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Though as a centre of fashion the Park is hardly what it was and the gay equipages have disappeared, in other respects it has greatly improved, far more attention being devoted to the flower-beds, which in spring and summer are now a real delight. In my childhood little attempt was made in such a direction, and only in the fifties of the last century was Hyde Park converted into the park-like domain which has been further improved since. Lord Carlisle it was who, with characteristic good-nature, placed boats upon the Serpentine, the condition of which, however, was so bad that for some time, owing to the foul state of the water, they could scarcely be used.
About the same time the number of chairs in St. James's Park was increased at the suggestion of a Member of Parliament.
The question of the improvement of parks occupied a number of men of taste in the nineteenth century. A suggestion for placing a number of flowering shrubs in this park so as to convert it into an agreeable and lively promenade, was first published in "A Letter to the Right Hon. Sir Charles Long," in 1825. How the judicious changes and improvements of later years would have gladdened the heart of the invalid old gentleman, who, on being asked how he was, replied, "Not improving in health and strength; formerly I was able to walk round St. James's Park, now I can only walk half-way round and back again."
Disraeli as a dandy-Prince Louis Napoleon in his days of exile and as Emperor-A stickler for etiquette-His gratitude-Anecdotes-Illfated first-born-Beaux of other days-Count d'Orsay and Prince Paul Esterhazy-Anecdotes-An official "Sleepy Hollow"-New men and old acres-Sir Richard Wallace-Sir John Murray Scott-The Admirable Chrichton-Esquires-King Edward VII and his high qualities— The cornation of King George V
GREAT reproach hurled at the upper classes used to be the dandyism of its men, and the vacuity and folly of their lives. Nevertheless, a number were not so foolish as they are generally supposed to have been.
Talking to a lady once, Brummell, in allusion to a certain individual, said in his peculiar manner, "Who ever heard of his father?" in answer to which she replied: "And who ever heard of George B.'s father?" 'Ah, dear lady," he rejoined, halfseriously, "who, indeed, ever heard of George B.'s father, and who would have ever heard of George B. himself, if he had been anything but what he is? But you know, my dear lady, it is my folly that is the making of me. If I did not impertinently stare Duchesses out of countenance, and nod over my shoulder to a Prince, I should be forgotten in a week; and if the world is so silly as to admire my absurdities, you and I know better; but what does that signify?"
Then, and for many years later, dandyism was a method of getting to the top of the social tree, and that is why a number of quite intelligent individuals wasted so much time upon frippery and dress.
It seems curious to remember that as a young man, Lord Beaconsfield rather prided himself upon being a dandy. This, however, was when foppery to an extreme of extravagance was the mode with young men of fashion, who were all seeking to outstrip each other in personal adornment. People, of course, were inclined to scoff at the appearance of Disraeli the Younger when he made his entry into society. Nevertheless, in spite of his ringlets, somewhat affected air, his dress coats of black velvet lined with white satin, his white kid gloves, and his tasselled ivory cane, one felt that he was a good deal more than an ordinary fop. His dress, indeed, was merely part of his plan for obtaining recognition; at heart, I think, he always despised all that sort of thing.
Unlike the men of fashion with whom he associated even as a young man, the future Prime Minister had fixed aims and ambitions of which he never lost sight for an instant.
There are three kinds of men in this world—the "Wills," the "Won'ts," and the "Can'ts." The former effect everything, the other oppose everything, and the latter fail in everything.
Lord Beaconsfield was essentially one of the first class; and only those who know the difficulties he had to overcome can appreciate what a far-seeing and
PRINCE LOUIS NAPOLEON
wonderfully strong brain lay beneath those curling black locks, which remained one of his personal characteristics to the day of his death.
Another of the "Wills," whom I remember when as Prince Louis Napoleon he was in no very great favour with West End mammas, was the last Emperor of the French. He also was something of a dandy. During his sojourn as an exile in London very few believed that he would ever succeed in gaining the throne of France. From what I can recollect about him, he did not impress one very much; but he was a pleasant man, and did all he could to become popular in society.
In Piccadilly it was, I have been told, that Louis Napoleon first set eyes upon the man who, reputed to be his half-brother-the Duc de Morny-afterwards did so much to support the Imperial régime which crumbled away after his death. As Emperor, Louis Napoleon seldom forgot a friend of the days of his exile; he was essentially a grateful man, and could be very genial. After seizing the Imperial throne, however, he became a great stickler for etiquette, and affected a good deal of the ceremonial state which was such a prominent feature of the Court of the old French kings.
This was particularly shown when an English nobleman born without legs wanted to be presented at the Tuileries at the same time as his wife and daughter.
On the morning of the day on which the presentation was to take place, the Emperor sent word to
Lord Cowley that he could not receive such a visitor, who, having no legs, would be obliged to sit while the Emperor stood. Lord Cowley was much vexed, but sent an attaché to communicate the disagreeable news to the applicant. Meanwhile the Duke de Bassano came himself to Lord Cowley to tell him that the nobleman's chair had arrived at the Tuileries-that it must be instantly taken away, and that its legless owner could not be received. This was rather mortifying to the British Ambassador, but the Emperor was inflexible.
The latter, however, greatly appreciated any kindnesses done him in his exile, indeed, gratitude was one of his best qualities, and he never forgot any one who had rendered him a service. Visiting Vichy after he had become Napoleon III, while walking on the banks of the Sichon he lost his way. A labourer chancing to pass at the time, the Emperor asked to be shown the way back. "Second to the right and then first to the left, sire," said the man. "What! you know me?" "Yes, and have had the honour for years past." Where?" "Your Majesty, of course, cannot remember me, but you were once the cause of my passing two days in the black hole; for when you were at Ham, I was a soldier there, and was punished for passing you in a pound of tobacco." "Well," said the Emperor, "it shall be my turn now," and a few days afterwards the man was installed in a well-stocked tobacconist's shop.
When away from Paris the Emperor lived very