The Romance of Madame Tussaud's by Tussaud, John Theodore
Transcriber’s Note: Illustrations have been moved from the original position of the printed plates, in order to correspond better with the flow of the text. The List of Illustrations therefore isn’t strictly accurate in regard to where the illustrations may be found.
THE ROMANCE OF MADAME TUSSAUD’S
JOHN THEODORE TUSSAUD
[Illustration: MADAME TUSSAUD AT THE AGE OF 85
From the portrait by Paul Fischer, Court painter to H. M. George IV.]
THE ROMANCE OF MADAME TUSSAUD’S
BY JOHN THEODORE TUSSAUD
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY HILAIRE BELLOC
NEW YORK GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
THROUGH WHOSE KINDLY URGING THESE LEAVES HAVE GROWN TO THE DIMENSIONS OF A BOOK
The earliest information we have concerning Madame Tussaud is that she was born in Switzerland on the 7th of December, 1760, and was the only child of Joseph and Marie Grosholtz. Her mother was the daughter of a Swiss clergyman.
She married on the 20th of October, 1795, François Tussaud, who, it appears, was her junior by seven years. We are able to trace his family back as far as 1630, when his great-great-grandfather, one Denis Tusseaud--for that is how he spelt his name--was born.
There is documentary evidence that Denis was brought from Burgy to Mâcon in 1631, his family also coming from Burzy, close by, in 1658.
His descendants lived at Mâcon for more than a century, their occupation being generally that of workers in metal.
The great-grandfather of François was Henry Tusseaud (1684-1717), and his grandfather’s name was Claude (1716-1767).
François’ father (1744-1786) was the first of the family to adopt the present spelling of the name, although we find that various members of the family used the forms Tussot, Tusseau, Tuissiaud, Tussiaut, Tusseaut, Tussiau, or Thusseaud.
Madame Tussaud’s marriage does not appear to have been a happy one, for we learn that in 1800--two years before she came to England--she separated from her husband, of whom we hear nothing further, although he is known to have been living in Paris in the lifetime of his grandsons.
The foundress of the famous Exhibition had two sons, Joseph and Francis. Francis (1800-1873) had several sons, the eldest of whom, Joseph Randall (1831-1892), who was a student and exhibitor at the Royal Academy, was the father of the author of this book.
Mr. John Theodore Tussaud was born in Kensington on the 2nd of May, 1858, and at the age of six was sent to St. Charles’s College, London, where he came under the influence of Cardinal Manning, who took a keen personal interest in his welfare.
Some six years later he was transferred to Ramsgate, where he benefited by the training he received from the Benedictine monks at St. Augustine’s.
In the year 1889 he married Ruth Helena, daughter of Thomas Grew. There are seven sons and three daughters of the marriage.
Mr. Tussaud, like his father, has exhibited at the Royal Academy. His occasional contributions to literature have been welcomed by thoughtful readers, and he is a recognised authority on historical matters relating to the French Revolution and the First Empire.
Seventeen great-grandsons of Madame Tussaud took an active part in the war, all, without exception, serving in the British Army. Two were killed and most of the others wounded.
WILLIAM E. HURT.
MIDDLE TEMPLE, LONDON
PREFACE BY WILLIAM E. HURT vii
INTRODUCTION BY HILAIRE BELLOC 25
MR. TUSSAUD FIRST ENTERS HIS FATHER’S STUDIO--_REVERIE_--MADAME TUSSAUD’S UNCLE FORSAKES THE MEDICAL PROFESSION FOR ART--MADAME’S BIRTH AND PARENTAGE--A PRINCE’S PROMISE 53
CURTIUS LEAVES BERNE FOR PARIS--THE HÔTEL D’ALIGRE--THE COURT OF LOUIS XV--MADAME ARRIVES IN PARIS 59
LIFE-SIZE FIGURES--MUSEUM AT THE PALAIS ROYAL--EXHIBITION ON THE _BOULEVARD DU TEMPLE_--BENJAMIN FRANKLIN--VOLTAIRE 65
MADAME ELIZABETH OF FRANCE--MADAME TUSSAUD GOES TO VERSAILLES--FOULON--THREE NOTABLE GROUPS--GALLERY OF NOTORIOUS CRIMINALS 70
EVE OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION--NECKER AND THE DUKE OF ORLÉANS--LOUIS XVI’S FATAL MISTAKES--HIS DISMISSAL OF THE PEOPLE’S FAVOURITES 77
MADAME TUSSAUD RECALLED FROM VERSAILLES--THE TWELFTH OF JULY, 1789--BUSTS TAKEN FROM CURTIUS’S EXHIBITION--A _GARDE FRANÇAISE_ SLAIN IN THE MÊLÉE 81
HEADS OF THE REVOLUTION--MADAME’S TERRIBLE EXPERIENCES--THE GUILLOTINE IN PAWN--MADAME ACQUIRES THE KNIFE, LUNETTE AND CHOPPER 87
MADAME DINES WITH THE TERRORISTS MARAT AND ROBESPIERRE, MODELS THEIR FIGURES AND SUBSEQUENTLY TAKES CASTS OF THEIR HEADS--SHE VISITS CHARLOTTE CORDAY IN PRISON--DEATH OF CURTIUS--MADAME MARRIES--NAPOLEON SITS FOR HIS MODEL 92
MADAME TUSSAUD LEAVES FRANCE FOR ENGLAND, NEVER TO RETURN--EARLY DAYS IN LONDON--ON TOUR--SOME NOTABLE FIGURES--SHIPWRECK IN THE IRISH CHANNEL 98
THE BRISTOL RIOTS--NARROW ESCAPE OF THE EXHIBITION--A BRAVE BLACK SERVANT--ARRIVAL AT BLACKHEATH 103
AN OLD PLACARD--PRINCESS AUGUSTA’S TESTIMONIAL--GREAT SUCCESS AT GRAY’S INN ROAD--MADAME INITIATES PROMENADE CONCERTS--BYGONE TABLEAUX 108
PLACARD (_Continued_)--THE OLD EXHIBITION--CELEBRITIES OF THE DAY--TUSSAUD’S MUMMY--POETIC EULOGISM--REMOVAL TO BAKER STREET--THE IRON DUKE’S REJOINDER--MADAME DE MALIBRAN 113
HOW THE WATERLOO CARRIAGE WAS ACQUIRED--A CHANCE CONVERSATION ON LONDON BRIDGE--THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF AN EMPEROR’S EQUIPAGE--AFFIDAVIT OF NAPOLEON’S COACHMAN 120
NAPOLEON’S WATERLOO CARRIAGE--DESCRIPTION OF ITS EXTERIOR 127
DESCRIPTION OF THE WATERLOO CARRIAGE (_Continued_)--ITS INTERIOR AND PECULIAR CONTRIVANCES--BROUGHT TO ENGLAND AND EXHIBITED AT THE LONDON MUSEUM 133
THE ST. HELENA CARRIAGE--NAPOLEON ALARMS THE LADIES--CERTIFICATES OF AUTHENTICITY 139
FATHER MATTHEW SITS FOR HIS MODEL--TSAR NICHOLAS I. TAKES A FANCY TO VOLTAIRE’S CHAIR--A REPLICA SENT TO HIM--THE REV. PETER MCKENZIE’S EXORCISM 143
LANDSEER AND THE COUNT D’ORSAY VISIT THE EXHIBITION--A FRIGHT--NORFOLK FARMER’S ACCOUNT OF QUEEN VICTORIA’S VISIT 148
WELLINGTON VISITS THE EFFIGY OF THE DEAD NAPOLEON, AND SITS TO SIR GEORGE HAYTER FOR HISTORIC PICTURE--PAINTINGS FROM MODELS--IS THE PHOTOGRAPH “TAKEN FROM LIFE,” OR--? 153
THE STORY OF COLOUR-SERGEANT BATES’S MARCH THROUGH ENGLAND TO PROVE ANGLO-AMERICAN GOODWILL--START FROM GRETNA--THE DOVE OF PEACE 159
SERGEANT BATES’S JOURNEY FINISHES IN LONDON AMID A REMARKABLE DEMONSTRATION--HIS GIFT TO MADAME TUSSAUD’S 164
MY FIRST MODEL--BEACONSFIELD’S CURL--GLADSTONE’S COLLAR--JOHN BRIGHT AND THE CHINAMAN 171
THE TICHBORNE “CLAIMANT”--NEARLY AN EXPLOSION--THE BIG MAN’S CLOTHES--THE REAL HEIR--THE CLAIMANT’S RELEASE FROM PRISON--CONFESSION AND DEATH 177
H. M. STANLEY SITS TO JOSEPH TUSSAUD--THE STORY OF HIS LIFE--HOW HE FOUND LIVINGSTONE--A MYSTERIOUS VEILED LADY--THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 181
COUNT LÉON--THE SHAH OF PERSIA’S VISIT--A WEIRD SUGGESTION; NO RESPONSE--KING KOFFEE--CETEWAYO 184
THE BERLIN CONGRESS--LORD BEACONSFIELD AND THE “TURNERELLI WREATH”--“THE PEOPLE’S TRIBUTE” FINDS A HOME AT TUSSAUD’S--THE SCULPTOR’S DESPAIR--HE CONSTRUCTS HIS TOMBSTONE AND DIES 190
THE PHŒNIX PARK MURDERS--WE SECURE THE JAUNTING-CAR AND PONY--CHARLES BRADLAUGH--GENERAL BOULANGER--LORD ROBERTS INSPECTS THE MODEL OF HIMSELF 197
MY FAVOURITE PORTRAIT--LORD TENNYSON POSES UNCONSCIOUSLY BEFORE MY WIFE--“THIS BEATS TUSSAUD’S”--SIR RICHARD BURTON--HIS WIDOW CLOTHES THE MODEL 203
REMOVAL OF THE EXHIBITION TO THE PRESENT BUILDING--SLEEPING FIGURES--HISTORY OF THE PORTMAN ROOMS--THE CATO STREET CONSPIRACY--BARON GRANT’S STAIRCASE 208
THE KING OF SIAM’S VISIT--THE SHAHZADA’S CLOTHING--THE KING OF BURMAH’S WAR ELEPHANT--TALE OF TWO MONKEYS 215
QUEEN VICTORIA’S COPPERPLATES--ANOTHER ROYAL PERSIAN VISIT--“PERISHED BY FIRE”--“VISCOUNT HINTON” AND HIS ORGAN--THE COQUETTE’S JEWELS LOST AND FOUND 220
ROYAL VISITORS--KING ALPHONSO AND PRINCESS ENA--THE LATE EMPEROR FREDERICK--A PENNILESS TRIO--PRINCESS CHARLES--THE PRINCE OF WALES AND PRINCE ALBERT 225
THE BEGUM OF BHOPAL PAYS US A VISIT--LORD ROSEBERY AND LORD ANNALY--LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL--LADY BEATTY--LADY JELLICOE AND MRS. ASQUITH 231
TUSSAUD’S AS EDUCATOR--QUEER QUESTIONS--WANTED, A “MODEL” WIFE--QUAINT EXTRACT FROM AN INDIAN’S DIARY 236
STARS OF THE STAGE IN MY STUDIO--MISS ELLEN TERRY HAS A CUP OF TEA--SIR SQUIRE AND LADY BANCROFT--SIR HENRY IRVING AND THE CABBY--WE COMPLY WITH A STRANGE REQUEST 242
LITERARY SITTERS--GEORGE R. SIMS’ IMPROMPTU--HIS ORDEAL IN THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS. GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA’S MASTERPIECE 249
G. A. SALA ON MARIE ANTOINETTE--THE ROYAL FAMILY--THE QUEEN--HER “TRIAL,” CONDEMNATION AND DEATH--THE SANSONS--SALA’S IMPRESSIONS 254
MORE SITTERS--MR. JOHN BURNS WALKS AND TALKS--WE BUY HIS ONLY SUIT--MR. GEORGE BERNARD SHAW HAS TO WORK FOR HIS LIVING--FOUR LEADING SUFFRAGETTES--CHRISTABEL’S MODEL “SPEAKS”--THE CHANNEL SWIMMER--GENERAL BOOTH 275
BANK HOLIDAY QUEUES--CUP-TIE DAY--GENTLEMEN FROM THE NORTH--BACHELOR BEANFEASTS--THE MEMBER FOR OLDHAM--A SCARE 282
THE MYSTERIOUS SUN YAT SEN’S VISIT--HIS ESCAPE FROM THE CHINESE LEGATION--THE DARGAI TABLEAU--SIR WILLIAM TRELOAR ENTERTAINS HIS LITTLE FRIENDS 287
A MISCELLANY OF HUMOUR--OUR POLICEMAN--THE MYSTERIOUS LANTERN--THE DANGER OF OLD CATALOGUES--STORIES OF CHILDREN--SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON’S MODEL 291
THE LURE OF HORRORS--BEGINNINGS OF THE “DEAD ROOM”--SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE, P.R.A., SKETCHES A SUICIDE--BURKE AND HARE--FIESCHI’S INFERNAL MACHINE--GREENACRE--EXECUTIONS IN PUBLIC--“FREE AT LAST!” 297
THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS RUMOUR--_NO REWARD HAS BEEN OR WILL BE OFFERED_--THE CONSTABLE’S ESCAPADE--A NOCTURNAL EXPERIENCE--DUMAS’S COMEDY OF THE CHAMBER--YEOMEN OF THE HALTER 307
ANECDOTAL--“WHICH IS PEACE?”--MARK TWAIN AT TUSSAUD’S--DR. GRACE’S STORY--MR. KIPLING’S MODEL--FILIAL PRIDE--BISHOP JACKSON’S SALLY--GERMAN INACCURACY 315
ENEMY MODELS--A HOSTILE PUBLIC--BANISHMENT OF FOUR RULERS--OUR REPLY TO JOHN BULL--ATTACKS ON THE KAISER’S EFFIGY--STORY OF AN IRON CROSS 320
TUSSAUD’S DURING THE WAR--CHAMELEON CROWDS--THE PSYCHOLOGY OF COURAGE--MEN OF ST. DUNSTAN’S--POIGNANT MEMORIES--OUR WATCHMAN’S SOLILOQUY 326
THREE HEROES OF THE WAR: NURSE CAVELL, JACK CORNWELL, V.C., CAPTAIN FRYATT--LORDS ROBERTS AND KITCHENER--QUEEN ALEXANDRA’S STICK AND VIOLETS--THE DUKE OF NORFOLK’S TIP 335
A CRINOLINE COMEDY--MR. BRUCE SMITH’S STORY--AN AMERICAN LADY’S SHILLING--MY FATHER’S MEETING WITH BARNUM--THE “CHERRY-COLOURED” CAT--“PAGANINI” AND THE TAILOR--GEORGE GROSSMITH POSES 341
WE VISIT THE OLD BAILEY FOR MEMENTOES--A MOCK TRIAL--RELICS OF OLD NEWGATE--TWO FAMOUS CELLS--THE NEWGATE BELL 346
TUSSAUD’S IN VERSE--TOM HOOD’S QUATRAIN--“ALFRED AMONG THE IMMORTALS”--A REFUGE FOR CABINET MINISTERS--TWO DIALOGUES--“THIS IS FAME” 352
LAST SCENE OF ALL--MADAME TUSSAUD’S APPEARANCE AND CHARACTER--HER MEMOIRS PUBLISHED IN 1838--HER LAST WORDS 356
MADAME TUSSAUD _at the age of 85_ _Frontispiece_
JOHN THEODORE TUSSAUD 32
CHRISTOPHER CURTIUS 56
LOUIS XVI AND THE DUKE OF ORLÉANS 56
THREE VIEWS OF VOLTAIRE’S HEAD 57
“THE DYING SOCRATES” 57
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN 57
MADAME TUSSAUD _at the age of 20_ 72
MARIE ANTOINETTE, THE DAUPHIN, AND THE DUCHESSE D’ANGOULÊME 72
MADAME ELIZABETH OF FRANCE 73
MADAME ELIZABETH OF FRANCE, SISTER OF LOUIS XVI 73
MODEL OF THE BASTILLE 73
M. NECKER 73
CAMILLE DESMOULINS 88
THOMAS CARLYLE 88
MARIE ANTOINETTE 88
JEAN BAPTISTE CARRIER 88
KNIFE, LUNETTE AND CHOPPER OF THE ORIGINAL GUILLOTINE 88
THE GUILLOTINE 89
CHARLOTTE CORDAY 89
JEAN PAUL MARAT 89
MAXIMILIEN MARIE ISIDORE ROBESPIERRE 89
THE PRINCESS DE LAMBALLE 89
MADAME TUSSAUD _at the age of 42_ 112
HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCESS CHARLOTTE OF WALES AND SAXE-COBURG 112
THE BRISTOL RIOTS 112
SIR CHARLES WETHERELL 112
HER MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY QUEEN ADELAIDE 113
INTERIOR OF THE EXHIBITION 113
DANIEL O’CONNELL 113
MADAME DE MALIBRAN 113
JOSEPH TUSSAUD 113
THORWALDSEN’S CELEBRATED BUST OF THE GREAT NAPOLEON 128
NAPOLEON’S MILITARY CARRIAGE _General View_ 128
NAPOLEON’S MILITARY CARRIAGE _Scene of its capture at Jenappe_ 128
THE EMPRESS JOSEPHINE 128
NAPOLEON’S MILITARY CARRIAGE _The Interior_ 129
ARTICLES FOUND IN NAPOLEON’S CARRIAGE 129
NAPOLEON’S BAROUCHE 129
FATHER MATHEW 144
NICHOLAS I 144
VOLTAIRE’S CHAIR 145
SIR EDWIN LANDSEER, R.A. 145
WELLINGTON VISITING THE EFFIGY OF NAPOLEON 160
SIR GEORGE HAYTER 160
COLOUR-SERGEANT GILBERT H. BATES 161
WILLIAM COBBETT 161
RICHARD COBDEN 161
JOHN BRIGHT 178
TICHBORNE CLAIMANT 178
DR. LIVINGSTONE 179
THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 179
NAPOLEON III 179
COUNT LÉON 192
EDWARD TRACY TURNERELLI 192
THE TURNERELLI WREATH 192
KING CETEWAYO 193
GENERAL BOULANGER 193
LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH 208
CHARLES BRADLAUGH 208
SIR RICHARD BURTON 209
HEAD OF LORD TENNYSON 209
VISCOUNT HINTON AND HIS ORGAN 240
THE SURRENDER OF GENERAL CRONJE 240
WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY 241
SIR SQUIRE BANCROFT 241
BUST OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 288
GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA 288
T. W. BURGESS _The Channel Swimmer_ 288
EFFIGY OF DR. SUN YAT SEN 289
DR. SUN YAT SEN 289
THE CHILDREN’S LORD MAYOR 289
CHARLES PEACE 320
MARQUIS OF HARTINGTON 320
BURKE AND HARE 320
SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE 320
KEY OF THE BASTILLE 320
JOHN WILLIAMS 320
WILLIAM MARWOOD _The Hangman_ 321
DR. JACKSON _Bishop of London_ 321
COUNT ZEPPELIN 321
JACK SHEPPARD 321
THE OLD NEWGATE BELL 321
EDITH CAVELL 352
JACK CORNWELL, V. C. 352
CAPTAIN FRYATT 352
FIELD-MARSHAL EARL KITCHENER 352
ALFRED AUSTIN 353
TOM HOOD 353
FRANCIS TUSSAUD 353
BY HILAIRE BELLOC
BY HILAIRE BELLOC
This is a fascinating book and its fascination consists in two things attaching to its subject: first that the famous collection of modelled portraits which has become a sort of national institution in England under the name of “Madame Tussaud’s” has its roots in the greatest period of modern history, the French Revolution; second, in that the complete and growing record has passed through so many changes and has yet survived.
Even though the famous collection had dealt with nothing more than the main figures of the Revolution and of the great wars that followed it, it would have been a possession of permanent and lasting historical value. I am not sure that if it had so remained, stopped short at the effigies of those now long dead, it would not now receive a greater respect. It might well in that case have become something recognised as a national possession, protected and preserved by the national government. For the prolongation of the record right on into our own time, while it very greatly increases the real value of the collection as a piece of historical evidence, yet deprives it of that illusion which men cannot avoid where history is concerned: the illusion that things thoroughly passed are in some way greater and of more consequence than contemporary things.
This continuity of the great collection--so long as it is maintained with judgment in selection and without too much yielding to momentary fame is none the less a thing to be very thankful for. Already those of us who, like the present writer, are well on into middle age, can judge how the younger generation is beginning to regard as historical these simulacra, which, when they were first modelled, seemed in our own youth insignificant because they were contemporary. To our children (who are now grown and are young men and women), Disraeli, Gladstone, Bismarck--all the group that were old but living men in the eighties (Disraeli died at the beginning of them, Bismarck long after their close)--are what to us were Louis-Philippe, Garibaldi, Palmerston, and the process properly continued will be invaluable. We have already more than 130 years of record. There is no reason why it should not extend to the two centuries.
It often happens that a thing of great value to history, a piece of evidence which we now find invaluable, has come to us by an accident, the motive of its creation not historical at all nor really connected with record. Indeed of the bulk of historical evidence which we use to-day for the reconstruction of the past only a small proportion--official documents--are of the nature of deliberate records. And that proportion of evidence is on the whole the worst as material, for official documents always have a motive underlying them, and they never give one a vivid picture. The great bulk of the material with which we used to build up the past and make it live again for ourselves is accidental. And so it is with this great collection.
The motive at first was merely that of a waxwork show. The remarkable woman who created the collection did so as a matter of business. The exhibits were intended to satisfy no more than contemporary curiosity. But they have become a piece of historical evidence which increases in value with every year. Whatever you may read (and the accounts are always contradictory) of some man prominent in the past, whatever picture or sculpture you may find of him (and these are often deliberately flattering or in some other way untrue) the physical impression of him will never be so full and so exact as in the case of an effigy made by a contemporary who saw him, watched him, knew him, _and whose whole motive was exactitude in reproduction_.
Here there does indeed arise the question of the medium. You cannot conceive of a better medium than wax among all the known mediums for production of effigies of human beings. Yet it is not perfect. And it is precisely because the likeness is so great, precisely because the effect is so parallel to that of reality, that we note the minor details in which illusion is not achieved. When a man sees a bust of marble he does not expect to find illusion. The greatest portrait statuary can never be more than a symbol. But the wax effigy aims at exact reproduction. To put it in extreme terms, the ideal of the modeller in wax would be to reproduce a figure such that one knowing the original could be deceived and think he had found again his friend dead or sleeping. When a wax effigy reproduces a known and real person, especially a person whom we ourselves have come across, the discrepancy between reality and its copy is clearer. But there is this strong evidence in support of the success which modelling in wax has reached, that where we are dealing with something unknown, some imaginary person, it is possible to create, in spite of the immobility of the figure, an illusion of life. Everyone who has visited these collections will testify to that. With a person whom one has seen in the flesh the little details in which the wax does not tally with the flesh nor immobility with life, stand out clear. That is especially the case with those whose complexion is difficult to imitate. It is also the case in the attachment of the hair. And I have further noticed that the direction of the eyes makes a difference, the figure being more lifelike as a rule when the eyes are cast down or averted, than when a direct look is imitated. But it remains true that with an imaginary person when you are free to suppose that the person had a complexion of the sort easily imitated in wax, and where you are further free to presume the pose, you can get as near to reality in this medium as it is possible for human art to achieve.
Therein, then, lies the great value of this thing. It is a witness to history, and as I have said, one increasingly valuable as time proceeds.
Still it is with what is chiefly historical in this gallery of figures and _especially with the tradition of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, that we are most concerned_. And the Tussaud collection has this added interest that it sprung as it were from the revolutionary time. Its origins lay in that. Its first fame was due to an emigration from France into England, and it still remains much the best effort at physical reconstruction which we have to-day.
The reason is that the lady who founded this institution was not only herself a contemporary of but an actor in the principal events of that time. She came by a series of accidents into direct touch with one personality after another. She left a record of each. She was a personal and convincing witness and her work remains. She is just as much a person of the Revolution and of the Napoleonic period as any one of those whom she modelled for our benefit. And that is (let us remember) of special value _in that one is in the spirit of one’s time_.
The artist deliberately reconstructing a bust through plastic art is always in danger of failing through a lack of the necessary sympathy between the time in which he lives and the time in which his subject lived. The truth of this is expressed very sharply in modern attempts at reconstructing mediæval sculpture. It has been done. It is singularly successful, for instance, in the central porch of Notre Dame in Paris. But as a rule it fails. The modern man either works from a modern model, or at any rate with modern expressions and modern features at the back of his mind. One conspicuous instance occurs to me, the modern figures upon Lichfield. They are as grievously out of their supposed time as are the figures of Tennyson’s “Idylls of the Kings.” The Knights of the Round Tables of Tennyson’s version are the gentlemen of pegtopped trousers who were contemporary with the poet. They have been to public schools and to universities. They would be horrified at the dropping of aitches, and they have often attended at services which were fully choral. They would have called the inhabitants of the country which they visited “natives.” That is what Tennyson made of Geraint and Launcelot and his odious Arthur.
I am afraid one cannot say much more for the sculptures that I have in my mind. They are dressed in mediæval armour, but the faces that look out from the helmets are the faces to be seen in the London clubs to-day. They are faces devoid of simplicity and strength. They are not the faces of the Middle Ages.
You have the same thing in historical painting, and that is why historical painting usually looks so ridiculous in the generation after it was made. We all know those historical paintings which our grandfathers bought and which still disfigure the large rooms of private houses, where you have Richard I of England charging the Saracens (he, an Angevin!), his face glowing with the emotions of the football field.
Now this prime difficulty and error in pictorial and plastic record in the past you can only avoid by the advantage of contemporary work, and this is where the great value of this collection comes in. All its work is contemporary, and we can to-day, after an interval of more than a hundred years, weigh the importance of that point. The revolutionary figures sometimes look odd to us precisely because their real aspect has been so vividly preserved. The hand that modelled Marat was a hand of Marat’s age. It touched the flesh of the dead man. The eyes that received the conception reproduced by the hands, gazed upon Marat himself as he lay back dead.
And here it is convenient to introduce that essential character in the great collection--the genius of its originator.
The whole thing, its character, long tradition and establishment--is the creation of one remarkable woman, and of her we ought to have some full biography. I know of none. She has at least the rare advantage of having propagated her name justly and the thing she created is identified with her. It is not often that history acts with so little irony and with so much generosity. Her energy was much more remarkable than that of those very few women who have created and organised permanent businesses, for it was not only her judgment and initiative which created the commercial side of the collection: it was also her own talent and industry, the work of her own hands, that laid the foundation of it all. Most of the early portraits were the direct product of her skill and it is from her that the continuous tradition of the place descends. Her sons learnt their art from their mother and carried it on to the third generation which still continues it. It was she who took all the critical decisions, she who steered the fortunes of the family through the crisis of the Revolution, who determined to take the collection over to England, who conceived the idea of making it a permanent record by adding contemporaries year after year.
It is not often that one has this intimate admixture of personality with an institution, and when one gets it it has an astonishing effect in vivifying the whole. When an institution is thus the product of a character at once highly energetic and highly individual, it is as though a living thing continued on long beyond the term of a human life. It is, in the strict and original sense of the word, “inspired.” You get that quality, of course, in all literature, and in some of the corporations which remarkable men and women have founded, but very rarely in a piece of business in an institution of affairs. Here you get it, and the more you read of the woman’s life and character the more you understand the success of her effort and its vitality.
[Illustration: JOHN THEODORE TUSSAUD]
It was an astonishing life! There lies behind it the story of her uncle Curtius, a Swiss who left medical practice in the middle of the 18th century and took to modelling in wax. It was a taste which had grown upon him from his habit of modelling parts of the human body for the purposes of his profession. He extended it to portraits and at last he abandoned medicine for his new art. He had firmly established himself in it and had already been taken up by members of the French Royal Family who had visited Switzerland, when under their protection he left for Paris. And there his sister, Madame Grosholtz, and her child, then five or six years old, joined him. There she learnt her uncle’s trade and thence in her twentieth year she went to live at Versailles as a sort of companion to Madame Elizabeth, Louis XVI’s sister, a girl about four years older than herself. She was the close friend and companion of the princess right up to the moment of the Revolution. Madame Elizabeth like her brother had a delight in manual work. With her it took the form of modelling under the guidance of Marie Grosholtz and it was these nine years that formed the character and that remained the liveliest memory throughout all the very long life that this remarkable woman was to live.
It would be interesting to discover (I know of no such document that could tell me, but there must be some) whether the young companion whom Madame Elizabeth thus took under her protection, and to whom she thus gave a unique opportunity for the observation of contemporary life, was in race German or French. Berne would seem to be the origin of the family, and the uncle’s Latin name and the family name of his brother-in-law point to German origin. All his associations on the other hand were French, and when he came to Paris it was hardly as a foreigner. The story reads as though they were French-speaking on their arrival. Perhaps in some future edition of the work this point will be settled. It is one of considerable moment to our judgment of the art.
It was a moment when the connection between Switzerland and French society was very close. It was to Switzerland that Voltaire had retired. It was from Switzerland that the genius of Rousseau proceeded. The unfortunate Necker, with his caution and his avarice, played his great part in the early Revolution as a Swiss. To Switzerland also he went back when he had failed--and there, by the way, in his retirement we have an amusing picture of him listening to the daily recital of the news from Paris as the Revolution proceeded, wagging his head solemnly, and perpetually saying, “I told you so.”
Madame de Staël, his famous daughter, whom Pitt so much desired to marry for her money, and whom Napoleon so hated, was thoroughly Swiss. She shows it in every line of her writing. She is from the heart of Geneva in her traditions and ideas.
The family coming thus to Paris were part of a general movement and even their connection with Versailles can be paralleled. It would not have taken much, had things proceeded quietly, for Switzerland to have fallen into the orbit of the French monarchy within the next hundred years.
After these nine formative years in the continued company of Madame Elizabeth, Marie Grosholtz enters the Revolution, and the connections of the family with the origins of the great upheaval are close, curious, and of intense interest. It was, it will be remembered, the bust of Necker from the collection of Curtius, then on exhibition, which the mob carried round at the beginning of the insurrection. The show of figures already well-known in Paris became the starting-point for the future collection. It was because the Revolutionaries from the very beginning of the movement showed so much acquaintance with those effigies that the continuous stream of further portraits began. That is why Marie Grosholtz was sent for time after time to take a death mask, to model a famous living man, to establish what afterwards became the invaluable record we still have.
From 1787-89, the preliminary years when she was already at work, right on to 1802, a matter of 15 years, the most crowded of all history, the newly developed art went on actively without interruption. There is not, I think, in all history a parallel to so astonishing and lucky a chance. It was almost as though fate had designed a reporter, or a state portraitist for the benefit of posterity. You do get the same thing now and then in the shape of a chronicler who happens to keep out of the turmoil and mark the detail of his time, but it is extremely rare and in the case of plastic art, unique. The nearest parallel to-day--which may raise a smile on account of the extreme difference in time and manner--is that of Holbein’s portraits of the English Court. There also you get the living record marvellously preserved for future times.
It is to our advantage that the character of this foundress does not diminish in energy with the passage of time. We see her doing the work of three people all through the years of her middle age and making decision after decision upon the fortunes of her house. And while she was thus conducting with one hand the financial side of the business, with the other she was herself still modelling perpetually, and with a third and quite separate faculty she was creating a school of her own, as it were, for the continuation of the modelling after her time. If ever there was the maker of an important thing it was this woman and if ever there was an important thing proceeding entirely from one individual, that thing is the collection which still remains to us.
There is a sort of parallel which can be drawn between Madame Tussaud and Madame Campan. Both of them have seen, and worked at, the Palace of Louis XVI, under and in connection with his Queen. Both were much of an age, Madame Campan eight years senior to Madame Tussaud. Both lived on through the Revolution and the Empire, the one till 1822, the other beyond the revolutionary year of 1848. Both had something of the same strength. Both carried on the tradition of the old attachment to the Bourbons. Both have left the legend of a strong personality, the one through an effect on education in France which was deeper than has been generally recognised, the other in a more lasting manner through her plastic work. In this connection one muses upon what would have been Madame Tussaud’s fate had she continued her career in the country where it had begun, and had she not taken over the collection in its origins to England at the Peace of Amiens. I think she would have been a great figure in the France of the Restoration and of the bourgeois Monarchy. A continuous unbroken link with all the great years up to 1848 and presenting a whole gallery of the past for a new generation to witness would have been something the French and Paris would have made much of, and a great deal that was lost on the other side of the Channel through lack of understanding would have been preserved. I mean that too many of those figures were for those who saw them in an alien atmosphere jests or shades, whereas in France they would have been an intimate part of the great national story.
This removal to England also in some degree affected the proportion of the collection and in the same degree diminished its great international value. Not that figures of international moment had not been included--the great figures are all there--but that Paris would have been a better general centre for watching and recording the moving history of the 19th century, than London. The Musée Grevin in Paris supplemented the Tussaud collection in England. One imagines that it would have been better for history as a whole had one great collection, preferably in Paris, served for a permanent and continuous chronicle of what living men had been.
When we come to details of the personalities from the period before the Revolution to the Peace of Amiens (the foundation of the whole Exhibition) we are struck, I think, by the great difference in our appreciation. Some of the figures are just what we should have thought these men would have been. Others offend us or puzzle us by what seems to us discrepancy. But we must remember that the error is in ourselves and not in the contemporary record.
Of the great historical figures Voltaire (which is the first of them) is least specially illuminated by what I may call “the Tussaud tradition.” And that is because we already know pretty well all that there is to know about Voltaire. His story was a simple one, his genius obvious, not complex, and the time of life in which Madame Tussaud’s uncle came to sculp him (to model his face in wax) was just at the very end, when public fame and his own great pride in himself had combined to put him into full evidence, even to the details of his daily life. It was just at the end of that life, in 1778, that Voltaire sat to Curtius, Madame Tussaud’s uncle, the original founder of the whole gallery, and the tutor of his niece in her art.
It is interesting to compare the little miniature (one of several) which Curtius made--it is far more lifelike than the larger figure--with the famous Houdon. Houdon’s is much the greater thing, of course, and the more living, but though Houdon was the greatest of portraitists by far, the greatest renderer of the human face that ever lived, there is something intimate in the little wax miniature of Curtius which no great sculptor could have given. For instance, you have here admitted, as it were, almost photographed, the domestic insufficient quality of Voltaire’s famous smile. Houdon could not help making that smile--or grin--have something heroic about it; or at any rate great. But the Tussaud work undoubtedly shows you the thing as it actually was; as his servants and his intimates saw it.
I learn, by the way, from this book (I had not known it before) that Houdon had himself worked for Curtius--a considerably older man--and the connection is as curious as it is interesting. It is striking to find a record of the connection in this book, but not astonishing that it should be absent from others, for there has been no good comprehensive work on Houdon written that I can recollect. I am told that there is some German encyclopædic work or other but no proper study of the man and his life.
Next after Voltaire we have to note side by side with the collection a small work of Curtius’s own in miniature, the very striking profile of the Duke of Orléans. How it helps one to understand that base and extraordinary career! Everyone reading the story of the Revolution should concentrate upon that man’s ambition, weakness and intrigue. The origin of the whole business was his false idea (unfortunately for himself confirmed by circumstances for many years) that Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette would have no children. He came to regard himself as the heir, and the natural result was that when the first child came after so perplexing a delay (a delay the cause of which I have explained in an appendix to my own monograph on Marie Antoinette) Philippe Égalité felt himself aggrieved. His grievance was illogical and unjust, but it was there and in that grievance you find no small part of the motive force that impelled the early Revolution.
The family tradition carried on by the Tussauds from the Revolution was what may be described as the “orthodox” tradition. It is the tradition which appears in this book. I am not sure that the historian can wholly agree with it.
This “orthodox” tradition is the tradition of an equable and happy society overthrown into a sort of chaos at the head of which chance scoundrels floated, each to disappear in turn, struck by a sort of anarchic doom proceeding from their fellow anarchs. The Revolution was rather a resettlement of society from a state which had become unstable to a new and more stable state, and its leaders were upon the whole, though suffering under the exaggeration from which leaders at such a time invariably suffer, men of capacity--especially on the military side. Further, those who were made responsible in popular tradition for the worst excesses were hardly the principal authors of them.
Thus, the real director of what is called the Terror was Carnot, not Robespierre. Carnot was a perfectly sane man and a genius to boot, attached to the new democratic principle, but a soldier, and working for the highly practical ends which a soldier has in view. He thought of the Terror as a piece of martial law, and it is significant that under his direction by far the greater number of those who suffered in Paris suffered through a direct breach of the temporary regulations (such as those against the export of money or communication with the enemy) which were necessary for the prosecution of the campaign.
Robespierre was not the director of the Terror at all. He was a man singularly restricted in nature, but of powerful effect in oratory in spite of his close academic style. He was a man of complete sincerity, much too narrow in doctrine, but because he exactly expressed with more lucidity than anyone else, and with more conviction, what was the passionate creed of the time, he became for something like two years at once the idol and the symbol of the revolutionary masses. As the Terror looked like an intensive application of the Revolution men associated it with Robespierre’s name, and Robespierre, suffering from the very grave defect of vanity (common in men who reach a public position), was willing to allow the false imputation, and to enjoy the title of ruler, when he was really in the Central Council of the Republic, singularly impotent. He paid a heavy price for that falsehood. It cost him his life and--what was worse--his reputation.
What we know positively of Robespierre’s action during the Terror is that he attended the Central Council less and less frequently, and that he tried, if anything, to stop the Terror. In fact it was precisely on this account, his interference with the rigour of the martial law, that his enemies brought him to the guillotine. But, by a curious irony not uncommon in history, the death of this man who was not the leader of the Terror, and who had if anything attempted to check it, and who was put to death because he attempted to check it, caused the Terror to cease. Men had so universally (and so falsely) identified him with the extremity of the republican military régime that when he passed it was impossible to continue it.
In the matter of Marat what I may call “the Tussaud tradition” is sounder. The man was unbalanced to the point of lunacy, and when Madame Tussaud was called in to take the impression of his face just after death, her use of the word “fiend” though exaggerated is comprehensible. This effigy of Marat which you may see in the famous gallery and which was modelled immediately after his death--an immediate piece of historical evidence of the first value--was shown in Paris when it was completed. It is an astonishing thing to have that piece of continuity with us.
But all these death masks of the Revolution are of the highest value. There is an extraordinary dignity in the full features of the Queen, looking younger than she did in the last years of her life, and a singular and awful reality in the mask of Robespierre. I know only two representations of Robespierre which really recall the man. One is this effigy exactly modelled from the face itself after these last thirty-six hours of agony, and the other is the portrait which Greuze made of him and which is now in Lord Rosebery’s collection. And of these two, of course, the death mask, though repulsive, is the more actual.
But of all these revolutionary figures, by far the most interesting to me is that of Carrier. The contrast between that strongly exact, clearly cut face and the story of Carrier’s madness at Nantes, is one of the things that make one understand not only the Revolution but in general mankind at white heat. Here is a man who, if features mean anything, might have been some sharp, self-contained, disappointed, ironic speaker, or even poet. It is the face of a man who certainly knew his own mind, who despised other men, which is a weakness, but who followed some great idea within. It is a face human in its self-repression and exactitude. Were we familiar with it in connection with some great name of peaceable activity, were it the face of one of those who settled the Congress of Vienna, or of some monarch, or of some writer, it would be famous as an index of genius. As it is, the name--especially to those who do not know the face--suggests nothing but a mad infamy, and indiscriminate shooting and drowning in batches of the wretched Vendean prisoners. And I myself when writing thus of Carrier have a right to be balanced in my judgment for he came very near to guillotining my grandfather’s father, from whom he differed in politics. And here in the case of Carrier is an excellent example of the historical value of that which I postulate as the first, much the greatest, character in a collection such as this: for had we not the bust of the living Carrier, itself almost a living thing, taken immediately after death, we should hardly have guessed what Carrier was. But the face combined with the history explains him well enough.
The story of Madame Tussaud seeking for Sanson’s guillotine, or rather for one of his guillotines after the Peace of Amiens and sending her son over to Paris to look for the man and his implements (which the executioner had pawned) and getting it at last at great cost, is characteristic of her energy and business sense. She lived at a time when the material relic was the _clou_ of her collection. If to-day it rather detracts from the sober historical value of the figures, it remains an excellent witness to her indefatigable initiative. And so it is with the collection of Napoleonic relics, notably the Waterloo carriage, which she secured just at the moment when it was of the greatest value to her business.
Her modelling of the dead in the revolutionary time included, by her own account, the head of the Princess de Lamballe, when that unfortunate and rather insipid young woman (but gracious and kind) was so foolishly and so atrociously murdered. The record would seem to correspond more or less with the judgment of Michelette, and Michelette’s portrait mostly produced by chance illusion is the best I know.
In the fate of all those men and women, but particularly in that of Madame de Lamballe, the main element of tragedy is their bewilderment. They could not conceive what cause or motive lay behind the fierce hatred which concentrated upon them. It was for them a nightmare, something irresponsible like a cataclysm of nature, and yet something human, and something that ought, therefore, to be explicable. Oddly enough the one person who did get a glimmer of the human motive at work was Marie Antoinette herself. It is astonishing how rapidly not only the general character but the intelligence of Marie Antoinette developed in these years. She became the true daughter of Maria Theresa--too late!
They suffered (of course) through that illusion which is the curse of publicity. They were tortured and they were killed for a label, not for their very selves. But the tragedy is increased in their case, I think, because they did not seek publicity. Your politician, often a mountebank, whose appetite is for strutting upon a stage, who loves the limelight, whose meat and drink it is to hear his name repeated perpetually by the populace, deserves what he gets. And he nearly always gets what the fates reserve for such vanities. In a greater or less degree these creators of their own label suffer in the end: at the least disappointment and neglect, at the most death. But as I have said they deserve what comes to them. They have had their reward. It was not so with the stable hereditary publicity of the Bourbon royal family and its adherents. They could not help the light which beat upon them. They did not seek it. The absurd legends in which any public figure is necessarily clothed as with a wrap of falsehood is not one of their seeking or of their making. They suffer for those legends and for the consequences of those legends precisely after the fashion which dramatic irony demands that the victim of any great tragedy should suffer--in spite of themselves and with no understanding of how the thing came.
What could be more ridiculous than the figment of Louis XV--obese, good-natured, slow, irresolute in morals, irresolute in policy--as a tyrant. Or what could be more absurd than the fiction of a libertine Marie Antoinette? Or of a democratic Duke of Orléans? Or of a patriot Necker?
It was, I think, this element of undeserved and awfully ironic tragedy which burnt into the soul of all those who had come into contact with the harmless but sometimes dignified and always splendid circle of Versailles. One of the few sincere emotions of Burke’s life was, I think, the moment when he broke out into rhetoric on the fate of the Queen. This middle-class man had seen her, and the grotesque disproportion between herself and her fate moved him to real feeling. It is to his credit, for not many things that Burke said were genuine. He was an advocate taking pay from people who wanted arguments and I think he would have argued just as well for better pay on the other side.
This appassionate sympathy with and support of the victims was very conspicuous in Madame Tussaud herself. And she carried it through the whole of that period when she was at first unwillingly modelling the revolutionaries, often with disgust compelled to take the mask of a dead face, or later (she was in prison with Josephine) associated with the figures of the period of the Directorate and the Consulship.
Of those personal interviews when that handsome woman now in middle age was still engaged at her task of modelling and sculpture in wax, there is none of which we would rather have a full record than the modelling of Napoleon. It is mentioned in Mr. Tussaud’s book only by way of quotation from a contemporary journal--the _Belle Assemblée_. It would be interesting to know if there is any family record giving full details, for we have not even the date, though we have the hour of the day--six o’clock in the morning--that she first met the Emperor. He was not Emperor yet and we can fix an inferior and a superior limit easily enough for the portrait was made at the Tuileries, after Napoleon as First Consul had gone there, and before the Peace of Amiens. It must, therefore, have fallen within a period of only just over two years; it must have been done either in 1800 or in 1801.
It is in connection with Napoleon that the shifting of values, which I have suggested took place through the transference of the collection to England, may be noted. The exhibition once fixed in London took on the English point of view and to that extent distorted a full European impression. For instance, one of the great features in the story of the collection is the visit of the Duke of Wellington to the effigy of Napoleon, and a well-known and almost famous picture was made of the incident. I am old enough to remember many people who spoke of it as though it was a most dramatic moment in the history of the nineteenth century. But no one with the full European sense would feel like that. Wellington was not the great protagonist against Napoleon. He was but one of fifty men opposed to the Emperor. The defeat of Napoleon was in Russia, and at Leipsic and at Waterloo, not at Waterloo alone, and the victors of Waterloo were Wellington and Blücher, neither of whom could have succeeded without the other.
Of the figures added to the great collection after Madame Tussaud’s death, of the figures which carry on the historical record and continue to add to its value, I am sure that the one of most interest for an Englishman is that of Richard Burton. It was not (apparently) modelled directly from life. But it was modelled under the eye of Lady Burton herself, and satisfied that critic.
The inclusion of such a figure is an example of what I mean when I say that such a collection is a valuable and continuous piece of historical evidence. The greatness of Burton was missed. He was subject to a boycott due in the main to his exposure of the ritual murder at Damascus. His energetic but isolated character did not square with that of the most of his countrymen. And yet to have an Englishman so uniquely English and to have recognised what a part he was of the record of his time shows a sure instinct.
It is here that the chief danger imperilling the value of the collection appears. And with that after so much praise I would conclude.
Madame Tussaud, it will be remembered, decided at some time early in the 19th century to make continuous additions to her collection as time went on, to keep it up to date, to make it contemporary. It was a natural decision and obviously necessary to the conduct of the thing as a business enterprise. For contemporaries will always desire to look at the portraits of those who are for any reason notorious, rather than to preserve the historical record. But save in quite exceptional times, such as that of the Revolution, which gave the collection its origin, there is always the danger of a change in values. In the first place, for a man to be notorious is not the same thing as for a man to deserve fame. His notoriety may be of the quality of fame rather than mere notoriety, and may mature into fame, and yet not be a fame of that first class which warrants an historical record. In either of these two cases there is the danger of disproportion in the collection, regarded as something of slight historical value. But that disproportion may be remedied by the removal of the figures.
The third danger attaching to the system is not remediable. It is omission, and that is what I had in my mind in the case of Burton. It is very unlikely that a man producing a series of contemporary portraits in the early part of James I’s reign would have included William Shakespeare; or in the end of Victoria’s reign a man so remarkable (though, of course, not on a great scale) as Samuel Butler. There is always a certain proportion of men in any generation with regard to whom the careful observer can say with fair certitude that posterity will require to know much more of them, and who are yet for the moment not in the public eye. Now the commercial necessities of an exhibition cannot consider these men. They are of no value to the crowd, and therein, I say, lies the danger. Let me give an example.
I do not think (I may be wrong as I am speaking in the negative of what is only a detail), I do not think that there is in the Tussaud collection any model of the great Carnot. Carnot was on the whole the most virile of all that virile revolutionary group, and he was one of the first half dozen of those who created the modern world. In a military sense Carnot was the tutor and creator of Napoleon. But it would certainly not have occurred to any observer of popular feelings (even if Carnot had been included) at the time, especially of popular feelings with an eye to the English market, that Carnot was worth preserving. To-day I think most students of history would rather have a really accurate study of Carnot than of even Robespierre.
If ever, which is possible, a collection of this sort comes under the aid or patronage of the state, the peril I speak of might in theory be removed: for the state will endow. But as things are, the peril exists. I mention it because I do sincerely regard this body of effigies not as something concerned with as ephemeral a function in the state as popular curiosity, still less as a mere commercial venture, but rather--what I have called it throughout this essay--a unique piece of historical record. And history, I take it, is the indispensable memory with which citizens should furnish themselves if they are to understand their own state and civilisation.
THE ROMANCE OF MADAME TUSSAUD’S
Mr. Tussaud first enters his father’s studio--Reverie--Madame Tussaud’s uncle forsakes the medical profession for art--Madame’s birth and parentage--A Prince’s promise.
It was at the age of fourteen and in the year 1872 that I first entered my father’s studio, and well I remember the bright summer morning I passed its threshold to place myself under his tuition.
It was an odd rememorative sort of place, the eeriness of which sat uneasily on the mind of, I fear, a somewhat jocose and irresponsible youth.
The surroundings somehow seemed to force upon my mind the memories of men and things I must have heard about or dreamt of, or with whom I had been in some way made familiar. Moreover, the place was so out of touch with the ordinary affairs of life, so reposeful and secluded amid the din and turmoil of the world outside.
The studio stood well in the rear of an old-world residence, known as Salisbury House, in the parish of Marylebone. Here the family had long lived. The house confronted what, in my early days, was then still designated the New Road. Upon its site there has been since erected the imposing classic palace designed to accommodate the hitherto poorly housed Corporation of the borough.
Whenever I recall this eventful day there readily springs to my mind the circumstance that I found my father busily engaged in modelling a new portrait of the Prince of Wales--the late King Edward--for whose recovery from a very dangerous illness the nation had recently held a Day of Thanksgiving.
From this day onward I may claim to have acted as something more than a mere spectator of that long procession of models wrought by my father’s diligent hands. Each one necessitated the making of some small sketch, some characteristic study, that has helped to swell as strange a collection of memorials as ever existed of men and events of bygone days.
It is amid these surroundings that I now sit to begin the writing of these chapters; and a strangely engrossing retrospect they reveal. Five generations of my family have contributed towards them, and now, on a modelling stool by my side, there stands the promising work of a son who will, I trust, one day follow me to carry on the work.
During the quietude of those hours that succeed the labours of the day, and when the last studio hand has closed the door behind him, I take the opportunity of penning this brief history. Often in the moving shadows of the twilight or in the flickering flame of a falling ember I fancy I see life and movement in the faces that gaze down upon me, quickened, as it were, to respond to the memories their features evoke.
But for me, at least, there is little that is disquieting in their scrutiny. For the most part they are old familiars, and a long acquaintance has set us wonderfully at our ease.
As the eye passes from the semblance of one celebrity to that of another, how vividly they carry one’s thoughts back through King Edward’s reign, the long years Queen Victoria sat upon the throne, the days of William IV, the reign and regency of “The First Gentleman of Europe,” and far back into the days of good “Farmer George”!
Even though set among the strong and characteristic features of the leading men of these memorable reigns, the striking countenance of Napoleon can be discerned without hesitation, and his familiar features force me in imagination to undergo the ordeal of crossing the Channel to retrace the course this narrative takes and discover my ancestress under the domination of the First Consul, then pushing in hot haste his fortune at the point of the bayonet, and fast traversing the hazardous road leading to the throne of France.
Somehow we do not find this long and curious retrospect illumined by any very strong ray of human happiness. Even the overshadowing head and shoulders of the great Napoleon do not conceal from our vision the dismal heads of the revolutionists; indeed, if they had been hidden from our sight, could these ghoulish impressions ever be effaced from our memory? And so, behind Bonaparte, one’s eyes sight the sinister heads of Robespierre, Fouquier-Tinville, Carrier, Hébert--merciless creatures who gambled with the lives of their fellow men for high positions, and multiplied these awful human stakes that they might hold themselves secure.
There, too, in the falling light, one perceives the faces of Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie Antoinette, the two most notable and pitiful victims of the Reign of Terror--a reign, forsooth, in which these ill-starred sovereigns, the descendants of generations of kings, were but the poorest and saddest of subjects.
The vista is long and hazy, but it is not too dim for one to observe upon a bracket the visage of the great Voltaire, with its leering eyes and sardonic grin. His bust is _vis-à-vis_ with the ponderous head of the idealist Rousseau, with its heavy forehead and its short, narrow chin.
And so face after face peers down upon me, carrying the mind back with unfailing steps until is reached the true source from which this dramatic story springs.
* * * * *
[Illustration: CHRISTOPHER CURTIUS
Uncle of Mme. Tussaud and founder of the Museum in Paris during the French Revolution in the Boulevard du Temple. A Portrait Study by John T. Tussaud.]
In the year 1758, so far afield as the city of Berne, a certain young Swiss, named Christopher Curtius, was earnestly employing his days as a medical practitioner.
With the object of improving himself in his profession he had taken to modelling the limbs and organs of the human body in wax. He soon extended the scope of his labours to the execution of many miniature portraits in that same plastic material, and gained the patronage of many of the leading members of the aristocracy. In this work he succeeded well, and towards his latter days in Berne he practised rather as an artist than as a family doctor.
It is as the maternal uncle of Madame Tussaud, the subject of these memoirs, that Christopher Curtius comes under our consideration.
Madame Tussaud was the child of one Joseph Grosholtz, who lost his life when serving on the Staff of General Wurmser during the Seven Years’ War, a couple of months or so before she was born. He was of purely Swiss parentage, and the family to this day prides itself on being of Burgundian Swiss stock.
Although Marie Grosholtz was not married until the year 1795, it will be well to refer to her henceforth as Madame Tussaud, under which name she is universally known.
Madame Grosholtz and her child seem to have been the only relatives possessed by Curtius, who later induced his sister to take up her residency with him, doubtless with the object of taking control of the affairs of his household.
It was when Curtius had fully established himself as an artist in Berne that an incident took place, about the year 1762, which led to important consequences.
The Prince de Conti had been losing favour at the Court of his royal cousin, Louis XV, a circumstance mainly due, we are told, to the Prince’s excessive popularity with the Army and a certain independent bearing he adopted towards the King and his favourites. The King’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour, did not hesitate to show her resentment at de Conti’s lack of deference.
According to all accounts, the Prince did not take his position very much to heart, for, in truth, an estrangement between the Court and the representatives of his house afforded little in the nature of a new experience. At any rate, he shook the dust of the capital off his boots, and set out on a tour through Europe.
On this journey he tarried for some days in the city of Berne, betraying a keen desire to participate in all that mediæval town could afford him by way of interest and entertainment.
Among these Curtius’s studio--which had now acquired something of the dignity of a private museum--was not allowed to escape his attention. No account of his visit to this establishment has been handed down, but a few words uttered by the Prince on leaving conveyed, beyond all doubt, his genuine admiration for the doctor-artist’s skill in his new profession as a sculptor in wax.
“If you will leave Berne and come to Paris, I will undertake to find you a suitable atelier in which to carry on your work, and hold myself responsible for your receiving as many commissions as you feel disposed to executive. Come,” he urged. “You will not regret it.”
One wonders what kindred foibles, what curious traits of disposition in common, existed between this Prince and the artist that there should have been struck so readily a chord of sympathy between them. For the offer, as we shall hereafter learn, had not been lightly made, nor had its ready acceptance been inspired without betraying a ready confidence most men would have deemed it highly imprudent to concede.
Curtius leaves Berne for Paris--The Hôtel d’Aligre--The Court of Louis XV--Madame arrives in Paris.
In response to the Prince de Conti’s invitation, Curtius left Berne for Paris a few months later, and for once the time-honoured adage proffering a warning to those prone to rely upon the promises of princes had no bearing, for this Prince kept his word.
On his arrival at Paris, Curtius found a handsome suite of apartments awaiting him at the Hôtel d’Aligre, hard by the Croix du Trahoir in the Rue St. Honoré. They were spacious and well furnished, and in style and comfort far exceeded his expectation. The Rue St. Honoré on the north, the Rue Bailleul on the south, the Rue de l’Arbre Sec on the east, and the Rue des Poulies on the west, outline to this day the ground on which the hotel, with its gardens, then stood.
The Hôtel d’Aligre was a place that had seen better days. It had, like so many of the great family dwellings that existed in Paris towards the end of the eighteenth century, demanded of its owners a longer and more speedily replenished purse than they possessed. The sheltering of a stately and magnificent household had long been unknown to this once famous residence, and its handsome rooms had been divided up and let as separate tenements.
The building contained a fine _salon_, which at one time was placed by a Chancellor d’Aligre at the service of the Grand Council, and so late as the year of Curtius’s arrival in Paris we hear of it being used for an exhibition of pictures displayed under the ægis of the Académie de Saint Luc. Of this académie Curtius was soon elected a member, and it may be presumed that some of his own works were shown in the exhibition.
During its latter days the hotel figured under a dual appellation, the ancient name of d’Aligre being prefaced by that of the renowned Schomberg. Finally it was known to the good citizens of Paris, shortly before its total disappearance, as the Old Hôtel Schomberg d’Aligre.
This building occupied a position that could hardly have been better chosen for Curtius’s purpose, for it stood in the very heart and throng of the busy capital--that is to say, close to the Louvre and at no great distance from the Tuileries--and was surrounded by the houses of the wealthiest and most influential inhabitants of the city.
We should like to follow the footsteps of Curtius, and enter with him into his new home in Paris; but with the meagre information we have concerning these early days in his career we can only picture him as settling down to his work and drawing around him many famous patrons, to some of whom we shall have to refer as we make progress with our story.
Doubtless the ideals he had conceived of the French capital as a citizen in far-off Berne would not have squared with the actual state in which he found the city when he took up his domicile within it.
Report had carried the splendours of Versailles far beyond the frontiers of France, and might well have enlivened the imagination of an artist like Curtius, who, doubtless, would have hoped to enjoy the pleasure of witnessing them for himself; but on his arrival in the capital he found the glories of the palaces had set, and that the Court of Louis XV had not only grown dull, but had even gone out of fashion.
The King himself had become weary of the great Court functions and sumptuous entertainments, and now preferred to indulge in complete seclusion the appetites that still remained to him. The military exploits of his reign had not brought him any great renown, and in recent years he had suffered reverses that had cast a gloom over these closing days of his life.
He had also been reminded more than once that the levelling hand of Death took no heed of rank and power. That dread visitor had already unceremoniously claimed the King’s son (the Dauphin) and his wife, and his own neglected Queen, Marie Leczinska, was fast failing in health.
The temper of the people towards the King had undergone a great change, and the days of “Well-Beloved”-ness had long since departed. During the reign of his predecessor, Louis XIV, the excessive taxation and the state of semi-serfdom had been borne by the lower classes with something like resignation, for they had received some compensation through the glory of his military achievements and the extension of his power. But small reason had they for so patiently bearing the ever-increasing burdens that had signalised the reign of his successor, Louis XV, whose military exploits had brought the country little by way of glory, and whose career had naught to show but a long life of wanton extravagance, combined with a painful disregard for the welfare of his people.
What Curtius did in the four years that succeeded his arrival in Paris one cannot say for certain; but there is little doubt that he was busily engaged in executing commissions for his numerous and ever-increasing list of patrons, whose liberality and kindness not only equalled, but far surpassed, the Prince de Conti’s promises.
It is quite evident that soon after his arrival Curtius tried his deft hands upon a model of the Queen of Louis XV, and it is this comparatively early work that constitutes one piece among a mere half-dozen examples that have been handed down to us. Probably the influence of his friend, the Prince de Conti, aided him in obtaining this commission.
It was after having practised his profession as artist for some years that Curtius repaired to Berne for the purpose of fetching his sister and her little daughter.
That was in the year 1766, and Madame Tussaud was then about six years old. On the authority of her _Memoirs_, published in 1838, it would appear that she was born at Berne in the year 1760; but documentary evidence exists which appears to indicate that her birth actually took place a year later. Be that as it may, we first hear of her when she accompanied her mother to Paris as the guest of her uncle.
This brief review will not permit us to dwell long on the early days of the young girl in Paris, nor on those events that prefaced the outbreak of the Revolution. Truth to say, between 1766 and 1789--a matter of twenty-three years--the details concerning the lives of Curtius and his niece are neither very full nor very clearly defined. This seems to be all of a piece with the nature of the work they produced, for it is astonishing, having regard to the considerable output, how small a quantity of it has been handed down to us.
One has, therefore, little material to assist him in gaining an insight into the artists’ careers, or to guide in the forming of a just opinion either as to the exact character of their work or the nature of their subjects. Miniatures in coloured wax, modelled in fairly high relief and framed and glazed in the ordinary way as pictures, seem to offer a general idea and the best conception of the work that emanated from the studio during these momentous years, so pregnant with meaning for the near future.
[Illustration: LOUIS XVI AND THE DUKE OF ORLEANS
Specimens of the few existing examples of Curtius’s miniature work. Modeled from life shortly before the outbreak of the French Revolution.]
The pity of the loss is that the work, taken direct from life, afforded a faithful record of important personages. Of this there is ample proof, and that the models should have been of so ephemeral a character is a matter of great regret, extending far beyond the feelings of the artists’ descendants. Yet, when one remembers the hatred of the populace towards the aristocrats and those holding authority under the Old Régime, it is not to be wondered at that many portraits should have shared, with their originals, the destructive effects of the antipathy that was shown both to patrons of art and to the art itself. It goes without saying that during the Reign of Terror people would be disposed to hide, or even to destroy, any art subject in their possession indicating their attachment to the Royalists.
Life-size figures--Museum at the Palais Royal--Exhibition on the Boulevard du Temple--Benjamin Franklin--Voltaire.
A good deal of hearsay and some incontestable evidence helps to fill the hiatus between the time Curtius came to Paris and the outbreak of the Revolution.
Although the many years spent by Curtius in the production of miniatures in coloured wax do not appear to have brought him a very great or a very wide reputation, yet they were the means of leading him to the modelling of life-size portraits in this same material, with the express intention of forming them into a collection solely for the object of exhibiting them to the public.
Now it is to this important departure in the treatment of his works that we owe the present Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition, an establishment with which his name must be for ever associated.
He seems to have set his mind upon this venture round about the year 1776, and some years later to have opened a Museum of life-size portrait models at the Palais Royal, an enterprise that was soon to be followed by the opening of a second Exhibition of a far more renowned and interesting character on the Boulevard du Temple, to which we shall have occasion to refer more than once.
The Museum at the Palais Royal seems to have proved a lucrative concern, and to have been devoted to the portraits of men and women of position, holding for the time being a prominent place in the public eye. Little is known concerning it, except for a few meagre and commonplace references in the literature of the period, and it may, to all intents and purposes, be considered as relegated to the domain of the forgotten past.
We shall not, however, find ourselves able to dispose of the Exhibition on the Boulevard du Temple without rendering an account of it, for in the course of a few years it figured very largely in the Revolution, and had associated with it several incidents of an important and far-reaching character.
There is the record about this time of an acquaintance between the sculptor and Benjamin Franklin, the American statesman and philosopher.
Franklin had come to Paris in December, 1776, “to transact the business of his country at the Court of France,” his chief purpose being to obtain political and financial assistance in consolidating the newly formed United States of America.
Curtius and his niece--now a young woman of sixteen years--had the pleasure of entertaining the Doctor, who took considerable interest in their work. Not only did he commission them to execute several distinct portraits of himself, but he also ordered models of many other notable characters of the day. One of his own portraits is the identical figure which has been shown at Madame Tussaud’s ever since.
[Illustration: BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
Modeled from life, in Paris, by Christopher Curtius for his Exhibition.]
This model was executed in 1783, in which year Franklin assumed great prominence as one of the signatories to the Treaty of Peace between the Mother Country and the United States, which recognised the latter as an independent nation. The figure in question is a life-size one; but, in addition to this, Curtius, aided by his capable niece, who was now earnestly supporting her uncle in his work, produced several miniature portraits of the statesman which went directly into his possession. Indeed, it is well known that Franklin had in his rooms in Paris many works that had emanated from Curtius’s studio.
In Franklin’s _Autobiography_ there is an account of his home in Market Street, Philadelphia, in which he finally settled, and the following extract under the date 13th July, 1787, from a journal kept by an old friend of his, the Reverend Dr. Manasseh Cutler, a distinguished scholar and botanist, of Hamilton, Massachusetts, who had recently paid him a visit, shows that he took with him from Paris a number of miniatures, many of which he had obtained from Curtius:
Over his mantel he has a prodigious number of medals, busts and casts in wax or plaster of paris, which are the effigies of the most noted characters in Europe.
When Franklin returned to America in 1785 there sailed with him, on board the same ship, Houdon, the eminent French sculptor, who had been in his early student days a friend and companion of Curtius, who engaged his services, and to whom he rendered considerable assistance in his work.
Houdon’s skill was highly appreciated by Franklin, and the object of the journey to America was that the sculptor might execute a statue of Washington for the State of Virginia, the instructions for the work coming from both Franklin and Jefferson. The voyage was made in the _London Packet_, and the date of the embarkation was the 27th of July, 1785.
Perhaps the most famous man of this period was the satirist, philosopher, and dramatist, Voltaire, who, throughout the whole of his long life, had championed the cause of the people against arbitrary and despotic power.
[Illustration: THREE VIEWS OF VOLTAIRE’S HEAD
Modeled from life by Christopher Curtius in Paris during the spring of 1778, a few weeks before Voltaire’s death.]
After an absence of twenty-eight years the aged Voltaire left his home on the shores of Geneva and returned to Paris, arriving there on the 10th of February, 1778. He was welcomed by an ovation that might well have befitted the homecoming of a great conqueror.
Curtius’s reputation at that time stood at its highest, and Voltaire gave him several sittings soon after his arrival. It is owing to this circumstance that the artist was able to place among the models of his recently opened Exhibition on the Boulevard du Temple a life-size standing figure of this popular idol.
It is a matter of exceptional interest that the selfsame figure still exists, and is shown to-day as one of the most attractive and notable objects in Madame Tussaud’s, where it has stood for just upon a century and a half.
Besides producing this figure, Curtius took the opportunity the sittings afforded him of executing several miniature models, one of them representing the philosopher during his last moments. To this he gave the title of “The Dying Socrates.” Several copies of this are known to exist, and we give an illustration of the one in the Tussaud collection. These were the last portraits produced of him from life, and they were completed none too soon.
[Illustration: “THE DYING SOCRATES”
Portrait of Voltaire at the time of his death. Wax miniature modeled by Christopher Curtius.]
The stirring reception accorded Voltaire on his arrival in Paris, to which he responded with great energy, coupled with the strenuous effort and anxiety attending his personal superintendence of his new tragedy, _Irene_, soon affected his health. The sittings were given during the months of March and April, and on the following 30th of May his eventful life terminated at the age of eighty-four.
Madame Elizabeth of France--Madame Tussaud goes to Versailles--Foulon--Three notable groups--“Caverne des Grands Voleurs.”
In the year 1780 the ill-fated Louis XVI had been six years on the throne, and Curtius by this time had become well ingratiated with the followers of the New Régime.
[Illustration: MADAME ELIZABETH OF FRANCE
The Sister of Louis XVI and Patroness of Madame Tussaud. A Portrait Study by John T. Tussaud.]
Among the many distinguished visitors who honoured Curtius’s studio with their presence in 1780 was one who was destined to exercise a great influence on Madame Tussaud’s life. This was the King’s sister, Madame Elizabeth of France, who, at the time we speak of, was sixteen years of age. Her disposition was singularly sweet and charming, and the keen interest she took in the models and mysteries of the studio caused her to bestow upon the niece of Curtius very special attention.
Madame Elizabeth, according to her young protégée, was of medium height and slight build, her forehead was high and intellectual, and she had kind, soft, blue eyes. Her expression and demeanour were most sympathetic, and on the slightest provocation her amiable countenance became wreathed in smiles, the parting lips revealing a perfect set of teeth.
So infatuated did Madame Elizabeth become with this pleasant work of modelling in coloured wax, which was soon to become a veritable craze, that she asked Madame Tussaud to instruct her in the art, and for that purpose invited her to live with her in her apartments at the Palace of Versailles, for the Princess seldom visited Paris.
Her overtures to his niece met with little opposition on the part of Curtius, who, in spite of the fact that he had decided leanings towards the cause of the people, yet, in order to further his relative’s interests, readily gave his permission to her accompanying the Princess. This concession Curtius must have made at some sacrifice, for it deprived him of his niece’s society and of the help she was then rendering him in his studio.
Madame Tussaud accordingly bade her uncle farewell, and left Paris for Versailles.
[Illustration: MADAME TUSSAUD AT THE AGE OF 20
Madame Tussaud, as the young and beautiful Marie Grosholtz, at the time she was compelled by the National Convention to take impressions of the dead features of Louis XVI, his Queen Marie Antoinette and many leaders of the French Revolution. A Portrait Study by John T. Tussaud.]
The quarters then occupied by Madame Elizabeth were situated at the end of the façade of the south wing of the palace, and looked out upon the Swiss Lake.
One wonders whether the fascinating work of modelling in wax was the sole influence that prompted Madame Elizabeth’s friendly feeling towards Madame Tussaud. The Princess had already shown a marked predilection for the Swiss, for both at the palace and on her own private estate of Montreuil hard by she had many Swiss people about her.
Unfortunately, little is known of the life of Madame Tussaud either at Versailles or at Montreuil, which the King presented to his sister with the understanding that she should continue to make Versailles her official home until she attained the age of twenty-four.
[Illustration: MADAME ELIZABETH AT MONTREUIL
From a painting by Ricard in Versailles.]
We are told that the Princess was very fond of modelling sacred subjects, and many of these works produced by her own hands she gave away to her friends. She showed her attachment to Madame Tussaud in many ways, and required her to sleep in an adjoining apartment.
Curtius’s niece often found herself engaged in many duties besides those associated with modelling in wax, and it was no unusual thing for the girl to be made the means of conveying alms to the Princess’s numerous pensioners.
For nine years she enjoyed the confidence and almost daily company of her patroness, and throughout the long life vouchsafed to her she deemed them the happiest she had known. Seldom could she be brought to dwell upon these days, or call to mind the fate of her illustrious pupil and the other members of the Royal Family she then so often encountered, without the tears, sooner or later, welling to her eyes. Indeed, not even after the passage of some sixty years, when her own days were drawing to a close, and when one might have expected her grief to have become assuaged, could she restrain her emotion at the memory of their sad and tragic end.
We have already referred to the second and larger Exhibition opened by Curtius on the Boulevard du Temple. A collection of wax figures representing famous personages, living and dead, attired in their everyday costume, and exhibiting their usual pose and attitude, was known as a “Cabinet de Cire.”
The house wherein Curtius opened this second Exhibition was formerly occupied by Foulon, the Minister of Finance, who earned public execration by his ill-timed suggestion that if the people could not get sufficient bread they might eat hay. When the Revolution broke out Foulon was one of the first victims for the mob to vent its rage upon. They hanged him, decapitated the body, and then paraded the streets with his head stuck on a pike, between his lips being placed a wisp of hay in memory of the cruel sneer at the people’s want.
For his Exhibition Curtius modelled several notable groups. Three of these call for some mention.
The first was a representation of the Royal Family dining in public, a curious ceremonial of that period. There was, within the walls of the Palace of Versailles, a chapel whither the family repaired to hear mass every morning; and on Sundays, after returning from prayer, they held a grand _couvert_ in the palace. The dining-table was in the form of a horseshoe, the _Cent Suisse_ (or Swiss Bodyguard) formed a circle around it, and, between them, the spectators were permitted to view the august party at their dinner.
To this spectacle everyone had access, provided the gentlemen were fully dressed--that is, had a bag-wig, sword, and silk stockings--and the ladies were correspondingly attired. Even if their clothes were threadbare the visitors were not turned back; nor were they admitted, however well clad, unless they presented themselves as etiquette prescribed.
The costume of the Swiss Bodyguard was magnificent, being similar to that worn by Henry IV of France. It comprised a hat with three white feathers, short robe, red pantaloons or long stockings (all in one, and slashed at the top with white silk), black shoes with buckles, sash, sword, and halbert.
The Royal Family generally remained three-quarters of an hour at table. The spectacle was such an interesting one that Curtius, ever alive, as his successors have been, to satisfy the popular imagination, modelled a group for his Exhibition depicting the incident.
The second tableau represented an Indian group. In the grounds of the Palace of Versailles are two residences, the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon, the latter having been a favourite retreat of Marie Antoinette because of its secluded position and charming attractions.
Curtius--assisted by his niece, who was now a full-grown woman, sensible of her responsibilities, and able to execute commissions of her own--modelled a group of figures, consisting of the envoys of Tippoo Sahib and several sepoys in their picturesque Eastern costumes, which was arranged under a tent placed in the Grand Trianon.
Tippoo Sahib was the Sultan of Mysore, and he had sent to Louis XVI to invoke his assistance in expelling the British from his dominions.
On the 10th of August, 1788, after spending the night at the Grand Trianon, the envoys were escorted to the Palace of Versailles, and received with great pomp.
This was one of the last occasions on which Madame Elizabeth appeared in public at the palace and on which the King was able to receive freely the representatives of a foreign Power. The winter that followed was long and severe, and had much to do with hastening the outbreak of the Revolution and the downfall of the monarchy.
We do not know for certain whether the commission for the third group was prompted by Madame Elizabeth or by Marie Antoinette herself, but we know for certain that it was one of the groups shown in the Petit Trianon before those disturbing elements manifested themselves that heralded the terrible upheaval which was to come. The tableau comprised the seated figures of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette with their young children, the Dauphin and the Duchesse d’Angoulême, all attired in full Court costume.
[Illustration: MARIE ANTOINETTE, THE DAUPHIN, AND THE DUCHESSE D’ANGOULÊME
Models taken from life and exhibited for some time in Le Petit Trianon at Versailles.]
A very special interest attaches to this group, inasmuch that, except for the renovation necessitated by the long passage of time, it is now shown within the walls of the present Exhibition exactly as it was when first modelled.
While Madame Tussaud was fully occupied at Versailles her uncle was busy with his Museum in Paris.
In 1783 Curtius added to his collection on the Boulevard du Temple the “Caverne des Grands Voleurs,” which we may fairly regard as the forerunner of the present Chamber of Horrors.
There seems to be some doubt as to the distinctive character of Curtius’s two Exhibitions. One authority informs us that his rooms at the Palais Royal contained the effigies of famous and celebrated men, and that the venture on the Boulevard du Temple was devoted to those of notorious and infamous scoundrels. One cannot say for certain what were the characteristics of the two collections at this time, but there can be no doubt that both attracted great numbers of people for a very long period.
The descriptive accounts of Parisian amusements of the time make mention of Curtius’s “Cabinet de Cire”--or, to make use of the titles given to it on a copperplate etching of that period by Martial, “Théatre des Figures de Cire, ou Théatre Curtius”--as a sight well worthy of inviting the attention of persons of rank and condition. “One may see,” said Dulaure in 1791, “waxen coloured figures of celebrated characters in all stations of life.”
Upon closing the Exhibition at the Palais Royal, Curtius conveyed its figures to the Boulevard du Temple, wherein merged all the models that had been previously on view, thus combining the peculiar characteristics of the two establishments and constituting the Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition as we know it to-day.
Eve of the French Revolution--Necker and the Duke of Orléans--Louis XVI’s fatal mistakes--His dismissal of the people’s favourites.
We are now approaching the day when the long-pent-up storm, threatening for so great a while, was about to burst, and we must contemplate King Louis XVI and his advisers seeking for a means to placate a people at last stirred to resentment through the cruel and unjust burdens it had for generations been made to bear.
The murmurings which had long been general and indefinite were now resolving themselves into a hatred fast becoming focused upon the rich and the powerful, many of whom, it must be added, were also arrogant and dissolute.
A rude awakening among some of these, who had at last been brought to realise the imminence of the convulsion, induced them to advocate with much haste and little discretion certain concessions. These were obviously granted as acts of expediency, and with as little derogation as possible from their own interest, rather than out of any sympathy for a distressed and desperate people clamouring for relief.
So, early in 1789, the King was prompted to resort to an expedient which had not been adopted since the year 1614. He summoned the States-General to meet together at Versailles on the 5th of May, 1789.
In the deliberations of this National Council the King and his Ministers looked for support and guidance to meet the difficulties that beset them. But matters took an unexpected course. The Deputies of the Third Estate, which out-numbered the First and Second put together, demanded that all three Estates should sit and vote as one whole indissoluble body. In spite of opposition they pushed their demand to a successful issue, and, grasping control of both legislative and executive power, forthwith resolved themselves into a permanent constitutional assembly.
The King soon found himself confronted by an irresistible authority, including a majority of men who betrayed little concern for his prerogative, and manifested a strong sympathy with the cause of the people.
In such stirring times as those which were now being experienced in France, Curtius turned to the advocates of the people’s cause for many of his subjects for his new Exhibition. Among these were many who were to figure largely in the Revolution.
Special mention must be made of two figures, added about this date, namely, Necker and Philippe, Duke of Orléans, for their models had an important bearing upon the events that followed.
Necker, at the time his model was made by Curtius and Madame Tussaud, was the French Minister of Finance. In 1775 he had claimed for the State the right of fixing the price of grain and, if necessary, of prohibiting exportation; a year later he was made Director of the Treasury, and in 1777 he became Director-General of Finance.
His retrenchments were bitterly opposed by Queen Marie Antoinette; and his famous _Compte Rendu_, in 1781, occasioned his dismissal at that time. Some of his measures, such as his adjustment of taxes and his establishment of State-guaranteed annuities and State pawnshops, were a boon to suffering France. He retired to Geneva, but in 1787 returned to Paris, and, when M. de Calonne cast doubt on the _Compte Rendu_, he published a justification which drew upon him his banishment from Paris.
Recalled to office in September, 1788, he quickly made himself a popular hero by recommending the summoning of the States-General, to which reference has already been made.
On the 11th of July, 1789, he received the royal command to leave France at once; but the fall of the Bastille, three days later, frightened the King into recalling him, amid the wildest popular enthusiasm.
[Illustration: MODEL OF THE BASTILLE]
The Duke of Orléans, the famous Égalité, was another hero of the people at this time. He was looked upon coldly at Court owing to his dissolute habits.
London was frequently visited by him, and he became an intimate friend of the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV. He infected young France with Anglomania in the form of horse-racing and hard drinking, and made himself popular among the lower classes by profuse charity.
In 1787 he showed his liberalism boldly against the King, and as the States-General drew near he lavished his wealth in flooding France with seditious books and papers. In the following year he promulgated his _Délibérations_, written by Laclos, to the effect that the Third Estate was the nation; and in June, 1789--the month that preceded the fall of the Bastille--he led the forty-seven nobles who seceded from their own order to join that Estate.
The Duke presumed to become constitutional King of France, or at least Regent; but he was only a comparatively small fragment that drifted into the vortex of the Revolution itself. In 1792, when all hereditary titles were swept away, this “citizen” adopted the name of Philippe Égalité.
He was the twentieth Deputy for Paris in the National Convention, and voted for the death of the King; but in the following year retribution overtook him, for he himself was found guilty of conspiracy and guillotined.
The public distrust of the King’s party, the fatal error in bringing the foreign troops to Paris and its environs, and, finally, the banishment of Necker and the Duke of Orléans, the great champions of the people, must be regarded as the immediate cause of the catastrophe that followed.
Madame Tussaud recalled from Versailles--The 12th of July, 1789--Busts taken from Curtius’s Exhibition--A Garde Française slain in the mêlée.
It must be remembered that the “romance” of Madame Tussaud’s began in the French capital one hundred and fifty years ago.
As we view to-day the quaint little figure of Madame which stands in the Exhibition she helped to found in France and established in this country, we must imagine her in the full vigour of her young womanhood, sensible to the dangers and terrors of the Revolution in which she was about to be involved. The Exhibition was as yet in its infancy; but stirring times were approaching, and the days were pregnant with meaning for the France that was to be--a time of bloodshed and grim ruthlessness born of a people’s desire for freedom, and attended by ghastly scenes in Paris that revealed the extremities to which unbridled human passions could go.
We must see through her eyes the sights that marked the red dawn of the French Revolution; and hear the first low rumble that gave warning of the approach of the Reign of Terror. Her uncle recalled her from the Court of Versailles, an order that he might afford her his protection, and she did not leave a whit too soon.
Now we come to the fateful days of July.
The Three Estates had been fused into one on the 27th of June with the assent of the King, who thus virtually signed his own death-warrant. Another step soon followed in the same disastrous course. The Queen and her intimate advisers caused Louis to make an attempt to maintain his authority by force, and for this purpose an army of 40,000 men, drawn from various quarters, was concentrated upon Paris and its vicinity, and placed under the orders of Marshal Broglie.
Among these troops were several regiments of Swiss and Germans. At that moment Necker, whom the Court party distrusted and feared, was forced to relinquish his office, and commanded to leave France forthwith.
The 12th of July was a Sunday, and on the morning of that day an extraordinary degree of activity was observed among the troops in Paris. The nerves of the people became overwrought; they were apprehensive of imminent danger--some hidden design, some sinister motive, on the part of the newly appointed Ministers (including the hated Foulon, who had succeeded the beloved Necker) whose policy they could not fathom.
Before midday the Palais Royal was crowded with people, wondering what all this military movement could mean, and gazing at the strange placards which bade them stay at home and avoid all meetings.
The half-discredited rumour of the dismissal of Necker spread like wild-fire through the capital, and the first person who made the announcement was about to be ducked in one of the water basins in the gardens of the Palais Royal, when a Deputy of the Third Estate, who happened to be standing by, confirmed the news.
[Illustration: CAMILLE DESMOULINS
Young enthusiast who stirred the populace of Paris to riotous demonstration on hearing of the dismissal of Necker.]
Everyone in the gardens was at once made acquainted with the fall of the people’s favourite; and as the cannon of the Palais made known, as usual, the fact that the hour of noon had arrived, a young man named Camille Desmoulins sprang upon a table outside the Café Foy, and, brandishing a drawn sword and pistol, called “To arms!” He then harangued with burning eloquence the people who crowded around him, and fired their imagination at the close of his oration by plucking a leaf from a tree (green being the colour of Necker’s livery) and placing it in his hat as a cockade, an example that was followed by thousands.
The theatres and other places of amusement were closed as a sign of mourning for Necker, who was loudly acclaimed on every side.
Then it was suggested that the models of Necker and the Duke of Orléans should be obtained from Curtius’s Museum. The idea was quickly seized upon, and the crowd rushed _en masse_ to the Exhibition rooms on the Boulevard du Temple, where they demanded the busts of the “friends of the people.” They also asked for the model of the King, a request that was refused by Curtius, who observed that as the full-length figure was extremely heavy it would be “broken” if carried. This reply pleased the people, who clapped their hands and shouted “Bravo, Curtius, bravo!”
[Illustration: M. NECKER
Director-General of Finance under Louis XVI, whose bust, taken from Curtius’s exhibit by the mob, was carried through the streets of Paris to fan the flame of revolution.]
Deeming it imprudent not to respond to the public clamour, Curtius relinquished the busts of the two public idols; and as soon as they had gained possession of them the mob shouted “Long live Necker!” “Long live the Duke of Orléans!” and “Down with the foreign troops!”
As an expression of grief at the loss of their favourites they covered the busts with crape. Then, elevating them upon pedestals, they carried them through the streets of Paris in triumph.
On rolled the procession through the Rue de Richelieu, the Boulevard, the streets of St. Martin, St. Denis, and St. Honoré, increasing in numbers at every step, among them men of the Garde Française, till it came to the Place Vendôme, where the busts were carried twice round the statue of Louis XIV. _En route_ the crowd obliged all they met to take off their hats in honour of the men the busts represented. By the time the great throng reached the Place Vendôme it had become 5,000 or 6,000 strong.
Here a detachment of royal troops came up, and vainly attempted to disperse the mob. The crowd pelted the soldiers with stones, and, having put them to flight, proceeded to the Place Louis XV, where they were assailed by the German troops of the Prince de Lambesc. The cavalry charged the mob with drawn sabres, and the bearers of the busts were thrown down beneath their burdens.
Again and again they were raised, only to fall once more. The figure of Necker was cleft asunder by a soldier of the Royal German Regiment. A man named Pepin, a hawker of articles of drapery, was wounded by a bullet in the leg, and fell by the side of the broken figure. That representing the Duke of Orléans escaped destruction; but a member of the Civic Guard, while endeavouring to protect it, lost his life, and several other persons were wounded in attempting to assist him. It was the first blood shed in the Revolution, which may thus be regarded as having broken out at the very doors of the Exhibition in Paris.
Thomas Carlyle gives, in his _French Revolution_, the following characteristic account of the incident:
Sunday, 12th July, 1789.
France, so long shaken and wind-parched, is probably at the right inflammable point. As for poor Curtius who, one grieves to think, might be but imperfectly paid, he cannot make two words about his Images. The Wax-bust of Necker, the Wax-bust of D’Orléans, helpers of France: these, covered with crape, as in funeral procession, or after the manner of suppliants appealing to Heaven, to Earth, and Tartarus itself, a mixed multitude bears off. For a sign! As indeed man, with his singular imaginative faculties, can do little or nothing without signs: Thus Turks look to their Prophet’s Banner; also Osier _Mannikins_ have been burnt, and Necker’s Portrait has erewhile figured, aloft on its perch.
In this manner march they, a mixed, continually increasing multitude; armed with axes, staves, and miscellanea; grim, many-sounding through the streets. Be all Theatres shut; let all dancing on planked floor, or on the natural greensward, cease! Instead of a Christian Sabbath, and feast of _guinguitte_ tabernacles, it shall be a Sorcerer’s Sabbath; and Paris, gone rabid, dance--with the Fiend for piper!
However, Besenval, with horse and foot, is in the Place Louis Quinze. Mortals promenading homewards, in the fall of the day, saunter by, from Chaillot or Passy, from flirtation and a little thin wine; with sadder step than usual. Will the Bust-Procession pass that way? Behold it; behold also Prince Lambesc dash forth on it, with his Royal-Allemands! Shots fall, and sabre-strokes; Busts are hewed asunder; and, alas, also heads of men. A sabred Procession has nothing for it but to _explode_, along what streets, alleys, Tuileries Avenues it finds; and disappear. One unarmed man lies hewed down; a Garde Française by his uniform; bear him (or bear even the report of him) dead and gory to his Barracks;--where he has comrades still alive!--_French Revolution_, Chapter IV.
[Illustration: THOMAS CARLYLE]
It was on this very day, the 12th of July, after the incidents just described, that the famous reply was made to the King by Liancourt. Upon his apprising His Majesty of the ferment in Paris, Louis remarked, “Why, it is a revolt, then?” “No, sire,” rejoined the Minister, “it is a _revolution_!”
 This reply has been erroneously asserted to have been made by Liancourt on the evening of the 14th of July, the day of the capture of the Bastille; it was really given as stated above.
Heads of the Revolution--Madame’s terrible experiences--The guillotine in pawn--Madame acquires the knife, lunette, and chopper.
It is no part of our concern to trace the course of the Revolution throughout, or to dwell too long upon its horrors. Nevertheless before Madame Tussaud passed into tranquil days she had to suffer the severest ordeal of her life, the memory of which she could never wholly efface.
We can hardly imagine her bitter experience when compelled to employ her young hands in taking impressions of heads immediately after decapitation, and this, strange to say, by the very same knife which may be seen at this day among the relics of the Revolution at Tussaud’s.
[Illustration: GEORGES-JACQUES DANTON]
[Illustration: JEAN BAPTISTE CARRIER
Responsible for the butchery of the Vendean prisoners at Nantes during the French Revolution. Impression of his head taken immediately after he had been guillotined, 16th December, 1794.]
Thus she was compelled to reproduce the lineaments of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Hébert, Danton, Robespierre, Carrier, Fouquier-Tinville--the best and fairest, and also the worst and vilest--who met their death on the scaffold. Unthinkable were the gruesome tasks of faithfully recording their features imposed upon the young woman who was destined to bring to England that Exhibition the annals of which we now relate.
No wonder many a heated controversy has waged around these works, for it is hard to realise that they are the actual impressions of those heads that fell under the knife of the guillotine. Yet they are the selfsame impressions that were shown at Christopher Curtius’s Museum in Paris.
That Madame Tussaud’s uncle would have had the temerity to exhibit spurious heads to a crowd by no means in a humour to be trifled with, and far too familiar with the features the casts portrayed to be deceived, is more than unlikely; and we know such an imposition in his case would have been quite unnecessary. The casts were undoubtedly taken under compulsion, either with the object of pandering to the temper of the people, or of serving as confirmatory evidence of execution having taken place--perhaps both.
The idea of exhibiting the heads of those who had been done to death as enemies of the people had asserted itself during the very earliest days of the Revolution. Within a fortnight of the taking of the Bastille, Foulon’s head had been severed from its body and paraded through the streets of Paris at the end of a pike.
[Illustration: THE PRINCESS DE LAMBALLE
A friend and companion to Marie Antoinette.]
Later the noble features of the Princess de Lamballe had suffered the same brutal degradation, with the added inhumanity of having been thrust between the window-bars of the Temple Prison, wherein the unfortunate Louis XVI and his wife were incarcerated.
[Illustration: THE GUILLOTINE
Showing the mode of execution in France. A facsimile with wax models now in the Tussaud collection.]
On that terrible day, the 10th of August, 1792, when the Swiss Guard was cut to pieces in defending the Tuileries, several of these brave soldiers had their heads stuck upon pikes and exhibited to the mob. The Royalist writer, Suleau, suffered the same fate.
How far had Madame Tussaud been implicated in the accomplishment of the dreadful work of taking casts from decapitated heads?
It was during the autumn of 1789 that Christopher Curtius (who had by this time adopted Marie as his daughter) insisted upon her withdrawing from the service of Madame Elizabeth, to whom she had, with every reason, become devotedly attached. For Curtius had, at the outset of the disturbances in Paris, espoused the cause of the people, and, as an adroit and far-seeing man, had become anxious for his adopted daughter’s safety.
He, without doubt, desired she should return under his own roof to derive the benefit of his protection. So it is that we find Marie in her uncle’s studio adjoining his Exhibition, and where that gruesome work was so soon to be undertaken.
Now during the year 1793 Curtius had been drawn into the service of the National Convention, and on several occasions had to quit Paris for many days at a time, leaving Marie and her mother to do the best they could with the Exhibition during his absence. He was at this time “Envoy Extraordinary of the Republic and War Commissary at Mayence.” On the last occasion of his quitting the capital his absence extended over a period of fully eighteen months.
Meanwhile heads were falling fast, and no one knew how long his own would repose upon his shoulders. Then it was that Marie suffered the terrible experience of having to take the impressions of so many heads that were brought to her from the guillotine. We have it from her own mouth that it was a task with which she dared not hesitate to comply.
It must have been known to many that only a few years back she had been a member of the household of the King’s sister, Madame Elizabeth, at Versailles, and not a few of those who were near and dear to her had suffered death for a far less offence than that. But at last, as the days wore on, the Jacobins themselves fell, and the Reign of Terror gave way to the Directorate. Then easier times came, though still far from tranquil. Nevertheless heads had ceased to fall, and Sanson, the executioner, finding his occupation gone, pawned his guillotine, and got into woful trouble for alleged trafficking in municipal property.
Years after Madame came to this country she sent her son to Paris to search out this terrible instrument of death, and, with the help of the executioner, who was still living, and who solemnly vouched for its authenticity, she secured the knife, the lunette, and also the chopper that was used as a standby, lest the great knife should fail.
[Illustration: KNIFE, LUNETTE AND CHOPPER OF THE ORIGINAL GUILLOTINE USED IN PARIS DURING THE REIGN OF TERROR
Years after, Madame Tussaud, with the aid of the executioner, procured these for her collection.]
It was only after much negotiation and the payment of a very considerable sum of money that her object was attained. And now the dread knife harmlessly reposes by the side of the impressions of those heads it so ruthlessly struck off a century and a quarter ago--that of Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie Antoinette, as well as those of Robespierre, Danton, Fouquier-Tinville, Hébert, and the miscreant of Nantes, Carrier. From the time they were first shown in Paris until the present day they have been viewed by an ever-increasing throng, though the sight of them can never have been pleasing, and those who gaze upon them shudder and pass on.
Though Madame Tussaud did not witness the execution of Marie Antoinette, yet she remembered seeing the Queen pass on a tumbril through the jeering crowds to the scaffold. The once gay and light-hearted Queen was dressed in white for her last pageant on earth, her hands tied behind her. The spectacle brought back to Madame memories of the royal palace where she had frequently attended to give lessons in modelling, and she was so overcome that she fainted. Perhaps the most horrifying experience undergone by Madame Tussaud during this terrible period was when the mangled head of the greatly beloved Princess de Lamballe was brought to her that a cast might be made. In vain did she protest that she could not endure the ordeal. The brutal murderers compelled her to comply.
[Illustration: MARIE ANTOINETTE
Impression of her head taken immediately after she had been guillotined, 16th October, 1793.]
Madame dines with the Terrorists Marat and Robespierre, models their figures, and subsequently takes casts of their heads--She visits Charlotte Corday in prison--Death of Curtius--Madame marries--Napoleon sits for his model.
One of the most bloodthirsty of all the red Terrorists was Jean Paul Marat, who was slain in his bath by Charlotte Corday on the 13th of July, 1793.
[Illustration: CHARLOTTE CORDAY]
Marat, as a young man, had lived in this country for some time, and was well known to Madame Tussaud through visits he paid to the house of her uncle, Curtius, at 20 Boulevard du Temple.
Immediately after his assassination she was called upon to take a cast of Marat’s head. “They came for me,” she relates, “to go to Marat’s house at once, and to take with me what appliances I needed to make an impression of his features. The cadaverous aspect of the fiend made me feel desperately ill, but they stood over me and forced me to perform the task.” Marat’s model is still to be seen in the Exhibition lying in the bath in which he was stabbed by the heroic young Norman girl.
Charlotte Corday had addressed a letter to Marat stating that she had news of importance to communicate, and when she called he readily admitted her. She amused him with an account of the Deputies at Caen, when he said. “They shall all go to the guillotine.” “To the guillotine!” exclaimed she, and as he took up a pencil to write the names of his intended victims Charlotte plunged a knife into his heart.
Madame Tussaud afterwards visited Charlotte Corday in the Conciergerie Prison, and described her as tall, well-mannered, and possessed of many graces of character and appearance. The brave young woman, who paid for her avenging act with her life, wrote in a letter to her father that she had done what was right. After the heroine’s death Madame Tussaud obtained a record of Charlotte Corday’s beautiful face.
[Illustration: JEAN PAUL MARAT
One of the most bloodthirsty of the terrorists, stabbed in his bath by Charlotte Corday, 13th July, 1793. A wax model made immediately after his death.]
The actual model, now in our Exhibition, of Marat dying in his bath, was exhibited during the Revolution at the Museum of Curtius in Paris, and attracted crowds, who were loud in their lamentations, for at that time Marat was a national idol.
Robespierre visited the Museum, and took the opportunity of haranguing the people at the door. In flamboyant language he said, “Enter, citizens, and see the image of our departed friend, snatched from us by the assassin’s hand, guided by the demon of aristocracy. Marat was the father of the poor, the defender of the weak, and the consoler of the wretched. As his heart poured forth the sweet emotions of sympathy for the oppressed, so did the vigour of his mind emit its thunder against the oppressor.” Then, descending to bathos, the cunning demagogue exclaimed, “What did he get for it all? Five francs were found in his house!”
Surprise has sometimes been expressed by visitors that the bath in which Marat was stabbed to death should be so small and of such a curious shape.
Marat was murdered in a “slipper” bath, which was more like a “halt boot” than a slipper, so that the water would come up to the shoulders of the bather without flowing over. This kind of bath was greatly in vogue at the time of the French Revolution. Its object was to save water, which in those days was not freely supplied. When the bather was in the bath a small quantity of water would fill it.
Maximilien Robespierre had sent numerous people to their death during the Reign of Terror. His own turn came at last, when he too met his death from the sharp tongue of La Guillotine. The revulsion of feeling that had set in against Robespierre was very bitter. He was shot at point-blank range by a man named Meda in the Salle d’Égalité, a room in the Hôtel de Ville, but was only wounded, and he went to the guillotine on the 28th of July, 1794, with his broken jaw swathed in a white linen cloth.
[Illustration: MAXIMILIEN MARIE ISIDORE ROBESPIERRE
Impression of his head taken immediately after he had been guillotined, 28th July, 1794. One of the impressions done by Madame Tussaud, then a young girl, by order of the authorities.]
An hour after the head of Robespierre rolled from the lunette Madame Tussaud, reluctantly obeying a demand that an impression should be taken of the severed head, set about the shuddering task. The cast therefrom is now shown in one of our Exhibition rooms containing relics of the Revolution. Her feelings may be imagined as she sat with the head of the callous Terrorist confronting her.
Although Madame Tussaud took an impression of the features of Robespierre directly after his execution, she had taken a portrait of him long before his fall. He expressed a wish that his figure should be introduced standing near that of Marat, as also those of Collot d’Herbois and Rosignol. He proposed that they should send their own clothes in which the figures might be dressed, to afford additional accuracy. The likenesses were taken and apparelled as desired.
In those days Madame Tussaud often sat next Robespierre at dinner. She describes him as always extremely polite and attentive, never omitting those little acts of courtesy which are expected from a gentleman when sitting at table with a lady, anticipating her wishes, and taking care that she should never have to ask for anything. In this particular, says Madame Tussaud, he differed from Marat, who was so selfishly eager to supply his own wants that he never troubled himself with the needs of others.
Robespierre’s conversation was generally animated, sensible, and agreeable, but his enunciation was not good. There was nothing particularly remarkable in his conduct, manners, or appearance when in society. If noticed at all, it could only be as a pleasant, gentlemanly man of moderate abilities. This was a strong admission for a lady who was always a Royalist at heart and had been long detained in Paris against her will.
Her association with the Court of Louis inevitably brought Madame Tussaud under suspicion of the so-called Committee of Public Safety, and for a time she was imprisoned with Madame de Beauharnais, who was later to become the Empress Josephine, whom Napoleon divorced to marry Marie Louise. The scene is changed, and we see Marie Grosholtz--Curtius having died about that time--wedded in 1795 to François Tussaud, by whose name she was henceforth to be known to posterity.
Madame Tussaud, it would appear, made the acquaintance and gained the favour of Napoleon himself.
A Parisian publication, _La Belle Assemblée_, gives a circumstantial account of Madame Tussaud being sent for to take the likeness of Napoleon--when he was First Consul--at the Tuileries as early as six o’clock in the morning. It would appear that Madame went at the invitation of Napoleon’s first wife, Josephine, who was desirous of having a permanent record of her husband’s features. The young modeller was ushered into a room at the palace where the great soldier waited for her. _La Belle Assemblée_ states that Josephine greeted Madame Tussaud with kindness, and conversed much and most affably. Napoleon said little, spoke in sharp sentences, and rather abruptly.
He would have shown her special consideration had she chosen to remain in France; but it is not to be wondered at that Madame Tussaud cared no longer to remain amid the sorrowful recollections of the Revolution, and that she seized the opportunity, on the signing of the Peace of Amiens, to leave France for ever. It was to England she turned for refuge and the prosecution of her life’s work. Madame boldly transported across the Channel to England her uncle’s two Paris Exhibitions, which, as already related, had been made into one. Here she decided to settle, and here her descendants have lived ever since.
[Illustration: MADAME TUSSAUD AT THE AGE OF 42
When she left France for England, never to return.
A Portrait Study by John T. Tussaud.]
Madame Tussaud leaves France for England, never to return--Early days in London--On tour--Some notable figures--Shipwreck in the Irish Channel.
Madame Tussaud arrived in this country with her Exhibition some time in May, 1802.
There is considerable difficulty in tracing her movements during the first few years after her arrival. The information points to her having remained in London with her Exhibition for some six or seven years. In London there is some amount of evidence of her having shown her exhibits in Fleet Street and also at the Lowther Arcade in the Strand.
However, it is fairly clear that she first showed her collection at the old Lyceum Theatre in the Strand, then known as the English Opera House, which she vacated in 1803 that Mr. Winsor might make the experiment of lighting the place with gas. It was the first house of entertainment to be illuminated in this way, and the innovation was regarded as dangerous.
Then she went on tour, and visited the more important places in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Wherever the town visited boasted a Mayor, the Exhibition was almost invariably opened by him, or under his auspices.
The figures that Madame Tussaud modelled and the dates when she executed the work give some idea of her activities at the time.
She modelled from life Queen Caroline in 1808, George III in 1809, and Alexander I, Emperor of Russia, in 1814. In that year the Emperor and the King of Prussia visited England in connection with the centenary of the House of Hanover, which took place on the 1st of August.
Madame Tussaud also modelled from life Mrs. Siddons, the famous actress, who retired from the stage in 1809, and died at her residence in Upper Baker Street in 1831.
[Illustration: PRINCESS CHARLOTTE OF WALES
Daughter of George IV.]
Princess Charlotte of Wales (daughter of George IV) was married on the 2nd of May, 1816, and on that day Her Royal Highness sat to Mr. P. Turnerelli, the sculptor, for what was called “the Nuptial Bust.” From this Madame Tussaud modelled a figure of the Princess for the Exhibition, and it drew large numbers of people to see it when the young Princess died in the year following her marriage.
For blooming Charlotte, England’s fairest Rose, In History’s page the tear of pity flows. Few were the moments of connubial life, She shar’d the blisses of a happy wife. But when relentless Death had nipt her bloom, And hid the faded Rose within the tomb, O’er her cold grave an Angel waved his wing, And cried, “O Death, where is thy fatal sting? From hence she goes; to me the charge is given,” And in his bosom took the Rose to Heaven.
The Duke of York was modelled from life in 1812, Leopold I, King of Belgium, in 1817, the Bishop of Norwich in 1820, and George IV a few days before his coronation in July, 1821. Sir Walter Scott’s figure in Highland costume was taken from life in Edinburgh in 1828, a year after George Canning’s likeness had been similarly obtained.
It was in 1828 that Madame Tussaud took a portrait of the miscreant Burke, immediately after his execution; and she modelled from life his accomplice, Hare, while he was in prison in Edinburgh.
Prince Talleyrand’s figure was modelled from life by Madame in 1832, Lord Eldon in 1833, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel in 1835, and Lord Melbourne in 1836.
In that year Madame Tussaud took from life a model of the Duchess of Kent, the mother of Queen Victoria, which proved a great attraction. By this time the Exhibition had found a home in Baker Street, where it became established in the spring of 1835.
Concerning the travels of the Exhibition, it is on record that Madame Tussaud visited North Shields on the 2nd of December, 1811, and Edinburgh in 1811-12. Early in the latter year we find her on the 28th of February at “4 The Market Place, Hull, just opposite the Reindeer Inn.” She was in Leeds on the 28th of September, and in Manchester on the 2nd of December, 1812. There is an entry in an old account-book which says, “Left the house in Criggate, Leeds, Monday, November 16.” It is pretty clear that the Exhibition was located in Newcastle in January, and in Liverpool on the 13th of April, 1813.
In 1817 the Exhibition was shown at “Mr. Sparrow’s Upper Ware Rooms, Old Butter Market, Ipswich, having lately arrived from the Concert Rooms, Canterbury, and lastly from the Assembly Rooms, Deal.”
It was probably when the Exhibition was visiting Cambridge in 1818 that a worthy Don made the suggestion that the figures of criminals should be placed in a separate room. Too long would be taken even to name all the places that were visited by the Exhibition, but there is an account in the _Coventry Herald_ that on the 14th March, 1823, the cordial thanks of a meeting of school managers were presented to Madame Tussaud for her “unsolicited and handsome donation of a moiety of the receipts of her Exhibition on Monday evening last.”
Among the figures taken on tour at this time were models of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and the Dauphin, Voltaire, and Madame St. Amaranthe (Tussaud’s “Sleeping Beauty”), taken a few months before her execution. These identical figures, as already stated, are still in the collection.
To trace the travels of the Exhibition there is no need. For some years Madame, with her sons, Joseph and Francis, went on tour throughout the country. A misadventure in the Irish Channel, when she was on her way to Dublin, threatened the enterprise with disaster. The vessel which carried their precious belongings was partially wrecked, and many valuable exhibits were lost. Undaunted by the bufferings of Fate, and helped by friends, Madame replenished her Exhibition and brought it up to date.
The current of events did not run smoothly for Madame Tussaud; but the little woman possessed a brave spirit, and struggled on against adversity, being upheld by the conviction that she would eventually triumph.
The Bristol riots--Narrow escape of the Exhibition--A brave black servant--Arrival at Blackheath.
The Bristol riots in the autumn of 1831 again brought the Exhibition into serious jeopardy. Madame Tussaud had just arrived in the city of the West Country, when the Recorder, Sir Charles Wetherell, came to open a Special Commission for the trial of certain political offenders associated with the agitation for reform. Judge Wetherell was heartily disliked by West-country folk, and there was strong opposition to this Special Commission being held. Public resentment developed into a riot, which the military was sent to subdue.
[Illustration: SIR CHARLES WETHERELL
Judge at the political trial that precipitated the Bristol riots.]
Madame tells the story herself of the sufferings she endured during the days of wanton destruction and loss of life, as the rabble resorted to killing and pillage. Judge Wetherell was obliged to escape from the city, disguising himself, as it was then stated, with some taunt at his personal habits, “through the medium of a wash and the donning of a clean shirt and collar.”
The three days’ terror can scarcely be considered the result of a genuine revolutionary movement. True, certain ringleaders of the rabble seem to have imagined in some vague way that they were hastening the day of “liberty”; but the rioters only destroyed for sheer destruction’s sake. What they sought to promote they neither knew nor cared. For the most part the mob was utterly contemptible, and but for the extraordinary apathy of the authorities the riot might have been easily quelled.
It was on the morning of Saturday, the 29th of October, that the Recorder came to the city, and, a disturbance being feared, a number of special constables were sworn in. These officials, mostly young men, did more harm than good, for they irritated the people by overmuch zeal, and led to blows being exchanged, which fomented the trouble. This was followed by an attack on the Mansion House, where Sir Charles was banqueting with the Corporation.
The civic party was hunted out, and made its escape over the housetops. Suddenly the cry was raised, “To the back!” and the mob surged round to the offices behind the Mansion House, where faggots and firewood were stored. For the present the rioters refrained from firing the building, and contented themselves with looting the premises. The cellars proved particularly attractive to the unruly crowd, which was shortly in possession of a hundred dozen of wine, and the day closed amid general drunkenness and disorder.
On Sunday morning the mob reassembled in Queen Square. The authorities had plucked up sufficient courage to publish a proclamation warning all rioters to return to their homes; but these gentlemen were not disposed to take the admonition seriously. The unlucky bill-sticker who posted the proclamation was badly mauled.
[Illustration: THE BRISTOL RIOTS
From a water-color drawing made on the spot by William Muller, showing the figures being removed for security from the Exhibition premises, Sunday, 30th October, 1831.]
One individual mounted King William’s statue in the Square and waved a tri-coloured cap on a pole, shouting to his comrades to behold the cap of Liberty. Possibly this aroused in the minds of the befuddled rioters some recollection of the French Revolution, for a move was made towards the gaol, which was speedily in their power. A vigorous employment of sledgehammers soon broke in the prison doors, and the prisoners, some of them almost nude, at once joined the mob.
The Governor’s house was sacked and fired; his books were pitched into the New River, and the prison van met with a similar fate. Then the Gloucester County Gaol, the lock-up house at Lawford’s Gate, and the Bishop’s Palace were all fired. Between seven and eight o’clock the rioters revisited the cellars of the Mansion House and began rolling out barrels of beer and wine. Intoxicated persons could be seen moving about the kitchen and the banqueting-room with lighted candles, and in less than two hours the building was gutted.
Dwellings in Queen Square were sacked and fired, until the whole mass was wrapped in flames. Such was the remarkable lethargy of the householders that a few mischievous boys made a house-to-house visitation, gave the inmates half an hour’s notice to quit, and at the expiration of that time coolly set fire to the houses without molestation. The booty the rioters seized was trifling. On the corpse of one boy, who was sabred by a soldier, was found a curious collection of spoil--a lady’s glove, some children’s books, and the Custom House keys.
One curious incident happened when the contents of fifty puncheons of rum gushed out of a bonded warehouse and ran flowing down the street, setting fire to a house at the other end.
The riots were quelled by the military on the Monday, after many thousands of pounds’ worth of property had been destroyed; and one of the results was that four persons were hanged.
By what might almost be described as a stroke of good fortune--inasmuch as it perpetuated the name of Tussaud--there was in Bristol at that time a lad of nineteen years, named William Muller, whose genius as a painter gives Bristol just cause for pride to-day. This gifted youth produced a series of wonderful sketches of the “Bristol Revolution,” as it was then called, in which he portrays the weird and striking scenes of incendiarism in the city streets.
One of these sketches is now in our possession. It shows Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition premises standing out full and clear in the fiery glare, while the figures and other articles are being hurriedly removed and piled up in the roadway before the jeering mob. The figures and decorations are easily recognised in the picture, and many of them are still included in the Exhibition.
For no imaginable reason the premises occupied by Madame Tussaud’s collection had been marked to be burnt. A chalk sign was scrawled upon the door, and the adjoining buildings, besmeared with petroleum, had been already set on fire. In Madame’s employment was a stalwart and loyal negro. This black servant took up his position at the entrance to the Exhibition, and threatened to kill with a blunderbuss the first man who dared approach to harm the place.
The negro kept the mob at bay long enough, it would seem, to save the building, for at eight o’clock Madame’s anxiety was relieved when she heard, above the wild yelling of the infuriated people, the distant sounds of the drums and fifes of the 11th Infantry Regiment, just then reaching the outskirts of the city. The music that cheered her scared the plundering rabble and stayed their depredations.
Madame Tussaud came through all this in her seventieth year, with twenty years of activity still before her; and, after a long tour through provincial towns, she took her Exhibition to Blackheath, on the south-eastern side of London, attracted, no doubt, by the fact that that place had become a fashionable resort owing to the residence there, some years previously, of Queen Caroline, the estranged wife of George IV.
An old placard--Princess Augusta’s testimonial--Great success at Gray’s Inn Road--Madame initiates promenade concerts--Bygone tableaux.
An old placard now in our possession informs us that at Blackheath the Exhibition was housed in the Assembly Room at the Green Man Hotel. The exact date when it left there is not known, but we do know that it had previously found a temporary abode in the Town Hall, Brighton.
There it was visited early in 1833 by members of the Royal Family, then in residence at the Pavilion, as is vouched for in the following quaint notice. The placard we give in full, not only on account of its quaint wording, but because it gives a good idea of the Exhibition as it then existed:
NOW OPEN! WITH DECIDED SUCCESS!
The Promenade being Crowded every Evening! In the only Room that could be had sufficiently spacious for the purpose,
The GREAT ASSEMBLY ROOM of the late ROYAL LONDON BAZAAR, GRAY’S INN ROAD
(Which has been fitted up for the purpose). Carriages may wait in the Arena. Lately arrived from the Town Hall, Brighton, and last from the Assembly Room, Green Man Hotel, Blackheath.
SPLENDID NOVELTY, Coronation Groups and Musical Promenade.
MADAME TUSSAUD AND SONS
Have the honor to announce that their entirely new Exhibition, which has only to be seen to ensure its support and patronage, justly entitling it to the appellation of the most popular Collection in the Empire, is NOW OPEN as above mentioned, and they trust the Public will not form their ideas of it from anything of a similar description they may have seen in this Metropolis or elsewhere--as in their peculiar art they stand alone; a fact acknowledged by those that have made the tour of Europe. They are induced to state this to guard against the prejudice excited by a view of inferior Collections. Madame Tussaud had the honor of being Artist to Her Royal Highness Madame Elizabeth, was patronized by the late Royal Family of France, by their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York, twice by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and lately at the Town Hall, Brighton, by Her Royal Highness the Princess Augusta, His Royal Highness Prince George, and by nearly the whole of the Royal Establishment.
Her Royal Highness, with that kindness which has ever distinguished the Royal Family for the encouragement of the Fine Arts, honored Madame Tussaud with the following letter:
“Lady Mary Taylor is commanded by Her Royal Highness the Princess Augusta to acquaint Madame Tussaud with Her Royal Highness’s approbation of her Exhibition, which is well worthy of admiration, and the view of which afforded Her Royal Highness much amusement and gratification.--Pavilion, Brighton, Feb. 9, 1833.”
The placard goes on to describe the Exhibition as follows:
The Exhibition consists of a great variety of Public Characters, modelled with the greatest care, and regardless of expense, among whom will be noticed the original figures of BURKE and HARE (taken from their faces, to obtain which the Proprietors went expressly to Scotland); which have excited intense interest from the peculiar nature of their crimes, and their approach to life, which renders it difficult to recognize them from living persons. Also DENNIS COLLINS (taken from life at the gaol, Reading), in the identical dress he had on when he made the atrocious attempt on His Majesty’s life at Ascot Heath Races.
This shows that Madame Tussaud in those days, as her successors do in these, took the greatest pains to ensure fidelity as regards costume as well as features.
[Illustration: THE EMPRESS JOSEPHINE]
There can be no doubt that Madame Tussaud actually originated the promenade concerts which have since become so popular a form of musical entertainment, for the placard goes on to announce that:
There will be a Musical Promenade every Evening from Half-past Seven till Ten, when a selection of Music will be performed by the Messrs. Tussaud and Fishers; the Promenade will be lighted with a profusion of lamps, producing, with the variety of rich costumes, special decorations, etc., an unequalled _coup d’œil_.
A description is next given of some of the exhibits, which will be perused with interest:
The Collection consists of PORTRAITS in composition as large as life, dressed in appropriate costumes.
REPRESENTING THE CORONATION OF H.M. WILLIAM IV.
_Description._--It represents HIS MAJESTY on the Throne, habited in his Robes of State, as worn on that august occasion, in the act of being Crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, supported by the Bishop of Norwich. On His Majesty’s right, Her Majesty QUEEN ADELAIDE, wearing the Cap of State, supported by Earl Grey, in his Coronation Robes. On His Majesty’s left, the Lord Chancellor Brougham and the Duke of Wellington, in their Coronation Robes, surmounted by Three allegorical Figures representing Britannia, Caledonia, and Hibernia.
THE CORONATION OF BUONAPARTE,
Copied from the Celebrated Picture by David.
_Description._--The moment chosen is the time when Buonaparte, contrary to all precedent crowned himself. It represents him in the act of placing the Crown on his head, dressed in the magnificent costume as worn by him at his Coronation; also a Figure of the Empress Josephine, who is seen kneeling at the foot of the altar, accompanied by a Page. At the altar is represented His Holiness Pope Pius VI, giving the benediction, supported by the celebrated Cardinal Fesche (Buonaparte’s Uncle) and Prince Roustan (Buonaparte’s favourite Mameluke) in the act of proclaiming the ceremony, attended by a Mameluke.
The two above-mentioned Groups have been universally admired by every one that has seen them; and Madame Tussaud and Sons hope they will meet with the approbation of the Inhabitants of London and its Vicinity.
Taken from the History of Scotland.
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS ABDICATING THE THRONE.
_Description._--It represents her at the moment of hesitating to abdicate, being alarmed at the conduct of Baron Ruthven, who stands opposite to her. Next to him is the Figure of Sir J. Melville, interceding to appease the Baron; and behind the Queen is a venerable Figure of an Augustin Monk, who is in the attitude of indignation at seeing his Mistress insulted.
CHARACTERS AS FOLLOWS:
His Late Majesty George the Fourth. Her late Majesty Queen Caroline. Her late R.H. Princess Charlotte. Their Majesties George III and Queen Charlotte. His Late Royal Highness the Duke of York. Field-Marshall the Duke of Wellington. His late Imperial Majesty Alexander of Russia; and His Majesty the King of the Belgians. Field Marshall Von Blücher. Right Honorable William Pitt. Right Honorable George Canning. Right Honorable C. J. Fox. Reverend John Wesley. The Celebrated Queen Elizabeth. The Immortal Shakspeare. William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. Mary Queen of Scots. An Austin Monk. Baron Ruthven. Lord Melville. The celebrated Baron Emanuel Swedenborg.
[Illustration: HER MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY QUEEN ADELAIDE, CONSORT OF KING GEORGE IV.]
Placard (_continued_)--The old Exhibition--Celebrities of the day--Tussaud’s mummy--Poetic eulogism--Removal to Baker Street--The Iron Duke’s rejoinder--Madame de Malibran.
[Illustration: DANIEL O’CONNELL]
The old placard next proceeds to enumerate some of the then modern celebrities in the Exhibition as follows:
Portrait likeness of the Rev. John Clowes, of St. John’s Church, Manchester, and late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, taken (with permission) from life within the last ten years; the Artist, Mr. J. P. Kemble, in the character of Hamlet; the celebrated Mrs. Siddons in the character of Queen Catherine; Dey of Algiers; full-length Portrait of Daniel O’Connell, esq., M.P., taken with permission (from Mr. P. Turnerelli’s celebrated bust), for which Mr. O’Connell gave sittings in Dublin; Sir Walter Scott, taken from life in Edinburgh, by Madame Tussaud, which was seen by thousands, and also honored by his approbation; Lord Byron, taken from life in Italy.
_The other subjects comprising this unique exhibition, consisting of Characters in full dress as large as life, correctly executed, may be classed as follows_:
The late Royal Family of France, taken from life, viz., the King, Queen, and Dauphin; Pope Pius VI., Henry IV. of France, Duc de Sully, M. Voltaire, Napoleon Buonaparte, Madame Joseph Buonaparte, Cardinal Fesche, one of Buonaparte’s Mameluke Guards, and Prince Roustan, Buonaparte’s favorite Mameluke.
REMARKABLE CHARACTERS, SUBJECTS, &c.
An old Coquette, who teased her husband’s life out. Two beautiful Infants. A small cabinet of Portraits in wax by the celebrated Courcius of Paris, viz., the Dying Philosopher, Socrates. Death of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. M. Voltaire. Shepherd and Shepherdess.
Biographical and descriptive Sketches may be had at the place of Exhibition, price Sixpence each.
Madame TUSSAUD and SONS, in offering this little notice to the Public, have endeavoured to blend utility and amusement. It contains an outline of the history of each character represented in the Exhibition, which will not only greatly increase the pleasure to be derived from a mere view of the figures, but will also convey to the minds of young persons much biographical knowledge, a branch of education universally allowed to be one of the highest importance.
_Admittance 1s. Children under 8 Years of Age 6d.; second room 6d._
_Tickets for Six Weeks not transferable, 5s. Open every day from 11 till 4 o’clock, in the Evening from 7 till 10._
The following highly interesting figures and objects, in consequence of the Peculiarity of their appearance, are placed in an adjoining situation, and are well worth the attention of artists and amateurs, taken by order of the National Assembly by Madame Tussaud--The Celebrated John Marat, one of the leaders of the French Revolution, taken immediately after his assassination by Charlotte Corde. The following heads--Robespierre, Carrier, Fouquier de Tinville, and Hébert were taken immediately after execution. The celebrated Count de Lorge, who was confined twenty years in the Bastille, taken from life. Mirabeau. Also, Phrenological Portraits of
STEWART AND HIS WIFE,
Who were executed in Edinburgh on the 13th of August, 1829, having confessed to the murder of Seven Persons by means of Poison, which they familiarly called doctoring.
Casts of CORDER and HOLLOWAY, taken from their faces.
CURIOUS AND INTERESTING RELICS, &c.
The shirt of Henry IV. of France in which he was assassinated by Ravaillac, with various original documents relative to that transaction. A small model of the original French Guillotine, with its apparatus. Model of the Bastille in Paris in its entire state.
AN EGYPTIAN MUMMY.
Proved by the Hieroglyphics to be the body of the Princess of Memphis, who lived in the time of Sesostris, King of Egypt, a.m. 2528, 1491 years before Christ, being actually 3328 years old.
(_Phair_, Printer, 67, Great Peter Street, Westminster.)
A further placard is headed as follows:
REMOVAL POSTPONED TILL FURTHER NOTICE.
The Flattering Success with which this Exhibition continues to be honored, (the Promenade being Crowded every Evening), the very general desire expressed by Thousands for it to remain some time longer, (its merits becoming more generally known), being acknowledged to be the most Splendid, and, at the same time, the most Instructive to Youth, (induces the Proprietors to obey the general wish.) It will remain in consequence till further Notice.
The Exhibition is, therefore, located in “The Great Assembly Room of the late Royal London Bazaar, Gray’s Inn Road.” There it remained till early in March, 1835, on the 21st of which month it removed to its quarters in Baker Street.
[Illustration: INTERIOR OF THE EXHIBITION IN THE EARLY DAYS AT BAKER STREET
From J. Mead’s “London Interiors,” published in 1842.]
As for the Assembly Room, it appears that on Tuesday, the 29th of March, directly after Madame Tussaud left, it was put up for sale at the Mart by the famous auctioneer, George Robins.
A lady, on viewing the Exhibition when it was in Gray’s Inn Road, wrote the following excellent verses:
I stand amid a breathless throng, Though animation’s light is here; Expression, too, that might belong To creatures of a nobler sphere; Where’er I turn my dazzled view, I marvel what Art’s hand can do!
Here are the lips, and cheeks, and eyes, The folded hands--the beaming brow-- Those graces Nature’s self supplies-- All burst upon my vision now! And is it _fiction_?--can it be That these are not _reality_?
The eye, where centres Genius’ light; The lips, where Eloquence presides;-- The cheek with Beauty’s roses bright; The breast, where Passion darkly hides; The Warrior’s pride, the Cynic’s sneer, From Nature’s book are copied here!
_Painting_ her meed of praise may claim From Fame’s proud trump or Minstrel’s lyre, And around _sculpture’s_ gifted name May burn the _poet’s_ words of fire; But _Tussaud_! Both these arts divine Must yield in _novelty_ to _thine_.
Thou bring’st before our wond’ring eyes, Modell’d in truth, each gone-by scene That Hist’ry’s varied page supplies;-- Here still _they_ flourish, fresh and green, Defying Time’s oblivious power, Who long have pass’d Life’s fitful hour.
Modern Prometheus! who can’st give, Like him of old, to human form All _but_ the life;--here _thou_ wilt live And triumph o’er the “creeping worm” That sullies all things--pale Decay! _Thy features_ ne’er can pass away!
A nobler Trophy far is thine, Than “storied urn,” by stranger hands, Rear’d (in thy now adopted clime), And higher reverence commands; These forms--to which thine Art has lent Life’s truth--shall be _thy monument_!
MRS. CORNWELL BARON-WILSON.
It is interesting to note that one of the first visitors to the Exhibition in its settled home at Baker Street was the great Duke of Wellington. He was there on Wednesday, the 26th of August, and after that date was frequently to be seen walking through the rooms, his favourite models being those of Queen Victoria and the dead Napoleon.
Indeed, the Duke requested Mr. Joseph Tussaud, the elder son of Madame Tussaud, to let him know whenever a new figure of exceptional interest was added to the Exhibition--_not forgetting the Chamber of Horrors_.
[Illustration: JOSEPH TUSSAUD
Elder son of Madame Tussaud, born 1796, died 1864.]
Mr. Tussaud ventured a remark expressing his surprise that the Duke should be interested in such figures, whereupon the old warrior turned upon him with the rejoinder, “Well, do they not represent _fact_?”
Other models added about this time included those of Nicholas I of Russia, Louis Philippe, King of the French, the Duke of Cumberland, Talleyrand, and Hume, the historian.
A tragic occurrence took place shortly after the Exhibition had taken up its abode in London, and led to its permanent establishment in the Metropolis. At that time Madame de Malibran, the eldest daughter of the Spanish singer, Manuel Garcia, was idolised by the populace as a gifted songstress. She died suddenly during a festival held at Manchester on the 23rd of September, 1836, in the twenty-eighth year of her age.
[Illustration: MADAME MARIE FELICITA DE MALIBRAN
Famous opera singer, daughter of the Spanish singer, Manual Garcia, made her début in London in 1825 and after a successful European tour reached New York, when she married a local French merchant, M. Malibran, after his bankruptcy returning to the stage and greater honors.]
Madame Tussaud placed her figure in the Exhibition with all speed, and the numerous admirers of the _prima donna_ flocked to see it. The idea there and then took hold of Madame Tussaud’s mind that the Exhibition would command perennial success by being constantly brought up to date through the adding of the portraits of people whose names were on everybody’s lips. This principle has been faithfully observed ever since.
In the early days at Baker Street “the Hours of Exhibition,” as the Catalogue quaintly puts it, were “from 11 in the Morning till 5, and from 7 in the Evening till 10. Brilliantly illuminated at 8.” When the place was closed, seats were provided in the vestibule, and it was no uncommon sight to see from fifty to a hundred persons waiting for the reopening of the doors at 7 p.m.
 Alluding to the exquisite figure of the artist’s self.
How the Waterloo carriage was acquired--A chance conversation on London Bridge--The strange adventures of an Emperor’s equipage--Affidavit of Napoleon’s coachman.
The account of how we became possessed of the Waterloo carriage reads like an interesting chapter from fiction.
In the collection are two other Napoleon vehicles, namely, the Milan and St. Helena carriages. They are all strongly built, ponderous, and suitable for a great campaigner.
[Illustration: NAPOLEON’S MILITARY CARRIAGE, CAPTURED ON THE RETREAT FROM WATERLOO
This was discovered by Mr. Joseph Tussaud in London in 1842 and purchased for the Tussaud collection.]
But what we are particularly concerned to tell at this moment is the story of the strange coincidence by which the Waterloo carriage was secured for the Exhibition. In all the wonderful happenings associated with this place, possibly none is quite so simple and yet so surprising as this. Mr. Joseph Tussaud, the elder son of Madame Tussaud, was a great lover of London, and it was his delight to roam leisurely about the Metropolis, studying the streets and byways and the people who traversed them.
In one of these peregrinations during the spring of 1842 he found himself leaning over the parapet of London Bridge, watching the movements of the diversified craft on the river, when he observed by the wharves of Billingsgate a carriage being hoisted ashore from the deck of a ship like a huge spider hanging from its web.
That in itself was probably a fairly frequent occurrence, and it would have passed from Mr. Tussaud’s memory except for what followed. There were numbers of people looking over the bridge--as may be seen to-day, and will be seen for many a day to come--and my great-uncle suddenly heard the voice of a countryman next to him saying, “That’s a very fine carriage, but I know where there’s a finer that some people would give a lot to have. I could take you to a place where you could see the selfsame carriage in which Napoleon tried to escape from Waterloo.”
This was news indeed to a Tussaud--the one man in all London to whom it mattered most--and it may be imagined that the countryman was encouraged to go on with his story and show the way to the coveted relic. The carriage, which has since been of inestimable value to Madame Tussaud’s, was traced to a repository in Gray’s Inn Road, belonging to one Robert Jeffreys, “a respectable coach manufacturer, who took the carriage in part payment of a bad debt,” as explained in a contemporary news-sheet. Did ever time play a trick like that with the carriage of an Emperor? “In part payment of a bad debt!” Who the debtor was, there is no telling now; it is, however, known that the carriage had been bought at a Tattersall auction, when short-sighted speculators let Napoleon’s chariot go cheap.
Previously the carriage had earned a fortune for Mr. William Bullock, who took it round the country as an exhibit, which the people flocked in their thousands to see, till the novelty wore off and the carriage was rolled into the repository of Jeffreys, the coach-builder, where it remained for years with none to do it reverence. An early cartoon by Cruikshank, in November of the Waterloo year, portrays a clamorous crowd surrounding the carriage when on view at the Egyptian Hall, and, it must be admitted, treating it with scant respect.
The carriage had been sent as a present to George IV when Prince Regent, and in due time it arrived at Carlton House with four high-stepping Normandy horses. _Blackwood’s Magazine_ of March, 1817, states that “Bonaparte’s military carriage has excited more interest as an exhibit than anything for a number of years.” The manner in which the four horses were driven through the city by the French coachman, Jean Hornn, who lost his right arm when the carriage was captured, proves the excellent manner in which the horses were broken in. Mr. Bullock, in whose hands this splendid trophy of victory was placed by the Government, is said to have cleared £26,000 by his exhibition of it.
There is a letter in existence by Mr. William Bullock in which he states that
… the celebrated Carriage, taken by the Prussian troops about fifteen miles from Waterloo on the evening of the great Battle, was afterwards purchased by me from his late Majesty George IV for the sum of £2,500, and exhibited by me at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, London, as well as in the principal Cities in Great Britain and Ireland, by the Authority of the Government, and is the identical carriage I have just seen in your possession. The Diamonds found in the Carriage … were purchased by Mr. Mawe, diamond merchant in the Strand, from Baron Von Keller, the Officer that captured them. The present one, with others, was purchased by me from Mr. Mawe.
I am, Dear Sir,
Your most obedient Servant,
It is not known what Mr. Joseph Tussaud paid Mr. Robert Jeffreys, the Gray’s Inn Road coach-builder, for it; but this much may be said, that the carriage which proved so good an investment for Mr. Bullock has fulfilled all expectations at Madame Tussaud’s, where it is pre-eminently the right thing in the right place.
It was certified at the time that M. Simon, of Brussels, built the carriage, and that most of the contrivances for economising space and ensuring comfort and convenience were suggested by the Emperor himself and his second wife, Marie Louise; also that this was the carriage which picked up Napoleon on his retreat to Paris after the burning of Moscow.
Scarcely less singular than the coincidence of my great-uncle meeting with the countryman on London Bridge was my acquiring, sixteen years ago, from a second-hand bookseller in Margate, an original official letter relating to the carriage. The letter, it will be seen, bears a date about five months after the Battle of Waterloo. It reads:
_Downing Street, 27th Nov., 1815._
I am directed by Lord Bathurst to request that you would receive into the King’s Mews the travelling carriage of General Bonaparte, together with all its appurtenances, and also the four horses and the harness taken from the same, and keep them from public view till further notice.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient humble servant,
William Parker, Esqre., &c., &c., &c., Royal Mews.
The following affidavit sworn by Jean Hornn at the Mansion House before the famous Lord Mayor, Sir Matthew Wood, on the 9th of March, 1816, is of peculiar interest, containing as it does several important historic details:
AFFIDAVIT OF JEAN HORNN.
JEAN HORNN, a native of Bergen-op-Zoom in Holland, and now of Piccadilly in the County of Middlesex, aged twenty-eight years, maketh oath:--
THAT about ten years ago he entered into the service of Napoleon Bonaparte, the late Emperor of France, and attended Napoleon in the capacity of his military coachman, through the campaign which was distinguished by the battle of Jena--
THAT he attended Napoleon, in the same capacity of military coachman, during the subsequent campaigns, through the greater part of Prussia, Spain, Germany, and Russia, and in his excursion to Italy--
AND this Deponent saith, that he drove the military Carriage of the said Ex-Emperor from Paris to Waterloo; in which Carriage the Emperor travelled thither, accompanied by General Bertrand--
THAT on the evening of the day on which the battle of Waterloo was fought, he, this Deponent, was attacked while with the said Carriage, by a detachment of Prussian lancers, and other infantry, who captured the Carriage, together with the Necessaire, and other articles it contained for the personal use of the Ex-Emperor--
THAT whilst this Deponent was remaining with the Carriage, in a field about thirty paces from the road, endeavouring to pass round Jenappe (which was blocked up in the confusion of the retreat) he, this Deponent received ten wounds in various parts of the body; three of which were in his right arm--
THAT having then no appearance of life, he was left among the dead--
THAT a few days afterwards, and whilst this Deponent was lying in great agony at Jenappe, he was removed by a British officer; who conveyed him to Brussels, and who obtained the amputation of this Deponent’s arm, as well as surgical care of his other wounds--
THAT he afterwards returned to Paris; and has received from the present Government of France a small annual pension--
AND this Deponent saith, that he hath inspected the Carriage, Horses, Necessaire of Gold and Silver, their respective Cases, the Pistols, Wearing Apparel, and other Articles now exhibiting at the London Museum, in Piccadilly (and which this Deponent hath been informed have been received there from the British Government), and that they are the same Carriage, Horses, Necessaire, and other Articles which belonged to the late Emperor of France, and were personally used by him--
AND that the Carriage is the same in which the Ex-Emperor proceeded to Moscow; and which Carriage was driven by this Deponent, with the Ex-Emperor therein, twenty-four leagues beyond that City, on the road to Chotillowo--
THAT after the French army evacuated Moscow, and in the retreat toward France, the same Carriage was removed from off the perch and wheels, and placed on a sledge, and that the Ex-Emperor travelled therein, and was driven by this Deponent--
AND this Deponent also saith, that he hath seen and examined the Grey Surtout Coat, lined with Sable Fur, which is also at the London Museum; and that it is the same which this Deponent hath frequently seen worn by the said Ex-Emperor during the Russian campaign; and that the parts of the coat which appear to have been burnt and scorched were chiefly so burnt and scorched by the fires, before which it was frequently placed during that campaign--
AND this Deponent saith, that the Fur Travelling Cap, and the several other Articles of Wearing Apparel (exclusive of those which came from the British Government, and which are also at the London Museum) were parts of the personal Wardrobe of the Ex-Emperor of France; and were frequently used and worn by him--
AND this Deponent was present when the said Surtout Coat, Travelling Cap, and other last-mentioned Articles were purchased by Mr. Bullock, at Paris, of Guste Maitrot, who was keeper of the Wardrobe to the late Emperor of France.
Sworn at the Mansion House, London, the 9th day of March, 1816; having been first interpreted to the Deponent, JEAN HORNN, by ADAM BRIEFF, who was sworn duly to interpret and explain the same to him.
Before me, MATTHEW WOOD, Mayor.
Napoleon’s Waterloo carriage--Description of its exterior.
Some account must be given of this most interesting relic.
Ever since it first came to the Exhibition it has excited the most lively interest, and, until it was covered in by a glazed case, visitors enjoyed the privilege of sitting inside--a proceeding which would not have mattered had not unscrupulous souvenir hunters abused this favour by pilfering portions of the fabric that lined it.
Time-worn, it now stands before us, a thing of gaunt and sombre aspect. This old war-coach offers, to those who contemplate it, a full measure of historic reminiscence, recalling the most striking and critical episodes in the great Corsican’s career.
He entered it at the time his power stood at its zenith, and retained it in constant attendance upon him down to the hour he took refuge within it, a conquered and a broken man. It was built for his campaign in Russia. In it he travelled many a league on the road to Moscow. Bereft of its wheels and lashed upon a sleigh, through the perils of that terrible retreat, it safely carried him far on his way back to the gates of Paris. With him it was sent to the Isle of Elba; thence it helped him along on his last auspicious journey to the French capital.
[Illustration: NAPOLEON’S MILITARY CARRIAGE
Scene of its capture at Jenappe. From a colored engraving published during the autumn of 1815.]
It assisted him on his way to Waterloo. Standing on the main road hard by La Belle Alliance, it waited him throughout that memorable Sunday, the 18th of June, over a hundred years ago. At the end of the day’s ordeal into it, sore and ill, he flung himself, only to struggle from it at the point of capture to take refuge in the confusion and the shadow of the night, leaving his hat, sword, and many other things behind him.
Deepened long ago into a monotone of dusky grey, still here and there the old coach betrays a touch of colour, revealing a fair estimate of its former self. Simple and modest as Imperial carriages go, nevertheless, on a certain May day in the year 1812, as it sallied forth on its maiden voyage, its back turned upon the old Palace of St. Cloud and its fore-carriage set upon the highroad to Russia, it must have looked a comely chariot--as yet unsullied by the stain of travel, and not yet degraded by the lust of war.
By the man that made it--one Simon, of Brussels, to whom reference has already been made--it would have been designated a _berline de voyage_, or maybe a _carrosse a six chevaux_, by us it has been called a travelling carriage, and technically classed as a chariot-built coach.
Dark-blue, black, and yellow, with here and there a line of red and gold, were the colours under which it made its début.
The head, or upper part of the body, is constructed of thick black-enamelled leather, stretching over a strong framework of ash. The lower portion consists of finely polished wood panelling, originally of a rich dark-blue colour. A narrow brass fillet traverses the centre of the body, lining off its upper from its lower sections, and under this fillet runs a delicate gilt scroll composed of the fruit, leaf, and tendrils of the vine. This neat and unpretentious bordering, together with the emblazonment of the Imperial arms upon the doors, constitutes the only tangible claim the carriage has to anything in the nature of artistic adornment.
A curious bulkhead, or boot, built out from the fore-part of the coach, provides, among other things, the very important accommodation contingent upon a long and unbroken journey--the opportunity of resting at full length within it.
Under this bulkhead Napoleon’s camp bedstead still reposes, neatly encased within a receptacle some six inches square and three feet long, folded, ready to be withdrawn at a moment’s notice. When and where this bedstead was last required for its master’s use are points of interest often conjectured, but as yet not satisfied.
Placed beyond the bulkhead, unusually forward and high above the fore-wheels, is perched the coachman’s dicky--a dicky on which the coachman must have sat alone, for its size excludes any chance of companionship. It is supported by slender scroll iron stays in a manner so mobile, so sensitive to the slightest movement, that the poor jehu who piloted the coach through those long and weary journeys we know it to have traversed must at times have felt sorely tempted to guide his horses from their prescribed course and to steer them away into the “Land of Nod.”
The doors possess the simple distinction of opening in the opposite direction from those of an ordinary English carriage, whilst the Imperial arms--a device borrowed of the Cæsars--are still to be clearly deciphered upon both panels.
The ponderous under-carriage might well suggest to the mind of a mechanic an instance in which weight had far outbidden advantage in strength. The heavy, split, crane-neck perch, the deep solid axle-bed, and the cumbersome fore-carriage have been constructed throughout in wrought iron, and afford a good example of the coachsmith’s work of a century ago. The great cee springs are in keeping with the rest, heavy and strong. The thick leather straps plying them, and carrying the full weight of the body of the carriage and all contained within it, are still in sound condition and quite capable of doing their work; but by way of precaution they have now been relieved of all strain, and the weight is borne by four iron standards springing directly from the floor.
The wheels, even compared with others of the period in which they were made, are very heavily dished. Following the Continental manner, the spokes are arranged in pairs, so that their spacing out might be described as two close together and two wide apart--those placed near together entering the rim near where the felloes join, presumably with the object of adding strength at a weak point.
The rims are made up of seven felloes fixed together with iron clamps. The iron tyres, heavy and rough, are secured to the rims with bolts and nuts, instead of, as in our day, by rivets and burrs. The hubs, or stocks, large and massive, are further strengthened by stock hoops, the flange on the outer hoops of the fore-wheels being hexagonal, while those on the hind-wheels are of a plain round shape.
The axles are curiously primitive--simple nut-axles used from time immemorial--the wheels being held in position by means of strong rough iron nuts screwed on at the extremity of the axle arms and further secured by a pin passed through a hole at the end of them. Strangely enough, the axle-ends are absolutely devoid of caps.
Behind on the foot-stage, or rumble, there still rests, as on the day the vehicle was taken, the odd-looking and spacious shoe-shaped trunk in which so many articles of apparel belonging to Napoleon were found. This is doubtless the source from which have flowed during the past century not a few genuine, but also numberless doubtful, belongings attributed to the great Napoleon which have been offered for sale under the “incontestable” sworn testimony of so many irresponsible and illusive authorities as having been found in Napoleon’s carriage captured at Waterloo.
The four black square metal lamps fixed in a rough-and-ready way with iron rods to the corners of the coach have a simple and quaint appearance, but otherwise have little about them to call for comment. They have been made to take large wax candles, and have the usual spring sockets to hold them.
Description of the Waterloo carriage (_continued_)--Its interior and peculiar contrivances--Brought to England and exhibited at the London Museum.
[Illustration: NAPOLEON’S MILITARY CARRIAGE
The interior of the carriage is even more interesting than the exterior. Glancing within, we immediately find ourselves in closer touch with things personal to the great Emperor.
We find therein provision for a couple of passengers only. Here are two deep and roomy seats, divided by a tall movable arm-rest, offering the occupants unusual freedom and comfort. Confronting these seats, set high up on the front of the vehicle, are a pair of windows affording each traveller a full view of the driver and of the road and country beyond. Beneath these are displayed those objects of interest which have so readily engrossed the attention of many millions of visitors who, during the century past, have been moved to inspect the carriage.
Opposite to that seat usually occupied by Napoleon--that is to say, the one on the offside, following our rule of the road--there hangs a brass handle which is apparently attached merely to a simple shallow drawer. An easy pull at this reveals a strong and well-appointed writing-desk, capable of being withdrawn far out of its recess. This action, with the aid of a writing-slope that unfolds from the top, enables the desk to span the space between the front of the carriage and the seat, thus giving to its occupant all the facility and convenience desirable for carrying on a correspondence at leisure.
Nor is this the only accommodation the desk provides. Some time after the carriage had changed ownership it was found that an extra pull withdrew the desk still farther from its aperture, and upon this being done a secret compartment was discovered behind it, in which were found jewels and money of great value.
On the right side of this desk, fitted into a narrow but deep recess, there rests a long, wedge-shaped box made to hold a goodly supply of those quills of which Napoleon was so uncommonly prodigal.
Below these fittings, and readily engaging attention, is a large cloth-covered door, hinged to open towards the middle of the carriage, so that when butting against the arm-rest of the seat it divides the lower portion of the interior into two separate parts. When so placed it exposes a large cavity constituting the lower part or foot of a sleeping compartment, the seat of the coach serving for the head, and the space between being bridged by a plank or board. In this cavity were found all the necessary things for making up a complete and comfortable bed.
On the near side of the front interior, placed immediately under the window, is a shallow rack made to take small things such as sealing-wax, wafers, paper-knife, etc., the receptacle being furnished with a wooden flap and catch to enclose it. Underneath this is a large and strongly made drawer that pulls out endways. In it many things were discovered which were in immediate use before the capture of the coach, among them several pieces of a silver service containing articles of food remaining from a meal.
Below this again there is an opening, which has never boasted of a door to enclose it. At the bottom of it a brass-bound rest, or table, has been fitted between grooves so that it may be drawn out, or pushed in, as occasion required. This also forms a bridge to unite the recess with the seat facing it, so as to provide a second sleeping compartment when found necessary.
On the inside of the doors hang heavy cloth lapels covering large square pockets, edged with broad gold-coloured gimp braid speckled with blue spots. On the outer side of each seat is a deep hole, both of which contained a loaded pistol ready at hand in case of emergency.
Well above and running across the back of the seats is a half-circle recess serving as a gun-rack, forming a strange protrusion viewed from the outside of the coach.
An oil lamp, which at best could have yielded but a feeble light, takes up the customary position in the centre at the back of the carriage.
The interior is lined throughout with a dark-blue cloth, in colour and texture similar to that used at the present day for the same purpose.
A fairly reliable inventory of things found in the carriage on the night it was captured has been handed down to us, and the following is a copy:
A beautifully constructed and marvellously well-appointed _nécessaire_, comprising some seventy pieces, a few in solid gold and many mounted in the same metal (a present from Marie Louise to Napoleon on the eve of his departure for the Russian campaign of 1812, and designed and carried out under her immediate supervision).
Several parts of a solid silver service, engraved with the Imperial arms.
A large silver chronometer.
A green velvet cap.
A mahogany liquor case, containing two leather-covered bottles, one filled with rum and the other holding a small quantity of sweet wine.
A pair of spurs.
Two fine merino mattresses.
An assortment of the finest bed and other linen.
Many toilet requisites, among them a cake of Windsor soap.
A steel camp bedstead, still in position on the carriage, in the case made to hold it under the boot.
A uniform, sword, and cocked hat.
A rich and costly Imperial robe.
A handsome diamond head-dress, or tiara.
A pair of pistols, loaded, found in recesses at side of seats.
Many gold medals with Napoleon’s portrait and name engraved upon them.
An article devoid of intrinsic value, but nevertheless possessing an exceptional interest--namely, a musket-ball flattened out to the shape of a thin medal, found carefully put by in the secret drawer at the back of the desk; a missile, maybe, that ended the days of a friend, or one possibly that endangered Napoleon’s own life.
A considerable number of mounted and unmounted diamonds found secreted in various parts of the carriage, three hundred of these stones alone being discovered in the above-mentioned _nécessaire_.
[Illustration: NAPOLEON’S ATLAS]
[Illustration: RAZOR, TOOTH BRUSH AND GIMLET]
[Illustration: SILVER BOX
[Illustration: SPOON AND TABLE NAPKIN]
[Illustration: PARTS OF SILVER SERVICE]
[Illustration: SILVER BOX (TOP VIEW) AND TWO GOBLETS]
[Illustration: PARTS OF SILVER SERVICE]
The jewels and other articles easy of acquisition fell, for the most part, to the lot of Major von Keller’s men of the 15th Prussian Infantry Regiment of the Line, which was that night under the command of General Count Gneisenau.
The coach was drawn by a team of six of the finest brown Normandy horses, four driven by the coachman, the leaders under the control of a postilion.
When the coach was overtaken by the Prussians--that is to say, about a quarter-past eleven at night, outside the town of Jenappe--the postilion and the leaders were killed outright, whilst the coachman, severely wounded, was left for dead upon the road. Recovering from his many wounds--one of which entailed the loss of his right arm--he was induced by Major von Keller himself to come over to this country with the coach and horses. These were exhibited, as a very special attraction for the Christmas holidays of 1815, at the London Museum (then but recently opened by Mr. Bullock) in Piccadilly, a house of entertainment that was soon to be known to future generations as the Egyptian Hall.
And now for a century has this old war-coach been held up for the inspection of the passer-by, and, in its turn, has been the dumb witness of many a fleeting and touching episode. For as it stood have not time and men passed on? Has it not beheld many a young gallant, with the honours of the campaign fresh upon him, recounting to wife and child the story of that last great battle that closed the Empire of the first Napoleon; many a veteran son of Mars telling his grown sons how that great day was won; many a kindly warrior gently helping his children’s children to mount the steps and learn how on that day old “Boney” was made to fly, and nearly got caught in the act?
But those to whom the old coach must have brought back so many vivid memories of that famous victory, and who had the greatest right to enter it, have themselves moved on; and now its doors have been fastened up and the old chariot encased for secure keeping, not indeed against the ravages of time, but, with regret it must be said, safe away from the hands of those who would not scruple to despoil it.
The St. Helena carriage--Napoleon alarms the ladies--Certificates of authenticity.
[Illustration: NAPOLEON’S BAROUCHE
The carriage used by Bonaparte during his exile at St. Helena.]
This is the last carriage in which Napoleon is known to have ridden.
On his first arrival at St. Helena he took much exercise in the saddle, but during and after the year 1818, until he ceased venturing beyond the precincts of Longwood, he made constant use of this vehicle.
The following extract from Mr. Norwood Young’s very valuable contribution to our Napoleonic literature, _Napoleon in Exile at St. Helena_, gives us an insight to the manner in which it was used:
After the dictation and the reading, Napoleon, in the afternoon, generally went for a drive, one of the ladies, with Bertrand or Las Cases, being taken in the carriage. The two Archambauds at first used six horses, afterwards reduced to four, which they drove, as postilions, at a great pace. The round of the wood, done at high speed, was soon covered, and the course would then be repeated. Madame de Montholon declared that they went so fast that it was difficult to breathe. At this rate the wood was so often driven round that, in spite of the excitement of dodging the trees, there came a staleness in the sport. In the early days the outing would be varied by a visit to the Bertrands at Hutt’s Gate, and all the ladies became much alarmed as the vehicle dashed round the corners, with the terrible precipice on one side. It was indeed dangerous, for there were no barriers, and a little carelessness might have sent the whole party down the abyss. There is now in most places a low earth bank, a railing made of gas-pipes, and a plantation of flax at the edge, which at least conceals the danger.
When the Bertrands had moved from Hutt’s Gate the drives never went beyond the Longwood estate, which has a circuit of about four miles.
Who built the carriage and how it came to be transported to St. Helena, we know not. In type it is what was then--and for the matter of that is still--known as a “barouche.”
Yellow and green are the prevailing colours in which the body has been enamelled, the former predominating to a considerable extent.
Ponderously built throughout, as indeed were all travelling carriages of this period, the body is swung so that its full weight is cast upon the hind-wheels.
The under-carriage is strong and cumbersome, like that of the Waterloo carriage, standing by its side. Its heavy cee springs are overlaid by strong leather straps upon which the body is comfortably slung. The carriage is lined throughout with heavy green superfine cloth.
So far as its general appearance is concerned, it might well be designated as unexceptional. It has no mark or devices upon it to indicate that it constituted the equipage of a royal household, and the axle-caps have not even the maker’s name upon them.
The following quotations from an old Catalogue published at the time when the conveyance was first installed in our collection of Napoleonic relics remove any doubt as to its authenticity:
237. CARRIAGE used by the Emperor Napoleon, during six years of his exile at St. Helena, and the last he ever entered. Certified by the Counts Montholon and Las Cases. The following is the letter, with description, from Mr. Blofeld, of whom it was purchased:
“In accordance with your request I send you the following brief particulars of the carriage used by the Emperor Napoleon at St. Helena. I purchased it in 1848, at that island, of Major Charles Sampson, an officer who had lived highly respected there for more than fifty years, and who gave me the following certificate:
“‘Received from Mr. John Blofeld, for Bonaparte’s old carriage, the first used by him on the Island of St. Helena. (Here follows the mount paid.)--(MAJOR) C. SAMPSON.’
“In 1850 I went to Paris, where I showed it to General Count Montholon and Count Emanuel de las Cases; those gentlemen immediately recognised it, and both said they had frequently rode in it with the Emperor, and they most kindly gave me the following certificates, which, as you purchased the carriage, I enclose. General Montholon informed me that the Emperor always used it, drawn by four horses, ridden by two postilions, with the head of the carriage down.
“‘I hereby certify that the carriage shown to me at Paris by Mr. John Blofeld is the actual carriage used by the Emperor Napoleon at the Island of St. Helena.--(GENERAL) MONTHOLON.’
“‘I hereby certify that the carriage shown to me by Mr. John Blofeld, and purchased by him of Major C. Sampson, of St. Helena, is the actual carriage used by the Emperor Napoleon at that island.--EMANUEL DE LAS CASES.’
“I remain, Dear Sirs,
“Messrs. Joseph and Francis Tussaud,
“London, Jan. 8, 1851.”
[Illustration: THORWALDSEN’S CELEBRATED BUST OF THE GREAT NAPOLEON
One of the treasured possessions of Madame Tussaud’s.]
Father Mathew sits for his model--Tsar Nicholas I takes a fancy to Voltaire’s chair--A replica sent to him--The Rev. Peter McKenzie’s exorcism.
[Illustration: FATHER MATHEW, “THE NOBLE PRIEST OF CORK”
A great temperance leader whose striking resemblance to Napoleon I. caused an odd confusion in the Museum when in renovating the wax figures a servant put the head of Father Mathew on the shoulders of the deposed Emperor.]
One of the greatest of all temperance reformers was Father Mathew, “the Noble Priest of Cork,” who persuaded sixty thousand people in London alone to become teetotallers and to take a pledge to that effect. The apostle of temperance was induced to come to London in the early forties to give a series of lectures.
Some were delivered at Hall’s Riding School (now a motor garage) in Albany Street, opposite Holy Trinity Church and close to Great Portland Street Station, and Mr. Francis Tussaud (grandfather of the writer) modelled him in one of the rooms of that place. He was constantly interrupted during the sittings by people of all classes and creeds coming into take the pledge. Most of them insisted upon kneeling to receive Father Mathew’s blessing. They were probably actuated by respect for him, and also by the hope that the recollection of his blessing might strengthen their teetotal vows.
At the close of the sittings Father Mathew detached from his breast his temperance medal, which was attached to a ribbon round his neck, and handed it to the artist that it might be placed upon his model.
Father Mathew bore so striking a resemblance in face and figure to Napoleon I that the two were once oddly mistaken for each other by our own servants.
We had occasion to renovate the portraits of the soldier and the preacher. To do so it was necessary that the heads of both should be detached. The assistant who was responsible for taking the figures to pieces in this way mistook the one head for the other. The error was fortunately soon detected by Mr. Francis Tussaud, who had modelled both the heads, and he soon had the mistake rectified.
There are persons still living who remember Father Mathew. An old and respected neighbour, Francis Draper by name, is one of the youngest men of eighty-seven one could possibly meet. Although born in 1832, he still possesses a wonderfully clear memory.
In 1842, when Father Mathew paid his visit to London, Mr. Draper--then a boy of ten years--was introduced to him at the Riding School. In an anteroom upstairs, to which Father Mathew retired between the times when he administered the pledge, he saw an artist modelling his face in clay, which he was told was for Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition. He had an impression at the time that the artist was Francis, a son of Madame Tussaud, and his surmise was accurate, for it was Mr. Francis Tussaud who was executing the model.
For many years afterwards he saw “The Noble Priest of Cork” standing in a group in Madame Tussaud’s, with his medal suspended round his neck, and, he says, it was the best likeness of anyone in the rooms.
The assassination of Alexander II of Russia in March, 1881, recalls a quaint story of Voltaire’s chair, which stands in a corner of one of the Napoleon Rooms, not far removed from a collection of heads of leaders of the French Revolution.
[Illustration: VOLTAIRE’S CHAIR]
This chair is one of our most treasured relics. It was made to Voltaire’s own design, and is unlike any other chair we have ever seen.
After the _Entente Cordiale_ between France and England in the forties, the visit to Queen Victoria of Louis Philippe was promptly followed by the arrival in London, in 1844, of Alexander’s father, Nicholas I of Russia, who, during his stay, was conducted over the Exhibition by Madame Tussaud’s elder son, Joseph.
In the course of his tour round the galleries the Tsar’s attention was arrested by the great Frenchman’s wonderful chair. Being struck by its ingenious construction, he examined it very closely, and then, as so many persons have done, gave himself the pleasure of occupying the seat in which the famous satirist had spent many an industrious hour.
The chair was intended by Voltaire to facilitate his literary work, and, evidently taking account of his incessant labours, he had the arms extended without supports so that he could sit in any attitude and facing any direction, while a movable writing-slope was attached to be always within his reach.
So keen an interest did the Tsar take in the chair that we decided to make a replica and send it to him as a pleasant surprise. This was done, but no direct acknowledgment of the chair’s delivery was ever received.
Months afterwards, however, two cases--one containing a splendid gallery portrait of Nicholas and the other a beautiful statuette of the same monarch--arrived at the Exhibition. These presents were accepted as a recognition, in practical form, of the chair. They could not have signified an Imperial bid for a place in the Exhibition, for a most lifelike model of His Majesty was already there.
[Illustration: NICHOLAS I., EMPEROR OF RUSSIA
Gallery portrait by Bothmann presented to Madame Tussaud’s by the Tsar.]
Nearly forty years later, on the assassination of Nicholas’s son, Alexander--to which allusion has been made--there appeared in one of our leading English illustrated papers, which gave pages to the story of the assassination, a full double-page picture of the Imperial study at St. Petersburg, and, behold, therein stood the identical chair which we had sent to Nicholas I.
It is interesting to note that on Wednesday, the 20th of October, thirty-six years later, a number of Princesses came to the Exhibition; and among them was Princess Alix of Hesse, then a happy young girl of eight, and now mourned as the late Tsarina, who, as reported, shared with the Tsar and his family a terrible death at the hands of diabolical assassins during the recent Russian Revolution. Among the royal party which came on that day were our own Princesses Louise, Victoria, and Maud of Wales.
A great Wesleyan preacher and lecturer in his day was the Rev. Peter McKenzie, who died in November, 1895. He deserves a place in these memoirs on account of his characteristic and rather eccentric behaviour when he visited the Exhibition. In the course of his perambulation through the galleries he, like most of our patrons, found his way to the Napoleon Rooms, where Voltaire’s chair immediately arrested his attention.
Striking an indignant attitude in front of it, the Wesleyan preacher exclaimed, “And this belonged to the man that was going to pull down the edifice of Christianity and sweep the religion of Jesus Christ from the earth!” So saying, he planted himself in the chair and, with a triumphant wave of his hand, declaimed to the wondering visitors gathered round the following verse of a well-known hymn:
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun Doth his successive journeys run; His kingdom stretch from shore to shore, Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
Landseer and the Count d’Orsay visit the Exhibition--A fright--Norfolk farmer’s account of Queen Victoria’s visit.
About the year 1845 the celebrated Count d’Orsay, being, as usual, in a desperate state of impecuniosity, was absolutely afraid to venture out of Gore House (where now stands the Royal Albert Hall), except on Sunday, for fear of being arrested and imprisoned for debt.
It so happened that a portrait of one of the members of the Royal Family, painted by the Count, was just then in process of engraving, and it was necessary before the proofs could be struck off that d’Orsay himself should see and correct the work of the engraver. To do this the Count would be obliged to go to the engraver’s house, and that gentleman, being of a devout and Sabbatarian turn of mind, utterly refused to receive d’Orsay on Sunday.
Finding himself in this difficulty, the Count asked the advice of his friend, Sir Edwin Landseer.
“I should risk going on a weekday, if I were you,” said Sir Edwin. “Wrap yourself up carefully, come and have breakfast with me in St. John’s Wood Road, and then we will go together to the engraver.”
This they accordingly did, and, greatly to Landseer’s relief, the Count passed through the streets unrecognised.
Not content, however, with escaping thus far, d’Orsay found his freedom so delightful that he became reckless, and did not seem at all disposed to return in any haste to his captivity.
“It is so long since I have seen London on any day but Sunday, I will enjoy myself now,” said he. “Can’t we go to some place of amusement together?”
[Illustration: SIR EDWIN LANDSEER, R. A.
Celebrated animal painter, though best known for his paintings of dogs, his work was very varied and included the modeling of the celebrated lions at the foot of the Nelson Monument in Trafalgar Square.]
Landseer suggested Madame Tussaud’s, an Exhibition which d’Orsay had never before seen; and to Baker Street they went. The Count, charmed with the novelty of the wax figures, was childishly delighted with all he saw, until a moment when he became conscious that his footsteps were being dogged by two suspicious-looking individuals.
“Do you see those men?” said d’Orsay. “They never take their eyes from me.”
“Yes, I see them,” answered Landseer, who had really noticed them for some time, but thought it wiser not to say anything on the subject to his friend. “Let us go into the Chamber of Horrors.”
Accordingly they paid their extra sixpences and entered the mysterious inner room. The two men followed them. Landseer gave up his friend for lost. After a few moments of suspense one of the two men advanced towards d’Orsay, hat in hand, and, making an elaborate bow, said:
“Have I the honour of speaking to M. le Comte d’Orsay?”
No escape seemed possible now, so the Count drew himself up and answered with much dignity:
“Sir, I am he.”
“Then, if M. le Comte will be so very kind as to allow me, Madame Tussaud presents her compliments, and she will be greatly honoured if M. le Comte will give her some sittings and will permit us to add his illustrious figure to those already in our establishment.”
Finding that all his anxieties were at an end, d’Orsay forgot his dignity in a moment, almost embracing the man in his sudden joy, and exclaiming, with his accents of broken English:
“My dear fellow, you shall do what you like.”
The handsome face and distinguished figure of the Count were, of course, sufficiently remarkable to attract attention anywhere, and Madame Tussaud had too keen an eye for business ever to let slip so excellent an opportunity.
This may be regarded as an interesting reminiscence of the old rooms in Baker Street and the people who used to frequent them three-quarters of a century ago.
Although we know that Queen Victoria came to visit the Exhibition in Baker Street as Princess Victoria, there is no direct evidence that she ever came as Queen.
There is, however, a story that on one occasion Her Majesty paid a private visit with her children. When it is remembered that the Cattle Show used to be held in the rooms underneath the Exhibition, and that Her Majesty used to pay it at least one annual visit in those days, it is quite reasonable to suppose that the Queen would take an opportunity of going upstairs.
The story goes that seventy years ago, a fortnight after an auctioneer had murdered Mr. Jermy, Recorder of Norwich, and his family, at Stanfield Hall, near Wymondham, a Norfolk farmer came to London for the Cattle Show, and was an unconscious interviewer of Queen Victoria in the Exhibition.
I will give the narrative in his own words, being unable to vouch for its authenticity.
“After,” said the farmer, “I had been to the show and carefully examined the different animals, and given my meed of praise to the breeders and their feeders, I thought I would devote a spare hour to Madame Tussaud’s celebrated Exhibition. Accordingly I presented myself at the door, and paid my money.
“On entering, I was surprised to find that I was the only spectator. Undisturbed for some time, I wandered about, looking with astonishment at the waxen effigies, habited in their gorgeous apparel.
“In a few minutes some ladies and children arrived, and, standing near to one of the former I said, ‘What ugly, grim-looking people some of those kings and queens are!’ The lady smiled and answered, ‘I perfectly agree with you; they are!’
“My attention was soon arrested by hearing one of the party, pointing to a figure, mention Lord Nelson, when, proud of having been born in the same county as the illustrious sailor, I could not help exclaiming, ‘Ah, he was from my neighbourhood!’ Upon which one of the ladies, advancing, said to me, ‘Then you are from Norfolk? Pray can you tell me anything about poor Mrs. Jermy with whose melancholy fate I so deeply sympathise? Have you any information different from that which has appeared in the public papers?’
“To this I replied, ‘No, madam, for I have been some days from home.’
“Scarcely had this conversation ended when Madame Tussaud herself entered, and seeing me there asked me how I got in, and if I did not know she had forbidden the entrance of anyone. I replied I did not; but, having paid my money had walked in as a matter of course.
“Judge of my surprise when she informed me I had had the honour of speaking to no other than our good and gracious Queen, and that the lady whose tender anxiety had been so warmly expressed for the injured widow of Stanfield Hall was the same illustrious person whose exalted rank does not, however, so elevate her but that the misfortunes and afflictions of others can reach her heart and excite her generous commiseration.
“The party who accompanied Her Majesty were the royal children and their attendants.”
Wellington visits the effigy of the dead Napoleon, and sits to Sir George Hayter for historic picture--Paintings from models--Is the photograph “taken from life,” or----?
Wellington gazing upon the effigy of Napoleon is one of the many instances of a really fine picture being produced from an original work executed in our studios. Upon it hangs an interesting story.
[Illustration: WELLINGTON VISITING THE EFFIGY OF NAPOLEON
From the celebrated picture by Sir George Hayter.]
Early one morning, soon after the Exhibition had been opened for the day, Joseph, Madame Tussaud’s son, who had been wandering through the rooms, as was his habit, perceived an elderly gentleman in front of the tableau representing the lying-in-state of Napoleon I.
The model of the dead exile rested--as it does down to this very day--on the camp bedstead used by Napoleon at St. Helena, and was dressed in the favourite green uniform, the cloak worn at Marengo (bequeathed by Napoleon to his son) lying across the feet. In the hands, crossed upon the chest, was a crucifix. In those days it was the custom to lower at night the curtains that enclosed the bed, in order to exclude the dust, whereas now the whole scene is encased in glass.
Observing that the visitor was desirous of seeing the effigy, and no attendant being at hand, Joseph Tussaud raised the hangings, whereupon the visitor removed his hat, and, to his great surprise, Joseph saw that he was face to face with none other than the great Duke of Wellington himself.
There stood his Grace, contemplating with feelings of mixed emotions the strange and suggestive scene before him.
On the camp bed lay the mere presentment of the man who, seven-and-thirty years before, had given him so much trouble to subdue.
No feeling of triumph passed through the conqueror’s mind as he looked upon the poor waxen image, too true in its aspect of death; he rather thought upon the vanity of earthly triumphs, of the levelling hand of time, and how soon he, like his great contemporary, might be stretched upon his own bier.
Mr. Joseph Tussaud used frequently to recall this dramatic meeting between the Iron Duke and the effigy of his erstwhile foe, and to imagine the feelings of the old General as he gazed upon the couch. It was probably the first of the Duke’s many visits to the Exhibition.
A few days after this most interesting visit Mr. Tussaud, who was an old friend of Sir George Hayter, related the incident to that artist.
Hayter was immediately struck with the potential value of the event for the production of a painting of the historic scene, and the Tussaud brothers at once commissioned him to execute the work for them.
[Illustration: SIR GEORGE HAYTER
Whose painting of Wellington visiting the effigy of Napoleon is now on exhibition in the Napoleon rooms at Madame Tussaud’s.]
Sir George thereupon communicated the idea to the Duke, who readily responded, and offered to give the necessary sittings. We have the sketches made by Hayter in preparation for the work, and among them appears a drawing of Joseph Tussaud himself, although he does not enter the actual picture.
Hearing that the artist was making progress with the painting, the Duke visited his studio, and, having expressed himself warmly in appreciation of the picture (the figures had been but lightly limned in at the time), said:
“Well, I suppose you’ll want me to sit for my picture here?”
Hayter has given us a most characteristic portrait of Wellington as he then appeared. He is dressed in his usual blue frock-coat, white trousers, and white cravat, fastened with the familiar steel buckle. He stoops a little as was his wont, his head is lightly covered with snow-white hair, and his manly features are marked with an expression of mingled curiosity and sadness as, hat in hand, he looks upon the recumbent Napoleon. The picture was completed early in December, 1852, and has been on view in the Napoleon Rooms at the Exhibition ever since.
The engravings of the picture have been circulated in thousands throughout the world, and, strange to say, they are exceedingly popular in Austria. It is an interesting fact that the painting in question was the last portrait for which the Duke ever sat.
This story brings to mind several instances in which the members of the Tussaud family, especially in days gone by, have produced subjects for other artists to paint from. For example, the model of Marat stabbed in his bath--which has been shown in our Exhibition ever since it existed in Paris--was modelled expressly to assist the famous David to paint his picture representing the death of the miscreant.
Strange to say, a replica of this painting was offered to us a year or so ago, and the dealer who submitted it insisted that it was the picture from which our model was copied. He looked wofully incredulous when it was explained to him that the boot was on the other foot, and that the picture had been copied from the model.
On one occasion, in a newsagent’s shop, a lady customer asked for a picture postcard of King Edward. Several were shown to her, but after inspecting them she pushed all the direct photographs on one side, and selected the print of a figure that had been modelled. The shopkeeper subsequently stated that this card was almost invariably chosen in preference to others.
In recent years there has grown a curious disposition on the part of certain publishers to exploit for their own purposes work produced in our studios. This is not to be wondered at when photographs of our models have been so often mistaken for portraits taken direct from life.
We have ourselves on many occasions photographed our likenesses for reproduction by the Press; and, apart from this, newspaper representatives, times out of number, have requested permission to take a photograph of figures in the Exhibition for the use of their own journal.
There is also the inevitable snapshotter, who neither asks permission nor cares whether it is granted or not. Such individuals seize an opportunity when few persons are about and take an illicit “negative” without risking a verbal one. The result has been that the photographs thus secured--all subject to copyright fees never collected--have been made use of for all kinds of purposes; they have turned up as blocks in newspapers and magazines, illustrations in books, and portrait postcards, besides being treasured in albums and framed as pictures.
Only very occasionally has a statement accompanied publication acknowledging the source from which the picture has originated--a circumstance that has more than once led to a curious and, so far as the artist is concerned, a somewhat vexatious contretemps.
It has so happened that we have had sometimes to send a member of our staff in quest of all the latest photographs of a favourite celebrity whose figure we have desired to remodel and bring up to date. Not infrequently has he brought back with him “photographs” purporting to have been taken from life, but which have been instantly recognised as reproductions of figures in the Exhibition.
A droll incident once occurred illustrative of this strange situation.
Many years ago, when Mr. Joseph Tussaud, under pressure of time and with very meagre material to go upon, produced a portrait of the late Pope Leo XIII directly after he was elevated to the papal chair, a certain well-known firm of photographers were at their wits’ end to obtain a portrait of the new Pontiff, and the novel idea suggested itself to them of arranging to borrow for a short time Madame Tussaud’s model, and therefrom obtain an original negative that might fulfil their requirements. This they accordingly did, and the object was achieved with remarkable success, for the portrait challenged detection. So lifelike was the picture that when it was placed upon the market beholders concluded that the Pope had sat for it.
Another firm of photographers, some time afterwards, and at great trouble and expense, succeeded in obtaining sittings from the Pope himself.
When the portrait taken from life appeared, and was compared with the photographs from the model, very grave doubt was raised as to whether the new portrait was really a good likeness, and many persons questioned its genuineness, much to the chagrin of the photographers who produced it.
The story of Colour-Sergeant Bates’s march through England to prove Anglo-American goodwill--Start from Gretna--The dove of peace.
An ephemeral celebrity of a bygone day, who fittingly comes into the picture at the present time--for we are still dealing with events that happened in the seventies--was Colour-Sergeant Gilbert H. Bates, of the 24th Massachusetts (U. S. Artillery) Regiment.
[Illustration: COLOR-SERGEANT GILBERT H. BATES OF THE 24TH MASSACHUSETTS (U. S. ARTILLERY) REGIMENT
His famous pilgrimage, in November, 1872, from Gretna Green to London, bearing aloft a large American flag, brought forth striking testimony to the undercurrent of cordiality in England for all things American. Photographed from the wax model at Madame Tussaud’s.]
This gallant soldier of the Federal Army, after carrying the Star-spangled Banner through the Southern States of America to prove that the war had not killed the respect felt for the national flag, crossed the Atlantic, in fulfilment of a wager, and bore the Stars and Stripes from Gretna Green to London, amid most enthusiastic scenes, demonstrating that Bates was right when he insisted that John Bull and Uncle Sam were the best of friends at heart.
Mr. Joseph Tussaud modelled a portrait of the sergeant, who had an honoured place in the Exhibition for several years.
Bates was a patriotic American who had a firm belief in the friendship of the English people for their American brethren.
For 1,500 miles through States whose streets had been stained with the blood of civil carnage he had marched with the national flag to the strains of patriotic music, an eloquent tribute to his countrymen’s deep-rooted love of peace. His passage was a triumphant success, and the exploit is handed down to posterity in Captain Mayne Reid’s stirring poem “From Vicksburg to the Sea,” the first of its five verses being:
Bear on the banner, soldier bold! How Southern hearts must thrill To see the flag, so loved of all, Waving above them still! What chords ’twill touch, what echoes wake, Of that far truer time! Who knows but it the spell may break That maddened them to crime.
This was remotely the origin of Bates’s English expedition. Calumny was rife in the States. No theme had been so often discussed for the two years then past as that of the feeling of John Bull towards Uncle Sam. The malicious craft of certain politicians had led them to foster elements of hatred towards the Old Country, and a corrupt section of the Press had lent itself to the unworthy task of exaggerating trifles and distorting facts to suit the fancies of gullible readers.
It was in the course of one such discussion as to the feeling of the English towards Americans that this lover of concord was led to make a wager of 100 dollars against 1,000 dollars that the people of England would not insult the flag of America, but would welcome it heartily wherever it should be borne by an American soldier. Not a few of his compatriots were incredulous of his success, and they predicted that he would miserably fail; while one said, “I bet he don’t travel twelve miles before he sets face homeward and leaves his bean-pole in the custody of some parish beadle.”
The gallant sergeant was determined and confident, however, and, taking passage in the Anchor liner _Europa_, he crossed the Atlantic.
Bates was a small but well-built man, 5 feet 7½ inches in height, square-shouldered and square-headed, clean shaven, with clear grey eyes, dark hair, and swarthy skin. His age was thirty-four, and he wore the uniform of a sergeant of the Federal Army. He is described as modest, intelligent, well-informed, and a very good specimen of the unassuming, matter-of-fact, and practical Yankee.
The flag he carried was from a piece of army bunting from the headquarters of General Sheridan. It was of regulation size, 6 feet by 6½ feet, and the hickory staff measured 9 feet. Before he left he was assured by a Member of Parliament in Chicago that as the Americans had honoured the English Prince when he visited that country, the English people, in return, would honour the American “prince”--which was their flag. And so it turned out.
On the 5th of November, 1872--Guy Fawkes Day and the anniversary of the Battle of Inkerman--Sergeant Bates left Edinburgh for Gretna Green, that romantic spot at the southern extremity of Scotland. It was with difficulty that he managed to leave the northern city without unfurling the flag, as his Scottish friends felt that they should have an opportunity of testifying their good feelings to the banner which waved over so many of their kindred in homes beyond the Atlantic. But his mission had been planned, and he had decided to begin his march from the border of England itself.
With no quiver of fear and with a heart full of gladness, he stood upon Sark Bridge and, uncovering his head, gave the Star-spangled Banner to the breeze. A few merry rustics greeted him with cheers, and the historic march was begun. The country before him was England, the mother-country, the home of the English language, the freest and most peaceful country in Europe.
He reached Carlisle that evening without anything more important happening than a rigid cross-examination by an excited old woman as to whether he was heralding a Fenian invasion, and an anxious inquiry from a little boy as to when the circus would arrive.
At the Bush Hotel at Carlisle a party of commercial travellers gave him a right hearty British welcome, and this henceforth became the order of the day at whatever town or village he put in an appearance. News of his coming preceded him, and his progress was one continuous ovation, culminating in a veritable furore when he reached his journey’s end.
Through Penrith and Shap, where he was cheered by the miners, who had sent men from the quarries to watch for his approach, he made his way to Kendal, where, at a dinner given in his honour, he announced that he had written to cancel the wager he had made. He did this in token of the purity of his motives, and to prove that he was not actuated by mercenary considerations.
From Kendal he proceeded to Lancaster, which city he entered followed by an enormous crowd, a similar concourse escorting him to the outskirts on his departure.
Garstang, between Lancaster and Preston, at that time enjoyed the peculiar distinction of having a Mayor and capital burgesses without its having been constituted a borough. Here he was entertained at a sumptuous repast, and the streets were full of people, the church scholars, drawn up in line, cheering the flag and its bearer as they passed.
The streets of Preston were lined with spectators; at Chorley cheers were given for the Queen and President Grant; and at Bolton the flag-bearer was presented with a pair of clogs, and given a live turtle-dove to take back with him to the American President.
He was almost carried by an eager, applauding crowd along Bradshawgate on his way to Manchester, and the _Bolton Evening News_ of the 14th of November, 1872, records that “there was more hand-shaking than we have ever seen bestowed on any person. Far from insult, every respect was shown to the flag of the great Republic, and,” the newspaper facetiously adds, “if the bearer is rewarded all along his journey as he was at Farnworth, his pockets will be filled with the metal that makes the mare to go.”
Sergeant Bates’s journey finishes in London amid a remarkable demonstration--His gift to Madame Tussaud’s.
In this chapter we conclude the story of the gallant sergeant’s historic march with the American flag from Gretna Green to London.
At Bolton he was presented with a piece of silver-plate, and a pedestrian gave him a pocket-knife; but this gift was followed immediately afterwards by a letter in which the writer said that as the giving of a sharp instrument was regarded as a bad omen and portended to cut friendship, he asked Sergeant Bates to forward a penny stamp in the enclosed envelope in order that the knife might be _sold_ and not given. The penny stamp was sent.
Five miles from Cottonopolis Bates was met by a man who had been a lieutenant in the 24th Massachusetts Volunteers during the Civil War, who took off his hat and said, “God bless our flag.” Manchester was reached on the 14th of November, and here the flag had an immense reception, the crowd in Market Street being so dense that the open carriage which the sergeant was obliged to enter could scarcely make headway.
Lodged at the Royal Hotel, he was presented with a Union Jack, and was pestered by several enterprising showmen, one of whom offered him as much as £60 a night for five weeks if he would only consent to lend himself and the flag; but this he resolutely declined to do.
From Manchester to Macclesfield he met with a repetition of the same hearty ovations. The crowd kept slapping him on the shoulders, shaking hands, slipping money into his pockets, hurrahing, singing, and even dancing with joy before the glorious old flag.
At Macclesfield he was treated like a prince, royally entertained, and presented with a gold breast-pin by the Mayor. Through Congleton, Burslem, Stafford, Wolverhampton, and so on to Birmingham, the march was like that of a triumphant warrior, the crowds at Bates’s heels, marshalled in military order, tramping along singing the national melodies of the two countries, “Rule Britannia” and “Yankee Doodle” being the favourite airs.
At West Bromwich, where the flag-bearer stood for a moment to salute the Union Jack, a man rushed out and crowned his flagstaff with laurel. He entered Birmingham escorted by a crowd of all classes, both sexes and all ages, and the proprietor of the “Hen and Chickens” Hotel placed the house, the wine-cellar, and even his cash-drawer at his guest’s disposal.
The crowd from Birmingham followed him for some miles out of the town. There was a vast amount of hand-shaking, and several women insisted on embracing him, one old lady hugging him so unmercifully that she, he, and the flag were nearly sent sprawling in the mud.
One workman, bareheaded and without his coat, headed the procession in a perfect frenzy of excitement, and shook hand with Bates about every five minutes. It appeared that he had served on the _Alabama_, and seemed to think that he was atoning for past transgression and ridding himself of the stigma of having fought against the Union.
Warwick was visited, and the castle inspected. The sergeant was shown over Shakespeare’s birthplace at Stratford-on-Avon by a Mrs. Hathaway and a lady aptly quoted to him the line:
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace.
At Leamington he was presented with an address and a silver Maltese Cross. Southam and Banbury were passed through, and then he came to Oxford, where, it had been predicted, his mission would fail ignominiously.
But he was met by students from New College, who treated him with great gentlemanliness, one observing:
“Sergeant, you surely never expected that the people of England would fall upon one man, did you?”
“No,” replied Bates drawing himself up. “I have come through England not only believing that my flag would not be insulted, but feeling sure that Englishmen would show it such respect everywhere that my countrymen would hail my coming as a step full of joyful hope for the future.”
“Bravo!” exclaimed the undergraduate.
Invitations poured in upon the happy soldier. He supped in University College and breakfasted in Trinity.
At a levee in the reception-room at the “Roebuck” the toast was given, “May the stars never shine with less lustre, nor the bars ever grow shorter,” which was received with musical honours:
It’s a way they have in the Army, It’s a way they have in the Navy, It’s a way we have in the ’Varsity To drive dull care away.
On through High Wycombe and Uxbridge passed the soldier with his flag, and the crowd was great as he set out for Shepherd’s Bush, whence he was to proceed through London.
There were incidents humorous and pathetic.
At one place an aged woman tottered up to him from a wayside house and, leaning on her stick, said:
“Let me touch the flag and give my blessing to the bearer. My youngest boy fought for that flag and died for it in your country. He fell with that flag in his hand.”
Her son, an Englishman, had given his life fighting for the Union.
At another place a grimy sweep, fresh from a job, embraced the American most affectionately.
Bates’s quarters at Shepherd’s Bush were at the “Telegraph,” and during the Friday evening the hotel was in a state of siege. Sir John Bennett, an ex-Sheriff of the City of London, had offered to lend the soldier a carriage; but it was ultimately decided to use an open equipage drawn by a pair of greys, one of them mounted by a postilion.
The daily papers of the 2nd of December, 1872, give a full account of the proceedings. Seated in the carriage was Sergeant Bates, holding his beloved flag, while two other flags, the Union Jack and the Star-spangled Banner, trailed behind, the horses’ trappings being decorated with international symbols.
Up Notting Hill, along Bayswater Road, and through Oxford Street passed the carriage, surrounded and followed by a huge and demonstrative crowd.
In Bond Street the horses were taken out, and the carriage was dragged by some twenty-five persons along St. James’s Street, Pall Mall, by Charing Cross, and through the Strand and Fleet Street, up Ludgate Hill, and along Cheapside, to the Guildhall.
A dense mass of people had congregated in the Guildhall yard, where a British sergeant was carrying the English standard. The scene beggared description. The Guildhall itself was full to overflowing, and having alighted, Bates had perforce to be lifted on shoulders and hoisted, flag and all, back into the carriage, from which place of vantage he made a speech before refurling his banner.
He was delighted with his reception in the heart of the great Metropolis, and never forgot the sea of faces, the endless crowds, the fluttering flags, the waving handkerchiefs, the cheers, and the kindly greeting of that memorable day. His hand seemed to have been wrung into pulp, and he was struck with the phrasing of the oft-repeated salutation, “Give us your hand, old pal.”
Cabmen had little American flags mounted on their vehicles or pinned to their horses’ heads, ladies had the Stars and Stripes for carriage-aprons, and children waved toy flags.
Sergeant Bates was somewhat annoyed by relic hunters, who, could they have had their way, would soon have whittled his flagstaff into imperceptible pieces and riven the banner into a thousand shreds.
He gave a piece of flag and his boots to Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition as a small offering to those of the British public “who,” as he quaintly remarked, “worship such things, and who find at Madame Tussaud’s perhaps the best field for the satisfaction of their curiosity.”
Writing from the Langham Hotel, where he was staying, he observed that Madame Tussaud’s had previously voted him a niche among the immortal heroes who adorned their Exhibition, a mark of honour for which he was told he ought to feel no small pride.
And what had Sergeant Bates accomplished? He claimed to have succeeded in bringing the two great nations’ hearts near to each other, till they seemed to beat in unison, and the pulsation of the one was for a while that of the other.
“God grant,” he said, “that work so begun may not willingly be laid down.”
Although he was called at one and the same time “a hare-brained visionary,” “a patriot,” “a fool,” “a man of courage,” and “a remarkably shrewd, thoughtful individual,” there can be no doubt that he did at least something to promote international amity, and to cement the feeling of warm friendship which was found to exist in this country towards her daughter America.
The continuation of that tie has been, and is still being, abundantly manifested ever since the United States joined the Allies in their recent determined fight for freedom; and there are thousands who echo Sergeant Bates’s words:
“May the flags of both countries ever wave in freedom and peace till that ‘far truer time’ when there shall be but one flag, because but one people on the face of the earth!”
My first model--Beaconsfield’s curl--Gladstone’s collar--John Bright and the Chinaman.
We now come to a period when I may well speak of my own personal knowledge concerning men and events in association with Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition.
The year 1872 was remarkable for several noteworthy events. Two or three, in addition to the National Thanksgiving Day for the recovery of the Prince of Wales from serious illness, vividly recur to memory. Among them was the assassination of the Earl of Mayo, Viceroy of India, who was stabbed by a convict while inspecting the settlement at Port Blair on the Andaman Islands.
The models of the Prince of Wales and the murdered Viceroy were introduced to the Exhibition within a few days of each other, and the sympathetic public responded in great numbers.
A startling and remarkable tribute to the Viceroy’s portrait was “unconsciously” paid when the Earl’s housekeeper fainted on suddenly finding herself in the presence of the model of her late master.
The first portrait I was entrusted with, as my father’s understudy, was that of Prince Milan of Serbia, the memory of whom has long since passed into oblivion, like that of many others whose stay has been brief among the figures. This was followed by a head of perennial interest, that of Benjamin Disraeli, which I was called upon to remodel on several occasions in after years. Clearly do I recall his characteristic features, so marvellously grasped by Tenniel, whose cartoons in _Punch_ I never tired of studying.
It will be remembered that one of the marked peculiarities of Disraeli’s general appearance was the famous curl he wore upon his forehead. Of that circumstance I am at this moment somewhat forcibly reminded by a letter disclosing the remarkable fact that the curl is still in existence, almost forty years after the great statesman has passed away. Here is an extract from the letter offering the forelock to us as a relic:
_Obersley, Near Droitwich, Worcester, March 7, 1918._
My aunt, Miss Louise Hennet, nursed Lord Beaconsfield during his last illness, and the two locks (one the celebrated curl) were given to her. She was sent to nurse him from the nursing institution of St. John the Divine. The hair is enclosed in paper, which is endorsed in Miss Hennet’s writing, and this can be identified.
The letter is duly signed.
It may be easily understood that the modelling of the features of celebrated people stamps the memory of the artist with a deep and abiding impression. I had but shortly seen my father produce a very striking portrait of Marshal Bazaine, solely remembered now for his dramatic surrender at Metz on the 27th of October, 1870.
A small knot of interested people attracted my attention towards a stout, elderly man of military bearing as he was leaving Mr. Adams-Acton’s studios in Salisbury Place, Regent’s Park. I was astonished to recognise in him the living counterpart of the before-mentioned model.
It was Marshal Bazaine himself, who had but recently escaped from the fortress of Ile Ste. Marguerite, near Cannes. I was much struck by the fact that the ill-starred soldier of the Second Empire looked in no way dejected, despite the disaster that had befallen his reputation.
I am often asked what are the qualifications people must possess for a place in Madame Tussaud’s. I can give no better answer than that the public shall demand to see them, for should the portraits of such people be omitted they are invariably inquired for by disappointed visitors.
It is astonishing how great a hold must be taken of the public mind by candidates for inclusion in Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition before their election to our house would be welcomed by our patrons.
Of course, we are now associating our minds only with reputable society. As regards the Chamber of Horrors--of which I shall have something to say when the time comes--I may here remark that it is the notorious characters solely who seem to have a prescriptive right to enter that abode of gloom, which used to be called in the old days the “Dead Room,” hardly so telling a title as the “Chamber of Horrors,” for which, by the way, we are indebted to our dear old friend “Mr. Punch.”
As to those people who retain a permanent place in the Exhibition, I suppose the secret is that, either by the example of their lives or through the medium of their works, they have deeply touched the heart or stirred the imagination of the people.
I suppose the British public never looked on two such political gladiators as Beaconsfield and Gladstone, and while these two statesmen dominated people’s minds it was natural that they should both have a pedestal at Madame Tussaud’s. I can neither say who was first to appear in the Exhibition, nor prophesy who will be the last to go. They are both there now, and still attract much notice from persons of all shades of political opinion.
So often had these figures to be remodelled, to keep pace with the changes worked by time and the strenuous nature of their public service, that there must now repose, carefully stowed away in our “catacombs,” impressions of their features sufficient to cover the whole gamut of their political careers.
For more than a generation the Beaconsfield curl and the Gladstone collar exercised a subtle influence in the political world, mainly through the cartoons and caricatures of John Tenniel and Harry Furniss.
One has to be meticulously careful with regard to important details such as these; and when Mr. Gladstone’s figure had to be remodelled in later years, it was thought advisable, in order to be quite correct, that a collar actually belonging to the “G. O. M.” should be inspected.
Mr. Gladstone was living at Carlton House Terrace at the time the new portrait was in progress; and our “Master of the Robes,” who was responsible for the accuracy of detail respecting all Exhibition costumes, called there, and, on examining the statesman’s collars, was surprised to find that they were of quite normal size, and not so high as the caricaturist represented them to be.
As a matter of fact, the collars were made to fit loosely round the neck, and thus allowed the wearer’s chin to sink behind their upstanding ends. It is gratifying to record that permission to view her husband’s collars was graciously given to our representative by Mrs. Gladstone herself.
On a certain occasion when Mr. Gladstone had been notified that Mr. Harry Furniss, the originator of the big collar, would be at a dinner to which he himself was invited, the Liberal leader purposely wore a collar of more than usually modest dimensions, possibly as a gentle rebuke to his caricaturist.
[Illustration: JOHN BRIGHT
Anti-Corn Law leader, whose model stands near that of Richard Cobden in the Exhibition.]
[Illustration: RICHARD COBDEN
English statesman and political economist.]
The model which approached nearest to these in popularity at the time was that of John Bright, the great Anti-Corn Law Leaguer and apostle of Free Trade. His portrait has long since stood beside that of Richard Cobden, and these two inseparable reformers must remain together for good, as they laboured together in their lives.
It was on one of the occasions when Bright’s likeness had been brought up to date that an incident, rather flattering to the modeller, occurred in the House of Commons.
An influential Chinaman, on being shown the sights of London, was taken to the Houses of Parliament, where he happened to notice a prominent member passing through one of the lobbies. Without ceremony the Chinaman pounced upon John Bright, and shook him heartily by the hand. The genial statesman was highly amused at the spontaneous greeting, and inquired how it was the Chinaman knew him.
“Oh,” he replied, “I knew you at once. I have just come from seeing you at Madame Tussaud’s.”
The Tichborne “Claimant”--Nearly an explosion--The big man’s clothes--The real heir--The Claimant’s release from prison--Confession and death.
I can hardly allow this period to pass without making some reference to the fact that from 1872 till 1874--when he was sentenced, on the 28th of February, to fourteen years’ penal servitude--the name of the “Claimant” to the Tichborne baronetcy and estates was on every lip, and it seems to me that no trial in my time has ever engrossed public attention to such a degree.
[Illustration: THE TICHBORNE “CLAIMANT”
Central figure in a famous perjury trial in England. An impression was made of him before his conviction to penal servitude and another model was made eleven years later on his return.]
People flocked to see the Claimant’s portrait when it was added to the collection, and perhaps that was the first time one saw queues assembled outside the doors of Madame Tussaud’s.
The various incidents of this historic case absorbed my youthful attention, and I recall how, at his house in Kentish Town, the Claimant submitted to the ordeal of having an impression taken of his hands to show the curly thumbs and a scar on his wrist which formed subjects of comment in the courts.
I was struck by the Claimant’s enormous size, which yet did not seem to hinder his movements, for the agility of the bulky man was indeed extraordinary; and equally surprising were the acuteness of his mind and the suavity of his manner.
To save him the inconvenience of fulfilling appointments in the Exhibition studios, my father had a special gas-light fixed at the Claimant’s house that sittings might be taken in the evenings.
This device, curiously enough, once put the life of the Claimant in jeopardy. An old gasfitter in our employment, named Dallender, who had done some stage work, introduced an apparatus such as was used in the theatres. Something went wrong with the manipulation of the arrangements, and the room became charged with gas. A servant was about to enter the apartment with a light, when the Claimant himself stopped her on noticing the strong smell. But for this fact the famous Tichborne trial might have had a sudden and tragic termination.
The Claimant showed certain qualities which hardly tallied with the character of the “uneducated butcher” he was declared to be. Proof that he had some refinement of feeling--or was he merely actuated by that vanity frequently found among men of his class?--may be inferred from an incident that greatly impressed my father.
The Claimant had promised that he would provide a fresh suit of clothes for his model in the Exhibition, and, in fulfilment of his promise, after the sentence had been passed upon him, he beckoned from the table at which he was seated in court to an attendant, and handed him the suit of clothes, saying:
“Please see to these being delivered at Madame Tussaud’s, as they are expected there.”
This fact strikes one as being remarkable, having regard to the anxiety of mind he must undoubtedly have suffered at the close of the trial.
It was a curious coincidence that I revisited my old college at Ramsgate about this time, and there had pointed out to me, among the students, the young heir to the Tichborne estates, whose title had been made clear by the conviction of the Claimant for perjury.
The students were on their way to the refectory, and the youthful heir appeared more concerned over the prospect of a good dinner than the result of the case upon which his future depended.
Stories of the Claimant were countless as he strode like a Colossus through the country in the long interval between his civil case and the criminal trial that succeeded it.
He was mobbed by sympathisers everywhere, and men and women shook hands with him, as if it bestowed a distinction on themselves. There was one amusing story at the time of a wealthy Yorkshire manufacturer whose wife said to him when they entertained the Claimant to dinner:
“John, how we are slithering into Society!”
After he had served eleven years’ imprisonment, his sentence having been reduced through good conduct, the Claimant came to the Exhibition to learn if he could be of any further service to us, or we to him. His ponderous bulk was so much reduced by prison fare that we should not have known him. He said he was none the worse for the period of enforced “banting,” which reduced his weight without injuring his health.
The Claimant gave me several sittings at this time, and a new model was substituted for the old one. He spoke freely of his prison experiences, and said:
“It was not easy to be philosophical when set to tease oakum, but eventually I bowed to my fate cheerfully enough. It is some consolation to know that thousands still believe in the justice of my claim to the Tichborne estates.”
Notwithstanding this, the Claimant published in a Sunday newspaper his signed confession, which he is said to have afterwards recanted.
He survived his liberation from prison fourteen years, and, gradually sinking into poverty, died in obscure lodgings in Marylebone, not far from the Exhibition, on the 2nd of April, 1898. The name engraved on his coffin was “Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne,” thus maintaining his claim to the very last.
H. M. Stanley sits to Joseph Tussaud--The story of his life--How he found Livingstone--A mysterious veiled lady--The Prince Imperial.
In 1873 the nation was saddened by the death at Ilala of Dr. Livingstone, the great missionary-explorer, who, some time before, had disappeared in the trackless wastes of Central Africa while preaching the gospel to savages and making surveys of the great continent. The name of Livingstone will always be bracketed with that of H. M. Stanley, who, as the emissary of the _New York Herald_, “discovered” him.
[Illustration: DAVID LIVINGSTONE
Missionary and African Explorer, whose model is in the Tussaud collection.]
When my father wrote to Stanley asking for a sitting, he replied that he was too heavily engaged at the time writing his book _How I Found Livingstone_, and he proposed that the artist should call and make a study of him at his desk. This he did, with the happy result that he produced a very striking portrait.
The story of Stanley’s life is a romance in itself.
Born of poor parents at Denbigh, in Wales, about 1840, he at first bore the name of John Rowlands. When about fifteen years of age he worked his way as a cabin boy to New Orleans, where he was employed by a merchant, name Stanley, whose name he assumed.
He served in the Confederate Army, contributed to several journals, and in the year 1867 began his connection with the _New York Herald_. As its special correspondent he accompanied Lord Napier’s Abyssinian Expedition, and the first news of the fall of Magdala was conveyed to this country by his paper. He next went to Spain for the _Herald_, and he was in Madrid in October, 1869, when he received the peremptory telegram “Come to Paris on important business.” He immediately complied, and there received from Mr. Bennett, junior, the laconic instruction and valediction, “Find Livingstone! Good-night, and God be with you.”
In January, 1871, Stanley reached Zanzibar, and two months later marched into the heart of Africa.
It was on the 10th of November that he “found” Livingstone at Ujiji. Well, indeed, as Stanley himself admitted, was he repaid for all the dangers he encountered on his journey when he grasped the hand of the grey-haired old missionary--aged by climate and exposure--whose whereabouts he had been sent to discover.
We placed in the Exhibition portrait models not only of Stanley, attired in a facsimile of the explorer’s suit worn by him on the occasion of the historic meeting, but also one of Dr. Livingstone himself. Probably many more persons have gazed upon the figure of Livingstone in the Exhibition than ever paid a pilgrimage to see his final resting-place in Westminster Abbey.
Together with the model of Stanley was placed a figure of his boy, Kalulu, concerning whom the explorer wrote a book in 1873 (_My Kalulu_).
* * * * *
[Illustration: NAPOLEON III.]
The death of Napoleon III in the January of this year was associated with one of the most impressive tableaux in the long history of Madame Tussaud’s. The Emperor was represented as lying in state, and I find myself still wondering as to the identity of a tall, stately lady, dressed in black and wearing a thick veil, who came to the Exhibition on several occasions, bringing a bunch of violets which she placed on the steps of the catafalque, after having obtained a vase containing water in which to put the flowers.
[Illustration: THE PRINCE IMPERIAL
Son of Napoleon III., killed by the Zulus on Whit Monday, 1879. From the painting by Pichat.]
The son of the Emperor Louis Napoleon, the Prince Imperial, who was killed in the Zulu War, was made the subject of an equestrian memorial at Madame Tussaud’s some years later. The tableau closely conformed with authentic details of the Prince’s attempt to mount his horse and escape from the Zulu hordes, who pierced him with many assegais.
It had been suggested in the House of Commons that an effigy to his memory should be erected in the Abbey, in view of the fact that the young Bonaparte died in one of England’s wars while serving under English officers. A reference in _Punch_ to this proposal suggested that a much more suitable repository for a memorial would be Madame Tussaud’s along with the other memorials of the Bonaparte period on view there.
Count Léon--The Shah of Persia’s visit--A weird suggestion; no response--King Koffee--Cetewayo.
About this time I met Count Léon, the natural son of Napoleon the Great. The Count was then nearing seventy years of age, and had taken refuge in this country after the great _débâcle_ of 1870. He lived in modest lodgings at Camden Town, and to pay his way set about selling the last remaining relics of the Imperial Family he had in his possession.
In a diary I now have before me I find that my father visited him on the 31st of January, 1873, the Count having expressed a wish to show him the family heirlooms, with the view to their finding a permanent resting-place among the many Napoleonic memorials at Madame Tussaud’s.
The Count offered him a fine miniature of Napoleon I’s brother, Lucien; a terra-cotta bust of Napoleon’s mother, “Madame Mère”; and a snuff-box left by Napoleon with Count Léon’s mother. The box contained a portion of the snuff which the Emperor had been using. There was also a lock of hair belonging to Napoleon’s son, the Duc de Reichstadt, known in high Imperial days as the King of Rome. One or two of these relics were acquired for the Exhibition.
[Illustration: COUNT LÉON
Natural son of Napoleon Bonaparte. A Portrait Study by John T. Tussaud.]
The Count bore a striking resemblance to the Emperor, except in two particulars: his figure was cast in a larger mould, and his eyes were hazel, whereas Napoleon’s were blue-grey. Count Léon returned to France, leaving behind him in London his son Charles, for whom I obtained a position in a City warehouse, where he remained engaged for several years, being at no pains to disguise his identity. My readers will readily see that the name granted to his father by the Emperor was composed of the last four letters in “Napoleon,” a whimsical touch of Imperial humour.
Count Léon finally settled at Pontoise, some twenty miles north-west of Paris, first at the Villa Davenport in the Rue l’Hermitage and afterwards in the Rue de Beaujon. This was his last stage. The room that he made his final refuge he adorned with four portraits of Napoleon, “my glorious father.”
To what depths had the Emperor’s son fallen! The old man’s shirts were in rags; he could not afford clean linen; he had to forgo tobacco. He died on the 14th of April, 1881, and without pomp or ceremony his body was laid in a pauper’s grave. His only memorial was a grassy mound and a little black wooden cross that soon rotted and fell to pieces.
On the 2nd of July, 1873, the Shah of Persia, accompanied by his numerous suite, visited Madame Tussaud’s, and was accorded a private view with some pomp and formality. His visit to the Exhibition was deemed of such importance that it gained the unusual distinction of a special reference in the _Court Circular_. Members of our Royal Household in considerable numbers attended in state, and formed an imposing assemblage. The public was excluded.
The domes of the building were specially darkened to give effect to the internal illuminations, which were very beautiful. None enjoyed the function more than the Shah himself, who laughed heartily as he pointed at models he was able to recognise, and several times turned from a figure to a person present, indicating by a gesture and a chuckle his pride at discerning the likeness. The merry monarch even went so far as to pose among the figures as a real, live royal model.
Before leaving the Exhibition the Shah called for pen and paper, and, surrounded by the distinguished company, wrote in Persian the following: “Whilst staying in London I visited Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition, and wrote these words here by way of memorial to my visit.--NASSERDIN CHAH KADJAR, 1290 Haegira (1873).”
The above free translation was there and then made by one of His Solar Highness’s secretaries, and it possesses the charm of its own defects.
The “king of kings” was in his most humorously autocratic vein among the unhallowed figures of the Chamber of Horrors. He seemed to gloat over the collection of criminals and notorieties, examining with unaffected delight the guillotine which cut off so many heads during the French Revolution.
The lunette in which the necks of the victims were held in position greatly fascinated the Shah, who hinted that a condemned prisoner should be brought from one of the English gaols to be decapitated on the spot for the edification of himself and his attendants.
It was pointed out, as an evasive measure, that no condemned man was available at that moment, whereupon His Majesty turned to the members of his suite and called for volunteers.
Such a thing, however, as an execution at Madame Tussaud’s was out of the question, even to gratify the whim of so illustrious a personage; and the Shah’s retainers looked genuinely relieved when they gathered that their royal master was not to have his way.
This period seemed to inaugurate a series of little wars, which, nevertheless, then excited the interest of the people, whose descendants may well remark how comparatively small these wars were. The Ashantee campaign ended in the fall of Coomassie on the 4th of February, 1874, and Sir Garnet Wolseley added fresh laurels to his fame. It was with real regret that the public looked in vain for the portrait of King Koffee at Madame Tussaud’s. As the dusky potentate had evidently never had his photograph taken, and as “sittings” were out of the question, we could not very well gratify the public curiosity for lack of the necessary data.
Not only did people expect to discover King Koffee’s portrait, but they also clamoured to see his famous umbrella, which Wolseley “borrowed” from His Majesty’s mud-palace at Coomassie, and obviously failed to return, for the umbrella was accepted as a gift by Queen Victoria from the gallant Commander of this brief and brilliant expedition. We confessed then to a twinge of envy that the celebrated gamp had not found its way to Madame Tussaud’s. We were, however, amply compensated by the public favour with which the portrait of Sir Garnet was received.
[Illustration: KING CETEWAYO
Deposed King of the Zulus, who visited England as the “guest of the Government” and whose image in wax remains at Madame Tussaud’s as a memorial of his visit.]
The deposed King of the Zulus, Cetewayo, who was subsequently restored to a portion of his kingdom, made a considerable stir when he visited this country as the “guest of the Government.” A friend who was appointed to take shorthand notes when Cetewayo attended at the Foreign Office enabled me to gain a view of the burly black monarch, and I had an opportunity of comparing the original with the many published portraits.
He was a handsome type of a fine race, and looked a king even among the stalwart members of his suite, everyone of whom seemed to be six feet at least in height and well-proportioned.
Cetewayo’s figure had been in the Exhibition some time before, and it now became possible to bring it up to date. Everything was done to impress Cetewayo with the strength of the British Empire; but it was discovered that the objects which appealed most to his savage taste were the cattle in the fields, the cloth in the factories, and the gewgaws and jewels in the shop windows.
“He is uglier than that,” said an envoy of the Induna King, Gungunhana, critically scrutinising Cetewayo’s figure, when he visited the Exhibition in June, 1891.
This native envoy rejoiced in the name of Huluhulu-Untato, his companion being Umfeti-Inteni. They thought the figures were really dead bodies which had been preserved from decay. When told that they were merely waxen images the Indunas expressed disappointment that the white man had not completed his work by putting breath into the bodies.
When Huluhulu came before the figure of Queen Victoria he saluted Her silent Majesty, and stood audibly worshipping her for a minute or two.
The Berlin Congress--Lord Beaconsfield and the “Turnerelli wreath”--“The People’s Tribute” finds a home at Tussaud’s--The sculptor’s despair--He constructs his tombstone and dies.
The year 1876--in which we find the Prince of Wales arriving at Calcutta, the commercial metropolis of India; “Empress of India” added to the royal titles of Queen Victoria; and Disraeli’s elevation to the Upper House as Earl of Beaconsfield--gave us subjects that kept our studios extremely busy, and also brought a constant stream of visitors to the Exhibition.
The portrait of the Queen had now to be remodelled; that of the Prince of Wales appeared in the garb of a big-game hunter; and Disraeli’s doffed its ordinary attire for the robes of a peer.
Following these “moving” events, we now come to a period when the country became apprehensively aware of ominous happenings in the Balkan States.
Russia declared war on Turkey in 1877, and forced a clear road to Constantinople. This threat to our Eastern Empire aroused the spirit of war, particularly in London, and “gentlemen of the pavement,” as Bismarck styled the men in the street, gloried in the ultra-patriotic sentiment which obtained the name of “Jingo”; while music-halls and taverns rang with the rousing chorus embodying that distinctive epithet:
We don’t want to fight, But, by jingo, if we do, We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men, And we’ve got the money too.
Lord Beaconsfield’s prompt demand that a halt should be called to hostilities, for the adjustment of differences between the belligerents, led to the Berlin Congress, and gave us an excellent opportunity of adding an imposing group of the European statesmen who framed the Berlin Treaty.
Yet, so mercurial is the public taste, and so pronounced is the love of the British race for anything that is amusingly abnormal, that I doubt whether ten people did not come to see the “Turnerelli wreath” for one who came to scan the features of these great peace-makers.
“What was the ‘Turnerelli wreath’?” the present generation may ask. It was the pivot of a political comedy that set the whole nation laughing.
[Illustration: EDWARD TRACY TURNERELLI
Promoter of “The People’s Tribute” refused by Lord Beaconsfield.]
Edward Tracy Turnerelli, a sculptor’s son, and himself a sculptor, instituted a penny subscription to present Lord Beaconsfield with a gold laurel wreath, which he called “The People’s Tribute,” in appreciation of his many services to the State and in commemoration of his great part in the deliberations of the Berlin Congress.
Fifty-two thousand workmen subscribed their pennies in vain, for Lord Beaconsfield courteously, but firmly, declined the gift, and it was left on Turnerelli’s hands; while he, of course, could hardly be expected to refund the copper contributions.
I am indebted to Mr. J. H. Bottomley, Conservative agent for Clapham, for a copy of the following interesting autograph letter from Lord Beaconsfield, expressing his satisfaction that the course he had adopted in declining to accept the wreath had met with the approval of many who had been induced to sanction the proposed gift:
_10 Downing Street, Whitehall, August 11th, 1879._
I have the honour to acknowledge your letter of the 9th inst.
It gives me much satisfaction to learn that the course I felt it my duty to take with respect to a certain pseudo-testimonial has met with the approval of many of those who, originally, by misleading representations, were induced to sanction a surreptitious gift.
I am gratified by the suggestion, which, on behalf of various Conservative associations, you put before me, that I should receive a National Address of confidence as a substitution for the rejected offering, but when I call to mind that the present policy of Her Majesty’s Government, unchanged and unshaken, is precisely the same as that which, scarcely a year ago, received an unanimous and most honourable expression of approval from the Conservative Association of this country, I hope I am not presumptuous if, without now troubling them for its renewed avowal, I still venture to count on the continued confidence, which, then, was so welcome and so cheering.
The postman who delivered this letter to Mr. Bottomley offered him all his savings (£19 5s.) for the letter.
Mr. Bottomley received in five days, in 1879, more than 3,000 pennies from the working men of Oldham, together with the personal signature of each contributor, and he holds Mr. Turnerelli’s receipt for the £13 5s. he sent him for the tribute.
The wreath was offered to us, and purchased at its gold valuation.
I looked at it to-day, and renewed my admiration of its artistic design and remarkable beauty. Every leaf is of gold, and under each one is inscribed the name of a town where a committee collected the pennies. The “tie” bears the inscription “Tracy Turnerelli, chairman.”
[Illustration: THE TURNERELLI WREATH
“The People’s Tribute” offered to and declined by Lord Beaconsfield in 1879.]
While London roared and cynics wrote satirical quips, the promoter of “The People’s Tribute” took its rejection very much to heart. I have seen a cabinet-size photograph of the disappointed sculptor, taken immediately afterwards, showing him with head thrown back, resting on his left hand, in a theatrical posture of profound despair.
Before the Beaconsfield wreath made the name of Turnerelli a byword, the public-spirited sculptor, who had spent a long time in Russia, vehemently opposed the Crimean War, as did also Mr. John Bright. Turnerelli was received by Lord Aberdeen on the subject, and the Prime Minister was said to have been impressed by the sculptor’s sincerity and the cogency of his arguments. He also saw Lord John Russell, then Foreign Secretary, Lord Clarendon, and Lord Palmerston. In one particular he was vindicated. He declared that Cronstadt was impregnable, and as the war went on this proved to be the case.
Turnerelli, unluckily for himself, thereafter entertained the chimerical idea of presenting the golden laurel chaplet to Lord Beaconsfield, estimating that the cost of each leaf would be about £5. He succeeded, at any rate, in convincing sceptical people that there were at least 52,000 Conservative working men in the country. The wreath was made by Messrs. Hunt and Roskell, who put it on exhibition at their rooms. It was also shown to the Prince of Wales and other members of the Royal Family before being exhibited at the Crystal Palace.
Turnerelli’s own explanation of Lord Beaconsfield’s refusal to accept the wreath was a curious one. He stated that a “high legal functionary” warned Lord Beaconsfield that the wreath was a typical “Imperial diadem” which could only be loyally offered to a sovereign, and that it would be an insult to the Crown if a subject were to accept such a gift.
This same legal authority, Turnerelli said, reminded him that the promoter of such a presentation would have been consigned, in previous reigns, to the Tower of London.
These warnings came too late for Turnerelli, who, had he known about them sooner, might have substituted an inoffensive golden inkstand or a pair of golden candlesticks. But the wreath was allowed to go on to completion, to be put on exhibition, and to be written about in a light and fleering spirit; while the statesman to whom it was to be presented offered no remonstrance until the pennies of the 52,000 working men had been spent on it.
Flippant people suggested that the whole affair was a “plant” on Turnerelli’s part to win from Lord Beaconsfield some honour or emolument; but those who knew Turnerelli well scouted this insinuation, and attributed the whole proceeding to the guileless sincerity of the man.
Had he never embarked upon the wreath project, he might have preserved some reputation as a writer of topical political verse and pamphlets. The wreath, however, may serve to preserve his memory longer, as an episode in the life of the great Conservative statesman whom he artlessly, rather than artfully, desired to honour.
In a curious last will and testament Turnerelli said: “I leave the gold laurel wreath to the nation, provided my generous friends the Conservatives will help me to cover the hundred and fifty pounds or thereabouts I have personally expended upon it.”
To a Birmingham gentleman, with whom he had almost completed negotiations for the sale of the wreath for £245, he wrote: “By the advice of influential friends I have determined to let Madame Tussaud & Sons have the privilege of exhibiting the wreath.” Turnerelli compensated the Birmingham would-be purchaser for alleged breach of contract.
_Punch_, of the 22nd of November, 1879, contained the following: “What the Wreath has come to.--The brows of Lord Beaconsfield at Madame Tussaud’s. _Punch_ said it would, and it has.”
_Funny Folks_ said: “The Beaconsfield Wreath is at Madame Tussaud’s, probably worn by his lordship’s effigy. Curious that this emblem of popularity should be on the wax, while the popularity itself is on the wane.”
It may be stated that the gold wreath never rested on the waxen brows of Lord Beaconsfield, despite what _Punch_ said to the contrary.
I am reminded that, in his latter days, Turnerelli sought consolation for worldly disdain in designing and constructing his own tombstone. This was erected in Leamington Cemetery about four years before his death, and serves as a monument not only for himself, but also for his father, who was a famous sculptor in the early part of the century, and is buried in London.
After the erection of the tombstone the younger Turnerelli regularly went to gaze at it for an hour or two. The block is surmounted by an imitation in stone of the famous rejected wreath.
Turnerelli died at Leamington on the 24th of January, 1896, aged eighty-four years.
The Phœnix Park murders--We secure the jaunting-car and pony--Charles Bradlaugh--General Boulanger--Lord Roberts inspects the model of himself.
The requirements of the business have often necessitated our sending fairly far afield in quest of exhibits, and this has seldom been done without success, as people with desirable relics to dispose of appear to have recognised the claims of Madame Tussaud’s.
Between seven and eight o’clock on Saturday evening, the 6th of May, 1882, Lord Frederick Cavendish, the newly appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland, and Mr. Thomas Burke, the Permanent Irish Under-Secretary, were stabbed to death in Phœnix Park, Dublin, and twenty “Invincibles” were subsequently tried for the murder, five being hanged, three sentenced to penal servitude for life, and nine to various terms of imprisonment.
[Illustration: LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
Chief Secretary for Ireland, who met his death by assassination in Phœnix Park, Dublin, May 6th, 1882. One of the most noted of the many victims of Irish political agitators.]
James Carey, who turned Queen’s evidence and was acquitted, paid for the betrayal of his associates with his life, for he was shot by Patrick O’Donnell on board the _Melrose Castle_, near Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on the 24th of July, 1883. The Government, in their efforts to get Carey safely into another part of the world under an assumed name, were thus outwitted by the “Invincible” avengers.
It had been intimated to the management of the Exhibition that there was a chance of Madame Tussaud’s obtaining from Michael Kavanagh the jaunting-car in which the assassins drove to and from the scene of the crime. Kavanagh was a typical Dublin jarvey, with an almost unintelligible brogue, from whom the car was hired. The assassins drove several miles circuitously about the scene of the tragedy with the object of escaping detection.
Our representative was forthwith sent to Dublin, and soon found himself in possession of Kavanagh’s car. The good-humoured jarvey seemed glad to be rid of the vehicle; anyhow, the price he asked was not a prohibitive one.
One thing was particularly noticeable, namely, that the number on the car differed from the number quoted in the newspaper accounts describing it when taken by the police. It was discovered, however, that the “Invincibles” had changed the number before the fateful journey. A condition was made by Kavanagh that the pony which drew the car should also be purchased, as he wished to have done with them both.
It took only a few hours to complete the transaction, and thereafter Kavanagh drove the purchaser over the ground traversed by the assassins in their endeavours to throw the police off the scent. This was a voluntary act on the part of Kavanagh, and our representative was curiously exercised at the time to understand why he imagined the trip should interest him.
To facilitate transit the car was taken to pieces by a coach-builder at Kingstown and wrapped in sacking, in the hope that it would not be observed. It was then put on the night boat for Holyhead.
The pony found a home in stables belonging to the Exhibition, and soon afterwards came to an untimely end from too little exercise and a too liberal allowance of provender. Why we did not sell the pony for what it might fetch is more than can be told to-day; it may be surmised that such an expedient did not occur to our minds.
On the voyage across passengers whispered to each other that the Phœnix Park car was on board, and on its arrival in London there appeared among the latest telegrams in an evening paper: “Kavanagh’s car goes to Madame Tussaud’s.” Evidently the Irish correspondents had wired the news of which we ourselves had hoped to make a special announcement.
The car was soon put together, and placed on view at the Exhibition in one of the rooms adjacent to the Chamber of Horrors, and in another part of the Exhibition were shown the portraits of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke.
After being exhibited many years the car was given to a gentleman who manifested an interest in it. Its new owner had it renovated for his own use as a private conveyance, and he might often have been seen driving it in the streets of London, no one suspecting its notorious history.
[Illustration: CHARLES BRADLAUGH
English radical politician and advocate of secularism.]
Charles Bradlaugh sat many times to my father, and proved an entertaining and patient subject, sincerely desirous that his portrait should be a true representation of himself. He discussed the troubles he was then passing through in the political arena over the oath, for which, after much contention, he was permitted to substitute an affirmation.
I remember him in his comings and goings, wearing a frock-coat and silk hat, tall and of commanding appearance, always affable and chatty.
A humorous writer of the day made fun of Mr. Bradlaugh’s advent at Madame Tussaud’s as follows:
Tremendous excitement on the admission of Mr. Bradlaugh in wax into Madame Tussaud’s establishment. Cobbett’s figure gave an extra kick of delight, and as he offered his snuff-box to the unwelcome guest he assured him that he was a friend at a pinch. Oliver Cromwell, Cranmer, and Charles I were indignant. The Russian giant is annoyed, and Tom Thumb threatens to make the place too hot for him. Figures waxing wrath!
Latest telegram from Baker Street: “Bradlaugh cool; great heat. Cromwell showing signs of melting; all melting. Sleeping Beauty undisturbed.”
The latest latest: “Threatened with the guillotine in the Chamber of Horrors if they are not quiet. Tranquillity restored.”
On many occasions it has been my office to accompany round the Exhibition visitors whose likenesses were at the time on view--always a trying ordeal.
I call to mind the visit paid by General Boulanger shortly after that Meteoric ex-Minister of War quitted Paris for London to avoid arrest. It will be remembered that Boulanger was wounded in a duel with Floquet, his political antagonist, and that he dramatically ended his chequered life by shooting himself on the grave, in Brussels, of the woman to whom he was fondly attached.
[Illustration: GENERAL BOULANGER
Meteoric Minister of War for France, who ended his life in Brussels by shooting himself on the grave of the woman to whom he was devoted.]
As we stood before his facsimile, which had been only recently modelled, and, as it happened, represented him as considerably younger than his years, the General smiled and said, when I invited him to grant me a special sitting, “It is very, very good; do not touch it.” I fancied that, like most people, Boulanger had no objection to a flattering youthful reproduction of himself.
Boulanger’s inclusion at Madame Tussaud’s was the subject of a full-page cartoon by Tenniel in _Punch_, showing the be-medalled General standing in his stirrups on horseback and waving his hand as though in the act of delivering an important command. The cartoon was entitled “_Chez_ Madame Tussaud’s.” An Exhibition employé was represented as saying to the little black-bonneted Madame--with a covert allusion to the General’s political reverses--“Where is he to be put _now_, ma’am?”
It was with a certain amount of surprise that I realised a short time ago, when the question was put to me by a prominent member of the Press, that during the thirty years I have been exclusively responsible for the modelling here, together with the fifteen or sixteen years in which I was working under my father, I must have produced, with studies, close upon a thousand models.
It is, of course, quite natural that many celebrities who pay a visit to the Exhibition, well knowing that their likenesses, have a place within it, are not escorted round the galleries. For the most part, coyly and shyly they seek out their own models, and, more often than not, approach them with a concern born of a too-studied indifference that is sometimes extremely amusing.
“Bobs” was not of that order; he was a notable exception to the general rule.
“Where’s my figure?” he asked plump and plain, and around it he stepped, quizzically examining it from various points of view. When he had satisfied himself that it was a fairly true representation, he ejaculated, “Not at all bad! Not at all bad!” and walked off to inspect the relics of the great Napoleon.
Lord Roberts’s figure had been installed soon after his famous march from Kabul to Khandahar in the Afghan War.
My favourite portrait--Lord Tennyson poses unconsciously before my wife--“This beats Tussaud’s”--Sir Richard Burton--His widow clothes the model.
Of all the portraits of my own modelling, I think, if I may be permitted to express an opinion, I like that of Lord Tennyson as well as any. It revives pleasant memories, and I will ask my readers if I may bring my wife into this part of my story. By a coincidence, as I raised my eyes at this moment, my glance fell upon a bust of Tennyson resting on a shelf in my studio.
[Illustration: HEAD OF LORD TENNYSON (POET LAUREATE 1850-1892)
The bust modeled by John T. Tussaud, first exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, in 1892, now in the Tussaud collection.]
About the time when I was engaged with the model of the great Victorian poet I had rented a farm cottage near Freshwater, Isle of Wight, and I remember my wife telling me that she frequently saw Tennyson in the neighbourhood.
On several occasions the poet, who lived at Farringford, near by, while taking his daily constitutional, came and leant upon the garden gate, evidently charmed with the beauty of the place. The old thatched roof and the quaint attractiveness of the cottage might well have given rise to reflections in less imaginative minds than that of a poet.
I had not the opportunity of studying Tennyson’s features at that time; but my wife, coyly hidden in a favourite spot in the garden, was able to observe him closely. Being herself an artist of no mean ability, she thus afforded me considerable help in the production of his portrait.
It seems strange that perhaps the most reclusive of men should have unwittingly come forward and posed, as it were, at the very door of the artist who was then desirous of obtaining sittings.
One day, while I was at work in the studio on Tennyson, I was visited by Father Haythornthwaite, rector of the Catholic Church at Freshwater. The priest was greatly interested, and he must have conveyed to the poet the intelligence that I was about to place his figure in Madame Tussaud’s, for very shortly afterwards I learned that Tennyson was particularly desirous that I should bear in mind that, in spite of his four-score years, he had not a grey hair in his head--a touch of nature that seemed to me particularly human.
* * * * *
A nice but unintentional compliment was paid to one of our tableaux about this time by the present King, when he was Duke of York. We complied with a request to furnish a representation of the scene of the death of Nelson in the cockpit of the _Victory_ for the Royal Naval Exhibition at Chelsea in May, 1891. This tableau was founded on the famous picture by Devis, which found a permanent home at Greenwich Hospital in 1825; and it was very well received by the visitors to the Exhibition. The compliment to which I allude was not heard by me, but it was reported in the Press at the time that the Duke of York, while looking at the tableau, exclaimed, “Why, this beats Tussaud’s!”
The tableau has been in our Exhibition ever since, and is a great favourite with all. When the present Prince of Wales and his brother Albert paid us a visit, the Sailor Prince looked long and intently at the historic scene. Both boys were also a good deal moved as they gazed on the tableau showing the murder of the two little princes in the Tower of London--a representation over which many impressionable people have been unable to keep dry eyes.
* * * * *
[Illustration: SIR RICHARD BURTON
The effigy dressed in the clothes he wore on his famous pilgrimage to Mecca, modeled by John T. Tussaud.]
A great name with the past generation was that of Sir Richard Burton, who, sixty-six years ago, in fulfilment of a lifelong dream, made a pilgrimage to the shrine of the prophet Mahomet at Mecca when it was believed that no Christian could go there. Besides being a great explorer he was a man of scholarly attainments, and his translation of the _Arabian Nights_ bears the stamp of an intimate familiarity with the Orient.
When Sir Richard died his remarkable career became so much a subject of general comment in the Press that the British public awakened to the fact that a great Englishman had just passed away.
Apart from his literary achievements, the account of his exploits revealed so great a love of adventure and so much disregard for narrowing conventionalities as to leaven the story of his life with a very strong tincture of romance.
When modelling his figure I saw a great deal of his handsome and stately widow, and I am sure no woman could have taken a greater pleasure or more pains in assisting an artist with such an undertaking. Every thought, every action, she bestowed upon the work showed how deeply she cherished her husband’s memory and how vividly the portrait stirred her imagination.
She clothed the model with perhaps the greatest personal treasure of his she possessed--that is to say, the actual garments her husband wore when he went on his famous pilgrimage to Mecca. She tarried long over the finishing touches that should make his presentment look its best before the critical eyes of the public should scan it. Ornaments, beads, trappings, had each her full consideration, and the very weapons of defence stuck anglewise in his belt were subjected to her most careful arrangement.
Of the capacity for taking pains there was no limit in Isabel Lady Burton’s nature; but the labour in producing the figure, after many trying weeks, at last came to an end; and there readily springs to my mind the pathetic picture of her bestowing upon the figure the few final touches, her fingers lingering over the pleats and folds of his robe ere she could declare herself satisfied that the task she had undertaken in helping with the model had been done at her very best.
There was one little difficulty, however, that she could not quite surmount. The costume was complete in every respect except one--the sandals he had worn on his hazardous journey to Mecca had become, owing to the wet and heat and the passage of time, mere tinder, and could not be placed upon the figure.
The following brief but interesting letter explains how this difficulty was overcome:
_67, Baker Street, Portman Square, W., May 22nd, 1894._
DEAR MR. TUSSAUD,
I sent you a pair of sandals yesterday belonging to me, but to-day I have had the promise of a pair from the Prior of the Franciscans which would suit much better. I shall send them directly I receive them.
The monument at Mortlake, on the Thames, within which now repose the remains of Sir Richard and his wife, consists of a white marble mausoleum, sculptured in the form of an Arab tent, its cost having been partly defrayed by public subscription.
Removal of the Exhibition to the present building--Sleeping “figures”--History of the Portman Rooms--The Cato Street Conspiracy--Baron Grant’s staircase.
After fifty prosperous years at the old Baker Street Rooms--now known as the Portman Rooms--it became necessary that Madame Tussaud’s should find more commodious premises to meet the growing popularity of the Exhibition.
The removal to the present well-known red building was made in July, 1884, and the change took about a week, during which the staff put in very long hours. So strenuous a time was it that some of them could hardly keep their eyes open towards the end of this transition period.
There were considerably more than four hundred figures, not to mention countless other things, to transfer; and the models were cloaked for conveyance, as the idea could not be entertained of portraits of royalties, celebrities, and notorieties being carried uncovered and exposed to the vulgar gaze.
The wrapping of the images in sheets led to an amusing incident after they had been removed. Before they could be properly arranged and a fitting place assigned to each, the exhibits were placed in their coverings on the floor. This fact, it appeared, suggested to tired members of the staff a way by which they might be able to snatch a little rest.
Missing some of the men, my suspicions were directed to the prostrate exhibits, and I proceeded to prod the sheeted figures, with the result that here and there my attentions called forth manifestations of life. The weary helpers had laid themselves down to sleep among the models, hoping not to be disturbed. Although time was pressing, they were permitted to continue a few hours’ well-earned rest with their pack-sheet cloaks around them.
Few of our visitors on the closing night were aware of the forthcoming change-over, and it was only when the band, after playing the last bar of the National Anthem, struck up “Auld Lang Syne” that the visitors realised what it all signified. There was a touch of pathos in the farewell scenes, and for the next week Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition was not included among the sights of London.
When the old rooms in Baker Street were taken over for hospital uses in the war, my mind reverted to an historic coincidence of considerable military interest.
More than a hundred years ago what is now the Baker Street Carriage Bazaar formed the barracks and stabling of the Royal Life Guards. The place was then known as the King Street Barracks. Old inhabitants of the neighbourhood used to tell me that a regiment of the Guards marched from these quarters on their way to the field of Waterloo.
A little way off was the Portman Street Barracks, from which Captain Fitzclarence set out to arrest Arthur Thistlewood and his confederates in connection with the Cato Street Conspiracy--one of the most desperate and foolhardy episodes in modern English history.
Thistlewood and other members of the Spencean Society--which might almost be described as the prototype of latter-day Bolshevism--conceived the mad idea that they could capture, among other strongholds, the Bank of England, the Mansion House, the Tower of London, and Coutts’s Bank; but they found that the public sympathy on which they counted did not exist. Thistlewood was thrown into gaol for treasonable utterances, and instead of imprisonment bringing him to his right senses, he became more fanatical than ever.
The crowning act of infamy on the part of this nineteenth-century “Guy Fawkes” and his followers was to hatch a plot for the assassination of Ministers at a Cabinet dinner in Lord Harrowby’s house, Grosvenor Square. The conspirators took a loft over a stable in Cato Street, Marylebone, where they accumulated arms, bombs, and hand-grenades, vainly imagining that the police knew nothing of their movements, whereas the authorities were only waiting the right moment for action.
Thistlewood and his gang of desperadoes were arrested in the act of arming themselves for the wholesale assassination of the heads of the Government. In the scuffle Thistlewood killed a police-officer with his sword. The ringleader and four others, named Brunt, Davidson, Ings, and Tidd, were executed on the evidence of one of their own associates, who told the court that it was intended, in the first instance, to set fire to the King Street Barracks and either take the Life Guardsmen prisoners or kill them as they sat in their mess-room. This mess-room, fifteen years later, was occupied by Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition.
* * * * *
Few, if any, of the thousands of persons who mount and descend the marble staircase which adorns the entrance-hall of Madame Tussaud’s are aware that it originally formed part of a lordly pleasure house which was erected by the late Baron Grant on the site of what was one of the vilest slums (then known as “The Rookery”) in Kensington.
Who was Baron Grant?
The late Baron was born in Dublin in 1830. His real name, it appears, was Gottheimer. His parents were poor, and he had a hard upbringing. By dint, however, of industry, the sharpness of his wits and his great aptitude for business, he acquired wealth and a reputation in the City of London.
At the age of thirty-five he was elected M.P. for Kidderminster, standing as a Liberal-Conservative and defeating Lord Annaly, who was at that time a Lord of the Treasury. In 1868 he was appointed a Deputy-Lieutenant of the Tower Hamlets, and in the same year the King of Italy conferred upon him the hereditary dignity of Baron and appointed him a Commander of the Order of St. Maurice and Lazare.
These distinctions were well deserved by the then Mr. Grant for the services he had rendered in connection with the completion of the famous Victor Emmanuel Gallery in Milan, though in one of the burlesques of the period the decoration was scathingly referred to in the following couplet:
Kings can titles give, but honour can’t, So title without honour’s but a _barren Grant_.
At the height of his prosperity Baron Grant built his princely mansion at Kensington Gore. It was never occupied, except for one night, when the “bachelors of London”--in other words, the smart young men of London Society--hired the house from the Baron’s creditors and gave a ball of exceptional splendour.
The Baron was unable to pay the contractor, and the mansion, known as “Grant’s Folly,” was pulled down because no one could afford to buy or rent it. The magnificent marble staircase, which cost £11,000, was bought by Madame Tussaud’s for £1,000, and placed in our Exhibition.
The beautiful iron railings and gates of the “Folly” were purchased for the Sandown Park Club, where, I understand, they may still be seen.
Baron Grant was a keen collector of works of art, and once obtained the honour of being voted the thanks of the House of Commons for presenting a picture to the National Gallery.
It came about in this way:
On the 18th of May, 1874, a very valuable portrait of Sir Walter Scott was put up to auction at Christie’s, and was eventually secured by Baron Grant for 800 guineas. The same evening Sir Stafford Northcote, the Leader of the House, was asked by a private member why the Government had not purchased so fine a work of art for the nation. He replied that the Treasury had no funds available for the outlay. Thereupon the Baron rose and stated that he had already written offering the picture to the Trustees of the National Gallery.
Sir Stafford immediately proposed a vote of thanks, and this was carried with much enthusiasm.
Eight hundred guineas, however, was far from being the largest sum which the Baron spent on a single picture. He gave £10,000 for Landseer’s “Otter Hunt,” and the value of his collection may be judged from the fact that it realised £106,000 when the inevitable crash came and his art treasures passed under the hammer to pay his creditors.
The great benefaction for which Baron Grant will always be remembered is the gift of Leicester Square to the Metropolis at a cost to him of upwards of £30,000. For years this Square had been dilapidated and a disgrace to London, with a huge hoarding round it. Baron Grant secured, by purchase, all the rights of the owners. He then planted the gardens, and erected in the centre the statue of Shakespeare by Signor Fontana. This was, at the time, the only statue of the world’s greatest dramatist existing out of doors in his own country. The liberal donor also placed in the Square busts of celebrated men who had lived in the neighbourhood. These included Sir Isaac Newton, John Hunter, William Hogarth, and Sir Joshua Reynolds.
This act of munificence did not bring the Baron the popularity he so much desired, for after the princely gift was presented by him to the Metropolitan Board of Works on the 2nd of July, 1874, the following verses were freely sold at the opening ceremony:
Of course, you’ve heard the news that Baron Grant, To gain what most he wants--a good repute, Has promised to reclaim Wild Leicester Square, so long the West End’s shame, And turn that waste ground, nigh Alhambra’s towers, Into a smiling garden full of flowers.
But will the world forget these flowers of Grant’s Are but the product of his City “plants”? And who, for shady walks, will give him praise For wealth thus spent, _when gained in shady ways_? In short, what can he hope from this affair? Save to connect his name with one thing Square!
It was this same public-spirited though erratic “plunger” in stocks and shares who, in February, 1875, widened, at his own cost, the road leading to Kensington House, so as to avoid the curve which was dangerous to carriages when driving in. It was an approach that Queen Victoria frequently used.
King of Siam’s visit--The Shahzada’s clothing--King of Burmah’s war elephant--Tale of two monkeys.
The King of Siam and the Shahzada of Afghanistan are linked in my memory because of the peculiar interest King Chulalongkorn took in the Afghan Prince, whose model appeared in all the splendour of one of the Shahzada’s own State dresses.
The moment the King of Siam was confronted by this portrait he exclaimed in surprise:
“How did the uniform come here? Where did you get it?”
“Oh,” I replied, “we purchased it.”
“Whom did you get it from?” the King of Siam persisted. “From the Shahzada himself?”
The information was imparted that the elaborate costume had been offered to us by a member of the Shahzada’s suite, who took a keen personal interest in the transaction, and gave us to understand that his royal master would prefer that the portrait should not wear his own clothes till after his departure from this country.
We complied with this condition, and while writing these reminiscences the gorgeous apparel of the Afghan Prince lies heaped in a corner of my studio, having been brought out that I may again for a moment gaze upon its faded glories of purple and gold; for the portrait of the Shahzada has long since been removed from its pedestal.
The King of Siam was a very decorous and unassuming little gentleman, who gave no hint of disappointment that his own portrait did not appear in the collection, while I wondered, as I walked with him, whether he regretted or welcomed the omission.
As we came face to face with the Shah of Persia, whose gorgeous habiliments glittered with a veritable firmament of jewels, the King again harped upon the question of the Shahzada’s clothes.
Looking hard at the “lion” of a former season, the King exclaimed:
“His own clothes, too, I suppose?”
“Not this time,” I replied. “We were not so fortunate in the case of the Shah.”
“An exact duplicate, though,” was the compliment of the laughing King.
The Eastern potentate was a most minute and intelligent observer of all he saw, and questioned me unceasingly.
“Who is that beside the Prince?” he inquired, pointing at the Prince of Wales in a howdah on the back of the elephant Juno, a tableau which depicted a tiger-hunting incident in the late King Edward’s Indian tour.
On being told that the Prince was accompanied by his “loader,” the King replied, “Yes, yes,” as if he thought his question a superfluous one.
From hall to hall we passed, and I was astonished at the knowledge of English history displayed by King Chulalongkorn. He picked out the figure of Richard I, and, pointing to the white doublet with the red cross on the breast, said, “The costume of a Crusader--certainly, certainly.” The representation of King John with the Magna Charta in his hand did not appear to produce a very pleasing impression upon the Siamese autocrat.
“_What_ a name! Who was he?” remarked the King in front of Houqua, the big Chinaman who earned his place in the Exhibition on account of certain services he had rendered this country. I had withdrawn for a moment, and was called back to explain that Houqua was a Chinese merchant, whereat the royal interlocutor turned away with a contempt for trade clearly indicated on his face.
It was surprising to note that King Chulalongkorn passed the portraits of Mr. Gladstone, Lord Salisbury, and other British statesmen without a pause or comment. He stood some minutes in front of the case containing the orders of the Duke of Wellington, and then remarked, with admiring emphasis:
“These are surely all the orders a man could have; he must have had nearly everything.”
The group of Henry VIII and his six wives was surveyed in stolid silence by a monarch not likely to be moved by such a spectacle. In a shadowed portion of the gallery he nearly mistook (and slightly frightened) two nice English girls in white for wax figures.
In the Chamber of Horrors he showed from his observations that he was familiar with the main features of several of the crimes commemorated there.
I may add that every honour was done the King on that occasion. We had the public excluded from the Exhibition, and the Siamese National Anthem was played on his arrival and departure.
The King of Siam’s inspection of the elephant reminds me that, beside the stuffed monkey which one of the wives of Henry VIII is fondling, the only animals ever shown in the Exhibition were in the “Tiger Hunt” scene in question. The tusker was the famous Juno, which was for many years the King of Burmah’s war elephant.
The Prince of Wales had just mortally wounded a male tiger, and was about to give the _coup de grace_ to another beast which, unexpectedly springing from the jungle, had been pinned to the ground by Juno. The animals were stuffed and staged by the late Mr. Rowland Ward.
When I say that these were the only animals shown in the Exhibition I mean, of course, dead ones.
Within the past twelve months a monkey that escaped from the Zoo, barely a mile away, entered the Exhibition by a back window, and was seen in the act by a crowd of people, who had been amused by its antics outside.
It appears that the monkey, in scurrying through the building, caught sight of its dead counterpart on the lap of Henry’s Queen, and tried to attract its attention. Failing in this, the little creature pawed it, and the result was electrical.
The strangeness of coming unexpectedly in contact with a dead animal which was thought to be alive seems to have startled the monkey beyond measure, for it became terrified, and, springing away, went at great speed to the remotest part of the Exhibition, where it took refuge in one of the side rooms.
Several visitors, mostly ladies, were in the room at the time, and they at once made for the door, which was thereupon locked upon the animal. Meanwhile we had telephoned to the Zoo that one of the monkeys had escaped and was in the Exhibition.
A keeper arrived shortly afterwards, and said he had missed it from its cage. Both keeper and monkey were delighted at their reunion. The monkey had not seemed to trouble much about the figures, which it probably took for living people, but the dead monkey on the lap of one of them had been more than it could stand.
Queen Victoria’s copperplates--Another Royal Persian visit--“Perished by fire”--“Viscount Hinton” and his organ--The Coquette’s jewels lost and found.
In the early part of 1898 we purchased from an enterprising journalist four interesting copperplates--three of them etched by Queen Victoria and one by the Prince Consort. Of the four plates, three were done by the Queen within a year of her marriage.
Although not altogether faultless from an artistic point of view, the work is most conscientiously executed, showing how painstaking was the Queen even in comparatively trivial matters.
After her marriage Her Majesty found in the Prince Consort a fellow craftsman, and forthwith a room in Buckingham Palace was fitted up as a sort of combination studio and workshop. Here, under the guidance and advice of Sir Edwin Landseer, assisted by Mr. Henry Graves, the fine art publisher, the young couple worked for two or three hours in the morning.
Nor would the Queen allow any portion of the process to be performed by an assistant. Even the printing was done either by herself or her husband, a small press being set up for that especial purpose.
It is understood that portraits of the royal children thus reproduced are preserved in the print-room at Windsor Castle.
* * * * *
I have already described how the Shah of Persia (Nasr-ed-Din) paid a private visit to the Exhibition in the year 1873.
I must now relate the circumstances that attended the visit of his son, Muzafir-ed-Din, who came to this country for the coronation of King Edward in 1902, thirty years later.
The “Brother of the Sun” came on the 19th of August. He was attended by the Earl of Kintore and Sir Arthur Hardinge, and I received His Majesty, while the orchestra played the Persian National Anthem.
The first model he asked to see was that of his late father, but unfortunately his picturesque parent had disappeared to make room for more up-to-date people.
The horrible fact of the remelting to cast a possibly much less distinguished personage could not, of course, be divulged to the royal visitor. A hint to the entourage was sufficient. “_Perished by fire--great accidental fire_,” explained Sir Arthur Hardinge with the aplomb of a true diplomat. “_Big fire_,” echoed the sombre Persians sadly in their own tongue.
The Shah listened to a description of the models in French and made his comments in Persian, a course of procedure which was not helpful to those who would have liked to glean His Majesty’s impressions.
By this time the news that the Shah was in the building had spread, and the people began to throng around him. It was difficult to say whether he appreciated the curiosity of the crowd or not. A merry little party of Japs beamed upon the dusky potentate from the Far East, and the two extremities of Asia thus metaphorically rubbed shoulders.
The tableau of “Queen Victoria at Home” pleased the Eastern sovereign most. He looked at it longest.
The scene depicting the Gordon Highlanders storming the Heights of Dargai also captivated him. The place where the battle was fought was not very remote from the borders of His Majesty’s dominions, and he was, no doubt, familiar with the history of the wild tribesmen of the north-west frontier of India. He was an eager auditor while the Gay Gordons’ feat was narrated in French and Persian.
Face to face with his own portrait model, the Shah addressed some presumably humorous remark to it, for sovereign and suite relaxed their facial muscles simultaneously, and a Persian outburst of mirth succeeded. _The stolid monarch actually laughed outright._ It was the only recorded laugh of His Majesty during his visit to this country.
But what did he say to that waxen presentment? The features of the model were certainly rather darker than those of the Shah, but the observation in Persian of the monarch was darker still--at any rate to me. Turning aside, he remarked, in French, that though the features were excellent, the complexion was not quite fair enough--a disclosure of an undoubted Eastern vanity.
He closely scrutinised the figures of reigning sovereigns, and on coming to that of the young Queen of Holland he exclaimed, in French, “Ah, I have seen Her Majesty.” The Shah quickly noticed Mr. Balfour among the group of politicians, and gazed eagerly at the representation of the meeting between Lord Roberts and Cronje at Paardeberg.
[Illustration: THE SURRENDER OF GENERAL CRONJE TO LORD ROBERTS
A Boer War tableau modeled by John T. Tussaud.]
Whether the Shah was made nervous through the proximity of the crowd, I cannot say, but he neglected to visit the Chamber of Horrors and the Napoleonic relics (which latter he had expressed a desire to see), and made a straight line for the exit before those who were chaperoning him realised the meaning of the movement.
The Chamber of Horrors would have been an attraction to at least one member of the suite. This gentleman was fascinated by the group in the Hall of Tableaux representing the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. He stood gazing with dilated eyes upon the scene, and had to be called on by a touch on the arm before he could be made to realise the unreality of the drama.
* * * * *
[Illustration: VISCOUNT HINTON
The wax figure on exhibition at Madame Tussaud’s dressed in subject’s own clothes and shown with the organ used by this eccentric gentleman on his organ-grinding career.]
At an Exhibition supper at which “Viscount Hinton” was present, we having modelled his figure and purchased his organ on the death of the old Earl, to which title he now laid claim, a speaker, in proposing my health, began “Mr. Chairman, my Lord, Ladies and Gentlemen.” That was enough for “Earl Poulett.” He rose and bowed in recognition of the compliment paid to his degree, and when the speaker finished he made a speech in which he referred to a few incidents in his organ-grinding career.
He sat to me for his model, and we bought the suit of clothes he was wearing, although a friend of his told his “lordship” that he would not have picked them up from the gutter.
It appears that “Hinton” went to the Bank of England with the £50 note we gave him, and, as is customary, he was asked to sign his name. With a flourish he wrote down “Poulett,” whereupon the cashier said, “Christian name as well, please.” Hinton drew himself up and said, “We earls always sign our names like that,” a remark which, doubtless, duly impressed and abashed the cashier.
In June, 1901, as the Exhibition was closing for the day, several pieces of jewellery, valued at between 50 and 60 guineas, were discovered to be missing from the figure of the Old Coquette, facing the model of the sardonic but courtier-like Voltaire, who is seen raising his hat to her. The gems had served to adorn the representation of this curious-looking old dame for a period of more than a century.
As soon as the discovery was made the usual notification was given to the police. Strange to say, while the detective-officer was in consultation with us discussing the most likely means of recovering the articles, a bulky envelope, bearing the mark of the Earl’s Court postal district, was handed in containing the missing property, with the following short note enclosed: “Found at Madame Tussaud’s--thrown down.”
Royal visitors--King Alphonso and Princess Ena--The late Emperor Frederick--A penniless trio--Princess Charles--The Prince of Wales and Prince Albert.
Madame Tussaud’s was one of the last places visited by the King of Spain and Princess Ena before they left this country for their wedding at Madrid in May, 1906.
Somehow there seemed to be at the time an atmosphere of anxiety attending the visit of this vivacious royal couple, and I feel sure this uneasiness was felt by many who observed them pass freely and jocularly among the visitors, who were very numerous that afternoon in the Exhibition rooms. Disquieting rumours had reached this country that an attempt would be made by certain disaffected ruffians to interfere with their marriage. Plots and threats of a sinister character were in the air, and, as we all know, these culminated in a crime of a particularly atrocious nature in the Spanish capital.
Yet none seemed to be less affected by these disturbing influences than the young royalties themselves, while I am quite certain neither of them was acting a part. They were simply as happy as a bride and bridegroom ought to be who were counting the days till they should be united.
The young King took a positive delight in moving among the visitors, and none was less self-conscious than he. I was amused to find him bubbling over with fun and frolic standing in front of his own portrait.
Then he did the thing one almost expected he would do. To the amusement of all beholders he exclaimed, “Let me shake hands with myself,” suiting the action to the words, and laughing heartily with his bride and her friends. It is for traits like this that King Alphonso enjoys popularity wherever he goes.
The visit passed off happily, and I for one felt somewhat relieved when they had taken their departure without molestation, although I had no tangible reason to harbour the doubts that possessed me.
On returning to this country soon after the tragic accompaniments of their marriage, the light-hearted young King took an early opportunity of revisiting the Exhibition, and in passing gave a familiar nod of recognition at his own portrait, as one might salute an acquaintance in the street.
He roamed about the place in the least ostentatious way, and took a noticeably keen interest in the figure of the great Duke of Wellington, who, among his numerous foreign honours, received the titles of Duque de Ciudad Rodrigo and a Grandee of the first class, 1812--titles granted by predecessors of King Alphonso on the Spanish throne. As was the case with the King of Spain and his bride, members of the Royal Family on numerous occasions have paid their shillings and gone in “with the crowd,” their object being to stroll round without having to undergo the worry of a “reception” and its attendant red baize and “blowing of trumpets.”
* * * * *
Soon after his marriage with our then Princess Royal, the late Emperor Frederick of Germany, who was at that time Prince Frederick of Prussia, decided to pay us a visit. This was rather more than fifty years ago.
Hearing of his intention, my father decided to withdraw his figure, deeming it to be too youthful and out-of-date to bear a favourable comparison with its living counterpart--a severe test for even the best of portraits.
When the Prince arrived it appeared that he had come with the main object of inspecting his own model, for he had not been long in the place before he exclaimed, “Where is my figure?”
This was a question that rather nonplussed the member of my family who had undertaken to cicerone His Royal Highness through the Exhibition.
There was nothing for it but to make the plain, straightforward admission that it had only just been removed, and to give the reason for this having been done.
Notwithstanding this, the Prince’s request to view the portrait was reiterated, and he was so emphatic and persistent that there was nothing to be done but to replace the figure before his very eyes.
It was a strange proceeding, that of having to withdraw the model from the side room into which it had been removed, to march it through the spacious galleries with the Prince amusedly looking on the while, and ultimately to dump it down in its old place among the figures in our big royal group.
The Prince, with great good-humour, scanned it with a lenient eye, and pronounced it to be by no means a portrait of which anyone need be ashamed; in fact, he appeared quite pleased with it, and when he left the Exhibition he seemed to be highly delighted with his unique and interesting experience.
* * * * *
Many years ago, in the late seventies, Alexander III of Russia (then the Tsarevitch), accompanied by the Tsarevna and her sister, the Princess of Wales, visited the Exhibition in Baker Street.
On reaching the entrance to the Napoleon Rooms and the Chamber of Horrors, where an extra admission fee of sixpence is charged, my uncle, who was standing near, heard the Tsarevitch say to his companions that he had no money.
The Princess of Wales was obliged to admit that she was in the same penniless plight, while the Tsarevna exclaimed with emphasis, “_Et moi aussi; je n’ai pas un penny dans ma poche!_”
Here, then, it may be said, was a trio of monarchs-to-be in the amusing predicament of not having a sixpence among the three of them!
My uncle was bound to respect the royal visitors’ incognito, and so could not venture to “pass them in,” which, of course, he would have been very proud and happy to do.
The difficulty was overcome by one of the gentlemen in attendance on the royal party, who came up shortly afterwards and produced the necessary fees.
* * * * *
Princess Charles of Denmark is reported to have said many years ago, “I sometimes get tired of being a royal, especially when I am looked at and wondered at as though I were one of Madame Tussaud’s wax models. I even think how glorious it must be to be able to jump on the top of a ’bus, pay my fare like any ordinary person, and have a day out. I have never tried to do so yet, but I think I shall some day.”
Mention of this brings to my mind one of several visits paid to the Exhibition by the Princes of our own Royal House.
I was notified by telephone that the present Prince of Wales and his brother, Prince Albert, were visiting the Exhibition. They were received by me, and I conducted them over the place.
The royal boys needed very little “conducting,” as they were soon engrossed in all they saw around them, and seldom found it necessary to address any questions to me.
I was amused to find that they preferred to dispense with the Catalogue, taking a boyish delight in recognising the figures for themselves and displaying what knowledge they possessed, which was considerable. Nor did they seem in the least concerned to know whether members of the general public recognised them, as I could see many did from the way they contrived to keep near to them.
Among the Napoleonic relics the Princes lingered an unusually long time, as if reluctant to leave them; and the Prince of Wales betrayed so much interest in the carriage in which Napoleon was all but captured after the Battle of Waterloo that he was invited to sit in it, if he cared. Without a moment’s hesitation he embraced the opportunity, and his brother joined him.
It happened that we were just then about to have the carriage glazed in, as it has been since, to protect it from ruthless souvenir hunters, whose mutilations necessitated our keeping in stock rolls of cloth of the same pattern to renew the lining from time to time.
I wonder how many people in different parts of the world now show their friends strips of cloth purporting to be taken from the original lining of the Napoleon carriage, whereas the “souvenirs” are really “relics” of the looms of Yorkshire.
The last to sit in Napoleon’s carriage were the Prince of Wales and Prince Albert.
The Begum of Bhopal pays us a visit--Lord Rosebery and Lord Annaly--Lord Randolph Churchill--Lady Beatty, Lady Jellicoe, and Mrs. Asquith.
It was on the 29th of June, eight years ago, that we had a visit from the Begum of Bhopal, a lady who rules over millions in India.
She was in London for the coronation of King George and Queen Mary. As the Begum was a Moslem, we were somewhat concerned as to how we should receive Her Highness, it being rumoured that she could not be chaperoned by one of the opposite sex. I must deny the story that we had to turn all the males out of the Exhibition, for there was no occasion to do so.
The Begum was dressed in brown, with a flowing white yashmak hanging from a quaint head-dress shaped like a top-hat of the Leech period. This veil, by the etiquette of her country, is worn in the company of men, the wearer looking through two eye-holes.
In order that the exhibits might be explained to her, my wife and a friend of hers, Mrs. Arthur Dulcken, who spoke Hindustani fluently, acted as guides. Two turbaned gentlemen were in attendance, and the Begum walked between her little grandson and granddaughter, whose hands she held.
Her knowledge of English history was surprising. Even the Prince, who was only six years old, prattled about different English kings, though he insisted that the good King Alfred, shown in the neatherd’s cottage, where he is being rated by the shrew for allowing her cakes to burn, was a fairy-tale like that of the Sleeping Beauty.
When the party came to the Grand Hall in which King George and Queen Mary sat arrayed in their coronation robes, with six Princesses of the Royal House standing around them, “Bara Salaam,” said the Begum, as she bowed to the Emperor of India.
Before the scene which shows Queen Victoria receiving the news of her accession to the throne the little lady halted.
“She was very beautiful,” she said, “and so wise and kind and sympathetic.”
It was the tribute of one woman ruler to another.
“She was very beautiful,” she said again, “and so small. In Bhopal we think small people beautiful.”
The Begum’s inches were some sixty-two.
She glanced approvingly at the model of Tom Thumb, and proudly placed her grandson by the figure of the Russian giant to accentuate her admiration for small people.
As she passed through the Chamber of Horrors, with its guillotine and gallows, she said, with some degree of satisfaction, “We do not execute in Bhopal.”
“I thank you,” she said, as she departed in state; and her retainers added an official word of praise: “The Begum has found Madame Tussaud’s extremely interesting.”
* * * * *
Lord Rosebery has more than once visited Madame Tussaud’s, and made a fairly long stay on each occasion.
Only very recently he and Lord Annaly, Lord-in-Waiting to the King, came to the Exhibition together. Our lecturer happened to notice them among the visitors in the building, and observed the two noblemen makes a careful inspection of the exhibits, conversing in a lively manner, and occasionally calling each other’s attention to models which struck them as being specially interesting.
It is, of course, difficult to judge whether they were prompted by any particular motive, or paid the visit merely to enjoy a few minutes’ respite from the more serious affairs of life; but they both minutely examined the relics of the French Revolution and, curiously enough, the figures of the criminals in the Chamber of Horrors, where they spent some considerable time.
Lord Rosebery, as a citizen of Edinburgh, called his friend’s attention to the striking figures of Burke and Hare, with the story of whose crimes Lord Rosebery must, of course, have been familiar. These ghoulish men perpetrated a series of murders in the Scottish capital in the year 1828 for the purpose of obtaining money by selling the bodies to anatomical schools as subjects for dissection.
It may not be generally known that the verb “to burke” is derived from the villainous miscreant of that name.
One would like to have heard what passed between Lord Rosebery and Lord Annaly as, having left the abode of criminals, they stopped in front of the former’s portrait in the main hall of the Exhibition.
As they were leaving the building our representative, as an act of courtesy, opened the middle gate to let them pass with greater freedom, and, in doing so, said, “Good-night, my lord.” Lord Rosebery smiled in response like one who is pleased at being recognised. It was evident from their demeanour that both the peers had enjoyed their experience.
Lord Randolph Churchill once said that the two proudest moments in his life were neither his first election to Parliament nor his first appearance on the Treasury Bench, but the publication of a speech of his in leaflet form and the appearance of his effigy at Madame Tussaud’s. He added that he had long wished to see how he looked there, but had never dared to go. Notwithstanding this remark he was seen in the flesh on more than one occasion at a later date sauntering through the Exhibition rooms.
That the wives of famous men invariably feel curious to see the models of their husbands goes without saying, and very many instances might be cited of their having done so. Among those who visited the Exhibition during the war were Lady Jellicoe, Lady Beatty, and Mrs. Asquith.
Lady Beatty made a very intelligent criticism of the Admiral’s portrait, and as the result of her suggestions certain alterations were made.
Lady Jellicoe’s criticism was quite favourable. “You have been extremely fortunate in catching my husband’s expression,” she said.
Mrs. Asquith did not make any comments, but her young son, who came with her, derived not a little amusement from his distinguished father’s presentment, and showed his appreciation by coming again and bringing a boy friend to see it the very next day.
Tussaud’s as educator--Queer questions--Wanted, a “model” wife--Quaint extract from an Indian’s diary.
An American visitor to the Exhibition once said to me, “You know, this show is a liberal education, a history of Europe in kind. I never learned so much history in any one afternoon. Why don’t you write your reminiscences?”
I told him that I probably should do so one day, and he replied characteristically:
“There is no time like the present. Get on with it, and put me down as a subscriber.”
A French Ambassador is reported to have said: “A day in Tussaud’s is worth a year at Oxford; it fixes history as no tutor could.”
On more than one occasion schoolmasters have made a similar remark with reference to the value of the figures and exhibits in Madame Tussaud’s as a means of impressing the minds of their boys with the episodes of history. Teachers often bring their pupils, and I am constantly receiving appreciative letters after a visit.
Schoolboys themselves, I have always noticed, take the keenest possible interest in all they see, and I frequently overhear them eagerly challenging one another concerning the identity and lives of historical personages as they confront their models.
The Exhibition has been frequently consulted as an authority upon innumerable historical subjects, especially with regard to matters dealing with portraiture, biography, and costume, and many of the questions submitted might well have puzzled even the compiler of an encyclopædia. Queries are almost always coupled with an urgent request for immediate reply.
Peculiarities of well-known people are fruitful topics for inquiry. The following are a few of the questions put:
“On which side of Cromwell’s face did his warts grow?”
“Which was the arm that Nelson lost, and which was his blind eye?”
“Was Byron’s club-foot the right or the left?”
“Did Mary, Queen of Scots, have brown eyes or blue?”
Again: “What was the height of Napoleon?”--the most frequent question of all.
Other popular problems relate to costume:
“Did the Black Prince really wear black armour? Or to what was his cognomen due?”
We were consulted during the period when preparations were in progress for the late King Edward’s coronation so as to decide what was the correct tone of purple for the royal robes. As we have in our possession the robes actually worn by George IV at that King’s coronation, we allowed a broad hem on one of the trains to be unstitched, thus revealing the original colour, unchanged by exposure to dust and light.
In this connection the following quotation from Thackeray’s _The Four Georges_, published in 1861, is interesting:
Madame Tussaud has got King George’s coronation robes; is there any man now alive who would kiss the hem of that trumpery? He sleeps since thirty years.
The same author also mentions the Exhibition in the following extract from _The Newcomes_:
For pictures they do not seem to care much; they thought the National Gallery a dreary exhibition, and in the Royal Academy could be got to admire nothing but the picture of M’Collop of M’Collop, by our friend of the like name: but they think Madame Tussaud’s interesting exhibition of Waxwork the most delightful in London: and there I had the happiness of introducing them to our friend Mr. Frederick Bayham; who, subsequently, on coming to this office with his valuable contributions on the Fine Arts, made particular inquiries as to their pecuniary means, and expressed himself instantly ready to bestow his hand upon the mother or daughter, provided old Mr. Binnie would make a satisfactory settlement.
[Illustration: WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY
A Portrait Study by John T. Tussaud.]
On one or two other occasions our relics and historic pictures have been specially viewed by those who had charge of the arrangements, for the express purpose of settling points in regard to precedence and costume at royal functions.
Inquiries from members of the public often come about through a dispute which has ended in a wager, but many and various are the reasons that are assigned by the questioner for his query. Sometimes my correspondent is a writer of books, who wants to give a correct description of a character or incident.
This leads me to the subject of misconception, and it is surprising how deep-rooted are the inaccuracies that have crept into the minds of visitors with regard to the models they have seen in the Exhibition. Many of our patrons express themselves as absolutely certain that figures have done things which I am equally positive they never did and never could do.
[Illustration: WILLIAM COBBETT
Noted English political writer.]
What is the use of telling individuals that the originator of Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates, William Cobbett, who turns his head from side to side, does not take snuff, when they insist that they have actually seen him lift his hand from his snuff-box to his nose? Yet this is a widespread fallacy.
The figure of Marat dying in his bath never has breathed; it is the bosom of the Sleeping Beauty that rises and falls as she reposes in slumber.
Neither does Henry VIII turn his head to inspect his six wives. Those who think he does must be confusing him with the aforesaid Cobbett, although not a few readers of history think that the head of Bluff King Hal, who caused so many people to be beheaded, must itself have been “turned.”
Some years ago an elderly bachelor from the Midlands called to ask whether we could make him a model of a lady based upon his own description and sketches and dressed in clothes designed by himself.
I should have attached no importance to the matter had I not, my curiosity being whetted, asked a few questions of the caller.
It then transpired that the model was to represent his ideal woman whom he had been unable to discover in real life. He was anxious to have a woman about the house “pleasing to the eye, but at the same time somewhat less loquacious than the usual run of females,” as he put it.
He proposed that the model should be placed in an adjustable chair and be jointed, so that at meal-times it could sit at the head of his lonely table and at other times could recline at ease beside the fire, opposite his own armchair.
Needless to say, the commission was not accepted.
It is very natural that such an institution as Madame Tussaud’s should include the “curious” among its diversified store of anecdote.
One quaint document in our archives is the published diary of an Indian officer, Jemadar, No. 1427, Abdur Razzak, of the 15th Madras Lancers, from which I give the following extract relating to a visit he paid to the Exhibition:
On the 5th June, 1893, we went to see the Wax Work “Madame Tussaud,” where we first saw a woman in red dress with a basket full of different kinds of flowers all made in wax with her, which was very difficult to make out that she was an image, but when we entered the building we saw lots of images of emperors and kings, and remarkable persons both men and women with rich and poor dresses on.
I really say that I was very much admired to see these images, and was in many places in the buildings mistook the visitors to be of them when they were standing still, but when they moved was very much ashamed on account of my misunderstanding; by this we made our minds to be little far from both the images and the visitors and servants in the building.
We saw the throne of Her Majesty just the same we have seen on the 9th May, 1893, besides this one more image in shape with Her Majesty in a room writing something on a table with a candle on it, and this too quite astonishing.
We also saw a gentleman on elephant’s back in a jungle has hunted a tiger, the pair of which attacked the elephant round its trunk taking to him and the elephant putting its head down and a gentleman on it, aiming to fire on the tiger.
We saw a room in which were the images of almost all the assassinators with the particulars of their deeds. We also saw a place in which all the weapons, etc., to take revenge of assassinators, such as scabbard, hanging, &c.
Stars of the stage in my studio--Miss Ellen Terry has a cup of tea--Sir Squire and Lady Bancroft--Sir Henry Irving and the cabby--We comply with a strange request.
People sometimes ask me how my portraits are taken, and how my subjects sit to me.
It is very much with my work as it is with the work of a sculptor. There is practically only this distinction in principle--the sculptor reproduces his work in marble or bronze, and I execute mine in wax, both working from a first impression in clay. Added to this there is, of course, a difference in the matter of treatment.
Sitters have their own peculiar characteristics, and often require humouring.
I once wrote to Miss Ellen Terry, asking her to do me the honour of sitting to me; and she replied that she would be pleased to do so, making no appointment.
A few days afterwards the vivacious actress found her way to my studio door without anyone to guide her, and how she got there has always puzzled me. I was engrossed in some urgent work, when a rap came and Miss Terry sailed in, all smiles and animation.
She did not introduce herself. There was no need. I knew her instantly, as I supposed she imagined I should. It was a very hot day, and she said, “I am positively dying for a cup of tea.”
She told me she was just clearing off all her visiting arrears before sailing, and added: “You see, Mr. Tussaud, I have not forgotten you.”
The cup that cheers was very soon brewed, and Miss Terry saw that I noticed a gauntlet on her right hand as she raised the cup to her lips.
“I met with a slight accident on the stage,” she said.
I wish I could recall some of her delightful chat, and I regret that I did not keep a diary instead of trusting entirely to memory. However, I may derive some consolation from the conclusion, arrived at by an old and experienced literary friend, that it is seldom what has been forgotten would have been worth writing about had it been remembered.
When I had finished modelling, and not till then, Miss Terry apologised for being in a hurry, and as she took her departure I found myself wondering by what secret art or gift she could conjure up so much mirth and sprightliness when the thermometer was registering ninety in the shade.
After Miss Terry had gone my eye happened to catch the chair on which she had been sitting, and I discovered that the back legs were within an eighth of an inch of the edge of the high dais.
I trembled to think of what might have happened to the actress if the chair had fallen to the floor while she occupied it. I suppose the reason for its position having changed from that in which it was originally placed was that the actress, who could hardly be described as a reposeful “sitter,” had shifted it in her restlessness.
The carpenter had omitted to fix the fillet which should have been placed to preclude any risk of the chair falling from its elevated position.
Only a few months ago Lady Bancroft, speaking at a matinée in aid of King George’s Pension Fund for Actors, made an amusing allusion to Madame Tussaud’s.
She had just been listening to the dialogue between Peg Woffington, played by Irene Vanburgh, and Triplet, and she said:
“When it was arranged that my husband should come from his retirement to play the part of Triplet, we were very much exercised where to find his old costume.
“Then, all at once, we remembered the last time we saw that costume was at Madame Tussaud’s.
“I said, ‘Of course you have been melted down by this time.’
“He said, ‘What do you think they have made of me? Perhaps Marshal Foch, perhaps President Poincaré, perhaps President Wilson. I only hope my figure has not been melted down to something in the Chamber of Horrors.’”
None laughed more heartily than the King at Lady Bancroft’s story.
It was in the spring of 1889, that the Bancrofts gave me several sittings. The merry laughter of the actress made the time pass quickly and my work a real joy.
[Illustration: SIR SQUIRE BANCROFT
Whose model as Triplet, together with the model of Lady Bancroft as Peg Woffington, are on exhibition at Madame Tussaud’s.]
When the models of Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft were added to the Exhibition, in the characters of Peg Woffington and Triplet in _Masks and Faces_, reference to this was made in our Easter announcement.
Sir Squire Bancroft tells the following story in this connection:
“A young man from the country visited the Exhibition on Easter Monday of that year, and went straight to the Chamber of Horrors. He said he wanted to see the ‘_squire who murdered a triplet_’!”
They tell me that Henry Irving came to see his portrait a year after I had modelled him, but, unfortunately, I missed the great actor that day.
Mention of Irving takes my mind back rather a long way, to the time when I had the pleasure of introducing his model and that of Miss Ellen Terry to the Exhibition. They were on the eve of making their first journey across the Atlantic, and they cheerfully consented to enable me to let the public see them in their absence.
Irving was an ideal sitter, as might be expected of a great actor. He adapted himself to my requirements in every detail, and gave me to feel that he took great pleasure in my work. I very soon became aware of Irving’s kindliness of heart and his sympathy with an artist at his labours.
Conversation turned upon the question of insuring Madame Tussaud’s against fire, and Irving remarked that money would be a very poor compensation for the loss of our irreplaceable collection, especially having regard to the relics of Napoleon and the heads of the French revolutionaries.
The actor told me of an alarming experience he had while acting at the Lyceum Theatre.
The play was nearing its most dramatic climax when he noticed that fire had broken out in the “sky borders,” and the fear of a panic in the audience rose in his mind lest any member of it should chance to see the flames.
He admitted that it was an ordeal that required all his courage to face without betraying signs of anxiety, but he succeeded in continuing to play his part without a single person in the front of the house suspecting that there was any cause for alarm.
Fortunately, the stage carpenters and attendants were able to extinguish the fast-spreading flames without any interruption. The curtain was eventually rung down on an applauding audience, quite oblivious of the danger that had threatened.
Irving lighted his pipe on his departure, which set me thinking that he would have enjoyed a smoke during the sitting, but was too courteous and considerate to suggest one. He told me he hoped, on his return from America, to visit the Exhibition and see his portrait. He came and saw it, but I did not see him.
Sir Henry used to employ the same cabman to take him to the theatre each evening. He asked him once if he had ever seen him act, and, the man replying in the negative, Irving gave him five shillings with which the cabman could procure seats for himself and his wife in the pit.
On the following day the actor asked the driver what he thought of him on the stage.
“To tell you the truth,” said the ingenuous jehu, “we didn’t go.”
“Not go,” said Irving, “when I gave you the money for the seats!”
“Well, sir,” said the man, “it was this way. It was my missus’s birthday, and I asked her which she would prefer to do--go to see you act, or go to Madame Tussaud’s, and she said she preferred the waxworks.”
Irving often related this story against himself with the greatest gusto, enjoying it quite as much as his hearers did.
On many occasions Madame Tussaud’s has been of service to the stage.
When the late W. G. Wills, the author of _Jane Shore_, a prolific playwright in his day, was at the height of his popularity, my father was approached by Mr. Coleman, manager of the Queen’s Theatre, Long Acre, to produce for him a figure of Charles I.
The reason of this request was, surely, one of the strangest that ever entered the brain of even the most enterprising of theatrical managers.
Mr. George Rignold was playing at that theatre a drama, written by Wills, entitled _Cromwell_. This play was the successor of another by the same dramatist, namely, _Charles I_, in which Irving played the part of the King, and confirmed the reputation he had made in _The Bells_.
A bargain had been struck that if _Charles I_ succeeded, Wills should write _Cromwell_ for Mr. Coleman. _Charles I_ proved a great success at the Lyceum, but _Cromwell_ was a comparative failure at the Queen’s.
I come now to the reason of Mr. Coleman’s request for a waxen model of the King.
He said he wanted it to repose in the coffin on the stage to stimulate the imagination of the actor, Mr. Rignold, when rendering the long oration delivered by Cromwell in the presence of the dead monarch.
The model was furnished with every detail, even to the clothing in which the body was attired. I was afterwards told that only the manager, the actor, and my father were aware of the realistic plan that had been devised to accentuate an actor’s eloquence.
Literary sitters--George R. Sims’s impromptu--His ordeal in the Chamber of Horrors--George Augustus Sala’s masterpiece.
Mr. G. R. Sims was a cheery, entertaining sitter; not, perhaps, what most artists would consider a helpful one. His active mind busied itself with every object of interest around him. He would know all about them, and tell each off with some droll quip or whimsical jest.
I have spent many a bright hour with “Dagonet”--yes, even including those spent with him in the Chamber of Horrors.
I once chanced to have a book of his (the _Dagonet Ballads_) in my hand when he came into my studio, and I asked him to sign his name in it. Without a moment’s hesitation he wrote:
I’m a model man.
You’re a modeller.
G. R. SIMS.
Soon after we had decided to add Mr. Sims’s figure to the Exhibition, Mrs. G. A. Sala happened to meet him, and questioned him as to the sensations he experienced in picturing himself as a waxen celebrity.
“I feel very frightened indeed,” he promptly replied, “and more than that, exceedingly sorry that I ever promised to become a waxwork, for I have been told since that if the public grow weary of your presence, or the Tussauds get offended with you, they melt you down, and build up a more popular fellow out of your dripping. Nasty idea, very!”
Mrs. Sala said it certainly _was_ a very nasty idea; but if there were any truth in the melting-down story, G. R. could enjoy the satisfaction of thinking that he might have arisen in his waxen grandeur from the “dripping” of someone less popular than himself.
Mr. Sims said that so long as the public only stuck pins into him, or stamped on his toes, he did not mind; but he should feel it very much if they were to bang him about the head with an umbrella, or take him by the collar and shake him.
It must have been in the early winter of the year 1891, while I was modelling him, that Mr. Sims had the following interesting and somewhat unpleasant experience, which he himself describes. He says:
“I have been penetrating the secrets of Tussaud’s lately, and had a specially quiet half-hour alone with the murderers in the Chamber of Horrors, just to see what it was like.
“The idea came to me one night when I had been sitting late to Mr. John Tussaud. I wanted to see what it would feel like to be all alone with those awful people with only one dim jet of gas lighting up their fearful features.
“After the door was shut I walked about and whistled, and stared defiantly at William Corder and James Bloomfield Rush, and even went so far as to address M. Eyraud in French. But wandering about in the semi-darkness I stumbled and fell, and when I got up and looked around me I found I was in Mrs. Pearcey’s kitchen.
“Then I made one wild rush at the closed door, and hammered at it until the kindly watchman came and let me out. I never want to be shut up alone at night in the Chamber of Horrors again as long as I live.”
Humorously describing my studios at the time, Mr. Sims says:
“At Madame Tussaud’s I am at present in rather a curious condition. There is a good deal of the Thames mystery about me. It is not given to every man to see his legs in one room, his hands hanging up in another, and his head on a shelf, looking about anxiously for his body.
“I can’t say I quite like looking at my head on a shelf. It suggests decapitation and Madame de Lamballe’s head on a pike as Louis caught sight of it when the mob held it up at the window.
“But I am assured that I shall be put together next week, and that my limbs will once more be found together as Nature intended they should be.
“I don’t know what that Scotch sixpenny which refers to me in highly uncomplimentary terms about seven times in every column will say, but the exigencies of space at the Marylebone Museum have compelled the management to put me next to Lord Tennyson. I am sure that this will be such a shock to my modesty that I shall go hot and melt the very first day that the weather is at all warm.
“Fortunately, I shall have a brother journalist to support me and keep me in countenance, for while Lord Tennyson is seated writing poetry in his study, Mr. George Augustus Sala in _his_ study sits next door to him, dashing off one of his brilliant leaders for the _Daily Telegraph_. It is in a study built up on the other side of Lord Tennyson that the visitor to Madame Tussaud’s will at an early date find himself face to face with ‘Dagonet.’”
There George R. Sims has been seated ever since. Twenty-eight years ago! Time has wrought many changes, but during the whole of that period I have uninterruptedly enjoyed Mr. Sims’s valued friendship.
[Illustration: GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA
The bust of the eminent journalist, first exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, in 1890, by John T. Tussaud.]
George Augustus Sala sat to me about the same time, and a very good sitter he was. The celebrated journalist lived in a flat at Victoria Street, Westminster, where I called on him, and I remember his saying to me with pride:
“I’m taking up modern Greek in my sixtieth year. What do you think I am reading? I am reading an excellent account in Greek of the Stanfield Hall murder.”
During the autumn of 1889 I had seen a good deal of Mr. Sala, for we were at that time discussing the details for the rewriting of our Exhibition Catalogue.
He had always taken a great interest in Madame Tussaud’s, and, like many other literary men, had found it useful as a place of reference on matters of portraiture and costume. He entered upon the scheme for producing a better and larger Catalogue with great enthusiasm, but I soon discovered that the work was hardly likely to receive that equable treatment necessary for a book of the kind.
There were certain subjects his mind positively ran riot on, while others scarcely aroused the slightest interest.
Marie Antoinette and Mary, Queen of Scots, stirred his imagination most of all, and to the ill-fated Queen of Louis XVI he reverted so often that it seemed the book was likely to be over-weighted with matter dealing with her sad career, to the exclusion of so much else of vital importance to our handbook.
Whenever he stood in front of the decapitated head of Marie Antoinette he always contemplated it in silence--and invariably passed from it without making any remark, as if it were a subject too sad for ordinary comment.
“I have done the Marie Antoinette biography,” greeted me long before the work had been definitely agreed upon, and six or seven pages of essay were pressed into my hands as an accomplished undertaking that positively left no room for further consideration. This matter was printed in full in our Catalogue, and remained there until the difficulty in procuring paper during the war necessitated its temporary elimination. It is, perhaps, the best thing, from a purely literary point of view, that Sala ever wrote.
It is reprinted as the following chapter.
G. A. SALA ON MARIE ANTOINETTE
The Royal Family--The Queen--Her “trial,” condemnation and death--The Sansons--Sala’s impressions.
[Illustration: GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA
From a photograph.]
There are some stories so dreadful in the immensity of human misery which they reveal--there are some tragedies of which the catastrophe is one of such unmitigated horror, that the reader who has general impressions of what will be the end of the dismal tale, but who is unfamiliar with its particular circumstances, is unable to follow, without some kind of impatience, the opening scenes of the drama. He has continually in his mind’s eye the awful falling of the curtain on anguish and despair and death. Half unconsciously he hastens on in his perusal, and slurs over minor episodes and seemingly trifling facts, forgetting that these are subsidiary and auxiliary to the terrible consummation which he so anxiously awaits. “Toutes choses meuvent vers leur fin,” Rabelais has said; but the little things--the slender fibres of a story--are gathered up as it proceeds, into bundles; and, acquiring importance from consolidation, are ultimately merged in the final and tremendous whole.
Thus there have been many records of human life and action, now real, now artificial, in reading which we have to encounter an almost uncontrollable impulse to turn to the end, and ascertain whether that of which we have had, at the beginning, a vague forecast, will really come to pass. Who, if he will only have the candour to acknowledge it, has not had to struggle with such an impulse in reading, say, the _Electra_ of Sophocles, the _Faust_ of Goethe, and the _Bride of Lammermoor_ of Scott?--three of the most perfectly tragic dramas, I take it, ever fashioned by the hand of mortal genius. And so it is with numerous tragedies of superhuman structure and ordinance. In both cases we pant for the last scene of all, which is to end the strange eventful history. What will be the fate of Aegisthus, and the doom of Clytemnestra? Who, if anyone, will rescue Gretchen from a shameful death? How will Edgar Ravenswood bear his immeasurable sorrow?
These are the problems which agitate us in the study of fiction, and irresistibly impel us to hasten from the prologue to the epilogue--from the exordium to the peroration. And to speed as quickly is usually our desire when we are confronted with the tragedies of history, or with the vouched-for chronicles of human passion and crime. Throw down on the floor Clarendon’s _History of the Rebellion_, it has been said, and the volume will open, automatically, at the page where the execution of Charles I is described. Try to concentrate your thoughts on the history of Marie Stuart; and, coldly, clearly, sternly distinct in the midst of a whirligig of scenes and events--the Louvre, Holyrood, the Kirk of Field, Lochleven and what not--there stands out the image of the Hall at Fotheringay, the black scaffold, the block, the masked headsman; the Dean of Peterborough drearily homilising, and the Puritan Earl of Kent ranting; while the weeping tire-women disrobe the royal victim, her little pet dog snuggling by her, not without difficulty when the axe has fallen to be dislodged from the corse of the kind mistress he loved so well, and who has been stricken down by cruel men, he knows not why. See this, as I see it.
It is my purpose to write something on the eventful life and dreadful ending of Queen Marie Antoinette. I try, when I remember the sunshine of her early days--her youth, her beauty, her grace--to put myself in a cheerful frame of mind. I wish to look, at least for a little while, on the bright side of a career which began so splendidly and so happily. I would fain picture to myself the daughter of Maria Theresa, as Edmund Burke saw her at Versailles--smiling, radiant, adored. I would fain hear the clash of the thirty thousand swords which should have leaped from their scabbards to avenge the slightest affront to the peerless consort of the King of France and Navarre.
I take from my shelves the _Journal de Madame Eloff_--the ledger containing the milliner and dressmaker’s bills of a perhaps too extravagant young Queen--an endless catalogue of taffetas and satins, gauze and ribbons, high-heeled shoes and embroidered gloves, scent-bottles, reticules, feathers, artificial flowers and fans. From an old Boule cabinet I lift tenderly a dainty little coffee-cup of Sèvres egg-shell porcelain, adorned with an exquisite miniature of her, painted when she had only been two years the wife of the hapless Louis. The cup is half embedded in a setting of velvet _bleu du Roi_; and, alas! when I draw the ceramic gem delicately from the case I see that the cup has no handle.
A maimed relic, this porcelain trifle, possibly of a priceless breakfast set, wantonly shattered by a howling mob of _poissardes_ and red night-capped “patriots” who had sacked one of the Royal Palaces. A crowd of memories are conjured up by this morsel of dismembered Sèvres. I see, as in a glass darkly, the Galerie des Glaces and the Œil-de-Boeuf at Versailles. I see the toy Dairy at the Petit Trianon; the banquet of the Gardes du Corps in the Great Theatre of the Palace; the King and Queen: the Royal Princesses circulating among the guests and distributing white cockades among them; while the musicians make the hall resound with the strains of “_Oh, Richard! Oh, mon Roi!_”
No, surely, the age of Chivalry is not past, and thrice ten thousand glaives will leap into the light to vindicate the outraged Majesty of France. There’s no such thing! A confused picture--a panorama all torn to shreds and splashed with mud and flecked with blood flows before me. The Etats Genéraux have wed: the nobility sparkling in velvet and plumes and golden broideries; the clergy brave in copes and mitres and point lace: the “Tiers Etat,” all in sombre black, short-cloaked, slouch-hatted, grave, preoccupied, looking unutterable things. Among them looms, very real and portentous indeed, a thick-set, pock-marked man, with an eye of fire. This is Honore Gabriel Riquetti, rightly Comte de Mirabeau, but who has broken with his order, and styling himself “Mirabeau Marchand de Draps”--a retail clothier from Marseilles, forsooth! of about forty-eight hours’ commercial standing--stalks among country notaries and shopkeepers, farmers and shopkeepers as a Deputy of the Third Estate.
But all these fade away from my field of vision. I set to studying and balancing my rambling thoughts. I have to deal with Marie Antoinette, Josephe-Jeanne de Lorraine, wife of Louis XVI, and who was born, you will remember, at Vienna, on the 2nd of November, 1755, the very day of that earthquake at Lisbon in the occurrence of which Dr. Johnson for a long time so resolutely refused to believe. Would the doctor, I wonder, had he lived in 1793, have declined to place credence in a newspaper report of what is now to be narrated--an upheaval more dreadful and disastrous than any physical convulsion of the earth’s crust? The tattered, muddy, gory panorama fades into a murky nothingness. Then, out of the Valley of Shadows there arises, terribly distinct and substantial, THIS--
It is a raw, chilly, marrow-searching day in the month of October, 1793. A spacious hall, known in this new and blessed era of Universal Regeneration, and Unlimited Throat-Cutting, as the Salle de la Liberté, in the Palais de Justice, hard by the prison of the Conciergerie, has been swept and garnished for the trial of the discrowned and desolate widow of “Louis Capet,” murdered on the scaffold in the Place de la Révolution last January. In a dark and filthy dungeon of that same Conciergerie Marie Antoinette has been immured since August. The walls of the Salle de la Liberté have been newly whitewashed--no voluptuous frescoes or oil painting in this abode of Republican simplicity, if you please: only patriotic lime-whiting and democratic glue--and the almost blinding glare of the stark walls brings out in strong relief the dark green canopy suspended over the heads of the Judges of the Revolutionary Tribunal, who are five in number, the President being one, Hermann.
Above this precious conclave are the busts of Brutus--save the mark!--and two recent Revolutionary notorieties: the infamous Marat, deservedly done to death by Charlotte Corday and the member of the Convention, Lepelletier de St. Fargeau, who had voted for the death sentence on Louis XVI, and who immediately afterwards was stabbed to death by an ex-Garde du Corps in an eating house in the Palais National--once Palais Royal. The busts are crowned with scarlet caps of liberty, adorned with monstrous tri-coloured cockades, and are flanked by two huge oil lamps. There will be need of the lamps; for the deliberation of the tribunal will probably last far into the night.
The judges sit at a long table which, although shabby, is somewhat pretentious in its upholstering, since the legs are of mahogany, and fluted, and the brazen feet are fashioned in the shape of griffin’s claws, and exhibit some traces of bygone gilding. This table is yet extant, and forms part of the furniture of the Court of Cassation, which at present holds its sittings in the old Salle de la Liberté. The Public Accuser has his place in front of the President; the jury--yes, this monstrous tribunal has a jury!--is to the left of the judges; and to the right is the desk of the Counsel for the defence. Behind him is the seat for the prisoners. A breast-high balustrade separates the Court from the space set apart for the public, which is ample enough, and is thronged, this dreary October morning, by a motley crew of _sans culottes_, mechanics, lamplighters, bargemen and coarse, loud-voiced women from the markets, some of them known as “_Tricoteuses_” and “Furies of the Guillotine.”
Between the balustrade and the body of the Court runs a long gangway, at one extremity of which is a door, communicating by means of a narrow staircase with the Gaol of the Conciergerie.
Up this staircase and through this door, and along this gangway, and so through an opening of the balustrade into the criminal dock, there is brought, between two gendarmes, a woman of middle age, with abundant hair which has turned quite grey lately, and features which retain a few--a very few--traces of former comeliness. She is barely eight-and-thirty, and she looks full fifty. She is miserably clad in an old, patched, threadbare gown of black serge, which has been mended for her innumerable times by a compassionate girl named Rosalie, the daughter of the gaoler. Her shoes are old, full of holes, and down at heel. She wears black cotton stockings, and about her shoulders is arranged a kind of tippet, or pelérine, of frayed white muslin. As yet she wears no cap; and her long tresses have been carefully dressed and oiled this morning by the pitying Rosalie. Obviously, she is in mourning for her husband, sometime King of France and Navarre; but the Revolutionary Tribunal knows nothing of such titles, and in the Act of Accusation, which is read in a monotonous sing-song by the _Greffier_, the prisoner is arraigned as “Marie Antoinette, of Austria and Lorraine, widow of Louis Capet.”
The indictment goes on to say that the widow Capet has by her crimes rendered herself the worthy compeer of Brunéhaut, Fredegonde, and Catherine de Medicis; that since she has had her abode in France she has been the scourge and bloodsucker of her adopted country; and that even before “the Happy Revolution which gave the French their sovereignty” she entered into political correspondence with “the man calling himself King of Bohemia and Hungary”--this is the Emperor of Austria her brother--that, in conjunction with the brothers of Louis Capet, and “the execrable and infamous Calonne” she had squandered the resources of France (the fruit of the sweat of the people) in a dreadful manner, “to satisfy inordinate pleasures and to pay the agents of her criminal intrigues.”
In another count of the indictment she is charged with being “an adept in all sorts of crimes.” One of these “crimes” is, that on the evening of the famous banquet to the Garde du Corps, and the Regiment de Flanders, in the Opera House at Versailles, she, with the King and a numerous and brilliant following, had passed between the lines of tables, distributing white cockades to the officers and encouraging them to trample the national or tri-coloured cockade under foot.
“Prisoner,” thunders the President, “were you there when the band played the air, ‘_Oh, Richard, oh mon Roi_’?”
“I do not recollect,” replies the Queen.
“Were you there when the toast of ‘The Nation’ was proposed and refused?”
“I do not think that I was.”
“Did not your husband read his speech to the representatives to you half-an-hour before he delivered it?”
“My husband had great confidence in me, and that made him read his speech to me; but I made no observations.”
Fancy cutting a poor woman’s head off because her husband read her a speech which he was about to deliver in public! Does Mr. Gladstone, does Lord Randolph Churchill, does Sir William Harcourt, I wonder, ever favour the domestic circle with such “fore-lectures” as Dr. Furnival might call them?
A remarkable witness against Marie Antoinette is a ruffian named Roussillon, who deposes that on the fatal Tenth of August when the Tuileries was stormed by the mob, he saw under the Queen’s bed a number of empty wine-bottles, “from which,” adds Roussillon, “I concluded that she had herself distributed wine to the Swiss soldiers, that these wretches in their intoxication might assassinate the people.”
Another witness testifies that among the effects of the ex-Queen found at the prison of the Temple was a satin riband bearing the gilt image of a Heart with the inscription “_Cor Jesu miserere nobis_.” Other testimony is to the effect that while the Queen and the children were incarcerated in the Temple, after the execution of Louis, the poor little Dauphin was placed at the top of the table by his mother, and was served first; thus justifying the inference that she ignored the Republic, One and Indivisible, and recognised her young son as Louis XVII, and the successor of his murdered sire.
Another charge, an abominable charge, and one so monstrous as to make it scarcely credible that it should be launched against a woman and a mother, is that she had systematically sought to corrupt the mind of the poor young prince. To this horrible allegation she makes at first no answer. At length, when the charge is repeated, she is moved to noble indignation, and exclaims: You accuse me of an impossibility: “_J’en appelle à toutes les mères_.” I appeal to all mothers. But the instinct of maternity seems to be dead in all that hall of blood, and the beldames in the public tribunes only yell and gibe at her.
Less revolting, but equally preposterous, is the evidence of one Renée Mullet, a chambermaid who has been in service at Versailles, and this hussey swears that one day, “in a moment of good humour,” she asked the _ci-devant_ Duc de Coigny whether the Emperor still continued to wage war against the Turks; as in that case France would soon be ruined, the Queen having sent her brother no less than two hundred millions of livres, wherewith to carry on hostilities. To this, according to the gossiping waiting woman, the Duke made answer: “Thou art right enough. Two hundred millions have already been spent, and we are not at the end of it yet.”
It is on such evidence as this--evidence not heavy enough to detach a feather from a pigeon’s wing, not convincing enough to prove a forty shilling debt, the wretched Marie Antoinette is at length convicted. The President sums up, furiously, against her. The advocates who defend her, Chauveau and Tronçon-Ducoudray have little to say, to the point, and can only feebly plead for clemency to be extended to her; and the jury, after deliberating for fifty-five minutes, return a verdict _affirming all the charges submitted to them_. Hermann calls on the accused to declare whether she has any objection to make to the sentence of the law demanded by the Public Accuser. Marie Antoinette bows her head in token of a negative.
Then the tribunal, putting their bloodthirsty heads together for a few minutes, condemn Marie Antoinette of Austria and Lorraine, widow of Louis Capet to the punishment of Death, “and the confiscation of all her property for the benefit of the Republic, the sentence to be executed in the Square of the Revolution.” The confiscation of all her property! When she was dead, an inventory was taken of the few rags which she had left behind her in her cell in the Conciergerie, and they were appraised at the magnificent sum of nine livres, about seven and sixpence sterling. Nine livres all told! In the second year of her marriage it was computed that the roll and butter served every morning to each of her ladies of honour, cost two thousand livres, or eighty pounds a year; and five thousand livres was the annual charge for the bouillon, or beef-tea, kept hot by day and by night for Madame Royale, who was a weakly child. During the earlier portion of her imprisonment the unhappy Queen had been supplied with body linen by the compassionate care of the Marchioness of Stafford, the wife of the British Ambassador in Paris, but there was no kindly Ambassadress to succour her in her last and darkest days, and the only hand held forth in pity to this forlorn daughter of the Cæsars was that of a gaoler’s daughter.
It was half past four on the morning of the sixteenth of October when this infernal tribunal adjourned, and the Queen was conducted back to her prison. Throughout the whole of her trial she had not ceased to maintain a calm countenance; but at times she seemed to be giving way to a feeling of sheer weary listlessness, and moved her fingers on the bar of the dock before her, as though she was playing on the harpsichord When she heard the sentence pronounced, her features did not shew the slightest alteration; and she walked from the hall erect and seemingly unmoved, gendarmes with drawn swords before and behind her, and the beldames of the fish-market and the rag-shops cursing and shrieking at her, just as you may see them in Paul Delaroche’s noble picture.
So they took her back to a dungeon twelve feet long, eight feet broad, four feet underground, with a grated window on a level with the pavement. Into this wretched hole some scraps of the coarsest food were brought her; but she was left under the incessant supervision of a female prisoner and two soldiers. It is said that she snatched a little sleep. On waking she asked one of the gendarmes who had been present at the trial whether she had replied “with too much dignity” to the question put to her. “I ask,” she added, “because I overheard a woman say, _See how haughty she still is_.” The woman who could have made such an observation must have been one of the hags that Delaroche has painted.
At seven o’clock in the morning, the entire garrison of Paris was under arms. Cannon were placed in all the public places; and at the foot of every bridge from the Quay of the Conciergerie to the Place de la Révolution, that magnificent area between the gardens of the Tuileries, originally called the Place Louis XV, and now know as the Place de la Concorde. At half-past eleven Marie Antoinette, dressed in a white linen déshabille, was brought out from the prison. As though she had been the commonest of malefactors she was made to mount the charette, or open cart, the appointed tumbril of infamy. At least the murderers of her husband had had the decency to allow him the “luxury” of a hackney coach, when he was taken from the Temple to the scaffold. Her hair had been cut short ere she left the gaol, and what remained of her formerly luxuriant tresses was tucked under a white mob-cap. Her hands were tied behind her back.
Of the Queen in this deplorable plight there exists a very beautiful statue executed by Lord Ronald Gower. On the right, in the tumbril, was seated Sanson, the executioner, and on the left a “constitutional” priest, that is to say, one who had taken the oath of fealty to the Republic. To the ministrations of this “patriotic” cleric, who was dressed in light grey coat and a bob-wig, Marie Antoinette had in the first instance declined to listen; but she occasionally spoke to him on her way to the fatal Place de la Révolution.
An immense mob, in which women were revoltingly numerous, crowded the streets throughout the entire line of route insulting the Queen and vociferating “Long live the Republic!” She seldom cast her eyes on the populace, but from time to time looked with some curiosity on the prodigious military force surrounding the cart. Otherwise her attitude throughout this last dismal pilgrimage was one of half torpid indifference.
As the cart traversed the Rue St. Honoré, the numbed faculties of the Queen seemed momentarily to revive; and she examined with some attention the multitudinous inscriptions of “Liberty” and “Equality” over the shop-fronts.
It was as the vehicle turned the corner of the Rue St. Honoré into that which is now the Rue Royale that the famous painter, David, who, during the Reign of Terror, was a furious Jacobin and a friend of Robespierre, but who was destined to become a Baron of the Empire, and to paint the Coronation of Napoleon at Notre Dame, was able from the balcony which he occupied in company with the wife of a member of the Convention to make a sketch of Marie Antoinette. The drawing has come down to us. The features of the Martyr Queen are sharp and pinched, exhibiting no traces whatever of former comeliness, and she looks fifty years of age. It may here be mentioned that the illustrious and pure-minded English sculptor, John Flaxman, when he visited Paris, after the Peace of Amiens, resolutely refused to meet the artist who made the last sketch of Marie Antoinette, and always spoke of him disdainfully as “David of the bloodstained brush.”
The historians are divided in opinion as to the demeanor of Marie Antoinette on the scaffold. Some say that she laid herself down on the fatal plank with calm deliberation, and met her death with noble fortitude, recalling Andrew Marvell’s superb lines on the execution of Charles I:--
And while the armèd bands Did clap their bloody hands, He nothing common did, nor mean, Upon that memorable scene; Nor called the gods, in vulgar spite, To vindicate his helpless might; But, with his keener eye The axe’s edge did try; Then bowed his comely head Down, as upon a bed.
Others narrate that the Queen ascended the steps of the scaffold in great haste, and with apparent impatience, and turned her eyes with much emotion towards the Palace of the Tuileries, the scene of her former greatness, and that she made some slight resistance before submitting to the executioner. My own impression is that she was two-thirds dead--that the _rigor mortis_ was upon her before she reached the scaffold; that she was lifted out of the cart and half carried to the guillotine, and that she did not give the headsman and his assistants the slightest trouble.
It is, at all events, certain that at half past twelve her head was severed from her body. One of the _valets du bourreau_, or executioner’s men, lifted and showed the head streaming with blood, from the four quarters of the scaffold, the mob meanwhile screeching “_Vive la République!_” and it is asserted that a young man who dipped his handkerchief in the blood, and pressed it with veneration to his heart, was instantly apprehended. The corpse of Marie Antoinette was immediately flung into a pit filled with quicklime, in the graveyard of the Madeleine where the remains of her husband had also been interred.
At the Restoration in 1814, diligent search was made for the ashes of the King and Queen in the cemetery, on the site of which was subsequently erected an Expiatory Chapel. Some half calcined bones and a few scraps of cloth and linen were found; and these last having been identified by experts as having been part of the apparel of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the relics with a considerable quantity of the surrounding earth, were inhumed with much pomp and solemnity, in the Royal Vault of the Cathedral of St. Denis.
Touching the executioner, it may be expedient to record that Marie Antoinette was guillotined, not by Charles Henri Sanson, who beheaded Louis XVI, but by his son, Henri, who died in Paris in 1840, aged seventy-three. The elder Sanson died only a few weeks after he had executed Louis, and the Royalist historians maintain that his death was hastened by remorse for the deed which he had been constrained to commit, and that in his will he bequeathed a considerable sum for the celebration of an annual Expiatory Mass. But this is very doubtful. It has been shown, however, without the possibility of doubt, that the Sanson family were of Florentine origin, and that the ancestors of Charles Henri and of Henri Sanson came to France in the train of Catherine de Medicis. For two hundred years, without intermission, had members of this gloomy historic family been executioners in ordinary to the city of Paris.
In addition to Marie Antoinette, the younger Sanson decapitated the Queen’s sister-in-law, Madame Elisabeth, and the eloquent advocate, Malesherbes, who undertook the defence of Louise XVI. He likewise beheaded the Duke of Orléans (Philippe Égalité), and last, but not least, Maximilien Robespierre. The so-called _Memoirs of the Sanson Family_ are more than half suspected to be mainly apocryphal, and to have been written by one D’Olbreuse, a bookseller’s hack; and, according to a writer in the Paris _Temps_, in 1875 the last of the Sansons was a remarkably mild, flaccid and stupid old gentleman, who was certainly incapable of writing any “Memoirs” whatever, since his own memory was hopelessly decayed, and whose circumstances in his old age became so embarrassed that he was arrested for debt, and confined in the prison of Clichy, whence he only procured his enlargement by _pawning the guillotine itself_ for 4,000 francs!
Shortly after the conclusion of this singular transaction, a murderer had to be executed, and the usual instructions were issued by the Procureur General to Henri Sanson, to have his death dealing apparatus ready on a certain morning in the Place de la Roquette. It then became necessary to explain to the authorities that the fatal machine was practically in the custody of My Uncle. Justice, however, had to be satisfied, and the murderer’s head was duly cut off on the appointed morning; but simultaneously with the signature of the Minister of Justice of a draft for 4,000 francs to release the hypothecated guillotine, there was issued an order dismissing Sanson from his post.
And Marie Antoinette? I have drawn her picture as faithfully as I could, not without much toil and more perplexity for the memoirs of the period in which she lived and died absolutely bristle with falsehoods, the inventions now of Royalist and now of Republican writers. Comparatively few are the facts concerning her which have been exactly ascertained and are altogether indisputable; whereas the name of the unfounded assertions, the insinuations, the hypotheses, and the downright lies, is legion. By some this most unhappy woman has been represented as an angel of goodness and purity, a faithful spouse, a fond parent, a kind mistress, and a most pious and charitable princess. By others she has been depicted as a crafty, unscrupulous and vindictive woman, as perfidious as Borgia and profligate as Messalina.
This is no place in which to discuss at length a most intricate question, all hedged about by obscurity, uncertainties and mysteries which will, perhaps, never be solved. At all events, the story which I have told of her trial and her last moments is true. For the rest, both Royalists and Republicans agree that Marie Antoinette was born at Vienna, in 1755, and was the daughter of Francis of Lorraine, Emperor of Germany, and of Marie Theresa of Austria. In May, 1770, she married the Dauphin Louis, who was grandson of Louis XV of France, and who, in 1774, ascended the French throne as Louis XVI. It would not seem that Marie Antoinette was absolutely beautiful, as beautiful, say, as Queen Louisa of Prussia, or as the Empress Eugene, still there is a tolerably unanimous consensus of opinion that she was handsome, lively, amiable, and thoroughly kind-hearted. It is possible that she may have been a little thoughtless in her youth; and the ledgers of Madame Eloffe certainly show that, as regards her toilet, Marie Antoinette was a most prodigal Queen. But is it a mortal sin in a young, pretty and sprightly woman to spend a good deal of money on dress? How many hundred dresses did our chaste Queen Elizabeth leave behind her, in her wardrobe, at her death?
It must be granted that when the dissensions of the Revolution began, Marie Antoinette was on the Conservative side, and that she tried her hardest to incline her husband to that side. Was it so very unnatural that she should do so? Her brother, the Emperor Joseph, used to say that “Royalty was his trade”; and poor Marie Antoinette may have laboured under a similar persuasion. But the times were very bad indeed for the “trade” of Royalty, and there arose a grim conviction among the working millions that the best way of mending matters was to dethrone, plunder, and murder their masters and mistresses.
The influence of Marie Antoinette in the councils of Louis has been, I should say, considerably exaggerated by her enemies. Her husband, naturally disposed to concession, was by temper irresolute, and he allowed himself to be led away by the course of events, instead of striving to control and direct them. There can be little doubt, either, that Marie Antoinette was one of the chief advisers of the flight of the King and Royal Family to Varennes; and that imprudent enterprise served, even more fiercely, to inflame the public animosity against herself and her husband.
But again, I fail to see the criminality of this attempted escape. The King and Queen knew well enough that the Revolutionists intended to deprive them of their crowns, and, in all probability, of their lives, they had no adequate armed force with which to resist the mob. Were they not justified in running away? After the deposition of Louis, all the elements of grandeur in the character of Marie Antoinette began to manifest themselves. She showed the greatest courage during the dastardly attacks made on the Royal Family; and she appeared to be always more anxious for the safety of her husband and children than for her own. She shared their captivity with noble resignation, and her demeanour under the most trying circumstances never lost an iota of its dignity. In the presence of her judges her fortitude never forsook her; her burst of indignant maternal feeling overawed even the butchers who were perverting and burlesquing the law to bring her to the shambles; and her behaviour in almost unparalleled misfortunes, has won for her not only the pity and the sympathy, but the reverent admiration of posterity.
More sitters--Mr. John Burns walks and talks--We buy his only suit--Mr. George Bernard Shaw has to work for his living--General Booth--Four leading suffragettes--Christabel’s model “speaks”--The Channel swimmer.
The most restless of all my sitters was the Right Honourable John Burns, when he was plain John Burns.
I modelled him in the year 1889 or 1890, at the time of the great Dock Strike. Mr. Burns was then throwing all his magnetic personality into the cause of the workers, and he brought some of that magnetic personality into my studio. Only in a technical sense did he “sit” to me. He was walking and talking all the time.
These were very turbulent days, and Mr. Burns had figured in the Trafalgar Square riots. Shipowners and shipbuilders--and everybody, I imagine, having more than £500 a year--were the objects of his implacable distrust. He was a younger and poorer man then.
Mr. Burns wore the blue reefer suit which had survived the jostlings of many a crowd, but he did not bring to my studio the famous straw hat of which so much was written in the Press at that time. When I spoke to him about the hat he rather fenced the question, and to this day I believe that hat to be somewhere in Mr. Burns’s possession as a treasured souvenir of his stressful past. I have never seen Mr. Burns wearing any other kind of clothes than blue serge.
I struck a bargain with the dockers’ champion that he should let me have the suit he was wearing with which to clothe his portrait in the Exhibition, and so complete the realism of the model. Mr. Burns demurred at first, and then it appeared he had an extremely good reason for doing so. It was the only suit he possessed, and we agreed that I should have it as soon as I provided him with a new one to take its place on his own back.
Mr. Burns told the story of this transaction in reply to an interrupter at a public meeting.
“Where did you get that suit?” asked the interrogator.
“I got it,” said Mr. Burns frankly, “from Madame Tussaud’s. When my portrait was put in the Exhibition you may, or you may not, have noticed that it was wearing my old suit. As I had no other clothes the management gave me the suit I am wearing now, and I hope you will agree that I made a pretty good bargain.”
The audience cheered the speaker and booed the heckler.
Mr. Burns’s portrait has been brought up to date since then, but it still wears the old reefer suit, and the fact of this being out of the fashion and rather skimpy only adds to the effectiveness of the picture by recalling the working man the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman raised to Cabinet rank.
They tell me Mr. Burns is getting white, but when I modelled him his hair was black and plentiful.
_Judy_ commemorated the suit incident in the following verse, depicting Burns making figure eights on the ice:
’Ave ye seen Johnny Burns Strikin’ figgers on the hice? ’Ave ye seen his twists and turns?-- Sure, an’ can’t he do it nice! In his Tussaud’s suit of navy blue ’N’ his famous old straw hat, With his Hacmes ’n’ his knobstick too, A reg’lar ’ristocrat!
A contrast to Mr. Burns, though possibly of similar socialistic opinions, was Mr. George Bernard Shaw, whom I long wanted to sit to me.
I had not made the acquaintance of the brilliant satirist, and somehow hesitated about approaching him. Eventually I wrote to Mr. Shaw making known my wish, and, without delay, I received from him a good-humoured letter, in which he said that it would give him much pleasure to “join the company of the Immortals.”
A little later he wrote making an appointment, and, in due course, Mr. Shaw came to my studio and gave me a delightful hour of his company.
He took up his position on the dais in the most natural manner, and there was nothing more for me to do than proceed with my modelling. I do not know who was the more amused, Mr. Shaw or myself--I by his sayings, and he by the novelty of the situation.
He talked freely as I went on with my work, and one thing among his many whimsical sayings I well remember:
“I took to writing with the object of obtaining a living without having to work for it, but I have long since realised that I made a great mistake.”
As we walked through the Exhibition he took a general interest in all he saw, but it was the Napoleonic relics that detained him, as is generally the case with distinguished people.
I thought I detected a certain shyness about Mr. Shaw in the Chamber of Horrors. He was very reserved, and surveyed the faces of degenerate men and women without offering any criticism. I remember that the crafty, and yet not wholly repulsive, face of Charles Peace engaged Mr. Shaw’s attention several minutes.
I have no knowledge whether Mr. Shaw ever called to see his portrait. It is quite likely that he did, and it is no less likely that his visit passed unobserved.
It was inevitable that so prominent a figure in the religious world as the late General Booth should find a place in Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition.
I went to see the General at the instance of some of his friends, who thought that the portrait of him already included would be all the better for being brought up to date. I recollect being impressed by General Booth’s force of character as manifested alike in his manner and in his appearance. He had a keen eye and classic aquiline features.
Though he made no mention of the matter himself, it was pretty plainly hinted to me that permission to include the General’s portrait should be accompanied by some expression of gratitude on the part of the Exhibition authorities “for the good of the cause.”
I also went to Exeter Hall to study the General’s demeanour while addressing a large audience.
What I remember mostly about that visit was that a “converted” sailor mounted the platform and made a rambling speech. So frank were the confessions of the artless tar that General Booth found it necessary to bundle him unceremoniously off the platform, to the great amusement of the congregation.
I was much interested in modelling a quartette of leading suffragettes, Mrs. Pankhurst, Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, Miss Christabel Pankhurst, and Miss Annie Kenney.
The group is conspicuously shown in the Grand Hall to-day. The ladies came separately, several mornings, and took as much interest as I did in the production of their portraits, a process that was in no sense tedious, as their conversation whiled away the time most pleasantly.
I very soon became aware that the suffragette on the political warpath is a very different woman from the suffragette in other circumstances.
None of them in the least degree frightened me or hectored me; in fact, political questions were discussed by them in the quietest, most sensible, and most intelligent manner, giving me the impression then that the extension of the vote to women would not find such women unqualified to make reasonable use of the privilege so long withheld from them.
After the figures were added to the Exhibition, two of the four ladies very good-humouredly hinted to me that the portraits were not very flattering. I remember the ladies in question coming to see the group, and I promised I would make what alterations seemed possible and desirable. As I have not heard from them since, I gather that the likenesses have proved satisfactory.
Months later, after a batch of laughing damsels had left the building, a paper disc, bearing the words “Votes for Women,” was discovered fixed to a button on Mr. Asquith’s coat.
It was soon after the figures of the quartette had been placed in the Exhibition that an incident occurred which comes to me through the medium of a Fleet Street artist in black and white attached to a well-known paper.
This gentleman had been instructed to attend a meeting some distance away from town for the purpose of taking some sketches of Miss Christabel Pankhurst, who was announced to speak. Having left things till the last moment, he discovered, to his dismay, that he had missed his train, and, not knowing what to do, he was bewailing his misfortune to a fellow artist, when the latter slapped him on the back and said:
“Never mind, old fellow, you just go to Tussaud’s Exhibition and take as many pictures of the fair Christabel’s figure as you like. The model is a speaking likeness, and you can take it from me that the sketches will be all right; they will be quite as good as if drawn from life.”
The advice was no sooner given than acted upon, and the result, I am told, was most satisfactory.
Another sitter was Mr. T. W. Burgess, who came to my studio a few days after he swam the Channel.
The burly Yorkshireman laughed as he entered and remarked:
“I am in pretty good training, but I would rather swim the Channel again than sit still for you, Mr. Tussaud. However, I will do the best I can.”
He sold the clothes he took off before he entered the water, and these clothes are worn by his portrait, now in the Exhibition. He also parted with the goggles and indiarubber cap he had worn during his swim, and the cup from which he took nourishment. Unfortunately one of Burgess’s too ardent “admirers” purloined his hero’s cup from us.
[Illustration: T. W. BURGESS, THE CHANNEL SWIMMER
Modeled from life by John T. Tussaud. In common with many of the models in Madame Tussaud’s, this model is dressed in the subject’s own clothing.]
Bank Holiday queues--Cup-tie day--Gentlemen from the north--Bachelor beanfeasts--The Member for Oldham--A scare.
The four regular Bank Holidays of the year are great occasions at Madame Tussaud’s.
On each of them the precincts of Tussaud’s show signs of activity long before the average Londoner is astir. The length of any of the queues has never been actually measured, but it is no exaggeration to say that the people have frequently waited four and five deep in a line extending almost a quarter of a mile--from the doors of the Exhibition to the gates of Regent’s Park.
The crowd at these times consists mainly of Londoners from all the outlying districts of the Metropolis, for Madame Tussaud’s has always been in great favour as a holiday resort for the multitude. Parents also bring their children in great numbers, and the holiday crowds continue to come for days after.
There is, however, at least one morning in the year when the portals of the Exhibition are literally teeming with life while the citizens are slumbering in bed.
On Easter Monday, Whit-Monday, the August Bank Holiday, and even on Boxing Day, holiday-makers may be seen at an early hour waiting in a queue, yet no comparison may be made between these crowds and those of the Cup-tie mornings I have witnessed at the Exhibition.
This day brings into London tens of thousands of men and boys from the densely populated manufacturing towns and mining areas of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Durham, and Northumberland. These football enthusiasts arrive in the Metropolis as early in the morning as two, three, and four o’clock on the day of the Crystal Palace carnival.
It has always seemed to me that Madame Tussaud’s has received the lion’s share of patronage during the long interval between the arrival of the cheap excursion trains at the great railway stations and the time when the Cup-tie is played in the afternoon. The attendance at these hours is extraordinary, and the appearance of a house of entertainment in full swing so early in the morning has an indescribably weird and garish effect.
These north country patrons of ours take up position on the steps of the entrance, and pass the time taking refreshments brought with them from their homes. Though weary with their journey, they are always cheery and well-behaved, and the way in which they banter each other in the broad accents of Oldham, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Halifax, Newcastle, etc., has many a time afforded me a good deal of interest and diversion.
I have often stood on the broad open staircase and looked down upon the swarming hundreds in the entrance-hall and the refreshment rooms and it is a happy experience to dwell on that there has never been occasion to rebuke any of them for roughness or want of good behaviour. It is peculiarly true of the country cousin, so far as my experience of him goes, that he never indulges in horse-play when he comes to Madame Tussaud’s.
There is, however, one very striking contrast between the crowd on a Bank Holiday and that on a Cup-tie day, and this is due to the circumstances that the followers of football do not bring their women-folk or children with them on the occasion of these “bachelor” beanfeasts--a concession, I presume, made to their men by the wives and sweethearts of the north.
Not by a long way do all these excursionists go to see the great football finals at the Palace. Quite a large proportion, taking advantage of the cheap fares, come to see London and its many sights which the average Londoner proverbially overlooks.
It has more than once been remarked by the Exhibition attendants that many Cup-tie visitors spend the greater part of the day at Madame Tussaud’s, lingering for hours among the relics of Napoleon and the figures and exhibits of the Chamber of Horrors, without having the slightest intention of venturing so far as to see the football contest played.
It is a mistake to imagine that the working classes of the north are ignorant of English history, or not concerned with it; and if that impression exists, I should like to correct it. I doubt whether any class takes a keener interest in the Hall of Kings, or makes more use of the information provided by the Catalogue.
The “trippers,” “country cousins,” or whatever one likes to call them, seldom pester the Exhibition attendants with queries, for what one does not know another does. The Catalogues are taken away for further perusal, and one may often search the whole Exhibition in vain the next morning for one that has been discarded.
All day long groups of Cup-tie trippers stand about the Sleeping Beauty, not only for her sake, but also for the sake of Madame Tussaud, whose figure stands at Madame St. Amaranthe’s head, while at her feet sits William Cobbett, wearing his old beaver hat, and holding in his hand the snuff-box which legend credits him with passing to visitors on some weird occasions.
Men from Oldham naturally show special interest in Cobbett, who was, in his day, Member of Parliament for that town.
Cobbett sits on a red upholstered ottoman, with room enough for two other persons, and on a certain Cup-tie day two travel-stained, tired men sat down by him, and, noticing that he moved his head from side to side, took him to be alive. They addressed questions to him, and jumped up very hurriedly as he jerked his head and looked blankly at them through his horn spectacles.
The only two figures in the Exhibition that make any pretence of life are William Cobbett and the Sleeping Beauty.
A wonderful self-made man was Cobbett, who began life as a living scarecrow, armed with a shotgun, in the employment of a farmer, and, after being, among other things, sergeant-major won a great reputation as a writer of English prose and attained the distinction of adding M.P. to his name in those days when Parliamentary honours were less easily achieved than they are to-day.
To be sure, the figures of statesmen have always interested Cup-tie crowds, for the provincial is much more of a politician than the Londoner.
So also literary men like Scott, Dickens, Tennyson, Burns, and Kipling come in for much attention; more, perhaps, than portraits of the clergy.
Sportsmen, too, such as W. G. Grace, Fred Archer, and “Tommy Lipton”--the last-mentioned for his America Cup performances--receive enough notice on Cup-tie days to maintain a good average of appreciation for the year.
As on Bank Holidays, so on Cup-tie days, there are always many more live than wax figures in the Chamber of Horrors from morning till night. Indeed, I have seen the place so crowded that it was difficult to distinguish the effigies from the awestricken observers.
Sometimes I have taken a walk round the Exhibition after it was closed on the night of the Cup-tie to see that all was right. Once I was called in haste to the Chamber of Horrors, where a stranger had been found asleep in a dark corner. After he had been roused and escorted outside, the scared fellow made off as if he had had the hangman at his heels. A return ticket from Bolton was picked up where he had lain. But the man from Bolton had bolted, and did not return to claim the ticket.
The mysterious Sun Yat Sen’s visit--His escape from the Chinese Legation--The Dargai tableau--Sir William Treloar entertains his little friends.
Once in its long history Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition opened on a Sunday--not, however, to the general public.
The occasion was special and, in a way, mysterious. It had to do with one of the most dramatic personalities of the Chinese Empire and Republic.
A message reached me late on a Saturday night that Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the first President of the Chinese Republic, wished to visit the Exhibition on the following Sunday morning. I was unable to receive him in person, but arranged that an attendant should represent me.
The attendant knew nothing of the name of the visitor till he saw him looking at his own portrait and calling the attention of General Homer Lee--an American soldier holding high rank in the Chinese Army--who accompanied him, to the dimple in the chin of the model by placing his finger smilingly on the dimple in his own chin.
[Illustration: DR. SUN YAT SEN
From a photograph.]
This was in the year 1911, and Sun Yat Sen was passing through London on his way from America to take up his presidential duties.
His visit to the Exhibition had been planned by Dr. (now Sir James) Cantlie, of Harley Street, to whom Sun Yat Sen owed--the greatest of all debts of gratitude--his life.
For it was this same Sun Yat Sen who, eleven years before, was liberated through the exertions of Dr. Cantlie from his prison in the Chinese Legation at Portland Place, a few minutes’ walk from Madame Tussaud’s.
What would have happened to him but for the fact that Dr. Cantlie’s intervention resulted in Sun Yat Sen’s release through Lord Salisbury’s representations to the Chinese authorities can only be conjectured.
It was discovered at the time that a ship had been chartered in the Thames for the removal of Sun Yat Sen to China on a charge of treason against the Emperor--the same Emperor whose successor, under a republican form of government, Sun Yat Sen was destined to be.
Particulars were also disclosed regarding the manner of his incarceration at the Chinese Legation. He was inveigled into the place by the lures of hospitality, and, once inside, the officials relegated him to an apartment which they kept locked for many days.
It was only through Sun Yat Sen’s friendship with Dr. Cantlie, whose suspicions were aroused by “inside” information, that the British authorities learned of Sun Yat Sen’s fate and took steps to have him set free.
[Illustration: DR. SUN YAT SEN
The wax model on view at Madame Tussaud’s of the first President of the Chinese Republic.]
When the hero of this adventure visited Madame Tussaud’s on the Sunday morning in question to see his model, I wondered what his reason could be, and asked myself whether it had anything to do with the adapting of his disguise, while travelling from this country to China, at a time when his life must have been in danger.
Perhaps, after all, it was nothing more than the natural curiosity which attracts people whose portraits have been recently added to come and see them. The Eastern mind may not differ from the Western in this very human respect.
* * * * *
Touching and dramatic in the extreme was the incident which accompanied the unveiling of the tableau representing the Gordon Highlanders storming the Heights of Dargai. Lieutenant-Colonel Mathias’s words were on all lips at the time:
“That position must be taken at any cost; the Gordon Highlanders will take it.”
Mrs. Mathias was present with her son and daughter at the supper we gave to celebrate the event, and a piper played “The Cock of the North” to recall the deed of the wounded piper who fired his comrades on to victory and was awarded the V.C. When his father’s words were recited, young Mathias sprang to his feet and thrilled all present by saluting in true military fashion.
One of the brightest of red-letter days in Madame Tussaud’s romantic story was the 24th of January, 1907, when Sir William Treloar, “the children’s Mayor,” accompanied by several local Mayors, drove to the Exhibition in all the panoply of civic state to give éclat to the visit of fifteen hundred boys and girls of the poorest of the poor, whom we made our guests.
[Illustration: THE CHILDREN’S LORD MAYOR
Sir William Treloar entertains his little friends at Madame Tussaud’s, 24th January, 1907.]
How richly the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of London enjoyed himself on that occasion, like the large-hearted man he is, and how pre-eminently happy he was among the waifs and strays, many of whom were cripples, whose lives he has done so much to brighten! Sir John Kirk, of the Ragged School Union, was also there, beaming with joy among his little beneficiaries. I remember Sir William Treloar pointing to his civic headgear and calling out to the children, “How do you like my Dick Turpin hat?”
Tea-tables were laid all among the figures, and the picture produced in this way was both striking and amusing as the young people laughed and chatted by the side of the approving mutes. Perhaps the remark which seemed to create the greatest fun was when the Lord Mayor said he would like to see his Sheriffs in the Chamber of Horrors.
It was very touching to observe the boys loyally and reverently take off their caps in front of the little alcove in which Queen Victoria sits, as someone has said, “signing despatches all day long.” At the close of the happy day the halls and corridors of the Exhibition rang with the shrill treble of fifteen hundred young voices singing “For he’s a jolly good fellow,” followed by “Hip hip, hooray; the donkey’s run away.”
A tragedy happened that day not far away, in Westbourne Grove, which caused the gentlemen of the Press who attended the function to leave the Exhibition rather hurriedly. News came of the murder of Mr. William Whiteley, the Universal Provider.
A miscellany of humour--Our policeman--The mysterious lantern--The danger of old Catalogues--Stories of children--Sir Ernest Shackleton’s model.
Many of our visitors will remember the model of the policeman which stands at the entrance to the main gallery in the Exhibition. Hundreds--I might say thousands--of visitors have been “taken in” by this lifelike officer, who is the embodiment of a genial bobby prepared at any moment to show the way or tell the time.
The fame of this nameless policeman has extended to practically all the grown-ups who bring their children to see the figures, and many times in the day we see laughing parents watching the nonplussed expression on the faces of their offspring whom they have prevailed upon to go and ask where a certain model is to be found.
Immediately opposite is the figure of the programme-seller in somnolent mood, who is frequently offered sixpence for a Catalogue she cannot sell. It is the would-be customer that is sold.
It is most amusing to observe how many adults are deceived who seem to pride themselves on their discernment. For example, on Bank Holidays it is customary to have a number of real live constables on duty to regulate the crowd and give directions.
Bobby has a keen sense of humour, and some of them, entering into the spirit of the situation, now and again stand stock-still in the most natural attitude they can command. Not once, but frequently, a visitor, in passing with his friends, has, with an air of superior knowledge, pushed the ferrule of his stick or umbrella into the supposed figure’s side, to be startled by the model’s ejaculating, “Now then, young man, enough of that.”
There is a mystery which has never been cleared up, and that is whether it was a policeman or a burglar who left a bull’s-eye lantern in the Exhibition studio; but it is quite clear that the intruder, whoever he was, fled from the place in fright.
A portrait of the Marquis of Hartington had just been finished, and left fully clothed and ready to be transferred to the Exhibition. By an oversight the door of the studio was left unfastened, and on our return in the morning it was found to have been opened.
[Illustration: MARQUIS OF HARTINGTON
The late Duke of Devonshire.]
On the floor, at the feet of the model of the Marquis, lay a bull’s-eye lantern that evidently had been dropped by its owner as he rushed from the place. The probability is that the policeman, or the burglar, had flashed his lamp on the figure and had been scared to find, as he thought, a man--or a spectre--confronting him. No claim was ever made for the lamp.
It is not an unusual thing that visitors who wish to save expense should bring with them an old Catalogue which they have treasured up at home for a future visit. This is not a safe plan, for with the addition of new figures the older ones have to be renumbered. As a result the visitors in question are sometimes misled, as was the lady in the following story told by a Londoner.
He related that he had occasion to take a country cousin to the Exhibition, and she took with her an old Catalogue.
He paid little attention to her describing King Edward IV as King Henry VIII, and exclaiming that she did not know Queen Mary of Scots dressed like a man. But when she said, “Well, I never! I always thought Gladstone was a man, though my brothers call him an old woman,” then he felt interested, and proceeded to investigate. There it was, sure enough; the model No. 63 was the figure of an old lady, but in the out-of-date Catalogue No. 63 was “William Ewart Gladstone.”
Sometimes we get a rough old country farmer who has got it into his head that everyone in our Exhibition has committed some crime or other.
Visitors, when audibly perusing their Catalogue, are sometimes a source of entertainment to others who overhear them, owing to the curious mistakes they make. One day a jolly-looking countryman came to a standstill before the figure of Henry IV of France, described in our Catalogue as “Henri Quatre.” “’Enry Carter,” said he; “’oo did ’e kill?” and, finding the gentleman in question innocent of murder, he turned away with a disappointed expression, but evidently with a fixed determination to discover a genuine criminal somewhere else.
Not only children, but also their elders, constantly mistake the policeman, the programme-seller, and the sleeping attendant for living people; but few children are so simple as the little maiden who, glancing awestruck down the long array of very lifelike effigies of good, bad, and indifferent individuals, asked her mother in a whisper how they were killed before being stuffed.
One day a lady was explaining the different groups to her young nephew. Pointing to one, she said, “Freddy, this is the Transvaal crisis. Here are President Kruger, Mr. Cecil Rhodes, and Dr. Jameson; all those people are alive.”
Indicating the next group, she said, “This is the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots; all these people are dead.”
“I do not see any difference between the live ones and the dead ones,” replied the young hopeful to his auntie, assuming a puzzled expression.
There is no accounting for the actions of children. Several youngsters, for instance, have been observed slyly pinching the figures to see if any were alive.
The story is also told of a small girl who, when asked what she had done with her sweets, replied that she had given them to the baby in the cradle--Prince Edward of Wales.
A child was lost, and found concealed behind the figure of the Sleeping Beauty, trying to discover the mechanism that makes Madame St. Amaranthe’s bosom rise and fall.
Of children’s stories there is no end at Madame Tussaud’s.
Sir Ernest Shackleton once told some amusing stories at a dinner of the Alpine Ski Club.
He said his own small boy was terribly bored with expedition talk. He told his mother that he wanted to hear of something really exciting. “I don’t want to know anything more about papa,” he declared; “tell me about the baby who was drowned in his bath.” Was the boy thinking of Marat, the evil genius of the French Revolution, whom Charlotte Corday stabbed at his ablutions?
Sir Ernest said that his wife and son had recently been to see his model at Madame Tussaud’s, but the child took more interest in General Tom Thumb sitting on the palm of the Russian giant’s hand than he did in the portrait of his father.
“Two ladies,” the explorer said, “were standing by my figure, and the younger one observed, ‘That’s Latham, the airman.’
“‘No,’ replied the other, ‘that is not Latham; it is the man, you know, who went to the North Pole.’
“It is experiences such as these that keep a man modest,” said Sir Ernest. The ladies had forgotten his name and the object of his expedition, which was in the Antarctic and not the Arctic region--a distinction of minor importance to the general public perhaps.
In the days of the Boer War the children of an illustrious couple who were touring the world fell, childlike, to discussing the presents their parents would bring home for them.
“I know what I want,” said the youngest of them. “I want old Kruger’s hat and whiskers, and I believe papa will bring them to me, because I want to send them to Madame Tussaud’s.”
Mr. Cyril Maude, the actor, was taken to the Exhibition when a small boy, and it is recorded of him that the visit inspired him with the determination to become an actor. If that were so, then we may congratulate ourselves.
Some years ago a lady wrote to say that when scolding her child for being naughty, and impressing upon her that bad little girls would not go to heaven, the child naïvely replied, “Well, mother, I can’t expect to go everywhere, but I’ve been to Madame Tussaud’s.”
The lure of horrors--Beginnings of the “Dead Room”--Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A., sketches a suicide--Burke and Hare--Fieschi’s infernal machine--Greenacre--Executions in Public--“Free at last!”
_Crime may be secret, but never secure._--OLD PROVERB.
In citing the old aphorism that society itself creates the crimes that most beset it, we shall in no way be tempted to regard the popularity of the Chamber of Horrors as due to any desire on the part of the people to visit the place with the object of gazing upon the result of their own handiwork.
An inquiry into the motives that induce the public to visit this gloomy chamber scarcely comes within the scope of this work. But that a very large number _do_ visit the place in the course of each year, and that they cannot be deemed to belong to any particular class, but represent, without distinction, _all_ classes of society, we may, of our own certain knowledge, aver without the slightest hesitation.
Were we, however, if only from an abstract point of view, to venture an opinion on the vexed question as to why so many have a leaning towards the seamy and sinister side of life, we should be disposed to consider that, apart from the allurement of the abnormal and the inclination to indulge a morbid curiosity, perhaps the chief influence serving to stimulate the mind of the public when a great crime has been perpetrated in a genuine concern that a serious outrage has been made on society, constituting a veritable menace to its security.
We have stated in a former chapter that Curtius, more than a century ago, had allocated a part of his Museum in Paris to models of men of ill-repute, and had named it the “Caverne des Grands Voleurs.” How far this place approximated to the present Chamber of Horrors we cannot say, but it certainly must have created a precedent for the placing of the portraits and the relics of lawbreakers in a place separate and apart from the main and more reputable portion of the Exhibition.
In 1802, when Madame Tussaud crossed the Channel to establish her Exhibition permanently in this country, she did not, in all probability, find it easy to obtain an additional room for these figures, especially when touring through the provinces. Nevertheless, when she had to exhibit her models in the same hall, she undoubtedly differentiated, to the best of her ability, between the famous and the infamous by grouping the models of evil-doers in a corner by themselves.
When the Exhibition was opened in Baker Street, the Chamber of Horrors became a recognised feature of the collection. It was at first called the “Dead Room,” although some designated it the “Black Room,” owing to its sombre aspect.
Its chief exhibit at that time was the guillotine, surrounded by the impressions of heads that had been decapitated by it. Here also was shown the model of Marat dying in his bath, besides many other relics of the Revolution. Indeed, it might have been regarded as the nucleus of an historical museum dealing exclusively with the last days of the old French Monarchy. Even the walls were constructed and draped in imitation of the interior of the Bastille, the principal keys of which were shown therein as mementoes of unusual interest.
[Illustration: KEY OF THE BASTILLE
Set in a stone from the dungeons of the famous fortress.]
“Mr. Punch” made his début before the British public somewhere during the early forties, and, as already indicated, he took an early opportunity of referring to this part of the Tussaud collection as the “Chamber of Horrors,” by which title it has been known ever since.
The number of persons visiting this extra room during these days was not great, except on those occasions when the business was galvanised into activity by the addition of a portrait-model of some unworthy being who happened for the nonce to figure largely in the public eye.
There came into our possession at a time beyond my memory a singular and valuable sketch, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, of the alleged murderer, Williams, as he appeared directly after he had hanged himself in Coldbath Fields prison.
[Illustration: SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE
President of the Royal Academy.]
Williams was accused of the murders of the Marr and the Williamson families in the East End of London under peculiarly brutal circumstances. These massacres, which were committed in December, 1811, caused an immense sensation, and inspired the remarkable monograph of de Quincey entitled _Murder as One of the Fine Arts_.
How Lawrence came to make such a drawing, and what induced so refined and dignified a person to interest himself in a subject so repulsive, it is difficult to understand. Although Lawrence had not then been elected to the presidency of the Royal Academy, he held a high position in society as the first portrait painter of his day.
We give an illustration of the sketch in question which is quite authentic.
[Illustration: JOHN WILLIAMS
From a drawing made after he had committed suicide in prison by Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A.]
Until 1823 it was directed that the body of a suicide should be buried in a cross-road and have a stake driven through it, and there can be little doubt that that of Williams was thus treated. It was not, indeed, until 1882 that an Act was passed putting an end to this barbarous custom.
This circumstance readily calls to mind Tom Hood’s description of the fate that befell Ben Battle, the victim of Faithless Nelly Gray:
A dozen men sat on his corpse, To find out why he died-- And they buried Ben in four cross-roads, With a _stake_ in his inside!
Of the characters that became, in course of time, suitable objects for the “Dead Room” we have neither the space nor the inclination to dwell upon, but a passing reference to two or three that helped to give the place its present distinctiveness may prove interesting.
The hideous crimes perpetrated by Burke and Hare, to which slight reference has already been made, took place about the year 1828, and the memory of those crimes was still fresh in the mind of the public when we opened in Baker Street; indeed, a matter of six years could not suffice for its obliteration.
The appalling revelation that it was not only possible, but easy, for one’s neighbour to be decoyed away, put to death, and his body sold, without question, for a sum varying from £8 to £14, aroused a feeling of consternation throughout the country of a very real and lasting character.
The high prices paid for bodies required for dissection had begotten this terrible traffic. At least sixteen murders had been traced to these miscreants, but the evidence at the trial failed to answer the question “How many more?”
Burke was executed in January, 1829, on the strength of Hare’s evidence, so that for nearly a century have the portrait-models of these two notorious criminals stood facing each other. There are to this day many visitors who, on catching sight of their forbidding features, seem to recognise them, and make ready comment, without the aid of a Catalogue, on the leading circumstances associated with their nefarious careers.
[Illustration: BURKE AND HARE
Both notorious criminals who perpetrated a series of gruesome murders in Scotland before 1828. These models from life by Madame Tussaud were among the first of contemporary criminals made by her for the famous “Chamber of Horrors,” then called the “Dead Room” or the “Black Room.”]
The very first startling event that furnished a subject for the “Dead Room,” when the Exhibition opened in Baker Street in 1835, was the attempt on the life of Louis Philippe, King of the French, four months later.
It had been the custom of His Majesty to review the Gardes Nationales and the garrison of Paris on each anniversary of the Revolution of 1830. For some considerable time the King and his Government had been growing very unpopular, and many warnings had been given him to desist from this military function; but, in spite of all advice, he persisted in holding the review.
The anniversary of the Revolution was on the 28th of July, and the King, followed by a numerous Staff, left the Tuileries at half-past ten on the morning of that day, accompanied by his three sons, the Ducs d’Orléans, de Nemour, and de Joinville.
In passing along the Boulevard du Temple--and, strange to say, when almost opposite the site of Curtius’s old Museum--a noise was heard resembling an irregular musket fire. In an instant the road and pavement at the point where Louis had been riding was strewn with dead and dying men and horses, and amid the mêlée the King, slightly wounded in the forehead, stood alone by the side of his injured horse.
More than forty persons had been struck and nineteen killed or mortally wounded. Among the latter was Edward Joseph Mortier, Duc de Trevise, the famous Marshal of Napoleon I.
After a few moments’ suspense, attention was directed to a cloud of smoke issuing from the third-floor window of a house on the Boulevard. Herein was discovered a machine composed of a row of twenty-five gun-barrels so arranged as to cover the cavalcade as it passed the premises. It had been fired by a train of gunpowder, with the result that several of the barrels had burst on the discharge.
The room was empty, but from one of the back windows of the house the police caught sight of a man huddled up in a corner of the courtyard below. He was trying to stanch the blood which was flowing from a great wound in his head. In spite of his injury, caused by his firing of the infernal machine, he had had the strength to stagger out of the room, seize a rope, secure it to a window, and by its means escape from the house.
The man turned out to be Giuseppe Fieschi, a rabid conspirator. Our model of him was added some weeks after the event, and, being placed by the side of an exact copy of the machine he had used, the man and his diabolical contrivance proved of considerable interest, a circumstance that substantially assisted to establish the Exhibition as a permanent London attraction.
This political crime was, however, soon eclipsed by one of a particularly sordid character committed much nearer home.
James Greenacre who murdered his fiancée, Hannah Brown, by striking her a fatal blow in a fit of temper, will ever figure as a criminal of a very curious type. Many a deed like that which brought him to the scaffold has occasioned but a passing interest. It was the means he adopted for the purpose of evading the consequences of his crime that aroused the excitement and indignation of the people. He dismembered the body, and deliberately distributed it in broad daylight to widely different parts of the Metropolis.
The discovery of the various parts of the body from time to time, the bringing of them together, and the final identification of the remains wrought up the public mind to a state of high tension, and after the culprit had been brought to justice many thousands visited the Exhibition to scan for themselves the features of his model which had been installed.
It will be remembered that we are dealing with a period when the extreme penalty of the law was exacted in public, a condition of things which lasted till 1868, when it was enacted that all executions should take place privately within prison walls.
The night before Greenacre’s execution at Newgate (the 2nd of May, 1837) hundreds slept on the prison steps and round about the neighbourhood of the old gaol. Crowds spent the night in taverns and lodging-houses, indulging in unseemly revelry and ribald and drunken dissipation. Nor were the spectators all drawn from the lowest class; all classes were represented. Positions within sight of the drop fetched from five shillings to a couple of guineas each, and a first-floor room overlooking the scaffold commanded as much as £12, no small price in those days.
It is a grim story, but who has not been entertained by the account in the _Ingoldsby Legends_ of the way in which “My Lord Tomnoddy” failed to witness the launching into eternity of a doomed fellow creature?
As the result of a happy thought from “Tiger Tim”--
“An’t please you, my Lord, there’s a man to be hang’d”--
Tomnoddy invites a party of convivial friends to enjoy the scene, for
“To see a man swing At the end of a string, With his neck in a noose, will be quite a new thing.”
Turns down the Old Bailey, Where, in front of the gaol, he Pulls up at the door of the gin-shop, and gaily Cries, “What must I fork out to-night, my trump, For the whole first-floor of the Magpie and Stump?”
St. Sepulchre’s clock strikes eight, and
God! ’tis a fearsome thing to see That pale wan man’s mute agony,-- The glare of that wild, despairing eye, Now bent on the crowd, now turn’d to the sky.
Oh! ’twas a fearsome sight! Ah me! A deed to shudder at,--not to see.
The clock strikes
Nine! ’twas the last concluding stroke! And then--my Lord Tomnoddy awoke!
“Hollo! Hollo! Here’s a rum go! Why, Captain!--my Lord!---here’s the devil to pay! The fellow’s been cut down and taken away! What’s to be done? We’ve missed all the fun!”
What _was_ to be done? The man was dead! Nought _could_ be done--nought could be said; So--my Lord Tomnoddy went home to bed!
Referring back to the days before the advent of the daily illustrated papers with their portraits of all kinds of people, a very affecting story was once told by a well-known author.
It related to a very pretty and plaintive young woman who visited the Chamber of Horrors early on the morning that a certain criminal with many _aliases_ was executed.
She was accompanied by her father, who, with his arm about her waist to steady her faltering steps, led her up to where the figure of the murderer stood. The poor woman remained gazing at it as though fascinated; then, with a nod, she burst out crying and buried her head in her hands.
Her father gently drew her out of the place, and as he did so whispered in her ear, “Free, my child; free at last!”
How the author came to hear of the incident we do not know, or was it one of those coincidences that somehow do occur?
“The Chamber of Horrors Rumour”--_No reward has been, or will be, offered_--The constable’s escapade--A nocturnal experience--Dumas’s comedy of the Chamber--Yeomen of the Halter.
We have speculated much upon the origin of what has come to be called “The Chamber of Horrors Rumour,” relating to a popular delusion that Madame Tussaud’s will pay a sum of money to any person who spends a night alone with the criminals assembled therein.
It need hardly be pointed out that no such ridiculous challenge was ever issued to the public, although the rumour has run for nearly twenty years, in spite of repeated contradictions.
I am not even hopeful that what I am writing now will produce the desired result of disabusing adventurous minds of this impression; in fact, denials on our part appear rather to have tended to give wider currency to the rumour. Thousands of letters have been received from volunteers of both sexes eager and anxious to undertake the ordeal for rewards which vary, in their imaginations, from £5 to £5,000.
Among the aspirants have been soldiers, sailors, ex-policemen, and even domestic servants, all of whom insisted that their nerves were equal to the task. Only the other day I received a letter from a Scotsman who intimated his willingness to forgo any pecuniary reward if only we would furnish him with a bottle of whisky and some sandwiches with which to regale himself as he sat at the feet of Burke and Hare.
The conclusion has somehow taken possession of our minds that this fallacious rumour emanated, innocently enough, from a story told long ago by one “Dagonet” of a man who was said to have been accidently locked all night in the Chamber. Originally, I imagine, people must have offered voluntarily to spend a night there for a consideration, and then, as the subject came to be talked about, it very easily grew into the form of a challenge said to have been made by us, which, of course, was never made and never will be made.
Considerable fillip was given to the rumour by the Chamber of Horrors scene in _The Whip_ at Drury Lane Theatre in 1909.
From some source or another handbills in the following form were plentifully distributed:
will be given to any person, male or female, who will pass the night alone in the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition. The only condition made is that the daring one shall not smoke or drink or read during the twelve hours he passes with the wax figures of the world’s noted criminals.
It was also stated on the handbill that the above was a copy of a placard said to have been issued many years ago, but in spite of the large reward, no one came forward to try the experiment, and that now, after many years, “Tom Lambert, the trainer of The Whip, undergoes this horrible experience in the Drury Lane drama.”
So far so good, for dramatic purposes--and that is all.
Apparently it was something of this sort that the bard had in mind who wrote the following stanza:
I dreamt that I slept at Madame Tussaud’s With cut-throats and kings by my side, And that all the wax figures in those weird abodes At midnight became vivified.
Until the recent escapade of a venturesome young lady, the only instance I can recall of any person spending the night alone in the Chamber of Horrors falls accidentally to the credit of a policeman on duty at the Exhibition when the opening of the present building was celebrated in July, 1884. A reception was then held which lasted until after midnight, and naturally it became necessary that the place should be guarded till the return of the staff in the morning.
The policeman in question was put in charge of the criminals in the Chamber of Horrors, with liberty to relieve the monotony of his eerie vigil by strolling through the other parts of the building, which included access to the room in which the refreshments had been served. Wines and spirits and other good things were left nominally under his care--whereby hangs a tale.
When the time came to relieve the policeman in the morning, he could not be found, and after a long search an Exhibition attendant heard the sound of moaning proceeding from one of the docks in the Chamber of Horrors. Here lay asleep the missing police-officer, in a condition that pointed to the probability of his having had recourse to the wines of the feast, presumably as a means of fortifying his courage.
The incident caused some little concern, but the officer’s position was so well understood and the extenuating circumstances were so obvious that his misadventure came to be jocularly treated as an excusable lapse. He had not only spent the night in the dread abode of criminals, but had actually slept there--a much more surprising performance.
Yet another reminiscence of the Chamber of Horrors, just a little creepy.
Sauntering one night through its gloomy passages after the last visitor had departed and the watchmen, having passed me on their rounds, had lowered the lights to a feeble glimmer, my attention was drawn in some unaccountable way towards one of the models.
“I could swear that figure moved,” I said to myself. “But no, the notion is too ridiculous.”
I looked at it again, carefully this time. I was not mistaken. The figure _did_ move, and, what was more, it moved distinctly towards me. It appeared to bend slowly forward, as though in preparation for a sudden bound, and I thought it looked at me with a fixed and malignant stare.
Just as I was expecting it to raise its arms and seize me by the throat, it stopped dead, and remained at a grotesque and ludicrous angle, apparently looking for something on the floor.
What was the explanation of this thrilling experience?
The vibration caused by a heavy goods train on the Metropolitan Railway, which runs under the Exhibition premises, had shaken the figure off its balance, and the iron which fastened it to the floor permitted it to move and lean forward in the uncanny manner I have described.
The following comedy of the Chamber of Horrors from which the chief actor derived a minimum of amusement, if any, comes into my mind as having been described by the elder Dumas, and is calculated to relieve the gloom that is naturally associated with the place:
“A young Parisian, visiting the Exhibition in London, found himself temporarily alone in the famous Chamber, and was seized with the ambition of being able to say, on his return to his favourite Paris café, that his neck had been held in the same lunette which had once encircled those of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
“The idea was no sooner conceived than carried out, and for quite five minutes the rash young man enjoyed his novel position under the knife of the very same guillotine which had once worked such havoc among the aristocrats in the gay city.
“When, however, he was about to touch the spring that would release him, a thought struck him which threw him into a cold sweat.
“Supposing he were to touch the wrong spring, might not the knife come down, with the result not only of beheading him, but of making the world believe a most sensational suicide had been committed?
“He shouted for help, and at length an attendant, followed by a crowd of visitors, appeared.
“‘What is the matter?’ they asked in English; but the official was equal to the occasion, and turned it to good account.
“_À l’aide! Au secours!_’ yelled the Parisian, who could only speak French.
“‘A little patience,’ answered the other.
“‘What does he say?’ was the general query.
“‘Oh, it’s a part of his performance, ladies and gentleman. You see, Madame Tussaud is not satisfied with merely exhibiting the guillotine. She wishes to show you how it is actually worked.’
“This statement was greeted with general applause by everybody except the victim, who continued entreating to be released, whilst the impromptu lecturer calmly explained to the audience the practical working of the death-dealing machine.
“‘Bravo! How well he acts!’ was the verdict, as the prisoner appealed frantically in a language which none else but the attendant understood.
“Finally, on being at last released, he fainted. They brought him round with smelling-salts and cold water, and the first thing he did was to feel if his head was still safe. Satisfied on this point, he fled, without stopping to find his hat, and lost not an instant in starting at once for Paris.”
I come now, by a sudden transition, to write of three notable shrieval servants whose occupation, however indispensable, was unsavoury.
Calcraft, the first to be styled the “Yeoman of the Halter,” I had not the “pleasure” of knowing.
We have the original signboard he used to exhibit outside his house. It is a framed piece of wood, about three feet by two feet, and it bears in black letters the following notice:
J. CALCRAFT, Boot and Shoe Maker. Executioner to Her Majesty.
His successor, Marwood, sat on several occasions for his model.
[Illustration: WILLIAM MARWOOD, THE HANGMAN
Modeled from life.]
The executioner would sometimes visit the studios when his spirits were low, and a pipe and a glass of gin and water--his favourite beverage--were always at his service.
Then he would go down to the Chamber of Horrors to see some of his old acquaintances around whose necks he had so delicately adjusted the fatal noose. He would stop before each one with a grim look, while his lips moved tremulously.
“Put me there,” he once said after he had given a sitting.
It was like a man choosing the site of his grave.
His companion on these visits was a grizzled terrier. One day he came alone.
“Your dog, Mr. Marwood--where is it?” he was asked.
The old man was sad.
“My poor old dog is dying--my dog that knew the business like a Christian and the inside of every prison in England; that has played with my ropes; that has caught rats in my business bags.”
“Dying by inches,” was the unfeeling rejoinder of a bystander, followed by the cruel suggestion, “Why don’t you hang him?”
Marwood gave him a reproachful glance.
“No, no. Hang a man, but my dear old dog--never!”
Poor Marwood had a good heart, and the story of the dog was so affecting that the interview abruptly terminated.
Berry, the executioner, was paid for a sitting, and seemed by no means averse from having his figure placed in the Chamber of Horrors, where it may now be seen. He rather appeared to be proud of his official calling.
Anecdotal--“Which is Peace?”--Mark Twain at Tussaud’s--Dr. Grace’s story--Mr. Kipling’s model--Filial pride--Bishop Jackson’s sally--German inaccuracy.
As I proceed with my narrative, having already travelled through the memories of many years, there seem to crowd at my heels, so to speak, a great collection of humorous and curious incidents which, although unrelated to each other, are yet worthy of a place in this chronicle.
They come of their own free will readily enough when I want to engage in serious work, but no amount of persuasion will lure them from their lurking-places when I want to recount them. As I fancy my friends like my short stories as well as any, I propose to introduce a few trivialities that are sufficiently obliging to present themselves as I write.
In the Berlin Treaty days a staunchly Conservative borough was celebrating the event, and among other decorations was a large transparency showing Lord Beaconsfield and Lord Salisbury standing together, with the motto “Peace with Honour” beneath them. An old woman went up to the borough M.P. and asked:
“If you please, sir, will you tell me which is Peace?”
Charles Peace was the man of the moment just then.
[Illustration: CHARLES PEACE
Model of the notorious criminal in convict garb.]
Mark Twain, according to his cousin, Katherine Clemens, once visited Madame Tussaud’s. He stood a long while, says his cousin, in contemplation of an especially clever piece of work, and was aroused by a sudden stab of pain in his side. Turning quickly, he found himself face to face with a dumb-founded British matron with her parasol still pointed at him.
“O lor’, it’s alive!” she exclaimed, and beat a hasty retreat.
The best known of all cricketers, Dr. W. G. Grace, has long enjoyed a well-earned place of prominence in the Exhibition, and even to-day, when the great master of the bat and the ball is no longer with us, his portrait continues to attract more than an average share of attention.
Dr. Grace was very fond of telling the following story about a trusted old servant of his whom he treated on one occasion to a trip to London. On her return he asked her what it was that pleased her most among the sights of the Metropolis.
“Oh, sir, Madame Tussaud’s was beautiful,” replied Susan.
“Then you must have seen me there?” said her master.
“No, that I did not, sir.”
“What! How did you miss me? I am there as large as life.”
“Well, sir, to tell you the truth, it cost sixpence extra to go into the Chamber of Horrors.”
A young girl arriving at an institution at Torquay, from London, was asked whether she had ever visited Westminster Abbey. She hesitated, and was then reminded that that historic edifice contained monuments of the Kings and Queens of England. She immediately brightened up, and replied, “Oh, yes, I have been there, but they call it Madame Tussaud’s now.”
A short time after the seated figure of Mr. Rudyard Kipling, which is still to be seen in the Exhibition, had been modelled, the following conversation is reported to have occurred between a young lady and her maid, who had visited Madame Tussaud’s:
Relating her experiences there, the girl remarked:
“They’ve got Mr. Kipling and another murderer there, miss.”
“But Mr. Kipling isn’t a murderer,” said her young mistress.
“No, miss,” was the reply, “but they’ve got him there, miss.”
During those days when the Exhibition was being removed from one town to another the figures of criminals originally stood together in the same room with all the other models; but as it was suggested that it was indecorous to have the effigies of criminals in such close proximity with those of illustrious personages, Madame Tussaud had the former removed to a separate room, and the Chamber of Horrors was formed as it now exists.
The relatives and friends of criminals frequently visit the Chamber.
At a drawing-room meeting held at the residence of Lady Esther Smith, in Grosvenor Place, in aid of the Social Institutes’ Union, which exists to provide facilities for establishing clubs on temperance lines, Mrs. (now Lady) Bland-Sutton told the story of a little girl who was asked where she would like to go for a treat.
“To Madame Tussaud’s,” was the prompt reply.
“But you went there last year,” it was objected.
“Oh, yes, I know,” said the child, “but father wasn’t in the Chamber of Horrors then.”
Somewhat similar is the following:
A parlourmaid, interviewed by her mistress just after a Bank Holiday, was asked:
“And how did you spend your day off, Polly?”
“Oh, we went to Madame Tussaud’s,” was the reply. “We always go there, mum. You see, having uncle in the Chamber of Horrors gives the place a family interest, so to speak.”
When Dr. Jackson was Bishop of London he gave a breakfast to several curates before they left to take up missionary work abroad, and one of them, in the course of conversation at the repast, observed that he had just visited Madame Tussaud’s, where he had heard a figure of his Grace had been on view for many years.
He said he much regretted that he could not find the figure anywhere in the Exhibition, although he had searched for it high and low.
“Oh,” said the Bishop, “haven’t you heard, my dear boy, that they’ve melted me down for Peace?”--a sally that was greeted with roars of laughter.
[Illustration: DR. JACKSON
Bishop of London 1868-1885.]
Many complaints have been made by foreigners visiting London regarding the inefficiency of guides with little or no knowledge of the places with which they are supposed to be thoroughly acquainted.
For instance, a certain Teuton of great pretensions brought to Madame Tussaud’s a party of travellers from a Prussian provincial town, and informed them, among other things, that Mrs. Maybrick, whose model was then in the Napoleon Rooms, was a lady connected with the life of the great Bonaparte.
Enemy models--A hostile public--Banishment of four rulers--Our reply to _John Bull_--Attacks on the Kaiser’s effigy--Story of an Iron Cross.
We now come to the eventful period that began in August, 1914.
[Illustration: COUNT ZEPPELIN
Model of the inventor of the Zeppelin airship on view at Madame Tussaud’s.]
At the beginning of hostilities the Kaiser, Count Zeppelin, and other German objectionables were relegated to a less conspicuous position than they had formerly occupied. The enemy had not at that time gained the animosity which his subsequent acts of “frightfulness” earned for him, but he soon showed himself in his true colours.
It was in the spring of 1910 that a renewed portrait of the German Emperor had been given a place of honour, with the Empress by his side, near our own royal group. Not very long afterwards the British public began to suspect the Kaiser of evil designs upon this country, and visitors frequently indicated their displeasure in front of his model.
With the outbreak of war, naturally enough, came an outburst of general reprobation, and the atrocities committed by the German Army and Navy provoked impulsive patriots to visible and audible manifestations of anger. More than once the Kaiser had his figure struck by men, while women shook their fists and umbrellas in the face of the world’s greatest homicide.
As a matter of fact, to the Kaiser belongs the distinction of having been expelled from Madame Tussaud’s for several months--a distinction that was shared by the late Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria.
This was done in deference to public opinion, which had become very hostile to their models being shown at Madame Tussaud’s. Letters had appeared to this effect in the Press, and one periodical published a large cartoon showing the Kaiser and his associates in the prisoners’ dock in the Chamber of Horrors.
Originally four enemy monarchs had pedestals in an obscure corner of Room No. 4. They were the Kaiser, the late Emperor of Austria, the Sultan of Turkey, and King Ferdinand of Bulgaria.
The Sultan of Turkey, as an unkind friend remarked, “found his level in the melting-pot” some time ago; and the Kaiser twice had to undergo a surgical operation as the result of bouts with ultra-patriotic visitors. Ferdinand of Bulgaria also had some narrow escapes, especially from our “handymen,” who have a short way with all enemies.
Some time ago my attention was called to the fact that one of the “spikes” of the Kaiser’s moustache had been clipped off, giving him a ludicrously woebegone appearance. I have always suspected the Colonials of that “cut,” and if I am wrong--well, I apologise. Perhaps the “spike” will be heard of some other day as a souvenir of the war.
Feeling ran so high after the sinking of the _Lusitania_ that we readily yielded to the public demand, and evicted the Huns from the house.
On the 16th of September, 1916, _John Bull_ had addressed to us the following open letter on the subject of the presence of the objectionable figures:
To the Directors, Madame Tussaud & Sons, Ltd., Baker Street, W.
Being an admirer of your Moral Waxworks, I am sure you will excuse me if I indicate a blot upon your interesting and intellectual display. As a matter of fact, there are four blots.
They occur in your Grand Hall, No. 4, and they take the form of effigies representing, with a fidelity almost lifelike, those malodorous monarchs the Sultan of Turkey, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, the Emperor of Russia, and that arch-villain Kaiser Bill.
Do, please, reshuffle the pack, gentlemen. Take the sinful quartette out of your Grand Hall, which they desecrate, and place them in that other room of yours which seems specially designed for their accommodation--the Chamber of Horrors.
In the company of Burke and Hare, Charles Peace, Greenacre, and Wainwright, they will be quite at home.
_John Bull_ on the 14th of November printed the following, containing my reply:
PATRIOTIC ACTION OF THE GREAT EXHIBITION.
We have received the following interesting letter from Mr. J. T. Tussaud:
“As a regular reader of your valuable and most instructive paper, my attention was drawn to your letter, addressed to my company, which appeared in your issue of the 16th September.
“In it you call attention to what you describe as a blot--or rather four blots--upon ‘our interesting and intellectual display,’ namely, the inclusion of the Sultan of Turkey, the King of Bulgaria, and the Emperors of Austria and Germany in our collection of celebrities and notorieties. Of course, such a letter from such an influential person could not pass unnoticed, and it was brought before my Board of Directors at the earliest opportunity.
“Prior to the date of your letter the pack had already been reshuffled, and the figures to which you refer had been relegated to a much less conspicuous position than they had previously occupied. When your letter was penned they were conspiring against the peace of Europe in a small room which contains the tableau representing ‘The Destruction of Messina’--a scene of ruin which seems to be in keeping with this Machiavellian group.
“Like yourself, other visitors had frequently suggested that the quartette should be placed in another famous--or infamous--part of the Exhibition; but the trouble was that Burke and Hare, Charles Peace, Greenacre, and Wainwright, whom you name, and their comparatively innocuous companions, would not hear of their abode being thus desecrated.
“What were we to do?
“I am now pleased to inform you that after considering your remarks a solution has been arrived at: the pack has been shuffled again, and, by a remarkable feat of legerdemain, the four knaves have now disappeared altogether.”
We congratulate Messrs. Tussaud on this happy solution to the problem.
The restoration of two of the figures was due to a very singular circumstance. Our overseas soldiers soon began to visit Madame Tussaud’s in large numbers, and they frequently expressed disappointment at not being able to see the two enemy Emperors whose armies they had come so far to fight.
Sympathising with their point of view, we had the Kaiser and Francis Joseph readmitted, placing them in an isolated position, with the “All-Highest” at one time confronting the Messina tableau, and more recently faced by the tableau of the Ruhleben horse-box in which British prisoners had to spend four long weary years of separation from home and family. In the same room are models of Prince Bismarck and Count von Moltke.
[Illustration: PRINCE BISMARCK]
It was some little time after the Kaiser’s reinstatement that a British sailor, who was quite unable to control his feelings, after glowering for several minutes at the figure, made a run at it and knocked it over. The head was smashed and the figure badly damaged.
The tar’s friends, who were much concerned at their companion’s escapade, strove to pacify him, and contrived to get him out of the building without further trouble; but the Kaiser had to go into hospital for repairs.
The sailor was carried away by an impulse thousands have with difficulty controlled out of respect for the Exhibition and the law which makes it an offence to destroy other people’s property.
Two days after the incident a little boy inquired of an Exhibition attendant where he could see the pieces of the Kaiser, as he would like to take a bit away.
A party of twenty-eight American soldiers happened to be passing the curtained room where the dismembered model of the Kaiser lay, and one of them made the request that they should be shown the “All-Highest” lying in state.
“And a very bad state, too,” replied the attendant, who could not oblige.
The second serious attack upon the Kaiser’s effigy took place two or three months after the first.
On this occasion it was a Colonial soldier who, seeing the restored monarch gazing at him in a supercilious fashion, as he imagined, drew from its scabbard the sword of the defunct Austrian Emperor, whose model sits close by, and stabbed the Kaiser’s figure in the face.
The force with which the thrust was delivered was such that off came the monarch’s head, and again the model had to be taken to hospital for the surgical operation of restoring the head and refixing it to its trunk.
Count Zeppelin, whose name will for ever be associated with the introduction of aerial warships and the dropping of bombs upon defenceless people, has had many a clenched fist shaken at him standing there beside the portraits of Roger Casement and Tribich Lincoln.
Though never actually assaulted, it was only the stolidity of the British character that kept people’s hands off his effigy during the Zeppelin raids on London. Visitors were too proud, I suppose, to touch him, and from the time the first German airship was brought down in flames on British soil Count Zeppelin’s model began to be ignored.
A British matron quietly remarked, as she stopped an instant in front of the portrait, “So you’re going the way of all our enemies--beaten at your own game.”
* * * * *
In the early months of the war we borrowed from a soldier an Iron Cross that he had taken from the breast of a dead German officer whom he had found lying in a wood at Zillebeke, near Ypres, in November, 1914.
According to the story of the soldier--Drummer Newman, of the Grenadier Guards--our men, comprising Grenadier Guards, Irish Guards, and Oxfordshire Light Infantry, were opposed to the Prussian Guards, who were driven out of the wood, leaving behind them several hundreds of their dead.
Newman was searching for despatches when he happened upon the cross in question. I remember him coming to my studio with the trophy. He was a typical soldier, and he greatly amused me by his description of the way in which old soldiers--bearing in mind one of the trite sayings of Frederick the Great--would hearten their comrades, saying, just before going over the top, “Now then, boys, you don’t want to live for ever, do you?”
The Iron Cross was exhibited with other relics, and used to be handed round for inspection, until one day it was missing. That was in October, 1915, and, although we made inquiries of the police and learned that it had been seen in the neighbourhood of the Exhibition, we heard no more of it till, several months later, it was traced by detectives to a gentleman at Warrington who had innocently purchased it from an invalided soldier.
We willingly refunded the amount that had been paid for the cross, and it has now been restored to our collection.
* * * * *
No sooner was London subjected to the terrible ordeal of air-raids than we received, as was only to be expected, offers of bombs that had been dropped by enemy aircraft.
As a matter of fact, we acquired one of the first of these missiles, and it proved of great interest to our visitors, especially to our own airmen, who never tired of describing to their friends the construction of the bomb and the way in which it was dropped.
We found it necessary, however, to discourage the bringing of ammunition to the Exhibition, as we had no desire that the building should be wrecked by the untimely explosion of a live bomb or shell.
Reverting for a moment to the attacks upon the effigy of the ex-Kaiser, I am reminded of one or two occasions when figures have incurred the animosity of beholders, although not to the same extent.
A professional rider, expelled from the Jockey Club, used to visit the Exhibition very often for the sole purpose of venting his spleen against the image of his supposed enemy, Fred Archer, the jockey who won five Derbys; and he was heard to remark that it was “so like the beggar, I would give anything to smash it.”
In August, 1893, an old man, whose whole get-up spoke of better days, was seen to walk up to the effigy of the late Jabez Spencer Balfour, shake his withered, palsied fist in its face, and totter out of the building.
Tussaud’s during the war--Chameleon crowds--The psychology of courage--Men of St. Dunstan’s--Poignant memories--Our watchman’s soliloquy.
Under the stress of war many strange things revealed themselves at Tussaud’s--things by no means easy to define, subtle, illusive, immaterial, difficult to comprehend and hard to describe.
At the outbreak of hostilities the attendance suffered a severe check. This disquieting effect was in the main, I believe, due to the great wrench suffered by the public mind through the country’s sudden transition from the normal condition of peace to a strenuous state of war. But as each month passed the flow of visitors steadily increased in volume, until it far exceeded that of pre-war days.
By the time the manhood of the Empire had, in a great measure, doffed its sombre everyday suit and donned khaki, khaki became the dominant colour of the throng that filled the Exhibition rooms.
With this change in attire there came a marked alteration in its demeanour. Usually sedate and reserved, it now betrayed--in startling contradiction to all reasonable expectations--a cherry, devil-me-care character which, curious to relate, resolved itself into a tone unmistakably flippant; a mental attitude to which we soon realised we must give our careful consideration.
He would indeed have been a poor psychologist who had taken this outward showing as a true indication of the feelings of our brave fellows; for it was obviously but the assumption of that demeanour so strongly characteristic of the British disposition, that of facing an ugly job in a cheerful spirit.
It was the ready answer to the pessimist, “If it’s got to be done, what’s the use of being miserable about it?”--a philosophical bearing that perhaps found its deepest expression in their “Cheerio!” and insouciant wave of the hand bidding farewell to wife, mother, and child ere turning to face the grim realities and dread uncertainty of war.
To keep pace with the stirring and ever-fluctuating events of the day, large maps of the battle areas were specially produced for the Exhibition, and lectures were given before them, explaining our varying fortunes in the great conflict. It was in the giving of these lectures that we were soon able to take a fairly correct measure of the disposition of our visitors.
They were, first of all, delivered on somewhat academic lines, with, perhaps, too pronounced an idea of imparting instruction rather than that of affording entertainment. It was soon found that if the attention of our visitors was to be held, it was necessary to adopt a more optimistic and lively, if not an almost bantering, tone if the dissertation were to receive any real mark of appreciation on the part of those who cared to listen.
As the struggle proceeded Tussaud’s began to assume the position of a _pointe de réunion_ of a very remarkable character, and this quite irrespective of class or nationality.
We opened our doors as early as eight o’clock in the morning, and even then found that not a few had been waiting for admission for some considerable time. This forced upon us the conviction that the Exhibition had risen in favour as something of a place of refuge by those who had involuntarily found themselves abroad early in the morning and had borne its existence in mind.
Be this as it may, throughout all hours of the day Tussaud’s proved a centre of attraction to many champions of their country’s cause. Here they were to be seen, whether on their final leave before going out to the front, or homeward bound to enjoy a brief respite from the turmoil of the conflict, and awaiting a train to carry them to their families.
During the autumn of 1914 and far into the following year there congregated within our walls numerous hapless and pathetic beings, strangers to us by their foreign tongue, who, having come from nowhere in particular and having nowhere in particular to go, aimlessly wandered into the Exhibition.
We can only presume that they came to help pass away many a sad and anxious hour, or maybe to take measure of the semblance of those who were at that very moment foremost in striving to stem the tide of the cruel incursion that had driven them to take refuge in a foreign land.
Then as time wore on there came a touch of relieving colour that showed itself here and there amid the prevailing khaki; at first a mere fleck that gradually became more pronounced as the war advanced. This was the hospital blue of our valiant soldiers who had not passed unscathed through the ordeal of fire, as cheery a gathering as ever set foot within the place, a cheeriness readily responded to by their fellow visitors through the medium of sympathy and admiration.
One sad sight there was, however, which touched the hearts of the people so deeply that no display of cheerfulness on the part of the sufferers--and they, too, were invariably light-hearted--could quite evoke a sense of mirth.
St. Dunstan’s Hostel for Blinded Soldiers and Sailors in Regent’s Park is not very far from Madame Tussaud’s, and many of its inmates visited the Exhibition, and, for the matter of that, still find a pleasure in coming in couples or small parties to spend an hour or so among the models and the relics.
In spite of the distressing fact that they have been deprived of the gift of sight, they stand in front of the models and pause while the biographies are read out to them from the Catalogue by some more fortunate companion. Then they almost invariably nod to express their comprehension of the subject before them, and seem to see and understand through the faculty of their imagination much that would otherwise have been made manifest to them through the function of their eyes.
During the past few years our attendance has totalled to a figure reaching several millions; but the number visiting the place hardly constitutes so remarkable a fact as the many diverse nationalities and tribes they represented, or their coming from so many far-distant and remote parts of the world.
The landing of a fresh contingent at any one of our ports, or the arrival in London of any body of men attached to our Allied Forces, brought distinct and unfamiliar types of humanity to our doors.
“I had often heard of the place, but never thought I should have had an opportunity of seeing it,” was a remark that often fell upon the ears of our attendants; and we know, for many reasons, that most of them had made up their minds to visit the place long before they had set foot upon our shores.
Of the many telling experiences of the last few momentous years, the one that will be retained longest in our memory will most assuredly be the touching sight of the war-stained and weary men who, during the earlier days of the war, literally stumbled through our turnstiles into the building.
Dazed for want of sleep, begrimed and besmeared with the very mud of the trenches, they flung themselves upon the nearest ottoman or couch, or in some out-of-the-way place upon the floor, to snatch a few hours’ sleep in comparative comfort.
One evening, when strolling round the rooms some time after the place had been closed, I found myself looking at the watchmen, who were busily engaged sweeping the floors. The chief among them, an old and valued servant, possessing a disposition that generally enabled him to look upon the bright side of things--although he was so often constrained to view them only during the sombre hours of the night--caught me gazing at him.
With a face I thought unusually grave he bade me “Good-evening,” and ruefully remarked, “It seems to me, sir, some of this dirt has come a long way.” Then, pondering for a while, with his eyes fixed upon the floor, he resumed, “Yes, sir, some of it from the very trenches.” And I somehow believed the old fellow was right.
Three heroes of the war: Nurse Cavell, Jack Cornwell, V.C., and Captain Fryatt--Lords Roberts and Kitchener--Queen Alexandra’s stick and violets--The Duke of Norfolk’s tip.
There are three figures, added during the past few momentous years, which possess the rare distinction of being models of abiding interest. Out of the many portraits placed in the Exhibition, there are few that stay there very long.
[Illustration: EDITH CAVELL, THE MARTYR NURSE
A Portrait Study by John T. Tussaud.]
Nurse Cavell, Jack Cornwell, and Captain Fryatt will always be remembered with esteem by the present generation, and the great story of their heroic deeds ensures for them a permanent home at Baker Street, where they will be viewed with patriotic pride by posterity. The portrait of Edith Cavell, the martyr-nurse, was modelled immediately after that heroic woman was brutally shot by the Germans at Brussels at two o’clock in the morning of Tuesday, the 12th of October, 1915.
I communicated with the London Hospital, Whitechapel, where Nurse Cavell had served before she went to Belgium, and the nurses there readily afforded me all the information they had to impart.
Several of them visited my studio and gave me valuable hints as to the posing of the figure and the general demeanour of Miss Cavell when at the hospital. They particularly described the way in which she used to walk through the wards with a book under her arm and her head inclined slightly to one side. When the model was finished they were good enough to say that it enabled them to visualise Miss Cavell as they knew her, and that it was a pleasing portrait.
My wife prepared the laurel wreath, placed above the model, on which are inscribed Nurse Cavell’s words, uttered a few hours before her death, “I am happy to die for my country.”
Soon after the boy hero of the Jutland naval battle was modelled and he had been awarded the posthumous honour of the Victoria Cross, his mother, accompanied by a lady friend, came to the Exhibition to see the figure of her son. It was on the 24th of August, 1916.
[Illustration: JACK CORNWELL, V.C.
A Portrait Study by John T. Tussaud of the boy hero of the Battle of Jutland.]
No sooner did Mrs. Cornwell catch sight of the image of her young hero than she burst into a fit of weeping, and exclaimed, “My boy, my dear boy!” Upon resuming her composure she expressed her surprise at the remarkable resemblance, and added: “I am very proud of my boy, but I do miss him so.”
Mrs. Cornwell had with her a letter she had received from the Captain of H.M.S. _Chester_ (her son’s ship). He wrote:
I know you would wish to hear of the splendid fortitude and courage shown by your boy. His devotion to duty was an example to all of us. The wounds, which resulted in his death within a short time, were received in the first few minutes of the action. He remained steady at his most exposed post at the gun, waiting for orders. His gun would not bear on the enemy; all but two of the crew were killed or wounded, and he was the only one who was in such an exposed position. But he felt he might be needed, as indeed he might have been; so he stayed there, standing and waiting under heavy fire with just his own brave heart and God’s help to support him.
For the model of Captain Fryatt, of the Great Eastern Railway steamer _Brussels_, I had to rely mainly upon photographs.
This brave seaman was captured, with his vessel, by the Germans on the 23rd of June, 1916. On the 27th of the following month he was condemned to death at Bruges for attempting to ram a German submarine, the sentence being carried out the same afternoon.
The model appropriately stands near that of Mr. Havelock Wilson, the sailors’ champion, and, judging from the remarks of visitors who knew the Captain well, it bears a good resemblance.
[Illustration: CAPTAIN FRYATT
The model of the martyred captain of the G. E. R. Ship “Brussels,” now at Madame Tussaud’s.]
We cannot leave this subject without associating with these figures the revered names of Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener, whose models stand near by. The attitude of visitors towards them is that of deep admiration and respect, expressed not so much by word of mouth as by demeanour, which eloquently testifies to the public sympathy with these great warriors.
[Illustration: FIELD MARSHAL EARL KITCHENER
A Portrait Study by John T. Tussaud.]
* * * * *
Enclosed in a glass case is a walking-stick to which belongs a story showing the kind-heartedness of Queen Alexandra.
Early in the war the Queen-Mother visited the wounded Indian soldiers in hospital at Brighton, and, noticing that one of the officers limped, she inquired of him how he come by his injuries. The officer produced his aluminium ration-box, and explained that a German bullet had struck it, scattering fragments of the metal into his leg and other parts of his body.
Queen Alexandra’s sympathy with the Indian officer took a practical form, as she presented him with her own walking-stick to aid him during convalescence.
Some time afterwards the officer returned to the front, and a brother officer brought the walking-stick to us, as he thought Madame Tussaud’s was the best place for it, so that the public should be constantly reminded of Queen Alexandra’s deed of kindness.
The stick bears on a silver plate the initial “A,” surmounted by the royal crown.
The incident reminds me of another in connection with the same gracious lady which occurred many years ago, when the Exhibition was at the old Portman Rooms in Baker Street.
Queen Alexandra, who was then the Princess of Wales, had been visiting the Exhibition, and was leaving the building when a poor flower-girl, with a baby in her arms, approached her and, before anyone could intervene, held a small bunch of violets close to the Princess’s face, saying, “Buy a bunch of violets, please, lady.”
Instead of being annoyed, the Princess accepted the flowers with her usual sweet smile, handed the girl half-a-sovereign, and then entered her carriage and drove away.
The astonished girl kept looking at the coin in her hand, and was quite alarmed when she was told she had held her flowers under the nose of the Princess of Wales; but the remembrance of the Princess’s smile soon reassured her, and she went away happy.
* * * * *
In the early days of the war the late Duke of Norfolk, the Duchess, and their two children, the young Earl of Arundel and his sister, Lady Mary Howard, formed a quartette of most interested spectators, and were conducted over the place by the gentleman who had been appointed as War Lecturer to the Exhibition.
He devoted most of his attention to the young people, and relates how the Earl and his sister passed unobtrusively among the exhibits, gaily chatting all the way, no one but he recognising the ducal party.
The Earl was shown, and allowed to handle, a German rifle, then recently captured in Belgium, and he instantly pretended to load the weapon. Then, raising it to his shoulder, he took a level aim at the head of the Kaiser and clicked the trigger.
As the party were retiring, his Grace and the Duchess had a brief consultation, after which the Duke came back to thank the lecturer for the attention he had given his son and daughter.
There were sovereigns in those days, and his Grace offered one to the cicerone, who deferentially declined the gift, saying he had been amply rewarded by the pleasure of the young people’s company. “I told the Duchess you wouldn’t take it,” said the Duke, laughing.
A crinoline comedy--Mr. Bruce Smith’s story--An American lady’s shilling--My father’s meeting with Barnum--The “cherry-coloured cat”--Paganini and the tailor--George Grossmith poses.
In the dressing of the models attention must naturally be paid to the varying styles of both sexes. For this reason visitors are able to mark the changes Dame Fashion has decreed.
The crinoline period known to our mothers was, curiously enough, anticipated in the days immediately preceding the French Revolution, as exemplified by the quaint Parisian coquette, Madame Sappe, with whom that egoistic old cynic, Voltaire, is palpably flirting in the Grand Hall, a few paces removed from the portraits of Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie Antoinette.
The crinoline of Madame Sappe brings vividly to mind an amusing story related by my granduncle Joseph, who was standing by the turnstiles when a portly matron waddled towards the pay-table, wearing an exaggerated example of this spacious skirt. Her passage aroused some curiosity, and the shuffling of her feet was accompanied by an unaccountable sound of pattering which disposed my relative to keep her under observation.
As soon as she found herself among the figures and hidden from view, as she imagined, the buxom dame cautiously raised her crinoline, when, to my uncle’s amazement, out stepped two little boys.
Nothing was said to the adventurous woman who had thus passed her offspring into the Exhibition free, and my uncle used to say that the expression on her face at the success of her subterfuge was one of radiant satisfaction.
Mr. Bruce Smith, the popular artist, who has produced many scenic effects in our tableaux, tells a story perhaps against himself.
He was engaged, with several fellow artists, on a hunting scene, when an elderly lady and a friend strolled quietly past. Mr. Smith, at the moment, was standing stock-still, scanning his work; then suddenly making a motion with his brush to retouch the canvas, he was startled by an unearthly yell from the old lady:
“Good heavens! they are alive!”
Our “Master of the Robes” fell in conversation with an American lady, who told him that she had paid for admission with a shilling given to her in the States by an English aunt with the instruction that if ever she went to London the shilling should be expressly spent on her admission to Madame Tussaud’s.
She had related the same story to the money-taker at the turnstile, and he was so impressed that he laid the romantic shilling on one side. Our representative offered to give it back to the lady, but she thanked him and said:
“No, I guess I could not break faith with my aunt! The shilling has found its appointed place in Madame Tussaud’s till, after many years, and I have done as I was told.”
My father’s meeting with Phineas Taylor Barnum, the great showman, was an accidental one.
While lunching in a West End restaurant the brusque and humorous behaviour of one of the guests sitting near enlisted my father’s amused attention. The waiters were no less amused by the breezy visitor with the American accent, who supplemented his commands with odd remarks. Having ordered a second dozen of oysters, the American said:
“I guess I could hanker arter these. Bring me another dozen.”
Looking hard at him, my father recognised Barnum, and presently the two men were in friendly conversation; in fact, they spent the greater part of the day together, as kindred spirits are apt to do in such circumstances.
Barnum used to call himself the “Prince of Humbugs,” and gave that title to his autobiography. He told my father a story about a bright idea that struck him when his show was going none too well in an American town.
He put up an announcement, “Come and see the cherry-coloured cat,” and imposed an extra charge for the privilege.
There was almost a riot as Barnum showed the people a black cat. They protested, and demanded their money back; but he coolly asked them whether they had never seen a black cherry, and so appeased their wrath.
Barnum sat to me in the spring of 1890, about a year before he died, and I think I must give him the palm for being the most entertaining of all my subjects, his reminiscences extending over so long and interesting a period. I remember him telling me that many years before he had tried to induce my grandfather to transport Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition to New York, but that the negotiations fell through at the last moment.
As I modelled him he gave me some gentle hints not to be too attentive to the wrinkles on his face, from which I inferred that the old showman possibly thought he looked older than he felt, in spite of his silvery hair and four-score years.
A short-sighted tailor was once employed to repair the coat worn by Paganini, who stood with the violin under his left arm, while the bow was held aloft in his right hand.
The figure was on a tall pedestal, and the knight of the needle had to use a step-ladder. One of the attendants, ever ready for a joke, taking advantage of the tailor’s infirmity, removed the figure, and, adopting a similar attitude, stood in its place.
The tailor prepared his thread, mounted the steps, and was about to begin stitching when the supposed figure brought the bow down on his victim’s back. This so terrified the unfortunate man that he rolled down the ladder on to the floor, where he sat gazing up with the utmost stupefaction.
All attempts to pacify him were for a time futile, and whenever he passed the figure of Paganini afterwards he invariably sidled away from it with a scared look.
Another practical joker was the late George Grossmith.
It is on record that he once made the Exhibition the scene of his operations. Getting into an advantageous nook, he stood stock-still in a line with other celebrities--waxen ones. People going by stopped and said:
“Ah, Grossmith; Capital likeness! How excellent! Dear little Grossmith, one would think he was alive!” and various remarks of the kind. Then suddenly the effigy nodded grotesquely, and slowly extended a comic Grossmithian hand. Everyone fled as though he had been shot at.
The Speaker of the House of Commons (Mr. J. W. Lowther), at a banquet given by the Institution of Civil Engineers, in Middle Temple Hall, on the 23rd of March, 1898, told of a distinguished visitor to London who mistook Madame Tussaud’s for the House of Commons.
Much the same view must have been taken by a genial and sociable diplomat from the United States who, soon after his arrival in London, came to Madame Tussaud’s.
“And what do you think of our great Exhibition?” asked a friend.
“Well,” replied the General, “it struck me as being very like an ordinary English evening party.”
We visit the Old Bailey for mementoes--A mock trial--Relics of Old Newgate--Two famous cells--The Newgate bell.
As soon as I learned in the winter of 1903 that the Old Bailey was to be demolished and its mementoes sold by auction, I hastened to the historic court-house, armed with a catalogue, to tick off such articles as might be wanted for Madame Tussaud’s.
The grim building brought many impressive scenes to my recollection, and it struck me as a curious freak of fate that the place where house-breakers had been tried and sentenced should now be itself in the hands of the “house-breakers.”
The Royal Arms and the Sword of Justice had been taken down, and the walls behind the judge’s seat had been stripped of their faded hangings, giving to the old court an air of desolation; while the removal of the doors and windows admitted the chilly blasts of that bleak February day.
From court to court I passed, noting the catalogued items that attracted me. I observed the long form, covered with black, time-worn leather, where I sat on the occasion of my first visit, thirty years before, a sensitive and imaginative youth, contemplating with awe and a strange depression of spirits the final stages of a murder trial.
Then, as now, it was the interests of Madame Tussaud’s that sent me to the Old Bailey, and it may seem odd to confess that of all my many duties none ever afforded me less real pleasure than such duties as this.
This time my visit was unexpectedly relieved by an amusing incident which might have served for a scene in a melodrama.
I came upon a bevy of workmen, in charge of a jovial carpenter, improvising a mock trial to pass the time between the conclusion of a meal and the resumption of their work.
Presently I heard a scuffling noise and the voice of someone in distress. A lanky old man was being forced by a couple of fellow workmen into the prisoners’ dock, obviously on some sort of vamped-up charge.
“Silence!” shouted a shrill-voiced little man, wearing an apron and paper cap, who had made himself usher of the court.
I looked towards the jury-box, and there saw a droll-looking individual finishing his dinner out of a newspaper.
“Stop that row! Such conduct is disgraceful in a court of justice,” he called, looking across at the struggling prisoner.
Then, observing himself to be alone, the occupant of the jury-box managed to empanel six of his friends to make seven “good men and true.” The jurymen came forward from different sheltered parts of the court, bringing with them what remained of their meal.
As by some prearranged signal, an elderly man, with a round, red face, quietly slipped into the judge’s seat, assuming a judicial air, and fixing his stem gaze upon the protesting prisoner in the dock. The judge paid no attention to the banter directed to him by a number of workmen who constituted the “public” and had sauntered in to enjoy the sport.
His “lordship” took on himself the duties of judge and clerk of the court, and gravely recited a long, and terrible indictment of the accused, who might have been some arch-fiend from the list of crimes charged against him--a list that seemed to box the compass of the Ten Commandments. He was involved in domestic complications which drew forth groans from all in court, and the judge’s reference to his “poor dear wife and little innocent children” evoked well-simulated execration.
A comical fellow entered the witness-box, and reminded the prisoner of a blood-curdling murder he had committed years ago, for which somebody else had been hanged. The witness paused, and then, bringing down his first, said, “Worse than all this, my lord, _’e’s been known to work overtime without extra pay_.”
While these harrowing details were visibly moving the jury, the clocks of the neighbourhood struck the close of the dinner hour, and the whole seven men with one accord jumped to their feet shouting “Guilty!” adding, “No recommendation to mercy.”
The judge put on a billycock hat in imitation of the black cap, and addressed the prisoner with due solemnity to this effect:
“Prisoner at the bar, we regret we cannot ask you whether you have anything to say. Justice has no time for that. A jury of your countrymen has found you guilty, and they know best. My duty is to order you to be taken to a public-house near at hand, where you are very well known, and at a certain hour you shall buy drinks for everyone in this court, including myself, the jury, and whatever members of the public care to be present. If you fail to turn up at the appointed time and place, may the Lord have mercy on your stingy soul!”
In the course of a few days the Old Bailey jury-box and several other fittings of the ancient criminal court were installed under the roof of the Exhibition. The prices they fetched were hardly more than nominal.
It was very different, however, with the relics of the adjoining prison. The mementoes of Old Newgate found many eager buyers, and the bitter February weather did not prevent a large crowd of bidders following the auctioneer about as he crossed the bleak prison yard and passed through the long dreary corridors.
The bidders came from all classes of society, bent on obtaining some keepsake of the sombre establishment. I see that procession now, some muffled to the ears, some blowing their finger-tips in the piercing cold, others stamping their feet, but all indulging in one form of humour or another to keep up their spirits in very dispiriting surroundings.
There were three lots on which the crowd bestowed special attention.
One was Jack Sheppard’s cell, from which he made his daring escape--a thrilling feat dear to the imagination of boys young and old.
[Illustration: JACK SHEPPARD, THE HIGHWAYMAN
This model is posed in the actual cell from the Newgate prison, from which he made his sensational escape.]
Another lot was the cell in which Lord George Gordon, the instigator of the riots that bear his name, died of gaol fever on the 1st of November, 1793. His exploits will be remembered by readers of _Barnaby Rudge_.
The third lot was the famous bell which, for just upon a century and a half, had never failed to notify the good citizens of London the precise moment when a condemned prisoner had paid with his life for a life he had taken.
[Illustration: THE OLD NEWGATE BELL
Acquired by Madame Tussaud & Sons, Ltd., when the prison was demolished in 1903.]
There was an idea at the time that the metal of the Newgate bell contained in it a quantity of silver, and this belief gave rise to the impression that it would fetch a high price.
But it fell to our bidding, amid a hearty burst of approval, for the round sum of £100, by no means a high price for such a coveted relic.
Not only the bell, but also the cells, came into our possession that day. The thick solid masonry and heavy iron work were taken down and carefully marked, so that each part should be set up again in its right position when installed at Madame Tussaud’s--a tedious process that incurred a far greater outlay than the original cost.
Satisfaction was widely expressed that the Newgate relics should find their way into Tussaud’s.
These memorials of Old Newgate have already reposed in their new home sixteen years, and have been viewed by millions of people who otherwise would not have had an opportunity of seeing them.
Visitors of all grades of society linger long before these narrow cells, and I have often seen them rap with their knuckles the Newgate bell, which never fails to respond with a soft mellow resonance, reminding one of the time-honoured couplet, deeply inscribed upon it:
Ye people all who hear me ring Be faithful to your God and King.
Tussaud’s in verse--Tom Hood’s quatrain--“Alfred among the Immortals”--A refuge for Cabinet Ministers--Two dialogues--“This is fame!”
On very many occasions Madame Tussaud’s has been the subject of prose and verse in the public Press. I have already given a few extracts. Here are other quotations, some of which will surely raise a smile.
[Illustration: TOM HOOD
Tom Hood was one of the first of a long line of authors and editors who paid tribute to Madame Tussaud’s.]
Tom Hood, the prince of punsters, honoured us with the following quatrain:
The stillborn figures of Madame Tussaud, With their eyes of glass and their hair of flax, They only stare whatever you ax, For their ears, you know, are nothing but wax.
_Punch_ has always been very fond of honouring us with quips and sallies regarding portraits that seemed to merit such good-humoured attention. The dapper and debonair late Poet Laureate, Mr. Alfred Austin, had not long been added to the collection when our genial jester coruscated as follows:
[Illustration: ALFRED AUSTIN
Poet Laureate 1896-1913.]
ALFRED AMONG THE IMMORTALS.
THE POET LAUREATE IS ON VIEW AT MADAME TUSSAUD’S.
“Let them gibe, let them jeer, Let them snigger and sneer At my dramas, my lays, and my odes! Others know my true worth-- ’Mid the great ones on earth, They’ve enshrined me at Madame Tussaud’s.”
A more recent contribution from a light versifier runs:
There’s a refuge, if Cabinet duties cease, Where Ministers anxious to rest--with _Peace_-- May do so. Political stars who are on the wane In a popular Chamber may wax again _Chez_ Tussaud.
Here is another quotation from _Punch_:
There once was a Madame called Tussaud Who loved the grand folk in _Who’s Who_, so That she made them in wax, Both their fronts and their backs, And asked no permission to do so.
One thing is to be noted about the last two quotations: the writer gives the right pronunciation to the name Tussaud, whereas other “poets” often make it rhyme with “swords”--a common error.
There was a picture in _Moonshine_, in which a policeman was separating two quarrelling errand boys.
“Now then, you boys!” said the officer.
Young Pat: “Shure an’ it’s all him. Hitting me, an’ I’ve got a uncle a Mimber of Parliament, I have.”
Young John: “And what of that? Why did he cheek me? I’m as good as him. I’ve got an uncle in Madame Tussaud’s.”
The following adroit dialogue appeared in a humorous periodical beneath the picture of a Scottish minister addressing one of two dishevelled youths:
Minister (to small boy who has been fighting): “Ah, laddie, think what wad hae bin done tae ye if ye had kilt that laddie!”
Small Boy: “I’d a bin had up.”
Minister: “Ah, yes, ye’d a bin had up, but something waur than that.”
Small Boy: “I’d a bin hang, mebbie.”
Minister: “Yes! but something waur than that wad a happen’d.”
Small Boy: “After that I’d a bin pit in Madame Tussaud’s.”
The family name often appears in the public Press with more rhyme than reason. The following verse published at the time of the Hague Peace Conference in 1899 is somewhat apropos at the present moment:
When all are agreed in word and deed That pacific intentions shall rule, When armies disband on every hand And tin soldiers are not used at school,
When rifles and swords are shown at Tussaud’s As inventions quite obsolete, Then we might be pleasant, but just at present We’re thinking ’bout keeping our Fleet.
When the portrait model of Mr. Rudyard Kipling was added to the Exhibition, that gentleman was made the subject of the following lines:
What though from distant climes I, young, unknown, Swift from obscurity Sprang to a throne?
What though aforetime Worship was paid me? Though offers fabulous Publishers made me?
What though the critics all Pleasantly flattered me? What though all this befell (As if _this_ mattered) me?
_Now_ with sublime head Strike I the stars; Better is this to me Than all their “pars.”
Modelled in wax at last, Now they do show me With other famous ones, Madame Tussaud me!
Now may I pose supreme! Now to me, _à la_ “Crowned heads,” the public grant Their great Valhalla!
Now may the universe Echo my name; Now nothing more remains, This--this is FAME!
Last scene of all--Madame Tussaud’s appearance and character--Her _Memoirs_, published in 1838--Her last words.
If I have recounted many stories relating to incidents that have taken place long after Madame Tussaud passed away, it is because the flow of anecdote prompted by her genius has continued in an unbroken course down to the present times.
But the atmosphere of romance that pervades this history belongs in the main to her days, and it is only fitting that with the close of her days it should practically come to an end.
She died some eight years before I was born, but from my father and from those of his generation who spent the best part of their lives in her company I learnt so much about her that it is difficult for me to realise that I had not enjoyed her personal acquaintance. Her model that stands at the head of the “Sleeping Beauty,” I have always been given to understand, is a speaking likeness.
In figure she was small and slight, and her manner was vivacious. Her complexion was fresh, her hair dark brown with never more than a sprinkling of grey, and her soft brown eyes were keen and alert when her interest was aroused. She was a great talker, her conversation was replete with reminiscences, and, moreover, she was blessed with a faultless memory. Austere in her habits of life, exacting in her likes and dislikes, she showed a ready sympathy with those in distress, and, above all, she was generous to a fault.
Unfortunately her _Memoirs_, published in 1838, although they were penned more than a decade before she died, do not bring us into any very close relationship with either her personality or her life.
This would not be surprising to those who knew her, or who were acquainted with the circumstances in which they were written. She seldom could be brought to speak of herself and her own painful experiences; and at no time did she betray the slightest disposition to thrust herself upon the public. She was seventy-eight years old at the time, and her desire for seclusion grew stronger as years advanced, until her entourage became narrowed down to the simple companionship of her immediate family circle.
The _Memoirs_ came to be written in this wise:
Her two sons, Joseph and Francis, in collaboration with an old literary friend of the name of Francis Hervé, settled in their minds that the old lady should be induced to leave behind her an account of her career.
[Illustration: FRANCIS TUSSAUD
Younger son of Madame Tussaud. Born 1800, died 1873. Modeled by his son Joseph and exhibited at the Royal Academy.]
As she had declared her unwillingness to busy herself with the task of compiling her autobiography--and in certain matters we knew her to have been immovable--they decided that the best way of accomplishing their design would be to record the substance of those conversations in which they rightly surmised they would have little difficulty in inducing her to take part when in the humour.
In spite of the facilities these gentlemen had for obtaining the matter used in their publication, it may be well conjectured that they did not always find their course run smooth, and at times they must have been put to odd shifts and a good deal of careful strategy when gathering what they wanted from the shrewd old lady without arousing her suspicions.
For these reasons the _Memoirs_ have failed to supply what is best worth knowing, such as details giving an insight to her own life--an omission which, I fear, can never now be made entirely good. That work is, therefore, made up of disjointed, scrappy matter, avowedly well written, but somehow obviously strung together for the making of a book.
In perusing its pages the reader thus finds himself confronted by a mere procession of notables whom the old lady happened to have known or to have seen in her day, each with an encyclopædic quantum of information tagged to his or her name that might well have been culled from any biographical treasury. So it is she is to be found speaking of others when her reader’s one desire is that she should be induced to talk of herself.
Neither does this “Romance” claim to be a biography. Such an undertaking would demand of us closer and more careful study than these brief sketches have entailed, and much diligent research. Moreover, such has not been the purpose of these pages.
By those who had the best authority to speak of her I have been often reminded of the trials and hardships against which she had to battle during her long and strenuous career, showing a courage and determination that might well have broken the spirit of many a man. In estimating her character and her achievements, my mind turns to events of the past few years which have demonstrated how capable women are of enacting a great part in the drama of human life.
Madame Tussaud brought cheerfulness and geniality to bear upon the tasks that lay before her, and therein lay the secret of her triumphs. She was diligent and attentive to her business, devoted to her family, and attached to her friends.
The measure of her years far exceeded the allotted span, and she was rewarded, despite the slightness of her frame, with an almost unbroken continuation of good health, until, on the 15th of April, 1850 she passed peacefully and painlessly away at her house attached to the Exhibition in Baker Street.
Forty years of her life had been chiefly spent in Paris and the latter fifty years mostly in London; so that her biography may be said to comprise a tale of two cities. She was buried in the catacombs of St. Mary’s Church, Cadogan Place, Chelsea.
The last words she spoke in this world were characteristic of this wonderful woman’s indomitable spirit. Calling her sons, Joseph and Francis, to her bedside, she gently upbraided them for showing distress at her departure, rather than gratitude that she had been spared to them so long. Her farewell exhortation was, “I divide my property equally between you, and implore you, above all things, never to quarrel.”
Aberdeen, Lord, 193
Académie de Saint Luc, 60
Adelaide, Queen, 111
Alexander III of Russia, 228
Alexandra, Queen, 228, 338
Alfred the Great, 232
Alix of Hesse, Princess, 147
Anecdotes, 293, 315, 341, 349, 353
Animals in Exhibition, 218
Annaly, Lord, 232
Archer, Fred, 286, 325
Asquith, H. H., 235, 281
Augusta, Princess, 109
Austin, Alfred, 352
Bailey, Old, 346
Baker Street Exhibition, 149, 208, 247, 339, 359
Balfour, Arthur J., 223
Balfour, Jabez, 328
Bancroft, Lady, 244
Bancroft, Sir Squire, 245
Bank Holiday Crowds, 282
Barnum, Phineas, 343
Baron-Wilson, Mrs. C., 117
Bastille, Keys of the, 299
Bastille, The, 79
Bates, Colour-Sergeant G. H., 159
Bazaine, Marshal, 173
Beaconsfield, Lord, 172, 190, 315
Beatty, Admiral Lord, 235
Berlin Treaty, 191, 315
Berne, 57, 58, 63
Berry, The Executioner, 314
Bertrand, Count, 125, 139
Bhopal, Begum of, 231
Bismarck, Prince, 325
Black Prince, 237
Blind Visitors, 332
Blücher, Von, 112
“Bobs”, 191, 202, 290
Bonaparte, Napoleon, 96, 127, 134, 139, 153, 184, 206
Booth, General (the late), 253
Boulanger, General, 201
Bradlaugh, Charles, 200
Bright, John, 175
Bristol Riots, 103
Bullock, William, 122, 123, 138
Burgess, T. W., 281
Burglar, Our, 292
Burke, 234, 311
Burke, Thomas, 197
Burns, John, 276
Burns, Robert, 286
Burton, Isabel Lady, 206
Burton, Sir Richard, 205
Byron, Lord, 237
Cabinet de Cire, 73, 76
Calcraft, The Executioner, 314
Canning, George, 100, 112
Cantlie, Sir James, 283
Carey, James, 197
Carlyle, Thomas, 85
Caroline, Queen, 99, 107
Carrier, 56, 87, 91
Casement, Roger, 326
Cato Street Conspiracy, 210
Cavell, Nurse, 335
Cavendish, Lord Frederick, 197
“Caverne des Grands Voleurs”, 76, 298
Chamber of Horrors, 76, 174, 187, 233, 244, 251, 278, 290, 297, 306, 307, 314, 318
Charles of Denmark, Princess, 229
Charlotte, Princess, 99, 112
Children, Stories of, 294
Churchill, Lord Randolph, 234
“Claimant,” Tichborne, 177
Clarendon, Lord, 194
Clowes, Rev. John, 113
Cobbett, William, 239, 285
Cobden, Richard, 176
Collins, Dennis, 110
Collot d’Herbois, 95
Concerts, Promenade, 110
Consort, Prince, 220
Conti, Prince de, 58
Corday, Charlotte, 92, 114, 295
Cornwell, Jack, V.C., 335
Cromwell, Oliver, 237, 248
Cronje, General, 223
Cumberland, Duke of, 118
Cup-tie Crowds, 283
Curtius, Christopher, 57, 59, 65, 70, 78, 84, 88, 89, 96
D’Angoulême, Duchesse, 76
Danton, 87, 91
Dargai, Highlanders at, 222, 289
Dauphin, The, 76, 113
Dickens, Charles, 286
Disraeli, Benjamin, 172, 190
Dock Strikes, 225
D’Orsay, Count, 148
Dumas Story, 311
Dunstan’s, St., 332
“Dying Socrates,” The, 69
Educator, Tussaud’s as, 236
Edward, King, 54, 90, 156, 217, 237
Égalité, Philippe, 80
Egyptian Hall, 138
Elba, Isle of, 128
Eldon, Lord, 100
Elizabeth of France, 70, 75
Elizabeth, Queen, 112
Ferdinand of Bulgaria, 321
Fieschi, Giuseppe, 303
Foulon, 73, 82
Fouquier-Tinville, 56, 87, 91
Francis Joseph, Emperor, 321
Franklin, Benjamin, 66, 67
Frederick, Emperor of Germany, 227
Fryatt, Captain, 335, 337
Furniss, Harry, 175
Garcia, Manuel, 118
George IV, 100, 112, 122
George, King, 204, 232
Gladstone, William Ewart, 174, 293
Gordon Riots, 350
Goulburn, Henry, 124
Grace, Dr. W. G., 286, 316
“Grant’s Folly”, 213
Grant’s Staircase, Baron, 211
Graves, Henry, 220
Gray’s Inn Road, Exhibition in, 110, 118
Great War, The, 320
Greenacre, James, 304
Grew, Thomas, 8
Grosholtz, Joseph, 7, 57
Grosholtz, Marie, 7, 57
Grossmith, George, 345
Guillotine, 90, 299, 311
Hall of Kings, 285
Hanging in Public, 304
Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates, 239
Hardinge, Sir A., 221
Hare, 112, 234, 301
Hartington, Marquis of, 292
Hayter, Sir George, 154
Hébert, 56, 87, 91
Henry VIII and his Wives, 218, 239
Hinton, Viscount, 224
Holland, Queen Wilhelmina of, 223
Hood, Tom, 352
Hornn, Jean, 122, 124
Horrors, Chamber of, 76, 174, 187, 233, 244, 251, 278, 290, 297, 306, 307, 314, 318
Hôtel d’Aligre, 59
Indian’s Diary, 240
Induna Envoys, 189
Iron Cross, Story of, 326
Irving, Sir Henry, 245
Jackson, Bishop, 318
Jameson, Doctor, 294
Jellicoe, Admiral Lord, 235
_John Bull_, 322
Josephine, Empress, 96, 111
Juno, The Elephant, 218
Jutland, Naval Battle of, 336
Kaiser, The, 320, 325
Kavanagh’s Jaunting Car, 198
Keller, Von, 123, 137
Kenney, Miss Annie, 279
Kent, Duchess of, 100
Kintore, Earl of, 221
Kipling, Rudyard, 286, 317, 354
Kirk, Sir John, 240
Kitchener, Lord, 337
Koffee, King, 188
Kruger, President, 294, 296
Lamballe, Princess de, 88, 251
Landseer, Sir Edwin, 148, 220
Las Cases, Count, 141
Lawrence, Mrs. Pethick, 279
Lawrence, Sir Thomas, 299
Lee, General Homer, 287
Leicester Square, 214
Leopold I of Belgium, 100, 112
Leo XIII, Pope, 158
Léon, Count, 184
Lincoln, Tribich, 326
Lipton, Sir Thomas, 286
Livingstone, Dr., 181
London Bridge Incident, 121
Lorge, Count de, 115
Louis XV, 62
Louis XVI, 56, 76, 77, 82, 87, 91
Louis Philippe, 118, 302
Lowther, J. W., The Speaker, 345
_Lusitania_ Outrage, 322
Lyceum Theatre, 98, 246
Magna Charta, 217
Malibran, Madame de, 118
Manning, Cardinal, viii
Marat, 92, 239, 295, 299
Marie Antoinette, 56, 75, 76, 79, 87, 91, 253
Marie Louise, Empress, 123, 136
Marwood, The Executioner, 314
Mary, Queen, 232
Mary, Queen of Scots, 112, 224, 237, 253
Mathew, Father, 143
Mathias, Lt.-Col., 289
Maude, Cyril, 296
Maybrick, Mrs., 319
Mayo, Earl of, 171
Mayoral Visit, 290
McKenzie, Rev. P., 147
Melbourne, Lord, 100
_Memoirs_, Madame Tussaud’s, 357
Milan Carriage, 120
“Model” Wife, A, 240
Moltke, Von, 325
Monkey, Our, 218
Montholon, General, 141
Muller, William, 106
Mummy, Our, 115
Museum at Boulevard du Temple, 66, 73, 84, 302
Museum at Palais Royal, 66
Mysore, Sultan of, 75
Napoleon Bonaparte, 96, 111, 123, 134, 139, 153, 184, 237
Napoleon, III, 183
Napoleon’s Coachman, 122, 124
Necker, 79, 82, 86
Nelson, Admiral Lord, 204, 237
Newgate Prison, 349
Nicholas I, Tsar, 145
Norfolk, Duke of, 339
Norwich, Bishop of, 100, 111
O’Connell, Daniel, 113
Old Bailey, The, 346
Orléans, Duke of, 79
Palmerston, Lord, 194
Pankhurst, Christabel, 280, 281
Pankhurst, Mrs., 280
Peace, Charles, 278, 316, 319
“Peace with Honour”, 315
Pearcey, Mrs., 251
Peel, Sir Robert, 100
Penn, William, 112
Persia, Shah of, 185, 216, 221
Phœnix Park Murders, 197
Pitt, William, 112
Pius VI, Pope, 111
Placard, Old, 108, 113
Policeman, Our, 291
Pompadour, Madame de, 58
Portman Rooms, 115, 208, 339, 359
Prince Consort, 220
Prince Imperial, 183
Prince of Wales, 229, 295
Promenade Concerts, 110
_Punch_, 174, 196, 299, 352
Quincey, De, 300
Reign of Terror, 56
Revolution, French, 85, 299
Rhodes, Cecil, 294
Richard Cœur de Lion, 217
Rignold, George, 248
Roberts, Field-Marshal Lord, 202, 223, 337
Robespierre, 87, 91, 93, 94
Rosebery, Lord, 233
Royal Academy, 8
Ruhleben Camp, 325
Russell, Lord John, 194
Sala, George Augustus, 252
Salisbury, Lord, 288
Sappe, Madame, 341
Scott, Sir Walter, 100, 286
Seven Years’ War, 57
Shackleton, Sir Ernest, 295
Shah of Persia, 185, 216, 221
Shahzada of Afghanistan, 215
Shaw, George Bernard, 277
Sheppard, Jack, 350
Shipwreck in Irish Channel, 102
Siam, King of, 215
Siddons, Mrs., 99, 113
Sims, George R., 218
Sleeping Beauty, 102, 239, 285, 295
Smith, Bruce, 342
Spain, Alphonso, King of, 225
Speaker, The, 345
St. Amaranthe, Madame, 101, 285, 295
St. Dunstan’s Hostel, 332
St. Helena, 120, 139, 153
Stage Favourites, 242
Stanley, H. M., 181
Suffrage, Woman’s, 280
Sully, Duc de, 113
Sun Yat Sen, President of China, 287
Swedenborg, Emanuel, 112
Talleyrand, Prince, 100, 118
Tenniel, John, 136, 175
Tennyson, Lord, 203, 252, 286
Terry, Miss Ellen, 242
Thistlewood, Arthur, 210
Tichborne Claimant, 177
Tippoo Sahib, 75
Tom Thumb, 232
Treloar, Sir William, 290
Tsar, The late, 147
Tsarina, The late, 147
Turkey, Sultan of, 321
Turnerelli Wreath, 191
Tussaud, Francis, 8, 102, 143, 357, 359
Tussaud, François, 96
Tussaud, Joseph, 8, 116, 102, 117, 145, 153, 159, 357, 359
Tussaud’s in Verse, 352
Tussaud, Madame, 57, 63, 71, 87, 98, 103, 285, 287, 356
Twain, Mark, 316
Versailles, 72, 73
Verse, Tussaud’s in, 352
Victoria, Queen, 117, 151, 189, 220, 232, 290
Voltaire, 56, 68, 145, 224
Voltaire’s Chair, 145
Votes for Women, 281
War, The Great, 320
Waterloo Carriage, The, 120, 127, 133, 230
Wellington, Duke of, 62, 111, 112, 153, 217, 271
Wesley, John, 112
Westminster Abbey, 317
Wetherell, Sir Charles, 103
_Whip_, The, 308
Whiteley, William, 290
Wilhelmina of Holland, 223
William IV, 110
Williams, John, 299
Wills, W. G., 247
Wilson, J. Havelock, 337
Wolseley, Sir Garnet, 187
Wurmser, General, 57
York, Duke of, 100, 112
Zeppelin, Count, 320, 325