Letters of a Diplomat’s Wife, 1883-1900

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Wayne Hammond and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net

Transcriber’s Note: The following spelling corrections were made:

p. 23: “I said I would come with pleassure” changed to read “I said I would come with pleasure”

p. 28: “generally a collection of litttle” changed to read “generally a collection of little”

p. 34: “they all wear red flannnel” changed to read “they all wear red flannel”

p. 69: “As soon the the Sovereigns had taken” changed to read “As soon as the Sovereigns had taken”

p. 109: “where the suppper” changed to read “where the supper”

p. 110: “I took a last look at the black Madonnna” changed to read “I took a last look at the black Madonna”

p. 111: “how we managed to eat chicken and mayonnaaise” changed to read “how we managed to eat chicken and mayonnaise”

p. 118: “We have just come in from a pleasant dinner at the Juarès” changed to read “We have just come in from a pleasant dinner at the Jaurès”

“Admiral Juarès was very hospitable” changed to read “Admiral Jaurès was very hospitable”

p. 142: “there are always babauds hanging over” changed to read “there are always badauds hanging over”

All instances of “cortege” and “cortège” were changed to “cortége”

Mary King Waddington drawing.
Mary King Waddington signature.








Copyright, 1903, by Charles Scribner’s Sons for the United States of America

Printed by the Trow Directory, Printing and Bookbinding Company New York, U. S. A.



Mary Alsop King Waddington is a daughter of the late Charles King, President of Columbia College in the City of New York from 1849 to 1864, and a granddaughter of Rufus King, the second Minister sent to England by the United States after the adoption of the Constitution.

Miss King was educated in this country. In 1871, after the death of her father, she went, with her mother and sisters, to live in France, and in 1874 became the wife of M. William Henry Waddington.

M. Waddington was born in Normandy, France, in 1826. His grandfather was an Englishman who had established cotton manufactories in France, and had become a naturalised French citizen. The grandson, however, was educated first in a Paris lycée, then at Rugby, and later at Trinity College, Cambridge. As an undergraduate he rowed in the Cambridge boat in the University race of 1849. Soon after leaving the University, M. Waddington returned to France and entered public life. In 1871 he was elected a representative from the Department of the Aisne to the National Assembly, and two years afterward was appointed Minister of Public Instruction in place of M. Jules Simon. In January, 1876, he was elected a senator for the Department of the Aisne, and two months later again became Minister of Public Instruction. In December, 1877, he accepted the portfolio of Minister of Foreign Affairs.

M. Waddington was the first plenipotentiary of France to the Congress of Berlin in 1878. On February 4, 1879, he became President of the Council (Premier), retiring the following December. In the winter of 1879-1880 he refused the offer of the London Embassy. In May, 1883, he was sent as Ambassador-Extraordinary to represent France at the coronation of the Czar Alexander III at Moscow, and upon his return from Russia was appointed Ambassador at the Court of St. James to succeed M. Tissot. He held this post until 1893, and died in Paris in the following year.

Mme. Waddington accompanied her husband on his missions to both England and Russia. The letters collected in this volume were written during the period of her husband’s diplomatic service to describe to her sisters the personages and incidents of her official life. About a fourth part of their number have lately been published in Scribner’s Magazine; with this exception, the letters are now given to the public for the first time.

Tompkins McIlvaine.

New York, April 1, 1903.

Portrait of Madame WaddingtonFrontispiece
Colonel Benckendorff
From a photograph by Bergamasco, St. Petersburg.
The Emperor Crowning the Empress. Church de l’Assomption66
Empress Marie in her Coronation Robes68
Grand Duc Wladimir
From a photograph by Bergamasco, St. Petersburg.
M. William Waddington
From a copyright photograph by Russell & Son.
The French Embassy, Albert Gate, London168
The Dining-room of the French Embassy, London, Showing its Two Famous Gobelin Tapestries172
J. J. Jusserand, Counsellor of the French Embassy
Recently appointed French Ambassador to the United States. From a photograph by Walery, Paris.
The Duchess of Cambridge
From a photograph by Walery, London.
Windsor Castle192
M. and Mme. Waddington and Their Son
From a photograph by Cesar, Paris.
The Salon of the French Embassy in London210
Lady Salisbury216
Knowsley Hall
The Earl of Derby’s place at Prescot, Lancashire.
The Late Earl of Derby
From a photograph by Franz Baum, London.
The Countess Fanny Karolyi, the Austrian Ambassadress
From a photograph by Walery, London.
Queen Victoria, in the Dress Worn During the State Jubilee Celebration, June 21, 1887
From a photograph, copyright, by Hughes & Mullins, Ryde, England.
The Crown Prince Frederick of Germany, in the Uniform Worn by Him at the Jubilee Celebration, London, June, 1887
From a photograph by Loescher & Petsch, Berlin.
Comtesse de Florian
From a photograph by Walery, London.
Group at Hatfield House during the visit of the Shah of Persia, July 8, 1889
From a photograph by Russell & Sons, London.
Lord Salisbury
From a photograph by Lambert Weston & Son, Dover.
A Comedy for Children at the French Embassy
From a photograph by Barker & Pragnell, London.
The Empress Frederick, Wearing the Order of the Black Eagle
The last portrait of the Empress by the artist Angeli.
Entrance to the Club and Gardens, Cowes, Isle of Wight
From a photograph by Broderick.




To G. K. S.

31, Rue Dumont d’Urville,
March 15, 1883.

Our breakfast at the English Embassy was most interesting. I began by refusing on account of my mourning, but Lord Lyons wrote me a nice note saying that there would be no one but the Léon Says and Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone, so I accepted. I was very anxious to see Mr. Gladstone.

We had a pretty little breakfast upstairs in the small dining-room, and the talk at table was most interesting. I thought Mrs. Gladstone looked older than her husband. He of course did most of the talking. He has a fine voice, bright, keen, dark eyes, holds himself very erect, and apparently knows everything about everything. When the men were smoking after breakfast I had quite a talk with Mrs. Gladstone, who told me about the murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish. She said her husband heard it at a big London party, and had to go and tell Lady Frederick. Mr. Gladstone was more upset by the whole thing (and the having to tell the unfortunate wife) than she had ever seen him. Il y avait de quoi, for even here in Paris, where outside questions don’t trouble them very much, there was great excitement when the news came.

I had a nice talk with Plunkett, who congratulated me on W.’s[1] appointment as Ambassador to Vienna. I told him there was no truth in the report (they had offered it to W., but he won’t hear of it), and I think he is quite right. He has no particular attaches at Vienna. He knows German well, but doesn’t speak it absolutely perfectly, and hasn’t really the social talents that one needs in Vienna. They ought to send a dashing general, or a courtier, not a serious savant.

We certainly are leading different lives. I am wrapped in my fur coat, and driving in a shut carriage. Your tea in the garden sends a shiver through me. It sounds quite romantic having the son of the “Roi des Montagnes” to breakfast. I wonder if I shall ever see Athens; W. says when I do that I will never care again for Rome; that colouring and ruins are far superior in Greece. I almost think in that case I would rather remain under my present impression of dear, beautiful Rome, not quite like our American friend, who thought “the Colosseum was pretty, but she liked the Court-House at St. Louis better.”


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