight of such as wish ill to the
Throne, and the anguish of such as are loyal to Your
Majesty. The fidelity of the army, too, is threatened. Ere
long, the forces of the Crown will become a prey to profound
disaffection; and where could we look for help, should this
occur and this last bulwark totter?
The hearts of the undersigned loyal and obedient servants
are torn with grief. This statement they submit to you is
not one of visionaries. It is the melancholy result of
observations made by them during the exercise of their
functions for several months past. Each of the undersigned
is ready and willing to surrender everything to his
Sovereign. They have given you repeated proofs of their
fidelity; and it is now nothing less than their sacred duty
to direct the attention of your Majesty to the dangers
confronting him. Our humble prayer, to which we beg you to
listen, is not governed by any desire to run counter to your
Royal will. It is put forward solely with a view to ending a
condition of affairs which is inimical to the well-being and
happiness of a beloved monarch. Should, however, your
Majesty not think fit to grant their petition, we, your
Ministers, will then have no alternative but to tender the
resignation of the portfolios with which you have entrusted
The signatories to this precious manifesto were von Abel, von
Gumpenberg (Minister of War), von Schrenk, and von Seinsheim
(Councillors of State). Much to their hurt astonishment, their
resignations were accepted. Nor was there any lack of candidates for
the vacant portfolios. Ludwig, prompted by Lola, filled up the gaps at
once. Georg von Maurer (who reciprocated by signing her certificate of
naturalisation) was appointed Minister of Justice and Foreign Affairs,
and Freiherr Friederich zu Rhein was the new Minister of Public Worship
The students, not prepared to let slip a chance of asserting
themselves, paraded the streets with a fresh song:
Da kam Senorra Lolala,
Sturzt Abel und Consorten;
Ach war sie doch jetz wieder da,
Und jagte fort den
Despite the fact that he was indebted for his appointment to her,
Maurer attempted to snub Lola and refused to speak to her the next time
they met. For his pains, he found himself, in December, 1847, dismissed
from office. There was, however, joy in the ranks of the clerical
party, for, to their horror, he happened to be a Protestant.
I have now a new ministry, and there are no more Jesuits in
Bavaria, announced Ludwig with much complacence. As was his custom
when a national crisis occurred, he was also delivered of a sonnet,
You who have wished to hold me in thrall, tremble!
Greatly do I esteem the important affair
Which has ever on divested you of your power!
But the fallen ministers had the sympathy of Vienna. Count Senfft,
the Austrian envoy at Munich, gave a banquet in their honour. Lola
reported this to Ludwig, and Ludwig gave Senfft his congé.
What had annoyed the Wittelsbach Lovelace more than anything else
about the business was that the memorandum in which von Abel and his
colleagues had expressed their candid opinion of Lola Montez found its
way into the Augsburger Zeitung and a number of Paris journals.
This was regarded by him as a breach of confidence. Enquiries revealed
the fact that von Abel's sister had been surreptitiously shown a copy
of the document, and, not prepared to keep such a tit-bit of gossip to
herself, had disclosed its contents to a reporter. After this, the fat,
so to speak, was in the fire; and nothing that Ludwig could do could
prevent the affair becoming public property. As a result, it formed the
basis of innumerable articles in the press of Europe, and the worst
possible construction was put on it.
The erudite Dr. Döllinger, between whom and Lola Montez no love was
lost, was much upset by the situation and wrote a long letter on the
The existing ministry were fully awake to the encroachments
of the notorious Lola Montez; and in view of the destruction
which menaced both the throne and the country, they secretly
resolved to address a petition to Ludwig I, humbly praying
him to dismiss his favourite, and setting forth the grounds
on which they based their request.
Rumours of this business soon got afloat. People began to
whisper; and one fine day a sister of one of the ministers,
goaded by curiosity, discovered the petition. She imparted
the news in the strictest confidence to her most intimate
friends; and they, in their turn, secretly read the
memorial, with the result that, some time after the
important document had been safely restored to its
hiding-place, its contents appeared, nobody knew how, in the
The panic of the ministers was great; the King's displeasure
was still greater. He suspected treachery, and considered
the publication of such a petition treasonable.
Remonstrances were of no avail; the ministers were
dismissed, and their adherents fled in every direction. I,
who had been nominated a member of the Chamber by the
University, but against my will, had to resign office at the
bidding of the King. His Majesty was greatly incensed, and
meanwhile the excited populace were assembling in crowds
before the house of Lola Montez.
Döllinger was a difficult man to cross. He had doubtsserious
doubtsconcerning a number of matters. Among them was one of the
infallibility of the Pope. What was more, he was daring enough to
express these doubts. The wrath of the Vatican could only be appeased
by ex-communicating him from the Church. He, however, added to his
contumacy by surviving until his ninety-second year.
Appreciating on which side its bread was buttered, the new ministry
had no qualms as to the eligibility of Lola Montez for the honour of a
coronet in the Bavarian peerage. This having been granted her, the next
step was to select a suitable territorial title.
Ludwig ran an exploring finger down the columns of a gazetteer.
There he saw two names, Landshut and Feldberg, that struck him as
suggestive. Combined, they made up Landsfeld. Nothing could be better.
I have it, he said. Countess of Landsfeld, I salute you!
Thereupon the Court archivist was instructed to prepare the
We, Ludwig, King of Bavaria, etc., hereby make public to
all concerned that We have resolved to raise Maria von
Porres and Montez, of noble Spanish descent, to the dignity
of Countess of Landsfeld of this Our kingdom. Whilst we
impart to her the dignity of a Countess, with all the
rights, honours and prerogatives connected therewith, it is
Our desire that she have and enjoy the following escutcheon
on a German four-quartered shield: In the first field, red,
an upright white sword with golden handle; in the second,
blue, a golden-crowned lion rampant; the third, blue, a
silver dolphin; and in the fourth, white, a pale red rose.
This shield shall be surmounted by the coronet of a
Be this notified to all the authorities and to Our subjects
in general, with a view to not only recognising the said
Maria as Countess of Landsfeld, but also to supporting her
in that dignity; and it is Our will that whoever shall act
contrary to these provisions shall be summoned by Our
Attorney-General and there and then be condemned to make
public and private atonement.
For Our confirmation of the above we have affixed Our royal
name to this document and placed on it the seal of Our
Given at Aschaffensberg, this 14th of August, in the 1847th
year after the birth of Christ, our Lord, and in the 22nd
year of Our Government.
This did not miss the eagle eye of Punch, in whose columns
appeared a caustic reference:
The armorial bearings of the new COUNTESS OF LANDSFELD, the
ex-coryphée of Her Majesty's Theatre, have been
but we think they are hardly so appropriate as they might
have been. We have therefore made some slight modifications
of the original, which we hope will prove satisfactory.
The suggested modifications were to substitute a parasol for the
sword, a bulldog for the lion, and a pot of rouge for the rose. Were
such an adjunct of the toilet table then in existence, a lipstick would
probably have been added.
With her title and heraldic honours complete, plus a generous
allowance on which to support them, and a palace in which to live, Lola
Montez cut a very considerable dash in Munich. Two sentries marched up
and down in front of her gate, and two mounted orderlies (instead of
one, as had previously been the case) accompanied her whenever she left
the house in the Barerstrasse.
While by far the most important of them, Ludwig was not by any means
the only competitor for Lola's favours. Men of wealth and positionthe
bearers of high-sounding titleswith politicians and place-hunters,
fluttered round her. It is to her credit that she sent them about their
[Illustration: Command Portrait. In the Gallery of Beauties,
The peculiar relations existing between the King of Bavaria and the
Countess of Landsfeld, remarked an apologist, are not of a coarse or
vulgar character. His Majesty has a highly developed poetic mind, and
thus sees his favourite through his imagination, and regards her with
This found a responsive echo in another quarter, and some sharp raps
on the knuckles were administered to the Bavarian moralists by a Paris
Why do you interfere with the amours of your good Ludwig?
We don't say he should not have observed rather more
discretion or have avoided compromising his dignity. Still,
a monarch, like a simple citizen, is surely free to love
where he pleases. In selecting Lola Montez, the amorous
Ludwig proves that he loves equality and, as a true
democrat, can identify himself with the public. Let him
espouse his servant girl, if he wants to. Personally, we
would rather see the Bavarians excite themselves about their
constitution than about the banishment of a royal favourite.
The King of Bavaria turns his mistress into a Countess; his
subjects refuse to recognise her; and a section of the
students clamour for her head. Happy days of Montespan, of
Pompadour, of Dubarry, of Potemkin, of Orloff, where have
In the summer of 1847 the Paris Courts were occupied with a long
outstanding claim against Lola Montez. This was to the effect that,
when she was appearing at the Porte St. Martin, she had run up a bill
for certain intimate undergarments and had neglected to settle the
account. The result was, she received a solicitor's letter in Munich.
She answered it in the following terms:
September 25, 1847.
As I have never given any orders to Messrs. Hamon and
Company, tailors, rue de Helder, they have no claim on me;
and I am positively compelled to repudiate the bill for
1371 francs which you have the effrontery to demand in the
name of this firm.
Last spring Monsieur Leigh made me a present of a
riding-habit and certain other articles which he ordered for
me, and I consider that it is to him you should now address
Accept, Monsieur, etc.,
COUNTESS DE LANDSFELD.
Not being prepared to accept this view, the Paris firm's next step
was to bring an action for the recovery of the alleged debt. Once more,
Lola repudiated liability, this time on the grounds that the creditors
had kept back some dress material belonging to herself. The defence to
this charge was that, on being informed by their representative that
real ladies could not wear such common stuff, she had said she did not
want it back. The court, however, held that the debt had been
incurred; and, as she considered it beneath her dignity to appear,
either in person or by counsel, judgment for 2,500 francs was given
Count Bernstorff, a not particularly brilliant diplomatist, had an
idea (shared, by the way, with a good many others) that Frederick
William IV, King of Prussia, was at one time under Lola's spell. He was
allowed to think so by reason of a letter that the King had sent him
from Sans Souci in the autumn of 1847:
I am charging you, my dear Count, with a commission, the
performance of which demands a certain degree of that
measure of delicacy which I recognise you to possess. The
commission is somewhat beyond the accepted limits of what is
purely diplomatic in character.... It is a matter of handing
a certain trinket to a certain lady. The trinket is of
little value, but, from causes you will be able to
appreciate, the lady's favour is of very high value to
myself. All depends on the manner in which the gift is
presented. This should be sufficiently flattering to
increase the value of the offering and to cause its
unworthiness to be overlooked. My acquaintance with the
lady, and my respect for her, should be adroitly described
and made the most of, as must also be my desire to be
remembered at her hands.
You will, of course, immediately perceive that I am
alluding to Donna Maria de Dolores de los Montez, Countess
It was not until he turned over the page that the horror-struck
Bernstorff saw that the King was playing a characteristic jest on him;
and he realised that the intended recipient of the gift was his wife,
the Countess von Bernstorff, as a souvenir of my gratitude for the
many agreeable hours passed under your hospitable roof last month.
CHAPTER X. BURSTING OF THE STORM
The beauty of Lola Montez was a lever. As such, it disturbed the
equilibrium of the Cabinet; for the time being, it even checked the
dominion of Rome. But the odds were against her. The Jesuits were still
a power, and would not brook any interference.
Metternich's wife, the Princess Mélanie, who had the family flair
for politics, marked the course of events.
Lola Montes, she wrote, has actually been created Countess of
Landsfeld. She is really a member of the Radical Party.... Rechberg,
who has just arrived from Brazil, was alarmed on his journey at Munich
by the events of which this town is the theatre. The shocking conduct
of Lola Montes will finish by plunging the country into revolution.
This was looking ahead. Still, not very far ahead. The correspondent
of a London paper in the Bavarian capital did not mince his words. The
indignation, he wrote, against the King on account of his scandalous
conduct, has been roused to the highest pitch.... King Ludwig, who
possesses many good qualities, is, unfortunately, a very licentious old
man.... Neither the tears of the Queen, nor the entreaties of his sons,
nor the public's indignation, could influence the old monarch, who has
become the slave of his silly passion and of the caprices of a Spanish
dancer and Parisian lorette.
Once more, Ludwig dropped into verse, and relieved his feelings
about his enemies. This time, however, the verse was blank:
You have driven me from my Paradise,
You have closed it for ever with iron grilles.
You have turned my days into bitterness.
You would even like to make me hate you
Because I have loved too much to please your withered spirits.
The perfume of my spring-time is dissipated,
But my courage still remains.
Youth, always bounding in my dreams, rests there,
Embracing my heart with fresh force!
You who would like to see me covered with shame,
You have committed sins against me and vomited injuries.
Your wicked acts have judged you.
There has never been anything to equal them!
Already the clouds disappear;
The storm passes;
The sky lights up;
I bless the dawn.
Ungrateful worms, creep back to your darkness!
There were repercussions across the Atlantic, where the role played
by Lola Montez in Bavarian circles was arousing considerable interest.
American women saw in it a message of encouragement for the aspirations
they themselves were cherishing. The moral indignation which her
political opponents exhibited, said a leading jurist, was
unfortunately a mere sham. They had not only tolerated, but had
actually patronised, a female who formerly held the equivocal position
which the Countess of Landsfeld recently held, because the former made
herself subservient to the then dominant party.
But, just as Lola had staunch friends in Munich, so had she
pronounced enemies. Conspicuous among them was Johann Görres, a leading
Ultramontane who held the position of professor of history at the
University. He could not say anything strong enough against the King's
mistress, and did all he could to upset her influence with him. As he
had a following, some measure of success attended his efforts. It was
on his death, in January 1848, that matters came to a head. The rival
factions dividing the various students' corps made his funeral the
occasion of a free fight among themselves. The mob joined in, and
clamoured for the dismissal of the Andalusian Woman. A hothead
suggested that she should be driven from the town. The cry was taken
up, and a rush set in towards her house in the Barerstrasse. As there
was an agreeable prospect of loot, half the scum of the city swelled
the mob. Bricks were hurled through the windows; and, until the police
arrived, things began to look ugly.
Lola, as cool as a cucumber, appeared on the balcony, a glass of
champagne in one hand, and a box of chocolates in the other.
I drink to your good healths, she said contemptuously, as she
drained her glass and tossed bon-bons among the crowd.
Not appreciating this gesture, or regarding it as an impertinence,
the temper of the rabble grew threatening. They shouted vulgar insults;
and there was talk of battering in the doors and setting the house on
fire. This might have happened, had not Ludwig himself, who never
lacked personal courage, plunged into the throng and, offering Lola his
arm, escorted her to the Residenz.
The disturbances continued, for tempers had reached fever pitch.
Troops hastily summoned from the nearest barracks patrolled the
streets. A furious crowd assembled in front of the Rathaus; the
burgomaster, fearing for his position, talked of reading the Riot Act;
a number of arrests were made; and it was not until the next afternoon
that the coast was sufficiently clear for Lola to return to the
Barerstrasse, triumphantly escorted by some members of the Alemannia.
When, however, they left her there, they were set upon by detachments
of the Palatia Corps, who still cherished a grudge against them.
Lola's own account of these happenings, and written as if by a
detached onlooker, is picturesque, if somewhat imaginative:
They came with cannons and guns and swords, with the voices
of ten thousand devils, and surrounded her little castle.
Against the entreaties of her friends, she presented herself
before the infuriated mob which demanded her life.... A
thousand guns were pointed at her, and a hundred fat and
apoplectic voices fiercely demanded that she should cause
the repeal of what she had done. In language of great
mildnessfor it was no time to scoldshe answered that it
was impossible for her to accede to such a request; and that
what had been done by her had been done for the good of the
people and the honour of Bavaria.
After this demonstration, there was a calm. But not for long. On
the evening of February 10, a rabble assembled in front of the Palace,
raising cries of: Down with Lola Montez! Down with the King's
strumpet! As the protestors consisted largely of students (whom
Thiersch, the rector, being no disciplinarian, could not keep in
check), Ludwig's response was drastic. He ordered the University to be
shut, and all its members who did not live in Munich to leave the town
within twenty-four hours. This was a tactical blunder, and was in great
measure responsible for the more serious repercussions of the following
month. Apart, too, from other considerations, the edict hit the pockets
of the local tradesmen, since the absence of a couple of thousand
hungry and thirsty customers had an adverse effect on the consumption
of sauerkraut and beer.
As she was still news in Paris, a gossiping columnist suggested
her return there:
Lola Montez laments the Notre-Dame de Lorette district, the
joyous little supper-parties at the Café Anglais, and the
theatrical first nights viewed from stage boxes. Ah, she
must reflect, as she looks upon her coronet trodden
underfoot and hears the sinister murmurs of the Munich mob,
how delightful Paris would be this evening! What a grand
success I would be in the new ballet at the Opera or at a
ball at the Winter Garden! Alas, my poor Lola, your whip is
broken; your prestige is gone; you have lost your talisman.
Do not battle against the jealous Bavarians. Come back to
Paris, instead. If the Porte St. Martin won't have you, you
can always rejoin the corps de ballet at the Opera.
Lola, however, did not accept the invitation. She was virtually a
prisoner in her own house, where, the next afternoon, a furious
gathering assembled, threatening to wreak vengeance on her. Never
lacking a high measure of courage, she appeared on the balcony and told
them to do their worst. They did it and attempted to effect an entrance
by breaking down the door. But for the action of the Alemannia,
rallying to her help, she might have been severely handled.
One of her bodyguard managed to make his way to the nearest barracks
and summon assistance. Thereupon, the bugles rang out the alarm; the
drums beat a warning call. In response, a squadron of Cuirassiers
clattered up the Barerstrasse; sabres rattled; and the rioters fled
Prince Wallerstein, who combined the office of Minister of Public
Worship with that of Treasurer of the Royal Household, leaping into the
breach, harangued the mob; and Prince Vrede, a strong adherent to the
whiff of grapeshot remedy for a disturbance, suggested firing on the
ringleaders. Although the suggestion was not accepted, hundreds of
arrests were made before some semblance of order was restored. But the
rioting was only checked temporarily. A couple of days later it started
afresh. The temper of the troops being upset, Captain Bauer (a young
officer whom Lola had patronised) took it upon himself to give them the
word to charge. Sabres flashed, and there were many broken heads and a
good deal of bloodshed.
The Alemannia, thinking discretion the better part of valour,
barricaded themselves in the restaurant of one Herr Rothmanner, where
they fortified themselves with vast quantities of beer. Becoming
quarrelsome, their leader, Count Hirschberg, drew his sword and was
threatened with arrest by a schutzmannschaft. Thereupon, his comrades
sent word to Lola. She answered the call, and rushed to the house. It
was a characteristic, but mad, gesture, for she was promptly recognised
and pursued by a furious mob. Nobody would give her sanctuary; and the
Swiss Guards on duty there shut the doors of the Austrian Legation in
her face. Thereupon, she fled to the Theatiner Church, where she took
refuge. But she did not stop there long; and, for her own safety, a
military escort arrived to conduct her to the main guard-room. As soon
as the coast was comparatively clear, she was smuggled out by a back
entrance and making her way on foot to the Barerstrasse, hid in the
In the meantime fresh attempts were being made to storm her house.
Suddenly, a figure, dishevelled and bare-headed, appeared on the
threshold and confronted the rioters.
You are behaving like a pack of vulgar blackguards, he exclaimed,
and not like true Bavarians at all. I give you my word, the house is
empty. Leave it in peace.
A gallant gesture, and a last act of homage to the building that had
sheltered the woman he loved. The mob, recognising the speaker,
uncovered instinctively. Heil, unserm König, Heil! they shouted.
A chorus swelled; the troops presented arms.
It is an orgy of ingratitude, said Ludwig, as he watched the
rabble dancing with glee before the house. The Jesuits are
responsible. If my Lola had been called Loyala, she could still have
To Dr. Stahl, Bishop of Wurzburg, who had criticised his conduct, he
addressed himself more strongly. Should a single hair of one I hold
dear to me be injured, he informed that prelate, I shall exhibit no
Palmerston, who stood no nonsense from anybody, wrote a very snappy
letter to Sir John Milbanke, British Minister at Munich:
Pray tell Prince Wallerstein that, if he wishes the British
and Bavarian Governments to be on good terms, he will
abstain from any attempt to interfere with our diplomatic
arrangements, as such attempts on his part are as offensive
as they will be fruitless.
As Ludwig had said, the Barerstrasse nest was empty, for its
occupant had managed to slip out of it and reach Lindeau. From there,
on February 23, she wrote a long letter to a friend in England, giving
a somewhat highly coloured (and not altogether accurate) version of
In the morning, the nobles, with Count A.V[Arco Valley]
and a number of officers, were mixed up with the commonest
people. The Countess P [Preysing] I saw myself, with other
womenI cannot call them ladiesactually at their
Hearing that the entire citywith nobles, officers, and
countesseswere making for my residence, I looked upon
myself as already out of the land of the living. I had all
my windows shuttered, and hid all my jewels; and then,
having a clear conscience and a firm trust in God, calmly
awaited my fate. The ruffians, egged on by a countess and a
baroness, had stones, sticks, axes, and firearms, all to
frighten and kill one poor inoffensive woman! They
positively clamoured for my blood.
I must tell you that all my faithful and devoted servants,
with some others of my real friends, were in the house with
me. I begged them to leave by the garden, but they said,
poor fellows, they would die for me.
... Seeing the eminent danger of my friends, and not
thinking of myself, I ordered my carriage while the
blackguards were endeavouring to break down the gates. My
good George, the coachman, helped me to rush through the
door and we set off at a furious gallop. Many pistol shots
were fired at me, but I was in God's care and avoided the
My escape was most miraculous. At a distance of two hours
from Munich I left my carriage and in Bluthenberg sought the
protection of a brave honest man, by whom I was given
shelter. Presently, some officers galloped up and demanded
me. My benefactor declared I was not there, and his
daughters said my carriage had passed. When they were gone,
his good wife helped me to dress as a peasant girl, and I
rushed out of the house, across fields, ditches, and
forests. Being so well disguised, I resolved to return to
Munich. It was a dreadful spectacle. The Palace blockaded;
buildings plundered; and anarchy in all directions. Seeing
nothing but death if I stopped there, I left for Lindeau,
from whence I am writing to you.
... Count Arco Valley has been distributing money like dirt
to all classes, and the priests have stirred up the mob.
Nobody is safe in Munich. The good, noble King has told
everyone he will never leave me. Of that he is quite
determined. The game is not up. I shall, till death, stick
to the King; but God knows what will happen next.
I forgot to tell you that my enemies have announced in the
German papers that the students are my lovers! They
not credit them with the loyal devotion they have ever had
for the King and myself.
MARIE DE LANDSFELD.
Writing in his diary on March 14, 1848, Frederick Cavendish, a
budding diplomatist, whom Palmerston had appointed as attaché at
There has been the devil of a disturbance in Munich; and
the King's mistress, Lola Montez, has been forced to fly for
her life. She has been the curse of Bavaria, yet the King is
still infatuated with her.
Scarcely diplomatic language. Still, not far from the truth.
A rigorous press censorship was exercised. The Munich papers had to
print what they were told, and nothing else. As a result, an inspired
article appeared in the Allegemeine Zeitung, of Augsburg,
declaring that the Ultramontanes were responsible for the émeute. Herr von Abel, in the opinion of a colleague, Heinrich von
Treitsche, took advantage of the opportunity to espouse a sudden
championship of morals, and made les convenances an excuse for
resigning what had long been to him a dangerous office.
Döllinger himself always declared that he became an Ultramontane
against his will, and that he only joined the Ministry at the earnest
request of von Abel. This was probably true enough, for he was much
happier among his books than among the politicians. With his nose
decidedly out of joint, he relieved his feelings in a lengthy epistle
to his friend, Madame Rio. Years afterwards this letter came into the
hands of Dom Gougaud, O.S.B., who published it in the Irish
Ecclesiastical Record. Among the more important passages were the
Since you left M[unich] the impudence of L[ola] M[ontez] and
the infatuation of her admirers have been constantly
increasing. Our Members of Parliament, which have been
convocated to an extraordinary session on account of a
railway loan, did not dare, or did not deem it expedient, to
interfere. The only thing that was done, but without
producing any effect in high quarters, was that the Chamber
of Deputies unanimously voted a protestation against the
deposition of the professors. Then came the change of
Ministers. Prince Wallerstein, who is a sort of Bavarian
Thiers, selfish and unprincipled, only bent upon maintaining
himself in the possession of the portefeuille, which is
the glorious end that in his estimation sanctifies the
meansthis man of unscrupulous memory came in again,
together with an obscure individual, a mere creature of
L[ola] M[ontez], M. Berks.
[Illustration: King of Bavaria. Ludwig the Lover]
... Meanwhile the crisis was brought about by the students
of the University. L[ola] M[ontez] had succeeded in seducing
a few of these, who, finding themselves immediately shunned
and rejected by their fellow-students, formed a separate
society or club, calling itself Alemannia, which from
beginning was publicly understood to be distinguished by
the King's special favour and protection. In the course of
two or three months they rose to the number of nineteen or
twenty, easily recognised by the red caps and ribbons they
wore. For L[ola] M[ontez] they formed a sort of male harem,
and the particulars which have since transpired, and which,
of course, I must not pollute your ears with, leave no doubt
that she is a second Messalina.
The indignation of the students, who felt all this as a
degradation of the University and an affront cast upon their
character, was general. The Alemanni were treated as
outcasts, whose very presence was pollution.
... L[ola] M[ontez] had already been heard threatening that
if the students continued to show themselves hostile to her
favourites she would have the University closed. At last, on
the 10th February, a royal mandate came forth, declaring the
University to be suspended for the entire year.
Next morning it was evident that a decisive crisis was
coming on; the students paraded in procession through the
streets, when, suddenly, the gendarmerie, commanded by
of L. M.'s favourites, made an attack upon them and wounded
two of them. This, of course, served only to kindle the
flames of general indignation. The citizens threatened to
appear in arms, and the people made preparations for
storming the house of L[ola] M[ontez].
Towards 8 o'clock in the morning of the 11th, the appalling
intelligence was communicated to the K[ing] that L. M.'s
life was in imminent danger. Meanwhile several members of
the royal family had tried to make an impression on the K.'s
mind. When his own tools, who, up to that moment, had been
pushing him on, told him that L.'s life was in jeopardy, and
that the regiments refused to fight, he began to yield. But
even then his behaviour left no doubt that the personal
safety of L[ola] M[ontez] was his paramount motive. He
himself ran to her house, which the mob had begun to pluck
down; regardless of all royal dignity, he exposed his person
to all the humiliation which the intercourse with an
infuriated mob might subject him to.... Certainly, that day
was the most disgraceful royalty has yet had in Bavaria.
... You will find it natural that the first announcement of
L.M.'s forced departure begot universal exultation. In the
streets one met only smiling countenances; new hopes were
kindled. People wished, and therefore believed, that the
K[ing] having at last become aware of the true state of the
nation's mind, had made a noble sacrifice. A few days were
sufficient to undeceive them. The K.'s mind was in a sort of
fearful excitement, alternating between fits of depression
and thoughts of vengeance.... It is impossible to foresee
what things will lead to, and where the persecution is to
stop. The opinion gains credit that his intention is to
bring L[ola] M[ontez] back. Evidently he is acting, not only
from a thirst for vengeance, but also under the fatal
influence of an irresistible and sinister passion for that
A few days later, Ludwig, to test public opinion, went to the Opera.
I have lost my taste for spectacles, he said to his companion,
but I wish to see if I am still King in the hearts of the people I
He was not long in doubt, for the moment he entered his box the
audience stood up and cheered him vigorously. This was enough; and,
without waiting for the curtain to rise, he returned to the Palace.
After all, my subjects still trust me, he said. I was sure of
There was another display of loyalty elsewhere. The Munich garrison,
under Ludwig's second son, Prince Luitpold, took a fresh oath en
masse, swearing fidelity to the new constitution. It was, however,
a little late in the day. Things had gone too far; and Lola, who had
merely gone a few leagues from the capital, had not gone far enough.
That was the trouble. She was still able to pull strings, and to make
her influence felt in various directions. Nor would she show the white
feather or succumb to the threats of rowdies.
It was from Lindeau that, disguised as a boy (then a somewhat more
difficult job than now), Lola, greatly daring, ventured back to the
arms of Ludwig. But she only stopped with him a couple of hours, for
she had been followed, and was still being hunted by the rabble of the
town. Before, however, resuming her journey, she endeavoured to get
into touch with her faithful Alemannia. I beg you, she wrote
to the proprietor of the café they frequented, to tell me where Herr
Peissner has gone. The landlord, fearing reprisals, withheld the
knowledge. If he had given it, he would probably have had his premises
wrecked. Safety first!
In this juncture, Ludwig, acting like a mental deficient, announced
that there was only one adequate explanation for Lola's conduct. This
was that she was possessed of an evil spirit which had to be
exorcised before things should get worse. Lending a ready ear to every
quack in Bavaria, he sent her under escort to Weinsberg, to the clinic
of a Dr. Justinus Kerner, who had established himself there as a
You are to drive the devil out of her, were the instructions given
Fearing that his spells and incantations might, after all, not prove
effective, and thus convict him for a charlatan, the man of science
felt uneasy. Still, an order was an order, especially when it came from
a King, and he promised to do his best. On the day that his patient
arrived, he wrote to his married daughter, Emma Niendorf. A free
translation of this letter, which is given in full by Dr. von Tim Klein
(in his Der Vorkamfdeutscher Einheit und Freiheit), would read:
Yesterday there arrived here Lola Montez; and, until further
instructions come from Munich, I am detaining her in my
tower, where guard is being kept by three of the
Alemannia. That the King should have selected me of all
people to send her to is most annoying. But he was assured
that she was possessed of a devil, and that the devil in her
could be driven out by me at Weinsberg. Still, the case is
one of interest.
As a preliminary to my magneto-magic treatment, I am
beginning by subjecting her to a fasting-cure. This means
that every day all she is to have is a quarter of a wafer
and thirteen drops of raspberry juice.
Sage es aber niemanden! Verbrenne diesen Brief! (But don't
tell anybody about it; burn this letter") was the exorcist's final
To live up to his reputation for wonder-working, the mystic had an
Æolian harp in each of the windows of his house, so arranged that
Ariel-like voices would float through the summer breezes.
It is magic, said the peasants, crossing themselves devoutly when
they heard the sound.
But the harp-obligato proved no more effective than the reduced
dieting and early attempt to popularise slimming. After a couple of
days, accordingly, the regime was varied by the substitution of asses'
milk for the raspberry juice. Much to his annoyance, however, the
specialist had to report to another correspondent, Sophie Schwab, that
his patient was not deriving any real benefit, and that the troublesome
devil had not been dislodged.
As was to be expected, Lola, having a healthy appetite and objecting
to short rations, gave the mesmerist the slip and hurried back to her
Ludwig. After a few words with him, she left for Stahrenberg.
Ludwig sat down and wrote another poem. Appropriately enough, this
was entitled Lamentation.
CHAPTER XI. A FALLEN STAR
Even with Lola Montez out of the way and the University doors
re-opened, it was not a case of all quiet on the Munich front. Far from
it. Berks, the new Minister of the Interior, who had always supported
her, still remained in office; and Lola herself continued from a
distance to pull strings. Some of them were effective.
But Lola Montez, or no Lola Montez, there was in the eyes of his
exasperated subjects more than enough to make them thoroughly
dissatisfied with the Wittelsbach regime, as carried out by Ludwig. The
Cabinet had become very nearly inarticulate; public funds had been
squandered on all sorts of grandiose and unnecessary schemes; and the
clerical element had long been allowed to ride roughshod over the
constitution. Altogether, the Ministry of Dawn, brought into
existence with such a flourish of trumpets after the dismissal of von
Abel and his colleagues, had not proved the anticipated success.
Instead of getting better, things had got worse; and, although it had
not actually been suggested, the idea of substituting the monarchy by a
republic was being discussed in many quarters.
The editor of the Annual Register, abandoning his customary
attitude of an impartial historian, dealt out a sharp rap on the
knuckles to the Royal Troubadour:
The discreditable conduct of the doting old King of Bavaria, in his
open liaison with a wandering actress who had assumed the name
of Lola Montez (but who was in reality the eloped wife of an
Englishman, and whom he had created a Bavarian Countess by the title of
Gräfin de Landsfeld), had thoroughly alienated the hearts of his
As the result of a solemn conclave at the Rathaus, an ultimatum was
delivered by the Cabinet; and Ludwig was informed, without any beating
about the bush, that unless he wanted to plunge the country into
revolution, Lola Montez must leave the kingdom. Ludwig yielded; and
forgetful of, or else deliberately ignoring, the fact that he had once
written a passionate threnody, in which he declared:
And though thou be forsaken by all the world,
Yet, never wilt thou be abandoned by me!
he could find it in his heart to issue a decree expelling her from
To this end, on March 17, he signed two separate Orders in Council.
We, Ludwig, by the Grace of God, King of Bavaria, etc.,
think it necessary to give notice that the Countess of
Landsfeld has ceased to possess the rights of
Since the Countess of Landsfeld does not give up her design
of disturbing the peace of the capital and country, all the
judicial authorities of the kingdom are hereby ordered to
arrest the said Countess wherever she may be discovered.
They are to carry her to the nearest fortress, where she is
to be kept in custody.
Events moved rapidly. A few days later Lola was arrested by Prince
Wallerstein (whom she herself had put into power when his stock had
fallen) and deported, as an undesirable alien, to Switzerland.
Woman-like, she had the last word.
I am leaving Bavaria, she said, but, before very long, your King
will also leave.
Everybody had something to say about the business. Most people had a
lot to say. The wires hummed; and the foreign correspondents in Munich
filled columns with long accounts of the recent disturbances in Munich
and their origin. No two accounts were similar.
The people insisted, says Edward Cayley, in his European
Revolutions of 1848, on the dismissal of the King's mistress. She
was sent away, but, trusting to the King's dotage, she came back,
police or no police.... This was a climax to which the people were
unprepared to submit, not that they were any more virtuous than their
Sovereign. Another publicist, Edward Maurice, puts it a little
differently: In Bavaria the power exercised by Lola Montez over Ludwig
had long been distasteful to the sterner reformers. This was true
enough; but the Müncheners disliked the Jesuits still more, asserting
that it was with them that Lola shared the conscience of the King. The
Liberals were ready for action, and welcomed the opportunity of
As soon as Lola was really out of the country, her Barerstrasse
mansion was searched from attic to cellar by the Munich police. Since,
in order to justify the search, they had to discover something
compromising, they announced that they had discovered proofs that
Lord Palmerston and Mazzini were in active correspondence with the
King's ex-mistress; and that the go-between for the British Foreign
Office was a Jew called Loeb. This individual was an artist who had
been employed to decorate the house. Seized with pangs of remorse, he
is said to have gone to Ludwig and confessed having intercepted Lola's
correspondence with Mazzini and engineered the rioting. He further
declared that large sums of money had been sent her from abroad.
Historians, however, have no knowledge of this; nor was the nature of
the proofs ever revealed.
Lola's villa in the Barerstrasse afterwards became the new home of
the British Legation. It was demolished in 1914; and not even a wall
plaque now marks her one-time occupancy. As for the Residenz Palace
where she dallied with Ludwig, this building is now a museum, and as
such echoes to the tramp of tourists and the snapping of cameras.
Sic transit, etc.
When Lola, hunted from pillar to post, eventually left Munich for
Switzerland, it was in the company of Auguste Papon, who, on the
grounds of moral turpitude, had already been given his
marching-orders. He described himself as a courier. His passport,
however, bore the less exalted description of cook. It was probably
the more correct one. The faithful Fritz Peissner, anxious to be of
service to the woman he loved, and for whom he had already risked his
life, joined her at Constance, together with two other members of the
Alemannia, Count Hirschberg and Lieutenant Nussbaum. But they only
stopped a few days.
Anxious to get into touch with them, Lola wrote to the landlord at
their last address:
2 March, 1848.
In case the students of the Alemannia Society have left your
hotel, I beg you to inform my servant, the bearer of this
letter, where Monsieur Peissner, for whom he has a parcel to
deliver, has gone.
Receive in advance my distinguished sentiments.
COUNTESS OF LANDSFELD.
Lola's first halt in Switzerland (a country she described as that
little Republic which, like a majestic eagle, lies in the midst of the
vultures and cormorants of Europe") was at Geneva. An error of
judgment, for the austere citizens of Calvin's town, setting a somewhat
lofty standard among visitors, were impervious to her blandishments.
They were, she complained, as chilly as their own icicles. At
Berne, however, to which she went next, she had better luck. This was
because she met there an impressionable young Chargé d'affaires
attached to the British Legation, whom she found somewhat younger than
Ludwig, but more than twice as silly. An entente was soon
established. Sometimes riding, and sometimes driving she would appear
in public, accompanied by her youthful adorer.
The official was Robert Peel, a son of the distinguished statesman,
and was afterwards to become third baronet. In a curious little work,
typical of the period, The Black Book of the British Aristocracy, there is an acid allusion to the matter: This bright youth has just
taken under his protection the notorious Lola Montez, and was lately to
be observed walking with her, in true diplomatic style, in the streets
of a Swiss town.
It was about this period that it occurred to a theatrical manager in
London, looking for a novelty, that there was material for a stirring
drama written round the career of Lola Montez. No sooner said than
done; and a hack dramatist, who was kept on the premises, was
commissioned to set to work. Locked up in his garret with a bottle of
brandy, at the end of a week he delivered the script. This being
approved by the management, it was put into rehearsal, and the
hoardings plastered with bills:
THEATRE ROYAL, HAYMARKET | | | | (Under the Patronage of Her Gracious
Majesty The Queen, | | His Royal Highness Prince Albert, and the Élite
of Rank and | | Fashion.) On Wednesday, April 26, 1848, will be
produced a | | New and Original and Apropos Sketch entitled: | | | |
LOLA MONTEZ, or THE COUNTESS FOR AN HOUR. |
An hour. This was about as long as it lasted, for the reception by
the critics was distinctly chilly. We cannot, announced one of them,
applaud the motives that governed the production of a farce
introducing a mock sovereign and his mistress. In our opinion the piece
is extremely objectionable.
The Lord Chamberlain apparently shared this view, for he had the
play withdrawn after the second performance.
Es gibt kein Zurück (There is to be no coming back") had
been Ludwig's last words to her. But Lola did not take the injunction
seriously. According to a letter in the Deutsche Zeitung, she
was back in Munich within a week, travelling under the protection of
Baron Möller, a Russian diplomatist. Entering the Palace
surreptitiously, she extracted a cheque for 50,000 florins from Ludwig.
As it was drawn on Rothschild's bank at Frankfort, she hurried off
there, and returned to Switzerland the same evening, with a bagful of
To convince his readers that he was well behind the scenes, Papon
gives a letter which he asserts was written by Ludwig to a
correspondent some months later:
I wish to know from you if my dear Countess would like her
annuity assured by having it paid into a private bank, or if
she would rather I deposited a million francs with the Bank
of England.... I am already being blamed for giving her too
much. As the revolutionaries seize upon any pretext to
assert themselves, it is important to avoid directing
attention to her just now. Still, I want my dearly loved
Countess to be satisfied. I repeat that the whole world
cannot part me from her.
While he was with her in Switzerland, Papon strung together a
pamphlet: Lola Montez, Mémoires accompagnés de lettres intimes de
S.M. le Roi de Bavière et de Lola Montez, ornés des portraits, sur
originaux donnés par eux à l'auteur, purporting to be written by
their subject. I owe my readers, he makes her say smugly, the exact
truth. They must judge between my enemies and myself. But, in his
character of a Peeping Tom, very little truth was expended by Papon.
Thus, he declares that, during her sojourn in the land of the mountains
and William Tell, she had a series of affaires with a baron, a
muscular artisan, and an intrepid sailor. He also has a story to
the effect that two pure-blooded English ladies, the bearers of
illustrious names, called on her uninvited; and that this circumstance
annoyed her so much that she made her pet monkey attack them.
But Auguste Papon cannot be considered a very reliable authority. A
decidedly odd fish, he claimed to be an ex-officer and also dubbed
himself a marquis. For all his pretensions, however, he was merely a
chevalier d'industrie, living on his wits; and, masquerading as a
priest, he was afterwards convicted of swindling and sent to prison.
A doughty, but anonymous, champion jumped into the breach and issued
a counterblast to Papon's effort in the shape of a second pamphlet,
headed A Reply. But this was not any more remarkable for its accuracy
than the original. Thus, it declares, She [Lola] lived with the King
of Bavaria, a man of eighty-seven. The nature of that intimacy can best
be surmised by reading the second and third verses of the First Book of
Kings, Chapter i. It is evident to any reflecting mind that it was a
sort of King David arrangement. As for the rest of the pamphlet, it
was chiefly taken up with an elaborate argument that, all said and
done, its subject was no worse than other ladies, and much better than
many of them.
Among extracts from this well intentioned effort, the following are
the more important:
A certain Marquis Auguste Papon, a quondam panderer to the
natural desires and affections which are common to the whole
human race, published and circulated throughout Europe a
volume which stamps his own infamy (as we shall have
occasion to show in the course of this reply) in far more
ineffaceable characters than that of those whom, in his
vindictiveness, he gloatingly sought to destroy.
But, before we proceed to dissect his book, it may be
permitted us to ask the impartial reader what there is so
very remarkable in the conduct of the King of Bavaria and
Lola Montez as to distinguish them unfavourably from the
monarchs and women celebrated for their talent, originality,
and beauty who have gone before. Where are Henry IV of
France, Henry V, Louis XIV, and Louis XV, with their
respective mistresses? Who of their people ever presumed to
interfere on the score of morality with the favours and
honours conferred on those distinguished women? Nay, to come
down to a later period, has the Marquis Auguste Papon ever
heard of the loves of Louis XVIII and Madame de Cuyla, and
that after the monarch's restoration in 1814? Is he ignorant
of those of Napoleon himself and Mademoiselle Georges? Have
not almost all the royal family of Englandeven those of
the House of Hanoverbeen notorious for their connection
with celebrated women? Has he never heard of Mrs.
Walkinshaw, ostensible mistress of Charles Edward the
Pretender, of Lucy Barlow, mistress of Charles II, mother of
the Duke of Monmouth? Of Arabella Churchill and Katherine
Sedley, mistresses of James II? Of the Countess of Kendal,
mistress of George II, who was received everywhere in
English society? Or of George IV and the Marchioness of
C? Of the Duke of York and Mary Anne Clark? Of the Duke
of Clarence and the amiable and respected Mrs. J? And
last, not least, of the present King of Hanover and late
Duke of Cumberland, who labours even unto this hour under
suspicion of having murdered his valet Sellis, to conceal
his adultery with his wife? In what differs the King of
Bavaria from these?
[Illustration: Lola Montez in caricature. Lola on the Allemannen
But even to descend lower into the social scale of those who
have occupied the attention of the world without incurring
its marked and impertinent censure, has the Marquis Auguste
Papon ever heard of the beautiful Miss Foote, who, first the
favourite of the celebrated Colonel Berkeley (a natural
brother of the Duke of Devonshire) and secondly of a
personal friend of the writer of this replythe
celebrated Pea Green Haynebecame finally the charming and
amiable Countess of Harrington, one of the sweetest women
that ever were placed at the head of the Stanhope family or
graced a peerage?
Who, that ever once enjoyed the pleasure of knowing this
fairest flower in the parterre of England's aristocracy of
beauty, would, in a spirit of revenge and disappointed
avarice, have had the grossness to insult her as the
Marquis of Paponthe depository of all her secretshas
insulted the Countess of Landsfeld with the loathsome name
of courtesan, because, yielding to the confidence of her
woman's heart, she had been the adored of two previous
lovers? Never did Lord Petersham, afterwards the Earl of
Harrington, take a more sensible course than when he
elevated in a holy and irreproachable lovea love that
strangled scandal in its bloated fullnessthe fascinating
Maria Foote to the position she was made to adorn, being
twin sister in beauty as well as in law to the charming Miss
Green, whose ripe red lips and long dark-lashed blue and
laughing eyes were, before her marriage with Colonel
Stanhope, the admiration and subject of homage of all
London. Should her eye ever rest on this page, she will
perceive that we have not forgotten its power and
To descend still lower in the scale of social life, has the
Marquis Auguste Papon ever heard of the celebrated Madame
Vestris, now Mrs. Mathews? Is he ignorant that her
theatrethe Olympicwas ever a resort of the most
fashionable and aristocratic people of London? Did her moral
life in any way detract from her popularity as a woman of
talent and of beauty, and an artiste of exceeding
fascination and merit? And yet she had more lovers than the
Marquis Auguste Papon can, with all his ingenuity, raise up
in evidence against the remarkable woman he, in his not very
creditable spirit of vengeance, has sworn to destroy.
Let us enumerate those we know to have been the lovers of
Madame Vestris, who, after having passed her youth in all
the variety of enjoyment, at length became the wife of a
man, not without talent himself, and whose father stood
first among the names celebrated in the comic art.
First was a personal friend of the writer of this reply to
the unmanly attack of the Marquis Auguste Papon. And we have
reason to remember it, for the connection of Henry Cole with
the most fascinating woman of her day led to a duel in Hyde
Park, of which that lady was the immediate cause, between
the writer and a British officer who was so ungallant as to
seek to check the enthusiasm created by her scarcely
paralleled acting. To him succeeded Sir John Anstruther, and
after Sir John the celebrated Horace Claggett. In what order
their successors came we do not recollect, but of those who
knew Madame Vestris in all the intimacy of the most tender
friendship were Handsome Jack, Captain Best, Lord Edward
Thynne, and Lord Castlereagh. These things were no secrets
to the thousands who, fascinated by her beauty and the
perfection of her acting, nevertheless thronged the theatre
she was admitted to have conducted with the most amiable
propriety and skill. On the contrary, they were as much
matters of general knowledge among people of the first rank
and fashion as the sun at noon-day. And yet what gentleman
ever presumed to affix to the name of this gifted woman,
whose very disregard of the opinion of those who
hypocritically and sub rosa pursued in nearly
cases out of a hundred the same coursewhat gentleman, we
ask, ever dared to commit himself so far as to term her a
There was a good deal more of it, for the Reply ran to seventy-six
The title-page of this counterblast ran:
A REPLY TO THE PRIVATE HISTORY AND MEMOIRS
THAT CELEBRATED LADY
THE MARQUIS PAPON
FORMERLY SECRETARY TO THE KING OF BAVARIA AND FOR A PERIOD THE
PROFESSED FRIEND AND ATTENDANT of THE COUNTESS OF LANDSFELD
Stet Nomnis UmbraJunius
Bavaria was the key position in the sphere of European politics just
then. Ludwig, however, had dallied with the situation too long. Nothing
that he could do now would save him. Unrest was in the air. All over
Europe the tide of democracy was rising, and fast threatening to engulf
the entrenched positions of the autocrats. Metternich, reading the
portents, was planning to leave a mob-ridden Vienna for the more
tranquil atmosphere of Brighton; Louis Philippe, setting him an
example, had already fled from Paris; and Prince William of Prussia,
shaving off his moustache (and travelling on a false passport), was
hurrying to England while the going was still good. With these examples
to guide them, the Bavarians, tired of soft promises and smooth words,
were clamouring for a fresh hand at the helm. Realising that the choice
lay between this and a republic, Ludwig bowed to the inevitable; and,
with crocodile tears and hypocritical protestations of good faith,
surrendered his sceptre. To give the decision full effect, he issued a
Bavarians! A new condition has arisen. This differs
substantially from the one under which I have governed you
for twenty-three years. Accordingly, I lay down my sceptre
in favour of my beloved son, Prince Maximilian. I have
always governed you with full regard for your welfare. Had I
been a mere clerk, I could not have worked more strenuously;
had I been a Minister of Finance, I could not have devoted
more attention to the requirements of my country. I thank
God that I can look the whole world fearlessly in the face
and there confront the most scrutinising eye. Although I now
relinquish my crown, I can assure you that my heart still
beats as warmly as ever for Bavaria.
March 21, 1848.
Ludwig's signature to this mixture of rigmarole and bombast was
followed by those of his sons, the Princes Maximilian Luitpold,
Adalbert, and Carl. As for Maximilian, the new sovereign, he, rather
than risk being thrown out of the saddle, was prepared to make a clean
sweep of a number of existing grievances. As an earnest of his
intentions, he promised, in the course of a frothy oration, to grant an
amnesty to political prisoners, liberty of the press, the abolition of
certain taxes, the institution of trial by jury, and a long delayed
reform of the franchise.
With the idea, no doubt, of filling the vacancy in his affections
caused by the abrupt departure of Lola Montez, Fräulein Schroder, a
young actress at the Hof Theatre, endeavoured to comfort Ludwig in his
retirement. He, however, was beyond forming any fresh contacts.
My happiness is gone from me, he murmured sadly. I cannot stop in
a capital to which I have long given a father's loving care.
Firm in this resolve, he left Munich for the Riviera and took a
villa among the olives and oranges of Nice. There he turned over a
fresh leaf. But he did not stop writing poetry. Nor did he stop writing
to the woman who was still in his thoughts. One ardent epistle that
followed her into exile ran in this fashion:
Oh, my Lolita! A ray of sunshine at the break of day! A
stream of light in an obscured sky! Hope ever causes chords
long forgotten to resound, and existence becomes once again
pleasant as of yore. Such were the feelings which animated
me during that night of happiness when, thanks to you alone,
everything was sheer joy. Thy spirit lifted up mine out of
sadness; never did an intoxication equal the one I then
Thou hast lost thy gaiety; persecution has stripped you of
it; and has robbed you of your health. The happiness of your
life is already disturbed. But now, and more solidly than
ever, are you attached to me. Nobody will ever be able to
separate us. You have suffered because you love me.
When accounts of what was happening in Bavaria reached England a
well pickled rod was applied to Lola's back:
The sanguinary and destructive conduct of the Munich mob, began a
furious leading article, was caused by the supposed return of
Bavaria's famous strumpet, Lola Montez. This heroine was once familiar
to the eyes of all Paris, and notorious as a courtesan. When she was
invested with a title, the Bavarians shuddered at their degradation. It
was nothing less than an outrage on the part of royalty, never to be
forgotten or forgiven.
The columns of Maga also wielded the rod in vigorous fashion:
The late King, one of the most accomplished of dilettanti,
worst of poets, and silliest of men, had latterly put the
coping-stone to a life of folly by engaging in a most
bare-faced intrigue with the notorious Lola Montez. The
indecency and infatuation of this last liaisonfar
openly conducted than any of his former numerous amourshad
given intense umbrage to the nobility whom he had insulted
by elevating the ci-devant opera-dancer to their ranks.
Yet, with all his faults heavy upon him, Ludwig, none the less, had
his points. Thus, in addition to converting Munich from a second-rate
town to a really important capital, he did much to encourage the
development of art and letters and science and education throughout his
kingdom. Ignaz Döllinger, the theologian, Joseph Görres, the historian,
Jean Paul Richter, the poet, Franz Schwanthaler, the sculptor, and
Wilhelm Thirsch, the philosopher, with Richard Wagner and a host of
others basked in his patronage. When he died, twenty years later, these
facts were remembered and his little slips forgotten. The Müncheners
gave him burial in the Basilica; and an equestrian statue, bearing the
inscription, Just and Persevering, was set up in the Odeon-Platz.
It is the fashion among certain historians to charge Lola Montez
with responsibility for the revolution in Bavaria. But this charge is
not justified. The fact is, the kingdom was ripe for revolution; and
the equilibrium of the government was so unstable that Ludwig would
have lost his crown, whether she was in the country or not.
It is just as well to remember this.
After a few months among them, Lola, tiring of the Swiss cantons,
thought she might as well discover if England, which she had not
visited for six years, could offer any fresh attractions. Accordingly,
resolved to make the experiment, on December 30, 1848, she arrived in
The Satirist, hearing the news, suggested that the managers
of Drury Lane and Covent Garden should engage her as a draw. But she
did not stop in England very long, as she returned to the Continent
almost at once.
In the following spring, she made a second journey to London, and
sailed from Rotterdam. Unknown to her, the passenger list was to have
included another fallen star. This was Metternich, who, with the
riff-raff of Vienna thundering at the doors of his palace, was
preparing to seek sanctuary in England. Thinking, however, that the
times were not altogether propitious, he decided to postpone the
If, he wrote, the Chartist troubles had not prevented me
embarking yesterday at Rotterdam, I should have reached London this
morning in the company of the Countess of Landsfeld. She sailed by the
steamer in which I was to have travelled. I thank heaven for having
preserved me from such contact!
All things considered, it is perhaps just as well that the two
refugees did not cross the Channel together. Had they done so, it is
probable that one of them would have found a watery grave.
Metternich had worsted Napoleon, but he found himself worsted by
Lola Montez. On April 9, he wrote from The Hague:
I have put off my departure for England, because I wished
to know first what was happening in that country as a result
of the Chartists' disturbance. I consider that, for me who
must have absolute rest, it would have been ridiculous to
have arrived in the middle of the agitation.
Louis Napoleon, however, was made of sterner stuff; and it is to his
credit that, as a return for the hospitality extended him, he was sworn
in as a special constable.
CHAPTER XII. A LEFT-HANDED
On arriving in London, and (thanks to the bounty of Ludwig) being
well provided with funds, Lola took a house in Half Moon Street,
Piccadilly. There she established something of a salon, where
she gave a series of evening receptions. They were not, perhaps, up to
the old Barerstrasse standard; still, they brought together a number of
the less important lions, all of whom were only too pleased to accept
Among the hangers-on was Frederick Leveson-Gower, a son of Earl
Granville. He had met the great Rachel in Paris and was ecstatic about
her. Not long after, he says, I got to know another much less gifted
individual, but who having captivated a King, upset two Ministries, and
brought about a revolution in Bavaria, was entitled to be looked upon
as celebrated. This was Lola Montez.
In his character of what is still oddly dubbed a man-about-town,
Serjeant Ballantine was also among those who attended these Half Moon
Street gatherings. His hostess, he says, had certain claims to
celebrity. She was, I believe, of Spanish origin, and certainly
possessed that country's style of beauty, with much dash of manner and
an extremely outré fashion of dress. Another occasional visitor
was George Augustus Sala, a mid-Victorian journalist who was
responsible for printing more slipshod inaccuracies than any two
members of his craft put together. He says that he once contemplated
writing Lola's memoirs. He did not, however, get beyond
contemplating. This, perhaps, was just as well, since he was so
ill-equipped for the task that he imagined she was a sister of Adah
About this time, he says, I made the acquaintance, at a little
cigar shop under the pillars in Norreys Street, Regent Street, of an
extremely handsome lady, originally the wife of a solicitor, but who
had been known in London and Paris as a ballet-dancer under the name of
Lola Montez. When I knew her, she had just escaped from Munich, where
she had been too notorious as Countess of Landsfeld. She had obtained
for a time complete mastery over old King Ludwig of Bavaria; and
something like a revolution had been necessary to induce her to quit
the Bavarian capital.
A ridiculous story spread that Lord Brougham (who had witnessed her
ill-starred début in 1843) wanted to marry her. The fact that there was
already a Lady Brougham in existence did not curb the tongues of the
gossipers. She refused the honourable Lord, says a French journalist,
in a manner that redounded to her credit.
Journalists, anxious for copy, haunted Half Moon Street all day
long. They were never off her doorstep. Town gossip, declared one of
them, is in full swing; and the general public are all agog to catch a
glimpse of the latest 'lioness.' Lola Montez is on every lip and in
everybody's eye. She is causing an even bigger sensation than that
inspired by the Swedish Nightingale, Madame Jenny Lind.
Notwithstanding the ill-success of a former attempt to exploit her
personality behind the footlights, Mrs. Keeley produced a sketch at the
Haymarket written round Lola Montez. This, slung together by Stirling
Coyne, was called: Pas de Fascination. The scene was laid in
Neverask-where; and among the characters were Prince
Dunbrownski, Count Muffenuff, and General von Bolte.
It scarcely sounds rib-rending.
Mrs. Charles Kean, who attended the first performance, described
Pas de Fascination as the most daring play I ever witnessed. Lola
Montez herself took it in good part. She sat in a box, and, when the
curtain fell, threw a magnificent bouquet at the principal actress.
Coals of fire.
Not to be behindhand in offering tit-bits of news, an American
correspondent informed his readers that: During the early part of
1849, Lola Montez, arrayed in the Royal Bavarian jewels, crashed into
one of the Court balls at Buckingham Palace. Needless to remark, he
added, the audacity has not been repeated. From this, it would appear
that the Lord Chamberlain had been aroused from his temporary slumbers.
The Satirist had assured his readers the public will soon be
hearing more of Madame Montez. They did. What they heard was something
quite unexpected. This was that she had made a second experiment in
matrimony, and that her choice had fallen on a Mr. George Heald, a
callow lad of twenty, for whom a commission as Cornet in the Life
Guards had been purchased by his family.
The precise reasons actuating Lola in adopting this step were not
divulged. Several, however, suggested themselves. Perhaps she was
attracted by the Cornet's glittering cuirass and plumed helmet; perhaps
by his substantial income; and perhaps she tired of being a homeless
wanderer, and felt that here at last was a prospect of settling down
and experimenting with domesticity.
When the announcement appeared in print there was much fluttering
among the Mayfair dovecotes. As the bridegroom had an income of
approximately £10,000 a year, the débutanteschagrined to discover
that such an eligible had been snatched from their graspfelt
inclined to call an indignation meeting.
Preposterous, they said, that such a woman should have snapped
him up! Something ought to be done about it.
But, for the moment, nothing was done about it, and the knot was
tied on July 14. Lola saw that the knot should be a double one; and the
ceremony took place, first, at the French Catholic Chapel in King
Street, and afterwards at St. George's, Hanover Square.
[Illustration: Berrymead Priory, Acton, where Lola Montez lived
with Cornet Heald]
A press representative, happening to be among the congregation,
rushed off to Grub Street. There he was rewarded with a welcome five
shillings by his editor, who, in high glee at securing such a piece of
news before any other journal, had a characteristic paragraph on the
Lola Montez, Countess of Landsfeld, the ex-danseuse and
ex-favourite of the imbecile old King of Bavaria, is, we are
able to inform our readers, at last married legitimately.
On dit that her young husband, Mr. George Trafford
has been dragged into the match somewhat hurriedly. It will
be curious to mark the progress of the Countess in this
novel position. A sudden change from a career of furious
excitement to one in which prudence and a regard for the
rules of good society are the very opposite to those
observed by loose foreigners must prove a trial to her.
Whipping commissaries of police, and setting ferocious dogs
at inoffensive civilians, may do very well for Munich. In
England, however, we are scarcely prepared for these
activities, even if they be deemed the privilege of a
Disraeli, who had a hearty appetite for all the tit-bits of gossip
discussed in Mayfair drawing-rooms, heard of the match and mentioned it
in a letter to his sister, Sarah:
The Lola Montez marriage makes a sensation. I believe he
[Heald] has only £3,000 per annum, not £13,000. It was an
affair of a few days. She sent to ask the refusal of his
dog, which she understood was for saleof course it wasn't,
being very beautiful. But he sent it as a present. She
rejoined; he called; and they were married in a week. He is
only twenty-one, and wished to be distinguished. Their
dinner invitations are already out, I am told. She quite
convinced him previously that she was not Mrs. James; and,
as for the King of Bavaria, who, by the by, allows her £1500
a year, and to whom she writes every daythat was only a
Apropos of this union, a popular riddle went the round of the clubs:
Why does a certain young officer of the Life Guards resemble a much
mended pair of shoes? The answer was, Because he has been heeled
[Heald] and soled [sold].
The honeymoon was spent at Berrymead Priory, a house that the
bridegroom owned at Acton. This was a substantial Gothic building, with
several acres of well timbered ground and gardens. Some distance,
perhaps, from the Cornet's barracks. Still, one imagines he did not
take his military duties very seriously; and leave of absence on
urgent private affairs was, no doubt, granted in liberal fashion.
Also, he possessed a phæton, in which, with a spanking chestnut between
the shafts, the miles would soon be covered.
The Priory had a history stretching back to the far off days of
Henry III, when it belonged to the Chapter of St. Paul's Cathedral.
Henry VII, in high-handed fashion, presented it to the Earl of Bedford;
and a subsequent occupant was the notorious Elizabeth Chudleigh, the
bigamous spouse of the Duke of Kingston. Another light lady, Nancy
Dawson, is also said to have lived there as its châtelaine, under the
protection of the Duke of Newcastle.
At the beginning of the last century the property was acquired by a
Colonel Clutton. He was followed by Edward Bulwer, afterwards Lord
Lytton, who lived there on and off (chiefly off) with his wife, until
their separation in 1836. On one occasion he gave a dinner-party, among
the guests being John Forster, to meet Miss Landon, Fontblanque, and
Hayward. To the invitation was added the warning, We dine at
half-past five, to allow time for return, and regret much having no
spare beds as yet. A spare bed, however, was available for Lord
Beaconsfield, when he dined there in the following year.
On the departure of Bulwer, the house had a succession of tenants;
and for a short period it even sheltered a bevy of Nuns of the Sacred
Heart. It was when they left that the estate was purchased by Mr.
George Heald, a barrister with a flourishing practice. He left it to
his booby son, the Cornet: and it was thus that Lola Montez established
her connection with Berrymead Priory.
While the original house still stands, the garden in which it stood
has gone; and the building itself now serves as the premises of the
Acton Constitutional Club. But the committee have been careful to
preserve some evidence of Cornet Heald's occupancy. Thus, his crest and
family motto, Nemo sibi Nascitur, are let into the mosaic
flooring of the hall, and the drawing-room ceiling is embellished with
his initials picked out in gold.
Prejudice, perhaps, but unions between the sons of Mars and the
daughters of Terpsichore were in those days frowned upon by the
military big-wigs at the Horse Guards. Hence, it was not long before an
inspired note on the subject of this one appeared in the Standard
We learn from undoubted authority that, immediately on the
marriage of Lieutenant Heald with the Countess of Landsfeld,
the Marquess of Londonderry, Colonel of the 2nd Life Guards,
took the most decisive steps to recommend to Her Majesty
that this officer's resignation of his commission should be
insisted on; and that he should at once leave the regiment,
which this unfortunate and extraordinary act might possibly
Her Majesty, having consulted the Prince Consort and the Duke of
Wellington, shared this view. Instead, however, of being summarily
gazetted out, the love-sick young warrior was permitted to send in
Thinking that he had acted precipitately in resigning, Cornet Heald
(egged on, doubtless, by Lola) endeavoured to get his resignation
cancelled. The authorities, however, were adamant. Much curiosity,
says a journalistic comment, has been aroused among the Household
Troops by the efforts of this officer to regain his commission after
having voluntarily relinquished it. Notwithstanding his youth and the
fact that he had given way to a sudden impulse, Lord Londonderry was
positively inflexible. Yet the influence and eloquence of a certain
ex-Chancellor, well known to the bride, was brought to bear on him.
The certain ex-Chancellor was none other than Lord Brougham.
Much criticism followed in other circles. Everybody had an opinion
to advance. Most of them were far from complimentary, and there were
allusions by the dozen to licentious soldiery and gilded popinjays.
The rigid editor of The Black Book of the British Aristocracy
was particularly indignant. The Army, he declared, in a fierce
outburst, is the especial favourite of the aristocratic section. Any
brainless young puppy with a commission is free to lounge away his time
in dandyism and embryo moustaches at the public expense.
The Satirist, living up to its name, also had its customary
Of course, the gallant Colonel of the Household Troops could
not do less. That distinguished corps is immaculate; and no
breath of wind must come between it and its propriety. There
is but one black sheep in the 2nd Life Guards, and that, in
the eyes of the coal black colonel (him of the collieries),
is the soft, enchanted, and enchained Mr. Heald. Poor Heald!
Indignant Londonderry! How subservient, in truth, must be
the lean subaltern to his fat colonel.
A Sunday organ followed suit. What, it demanded, may be the
precise article of the military code against which Mr. Heald is thought
to have offended? One could scarcely have supposed that officers in Her
Majesty's service were living under such a despotism that they should
be compelled to solicit permission to get married, or their colonel's
approbation of their choice.
In addition to thus disapproving of marriages between his officers
and ladies of the stage, Lord Londonderry (a veteran of fifty-five
years' service) disapproved with equal vigour of tobacco. What, he
once wrote to Lord Combermere, are the Gold Sticks to do with that
sink of smoking, the Horse Guards' guard and mess-rooms? Whenever I
have visited them, I have found them worse than any pot-house,
and this actually opposite the Adjutant-General's and under his Grace's
The example set by Cornet Heald seems to have been catching.
Another young officer of this regiment, announced the Globe,
has just run off with a frail lady belonging to the Theatre and
actually married her at Brighton. He, too, was required to send in
Besides losing his commission, Cornet Heald had, in his marriage,
all unwittingly laid up a peck of fresh trouble for himself. This was
brought to a head by the action of his spinster aunt, Miss Susannah
Heald, who, until he came of age, had been his guardian. Suspecting
Lola of a past, she set herself to pry into it. Gathering that her
nephew's inamorata had already been married, she employed enquiry
agents to look into this previous union and discover just how and when
it had been dissolved. They did their work well, and reported that the
divorce decree of seven years earlier had not been made absolute, and
that Lola's first husband, Captain James, was still alive. Armed with
this knowledge, Miss Heald hurried off to the authorities, and, having
laid an information, had Lola Montez arrested for bigamy.
The case was heard at Marlborough Street police court, with Mr.
Bingham sitting as Magistrate. Mr. Clarkson conducted the prosecution,
and Mr. Bodkin appeared for the defence.
The proceedings of a London police court, declared John Bull, have seldom presented a case more fruitful of matter for public
gossip than was exhibited in the investigation at Marlborough Street,
where the mediated wife of a British officer (and one invested with the
distinction of Royal favouritism) answered a charge of imputed
bigamy.... It will readily be inferred that we allude to that
extraordinary personage known as Lola Montez, alias the Countess
Lola had, as the theatrical world would put it, dressed for the
part. She had probably rehearsed it, too. She wore, we learn, a black
silk costume, under a velvet jacket, and a plain white straw bonnet
trimmed with blue ribbons. As became a countess, she was not required
to sit in the dock, but was given a chair in front of it. There, said
a reporter, she appeared quite unembarrassed, and smiled frequently as
she made a remark to her husband. She was described on the charge sheet
as being twenty-four years of age, but in our opinion she has the look
of a woman of at least thirty.
In figure, added a second occupant of the press box, madam is
rather plump, and of middle height, with pale complexion, unusually
large blue eyes and long black lashes. Her reputed husband, Mr. Heald,
is a tall young man of boyish aspect, fair hair and small brown
moustachios and whiskers. During the whole of the proceedings he sat
with the Countess's hand clasped in his, occasionally giving it a
fervent squeeze, and murmuring fondly in her ear.
All being ready, Mr. Clarkson opened the case for the prosecution.
The offence imputed to the lady at the bar, he said, is
that, well knowing her husband, Captain Thomas James, was
still alive, she contracted another marriage with this young
gentleman, Mr. George Trafford Heald. If this be
established, serious consequences must follow, as I shall
prove that the Ecclesiastical Court merely granted a decree
a mensa et thoro. He then put in a copy of this
and pointed out that, by its provisions, neither party was
free to re-marry during the lifetime of the other. Counsel
also submitted an extract from the register of the Hanover
Square church, showing that, on July 19, the defendant had,
under the name of Maria Torres de Landsfeld, gone through
a ceremony of marriage with Cornet Heald.
Police-sergeant Gray, who had executed the warrant, described the
When I told her she must come along with me, the lady up and said:
'This is all rubbish. I was properly divorced from Captain James by Act
of Parliament. Lord Brougham was present when the divorce was granted.
I don't know if Captain James is still alive or not, and I don't care a
little bit. I was married to him in the wrong name, and that made the
whole thing illegal.'
Did she say anything else? enquired the magistrate.
Yes, Your Worship, returned the sergeant, consulting his
note-book. She said: 'What on earth will the Royal Family say when
they hear of this? There's bound to be the devil of a fuss.'
Laughter in Court! chronicled the pressmen.
And what did you say to that? enquired Mr. Bingham.
I said that anything she said would be taken down by myself and
used in evidence against her, was the glib response.
The execution of the warrant would appear to have been carried out
in dramatic fashion.
Having evidently got wind of what was awaiting her, Lola and the
Cornet had packed their luggage and arranged to leave England. Just as
they were stepping into their carriage, Miss Susannah Heald and her
solicitor, accompanied by a couple of police officers, drove up in a
cab to Half Moon Street. When the latter announced that they had a
warrant for her arrest, there was something of a scene. The Countess,
declared an imaginative reporter (who must have been hovering on the
doorstep), exhibited all the appearance of excessive passion. She used
very strong language, pushed the elderly Miss Heald aside, and bustled
her husband in vigorous fashion. However, she soon cooled down, and, on
being escorted to Vine Street police station, where the charge of
bigamy was booked, she graciously apologised for any trouble she had
given the representatives of the law. She then begged permission to
light a cigar, and suggested that the constables on duty there should
join her in a social whiff.
Miss Susannah Heald, described as an aged lady, deposed that she
was Cornet Heald's aunt, and that she had been appointed his guardian
during his minority, which had only just expired. She was bringing the
action, she insisted, from a sense of duty.
Another witness was Captain Charles Ingram, a mariner in the service
of the East India Company. He identified the accused as the Mrs. James
who had sailed in a ship under his command from Calcutta to London in
the year 1842.
While an official return, prepared by the military authorities,
showed Captain James to have been alive on June 13, there was none to
show that he was still in the land of the living on July 19, the date
of the alleged bigamous marriage. The prosecution affected to consider
this point unimportant. The magistrate, however (on whom Lola's bright
eyes had done their work), did not agree.
The point, he said, is, to my mind, very important. During the
interval that elapsed between these two dates many things may have
happened which would render this second marriage quite legal. It is
possible, for instance, that Captain James may have been snatched from
this world to another one by any of those numerous casualtiessuch as
wounds in action or cholerathat are apt to befall members of the
military profession serving in a tropical climate. What do you say to
that, Mr. Clarkson?
Mr. Clarkson had nothing to say. Mr. Bodkin, however, when it came
to his turn, had a good deal to say. The charge against his client was,
he declared, in all his professional experience, absolutely
unparalleled. Neither the first nor the second husband, he pointed
out, had advanced any complaint; and the offence, if any, had been
committed under circumstances that fully justified it. He did not wish
to hint at improper motives on the part of Miss Heald, but it was
clear, he protested, that her attitude was governed by private, and not
by public, ends. None the less, he concluded, I am willing to admit
that enough has been put before the Court to justify further enquiry.
Such an admission was a slip which even the very rawest of counsel
should have avoided. It forced the hand of the magistrate.
I am asked, he said, to act on a presumption of guilt. As proof
of guilt is wanting, I am reluctant to act on such presumption, even to
the extent of granting a remand, unless the prosecution can assure me
that more evidence will be offered at another hearing. Since, however,
the defendant's own advocate has voluntarily admitted that there is
ground for further enquiry, I am compelled to order a remand. But the
accused will be released from custody on providing two sureties of £500
each, and herself in one of £1000.
The adjourned proceedings began a week later, and were heard by
another magistrate, Mr. Hardwick. This time, however, there was no
defendant, for, on her name being called by the usher, Mr. Bodkin
pulled a long face and announced that his client had left England. I
cannot, he said, offer any reason for her absence. Still, he had a
suggestion. It is possible, he said, that she has gone abroad for
the benefit of her health. The question of estreating the
recognizances then arose. While not prepared to abandon them
altogether, counsel for the prosecution was sufficiently generous to
say that so far as he was concerned no objection would be offered to
When, after two more adjournments, the defendant still failed to
surrender to her bail, the magistrate and counsel for the prosecution
altered their tone.
Your Worship, said Mr. Clarkson, it has come to my knowledge that
the person whose real name is Mrs. James, and who is charged with the
felonious crime of bigamy, is now some hundreds of miles beyond your
jurisdiction, and does not mean to appear. Accordingly, on behalf of
the highly respectable Miss Heald, I now ask that the recognizances be
forfeited. My client has been actuated all through by none but the
purest motives, her one object being to remove the only son of a
beloved brother from a marriage that was as illegal as it was
disgraceful. If we secure evidence from India that Captain James is
still alive, we shall then adopt the necessary steps to remove this
deluded lad from the fangs of this scheming woman.
Let the recognizances be estreated, was the magisterial comment.
Sensation! scribbled the reporters.
Serjeant Ballantine, who liked to have a hand in all causes
célèbres, declares that he was consulted by Lola's solicitors, with
a view to undertaking her defence. If so, he would seem to have read
his instructions very casually, since he adds: I forget whether the
prosecution was ultimately dropped, or whether she left England before
any result was arrived at. My impression is that the charge could not
have been substantiated.
Ignoring the fact that the case was still sub judice, the
Observer offered its readers some severe comments:
The Helen of the age is most assuredly Lola Montez, alias
Betsy James, alias the Gräfin von Lansfelt, alias
Heald. As far as can be gathered from her dark history, her
first public act was alleged adultery, as her last is
alleged bigamy.... The evidence produced before the
Consistory Court is of the most clear and convincing nature,
and proves that the character of this lady (whose fame has
become so disgustingly notorious) has been from an early
date that of a mere wanton, alike unmindful of the sacred
ties of matrimony and utterly careless of the opinion of the
world upon morality or religion.
[Illustration: Lola Montez in London. Aged thirty
(Engraved by Auguste Hüssner)]
By the way, during the police court proceedings, fresh light on the
subject of Lola's parentage was furnished by an odd entry in an Irish
Lola Montez, Countess of Landsfeld, is the daughter of a
Cork lady. Her mother was at one time employed as a member
of a millinery establishment in this city; and was married
here to Lieutenant Gilbert, an officer in the army. Soon
after the marriage, he sailed with his wife and child to
join his regiment in India. At the end of last year, Lola's
mother, who is now in delicate health, visited her sister in
Thanks to the bright eyes of Lola (or perhaps to the musical jingle
of the Cornet's cash bags), a very loose watch was kept on the pair.
Hence the reason why the Countess of Landsfeld (as she still insisted
on being called) had not kept her second appointment at Marlborough
Street was because, together with the dashing ex-Life Guardsman, she
had left England early that morning. Travelling as Mr. and Mrs. Heald,
the pair went, first, to Paris, and then to Italy.
A British tourist who happened to be in Naples wrote to The Times, giving an account of a glimpse he had of them. According to him, the
couple, a youthful bridegroom and a fair lady, accompanied by a
courier, a femme de chambre, and a carriage, took rooms at the
Hotel Vittoria. After one night there, they left the next morning,
hiring a special steamer, at a cost of £400, to take them to
Marseilles. The hurried departure was said to be due to a lawyer's
letters that was waiting for the bridegroom at his banker's. I am
told, adds the correspondent, that Mr. and Mrs. Heald were bound on
an excursion to the Pyramids; and that, when the little business for
which the lady is wanted at home has been settled, they mean to
prosecute their intention. Pray, sir, help Mrs. Heald out of her
present affliction. Is this the first time that a lady has had two
husbands? And is she not bound for the East, where every man has four
The booby Cornet, with his ideas limited to fox-hunting and a study
of Ruff's Guide, was no mate for a brilliant woman like Lola.
Hence disagreements soon manifested themselves. A specially serious one
would seem to have arisen at Barcelona, for, says a letter from a
mutual acquaintance, the Countess and her husband had a warm
discussion, which ended in an attempt by her to stab him. Mr. Heald,
objecting to such a display of conjugal affection, promptly quitted the
Further particulars were supplied by another correspondent: I saw
Mr. Heald, says this authority. He is a tall, thin young man, with a
fair complexion, and often uses rouge to hide his pallor. Many pity him
for what has happened. Others, however, pity the lovely Lola. Before he
left this district, Mr. Heald called on the English Consul. 'I have
come,' he said,'to ask your advice. Some of my friends here suggest
that I should leave my wife. What ought I to do about it? If I stop
with her, I am afraid of being assassinated or poisoned.' He then
exhibited a garment covered with blood. The Consul replied: 'I am
positively astonished that, after the attack of which you speak, you
did not complain to the police, and that you have since lived with your
wife on terms of intimacy. If you want to abandon her, you must do as
you think best. I cannot advise you.'
H.B.M. Consul, however, did stretch a point, since he (perhaps
fearing further bloodshed) offered to viser the applicant's
passport for any other country. Thereupon, Mr. Heald betook himself to
Mataro. But, becoming conscience-smitten, he promptly sat down and
wrote an apologetic letter to the lady he left behind him, begging her
forgiveness. If you should ever have reason to complain of me again,
he said, this letter will always act as a talisman.
Apparently it had the effect, for Lola returned to her penitent
The Barcelona correspondent of L'Assemblée Nationale managed
to interview the Cornet.
He says, announced this authority, that others persuaded him to
depart, against his real wishes. On rejoining him, Mrs. Heald was most
indignant. Her eyes positively flashed fire; and, if she should chance
to encounter the men who took her husband from her, I quite tremble to
think what will happen!
Something obviously did happen, for, according to de Mirecourt,
during their sojourn in Sunny Spain, the admirable English husband
made his wife the gratified mother of two beautiful offspring.
Parenthood, however, would appear to have had an odd effect upon this
couple, for, continues de Mirecourt: Mais, en dépit de ces gages
d'amour, leur bonheur est troublé par des querelles intestines.
It was from Spain that, having adjusted their differences
temporarily, the couple went back to Paris. As a peace offering, a
rising young artist, Claudius Jacquand, was commissioned to paint both
their portraits on a single canvas. During, however, another domestic
rupture, Heald demanded that Lola's features should be painted out. I
want nothing, he said, to remind me of that woman. Unfortunately,
Lola had just made a similar demand where the Cornet was concerned.
Jacquand was a man of talent, but he could not do impossibilities.
Thereupon, Lola, breathing fire and fury, took the canvas away and hung
it with its back to the front in her bedroom. To allow my husband to
watch me always would, she said, be indelicate!
There is a theory that, within the next twelve months, the
ill-assorted union was dissolved by Heald getting upset in a
rowing-boat and drowned in Lisbon harbour. The theory, however, is a
little difficult to reconcile with the fact that, on the close of the
Great Exhibition at the end of 1851, he attended an auction of the
effects, where he bought a parquet floor and had it laid down in his
drawing-room at Berrymead Priory. After this he had a number of
structural alterations added; fitted the windows with some stained
glass, bearing his crest and initials; and, finally, did not give up
the lease until 1855. Pretty good work, this, for a man said to have
met with a watery grave six years earlier.
As a matter of strict fact, Cornet Heald was not drowned, either at
Lisbon or anywhere else. He died in his bed at Folkestone, in 1856. The
medical certificate attributed the cause of death to consumption. In
the Gentleman's Magazine, however, the diagnosis was different,
viz., broken heart.
All things pass. In 1859 the executors of the dashing Cornet sold
the Berrymead property for £7000, to be repurchased soon afterwards for
£23,000 by a land-development company. The house now serves as the
premises of the Priory Constitutional Club, Acton. A certain amount of
evidence of Cornet Heald's one-time occupancy still exists. Thus his
crest and motto, Nemo sibi Nascitur, are let into the mosaic
flooring of the hall, and the drawing-room ceiling is embellished with
his initials picked out in gold.
CHAPTER XIII. ODYSSEY
Notwithstanding the tie of alleged parenthood, domestic relations
between them did not improve, and the couple soon parted. The knowledge
that she was still wanted there kept Lola out of England. Instead,
she went to Paris, where such unpleasantnesses as warrants could not
touch her. There she was given a warm welcome, by old friends and new.
During this visit to Paris an unaccustomed set-back was experienced.
She received it from Émile de Girardin, of whom she endeavoured to make
a conquest. But this wild-eyed, pale-faced man of letters, as she
called him, would have none of her. Perhaps he remembered what had
As was to be expected, the coming among them of Lola Montez
attracted the attention of the courrierists, who earned many
welcome francs by filling columns with details of her career. What they
did not know about it they invented. They knew very little. Thus, one
such article (appropriately signed Fantasio") read as follows:
Madame Lola Montez, who is now happily returned to us, is
the legitimate spouse of Sir Thomas James, an officer of the
English Army. Milord Sir James loved to drink and the
beautiful Lola loved to flirt. A wealthy Prince of Kabul was
willing to possess her for her weight in gold and gems. Up
till now, her principal love affairs have been with Don
Enriquez, a Spaniard, Brûle-Tout, a well-developed French
mariner, and John, a phlegmatic Englishman. One day Sir
James bet that he could drink three bottles of brandy in
twenty minutes. While he was thus occupied, the amorous Lola
made love to three separate gallants.
It will doubtless, added a second, be gratifying to her
pride to queen it again in Paris, where she was once hissed
off the stage. There she will at any rate now be received at
the Bavarian Embassy, and exhibit the Order of Maria
Theresa. She was invested with this to the considerable
scandal of the Munich nobility, who cannot swallow the idea
of such a distinction being bestowed on a dancer.
This sort of thing and a great deal more in a similar strain, was
accepted as gospel by its readers. But for those who wished her ill,
any lie was acceptable. Thus, although there was not a scrap of
evidence to connect her with the incident, a paragraph, headed Lola
Again? was published in the London papers:
Yesterday afternoon an extraordinary scene was witnessed by
the promenaders in the Champs Elysées. Two fashionably
attired ladies, driving in an elegant equipage, were heard
to be employing language that was anything but refined. From
words to blows, for suddenly they began to assault one
another with vigorous smacks. The toilettes and faces of the
fair contestants were soon damaged; and, loud cries of
distress being uttered, the carriage was stopped, and,
attracted by the fracas, some gentlemen hurried to render
assistance. As a result of their interference, one of the
damsels was expelled from the vehicle, and the other ordered
the coachman to drive her to her hotel. This second lady is
familiar to the public by reason of her adventures in
Albert Vandam, a singularly objectionable type of journalist, who
professed to be on intimate terms with everybody in Paris worth
knowing, has a number of offensive and unjustifiable allusions to Lola
Montez at this period of her career. He talks of her consummate
impudence, of her pot-house wit, and of her grammatical errors,
and dubs her, among other things, this almost illiterate schemer.
Lola Montez, says the egregious Vandam, could not make friends.
He was wrong. This was just what she could do. She made many staunch
and warm-hearted friends. It was because she snubbed him on account of
his pushfulness that Vandam elected to belittle her.
Lola Montez chose her friends for their disposition, not for their
virtue. One of them was George Sand, the possessor of the largest mind
and the smallest foot in Paris. She also became intimate with
Alphonsine Plessis, and constantly visited the future Lady of the
Camelias in her appartement on the Boulevard de la Madeleine.
Another habitué there at this period was Lola's old Dresden
flame, the Abbé Liszt, who, not confining his attentions to the
romanticists, had no compunction about poaching on the preserves of
Dumas fils, or, for that matter, of anybody else. As for the
fair, but frail, Alphonsine, she said quite candidly that she was
perfectly willing to become his mistress, if he wanted it, but was not
prepared to share the position. As Liszt had other ideas on the
subject, the suggestion came to nothing.
Some years afterwards, one of his pupils, an American young woman,
Amy Fay, took his measure in a book, Music-study in Germany:
Liszt, she wrote, is the most interesting and striking-looking
man imaginable. Tall and slight, with deep-set eyes, shaggy eyebrows
and long iron-grey hair which he wears parted in the middle. His mouth
turns up at the corners, which gives him a most crafty and
Mephistophelean expression when he smiles, and his whole appearance and
manner have a sort of Jesuitical elegance and ease.
Before she set out on this journey, Lola wrote to an acquaintance:
What makes men and women distinguished is their individuality; and it
is for that I will conquer or die! Of this quality, she had enough and
to spare. Her Paris life was hectic; or, as the Boulevardiers put it,
elle faisait la bombe.
Among the tit-bits of gossip served up by a reporter was the
Lola is constantly giving tea-parties in her Paris flat. A
gentleman who is frequently bidden to them tells us that her
masculine guests are restricted to such as have left their
wives, and that the feminine guests consist of ladies who
have left their husbands.
An Englishman whom she met at this time was Savile Morton, a friend
of Thackeray and Tennyson. One night when she was giving a
supper-party, a fellow-guest, Roger de Beauvoir, happened to read to
the company some verses he had written. The hostess, on the grounds of
their alleged coarseness, complained to Morton that she had been
insulted. As a result, Morton, being head over ears in love with her,
sent de Beauvoir a challenge. Lola, however, having had enough of
duels, took care that nothing should come of it; and insisted that an
apology should be given and accepted.
At one time she was optimistic enough to take a villa at Beaujon on
a fifteen years' lease, and had it refurnished in sumptuous fashion on
credit. The first two instalments of the rent were met. When, however,
the landlord called to collect the third one, he was put off with the
excuse that: Mr. Heald was away and had forgotten to send the money,
but would be back in a week. This story might have been accepted, had
not the landlord discovered that his tenant was planning to leave
surreptitiously and that some of the furniture had already been
removed. As a result, a body of indignant tradesmen, accompanied by the
Maire of the district, in tricoloured sash and wand of office complete,
betook themselves to the villa and demanded a settlement of accounts
for goods delivered. This time they were told that the money had
arrived, but that the key of the box in which it had been deposited for
safety was lost. Assuring them that she would fetch a locksmith, Lola
slipped out of the house, and, stepping into a waiting cab, drove off
to a new address near the Étoile. This was the last that the creditors
saw of her.
In January, 1851, Lola, setting an example that has since then
become much more common among theatrical ladies, compiled her
memoirs. When the editor of Le Pays undertook to publish them
in his columns, a rival editor, jealous of the scoop, referred to
their author as Madame James, once Madame Heald, formerly Mlle Lola
Montez, and for nearly a quarter of an hour the Countess of Landsfeld.
The work was dedicated to her old patron, King Ludwig, with a florid
Sire: In publishing my memoirs, my purpose is to reveal to a
world still engulfed in a vulgar materialism Your Majesty's
lofty thoughts about art, poetry, and philosophy. The
inspiration of this book, Sire, is due to yourself, and to
those other remarkable men whom Fortunealways the
protector of my younger yearshas given me as councillors
Lola must have written with more candour than tact. At any rate,
after the first three chapters had appeared, the editor of Le Pays, on the grounds that they would shock his purer readers, refused to
continue the series. We positively decline, he announced, to sully
our columns further.
Authorship having thus proved a failure, Lola, swallowing her
disappointment, directed her thoughts to her old love, the ballet. To
this end, she placed herself in the hands of a M. Roux; and, a number
of engagements having been secured by him, she began a provincial tour
at Bordeaux. By the time it was completed the star and her manager were
on such bad terms that, when they got back to Paris, the latter was
dismissed. Thereupon, he hurried off to a notary, and brought an action
against his employer, claiming heavy damages.
According to Maître Desmaret, his client, M. Roux, had been engaged
in the capacity of pilote intermédiare during a prospective tour
in Europe and America. For his services he was to have 25 per cent of
the box-office receipts. On this understanding he had accompanied his
principal to a number of towns. He then returned to Paris; and while he
was negotiating there for the defendant's appearance at the Vaudeville,
he suddenly discovered that she was planning to go to America without
him. As a result, he was now claiming damages for breach of contract.
These he laid at the modest figure of 10,000 francs.
M. Blot-Lequesne, on behalf of Lola Montez, had a somewhat different
story to tell. The plaintiff himself, he declared, wanted to get out of
the contract and had deliberately disregarded its terms. His client, he
said, had authorised him to accept an engagement for her to dance six
times a week; but, in his anxiety to make additional profit for
himself, he had compelled her to dance six times a day. Apart from
this, he had signally failed to respect her dignity as a woman, and
had invented ridiculous stories about her career. He had even done
worse, for, without her knowledge or sanction, he had compiled and
distributed among the audiences where she appeared an utterly
preposterous biography of his employer. This, among other matters,
asserted that she had lived and danced for eleven years in China and
Persia; and that she had been befriended by the dusky King of Nepaul,
as well as by numerous rajahs.
The concluding passage from this effort was read to the judge:
Ten substantial volumes would be filled with the chronicle of the
eccentricities of Mlle Lola Montez, and much of them would still be
left unsaid. In the year 1847 a great English lord married her in
London. Unfortunately, they found themselves not in sympathy, and in
1850 she returned to the dreams of her spring-time. The Countess has
now completed one half of her projected tour. In November she leaves
France for America andwellGod only knows what will happen then!
[Illustration: A Belle of the Boulevards. Lola Montez in Paris
As long, said counsel, as the amiable Mlle Montez was treated by
M. Roux like a wild animal exhibited at a country fair, she merely
shrugged her shoulders in disgust. When, however, she saw how this
abominable pamphlet lifted the curtain from her private life, it was
another thing altogether. She expressed womanly indignation, and made a
What was that? enquired the judge, with interest.
She said: 'It is lucky for you, sir, that my husband is not here to
protect me. If he were, he would certainly pull your nose!'
As was inevitable, this expression of opinion shattered the
entente, and the manager returned to Paris by himself. Hearing
nothing from him, Lola Montez thought that she was at liberty to make
her own plans, and had accordingly arranged the American tour without
On November 6, 1851, continued counsel, Lola Montez arrived in
Paris, telling M. Roux that she would leave for America on November 20,
but that she would fulfil any engagement he secured during the
interval. Just before she was ready to start he said he had got her
one, but he would not tell her where it was or produce any written
Accepting this version as the correct one, the Court pronounced
judgment in favour of Lola Montez.
M. Roux having thus been dismissed with a flea in his ear, Lola, on
the advice of Peter Goodrich, the American consul in Paris, next
engaged Richard Storrs Willis (a brother of N. P. Willis, the American
poet) to look after her business affairs, and left Europe for America.
As the good ship Humbolt, by which she was sailing, warped into
harbour at New York, a salute of twenty-one guns thundered from the
Battery. Lola, mightily pleased, took this expenditure of ammunition as
a tribute to herself. When, however, she discovered that it was really
to herald the coming of Louis Kossuth, who also happened to be on
board, she registered annoyance and retired to her cabin, to nurse her
wrath. A Magyar patriot to be more honoured than an English
ex-favourite of a King! What next?
A gentleman travelling with her informed our representative, said
the New York Herald, that Madame had declared Kossuth to be a
great humbug. The Countess was a prodigious favourite among the
masculine passengers during the voyage, and continually kept them in
roars of laughter.
But, if disappointed in one respect, Lola derived a measure of
compensation from the fact that the bevy of reporters who met the
vessel found her much more interesting than the stranger from Hungary.
Madame Lola Montez, remarked one of them, who had gone off with a
bulging note-book, crammed with enough copy to fill a column, says
that a number of shocking falsehoods about her have been published in
our journals. Yet she insists she is not the woman she is credited (or
discredited) with being. If she were, her admirers, she thinks, would
be still more plentiful than they are. She expresses herself as fearful
that she will not have proper consideration in New York; but she trusts
that the great American public will suspend judgment until they have
made her acquaintance.
The Countess of Landsfeld, who is now among us, adds a second
scribe, owes more to the brilliancy of intellect with which Heaven has
gifted her than to her world-wide celebrity as an artiste. Her person
and bearing are unmistakably aristocratic. If we may credit the stories
which from time to time have reached us, she can, if necessary, use her
riding-whip in vigorous fashion about the ears of any offending biped
or quadruped. In America she is somewhat out of her latitude. Paris
should be her real home.
For the present, however, Lola decided to stop where she was.
While she was in America on this tour, Barnum wanted to be her
impresario, and promised special terms. Despite, however, the lure of
having her path garlanded with flowers and her carriage drawn by human
hands from hotel to theatre, the offer was not accepted.
The New York début of Lola Montez was made on December 29, 1851, in
a ballet: Betly, the Tyrolean. Public excitement ran high, for
appetites had been whetted by the sensational accounts of her past
with which the papers were filled.
Scandal does not necessarily create a great dancer, declared one
rigid critic; and a second had a long column, headed: MONTEZ v.
RESPECTABILITY, in which he observed (thoughtfully supplying a
translation): Parturiunt MONTEZ, nascitur ridiculus mus. All the same, the box-office reported record business. As a result,
prices were doubled, and the seats put up to auction.
If she had her enemies in the press, Lola also had her champions
there. Just before she arrived, one of them, a New York paper, took up
the cudgels on her behalf in vigorous fashion:
The most funny proceeding that is going on in this town is
the terrible to-do that is being made about Lola Montez. If
this state of things continues we will guarantee a
continuance of the fun after Lola makes her advent among us,
for if she doesn't properly horse-whip those squeamish
gentlemen we are much mistaken in her character.
Now we want to call the attention of our fair-minded readers
to a few other matters that are sure to occur. Here are the
various papers pouring out a torrent of abuse on Lola. What
will it all amount to? In a few weeks she will land. In a
few weeks a popular theatre will be occupied by her, and
tens of thousands will throng that theatre. The manager will
reap a fortune, and so will Lola Montez; and those
short-sighted conductors of the Press will be begging for
tickets and quarrelling among themselves as to who can say
the most extravagant things in her favour. Public curiosity
will be gratified at any price; and if Lola Montez is a
capital dancer she will soon dance down all opposition. With
what grace can the public talk about virtue in a public
actress, when they have followed in the wake of an ELSSLER?
If the private character of a public actress is to be the
criterion by which to judge of her professional merit, then
half the theatres would be compelled to shut their doors.
We are as independently correct as any other paper that
exists. We don't care a straw whether we go on with or
without the other newspapers. We will do justice and say
what is true, regardless of popularity. We detest hypocrisy;
and we have no disposition to make a mountain out of a
molehill, or to see a mote in the eye of Lola Montez, and
not discover a beam in the eye of Fanny Elssler, or of any
of the other great dancers or actresses.
What is Lola Montez? enquire the public. A good dancer,
says the manager of a theatre. She is also notorious. The
public will crowd the theatre to see her and to judge
whether she is not also a good actress; and if they get
their money's worth, they are satisfied. They do not pay to
judge of the former history of Lola Montez.... A few
squeamish people cannot prevent Lola Montez from creating a
sensation here, or from crowding from pit to dome any house
where she may appear; and, as they will be the first to
endorse her success, they would be more consistent were they
to let her alone until she secures it.
None the less, there was competition to meet. A great deal of
competition, for counter-attractions were being offered in all
directions. Thus, Professor Anderson was conjuring rabbits out of
borrowed top hats; Thackeray was lecturing on The English Humourists;
Macready was bellowing and posturing in Shakespeare; General Tom Thumb
was exhibiting his lack of inches; and Mrs. Bloomer was advancing the
cause of Trousers for Women! Still, Lola more than held her own as a
In January the bill was changed to Diana and the Nymphs. The
fact that some of the Nymphs supporting the star adopted a costume a
little suggestive of modern nudism appears to have upset a feminine
When, was her considered opinion, a certain piece first presented
a partly unclothed woman to the gaze of a crowded auditory, she was met
with a gasp of astonishment at the effrontery which dared so much. Men
actually grew pale at the boldness of the thing; young girls hung their
heads; a death-like silence fell over the house. But it passed; and, in
view of the fact that these women were French ballet-dancers, they were
To show that she was properly qualified to express her views on such
a delicate matter, this censor added: Belonging, root and branch, to a
theatrical family, I have not on that account been deemed unworthy to
break bread at an imperial table, nor to grasp the hand of friendship
extended to me by an English lordly divine.
By the way, on this subject of feminine attire (or the lack of it) a
rigid standard was also applicable to the audience's side of the
curtain, and any departure from it met with reprisals. This is made
clear by a shocked paragraph chronicling one such happening at another
During the evening of our visit there transpired an
occurrence to which we naturally have some delicacy in
alluding. Since, however, it indicates a censorship in a
quarter where refinement is perhaps least to be expected, it
should not be suffered by us to pass unnoticed. In the
stalls, which were occupied by a number of ladies and
gentlemen in full evening costume, and of established social
position, there was to be observed a woman whose remarkable
lowness of corsage attracted much criticism. Indeed, it
obviously scandalised the audience, among the feminine
portion of which a painful sensation was abundantly
perceptible. At last, their indignation found tangible
expression; and a voice from the pit was heard to utter in
measured accents a stern injunction that could apply to but
one individual. Blushing with embarrassment, the offender
drew her shawl across her uncovered shoulders. A few minutes
later, she rose and left the house, amid well merited hisses
from the gallery, and significant silence from the outraged
occupants of the stalls and boxes.
Decorum was one thing; décolletage was another. In the
considered opinion of 1851 the two did not blend.
A certain Dr. Judd, who, in the intervals of his medical practice,
was managing a Christy Minstrels entertainment at this period, has some
recollections of Lola Montez. Many a long chat, he says, I had with
her in our little bandbox of a ticket-office. Thackeray's Vanity
Fair was being read in America just then, and Lola expressed to me
great anger that the novelist should have put her into it as Becky
Sharp. 'If he had only told the truth about me,' she said, 'I should
not have cared, but he derived his inspiration from my enemies in
This item appears to have been unaccountably missed by Thackeray's
Lola's tastes were distinctly Bohemian, and led her, while in New
York, to be a constant visitor at Pfaff's underground delicatessen
café, then a favourite haunt of the literary and artistic worlds of the
metropolis. There she mingled with such accepted celebrities as Walt
Whitman, W. Dean Howells, Commodore Vanderbilt, and that other flashing
figure, Adah Isaacs Menken. She probably found in Pfaff's a certain
resemblance to the Munich beer-halls with which she had been familiar.
A bit of the Fatherland, as it were, carried across the broad Atlantic.
German solids and German liquids; talk and laughter and jests among the
company of actors and actresses and artists and journalists gathered
night after night at the tables; everybody in a good temper and high
Walt Whitman, inspired, doubtless, by beer, once described the place
in characteristic rugged verse:
The vaults at Pfaff's, where the drinkers and laughers meet
to eat and drink and carouse,
While on the walk immediately overhead pass the myriad feet
There was a good deal more of it, for, when he had been furnished
with plenty of liquid refreshment, the Muse of Walt ran to length.
From New York Lola set out on a tour to Philadelphia, St. Louis, and
Boston. While in this last town, she paid a visit of ceremony to one
of the public schools. Although the children there expressed surprise
and delight at the honour accorded them, the Boston Transcript
shook its editorial head; and referred to the visit in a fashion that
aroused the just indignation of the lady and her friends.
The cudgels were promptly taken up on her behalf by a New York
Lola Montez, he declared, owes less of her strange fascination
and world-wide celebrity to her powers as an artiste than to the
extraordinary mind and brilliancy of intellect with which Heaven has
thought fit to endow her. At one moment ruling a kingdom, through an
imbecile monarch; and the next, the wife of a dashing young English
lord.... Her person and bearing are unmistakably aristocratic. In her
recent visit to one of our public schools she surprised and delighted
the scholars by addressing them in the Latin language with remarkable
It would be of interest to learn the name of the dashing young
English lord. This, however, was probably a brevet rank conferred by
the pressman on Cornet Heald.
On April 27, 1852, Lola Montez appeared at the Albany Museum in
selections from her repertoire. On this occasion she brought with her a
troupe of twelve dancing girls. As an additional lure, the bills
described these damsels as all of them unmarried, and most of them
But the attraction which proved the biggest success in her
repertoire was a drama called Lola in Bavaria. This was said to
be written by a young literary gentleman of New England, the son of a
somewhat celebrated poetess. The heroine, who was never off the stage
for more than five minutes, was depicted in turns as a dancer, a
politician, a countess, a revolutionary, and a fugitive; and among the
other characters were Ludwig I, Eugéne Sue, Dujarier, and Cornet Heald,
while the setting offered a correct representation of the Lola Montez
palace at Munich. It seemed good value. At any rate, the public
thought it was, and full houses were secured. But the critics
restrained their raptures. I sympathise, was the acid comment of one
of them, with the actresses who were forced to take part in such
stuff; and Joseph Daly described the heroine as deserting a royal
admirer to court the sovereign public. The author of this balderdash
was one C. P. T. Ware, a poor little hack playwright, who wrote
anything for anybody.
March of 1853 found Lola Montez fulfilling an engagement at the
Variétés Theatre, St. Louis. Kate Field, the daughter of the
proprietor, wrote a letter on the subject to her aunt.
Well, Lola Montez appeared at father's theatre last night
for the first time. The theatre was crowded from parquet to
doors. She had the most beautiful eyes I ever saw. I liked
her very much; but she performed a dumb girl, so I cannot
say what she would do in speaking characters.
During this engagement Lola apparently proved a little difficile, for her critic adds: She is trying to trouble father as much as
Lola certainly was apt to trouble people with whom she came into
contact. As an accepted star, she had a high sense of her own
importance and considered herself above mere rules. Once, when
travelling from Niagara to Buffalo by train, she elected to sit in the
baggage car and puff a cigarette. While, says a report, thus cosily
ensconced, she was discovered by the conductor and promptly informed by
him that such behaviour was not permitted. Thereupon, Madame replied
that it was her custom to travel where and how she pleased, and that
she had frequently horse-whipped much bigger men than the conductor.
This settled the matter, for the company's officer did not care to
challenge the tigress.
The visit to Buffalo was crowned with success. Lola Montez,
declared the Troy Budget, has done what Mrs. McMahon failed to
accomplishshe positively charmed the Buffaloes. This can perhaps be
attributed to her judicious choice of the ex-Reverend Chauncey Burr, by
whom she is accompanied on her tour in the capacity of
The choice of an ex-Reverend to conduct a theatrical tour seems,
perhaps, a little odd. Still, as Lola once remarked: It is a common
enough thing in America for a bankrupt tradesman or broken-down jockey
to become a lawyer, a doctor, or even a parson. Hence, from the pulpit
to the footlights was no great step.
CHAPTER XIV. THE GOLDEN WEST
As this was before the days when actresses in search of publicity
announce that they are not going to Hollywood, Lola had to hit
on a fresh expedient to keep her name in the news. Ever fertile of
resource, the one she now adopted was to give out that this would be
her positively last appearance, as she was abandoning the stage and
becoming a nun. The scheme worked, and the box-office coffers were
filled afresh. But Lola did not take the veil. Instead, she took a trip
to California, sailing by the Isthmus route in the summer of 1853.
A ridiculous book, The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole,
with an introductory puff by a windbag, W. H. Russell, has a reference
to this project:
Came one day Lola Montez, in the full zenith of her evil
fame, bound for California, with a strange suite. A
good-looking, bold woman, with fine, bad eyes and a
determined bearing; dressed ostentatiously in perfect male
attire, with shirt collar turned down over a lapelled coat,
richly worked shirt front, black hat, French unmentionables,
and natty polished boots with spurs. She carried in her hand
a riding-whip.... An impertinent American,
presumingperhaps not unnaturallyupon her reputation,
laid hold jestingly of the tails of her long coat; and, as a
lesson, received a cut across his face that must have marked
him for some days. I did not wait to see the row that
followed, and was glad when the wretched woman rode off on
the following morning.
Russell was not a fellow-passenger in the ship by which Lola
travelled. Somebody else, however, who did happen to be one, gives a
very different description of her conduct on the journey:
We had not been at sea one day, says Mrs. Knapp, before all the
saloon occupants were charmed by this lovely young woman. Her vivacity
was infectious, and her abandon was always of a specially airy
The arrival of Lola Montez at San Francisco would have eclipsed that
of any Hollywood heroine of the present era. A vast crowd, headed by
the City Fathers, in full regalia, gathered at the quay. Flags decked
the public buildings; guns fired a salute; bands played; and the
schoolchildren were assembled to strew her path with flowers as she
stepped down the gangway; and, to the accompaniment of ringing
cheers, the horses were taken from her carriage, which was dragged by
eager hands through the streets to her hotel. The Countess
acknowledged the reception accorded her with a graceful inclination.
What if Europe has exiled her? demanded an editorial. This is of
no consequence. After all, she is Lola Montez, acknowledged Mistress of
Kings! She is beautiful above other women; she is gorgeous; she is
irresistible; and we are genuinely proud to welcome her.
Enveloped in legend, the reputation of the newcomer for
eccentricity had preceded her. She lived up to this reputation, too,
for, when the spirit moved her (and it did so quite often), she would
dance in the beer gardens for fun; she had her hair cut short, when
other women were affecting chignons; andwonder of wondersshe would
actually smoke cigarettes in public. Clearly, a trifle ahead of her
By the way, while she was in San Francisco, Lola is said to have
renewed her acquaintance with the mysterious Jean François Montez, who,
during the interval since they last met, had turned over a fresh leaf
and was now married. But according to a chronicler: The family
felicity very soon succumbed to the lure of the lovely Lola. Without,
too, any support for the assertion, a contributor of theatrical gossip
dashed off an imaginative column, in which he declared her, among other
things, to have been the petted companion of Louis Napoleon; and also
the idolised dancer of the swells and wits of the capitals of the Old
World, with the near relatives of royalty and the beaux of Paris for
This was going too far. Lola, much incensed, shook her dog-whip and
What's the matter with you? demanded the journalist, astonished at
the outburst, it's good publicity, isn't it?
Yes, but not the sort I want, was the response.
Still, whether she wanted it, or not, Lola was soon to have a good
deal more publicity. This was because she suddenly appeared with a
husband on her arm.
Although the bridegroom, Patrick Purdy Hull, was a fellow-editor,
the Daily Alta, of California, considered that the news value of
the event was not worth more than a couple of lines:
On the 2nd inst. Lola Montez and P. P. Hull, Esq., of this
city (and late of the San Francisco Whig) were married
the Mission Dolores.
Obviously regarding this as a somewhat meagre allowance, a New York
journal furnished fuller details:
Among the recent domestic happenings of the times in
California, the marriage of the celebrated Lola Montez will
attract most attention. This distinguished lady has again
united herself in the bonds of wedlock, the happy young man
being Patrick Purdy Hull, Esq., formerly of Ohio, and for
the past four years employed in the newspaper business in
Mr. Hull was a fellow-passenger with the fascinating
Countess on her trip to California; and the acquaintance
then formed fast ripened into an attachment which
terminated fatally to his bachelorhood. The nuptials were
consummated [sic] at the Holy Church of the Mission
Dolores in the presence of a highly respectable gathering of
[Illustration: The Spider Dance. Cause of much criticism]
The prominent citizens included Governor Wainwright, Judge Wills,
Captain McMichael, Mr. and Mrs. Clayton, and Beverley Saunders, Esq.
An attempt was made to keep the ceremony secret; and, with this end in
view, the invited guests were pledged not to divulge it beforehand. On
the previous evening Captain McMichael, being something of a tactician,
announced to them: We do not yet know for certain that the affair will
ever come off, and we may all be jolly well sold. When they assembled
at the Mission Church, it looked as if this would happen, as neither of
the couple appeared. Suddenly, however, they drove up in a carriage and
entered the church. The blushing bride, says a reporter who had
hidden behind a pillar, carried a bouquet of orange blossoms, and the
organ played 'The Voice that breathed o'er Eden'; and another
chronicler adds: On the conclusion of the ceremony, all adjourned to
partake of a splendid spread, with wine and cigars ad lib. But
this was not all, for: Governor Wainwright, giving a significant wink,
kissed the new-made bride, Mrs. Hull. His example was promptly followed
by Mr. Henry Clayton, 'just to make the occasion memorable,' he said.
'Such is the custom of my country,' remarked Madame Lola. She was not
kissed by anybody else, but she none the less had a pleasant word for
It was at Sacramento that Lola and her new husband began their
married life. The conditions of the town were a little primitive just
then; and even in the principal hotel the single guests were expected
to sleep in dormitories. The cost of board and lodging (with bed in a
bunk) was 150 dollars a week. As for the board, standing items on the
daily menu would be boiled leg of grizzly bear, donkey steak, and
jack-rabbit. No kickshaws was the proud boast of every chef.
In addition to his editorial labours (which were not unduly
exacting), Hull was employed by the Government on census work,
preparing statistics of the rapidly increasing population. But Lola,
much to his annoyance, did not add to his figures for the
Registrar-General's return. The footlights proved a stronger lure than
maternity; and, almost immediately after her marriage, she accepted an
engagement at one of the theatres, where she appeared as Lady Teazle. A
countess in that part of the world being a novelty, the public rallied
to the box-office in full force and business was phenomenal. Still,
competition there, as elsewhere. Some of it, too, of a description that
could not be ignored. Thus, Ole Bull was giving concerts at the Opera
House, and causing hardened diggers to shed tears when he played Home
Sweet Home to them on his violin; Edwin Booth, supported by a
powerful company, was mouthing Shakespeare, and tearing passion to
tatters in the process; and a curious freak, billed as Zoyara, the
Hermaphrodite (with a certificate of genuineness, as to her
equestrian skill and her virtues as a lady, from H.M. the King of
Sardinia") was cramming the circus to capacity every afternoon and
evening. Yet, notwithstanding His Majesty's certificate, it is a fact
that its recipient married a woman member of the troupe. The long
sustained deception has been dropped, says a paragraphist, and the
young man who assumed the name of 'Madame Zoyara' is now to be seen in
correct masculine attire.
Still, despite all this, Lola kept her public. After all, a countess
was a countess. But, before long, there was a difference of opinion
with the manager of the theatre in which she was appearing. Lola, who
never brooked criticism, had words with him. High words, as it
happened; and, flourishing her whip in his face, she tore up her
contract and walked out of the building.
Get somebody else, she said. I'm through.
The difference of opinion appears to have arisen because Lola
elected to consider herself insulted by a member of the audience
while she was dancing, and the manager had not taken her part. The next
evening, accordingly, she made a speech in public, giving him a bit of
her mind. The result was, declared the San Francisco Alta, the
Countess came off the victor, bearing away the bravas and
bouquets. At the conclusion of her address she was hailed by thunderous
cheers, amid which she smiled sweetly, dropped a curtsey, and retired
Much to their surprise, those who imagined that the honours of the
evening went to Lola read in the next issue of the Californian
that the applause was all sham, the paid enthusiasm of a hired house.
This was more than flesh and blood could stand. At any rate, it was
more than Lola could stand; and she sent the editor a fierce letter,
challenging him to a duel. I must request, was its last passage,
that this affair of honour be arranged by your seconds as soon as
possible, as my time is quite as valuable as your own: MARIE DE
LANDSFELD-HULL (LOLA MONTEZ).
The editor of the Californian did not accept the suggestion.
Instead, he applied the necessary balm, and the
pistols-for-two-and-coffee-for-one order was countermanded.
A woman of moods, when Lola made a change, it was a complete one.
She made one now. The artificiality of the towns, with their false
standards and atmosphere of pretence, had begun to pall. She wanted to
try a fresh milieu. Everybody was talking just then of Grass
Valley, a newly opened-up district, set amid a background of the rugged
Sierras, where gangs of miners were delving for gold in the bowels of
Mother Earth, and, if half the accounts were true, amassing fortunes.
Why not go there and see for herself? It would at least be a novel
No sooner said than done. Hiring a mule team and wagon, and
accompanied by Patrick Hull, she started off on a preliminary tour of
inspection of the district.
Travelling was unhurried in those leisurely days. There were several
stoppages; and the roads were rough, and long detours had to be made to
avoid yawning canyons. At the end of two weeks from the time they left
Sacramento behind them, Pat Hull and his charming bride wheeled across
the mountains into Grass Valley.
There were about 1600 people in the township of Marysville at this
period, says a chronicler, and 1400 of them were of the masculine
sex. The prospect of sudden riches was the attraction that drew them.
England and the Continent were represented by some of the first
families. A dozen were graduates of Oxford and Cambridge; there were
two young relatives of Victor Hugo; there were a number of scions of
the impoverished nobility of Bohemia; and several hundred Americans.
Among the latter was William Morris Stewart, a Marysville lawyer, who
was afterwards to become a senator and attorney-general.
Grass Valley at this period (the autumn of 1853) was little more
than a wilderness. The nearest town of any size was Nevada City,
fringed by the shadows of the lofty Sierras. Between the gulches had
sprung up as if by magic a forest of tented camps and tin-roofed
shanties, with gambling-booths and liquor saloons by the hundred, in
which bearded men dug hard by day, and played faro and monte and drank
deep by night. Fortunes were madeand spentand nuggets were common
currency. The cost of living was very high. But it cost still more to
be ill, since a grain of gold was the accepted tariff for a grain of
The whole district was a melting-pot. Attracted by the prospect of
the precious metal that was to be wrung from it, there had drifted into
the Valley a flotsam and jetsam, representatives of all nations and of
all callings. As was natural, Americans in the majority; but, with
them, Englishmen and Frenchmen and Germans and Italians, plus an
admixture of Chinamen and Kanakas; also an undesirable element of
deserters from ships and convicts escaped from Australia. To keep them
in some sort of order, rough justice was the rule. Mayors and sheriffs
had arbitrary powers, and did not hesitate to employ them. Judge Lynch
was supreme; and a length of hemp dangling from a branch was part of
the equipment of every camp.
With a full knowledge of all these possible drawbacks, Lola Montez
looked upon Grass Valley and saw that it was good. Perhaps the Bret
Harte atmosphere appealed to her. At any rate, she decided to settle
down there temporarily; and, with this end in view, she persuaded Hull
to buy a six-roomed cottage just above Marysville.
When Lola Montezfor all that she had a wedding-ring on her finger,
she still stuck to the namearrived there with her new husband, the
conditions of life in Grass Valley were a little primitive. A telegraph
service did not exist; and letters were collected and delivered
irregularly. Transport with the outer world was by stage coach and mule
and pony express. Whisky had to come round by Cape Horn; sugar from
China; and meat and vegetables from Australia. The fact was, the early
settlers were much too busily employed extracting nuggets and gold dust
to concern themselves with the production of any other commodity.
Mrs. Dora Knapp, a neighbour of Lola Montez in Grass Valley at this
period, has contributed some reminiscences of her life there:
We, who knew of her gay career among the royalty and
nabobs, were astonished that she should have gone to the
camp. She frequently had letters from titled gentlemen in
Europe, begging her to come back and live on their rich
bounty. It was simply because she was weary of splendour and
fast living that the Countess turned with such fondness to
life in a mining camp.
To Patrick Hull, however, the attractions of the district were not
so obvious. Ink was in his blood. He wanted to get back to his
editorial desk, preferring the throbbing of printing presses to the
rattle of spades and picks and the clanking of drills. Nor did love in
a cottage appeal to him. When Lola refused to give up Grass Valley, he
developed a fit of sulks and turned to the whisky bottle for
Under the circumstances, matrimonial bliss was impossible. Such a
life was a cat and dog one. Its end arrived very soon.
Lola Montez and her new husband, says the knowledgeable Mrs.
Knapp, had not lived together more than a few months before trouble
began. When two such spirits came together, there was bound to be a
clash. The upshot was that one day Lola pushed Patrick down the stairs,
heaved his grip out of the window and ordered him to quit.
Mr. Hull, who could take a hint as well as any man, did quit. He
did more. He took to his bed and expired. In his native state, says a
tearful obituary, he was respected and loved by a large circle. The
family of Manuel Guillen (in whose house he lay), inspired by a
sentiment of genuine benevolence, bestowed upon him all the tender
watchfulness due to a beloved son and brother; and nothing was omitted
that promised cure or promoted comfort.
But this was not until some time after he had received his abrupt
congé from Lola Montez.
Once more, Lola had drawn a blank in the matrimonial market.
With Adrienne Lecouvreur, Lola Montez must often have asked herself,
Que faire au monde sans aimer? Living without loving had no
appeal for her. Hence, she was soon credited (or discredited) with a
fresh liaison. This time her choice fell on a German baron,
named Kirke, who also happened to be a doctor. There was a special bond
between them, for he had come from Munich, and could thus awaken
memories and tell her of Ludwig, of Fritz Peissner and the other good
comrades of the Alemannia, and of the house in the Barerstrasse
where she had once queened it.
This fourth adventure in matrimony was, says a chronicler,
copiously consummated. An odd choice of words. But, successful or
not, it was short-lived. One fine day the baron took his gun with him
into the forest. He did not return. Killed in a shooting accident (a
fairly common occurrence in the Wild West at that period) was the
coroner's verdict. As a result, Lola was once more without a masculine
The position was not devoid of an element of danger, for the
district swarmed with lawless gangs, to whom a woman living by herself
was looked upon as fair prey. But Lola was not disturbed. She had
plenty of courage. She knew, too, that the miners had formed themselves
into a guard of honour, and that it would have gone ill with anybody
attempting to molest her. If the diggers were rough, they were
In response to a general invitation from the camp, Lola more than
once gave an exhibition of her quality as a danseuse. Although
the charge for admission was a hundred dollars, the hall where she
appeared was always crammed to the doors. She expanded out, too, in
other directions; and a picturesque account of her life at this period
says that she slept under the stars (canopy of heaven was the
writer's more poetical way of putting it) and wore woollen
underclothing knitted by herself. Another detail declares that she held
a weekly soirée in her cottage, attended by the upper circles of the
camp, a court of littérateurs and actors and wanderers; and that among
the regular guests were two nephews of Victor Hugo, a quartet of
cashiered German barons, and a couple of shady French counts.
Obviously, a somewhat mixed gathering. For all this, however, the
receptions were merely convivial assemblies, with champagne and other
wine, served with cake and fruit ad lib, and everyone smoked.
The two Hugo neighbours were always there, as well as a son of Preston
Brooks, the South Carolina congressman. A dozen of us looked forward to
attending these salons, which we called 'experience-meetings.'
Senator William M. Stewart, then a young lawyer in Nevada, said he used
to count the days between each. Every song, every story, every scrap of
humour or pathos that any of the young men came across would be
preserved for the next gathering. Occasionally, our charming hostess
would have a little fancy-dress affair at the cottage, and, clad in the
fluffy and abbreviated garments she had once worn on the stage, show us
that she still remembered her dancing-steps.
When not engaged in these innocent relaxations, Lola would give
herself up to other pursuits. Thus, she hunted and fished and shot, and
often made long trips on horseback through the forests and sage bush.
Having a fondness for all sorts of animals, on one such expedition she
captured a bear cub, with which she returned to her cabin and set
herself to tame. While thus employed, she was visited by a wandering
violinist, who, falling a victim to her charms, begged a lock of her
hair as a souvenir of the occasion. Thereupon, Lola, always anxious to
oblige, struck a bargain with him. I have, she said, a pet grizzly
in my orchard. If you will wrestle with him for three minutes, you
shall have enough of my hair to make a bow for your fiddle. Let me see
what you can do. The challenge was accepted; and the amorous
violinist, merely stipulating that the animal should be muzzled, set to
work and secured the coveted guerdon.
Something of a risk, perhaps. Still, it would have been a more
serious one if Lola had kept a rattlesnake.
Appearances are deceptive, and Bruin was less domesticated than Lola
imagined. One day, pining perhaps for fresh diet, he grappled with his
mistress and bit her hand. The incident attracted a laureate on the
staff of the California Chronicle, who, in Silas Wegg fashion,
dropped into verse:
LOLA AND HER PET
One day when the season was drizzly,
And outside amusements were wet,
Fair Lola paid court to her Grizzly
And undertook petting her pet.
But, ah, it was not the Bavarian
Who softened so under her hand,
No ermined King octogenarian,
But Bruin, coarse cub of the land.
So, all her caresses combatting
He crushed her white slender hand first,
Refusing his love to her patting,
As she had refused hers to Pat!
Oh, had her pet been him whose glory
And title were won on the field,
Less bloodless had ended this story,
More easy her hand had been Heald!
This doggerel was signed F.S., initials which masked the identity
of Frank Soule, the editor of the Chronicle.
Never without her dog-whip, Lola took it with her to her cottage in
Grass Valley. There she soon found a use for it. A journalist, in a
column account of her career, was ungallant enough to finish by
enquiring if she were the devil incarnate? As the simplest method of
settling the problem, Lola summoned the impertinent scribbler and gave
him such a hiding that he had no doubts left at all.
Shortly afterwards, there was trouble with another representative of
the press. This was with one Henley Shipley, the editor of the
Marysville Herald, who, notwithstanding that they were regularly
attended by the élite of the camp, had described her Wednesday
soirées as disgraceful orgies, inimical to our fair repute.
Thereupon, says a sympathiser, the aspersed hostess took her whip to
him, and handed out a number of stinging and well merited cuts.
The opportunity being too good to miss, the editor of the
Sacramento Union set to work and rushed out a special edition, with
a long description of the incident:
This forenoon our town was plunged into a state of ludicrous
excitement by the spectacle of Madame Lola Montez rushing
through Mill Street, with a lady's delicate riding whip in
one hand and a copy of the Marysville Herald in the
vowing vengeance on that scoundrel of an editor, etc. She
met him at the Golden Gate Saloon, a crowd, on the qui
vive, following in her footsteps. Having struck at him
her whip, she then applied woman's best weaponher tongue.
Meanwhile, her antagonist kept most insultingly cool. All
her endeavours being powerless, the Divine Lola appealed
to the miners, but the only response was a burst of
laughter. Mr. Shipley, the editor, then retired in triumph,
having, by his calmness, completely worn down his fair
The immediate cause of the fracas was the appearance of
sundry articles, copied from the New York Times,
to the Lola Montez-like insolence, bare-faced hypocrisy,
and effrontery of Queen Christina of Spain. The entire
scene was decidedly rich.
One can well imagine it.
Never prepared to accept hostile criticism without a protest, Lola
sent her own version of the occurrence to a rival organ:
This morning, November 21, she wrote, the newspaper was
handed me as usual. I scanned it over with little interest,
saw a couple of abusive articles, not mentioning me by name,
but, as I was afterwards told, had been prepared by the
clever pen of this great statesman of the future, and
present able writer, as a climax and extinguisher to all the
past and future glories of Lola Montez. I wonder if he
thought I should come down with a cool thousand or two, to
stock up his fortune and cry 'Grace, Grace!'
This is the only attempt at blackmail I have been subjected
to in California, and I hope it will be the last. On I read
the paper till I saw my name in good round English, and the
allusions to my 'bare-faced hypocrisy and insolence.'
Europe, hear this! Has not the 'hypocrisy' been on the
other side? What were you thinking of, Alexandra Dumas,
Beringer, Méry, and all my friends when you told me my fault
lay in my too great kindness? Shipley has judged me at last
to be a hypocrite. To avenge you, I, bonnet on head and whip
in handthat whip which was never used but on a horsethis
time to be disgraced by falling on the back of an ASS....
The spirit of my Irish ancestors (I being three-quarter
Irish and Spanish and Scotch) took possession of my hand;
and, on the most approved Tom Sayers principles, I took his,
on whichthanks to some rings I hadI made a cutting
impression. This would-be great smiter ended the combat with
a certain amount of abuse, of whichto do him justicehe
is a perfect master. Sic transit gloria SHIPLEY! Alas,
[Illustration: Lola Montez, in Lola in Bavaria. A Play with a
The atmosphere of Grass Valley could scarcely be described as
tranquil. Its surface was always being ruffled; and it was not long
before Lola was again embroiled in a collision with one of her
neighbours. This time she had a passage at arms with a Methodist
minister in the camp, the Rev. Mr. Wilson, who, with a sad lack of
Christian charity, informed his flock that this new member among them
was a feminine devil devoid of shame, and that the 'Spider Dance' in
her repertoire was an outrage. There were limits to clerical
criticism. This was clearly one of them. As she could not take her whip
to a clergyman, she took herself. Resolved to teach the Rev. Wilson a
lesson, she called on him in her dancing dress, while he was conducting
a confirmation class.
Without, says a member of the gathering, any preliminaries beyond
saying 'Good afternoon,' she proceeded to execute the dance before the
astonished gaze of the company. Then turning to the minister, she said,
'The next time you think fit to make me and this dance a subject for a
pulpit discourse, perhaps you will know better what you are talking
about.' She then took her departure, before the reverend gentleman
could sufficiently collect his senses to say or do anything.
But, notwithstanding these breaks in its monotony, Lola felt that
she was not really adapted to the routine of Grass Valley. Once more,
the theatre called her. Answering the call, she went back to it. But on
the return journey she did not take Patrick Hull. She also shed the
name he had given her, and resumed that of Countess of Landsfeld.
It looks better on the bills, she said, when she discussed plans
for a prospective tour.
The Grass Valley Telegraph gave her a good send off in a
fulsome column; and the miners presented her with a farewell gift in
the form of a nugget. Rough, like ourselves, said their spokesman,
but the genuine article.
CHAPTER XV. DOWN UNDER
This time Lola was going further afield. A long way further. Two
continents had already been exploited. Now she would discover what a
fresh one held.
Her plan was to leave the Stars and Stripes for the Southern Cross.
As an initial step, she sold her jewels for 20,000 dollars to the
madam of a fashionable brothel. Having thus secured adequate funds,
she assembled a number of out-of-work actors and actresses and engaged
them to accompany her on a twelve months' tour in Australia. Except for
Josephine Fiddes (who was afterwards to understudy Adah Isaacs Menken,
of Mazeppa renown) and, perhaps, her leading man, Charles
Follard, they were of a distinctly inferior calibre.
The departure from California was duly notified in a paragraph sent
round the press:
We beg to inform our readers and the public generally that on June
6 the celebrated Lola Montez left San Francisco, at the head of a
theatrical troupe of exceptional talent, bound for distant Australia.
The public in the Antipodes may confidently look forward to a rare
The voyage across the Pacific being in a sailing vessel, was a
longish one and occupied nearly ten weeks from start to finish.
However, anchor was dropped at last; and on August 23, 1855, a
colossal attraction was announced in Lola Montez in Bavaria at the
Victoria Theatre, Sydney. There, thanks to the interest aroused by her
exploits in other parts of the world, the newcomer was assured of a
But theatrical stars were always accorded a special measure of
deference by the colonists. Thus, Miss Catherine Hayes, who was playing
at an opposition house, was invited to luncheon by the Bishop of Sydney
and to dinner by the Attorney-General; and a Scottish conjurer,
Professor Anderson, was given an address of welcome by the Town
While these particular honours were not enjoyed by Lola (who, for
some reason best known to herself, had elected to be entered in the
passenger-list as Madam Landsfeld Heald"), she was none the less
accorded considerable publicity. The eccentric and much advertised
Lola Montez, said the Herald on the morning after her New South
Wales début, pounces upon us direct from California, and the
excitement of her visit is emptying the opposition theatre. Last night
the Countess looked positively charming and acted very archly.... On
the fall of the curtain, she presented Mr. Lambert (who played the King
of Bavaria) with an elegant box of cigarettes.
Naturally enough, the star was interviewed by the journalists. At
the Victoria Theatre, says one of them, I was privileged to have a
talk with Madame Lola after the performance had concluded. I found
hermuch to my surpriseto be a very simple-mannered, well-behaved,
cigar-loving young lady.
An odd picture of Sydney audiences is given by the author of
Southern Lights and Shadows. The young ladies of Australia, he
says, are in many respects remarkable. At thirteen they have more
ribbons, jewels, and lovers than any other young ladies of the same
age. They prattle insipidly from morning to night. The first time I
visited a theatre I sat next one of them who had at least half a dozen
rings worn over her gloves.... The affectation of ton among them
is astonishing. They are special patrons of the drama, and, on the
appearance of a star, they flock to the dress circle in hundreds. The
pit is generally well filled with a display of shirt-sleeves, pewter
pots, and babies. The upper boxes are usually given up to that division
of the community partial to pink bonnets and cheeks to match; and
flirtations are carried on in the most flagrant and unblushing manner.
The author of this sketch also has something to say about Sydney as
One part of George Street is as much like Bond Street in London as
it is possible for one place to resemble another. Like Bond Street,
too, it is hourly paraded by the Bucks and Brummels of the Colony. The
Café François is much frequented by the young swells and sprigs of the
city. Files of Punch, The Times, sherry coblers, an
entertaining hostess, and a big-bloused lubberly host are the special
points left in my recollection. They serve 800 meals a day at this
establishment, the rent of which is £2,400 a year.
During this Sydney engagement, Lola, ever interested in the cause of
charity, organised a Grand Sebastopol Matinée Performance, the
proceeds being for the benefit of our wounded heroes in the Crimea.
As the cause had a popular appeal, the house was a bumper one.
Possibly, it was the success of this matinée that led to an
imaginative chronicler adding: Our distinguished visitor, Madame Lola
Montez, Countess of Landsfeld, is, with her full company of Thespians,
on the point of leaving us for Balaclava. There, at the special request
of Lord Raglan and Miss Florence Nightingale, she will inaugurate a
theatre for the enjoyment of our gallant warriors and their Allies.
Another odd tit-bit was sent to England by the theatrical
correspondent of a London paper. This declared that a masculine member
of her company jumped into the harbour, mortified at discovering that
Madame Lola had turned a more friendly face on a younger brother of the
Duke of Wellington who had followed her to Sydney from Calcutta. The
At intervals, however, other and better established items of news
were received from Australia and, as opportunity offered, found a niche
in the London papers. From these it would appear that all was not going
smoothly with Lola's plans, and that the start of the Antipodean
venture was somewhat tempestuous.
In Sydney, says a letter on the subject, a regrettable fracas
recently occurred at the theatre where Madame Montez has been playing.
Stepping in front she endeavoured to quell the uproar by announcing
that, while she herself 'rather liked a good row,' she would appeal to
the gallantry of the gentlemen in the pit and gallery to respect
the wishes of a lady and not interfere with the enjoyment of others by
interrupting the performance. The request, however, fell on deaf ears.
The uproar continued for some time, and was much increased by the
actors and actresses squabbling among themselves on the stage.
There was a good deal of squabbling among the company. Its members
were not a happy family. They had been engaged by their principal to
support her. Instead, however, of rendering such support, a number of
them did all they could to wreck the tour. Thereupon, Lola, adopting
strong measures, discharged the malcontents and left for Melbourne by
the next steamer. That she was justified in her action is clear from a
letter which her solicitors sent to the Press:
Our client, Madam Lola Montez, was unwise enough to engage,
at enormous cost to herself, a very inferior company in
California. Before starting, she made large advances to
every one of them; paid their passages from America (where
they were nearly all heavily in debt) to Australia; and
trusted that, in return for her immense outlay, she would at
least receive efficient assistance from them. But this band
of obscure performers not only loaded her with insults while
they continued to live on her, but on their arrival in
Sydney they one and all refused to discharge their allotted
When Madam Montez (not unnaturally irritated by such
conduct) proposed, through us, to cancel their agreements on
reasonable terms, they insisted on the fulfilment of the
contract which they themselves had been the first to break,
and made claims upon her amounting to about £12,000. This
moderate demand being very properly refused by our
they secured an order for her arrest in respect of a number
of separate actions. Only one of these (a claim for £100)
was lodged in time for a warrant to be issued. When,
furnished with this, Mr. Brown, the sheriff's officer,
appeared on board the steamer, Madam tendered him £500,
which, however, he refused to accept, insisting that she
should also settle the various other claims for which he did
not have warrants. Our client refused to leave the vessel,
for which refusal, we, as her solicitors, are quite willing
to accept responsibility.
The fact that there was talk of instituting proceedings against the
captain of the steamer and his subordinates led the solicitors to add a
Those who governed the movements of the Watarah are
to answer for their conduct. They saw a lady threatened with
arrest at the last moment for a most unjust claim, tendering
five times the amount demanded, and having that offer
refused. Hence, they did not feel called upon to interfere.
Another account of the episode is a little different. This declares
that, just before starting from Sydney, she dismissed with a blessing
two members of the company. As they wanted something more easily
negotiable, they issued a writ of attachment. When the sheriff's
officer attempted to serve it: Madame Lola, ever ready for the fray,
retired to her cabin and sent word that she was quite naked, but that
the sheriff could come and take her if he wanted to. An embarrassing
predicament; and, unprepared to grapple with it, Poor Mr. Brown
blushed and retired amid roars of laughter.
Having thus got the better of the Sydney lawyers, and filled up the
vacancies in her company with fresh and more amenable recruits, Lola
reached the Victorian capital without further adventure. A picture of
the city, as it was when she landed there, is given by a contemporary
Melbourne is splendid. Fine wide streets, finer and wider
than almost any in London, stretch away for miles in every
direction. At any hour of the day thousands of persons may
be observed scurrying along them with true Cheapside
bustle. The Melbourne youth, however, appears to have been
precocious. I was delighted, remarks this authority, with
the Colonial young stock. The average Australian boy is a
slim, olive-complexioned young rascal, fond of Cavendish,
cricket, and chuck-penny, and systematically insolent to
girls, policemen, and new chums.... At twelve years of age,
having passed through every phase of probationary
shrewdness, he is qualified to act as a full-blown bus
conductor. In the purlieus of the theatres are supper-rooms
(lavish of gas and free-mannered waitresses), and bum-boat
shops where they sell play-bills, whelks, oranges, cheroots,
and fried fish.
But, notwithstanding the existence of these amenities, all was not
well where Lola was concerned. The Sydney correspondent of the Argus
had injured her chances of making a favourable impression by writing a
somewhat imaginative account of her troubles there:
I need not tell you that the Montez has gone to Melbourne,
as she will have arrived before this letter, and is not the
sort of woman to keep her arrival secret. It may not,
however, be so generally known that she has made what is
colonially termed a 'bolt' from here.... Thinking, perhaps,
that Australia was not yet a part of the civilised world,
and that a company of players could not be secured here,
Madame brought a set of comedians from San Francisco. They
were quite useless. More competent help could have been had
on the spot.
Lola said nothing. Her leading man however, Mr. Follard, had
something to say, and wrote a strong letter to the editor:
Permit me to state, with all due deference to your
correspondent's term 'bolt,' that Madame Lola Montez left
quietly and unostentatiously.... The attempt to stop her
leaving Sydney and prevent her engagement in Melbourne was
an exhibition of meanness at which every honest heart must
feel disgusted. Alone, in a strange land, without friends or
protector, her position as a woman should in itself have
saved her from the unmanly abuse heaped upon her and the
contemptible attitude manifested by some of her company.
A second adverse factor against which Lola had to contend in
Melbourne was that prices had been doubled for her engagement there.
This was considered a grievance by the public. The difficulty, however,
adjusted itself, for the programme she offered was one that proved
The highest degree of excitement was, ran the Herald
criticism, produced upon visitors to the Theatre Royal by the actual
presence of this extraordinary and gifted being, with the praises of
whose beauty and esprit the whole civilised world has
resounded.... After curtseying with inimitable grace to the audience,
the fair artiste withdrew amidst a fresh volley of cheers.
But Lola, who never missed an opportunity of airing her opinions,
aired them now:
At the end of the performance, says a report, Madame Lola Montez
was vociferously called and addressed the audience in an animated
speech, commenting upon some remarks that had been published in a
certain journal. When a gentleman ventured to laugh while she was
enumerating the political benefits she had conferred on Bavaria, the
fair orator promptly informed him that such conduct was not usually
considered to be courteous.
The Melbourne engagement finished up with a triple bill. The
principal item was a novelty she had, the Spider Dance, which Lola
had brought from America. In this she appeared with hundreds of wire
spiders sewn on her attenuated ballet skirts; and, when any of them
fell off, she had to indulge in pronounced wriggles and contortions to
put them back in position. The accompanying movements of her body were
held to be by some standards daring and suggestive. In fact, so much
so that the representative of the Argus dubbed the number the
most libertinish and indelicate performance that could possibly be
given on the public stage. We feel compelled, he continued solemnly,
to denounce in terms of unmeasured reprobation the performance in
which Madame Montez here figures. Yet, Sir Charles Hotham, the
Governor, together with Lady Hotham and their guests, had witnessed it
without sustaining any serious damage. But perhaps they were made of
The critic of the Morning Herald at this period (understood
to be R. H. Horne, the Jules Janin of Melbourne") was either less
thin-skinned or else more broad-minded than his Argus comrade.
At any rate, he saw nothing much to call for these strictures. Thinking
that the newcomer had not been given fair play, he endeavoured to
counteract the adverse opinion that had been expressed by publishing a
laudatory one of a column length, in which he declared: Madame Montez
went through the entire measure with marked elegance and precision, and
the curtain fell amid salvoes of well merited applause.
Convinced that here was a critic who really knew his business, and a
friend on whom she could rely to do her justice, Lola wrote to the
GRAND IMPERIAL HOTEL,
A criticism of my performance of the Spider Dance at the
Theatre Royal was published in this morning's Argus,
couched in such language that I must positively answer it.
The piety and ultra-puritanism of the Argus might
the insertion of a letter bearing my signature. Therefore, I
address myself to you.
The Spider Dance is a national one, and is witnessed with
delight by all classes in Spain, and by both sexes from
Queen to peasant.
I have always looked upon this dance as a work of high art;
and I reject with positive scorn the insinuation of your
contemporary that I wish to pander to a morbid taste for
what is improper or indelicate.
I shall be at my post to-morrow evening; and will then adopt
a course that will test the value of the opinion advanced by
[Illustration: Lola as a Lecturer. From stage to platform
COUNTESS OF LANDSFELD]
The promised course was merely to deliver a long speech from the
stage, and ask the audience to decide whether she should give the vexed
item, or not. The audience were emphatic that she should; and, when she
had finished, expressed their views on the subject by uttering loud
groans for the Argus and lusty cheers for the Herald.
Honours to Lola!
But the Spider Dance was still to prove a source of trouble. The
next morning a certain Dr. Milton, who had constituted himself a
champion of morals, appeared at the police-court and applied for a
warrant for the arrest of Lola Montez, on the grounds that she had
I am in a position, he declared, to produce unquestionable
evidence of the indelicacy of her performance.
You must take out a summons in the proper fashion, said the
magistrate, who clearly had no sympathy with busybodies.
But, before he could do so, Dr. Milton found himself served with a
writ for libel. As a result, nothing more was heard of the matter.
In addition to its Mawworms, of which it was afflicted with an
appreciable number of specimens, the city of Melbourne would appear to
have had other drawbacks at this period. According to R. H. Horne,
local society was somewhat curiously constituted. There is an
attempt, he says, at the nucleus of a 'court circle'; and if the Home
Government think fit to make a few more Australian knights and baronets
there may be good hopes for the enlargement of the enchanted hoop. The
Melbourne 'Almack's' is to be complimented on the moral courage with
which its directors have resisted the claims for admission of some of
the wealthy unwashed and other unsuitables. Money is not quite
everything, even in Melbourne.
There were further strictures on the morals of Victoria, as compared
with those of New South Wales:
The haunts of villainy in Sydney are not surpassed by those
in Melbourne; but, with regard to drunkenness and
prostitution, the latter place is far worse than Sydney. The
Theatre Royal contains within itself four separate
drinking-bars. The Café de Paris, in the same building, has
two bars. In the theatre itself there is a drinking public
every night, especially when the house is crowded. Between
every act it is the custom of the audience to rush out for a
nobbler of brandy. The only exceptions are the occupants of
the dress-circle, more especially when the Governor is
By the way, the List of Beverages shows that, in proof of her
popularity, a Lola Montez Appetiser, consisting of Old Tom, ginger,
lemon and hot water, was offered to patrons.
Alcohol was not alone among the objects at which Orion Horne
tilted. He also disapproved of cricket. The mania, he says, for bats
and balls in the boiling sun during last summer exceeded all rational
excitement. The newspapers caught the epidemic, and, while scarcely
noticing other far more useful games, they devoted columns upon columns
to minute accounts of the matches of a hundred different clubs. The
very walls of Melbourne became infected. On the return of the
Victorians from Sydney, a reporter for the Herald designated
them 'the laurelled warriors.' If there is no great harm in this, the
thing has been carried too far.
It is just as well, perhaps, for Horne's peace of mind that the
present day value attached to Ashes had not arisen, and that an
Australian XI did not visit England until another twenty years had
After Melbourne, the next step in Lola's itinerary was Geelong. The
programme she offered there was a generous one, for it included a
Stirring drama, entitled, Maidens, Beware! and the elegant and
successful comedy, The Eton Boy, to which were added a
sparkling comedietta and a laughable farce. This was good value.
The Geelong critic, however, did not think very much of the principal
item in this bill. It has, he observed solemnly, an impossible plot,
with situations and sentiments quite beyond the understanding of us
This supercilious attitude was not shared by the simple-minded
diggers, who found Maidens, Beware! very much to their taste.
But nothing else could have been expected, for it offered good measure
of all the elements that ensure success every time they are employed.
Thus, the hero is wrongfully charged with a series of offences
committed by the villain; a comic servant unravels the plot when it
becomes intricate; and the heroine only avoids something worse than
death by proving that a baronet, paying unwelcome addresses, (but
nothing else) has forged a will.
Having a partiality for the society of diggers, with whom she had
always got on well, Lola next betook herself to Ballarat. It was an
unpropitious moment for a theatrical venture in that part of the world.
The atmosphere was somewhat unsettled. The broad arrows and
ticket-of-leave contingent who made up a large section of the community
were clamouring for a republic; and there was a considerable amount of
rioting. A rebel flag had been run up by the mob; and the military had
to be called out to suppress the activities of the Ballarat Reform
League. Still, Lola was not the woman to run away from danger. As she
had told a Sydney audience, she rather liked a good row.
The coming of Lola Montez to Ballarat was heralded by a preliminary
Our readers will be pleased to learn that the
world-renowned Lola, a lady who has had Kings at her beck,
and who has caused nearly as much upheaval in the world as
Helen of Troy, is about to appear among us. On leaving
Melbourne by coach, she presented the booking clerk with an
autographed copy of a work by the famous Mrs. Harriet
Beecher Stowe. Young gentlemen of Ballarat, look out for
your hearts! Havoc will assuredly be played among them.
Her colourful career attracted the laureates. One of them found in
it inspiration for a ballad, Lola, of the rolling black eye! which
was sung at every music-hall in the Colony. A second effort regarded
the matter in its graver aspects. The first verse ran as follows:
She is more to be pitied than censured,
She is more to be helped than despised.
She is only a lassie who ventured
On life's stormy path ill-advised.
Do not scorn her with words fierce and bitter,
Do not laugh at her shame and downfall,
For a moment just stop to consider
That a man was the cause of it all!
Ludwig of Bavaria had done better than this. A lot better. Annoyed
at the innuendo it contained, Lola flourished her whip afresh and
threatened the bard with an action for damages.
The Victoria Theatre, Ballarat (where Lola Montez was to give the
diggers a sample of her quality), was a newly built house,
reflecting, declared an impressed reporter, every modern elegance.
In front of the boxes, he continued, are panels, chastely adorned
with Corinthian festoons, encircling a gilded eagle emblematic of
liberty. Above the proscenium is an ellipse, exhibiting the Australian
coat of arms. The ceiling is ornamented by a dome, round which are
grouped the nine Muses, and the chandelier is the biggest in the
Colony. From the dress-circle there is direct communication with the
adjoining United States Hotel, so that first-class refreshments can be
procured without the slightest inconvenience. There are six
dressing-rooms; and Madame Lola Montez has a private and sumptuously
As the repertoire she offered was to include (by special request")
the Spider Dance, she took the precaution of sending a description of
it to the Ballarat Star:
The characteristic and fascinating SPIDER DANCE has been
performed by MADAME LOLA MONTEZ with the utmost success
throughout the United States of America and before all the
Crowned Heads of Europe.
This dance, on which malice and envy have endeavoured to fix
the stain of immorality, has been given in the other
Colonies to houses crammed from floor to ceiling with rank
and fashion and beauty. In Adelaide His Excellency the
Governor-General, accompanied by Lady McDonnell and quite
the most select ladies of the city, accorded it their
patronage, while the Free and Accepted Masons did Madame
Lola Montez the distinguished honour of attending in full
It was on February 16, 1856, that Lola Montez opened at Ballarat. A
generous programme was offered, for it consisted of the elegant and
sparkling comedy, A Morning Call; the laughable farce, The
Spittalsfields Weaver; the domestic drama, Raffaelo, the
Reprobate; and the Shakespearean tragedy, Antony and Cleopatra
; all with new and sumptuous scenery, dresses, and appointments.
In accordance with the fashion of the period, the star had to recite
a prologue. An extract from it was as follows:
'Tis only right some hurried words to say
As to the name this theatre bears to-day,
For I would have you fully understand
I seek for patrons men of every land.
'Tis not alone through prejudice has been
Attached the name of Britain's virtuous Queen.
And may your gen'rous presence and applause
Mutual content and happy evenings cause!
But this was merely an introduction. There was more to follow, for
the personal touch had yet to be delivered.
As for myself, you'll find in Lola Montez
The study how to please my constant wont is!
Yet I am vain that I'm the first star here
To shine upon this Thespian hemisphere.
And only hope that when I say Adieu!
You'll grant the same I wish to you
May rich success reward your daily toil,
Nor men nor measures present peace despoil,
And may I nightly see your pleasant faces
With these fair ladies, your attendant Graces!
But, despite this auspicious start, all was not set fair at
Ballarat. As had happened in other places, Lola was to fall foul of a
critic who had disparaged her. Furiously indignant, and horse-whip in
hand, she rushed into the editor's office and executed summary
vengeance upon him.
A full account of this remarkable business, announced the
opposition journal, will be given by us to-morrow. Our
readers may anticipate a perfect treat. They got it, too,
if one can trust the report of a few choice observations
delivered by Lola to her audience on the second night of her
Ladies and Gentlemen: I am very sure that all of you in
this house are my very good friends; and I much regret that
I now have a most unpleasant duty to perform. I had imagined
that, after all the kindness I have experienced from the
miners in California, I should never have had anything
painful to say to you. Now, however, I am compelled to do
I speak to the ladies, as members of my own sex, and to the
gentlemen, as my natural protectors. Well, what I have to
tell you is that there is a certain gentleman in this town
called Seekamp. Just take out the E's, and what is left of
his name becomes Skamp. Listen to my story, and then
between us. This Mr. Seekamp, who is the editor of the
Ballarat Times, actually told me, in the hearing of
another lady and two quite respectable gentlemen, that the
miners here were a set of . No, I really cannot sully my
lips with the shocking word he usedand that I was not to
Mr. Seekamp called on me, with a certain proposition, and
accepted my hospitality. You all know he is just a little
fond of drinking. Well, while he was at my house the sherry,
the port, the champagne, and the brandy were never off the
table. He ate with me, and he drank with me. In fact, he
drank so freely that it was only my self-respect that
prevented me having him removed. But I said to myself,
'After all, he is an editor; perhaps this is his little
Well, I did as Mr. Seekamp wanted, and as a result, I was a
ten pound note out of pocket by it. I was green, but I was
anxious to avoid making enemies among editors. Yet, when his
paper next appears, I am referred to in it as being
notorious for my immorality. Notorious, indeed! Why, I defy
everybody here, or anywhere else, to say that I am, or ever
was, immoral. It's not likely that, if I wanted to be
immoral, I should be slaving away and earning my bread by
hard work. What do you think?
Ladies and Gentlemen, I appeal to you. Is it fair or
generous of this Seekamp person to behave to me like this?
The truth is, my manager, knowing that he was a
good-for-nothing fellow, gave my printing orders to another
editor. In revenge, the angry Seekamp says he will hound me
from this town. Ladies and Gentlemen, I appeal to you for
And here, adds the report, the intrepid Lola retired amid
deafening applause. Three hearty cheers were given for Madame and three
lusty groans for her cowardly traducer.
On the following night there was more speech-making. This time, Lola
complained to the audience that she had been freshly aspersed by the
objectionable Seekamp. I offered, she said, though merely a woman,
to meet him with pistols, but the cur who attacks a lady's character
runs away from my challenge. He says he will drive me from the
Diggings. Well, I intend to turn the tables, and to make Seekamp
de-camp. I very much regret, she added, having been compelled to
assert myself at the expense of Mr. Seekamp, but, really it was not my
fault. His attacks on my art were most ungentlemanly. I challenged him
to fight a duel, but the poltroon would not accept.
In the best tradition of the Eatanswill Gazette, the
Ballarat Star referred to the Ballarat Times as our
veracious contemporary and doughty opponent, and alluded to the
unblushing profligacy of its editorial columns. The proprietor of the
United States Hotel and the solicitor for Lola Montez also sailed into
the controversy and challenged Mr. Seekamp to eat his words. That
individual, however, not caring about such a diet, refused to do
anything of the sort.
The matter did not end there, and a number of correspondents took up
the cudgels on behalf of Lola Montez.
Is it possible, wrote one of them to the editor of the Star, that Mr. Seekamp can, in his endeavour to blacken the fair fame of a
woman, insinuate that he is also guilty of the most shocking
immorality? I blush to think it. There was also a letter in a similar
strain from John Bull, and another from An Eton Boy, animadverting
upon Mr. Seekamp's grammar.
Feeling herself damaged in reputation, Lola's next step was to
instruct her solicitor to bring an action for libel against Seekamp.
The magistrate remitted the case to the superior court at Geelong. But,
as an apology was offered and accepted, nothing more was heard of it.
This, however, was not the end of her troubles at Ballarat, for
horse-whips were again to whistle in the air. But, this time Lola got
more than she bargained for. She was using her whip on one Mr. Crosby,
the manager of the theatre there, when that individual's spousea
strong-minded and muscular womanwrested the weapon from her and laid
it across her own back.
The account given by an eye-witness is a little different. At
Ballarat, he says, Lola pitched into and cross-buttocked a stalwart
Amazon who had omitted to show her proper respect.
Cross-buttocked would appear to be an expression which, so far,
has eluded the dictionary-makers.
In other parts of the Colony, however, Lola's reception more than
made up for any little unpleasantnesses at Ballarat. Her popularity,
says William Kelly, an Australian squatter, was not limited to the
stage. She was welcomed with rapture on the gold fields, and all the
more for the liberal fashion in which she 'shouted' when returning the
hospitality of the diggers. Her pluck, too, delighted them, for she
would descend the deepest shafts with as much nonchalance as if she
were entering a boudoir.
From Sandhurst Lola Montez travelled to Bendigo, where the tour
finished. There, says a pressman, she lived on terms of the most
cordial amity with the entire populace, and without a single disturbing
incident to ruffle the serenity of the intercourse.
Having completed her tour in Australia, with considerable profit to
herself, Lola Montez disbanded her company, and, in the autumn of 1856,
returned to Europe. She had several offers from London; but, feeling
that a rest was well earned, she left the ship at Marseilles and took a
villa at St. Jean de Luz. While there, she appears to have occupied a
certain amount of public attention. At any rate, Émile de Girardin,
thinking it good copy, reprinted in La Presse a letter she had
written to the Estafette:
ST. JEAN DE LUZ,
September 3, 1856.
Sir: The French and Belgian papers are announcing as a
positive fact that the suicide of Monsieur Mauclerc (who
deliberately precipitated himself from the top of the Pic du
Midi cliff) was caused by various troubles I had occasioned
him. If he were still living, Monsieur Mauclerc would
himself, I feel certain, contradict this calumny.
It is true that we were married; but, finding, after eight
days, that our union was not likely to turn out a happy one,
we parted by mutual consent. The story of my responsibility
for the Pic du Midi business only exists in the imaginative
brain of some journalist who revels in supplying tragic
details. Anyhow, Mr. Editor, I count upon your sympathy to
exculpate me from any share in the melancholy event.Yours,
Mauclerc, however, so far from being dead, was still very much
alive, and was sunning himself just then at Bayonne. Having read this
letter, he answered it in the next issue:
I have just seen in the columns of La Presse a letter
Lola Montez. This gives an account of a deliberate jump from
the top of a cliff and of a marriage with myself as the
chief actor in each catastrophe. All I have to say about
them is that I know nothing of these important occurrences.
I assure you, sir, I have never felt any desire to
precipitate myself, either from the Pic du Midi or from
anywhere else; nor have I ever had the distinction of being
the husband of the famous Countess of Landsfeld for a matter
of even eight days.MAUCLERC. Artist dramatique.
September 9, 1856.
Lola ignored this démenti. Possibly, however, she did not
read it, for she was just then arranging another trip to America.
CHAPTER XVI. FAREWELL TO THE
Having booked a number of engagements there, in December, 1857, Lola
landed in New York for the second time. Directly she stepped off the
ship, she was surrounded by a throng of reporters. Never losing the
chance of making a speech, she gave them just what they wanted.
America, she said, as they pulled out their note-books, is the
last refuge left the victims of tyranny and oppression in the old
world. It is the finest monument to liberty ever erected beneath the
canopy of heaven.
For her reappearance she offered the public Lola Montez in
Bavaria, which had already done good service. By this time,
however, it was a little frayed.
The drama represents her as a coquettish and reckless woman, was
the considered opinion of one critic. We assure our readers she is
nothing of the sort.
This testimonial was a help. Still, it could not infuse fresh life
into a piece that had obviously outlived its popularity. Hence, she
soon changed the bill for a double one, The Eton Boy and
Follies of a Night. But the cash results were not much better; and
when she left New York and tried her luck in Boston the week's receipts
were scarcely two hundred dollars. This, in theatrical parlance, was
not playing to the gas.
Realising that she was losing her grip, she cast about for some
fresh method of attracting the public. It was not long before she hit
on one. As she was in a democratic country, she would make capital out
of her title. A plan was soon matured. This was to hold receptions,
where anybody would be welcome who was prepared to pay a dollar.
A dollar for ten minutes' chat with a genuine countess, and, for
another 50 cents, the privilege of shaking her hand. A bargain. The
tariff appealed to thousands. Among them Charles Sumner, the
distinguished jurist, who declared of Lola Montez that, She was by far
the most graceful and delightful woman I ever met.
Her next scheme for raising the financial wind was to employ her
pen. It was true that her memoirs, strung together in Paris, had
fallen flatowing to the pusillanimity of the editor of Le Pays
but a full length autobiography would, she thought, stand a better
prospect. Apart, too, from other considerations, there was now more
material on which to draw. An embarrassing amount of it. She could say
somethinga lotabout the happenings in Bavaria, in France, in
California, and in Australia. All good stuff, and a field hitherto
The pen, however, being still an unaccustomed weapon, she availed
herself of outside help; and practically the whole of the
Autobiography of Lola Montez was written for her (on a
profit-sharing agreement) by a clerical collaborator, the Rev. Chauncey
The tale of the Odysseyas set forth in this joint
productionestablished contact with glittering circles and the
breathing of perfumed air. Within its chapters emperors and kings and
princes jostle one another; scenes shift continually from capital to
capital; and plots follow counter-plots in breathless fashion. Yet
those who purchased the volume in the fond belief that it would turn
out to be the analysis of a modern Aspasia were disappointed. As a
matter of fact, there was next to nothing in it that would have upset a
Band of Hope committee-meeting. This, however, was largely because, an
adept at skating over thin ice, the Rev. Mr. Burr ignored, or coloured,
such happenings as did not redound to the credit of his subject.
[Illustration: Lola Montez in Middle Life. A characteristic pose
The Autobiography (alleged) finishes on a high note:
Ten years have elapsed since the events with which Lola
Montez was connected in Bavaria; and yet the malice of the
diffusive and ever vigilant Jesuits is as fresh and as
active as it was at the first hour it assailed her. It is
not too much to say that few artists of her profession ever
escaped with so little censure; and certainly none ever had
the doors of the highest social respectability so
universally open to them as she had, up to the time she went
to Bavaria. And she denies that there was anything in her
conduct there which ought to have compromised her before the
world. Her enemies assailed her, not because her deeds were
bad, but because they knew of no other means to destroy her
Although too modest to acknowledge it, this passage is obviously the
Rev. Chauncey Burr verbatim.
An offer to serialise part of the autobiography in the columns of
Le Figaro was accepted. In correcting the proofs, Lola still clung
to the earlier account that had already done service in the memoirs
contributed to Le Pays. But she embellished it with fresh
embroideries. Thus, to keep up the Spanish connection, she now claimed
as her aunts the Marquise de Pavestra and the Marquise de Villa-Palana,
together with an equally imaginary Uncle Juan; and she also, for the
first time, gave her schoolgirl friend, Fanny Nicholls, a sister
The autobiography had originally been accepted for Le Pays
by Anténon Joly. When, however, shortly afterwards, MM. de la
Guéronnière and de Lamartine acquired the journal, they repudiated the
contract. Hence, its transfer to Le Figaro. But this organ also
developed a sudden queasiness, and, after the first few instalments had
appeared, declined to print the remainder, on the grounds that they
were too scandalous. Some time afterwards, Eugéne de Mirecourt,
thinking he had a bargain, secured the interrupted portions and made
them the basis of a chapter on Lola Montez in his Les Contemporains. This chapter is marked throughout by severe disapproval. Thus, it
The woman who revives in the nineteenth century the scandals of
Jeanne Vaubernier belongs to our gallery, and the abject materialism
accompanying her misconduct will be revealed in the pages that follow.
De Mirecourt was not too happy in his self-appointed task. Like
everything else from his pen, the entire section is distinctly
imaginative. Thus, he declares that Lola, while living in Madrid, was
supported by five or six great English lords; and, among other
amorous incidents, says that a Brahmin priest fell in love with her;
that she conducted a scandalous intrigue with a young French diplomat
who was carrying despatches to the Emperor of China; and that her
husband, Lieutenant James, once intercepted a tender passage between
herself and a rajah. Further embroideries assert that Lola's father was
the son of a Lady Gilbert, and that her mother was the daughter of a
Moorish warrior who abjured paganism. To this rigmarole he adds that
she was sent to a boarding-school at Bath, kept by a Mrs. Olridge,
where she had an early liaison with the drawing-master.
It was perhaps as well for de Mirecourt, and others of his kidney,
that libel actions had not then been added to the perils of authorship.
Still, if they had, Lola would not have troubled to bring one. To take
proceedings in America against a man living in France was difficult.
Also, by this time she was so accustomed to studied misrepresentation
and deliberate falsehoods that she refused to interfere.
It doesn't matter what people choose to say about me, she remarked
contemptuously, when she was informed by a friend in Paris of the
liberties being taken with her name.
Although (except when she took it into her own hands) she liked to
keep clear of the law, this was not always possible. Such an instance
occurred in March, 1858, when a Mr. Jobson of New York brought an
action against her in respect of an alleged debt. The proceedings would
appear to have been conducted in a fashion that must have been peculiar
to the time and place; and, in an effort to discredit her, she was
subjected to a cross-examination that would now be described as third
Were you not, began the plaintiff's counsel, born in Montrose,
the daughter of one Molly Watson?
When this was denied, he put his next question.
How many intrigues have you had during your career?
None, was the answer.
We'll see about that, Madam, returned the other, consulting his
brief. To begin with, were you not the mistress of King Ludwig?
You are a vulgar villain, exclaimed Lola indignantly. I can swear
on the Bible, which I read every night, but you don't, that I never had
what you call an 'intrigue' with him. As a matter of fact, I did him a
lot of good.
In what way? enquired the judge, looking interested.
Well, I moulded his mind to the love of freedom.
Before you ran off with your first husband, continued counsel,
were you not employed as a chambermaid?
Never, was the emphatic response. And, let me tell you, Mr.
Attorney, it is not at all a shameful thing to be a chambermaid. If I
had been born one, I should consider myself a much more distinguished
woman than I am.
When her own counsel, coming to the rescue, dubbed Mr. Jobson a
fellow, there followed, in the words of a reporter, an unseemly
fracas. From abuse of one another, the rival attorneys took to
fisticuffs; the spectators and officials joined in the struggle; and an
ink pot was hurled by the furious Jobson at the occupants of the
jury-box. This being considered contempt of court, he was arrested, and
the judge, gathering up his papers, left the Bench, announcing that the
further hearing would be adjourned.
After this experience, Lola developed a fresh activity. Like a
modern Joan of Arc, she suddenly announced that she heard Voices, and
that, on their instructions, she was giving up the stage for the
platform. Her plans were soon completed; and, on February 3, 1858, she
mounted the rostrum and made her début as a lecturer, at the Hope
Chapel, New York.
There were beery chuckles from the reporters who were covering
this effort. Lola Montez in the chapel pulpit is good fun, was the
conclusion at which one of them arrived; and another headed his column,
A Desperado in Dimity.
Judging from his account of this initial sample (a lecture on
Beautiful Women"), the Tribune representative did not regard it
Temperance, exercise, and cleanliness, preached Lola the
plucky; light suppers and reasonable hours; jolly long walks
in thick boots and snug wrappers for the benefit of the
complexion. From these, said Lola, come good digestion, good
humour, and good sense. And that's the way, my dear Flora,
to be healthy and wealthyspeaking crinolinely and
Lola was before her time. Nowadays she would have set up as a
beauty specialist. Had she done so, she would have secured a big
income from the sale of creams and perfumes, powders and paints, and
dyes and unguents, and all the other nostrums with which women
endeavour to recover their vanished charms. But, instead of becoming a
practitioner, she became an author and compiled a handbook, The Arts
of Beauty, or Secrets of a Lady's Toilet. This went very fully into
the subject, and had helpful hints on Complexion Treatment, Hair
Culture, Removal of Wrinkles, and what was then coyly termed Bust
Development. Importance was also attached to Intellect, as a
sovereign specific for repairing the ravages of advancing years. A
beautiful mind, announced the author, is the first thing required for
a beautiful face.
Lola's light was not hidden under any bushel. An American firm of
publishers, convinced that there was money in this sort of thing, made
an acceptable offer and issued the work with a prefatory inscription:
++ | TO | |
ALL MEN AND WOMEN | | OF EVERY LAND | | WHO ARE NOT AFRAID OF
THEMSELVES | | WHO TRUST SO MUCH TO THEIR OWN SOULS THAT THEY DARE TO |
| STAND UP | | IN THE MIGHT OF THEIR | | OWN INDIVIDUALITY | | TO MEET
THE TIDAL CURRENTS OF THE WORLD, THIS BOOK IS | | RESPECTFULLY
DEDICATED BY | | THE AUTHOR |
The title-page of this effort ran as follows:
+-+ | THE | | ARTS OF BEAUTY | | OR
| | SECRETS OF A LADY'S TOILET | | WITH HINTS TO GENTLEMEN | | ON THE |
| ART OF FASCINATION | | BY MADAME LOLA MONTEZ | | COUNTESS OF
LANDSFELD | | NEW YORK | | DICK AND FITZGERALD, PUBLISHERS | | 18 ANN
STREET | +-+
A Canadian publisher, John Lovell, on the look-out for a novelty,
read this effort and suggested that a friend of his, Émile Chevalier,
of Paris, should sponsor an edition of Lola's Arts of Beauty for
consumption on the boulevards. I am too much an admirer of the gifted
author, was M. Chevalier's response, to undertake the work without
consulting her. Accordingly, he got into touch with Lola, offering to
have a translation made. Thank you, she replied, but I wish to do it
myself. You, however, can put in any corrections you think necessary. I
have not written anything in French since the death of poor Bon-Bon
[Dujarier], and I want to see if I still remember the language.
Apparently she did so, for, shortly afterwards, the manuscript was sent
across the Atlantic and delivered to M. Chevalier. Within another month
it was on the bookstalls. I have retouched it very little, says the
editor in his preface, as I was anxious to preserve Madame Lola's
distinctly original style. Her pen is as mordant as her dog-whip.
M. Chevalier was charmed with the fashion in which Lola had
acquitted herself, and wrote florid letters of thanks to her in New
York. With a supplementary lecture on Instructions for Gentlemen in
the Art of Fascination, which was added to fill up the book, he
declared himself much impressed. This, he says, exhibits a profound
knowledge of the human heart, and is altogether one of the finest and
most piquant criticisms on American manners with which I am familiar.
Who, he continues, warming to his work, is more thoroughly qualified
to discuss the development and preservation of natural beauty than the
Countess of Landsfeld?; and in an introductory puff he adds: These
observations are very judicious, and as applicable in Europe as in
America. They should, I feel, be indelibly engraved on the minds of all
Perhaps they were. At any rate, the result of M. Chevalier's
enterprise was a distinct success, and the Paris bookshops soon got rid
of 50,000 copies. In fact, Lola was very nearly a best-seller.
In addition to her expert views on Beautiful Women, Lola had
plenty of other subjects up her sleeve, to be incorporated in a series
of lectures. The list covered a wide range, for it included such
diverse headings as Ladies with Pasts, Heroines of History,
Romanism, Wits and Women of Paris, Comic Aspects of Love, and
Gallantry. On all of these matters she had plenty to say. On some of
them quite a lot, for they ran to an average of a dozen closely printed
pages, and, when delivered in public, took up three hours. In the one
on Beautiful Women precise details were given as to the adventitious
causes contributing to her own sylph-like figure, glossy hair and
pearly teeth, etc., and a number of prescriptions were also offered.
These, she recommended, should be manufactured at home. For a few
shillings and a little trouble, she pointed out, any lady can secure
an adequate supply of all such things, composed of materials far
superior to the expensive compounds bought from druggists; and the
recipes, she insisted, had been translated by herself from the
original French, Spanish, German, and Italian. Among these were
Beaume à l'Antique, Unction de Maintenon, and Pommade de
Seville; and a retired actress at Gibraltar was responsible for a
specific for warding off baldness. Lola put it in two wordsavoid
nightcaps. But she was sympathetic about scalp troubles. Without a
fine head of hair, no woman can be really beautiful.... The dogs would
bark at and run away from her in the street. To be well covered on top
was, she held, quite as important for the opposite sex. How like a
fool or a ruffian, she remarked, do the noblest masculine features
appear if the hair of the head is bad. Many a dandy who has scarcely
brains or courage enough to catch a sheep has enslaved the hearts of a
hundred girls with his Hyperion locks!
Although nominally the author of them, these lectures were, like her
previous flight, really strung together by that clerical ghost, the
Rev. Chauncey Burr, with whom she had collaborated in her memoirs.
Wielding a ready pen, he gave good value, for the chapters were well
sprinkled with choice classical quotations and elegant extracts from
the poets, together with allusions to Aristotle and Theophrastus, to
Madame de Staël and Washington Irving.
In the lecture on Gallantry, Lola had a warm encomium for King
His Majesty, she informed her audience, is one of the most
refined and high-toned gentlemen of the old school of manners. He is
also one of the most learned men of genius in all Europe. To him art is
more indebted than to any other monarch who has ever lived. King Ludwig
is the author of several volumes of poems, which are evidence of his
natural genius and elaborately cultivated taste.... He worships beauty
like one of the old troubadours; and his gallantry is caused by his
love of art. He was the greatest and best King Bavaria ever had.
In another passage she had a smack at the Catholic Church:
An evil hour brought into Ludwig's counsels the most despotic and
illiberal of the Jesuits. Through the influence of his ministers the
natural liberality of the King was perpetually thwarted; and the
Government degenerated into a petty tyranny, where priestly influence
was sucking out the very life-blood of the people.
More than something of a doctrinaire, her observations on Romanism
(which she dubbed an abyss of superstition and moral pollution") might
have fallen from the lips of a hot-gospeller of to-day. Who, she
asked her hearers, shall compute the stupefying and brutalizing
effects of such religion? Who will dare tell me that this terrible
Church does not lie upon the bosom of the present time like a vast,
unwieldy, and offensive corpse? America does not yet recognise how much
she owes to the Protestant principle. It is that principle which has
given the world the four greatest facts of modern timessteamboats,
railroads, telegraphs, and the American Republic.
This somewhat novel definition of the four greatest facts of modern
times was received with rapture by its hearers.
Despite certain jeers from some of the reviewers, the lectures
continued to attract the public. The novelty of Lola Montez at the
rostrum drew large audiences everywhere; and she had no difficulty in
arranging a long tour. Feeling, when it came to an end, that a similar
measure of success might be secured on the other side of the Atlantic,
she resolved to visit England.
Just before leaving America for this purpose, she wrote to a
one-time Munich acquaintance, who was then editing a New York magazine:
August 20, 1858.
MY DEAR MR. LELAND,
I wish to thank you for the very kind notice you gave in
your interesting magazine of my first book, and I have
requested Messrs. Dick and Fitzgerald, my publishers, to
send to your private address a copy of my Arts of Beauty.
I hope, as a critique, it will be found not wanting
do not mean not wanted).
Will you give my best and kindest regards to our friend
Caxton; and, with the hope of hearing from you before I
leave for Europe, which will be in a couple of months, I
remain, far or near, your friend,
Of course, there was a postscript:
The subject of my lectures in Europe will be on America.
This should prove attractive.
Another letter suggests that an appointment with Leland had not been
I should have much liked to have seen you before my
departure for Ireland on Tuesday by Pacific, but I cannot
control circumstances, you know; and therefore all I ask you
until my return next July is a place in your memory.
Maybe, I shall write to you, or, maybe, not. But, whatever
is, be sure that You will not be forgotten by Yrs.
Again the inevitable postscript:
Give my best and kindest regards to our friend. Tell him
shall certainly manage to fill his columns with plenty more
According to himself, Lola looked upon the young American with
something more than mere friendship. Once, he says, in his
reminiscences, she proposed to make a bolt with me to Europe, which I
declined. The secret of my influence, he adds smugly, was that I
always treated her with respect, and never made love.
It was at the end of November, 1858, that Lola landed once more in
the United Kingdom. She began her campaign there in Dublin, where,
twenty-four years earlier, she had lived as a young bride, danced at
the Castle, and flirted with the Viceroy's aides-de-camp. During the
interval a crowded chapter, and one full of colour and life and
movement, had been written.
All being in readiness, the public were duly informed of her plans
by an advertisement:
MADAME LOLA MONTEZ, COUNTESS OF LANDSFELD, will give a Lecture on
America and its People, at the Round Room, Rotundo, on Wednesday
evening, December 8. Reserved seats, 3s.; unreserved, 2s. 6d.
The début would appear to have been highly successful. The
announcement of the lecture, said a report the next morning, created
a degree of interest almost unparalleled among the Dublin public. The
platform was regularly carried by a throng of admirers, giving Madame
Lola Montez barely space to reach her desk. She was listened to with
enraptured attention and warm manifestations of approval; and very
properly, an ill-bred fellow, who exclaimed, 'hee-haw' at regular
intervals, was loudly hissed.
[Illustration: Lectures and Life. From stage to platform]
For some reason or other, Lola was constantly embroiled with
journalists. Thus, during this Dublin visit she had a passage at arms
with one of them, who had published some damaging criticisms about her
life in Paris. Thereupon, she wrote an angry letter to the editor of
the Daily Express. As, however, she was alluding to events that
had taken place nearly fifteen years earlier, her memory was somewhat
at fault. Thus, she insisted that, when Dujarier met his death, she was
living in the house of a Dr. and Mrs. Azan; and also that the good
Queen of Bavaria wept bitterly when she left Munich.
But, if Lola Montez was not very reliable, the editor of the
Dublin Daily Express was similarly slipshod in his comments. It is
now, he declared, well established that Lola Montez was born in 1824,
her father being the son of a baronet.
Crossing from Ireland to England, Lola, prior to appearing in
London, undertook a tour in the provinces. On January 8, 1859, she
appeared at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, where her subject was
Portraits of English and American Character. This went down very
well, although, to her disappointment, John Bright declined to take the
chair. At Liverpool, however, the public went almost wild with
excitement; and, as a result, her share of the box-office receipts was
£250. But, although she attracted the mob, she managed to upset the
susceptibilities of the critics. Some of Madam's allusions, declared
a shocked hearer, were in questionable taste, and, as she delivered
her address, the epithet 'coarse' fell from several members of the
A visit to Chester, which followed the Liverpool one, was marked by
an unfortunate incident:
We learn with sorrow, said an eye-witness, that on Thursday last
the lady introduced, if not American, certainly not English, manners
into one of our most venerable cathedrals. When, accompanied by a
masculine escort, she entered the sacred edifice, the gentleman (?)
demurred to removing his hat. While in dispute on this point of
etiquette, Madam's pet dog attempted to join her. On being informed by
the sexton that such canine companionship was inadmissible, her anger
was aroused and she withdrew in considerable dudgeon.
The provincial tour was an extensive one; and, during it, she
encountered a certain amount of competition. Thus, at Bristol she was
sandwiched in between Barnum and a quarterly meeting of the Bible
Society. None the less, the fair Lola had a very cordial reception
from a number of respectable citizens. But she was to have a set-back
in one town that must have held many memories of her girlhood. This was
Bath, where she appeared in the Assembly Rooms. The attitude of the
press was distinctly inimical. We must say, was one acid comment,
that a greater sell we have not met with for a very long time.
All the audience got for their money were some remarks of the most
commonplace and twaddling description. They lasted about an hour, and
even this was an hour too much. Still, Brighton, where the tour
finished, more than made up for Bath; and she was so successful there
that the Pavilion was crammed to the doors, and additional lectures
had to be given. Thus, all was well that ended well.
A provincial triumph was worth having. Lola, however, had set her
heart on conquering London. With this end in view, accordingly, she
despatched an emissary ahead to make the preliminary arrangements.
Offers of theatres were showered upon her. One was from that remarkable
figure, Edward Tyrell Smith. She would probably have done well under
his management, for nobody understood showmanship better than this
British Barnum. In this direction he had nothing to learn from anybody.
Beginning his career as a sailor, he had soon tired of a life on the
ocean wave, and, abandoning the prospect of becoming another Nelson,
had joined the police force as a humble constable. But he did not
remain one long; and became in turn a Fleet Street publican, the
proprietor of a Haymarket night-house, an auctioneer, a picture dealer,
a bill discounter (with a side line in usury), and the editor of a
Sunday organ. Next, the theatre attracted his energies; and in 1852 he
secured a lease of Drury Lane at the moderate rental of £70 a week. On
Boxing-night he offered his first programme there. This consisted of
Uncle Tom's Cabin (with fierce bloodhounds complete"), followed by
a full length pantomime and a roaring farce. Value for money in those
palmy days. But, as an entrepreneur, Mr. Smith was always ahead of his
period. Thus, he abolished the customary charge for booking; and,
instead of increasing them, he lowered his prices when he had a
success; and it is also to his credit that he introduced matinées.
Such a manager deserved to go far. This one did go far. Having
discovered his niche, the pushful Smith soon had his fingers in several
other pies. Thus, from Drury Lane he went to the Alhambra, and from the
Alhambra to Astley's, with intervening spells at the Lyceum and the
Elephant and Castle. He also took in his stride Her Majesty's and
Cremorne. All was fish that he swept into his net. Some, of course,
were minnows, but others were Tritons. Charles Mathews and the two
Keans, together with Giuglini and Titiens, served under his banner, as
did also acrobats, conjurers, and pugilists. He ran opera, circuses,
gambling hells, and moral waxworks simultaneously; and, these fields
of endeavour not being enough for him, he added to them by standing for
Parliament (opposing Samuel Whitbread) and editing the Sunday Times. Always a man of resource, when he was conducting a tavern he put his
barmaids into bloomers. This daring stroke had its reward; and, by
swelling the consumption of beer, perceptibly increased his bank
balance. Hence, it is not perhaps unnatural that such widely spread
activities should have inspired a lyrical apostrophe:
Awake, my Muse, with fervour and with pith,
To sing the praise of Lessee Edward Smith!
Yet, shrewd as he was, Mr. Smith was himself once bitten. During his
money-lending interval, he happened to discount (at what he considered
a business rate) some bills for £600 out of which Prince Louis
Napoleon, then sheltering in London, had been swindled by some
card-sharpers at the notorious Judge and Jury Club. The next morning,
the victim, coming to his senses, went to the police, and the police
went to the sharpers. As a result, the members of the gang were
arrested and the bills were cancelled. Feeling that he had a genuine
grievance, since he was out of pocket by the transaction, the acceptor
waited until a turn of Fortune's wheel had established Louis Napoleon
at the Tuileries. He then wrote to him for permission to open some
pleasure gardens in Paris on the lines of those he had conducted at
Cremorne. The desired permission, however, was withheld.
No gratitude, said the disappointed applicant.
Tempting as were the prospects he offered, Lola, after some
discussion, felt that she could do better, from a financial point of
view, without the help of Mr. E. T. Smith. Accordingly, making her own
arrangements, she hired the St. James's Hall, where, on April 7, 1859,
she delivered the first of a series of four lectures.
Although a considerable interval had elapsed since she was last in
London, the public had not forgotten the dramatic circumstances under
which she had then appeared at Marlborough Street police court. This
fact, combined with the lure of her subject, Beautiful Women, was
sufficient to cram every portion of the building with an interested and
expectant audience. They came from all parts. Clapham and Highgate were
no less anxious for guidance than Kensington and Belgravia. If an
entertainment-tax had been levied at that period the revenue would have
benefited substantially. The appearance on the platform of the fair
lecturer, said one account, was responsible for the most extensive
display of opera glasses that has been seen in London since the Empress
Eugénie visited the Opera.
By an unfortunate coincidence, the St. James's Hall première
clashed with another attraction elsewhere. This was the confirmation
that evening of the dusky King of Bonny by the Bishop of London. Still,
a considerable number managed to attend both items; and, of the two,
the lecture proved the greater draw.
Striking a note of warning at the outset, Lola began by telling her
hearers that, It is the penalty of Nature that young girls must fade
and become as wizened as their grandmothers. But she had a message of
hope to offer, for, she said, wrinkles can be warded off and autumn
tresses made to preserve their pristine freshness. The cure was merely
careful dieting and the abolition of injurious cosmetics and the
health-destroying bodice. Taking the measure of her audience, she laid
on flattery with a trowel. You have, she assured them, only to look
into the ranks of the upper classes to see around you the most
beautiful women in Europe; and where this is concerned, I must give the
preference to the nobility of England. Among the examples held up for
admiration by her were the Duchess of Sutherlandthe paragon and type
of Britain's aristocracyand the very voluptuous Lady Blessington.
Approval for the Duchess of Wellington, however, was less pronounced,
since, while admitting her physical charms, Lola declared her to be of
little intellect, and as cold as a piece of sculpture.
Claiming to have visited Turkey (but omitting to say when), Lola
offered an item unrecorded in the archives of the British Embassy
In Turkey I saw very few beautiful women. The lords of
creation in that part of the world treat the opposite sex as
you would geesestuff them to make them fat. Through the
politeness of Sir Stratford Canning, English Ambassador at
Constantinople, I was kindly permitted to visit the Sultan's
harem as often as I pleased and there look upon the 'lights
of the world.' These 'lights of the world' consisted of five
hundred bodies of unwieldy avoirdupois. The ladies of the
harem gazed upon my leanness with commiserating wonder.
The lecture finished up on a high note:
It has been my privilege to see some of the most celebrated
beauties that shine in the gilded courts of fashion
throughout the worldfrom St. James's to St. Petersburg,
from Paris to Indiaand yet I am unaware of any quality
that can atone for the absence of an unpolished mind and an
unlovely heart. A charming activity of soul is the real
source of woman's beauty. It is that which gives the
sweetest expression to her face and lights up her
In the matter of publicity Lola had nothing of which to complain;
and the next morning descriptive columns were published by the dozen.
The début of Madame Lola Montez (announced the Star), in
the presence of a large and fashionable gathering, was a
decided success. Every portion of the spacious and elegant
building was completely filled. Madame presented herself in
that black velvet costume which seems to be the only
alternative to white muslin for ladies who aspire to be
considered historic. Not Marie Stuart herself could have
become it better than Lola Montez. Her face, air, attitude,
and elocution are thoroughly and bewilderingly feminine.
Perhaps her smartest and happiest remark was the one in
which, with a pretty affectation, she says, If I were a
gentleman, I should like an American young lady to flirt
with, but a typical English girl for a wife. This dictum
was received with much applause.
One can well believe it.
An anonymous leader, but which, from its florid touches, was
evidently penned by George Augustus Sala, dwelt on Lola's personality:
Some disappointment may have been caused by the appearance
of the fair lecturer. A Semiramis, a Zenobia, a Cleopatra,
in marvellous robes of gold and silver tissue, might have
been looked for; but, in reality, the rostrum was occupied
by a very handsome lady, with a very charming voice and a
very winning smile.... Madame Lola Montez lectures very well
and very naturally. Some will go to hear the accomplished
elocutionist; others will be envious to see the wife of
Captain James and silly Mr. Heald; the friend of Dujarier
and Beauvalon; the cara sposa of King Ludwig. Phryne
to the bath as Venusand Madame Lola Montez lectures at St.
Taking a professional interest in everything connected, however
remotely, with the drama (and having more time in which to do it) the
Era offered its readers a considered opinion at greater length:
If any amongst the full and fashionable auditory that
attended her first appearance fancied (with a lively
recollection of certain scandalous chronicles in the
newspapers touching upon her antecedents) that they were
about to behold a formidable-looking woman, of Amazonian
audacity and palpably strong-wristed as well as
strong-minded, their disappointment must have been grievous;
greater if they anticipated the legendary bulldog at her
side, and the traditionary pistols in her girdle, and the
horse-whip in her hand. The Lola Montez who made a graceful
and impressive obeisance to those who gave her on Thursday
night so cordial and encouraging a reception appeared simply
as a good-looking lady in the bloom of womanhood, attired
in a plain black dress, with easy unrestrained manners....
The lecture might have been a newspaper article, the first
chapter of a book of travels, or the speech of a long-winded
American Ambassador at a Mansion House dinner. All was
exceedingly decorous and diplomatic, slightly gilded here
and there with those commonplace laudations that stir a
British public into the utterance of patriotic plaudits. A
more inoffensive entertainment could hardly be imagined; and
when the six sections into which the lady had divided her
discourse, were exhausted, and her final bow elicited a
renewal of the applause that had accompanied her entrance,
the impression on the departing visitors must have been that
of having spent an hour in company with a well-informed lady
who had gone to America, had seen much to admire there, and,
coming back, had had over the tea-table the talk of the
evening to herself. Whatever the future disquisitions of the
Countess of Landsfeld may be, there is little doubt that
many will go to hear them for the sake of the peculiar
celebrity of the lecturer.
To this, the Era reporter naïvely added: Her foreign accent
might belong to any language from Irish to Bavarian.
Lola did not have the field entirely to herself. While she was
telling the St. James's Hall public how to improve their appearance at
very small cost, a rival practitioner, with a salon in Bond
Street, was, in the advertisement columns of the morning papers,
announcing her readiness to furnish the necessary requisites at a very
high figure. This was a Madame Rachel, some of whose dupes parted
with as much as five hundred guineas, on the understanding that she
would make them Beautiful for ever!
Like Lola Montez, Madame Rachel brought out a puff pamphlet,
directing attention to her specifics. This production beat the effort
of the Rev. Chauncey Burr, for it bristled with references, to the
Bible and Shakespeare, to Grace Darling and Florence Nightingale. Among
her nostrums was a bottle of Jordan Water, which she sold at the
modest figure of £15 15s. a flask. Chemical analysis, however, revealed
it to have come, not from Palestine, but from the River Thames. She
also supplied, on extortionate terms, various drugs and medical
treatment of a description upon which the Law frowns heavily. As a
result, Madame Rachel left Bond Street for the dock of the Old
Bailey, where she was sent to penal servitude for swindling.
In the lecture on Wits and Women of Paris, Lola did not forget her
old friends. She had a good word for Dumas:
Of the literary lights during my residence in Paris,
Alexandre Dumas was the first, as he would be in any city
anywhere. He was not only the boon companion of princes, but
he was the prince of boon companions. He is now about
fifty-five years old, a tall, fine-looking man, with
intellect stamped on his brow. Of all the men I ever met he
is the most brilliant in conversation. He is always sought
for at convivial suppers, and is always sure to attend
Discretion, perhaps, prevented her saying anything about Dujarier
and the tragedy of his death. Still, she had something to say about
Roger de Beauvoir, whom she declared to be one of the three men that
kept Paris alive when I was there. Her recollection of Jules Janin
rankled. He was, she said, a malicious and caustic critic. Everybody
feared him, and everybody was civil to him through fear. I do not know
anyone (even his wife) who loves him in Paris. But Eugéne Sue was in
another category. He was an honest, sincere, truth-loving man; and it
will be long before Paris can fill the place which his death has made
In the Heroines of History lecture the audience were told that
All history is full of startling examples of female heroism, proving
that woman's heart is made of as stout a stuff and of as brave a metal
as that which beats within the ribs of the coarser sex. But, feminist
as she was, Lola had no sympathy with any suggestion to grant them the
franchise. Women who get together in conventions for the purpose of
ousting men will never, she declared, accomplish anything. They can
effect legislation only by quiet and judicious counsel. These
convention women are very poor politicians.
The last lectures in the series dealt with Comic Aspects of Love,
and Strong-minded Women. Among the typical specimens offered for
consideration were such diverse personalities as Semiramis, Queen
Elizabeth, the Countess of Derby, George Sand, and Mrs. Bloomer. In the
discourse on The Comic Aspects of Love the range swept from Aristotle
and Plato to Mahomet and the Mormons. If the B.B.C. had been in
existence, Lola would undoubtedly have been booked for a talk. As it
was, two of the lectures were reprinted in The Welcome Guest, a
magazine of recreative reading for all, with Robert Browning, Charles
Kingsley and Monckton Milnes among its contributors. Thinking they had
a market, an enterprising publisher rushed out a volume, The
Lectures of Lola Montez. When a copy reached the editor, it was
reviewed in characteristically elephantine fashion by the Athenæum
We can imagine the untravelled dames of Fifth Avenue
listening with wonder to a female lecturer who seems to have
lived hand in glove with all the crowned heads of Europe;
and who can tell them, not only Who's-Who, but also repeat
their conversations, criticise their personal appearances,
and describe the secret arts by which the men preserve their
powers and the women their beauty.
CHAPTER XVII. THE CURTAIN FALLS
At the end of the year 1859, Lola, once more a bird of passage, was
on the way back to America, taking with her some fresh material for
another lecture campaign. This, entitled John Bull at Home, fell very
flat; and instead of, as hitherto, addressing crowded halls, she now
found scanty gatherings wherever she was booked. Even when the charge
of admission was reduced from the original figure of a dollar to one of
25 cents, business did not improve. Uncle Sam made it obvious that he
took no sort of interest in John Bull, either at home or elsewhere.
America, however, was, as it happened, taking a very lively interest
in something else just then that did happen to be connected with John
Bull's country. This was the visit of the Prince of Wales. It had been
announced by an imaginative journalist that H.R.H. was to be piloted
during his tour by John Camel Heenan, otherwise the Benicia Boy. It
was, however, under the more rigid tutelage of General Bruce that the
distinguished guest landed on American shores. Mere prose not being
adequate to record the historic incident a laureate set to work:
He came! A slender youth and fair!
A courtly, gentlemanly gracethe Grace of God!
The tenure of his mother's Throne, and great men's fame
Sat like a sparkling jewel on his brow.
Ah, Albert Edward! When you homeward sail
Take back with you, and treasure in your soul
A wholesome lesson which you here may learn!
While he was in New York a ball in honour of the Prince was given at
the Opera House by the Committee of Welcome. This inspired a second
laureate, Edmund Clarence Stedman:
But as ALBERT EDWARD, young and fair,
Stood on the canopied dais-chair,
And looked from the circle crowding there
To the length and breadth of the outer scene,
Perhaps he thought of his mother, the QUEEN:
(Long may her empery be serene!
Long may the Heir of England prove
Loyal and tender; may he pay
No less allegiance to her love
Than to the sceptre of her sway!)
The visit of the Prince of Wales was not the only attraction
challenging the popularity of Lola Montez at this period. There was
another rival, and one in more direct competition with herself. This
was Sam Cowell, a music-hall star from England. A comedian of genuine
talent, he took America by storm with a couple of ballads, The
Rat-Catcher's Daughter and Villikins and his Dinah. The public
flocked to hear him in their thousands. Lola's lectures fell very flat.
Even fresh material and reduced prices failed to serve as a lure. The
position was becoming serious.
But, while her manager looked glum when he examined the box-office
figures, Lola was not upset, for she had suddenly developed another
activity, and one to which she was giving all her attention. This was
the occult. The Voices at whose bidding she had abandoned the stage a
couple of years earlier were now insistent that she should drop the
platform; and, casting in her lot with the Spirits, get into touch
with a mysterious region vaguely referred to as the Beyond.
It was a time when spiritualism was flourishing like a green bay
tree. Mrs. Hayden (the wife of a respectable journalist") and the Fox
Sisters had been playing their pranks for years and collecting dollars
from dupes all over the country; and their rivals, the Davenport
Brothers, with Daniel Dunglas Home (Browning's Sludge, the Medium")
were humbugging Harvard professors, financial magnates, and Supreme
Court judges; and, not to be behindhand, other experts were (for a cash
consideration) calling up Columbus and Shakespeare and Napoleon, who
talked to them at séances as readily as if they were at the end of a
telephone, but with pronounced American accents.
[Illustration: Countess of Landsfeld. A favourite portrait
(Harvard Theatre Collection)]
Lola's first reaction was all that could be desired. There never was
a more promising recruit or a more receptive one. Quite prepared to
take the Voices on trust, and to contribute liberally to the cause,
she attended a number of psychic circles, arranged by Stephen Andrews
and other charlatans; listened to mysterious rappings and tappings
coming out of the darkness; felt inanimate objects being lifted across
the room; heard tambourines rattled by invisible hands; and
unquestionably swallowed all the traditional tomfoolery that appears to
be part and parcel of such phenomena.
This state of things might have continued indefinitely. By, however,
an unfortunate mischance, a medium, from whom much was expected,
went, in his endeavour to give satisfaction, a little too far. Not
keeping a vigilant eye on European happenings, he announced at one such
gathering that the spirit addressing the assembly was that of Ludwig
of Bavaria. As, however, Ludwig was still in the land of the living
(where, by the way, he remained for several years to come) it was a bad
slip. The result was, Lola felt her faith shaken, and, convinced that
she was being exploited, shut up her purse, and withdrew from the
Under stress of emotion, some women take to the bottle; others to
the Bible. With Lola Montez, however, it was a case of from Bunkum to
Boanerges, from the circle to the conventicle. Spiritualism had been
tried and found wanting. Casting about for something with which to fill
the empty niche and adjust her equilibrium, she turned to religion for
consolation. The brand she selected was that favoured by the
Methodists. One would scarcely imagine that Little Bethel would have
had much appeal to her. But perhaps its very drabness and remoteness
from the world of the footlights proved a welcome relief.
Having got religion, Lola fastened upon it with characteristic
fervour. It occupied all her thoughts; and in the process she soon
developed what would now be dubbed a marked inferiority-complex.
Lord, she wrote at this period, Thy mercies are great to me. Oh!
how little are they deserved, filthy worm that I am! Oh! that the Holy
Spirit may fill my soul with prayer! Lord, have mercy on Thy weary
wanderer, and grant me all I beseech of Thee! Oh! give me a meek and
lowly heart. Amen.
A doctor, had she consulted one just then, would probably have
prescribed a blue pill.
There is a theory that the Light had been vouchsafed as the result
of a chance visit to Spurgeon's Tabernacle when she was last in
England. Although Spurgeon himself never put forward any such claim, a
diary that Lola kept at the time has a significant entry:
September 10, 1859.
How many, many years of my life have been sacrificed to
Satan and my own love of sin! What have I not been guilty of
in thought or deed during these years of wretchedness! Oh! I
dare not think of the past. What have I not been! I only
lived for my own passions; and what is there of good even in
the best natural human being! What would I not give to have
my terrible and fearful experience given as an awful warning
to such natures as my own!
A week later, things not having improved during the interval, she
took stock of her position in greater detail:
I am afraid sometimes that I think too well of myself. But
let me only look back to the past. Oh! how I am humbled....
How manifold are my sins, and how long in years have I lived
a life of evil passions without a check!
To-morrow (the Lord's Day) is the day of peace and
happiness. Once it seemed to me anything but a happy day.
But now all is wonderfully changed in my heart.... This week
I have principally sinned through hastiness of temper and
uncharitableness of feeling towards my neighbour. Oh! that I
could have only love for others and hatred of myself!
Another passage ran:
To-morrow is Sunday, and I shall go into the poor little
humble chapel, and there will I mingle my prayers with the
fervent pastor, and with the good and true. There is no pomp
or ceremony among these. All is simple. No fine dresses, no
worldly display, but the honest Methodist breathes forth a
sincere prayer, and I feel much unity of souls.
The conversion of Lola Montez was no flash in the pan, or the
result of a sudden impulse. It was a real one, deep and sincere and
lasting. Her former triumphs on the stage and in the boudoir had become
as dust and ashes. Compared with her new-found joy in religion, all
else was vanity and emptiness.
I can forget my French and German, and everything else I have
valued, she is declared to have said to a pressman, who, scenting a
news story, followed hot-foot on her track, but I cannot forget my
She had been Montez the Magnificent. Now she was Montez the
Magdalen. The woman whose voluptuous beauty and unbridled passion had
upset thrones and fired the hearts of men was now concerned with the
saving of souls. As such, she resolved to spread the Word among
others less happily circumstanced. To this end, she preached in
conventicles and visited hospitals, asylums, and prisons, offering a
helping hand to all who would accept one, and especially to
unfortunates of her own sex. She had her disappointments. But neither
snubs nor setbacks, nor sneers nor jeers could turn her from the path
she had elected to tread.
In the course of a long experience as a Christian minister, says a
clergyman whom she encountered at this period, I do not think I ever
saw deeper penitence and humility, more real contrition of soul, and
more bitter self-reproach than in this poor woman.
With, he adds, in an oleaginous little tract on the subject, a
heart full of generous sympathy for the poor outcasts of her own sex,
she devoted the last few months of her life to visiting them at the
Magdalen Asylum, near New York.... She strove to impress upon them not
only the awful guilt of breaking the divine law, but the inevitable
earthly sorrow which those who persisted with thoughtless desperation
in sinful courses were assuredly treasuring up for themselves.
But, except those who encountered her charity and self-sacrifice,
there were few who had a good word for Lola Montez in her character as
a Magdalen. People who had fawned upon her in the days of her success
now jeered and sneered and affected to doubt the reality of her
penitence. Once a sinner, always a sinner, they declared; and Lola
in the pulpit is rich! was another barbed shaft.
In thus abandoning the buskin for the Bible, Lola Montez was
following one example and setting another. The example she followed was
that of Mlle Gautier, of the Comédie Française, who, after flashing
across the horizon of Maurice de Saxe (and several others), left the
footlights and retired to a convent. It is true, she says in her
memoirs, that I have encountered during my theatrical career a number
of people whose morals have been as irreproachable as their talents,
but I myself was not among them. This was putting itwellmildly,
for, according to Le d'Hoefer, her stage career was marked by a
freedom of manner pushed to the extremity of licence.
In the sisterhood that she joined the new name of Mlle Gautier was
Sister Augustine. As such, she lived a Carmelite nun for thirty-two
years. But time did not hang heavy on her hands, for, in addition to
religious exercises and domestic tasks, she occupied herself with
painting miniatures and composing verses. I am so happy here, she
wrote from her cell, that I much regret having delayed too long
entering this holy place. The real calm and peace I have now discovered
have made me imagine all my previous life an evil dream.
The example that Lola Montez was setting was to be followed, fifty
years later, by another member of her calling. This was Eve Lavalliére,
who, after a distinctly hectic career, cut herself adrift from the
footlights of Paris and entered the mission-field of North Africa.
Here at your feet, she says in one of her letters, lies the vilest,
lowest, and most contemptible object on earth, a worm from the
dung-heap, the most infamous, the most soiled of all creatures. Lord, I
am but a poor sheep in your flock!
There is also something of a parallel between the career of Lola
Montez and that of Theodora, who, once in the circus ring, and, at the
start, a lady of decidedly easy virtue, afterwards became the consort
of the Emperor Justinian and shared his throne. Like Lola, too,
Theodora endeavoured to make amends for her early slips by voluntarily
abandoning the pomp and power she had once enjoyed and giving herself
up to the redemption of fallen women.
Perhaps the Spirits resented being abandoned by her in summary
fashion; perhaps she had overtaxed her energies addressing outdoor
meetings in all weathers. At any rate, and whatever the cause, while
she was travelling in the country during the winter of 1860, Lola
Montez was suddenly stricken down by a mysterious illness. As it
baffled the hospital doctors, she had to be taken back to New York.
There, instead of getting better, she gradually got worse, developing
consumption, followed by partial paralysis.
What a study for the thoughtless; what a sermon on the inevitable
result of human vanity! was the ghoulish comment of a scribbler.
Rufus Blake, an entrepreneur, under whose banner she had once
starred, has some reminiscences of her at this period. She lived, he
says, in strict retirement, reading religious books, and steadily,
calmly, hopefully preparing for death, fully convinced that consumption
had snapped the pillars of her life and that she was soon to make her
After an interval, word of Lola's collapse reached England by means
of a cutting in a theatrical paper. There it appears to have touched a
long slumbering maternal chord. Mrs. Craigie, says a paragraphist,
suddenly arrived in America, anxious, as next of kin, to secure her
daughter's property. On discovering, however, that none existed, she
hurried back again, leaving behind her a sum of three pounds for
medicine and other necessities.
Cast off by her fair-weather friends, bereft of her looks,
poverty-stricken, and ravaged by an insidious illness, the situation of
Lola Montez was, during that winter of 1860, one to excite pity among
the most severe of judges. Under duress, even her new found trust in
Providence began to falter. Was prayer, she wondered forlornly, to fail
her like everything else? Suddenly, however, and when things were at
their darkest, a helping hand was offered. One bitter evening, as she
sat brooding in the miserable lodging where she had secured temporary
shelter, she was visited by a Mrs. Buchanan, claiming her as a friend
of the long distant past. The years fell back; and, with an effort,
Lola recognised in the visitor a girl, now a mature matron, whom she
had last met in Montrose.
The sympathy of Mrs. Buchanan, shared to the full by her husband, a
prosperous merchant, was of a practical description. Although familiar
with the many lapses in Lola's career, they counted for nothing beside
the fact that she was in sore need. Bygones were bygones. Insisting
that the stricken woman should leave her wretched surroundings, Mrs.
Buchanan took her into her own well-appointed house, provided doctors
and nurses, and did all that was possible to smooth her path. Deeply
religious herself, she soon won back her faltering faith, and summoned
a clergyman, the Rev. Dr. Hawks, to prepare her for the inevitable and
rapidly approaching end.
A smug little booklet, The Story of a Penitent: Lola Montez,
published under the auspices of the Protestant Society for the
Promotion of Evangelical Knowledge, was afterwards written by this
shepherd. Since his name did not appear on the title page, he was able
to make several unctuous references to himself.
Most acceptable, he says in one characteristic passage, were his
ministrations. Refreshing, too, to his own spirit were his interviews
It was, he continues, in the latter part of 1860 that I received
a message from the unhappy woman so well known to the public under the
name of Lola Montez, earnestly requesting me to visit her and minister
to her spiritual wants. She had been stricken down by a paralysis of
her left side. For some days she was unconscious, and her death seemed
to be at hand. She had, however, rallied, and a most benevolent
Christian female, who had been her schoolmate in Scotland in the days
of her girlhood, and knew her well, had stepped forward and provided
for the temporal comfort of the afflicted companion of her childhood.
The real name of Lola Montez was Eliza G., and she was of respectable
family in Ireland, where she was born.
But neither the Rev. Mr. Hawks, with his oiliness and smug piety,
nor Mrs. Buchanan, with her true womanly sympathy and understanding,
could bring Lola Montez back to health, any more thanfor all their
pills and purgescould the doctors and nurses round her bed. She lay
there, day after day, aware of their presence, but unable to move or
speak. Yet, able to think. Thoughts crowded upon her in a series of
flashing pictures; a bewildering phantasmagoria, coming out of the
shadows, and beckoning to her. Childhood's memories of India; hot suns,
marching men, palanquins and elephants; Montrose and a dour Calvinism;
Bath and Sir Jasper Nicolls; love's young dream; Lieutenant James and
the runaway marriage in Dublin; another experience of India's coral
strand; kind-hearted Captain Craigie and hard-hearted George Lennox;
the Consistory Court proceedings; fiasco at Her Majesty's Theatre;
Ranelagh and Lumley; wanderjahre and odyssey; Paris and
Dujarier; Ludwig and the steps of a throne; passion and poetry;
intrigues and liaisons; Cornet Heald and Patrick Hull; voyages from the
old world to the new; mining camps and backwoods; palaces and
conventicles; glittering triumphs and abject failures. And now, gasping
and struggling for breath, the end.
The sands were running out. The days slipped away, and, with them,
the last vitality of the woman who had once been so full of life and
the joy of living.
The doctors did what they could. But it was very little, for Lola
Montez was beyond their help. The end was fast at hand. It came with
merciful swiftness. On January 17, 1861, she turned her face to the
wall and drew a last shuddering breath.
I am very tired, she whispered.
The funeral took place two days later. Accompanied by some of our
most respected citizens and their families, says an eye-witness, the
cortège left the house of Mrs. Buchanan for Green-Wood cemetery.
The Rev. Dr. Hawks, adds a second account, was constantly at the
bedside of Lola Montez, and gave her the benefit of his pastoral care
as freely as if she had been a member of his own flock. He conducted
her obsequies in an impressive fashion; and Mr. Brown, his assistant,
who had himself attended so many funerals and weddings in his day, was
seen to wipe the tears from his eyes, as he heard the reverend
gentleman remark to Mrs. Buchanan that he had never met with an example
of more genuine penitence.
Is not this a brand plucked from the burning? enquired the Rev.
Mr. Hawks, as he stood addressing the company assembled round the
grave. He himself was assured that the description was thoroughly
applicable to the woman lying there.
I never saw, he declared, a more humble penitent. When I prayed
with her, nothing could exceed the fervour of her devotion; and never
have I had a more watchful and attentive hearer when I read the
Scriptures.... If ever a repentant soul loathed past sin, I believe
Possibly, since it could scarcely have been Mrs. Buchanan, it was
this clerical busybody who was responsible for the inscription on
MRS. ELIZA GILBERT
JANUARY 17, 1861.
An odd mask under which to shelter the identity of the gifted woman
who, given in baptism the names Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna, had
flashed across three continents as Lola Montez, Countess of Landsfeld.
[Illustration: Grave of Lola Montez, in Green-wood Cemetery, New
(Photo by Miss Ida U. Mellen, New York)]
Misrepresented as she had been in her life, Lola Montez was even
more misrepresented after her death. The breath was scarcely out of her
body, when a flood of cowardly scurrilities was poured from the gutter
press. Her good deeds were forgotten; only her derelictions were
One such obituary notice began:
A woman who, in the full light of the nineteenth century,
renewed all the scandals that disgraced the Middle Ages,
and, with an audacity that is almost unparalleled, seated
herself upon the steps of a throne, is worthy of mention; if
only to show to what extent vice can sometimes triumph, and
to what a fall it can eventually come.
An editorial, which was published in one of the New York papers,
contained some odd passages:
Among the most ardent admirers of Lola Montez was a young
Scotsman, a member of the illustrious house of Lennox, who
was with difficulty restrained by his family from offering
her his hand. In London the deceased led a gay life, being
courted by the Earl of Malmesbury and other distinguished
noblemen. Wherever she went, she was the observed of all
observers, conquering the hearts of men of all countries by
her beauty and blandishments, and their admiration by her
unflinching independence of character and superior
The death of Lola Montez did not pass without comment in England.
The Athenæum necrologist accorded her half a column of obituary,
in which she was described as this pretty, picaroon woman, whose name
can never be omitted from any chronicle of Bavaria.
A Grub Street hack, employed by the curiously named Gentleman's
Magazine, slung together a column of abuse and lies, founded on
When not yet sixteen, she ran away from a school near Cork
with a young officer of the Bengal Army, Lieutenant Gilbert
(sic), who married her and took her to India. In
consequence of her bad conduct there, he was soon obliged to
send her back to Europe. She first tried the stage as a
profession, but, failing at it, she eventually adopted a
career of infamy.
A writer in Temple Bar has endeavoured, and, on the whole,
with fair measure of success, to preserve the balance:
With more of the good and more of the evil in her
composition than in that of most of her sisters, Lola Montez
made a wreck of her life by giving reins to the latter; and
she stands out as a prominent example of the impossibility
of a woman breaking away from the responsibilities of her
sex with any permanent gain, either to herself or to
society. Her passionate, enthusiastic and loving nature was
her strength which, by fascinating all who came into contact
with her, was also her weakness.
Cameron Rogers, writing on Gay and Gallant Ladies, sums up the
career of Lola Montez in deft fashion:
Thus passed one who has been called the Cleopatra and the
Aspasia of the nineteenth century. A very gallant and
courageous lady, certainly; and, though she used her beauty
and her mind not in accordance with the Decalogue, yet
worthy to be remembered as much for the excellent vigour of
the latter as for the perfection of the former. Individual
damnation or salvation in such a case as hers are matters of
strict opinion; but for Lola's brief to the last judgment
there is an ancient tag that might never be more aptly
appended. Like the moral of her life, it is exceedingly
triteQuia multum amavit.
This is well put.
Even after she was in it, and might, one would think, have been left
there in peace, the dead woman was not allowed to rest quietly in her
grave. Some years later her mantle was impudently assumed by an alleged
actress, who, dubbing herself Countess of Landsfeld, undertook a
lecture tour in America. If she had no other gift, this one certainly
had that of imagination. I was born, she said to a reporter, in
Florence, and my mother, Lola Montez, was really married to the King
Ludwig of Bavaria. This marriage was strictly valid, and my mother's
title of countess was afterwards conferred on myself. The earliest
recollections I have are of being brought up by some nuns in a convent
in the Black Forest. But for the help of the good Dr. Döllinger, who
assisted me to escape, I should still have been kept there, a victim of
This nonsense was eagerly swallowed; and for some time the
pseudo-"Countess attracted a following and reaped a rich harvest. It
was not until diplomatic representations were made that her career was
On Christmas Day, 1898, a New York obituary announced the death of a
woman, Alice Devereux, the wife of a carpenter in poor circumstances.
It further declared that she was the daughter of the notorious Lola
Montez, and may well have been the grand-daughter of Lord Byron. To
this it added: Society has maintained a studious and charitable
reserve as to the parentage of Lola Montez. All that is definitely
known on the subject is that a fox-hunting Irish squire, Sir Edward
Gilbert, was the husband of her mother. Thus is history written.
Nor would the Spirits leave poor Lola in peace. In the year 1888 a
woman medium, calling herself Madam Anna O'Delia Diss DeBar (but,
under pressure, admitting to several aliases) claimed to be a
daughter of Lola Montez. As such, she conducted a number of séances,
and, in return for cash down, evoked the spirit of her alleged mother.
Some of the cash was extracted from the pocket of a credulous lawyer,
one Luther Marsh. Thinking he had not had fair value for his dollars,
he eventually prosecuted Madam for fraud, and had her sent to prison.
She was not disturbed again until the winter of 1929, when an
Austrian medium, Rudi Schneider, with, to adopt the jargon of his
craft, a trance-personality called Olga (who professed to be an
incarnation of Lola Montez), gave some séances in London. The
extinguishing of the lights and the wheezing of a gramophone were
followed by the usual manifestations. Thus, curtains flapped, books
fell off chairs, tambourines rattled in locked cupboards, and bells
jangled, etc. But Lola Montez herself was too bashful to appear. None
the less, a number of scientists (all un-named) afterwards announced
that everything was very satisfactory.
Thinking that these claims to get into touch with the dead should be
subjected to a more adequate test, Mr. Harry Price, director of the
National Laboratory of Psychical Research, arranged for Rudi Schneider
to give a sample of his powers to a committee of experts. As a
convincing test, Major Hervey de Montmorency (a nephew of the Mr.
Francis Leigh with whom Lola had once lived in Paris) suggested that
the accomplished Olga should be asked the name of his uncle (which
was different from his own) and the circumstances under which they had
parted. This was done, and Olga promised to give full details at the
next sitting. But the promise was not kept. She conveniently shelved
every question, says the official report. Altogether, Rudi Schneider's
The body of Lola Montez, Countess of Landsfeld, and Canoness of the
Order of St. Thérèse, has now been crumbling in the dust of a distant
grave, far from her own kith and kindred, for upwards of seventy years.
Her name, however, will still be remembered when that of other women
who have filled a niche in history will have been forgotten.
Lola Montez was no common adventuress. By her beauty and
intelligence and magnetism she weaved a spell on well nigh all who came
within her radius. Never any member of her sex quite like this one. Had
she been born in the Middle Ages, superstition would have had it that
Venus herself was revisiting the haunts of men in fresh guise. But she
would then probably have perished at the stake, accused of witchcraft
by her political opponents. As it was, even in the year 1848 a
sovereign demanded that a professional exorcist should drive the devil
out of her.
To present Lola Montez at her true worth, to adjust the balance
between her merits and her demerits, is a difficult task. A woman of a
hundred opposing facets; of rare culture and charm, and of whims and
fancies and strange enthusiasms each battling with the other. Thus, by
turns tender and callous, hot-tempered and soft-hearted; childishly
simple in some things, and amazingly shrewd in others; trusting and
suspicious; arrogant and humble, yet supremely indifferent to public
opinion; grateful for kindness and loyal to her friends, but neither
forgetting nor forgiving an injury. Men had treated her worse than she
had treated them.
For the rest, a flashing, vivid personality, full of resource and
high courage, and always meeting hard knocks and buffets with
equanimity. Lola Montez had lived every moment of her life. In the
course of their career, few women could have cut a wider swath, or one
more colourful and glamorous. She had beauty and intelligence much
above the average. All the world had been her stage; and she had played
many parts on it. Some of them she had played better than others; but
all of them she had played with distinction. She had boxed the compass
as no woman had ever yet boxed it. From adventuress to evangelist;
coryphée, courtesan, and convert, each in turn. At the start a mixture
of Cleopatra and Aspasia; and at the finish a feminine Pelagian.
Equally at home in the company of princes and poets and diplomats and
demireps, during the twenty years she was before the public she had
scaled heights and sunk to depths. Thus, she had queened it in palaces
and in camps; danced in opera houses and acted in booths; she had bent
monarchs and politicians to her will; she had stood on the steps of a
throne, and in the curb of a gutter; she had known pomp and power,
riches and poverty, dazzling successes and abject failures; she had
conducted amours and liaisons and intrigues by the dozen; she had made
history in two hemispheres; a king had given up his crown for her; men
had lived for her; and men had died for her.
As with the rest of us, Lola Montez had her faults. Full measure of
them. But she also had her virtues. She was gallant and generous and
charitable. At the worst, her heart ruled her head; and if she did many
a foolish thing, she never did a mean one.
* * * * *
In the final analysis, when the last balance is struck, this will
surely be placed to her credit.
* * * * *
APPENDIX I. EXTRACTS FROM ARTS OF
BY MADAME LOLA MONTEZ,
COUNTESS OF LANDSFELD
A BEAUTIFUL FACE
If it be true that the face is the index of the mind, the recipe
for a beautiful face must be something that reaches the soul. What can
be done for a human face that has a sluggish, sullen, arrogant, angry
mind looking out of every feature? An habitually ill-natured,
discontented mind ploughs the face with inevitable marks of its own
vice. However well shaped, or however bright its complexion, no such
face can ever become really beautiful. If a woman's soul is without
cultivation, without taste, without refinement, without the sweetness
of a happy mind, not all the mysteries of art can ever make her face
beautiful. And, on the other hand, it is impossible to dim the
brightness of an elegant and polished intellect. The radiance of a
charming mind strikes through all deformity of features, and still
asserts its sway over the world of the affections. It has been my
privilege to see the most celebrated beauties that shine in all the
gilded courts of fashion throughout the world, from St. James's to St.
Petersburgh, from Paris to Hindostan, and yet I have found no art which
can atone for an unpolished mind, and an unlovely heart. That chastened
and delightful activity of soul, that spiritual energy which gives
animation, grace, and living light to the animal frame, is, after all,
the real source of beauty in a woman. It is that which gives
eloquence to the language of her eyes, which sends the sweetest
vermilion mantling to the cheek, and lights up the whole personnel
as if her very body thought. That, ladies, is the ensign of beauty, and
the herald of charms, which are sure to fill the beholder with
answering emotion and irrepressible delight.
PAINTS AND POWDERS
If Satan has ever had any direct agency in inducing woman to spoil
or deform her own beauty, it must have been in tempting her to use
paints and enamelling. Nothing so effectually writes
memento mori! on the cheek of beauty as this ridiculous and
culpable practice. Ladies ought to know that it is a sure spoiler of
the skin, and good taste ought to teach them that it is a frightful
distorter and deformer of the natural beauty of the human face
divine. The greatest charm of beauty is in the expression of a
lovely face; in those divine flashes of joy, and good-nature, and love,
which beam in the human countenance. But what expression can there be
in a face bedaubed with white paint and enamelled? No flush of
pleasure, no thrill of hope, no light of love can shine through the
incrusted mould. Her face is as expressionless as that of a painted
mummy. And let no woman imagine that the men do not readily detect this
poisonous mask upon the skin. Many a time have I seen a gentleman
shrink from saluting a brilliant lady, as though it was a death's head
he were compelled to kiss. The secret was that her face and lips were
bedaubed with paints.
A violently rouged woman is a disgusting sight. The excessive red on
the face gives a coarseness to every feature, and a general fierceness
to the countenance, which transforms the elegant lady of fashion into a
vulgar harridan. But, in no case, can even rouge be used by
ladies who have passed the age of life when roses are natural to the
cheek. A rouged old woman is a horrible sighta distortion of
Paints are not only destructive to the skin, but they are ruinous to
the health. I have known paralytic affections and premature death to be
traced to their use. But alas! I am afraid that there never was a time
when many of the gay and fashionable of my sex did not make themselves
both contemptible and ridiculous by this disgusting trick.
Let every woman at once understand that paint can do nothing for the
mouth and lips. The advantage gained by the artificial red is a
thousand times more than lost by the sure destruction of that delicate
charm associated with the idea of nature's dewy lip. There can be no
dew on a painted lip. And there is no man who does not shrink back
with disgust from the idea of kissing a pair of painted lips. Nor let
any woman deceive herself with the idea that the men do not instantly
detect paint on the lips.
A BEAUTIFUL BOSOM
I am aware that this is a subject which must be handled with great
delicacy; but my book would be incomplete without some notice of this
greatest claim of lovely woman. And, besides, it is undoubtedly true
that a proper discussion of this subject will seem peculiar only
to the most vulgar minded of both sexes. If it be true, as the old poet
Heaven rests on those two heaving hills of snow,
why should not a woman be suitably instructed in the right
management of such extraordinary charms?
The first thing to be impressed upon the mind of a lady is that very
low-necked dresses are in exceeding bad taste, and are quite sure to
leave upon the mind of a gentleman an equivocal idea, to say the least.
A word to the wise on this subject is sufficient. If a young lady has
no father, or brother, or husband to direct her taste in this matter,
she will do well to sit down and commit the above statement to memory.
It is a charm which a woman, who understands herself, will leave not to
the public eye of man, but to his imagination. She knows that
modesty is the divine spell that binds the heart of man to her
forever. But my observation has taught me that few women are well
informed as to the physical management of this part of their bodies.
The bosom, which nature has formed with exquisite symmetry in itself,
and admirable adaptation to the parts of the figure to which it is
united, is often transformed into a shape, and transplanted to a place
which deprives it of its original beauty and harmony with the rest of
the person. This deforming metamorphosis is effected by means of stiff
stays, or corsets, which force the part out of its natural position,
and destroy the natural tension and firmness in which so much of its
beauty consists. A young lady should be instructed that she is not to
allow even her own hand to press it too roughly. But, above all things,
to avoid, especially when young, the constant pressure of such hard
substances as whalebone and steel; for, besides the destruction to
beauty, they are liable to produce all the terrible consequences of
abscesses and cancers. Even the padding which ladies use to give a full
appearance, where there is a deficient bosom, is sure in a little time
to entirely destroy all the natural beauty of the parts. As soon as it
becomes apparent that the bosom lacks the rounded fullness due to the
rest of her form, instead of trying to repair the deficiency with
artificial padding, it should be clothed as loosely as possible, so as
to avoid the least artificial pressure. Not only its growth is stopped,
but its complexion is spoiled by these tricks. Let the growth of this
beautiful part be left as unconfined as the young cedar, or as the lily
of the field.
BEAUTY OF DEPORTMENT
It is essential that every lady should understand that the most
beautiful and well-dressed woman will fail to be charming unless
all her other attractions are set off with a graceful and fascinating
deportment. A pretty face may be seen everywhere, beautiful and
gorgeous dresses are common enough, but how seldom do we meet with a
really beautiful and enchanting demeanour! It was this charm of
deportment which suggested to the French cardinal the expression of
the native paradise of angels. The first thing to be said on the art
of deportment is that what is becoming at one age would be most
improper and ridiculous at another. For a young girl, for instance, to
sit as grave and stiff as her grandmother cut in alabaster would be
ridiculous enough, but not so much so, as for an old woman to assume
the romping merriment of girlhood. She would deservedly draw only
contempt and laughter upon herself.
Indeed a modest mien always makes a woman charming. Modesty is to
woman what the mantle of green is to natureits ornament and highest
beauty. What a miracle-working charm there is in a blushwhat softness
and majesty in natural simplicity, without which pomp is
contemptible, and elegance itself ungraceful.
There can be no doubt that the highest incitement to love is in
modesty. So well do wise women of the world know this, that they take
infinite pains to learn to wear the semblance of it, with the same
tact, and with the same motive that they array themselves in attractive
apparel. They have taken a lesson from Sir Joshua Reynolds, who says:
men are like certain animals who will feed only when there is but
little provender, and that got at with difficulty through the bars of a
rack; but refuse to touch it when there is an abundance before them.
It is certainly important that all women should understand this; and it
is no more than fair that they should practise upon it, since men
always treat them with disingenuous untruthfulness in this matter. Men
may amuse themselves with a noisy, loud-laughing, loquacious girl; it
is the quiet, subdued, modest, and seeming bashful deportment which is
the one that stands the fairest chance of carrying off their hearts.
* * * * *
APPENDIX II. EXTRACTS FROM LOLA
The last and most difficult office imposed on Psyche was to descend
to the lower regions and bring back a portion of Proserpine's beauty in
a box. The too inquisitive goddess, impelled by curiosity or perhaps by
a desire to add to her own charms, raised the lid, and behold there
issued fortha vapour I which was all there was of that wondrous
In attempting to give a definition of beauty, I have painfully felt
the force of this classic parable. If I settle upon a standard of
beauty in Paris, I find it will not do when I get to Constantinople.
Personal qualities, the most opposite imaginable, are each looked upon
as beautiful in different countries, and even by different people of
the same country. That which is deformity in New York may be beauty in
Pekin. At one place the sighing lover sees Helen in an Egyptian brow.
In China, black teeth, painted eyelids, and plucked eyebrows are
beautiful; and should a woman's feet be large enough to walk upon,
their owners are looked upon as monsters of ugliness.
With the modern Greeks and other nations on the shores of the
Mediterranean, corpulency is the perfection of form in a woman; the
very attributes which disgust the western European form the highest
attractions of an Oriental fair. It was from the common and admired
shape of his countrywomen that Reubens, in his pictures, delights in a
vulgar and almost odious plumpness. He seems to have no idea of beauty
under two hundred pounds. His very Graces are all fat.
Hair is a beautiful ornament of woman, but it has always been a
disputed point as to what colour it shall be. I believe that most
people nowadays look upon a red head with disfavourbut in the times
of Queen Elizabeth it was in fashion. Mary of Scotland, though she had
exquisite hair of her own, wore red fronts out of compliment to fashion
and the red-headed Queen of England.
That famous beauty, Cleopatra, was red-haired also; and the Venetian
ladies to this day counterfeit yellow hair.
Yellow hair has a higher authority still. THE ORDER OF THE GOLDEN
FLEECE, instituted by Philip, Duke of Burgundy, was in honour of a
frail beauty whose hair was yellow.
So, ladies and gentlemen, this thing of beauty which I come to talk
about, has a somewhat migratory and fickle standard of its own. All the
lovers of the world will have their own idea of the thing in spite of
But where are we to detect this especial source of power? Often
forsooth in a dimple, sometimes beneath the shade of an eyelid or
perhaps among the tresses of a little fantastic curl!
I once knew a nobleman who used to try to make himself wise, and to
emancipate his heart from its thraldom to a celebrated beauty of the
court, by continually repeating to himself: But it is short-lived,
It won't lastit won't last!
Ah, me! that is too trueit won't last. Beauty has its date, and it
is the penalty of nature that girls must fade and become wizened as
their grandmothers have done before them.
In teaching a young lady to dress elegantly we must first impress
upon her mind that symmetry of figure ought ever to be accompanied by
harmony of dress, and that there is a certain propriety in habiliment,
adapted to form, complexion, and age. To preserve the health of the
human form is the first object of consideration, for without that you
can neither maintain its symmetry nor improve its beauty. But the
foundation of a just proportion must be laid in infancy. As the twig
is bent the tree's inclined. A light dress, which gives freedom to the
functions of life, is indispensable to an unobstructed growth. If the
young fibres are uninterrupted by obstacles of art, they will shoot
harmoniously into the form which nature drew. The garb of childhood
should in all respects be easynot to impede its movements by
ligatures on the chest, the loins, the legs, or the arms. By this
liberty we shall see the muscles of the limbs gradually assume the fine
swell and insertion which only unconstrained exercise can produce. The
chest will sway gracefully on the firmly poised waist, swelling in
noble and healthy expanse, and the whole figure will start forward at
the blooming age of youth, and early ripen to the maturity of beauty.
The lovely form of women, thus educated, or rather thus left to its
natural growth, assumes a variety of charming characters. In one
youthful figure, we see the lineaments of a wood nymph, a form slight
and elastic in all its parts. The shape:
Small by degrees, and beautifully less,
From the soft bosom to the slender waist!
A foot as light as that of her whose flying step scarcely brushed
the unbending corn, and limbs whose agile grace moved in harmony with
the curves of her swan-like neck, and the beams of her sparkling eyes.
To repair these ravages, comes the aid of padding to give shape
where there is none, stays to compress into form the swelling chaos of
flesh, and paints of all hues to rectify the dingy complexion; but
useless are these attemptsfor, if dissipation, late hours,
immoderation, and carelessness have wrecked the loveliness of female
charms, it is not in the power of Esculapius himself to refit the
shattered bark, or of the Syrens, with all their songs and wiles, to
save its battered sides from the rocks, and make it ride the sea in
gallant trim again. The fair lady who cannot so moderate her pursuit of
pleasure that the feast, the midnight hour, the dance, shall not recur
too frequently, must relinquish the hope of preserving her charms till
the time of nature's own decay. After this moderation in the indulgence
of pleasure, the next specific for the preservation of beauty which I
shall give, is that of gentle and daily exercise in the open air.
Nature teaches us, in the gambols and sportiveness of the lower
animals, that bodily exertion is necessary for the growth, vigour, and
symmetry of the animal frame; while the too studious scholar and the
indolent man of luxury exhibit in themselves the pernicious
consequences of the want of exercise.
Many a rich lady would give thousands of dollars for that full
rounded arm, and that peach bloom on the cheek, possessed by her
kitchen-maid. Well, might she not have had both, by the same amount of
exercise and simple living?
But I weary of this subject of cosmetics, as every woman of sense
will at last weary of the use of them. It is a lesson which is sure to
come; but, in the lives of most fashionable ladies, it has small chance
of being needed until that unmentionable time, when men shall cease to
make baubles and playthings of them. It takes most women two-thirds of
their lifetime to discover that men may be amused by, without
respecting, them; and every woman may make up her mind that to be
really respected she must possess merit; she must have accomplishments
of mind and heart, and there can be no real beauty without these. If
the soul is without cultivation, without refinement, without taste,
without the sweetness of affection, not all the mysteries of art can
make the face beautiful; and, on the other hand, it is impossible to
dim the brightness of an elegant and polished mind; its radiance
strikes through the encasements of deformity, and asserts its sway over
the world of the affections.
A history of the beginning of the reign of gallantry would carry us
back to the creation of the world; for I believe that about the first
thing that man began to do after he was created, was to make love to
There was no discussion, then, about woman's rights, or woman's
influencewoman had whatever her soul desired, and her will was the
watchword for battle or peace. Love was as marked a feature in the
chivalric character as valour; and he who understood how to break a
lance, and did not understand how to win a lady, was held to be but
half a man. He fought to gain her smileshe lived to be worthy of her
In those days, to be a servant of the ladies was no mere figure of
the imaginationand to be in love was no idle pastime; but to be
profoundly, furiously, almost ridiculously in earnest. In the mind of
the cavalier, woman was a being of mystic power. As in the old forests
of Germany, she had been listened to like a spirit of the woods,
melodious, solemn and oracular. So when chivalry became an institution,
the same idea of something supernaturally beautiful in her character
threw a shadow over her life, and she was not only loved but revered.
And never were men more constant to their fair ladies than in the
proudest days of chivalry.
There is no such thing as genuine gallantry either in France or
England. In France the relation between the sexes is too fickle,
variable, and insincere, for any nearer approach to gallantry than
flirtation; while in England the aristocracy, which is the only class
in that country that could have the genuine feeling of gallantry, are
turned shop-owners and tradesmen. The Smiths and the Joneses who figure
on the signboards have the nobility standing behind them as silent
partners. The business habits of the United States and the examples of
rapid fortunes in this country have quite turned the head of John Bull,
and he is very fast becoming a sharp, thrifty, money-getting Yankee. A
business and commercial people have no leisure for the cultivation of
that feeling and romance which is the foundation of gallantry. The
activities of human nature seek other more practical and more useful
channels of excitement. Instead of devoting a life to the worship and
service of the fair ladies, they are building telegraphs, railroads,
steamboats, constructing schemes of finance, and enlarging the area of
HEROINES OF HISTORY
In attempting to give a definition of strong-minded women, I find it
necessary to distinguish between just ideas of strength and what is so
considered by the modern woman's rights' movement.
A very estimable woman by the name of Mrs. Bloomer obtained the
reputation of being strong-minded by curtailing her skirts six inches,
a compliment which certainly excites no envious feeling in my heart;
for I am philosophically puzzled to know how cutting six inches off a
woman's dress can possibly add anything to the height of her head.
One or two hundred women getting together in convention and
resolving that they are an abused community, and that all the men are
great tyrants and rascals, proves plainly enough that theythe
womenare somehow discontented, and that they have, perhaps, a certain
amount of courage, but I cannot see that it proves them to have any
remarkable strength of mind.
Really strong-minded women are not women of words, but of deeds; not
of resolutions, but of actions. History does not teach me that they
have ever consumed much time in conventions and in passing resolutions
about their rights; but they have been very prompt to assert their
rights, and to defend them too, and to take the consequences of defeat.
Thus all history is full of startling examples of female heroism,
which prove that woman's heart is made of as stout a stuff and of as
brave a mettle as that which beats within the ribs of the coarser sex.
And if we were permitted to descend from this high plane of public
history into the private homes of the world, in which sex, think you,
should we there find the purest spirit of heroism? Who suffers sorrow
and pain with the most heroism of heart? Who, in the midst of poverty,
neglect and crushing despair, holds on most bravely through the
terrible struggle, and never yields even to the fearful demands of
necessity until death wrests the last weapon of defence from her hands?
Ah, if all this unwritten heroism of woman could be brought to the
light, even man himself would cast his proud wreath of fame at her
Rousseau asserts that all great revolutions were owing to women.
The French Revolution, the last great and stirring event upon which the
world looks back, arose, as Burke ill-naturedly expresses it, amidst
the yells and violence of women. We accept the compliment which Burke
here pays to the power of woman, and attribute the coarseness of his
language to the bitter repugnance which every Englishman of that day
had to everything that was French. No, Mr. Burke, it was not by yells
and violence that the great women of France helped on that mighty
revolutionit was by the combined power of intellect and beauty. Nor
will women who get together in conventions for the purpose of berating
men, ever accomplish anything. They can effect legislation only by
quiet and judicious counsel, with such means as control the judgment
and the heart of legislators. And the experience of the world has
pretty well proved that a man's judgment is pretty easily controlled
when his heart is once persuaded.
COMIC ASPECT OF LOVE
My subject to-night is the comic aspect of love. No doubt most of
you have had some little experience, at least in the sentimental and
sighing side of the tender passion; and what I propose to do is to give
you the humorous or comic side. Perhaps I ought to begin by begging
pardon of the ladies for treating so sacred a thing as love in a comic
way, or for turning the ludicrous side of so charming a thing as they
find love to be, to the gaze of menbut I wish to premise that I shall
not so treat sensible or rational love. Of that beautiful feeling, less
warm than passion, yet more tender than friendship, I shall not for a
moment speak irreverently; of that pure disinterested affectionas
charming as it is reasonable, which one sex feels for the other, I
cannot speak lightly. But there is a certain romantic senseless kind of
love, such as poets sometimes celebrate, and men and women feign, which
is a legitimate target for ridicule. This kind of love is fanciful and
foolish; it is not the offspring of the heart, but of the imagination.
I know that generous deeds and contempt of death have sometimes covered
this folly with a veil. The arts have twined for it a fantastic wreath,
and the Muses have decked it with the sweetest flowers: but this makes
it none the less ridiculous nor dangerous. Love of this romantic sort
is an abstraction much too light and subtle to sustain a tangible
existence in the midst of the jostling relations of this busy world. It
is a mere bubble thrown to the surface by the passions and fancies of
men, and soon breaks by contact with the hard facts of daily life. It
is a thing which bears but little handling. The German Wieland, who was
a great disciple of love, was of opinion that its metaphysical effects
began with the first sigh, and ended with the first kiss! Plato was
not far out of the way when he called it a great devil; and the man
or woman who is really possessed of it will find it a very hard one to
Of the refinements of love the great mass of men can know nothing.
The truth is that sentimental love is so much a matter of the
imagination that the uncultivated have no natural field for its
display. In America you can hardly realise the full force of this
truth, because the distinctions of class are happily nearly
obliterated. Here intellectual culture seems to be about equally
divided among all classes. I suppose it is not singular in this country
to find the poorest cobbler, whose little shanty is next to the proud
mansion of some millionaire, a man of really more mental attainments
than his rich and haughty neighbour; in which case the millionaire will
do well to look to it that the cobbler does not make love to his wife;
and if he does, nobody need care much, for the millionaire will be
quite sure to reciprocate.
The great statute, tit-for-tat, is, I believe, equally the law of
all nations; besides, love is a great leveller of distinction, and it
is in this levelling mission that it performs some of its most
ridiculous antics. When a rich man's daughter runs off with her
father's coachman, as occasionally happens, the whole country is in a
roar of laughter about it. There is an innate, popular perception of
the ridiculous, but everybody sees and feels that in such cases it is
misplaced and grotesque. Everyone perceives that the woman's heart has
taken the bit in its mouth, and run away with her brains. But, as
comedy is often nearly allied to tragedy, so sorrow is sure to come as
soon as the little honeymoon is over. This romantic love cannot
flourish in the soil of poverty and want. Indeed, all the stimulants
which pride and luxury can administer to it can hardly keep it alive.
The rich miss who runs away with a man far beneath her in education and
refinement must inevitably awake, after a brief dream, to a state of
things which have made her unfortunate for life; and he, poor man, will
not be less wretched, unless she has brought him sufficient money to
give him leisure and opportunity to indulge his fancies with that
society which is on a level with his own tastes and education.
WITS AND WOMEN OF PARIS
The French wits tell a laughable story of an untravelled Englishman
who, on landing at Calais, was received by a sulky red-haired hostess,
when he instantly wrote down in his note-book: All French women are
sulky and red-haired.
We never heard whether this Englishman afterwards corrected his
first impressions of French women, but quite likely he never did, for
there is nothing so difficult on earth as for an Englishman to get over
first impressions, and especially is this the case in relation to
everything in France. An aristocratic Englishman may live years in
Paris without really knowing anything about it. In the first place, he
goes there with letters of introduction to the Faubourg St. Germain,
where he finds only the fossil remains of the old noblesse,
intermixed with a slight proportion of the actual intelligence of the
country, and here he moves round in the stagnant circles of historical
France, and it is a wonder if he gets so much as a glimpse of the
living progressive Paris. There is nothing on earth, unless it be a
three-thousand-year-old mummy, that is so grim and stiff and
shrivelled, as the pure old French nobility. France is at present the
possessor of three separate and opposing nobilities. First, there is
the nobility of the Empire, the Napoleonic nobility, which is based on
military and civil genius; second, there is the Orleans nobility, the
family of the late Louis-Philippe, represented in the person of the
young Comte de Paris; third, the Legitimists, or the old aristocracy of
the Bourbon stock, represented in the person of Henry V, Duc de
Bordeaux, now some fifty years old, and laid snugly away in exile in
No description which I can give can convey a just idea of the
fascination of society among such wits as Dejazet; and nowhere do you
find that kind of society so complete as in Paris. Nowhere else do you
find so many women of wit and genius mingling in the assemblies and
festive occasions of literary men; and I may add that in no part of the
world is literary society so refined, so brilliant, and charmingly
intellectual as in Paris. It is a great contrast to literary society in
London or America. Listen to the following confession of Lord Byron: I
have left an assembly filled with all the great names of haut-ton
in London, and where little but names were to be found, to seek relief
from the ennui that overpowered me, in a cider cellar! and have
found there more food for speculation than in the vapid circles of
glittering dullness I had left.
One of the most remarkable and the most noted persons to be met with
in Paris is Madame Dudevant, commonly known as Georges Sand. She is now
about fifty years of age (it is no crime to speak of the age of a woman
of her genius), a large, masculine, coarse-featured woman, but with
fine eyes, and open, easy, frank, and hearty in her manner to friends.
To a discerning mind her writings will convey a correct idea of the
woman. You meet her everywhere dressed in men's clothesa custom which
she adopts from no mere caprice or waywardness of character, but for
the reason that in this garb she is enabled to go where she pleases
without exciting curiosity, and seeing and hearing what is most useful
and essential for her in writing her books. She is undoubtedly the most
masculine mind of France at the present day. Through the folly of her
relations she was early married to a fool, but she soon left him in
disgust, and afterwards formed a friendship with Jules Sandeau, a
novelist and clever critic. It was he who discovered her genius, and
first caused her to write. It was the name of this author, Jules
Sandeau, that she altered into Georges Sanda name which she has made
Georges Sand in company is silent, and except when the conversation
touches a sympathetic chord in her nature, little given to
demonstration. Then she will talk earnestly on great matters, generally
on philosophy or theology, but in vain will you seek to draw her into
conversation on the little matters of ordinary chit-chat. She lives in
a small circle of friends, where she can say and do as she pleases. Her
son is a poor, weak-brained creature, perpetually annoying the whole
neighbourhood by beating on a huge drum night and day. She has a
daughter married to Chlessindur, the celebrated sculptor, but who
resembles but little her talented mother. Madame Georges Sand has had a
life of wild storms, with few rays of sunshine to brighten her pathway;
and like most of the reformers of the present day, especially if it is
her misfortune to be a woman, is a target to be placed in a conspicuous
position, to be shot at by all dark, unenlightened human beings who may
have peculiar motives for restraining the progress of mind; but it is
as absurd in this glorious nineteenth century to attempt to destroy
freedom of thought and the sovereignty of the individual, as it is to
stop the falls of Niagara.
There was a gifted and fashionable lady (the Countess of Agoult),
herself an accomplished authoress, concerning whom and Georges Sand a
curious story is told. They were great friends, and the celebrated
pianist Liszt was the admirer of both. Things went on smoothly for some
time, all couleur de rose, when one fine day Lizst and Georges
Sand disappeared suddenly from Paris, having taken it into their heads
to make the tour of Switzerland for the summer together. Great was the
indignation of the fair countess at this double desertion; and when
they returned to Paris, Madame d'Agoult went to Georges Sand, and
immediately challenged the great writer to a duel, the weapons to be
finger-nails, etc. Poor Lizst ran out of the room, and locked himself
up in a dark closet till the deadly affray was ended, and then made his
body over in charge to a friend, to be preserved, as he said, for the
remaining assailant. Madame d'Agoult was married to an old man, a
book-worm, who cared for nought else but his library; he did not know
even the number of children he possessed, and so little the old
philosopher cared about the matter that when a stranger came to the
house, he invariably, at the appearance of the family, said: Allow me
to present to you my wife's children; all this with the blandest smile
and most contented air.
I know not that history has anything more wonderful to show than the
part which the Catholic Church has borne in the various civilizations
of the world.
What a marvellous structure it is, with its hierarchy ranging
through long centuries almost from apostolic days to our own; living
side by side with forms of civilisation and uncivilisation, the most
diverse and the most contradictory, through all the fifteen hundred
years and more of its existence; asserting an effective control over
opinions and institutions; with its pontificate (as is claimed) dating
from the fisherman of Galilee, and still reigning there in the city
that heard Saint Peter preach, and whom it saw martyred; impiously
pretending to sit in his chair and to bear his keys; shaken, exiled,
broken again and again by schism, by Lutheran revolts and French
revolutions; yet always righting itself and reasserting a vitality that
neither force nor opinion has yet been able to extinguish. Once with
its foot on the neck of kings, and having the fate of empires in its
hands, and even yet superintending the grandest ecclesiastical
mechanism that man ever saw; ordering fast days and feast days, and
regulating with omnipotent fiat the very diet of millions of people;
having countless bands of religious soldiery trained, organized, and
officered as such a soldiery never was before nor since; and backed by
an infallibility that defies reason, an inquisition to bend or break
the will, and a confessional to unlock all hearts and master the
profoundest secrets of all consciences. Such has been the mighty Church
of Rome, and there it is still, cast down, to be sure, from what it
once was, but not yet destroyed; perplexed by the variousness and
freedom of an intellectual civilisation, which it hates and vainly
tries to crush; laboriously trying to adapt itself to the Europe of the
nineteenth century, as it once did to the Europe of the twelfth;
lengthening its cords and strengthening its stakes, enlarging the place
of its tent, and stretching forth the curtains of its habitations, even
to this Republic of the New World.
The only wonder is that such a church should be able to push its
fortunes so far into the centre of modern civilization, with which it
can feel no sympathy, and which it only embraces to destroy. I confess
I find it difficult to believe that a total lie could administer
comfort and aid to so many millions of souls; and the explanation is,
no doubt, that it is all not a total lie; for even its worse doctrines
are founded on certain great truths which are accepted by the common
heart of humanity.
There is such a thing as universal truth, and there is such a thing
as apostolic succession, made not by edicts, bulls, and church canons,
but by an interior life divine and true. But all these Rome has
perverted, by hardening the diffusive spirit of truth into so much
mechanism cast into a mould in which it has been forcibly kept; and by
getting progressively falser and falser as the world has got older and
wiser, till the universality became only another name for a narrow and
intolerant sectism, while the infallibility committed itself to
absurdity, and which reason turns giddy, and faith has no resource but
to shut her eyes; and the apostolic succession became narrowed down
into a mere dynasty of priests and pontiffs. A hierarchy of magicians,
saving souls by machinery, opening and shutting the kingdom of heaven
by a sesame of incantations which it would have been the labour of a
lifetime to make so much as intelligible to St. Peter or St. Paul.
Now who shall compute the stupefying and brutalising effects of such
a religion? Who will dare say that a principle which so debases reason
is not like bands of iron around the expanding heart and struggling
limbs of modern freedom?
Who will dare tell me that this terrible Church does not lie upon
the bosom of the present time like a vast unwieldy and offensive
corpse, crushing the life-blood out of the body of modern civilization?
It is not as a religious creed that we are looking at this thing; it is
not for its theological sins that we are here to condemn it; but it is
its effect upon political and social freedom that we are discussing.
What must be the ultimate political and social freedom that we are
discussing? What must be the ultimate political night that settles upon
a people who are without individuality of opinions and independence of
will, and whose brains are made tools of in the hands of a clan or an
order? Look out there into that sad Europe, and see it all! See, there,
how the Catholic element everywhere marks itself with night, and drags
the soul, and energies, and freedom of the people backwards and
downwards into political and social inactioninto unfathomable
quagmires of death!
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