Tag Archives: Empress Eugenie

Empress Eugenie and the Scent of Violets: 1880

It is Bastille Day, so Mrs Daffodil will share a strange French tale. Let us preface this story with a few words of historical background.

Napoléon Eugene, the Prince Imperial, son of the exiled French Emperor, Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie, had enlisted in the British Army and, eager to see action, had managed to have himself posted to Zululand to fight in the Anglo-Zulu War. On 1 June 1879, the Prince Imperial was ambushed and killed. His body was returned to England for burial; a funeral was held on 12 July 1879. In 1880, the Empress made a pilgrimage to Zululand, wishing to see where her son fell.


Of the many stories told of uncanny experiences, that related of the late Empress Eugenie is one of the most amazing.

After her son, the Prince Imperial, was killed in Zululand, the Empress, accompanied by the late Field Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood, paid a visit to his grave. This spot had been marked by a cairn of stones, but by the date of the visit the jungle had encroached so that even the Zulu guides, who had been among the Prince’s assailants, could not find it.

The Prince had a passion for violet scent; it was the only toilet accessory of the kind he used. Suddenly the Empress became aware of a strong smell of violets. “This is the way,” she cried, and went off on a line of her own.

She tore along, stumbling over dead wood and tussocks, her face beaten by the high grass that parted and closed behind her, until, with a loud cry, she fell upon her knees, crying, “C’est ici!” (It is here). And there, hidden in almost impenetrable brushwood, they found the cairn!

“The Empress told me,” said Sir Evelyn afterwards, “that the first whiff of perfume had been so overwhelming that she thought she was going to faint. But it seemed to drag her along with it; she felt no fatigue, and could have fought her way through the jungle for hours.”

News-Journal [Mansfield OH] 3 July 1921: p. 17

In addition, after the Empress had spent the night in prayer at the site,

Towards morning a strange thing happened. Although there was not a breath of air, the flames of the candles were suddenly deflected, as if someone wished to extinguish them, and I said to him: “Is it indeed you beside me’? Do you wish me to go away’?” Quoted in Featherstone. Captain Carey’s Blunder, pp. 21S-16.

Another version of the story of the scent is related by Dr Ethel Smyth, musician and friend to the Empress.

When these Recollections were first published, much interest was excited by a curious psychic experience of the Empress’s in Zululand, whither she went in 1880 to visit the spot where her son had fallen. When, she told me the story I remembered having heard something about it from Sir Evelyn Wood who was in command of the expedition, but in those days I kept no diary, and certain details had distorted themselves in my mind.

I will therefore collate my version with that given by my friend, Lucien Daudet—one of “les enfants de la maison”—in a Memoir [L’Imperatrice Eugenie, par Lucien Daudet (A. Fayard).] of which, before it finally appeared in book-form, the Empress herself corrected the proofs. She disliked being written about at all, but this particular work gave her great pleasure. And though her weaknesses find no mention here, (“inevitable, but a pity!” as she herself remarked) this is the most faithful and delicate portrait of her in later years that exists.

When, at length, after many days trekking across the veldt, the expedition was nearing the goal, the Empress begged that instead of pressing on they might pitch camp. The first sight of the Zulus in war panoply had produced a terrible impression on her, and she wished to brace herself for the last stage. Since many months it was only with the aid of chloral and by inducing physical fatigue that she could win a little sleep in the 24 hours, and at the close of that long sultry day she slipped out of her tent for her usual solitary walk.

It appears that the Prince had a passion for verveine, that to think of “mon petit gargon” was to think of that scent. Suddenly the air was full of it; so unexpected, so overwhelming was the perfume that the Empress told me she thought she should faint. But it seemed to drag her onwards, and presently, without sensation of fatigue, ever faster and faster, she was following it “comme un chien sur une piste,” passing over rough, broken ground, pushing through thickets, crossing hidden ravines without conscious effort. . . . Then, quite as suddenly, the perfume failed, and with it her strength. She found herself on a hill covered with curious flat stones and knew she could never retrace her path. Presently men sent after her by her alarmed suite appeared and led her back to the camp.

Next day, as they neared the spot where the Prince had fallen, no need to tell her the goal was at hand; she recognized the hill and the stones.

This story is doubly impressive since, as I have said, she was not imaginative, and to all appearance anything but psychic.

Streaks of life, Ethel Smyth, 1922: p. 56-60

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  There are several little inaccuracies in the newspaper story. The site where the Prince fell was not only well-known, but it had been tidied and gravelled over in the manner of an English church-yard. The Empress was distressed by this. She had been hoping to find the site as it was when her son had been cut down. Here is an admirable article describing some of the events of the Empress’s pilgrimage.

While the violets story is inexpressively poignant, Mrs Daffodil has not been able to find it in Sir Evelyn Wood’s several memoirs or in biographies of the Empress herself. And was the Prince’s favourite scent violet, the signature flower of Napoleon Bonaparte, or verbena?

At the start of the Empress’s pilgrimage, her aides had to deal with a odiously intrusive female journalist working for The New York Herald, calling herself “Lady Avonmore,” who claimed to be a dear friend of the Empress and who tried to intercept the Imperial party. One wonders if it was she who created the sensational narrative above for her American readers.

Mrs Daffodil will add one more curious anecdote about the Prince Imperial’s death:

On the day of the surrender of Napoleon III, after the Battle of Sedan, a frightful storm broke over Windsor, and during the tempest a tree which the Emperor had planted in the park, while he and the Empress Eugenie were visiting Queen Victoria in 1855, was struck by lightning. Still half the stricken tree remained standing, but on June 1, 1879, a similar terrific storm broke over and swept the park, and a further lightning stroke completed the destruction of the tree. On this date the Prince Imperial (son and heir of Napoleon III) was killed in action in Zululand.

Noted Prophecies, Predictions, Omens and Legends, The Countess Zalinski, 1917 pp. 97-98

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Royal Widows and Their Weeds: 1889

Queen Victoria, 1899, aged 80, wearing her widow's cap. Bertha Muller, National Portrait Gallery

Queen Victoria, 1899, aged 80, wearing her widow’s cap. Bertha Muller, National Portrait Gallery

Royal Widows and their Weeds

The Gaulois gives some interesting particulars as to the mourning worn by widows of royal and imperial rank in Europe at the present time. A modification of the English widow’s cap, as worn for so many years by our Queen, would appear to be the form of coiffure at many Courts and the same journal states that an English milliner possesses a monopoly of supplying these to the royal families of Europe. The description given in detail shows that the cap, as worn at foreign Courts, has black lisse weepers. The aged Empress Augusta [widow of Emperor Frederick II of Germany], though she wears in other respects the conventional widow’s mourning, is obliged to wear a really warm cap, owing to the neuralgic headaches from which she suffers. The immense strings fall almost to the carpet when she is seated in her large arm-chair, which is mounted on rollers.

Queen Victoria and her daughter, the Empress Frederick of Germany, in mourning for Emperor Frederick, who died shortly after assuming the imperial crown.

Queen Victoria and her daughter, the Dowager Empress Frederick of Germany, in mourning for Emperor Frederick III, who died shortly after assuming the imperial crown. https://www.rct.uk/collection/search#/24/collection/2105953/queen-victoria-with-victoria-princess-royal-when-empress-frederick-1889

The unfortunate Empress Charlotte, widow of Maximilian of Mexico, has always been careless of her dress since the great tragedy of her life. In her widowhood and mental alienation she loves to wear the brightest colours, though her attendants have frequently tried to dissuade her from doing so. She often puts red roses in her hair, as she is represented in her portrait by Baudan, in which her remarkable resemblance to her grandfather, Louis Philippe, comes out so strikingly.

Empress Eugenie in mourning

W & D Downey, c. 1873, Wikimedia Commons

The Empress Eugenie wears the very simplest sort of mourning. Her gowns are of woollen fabric, and fall in plain folds from the waist. Her dressmakers occasionally attempt some variation upon their unstudied simplicity, but the Empress always bids them revert to the untrimmed dresses that she now prefers. The Queen-Regent of Spain has till quite lately worn deep mourning that was almost nun-like in its severity, The dress, very flat and straight, has had a long full train. Upon her head the has always worn a mantilla of a black woollen fabric, without even the relief of a fold of transparent crape. For extra covering, when crossing the gardens or traversing the long corridors of her palace, Queen Maria Christina wears a long black mantle lined with white velvet. She uses two pearl-headed pins that King Alphonso used to admire, for fixing the thick black veil upon her head. For certain occasions of ceremony the Queen-Regent has of late doffed her sombre black and worn a lilac gown but she seems to like to return to the black veil that denotes her widowhood.

The Empress Frederick in widow's weeds

The Empress Frederick in widow’s weeds. From “Within Royal Palaces,” Marquise de Fontenoy [pseud.], 1892

Princess Stephanie’s still girlish head— she is but twenty-five— is the latest to wear the royal widow’s cap, under which her fair hair is almost hidden, and the black and white of Austrian widows’ mourning. Some dresses just sent to the Empress Frederick illustrate the etiquette of the first twelve months’ weeds. Among them is a mourning dress in plain English crape, the skirt of which is gathered all round the waist. The Empire bodice has a deep collar of white batiste and cuffs to match that reach to the elbow, A long trained house dress is in black cashmere the front being entirely covered with crape, pleated diagonally across it. The cuirasse bodice has a plastron of crape, the fastenings of which are concealed beneath two bias folds. Large sleeves of white crepe lisse are worn ever the black ones, the latter shewing through. A tea gown, in a soft fabric called woollen velvet; opens over a front of striped black crape. The long train is lined with white silk. The belt that confines the gown at the waist is made of woollen passementerie studded with unshining wooden beads. The collar and cuffs are of thick white serge embroidered with black. Among the dinner gowns is a Princess dress of English crape, the front of which is draped over black silk. Another is in black woollen velvet with train gathered on the back, and trimmed with an embroidery of small wooden beads. On the flat bodice is a deep white collar, like a nun’s, but made of the very finest batiste, in this respect unlike a nun’s. Among the mantles is a long and ample one, intended to be worn in driving, and made of black woollen crape, lined with Astrakhan fur. The young princesses wear black serge gowns with riding habit bodices, and collar and cuffs of black crape lisse. Their evening dresses are black grenadine, closely pleated over dull black silk, trimmed with English crape, and worn with black silk sashes.

Millinery Trade Review, Volume 14, 1889

Three queens in mourning for King George VI: Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and Queen Elizabeth II

Three queens in mourning for King George VI: Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and Queen Elizabeth II https://www.rct.uk/collection/2943909/three-queens-in-mourning

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: King Edward VII had a horror of prolonged mourning, no doubt in part to his mother’s life-long obsession with the trappings of woe. This dislike was framed in a kindlier spirit in an article telling of King George’s wish that general mourning for his father be cut short by a month and that half-mourning be dispensed with entirely.

“King Edward had a deeply rooted objection to prolonged royal mourning because of its untoward effect upon trade, and his son is showing equal consideration to the vast army of shopkeepers and their helpers.” The Illustrated Milliner, Vol. 11 1910

German court mourning was particularly severe. Here is a contemporary view:

The Queen Dowager, widow of King Frederick William IV., fell seriously ill at Dresden, where she had been staying with her sister, the Queen of Saxony, about the time I married. She died early in November, and to my intense dismay I found myself obliged to put aside all my pretty trousseau dresses, and to smother myself in crape, for a person I had never seen. Court mourning was not a joke at Berlin at that time, whatever it may be now. Whenever the notice of it appeared the whole of society covered itself with garments of woe, and every kind of gaiety was instantly put a stop to. Queen Elizabeth, having been a reigning sovereign, the mourning for her was as severe as it could well be, and consisted of long black cashmere dresses, a kind of Mary Stuart cap of black crape, and two veils, one falling over the face, and the other trailing behind to the very ground; the last-mentioned had to be worn indoors, and I remember my mother-in-law insisting on our decking ourselves with it every evening for dinner, in anticipation of a possible visit from the Empress, which event did actually occur two or three times during the period when these trappings of woe were prescribed. In Russia black is never worn on holidays, but in Germany it is different, and even on New Year’s Day we went and offered our good wishes to the Emperor and Empress in our crape dresses and veils, and anything more gloomy I am sure I have never seen, either before or after that, in the whole of my life. My Recollections, Princess Catherine Radziwill, 1904

Mrs Daffodil, by the bye, would disagree with the “girlish” assessment of Princess Stephanie, widow of Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria, who made such an mess of things at Mayerling, She may have been immature when betrothed to the Crown Prince, but she had fallen in love with a Polish Count in 1887, two years before this article was published. When Rudolph resumed his self-absorbed round of pleasure of Vienna, she was quite capable of giving as good as she got and scarcely troubled to hide her infatuation.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Empress Eugenie’s Sewing Circle: 1866

 EugenieEugenie’s Latest Whim

The fashionable female world will be astounded at the latest whim which has seized the beautiful French Empress. For some time odd rumors have been circulated, which are now thought to have an origin in the far-reaching policy of the Emperor, rather any change of the Empress. Visitors admitted to the privilege of seeing their Majesties in the retirement of domestic life have expressed their astonishment at the simplicity of dress adopted by Eugenie. A plain dress without trimming, and worn with only a linen collar and cuffs, was said to be her costume on one occasion. In the recent speech made by the Emperor before the Corps Legislatif, he declared himself tired of hearing about more liberty for France. What France wanted was not more liberty, but greater simplicity, virtue and happiness. To this speech Jules Favre made a terrible reply.

He showed that, under the Empire, virtue and happiness were not to be found; that idleness and luxury had taken their place; that vice and wantonness stalked boldly abroad at midday in Paris, and were openly copied and countenanced by the leaders of Parisian society.

The effect of this scathing rebuke has been somewhat neutralized by an incident which occurred the other day, and which has been industriously circulated. A deputation of Lyons workmen waited upon her Majesty with a sample of antique and very costly brocade, which she was requested to bring into fashion. “I am very sorry I cannot comply with your wishes,” said the Empress, with her peculiarly charming style, “but there are many ladies whose husbands could not afford these toilettes as expensive. My own is among the number.” Of course the deputation left puzzled, bewildered, at the Emperor’s poverty, but completely fascinated.

I have not told you, however, of the latest Imperial whim which has taken the direction of sewing machines. A few weeks ago the Empress issued an order for several different kinds of sewing machines—one of which captivated her fancy, and it is said that she has not only become an expert operator herself, but that, greatly to the disgust of her ladies, she ordered several more of the same kind, and insists upon an hour’s practice as one of the daily morning recreations. A sort of Court Society has thus been formed, the substantial results of which are to be given to the poor. The news of this new whim of the Empress has been received with enthusiasm in fashionable quarters, and an immense rush created for machines. It is to be hoped the new whim will last long enough to clothe some of the miserable poor of Paris.

Plain Dealer [Cleveland, OH] 21 April 1866: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The Second Empire was a time of inflation both in skirt volume and in fashionable extravagance. Some pious ladies formed sewing circles to help the poor. Others tried to rein in the expense of being a la mode.

A number of ladies in Paris have formed themselves into a society called “L’ Union des Femmes Chretienne,” for the purpose of reforming the fashions. Each one promises to pay so much a year for her toilettes, and not to employ any dressmaker or buy goods unless she can pay for them right away. Won’t they please try this on here? Monticello [IA] Express 26 Mary 1870: p. 3

The Empress Eugenie, was, of course, Empress of the French until 1871. She and Emperor Napoleon III sought refuge in England, where the Emperor died in 1873.  As one might ascertain from the hostile tone of the article above, the Empress was often accused of extravagance in her dress. Here is what Dr Thomas Evans, the American dentist who helped her to escape to England (and who seems more than a little enamoured of her Imperial Majesty), had to say:

“But the anti-Imperialist gossips never grew weary of tattling about her love of personal display, of inventorying her dresses, and bonnets, and jewels, and furs, and of hypocritically bemoaning the “luxe offréné” —the unbridled luxury—of the Court. Just as if it was not one of the principal functions of a sovereign in a country like France—the arbitre de la mode for the world—to set the fashions of the day, and to regulate the etiquette and ceremonials of the Court!

And most eminently was she qualified to prescribe and govern the “form” at a Court brilliant and fond of display and originality to the verge of eccentricity. It was with the most exquisite tact and taste that she fixed the line where fashion stopped, and to pass beyond which would have been ridiculous. The beau monde everywhere accepted her decisions in these matters as ne plus ultra. From the day she entered the Tuileries, the Empress was the ruler of the world of fashion, and the supreme authority with her sex, in the four quarters of the globe, in all matters pertaining to the graces and elegancies of social life; and through her patronage the names of the couturieres, and modistes, and florists of Paris became famous in every land.

And yet most ladies who are at all prominent in our fin de siecle society, would probably be greatly surprised were I to tell them that the Empress, when one day at Farnborough reference was made to these particular critics and the alleged extravagance of her wardrobe, said in my presence: ”How very ridiculous all this is. Well! I suppose they think they must say something. Why! with the exception of a few gowns made for special ceremonial occasions, (those which she used very happily to call ‘mes robes politiques ‘) during the whole time I was at the Tuileries I never wore a dress that cost more than fifteen hundred francs, and most of my dresses were much less expensive.”

A writer who is no friend of the Empress has the grace to say, when speaking of her: “We live at a time when queens are exposed to public observation more than ever before, when they cannot put on a dress without having it described by fifty newspapers, when twenty articles are published every day about their fetes, their amusements, their jewels, and their head-dresses. This publicity tends to lower queens in the estimation of the people, who no longer see anything but the frivolous side of their lives.”

Memoirs of Dr Thomas W. Evans, 1905


The Moon Party, a Halloween Entertainment: 1914

Selene Victorian fancy dress.

Selene Victorian fancy dress.

“Moon Party” Makes Novel Halloween Entertainment.

One of the most pleasant social affairs is a moon party. This is the sort of entertainment to give on Halloween (or Thanksgiving) when the harvest moon is in evidence.

Those who are willing to go to some trouble in preparation for the function will find in a moon party something out of the ordinary.

For invitations use colored cards with silver or white moons ferescent or full) on them. Write on the cards the following or some other verse:

Dear friends, this greeting brings to you

An invitation hearty

To join with us on Halloween

A merry moonlight party.

Moons of every description are to be used in decorating—full, crescent, de-crescent, half and gibbous. These may be made of silver or white paper. They may hang from ribbons or cords and may be festooned all about.

The receiving party may be composed of mythological characters associated with the moon.

The first of these may be the “moon maker” (Segende Nah), who cause the moon to issue from a deep well so brilliant that the real moon was concealed by it. His dark blue robe should be covered with bright red moons and he should carry a wand.

Another may represent “Phoebe,” (the moon as the sister of the sun) arrayed in silver and white.

A third may be “Astarte” (the crescent moon), the moon with the crescent horns; and a fourth, “Ashtoreth” (the Phoenician goddess moon), sometimes called the “queen of heaven” (Jeremiah VII: 18).

“Selene” (the moon goddess), may be represented with wings on her shoulders and a scepter in her hands.

“Cynthia” should be included as the moon in the open heaven who “hunts the clouds.”

And from embattled clouds emerging slow

Cynthia came riding on her silver car.

The lighting for the room should simulate moonlight. Vines and branches should be so hung as to throw their shadows on floor and walls.

As the people arrive they are given each a numbered crescent shaped souvenir bearing an appropriate quotation. Those holding the same number are partners in the game of “moon raking.”

“This game it should be explained to those taking part, gets its name from the legend of the farmer who once took a rake to rake the moon from the river under the delusion that it was a cream cheese.

The “moon rakers’ are attached to each other by pairs (by means of a white tape half a yard long. They are instructed to go and rake for the moons (round, white candy tablets), which have been hidden among which is a green cheese (cloth) moon.

The finder is awarded a tiny moonstone.

The fact that the moon rakers are bound together makes it difficult for them to search and adds to the liveliness of the game.

Another interesting game is that of the “man in the moon.” A big, white moon with a man’s face on it is outlined on a dark curtain. Each player essays in turn to pin the eye nearest the place intended for, a small favor being presented to the one who succeeds.

“Jumping over the moon” is another good moon party game. A moon is suspended from a rod held at a certain height and the player who jumps clear over it at the greatest height is the winner.

Cheese sandwiches, crescent in shape are appropriate for refreshments, with moon shaped or star shaped cookies and wafer disks.

J.A. Stewart.

672 S 51st  st. Philadelphia. Pa.

Plain Dealer [Cleveland, OH] 18 October 1914: p. 11

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: We have Cynthia, but where is the goddess Diana, she of the crescent- moon crown?  It is not as if there is not admirable precedent for the goddess’s use as a fancy-dress character by the highest in the land:  the Empress of the French was said (in this caustic article) to be appearing at a fancy-dress ball in the character of the bare-limbed goddess.


The Empress of the French expected to give a grand fancy ball at her mother’s, the Countess de Montijo’s house, on Friday last, April 27. An exchange brought over by one of the recent steamers, says:

Eugenie, it is announced, will appear as the Goddess of Diana, equipped for the chase, and her dress will be composed of a short skirt of tulle, and of a body of flesh-colored silk, liberally embroidered with diamonds.

A large diamond crescent, and two stars to match, will sparkle on the forehead of the Goddess; the feathers of her arrows will be bedropped with diamonds, as a thread of gossamer with dew, and the pretty little pink boots, that are to give a finish to the costume, will likewise be adorned with precious gems set in anklets of gold. The jewels, some of which, it is said, will be wrenched form the crown, are more important to the costume than at first sight might be imagined. The dress of the Goddess Diana, consisting merely of a short tunic, and what are technically termed “fleshings,” would scarcely be becoming to a lady of high degree, though it might be exceedingly effective on the stage. But add a circle of diamonds to the scanty habiliments, and the standard of propriety is changed at once. Diana’s silver bow may not command much respect; even Diana’s real moon, inasmuch as it costs nothing, may be unheeded; but a Diana, with a crescent of diamonds—diamonds on her boots, diamonds on her arrows—is admissible into the most rigid circles.

Alexandria [VA] Gazette 5 May 1860: p. 2

The Empress Eugenie was widely regarded as a low-ranking and unsuitable match for the Emperor Napoleon III, an amusing attitude, considering the antecedents of that upstart Bonaparte. The Empress did give a series of extravagant fancy-dress balls in 1860 and called upon her favourite couturier, Charles Frederick Worth for imaginative costumes for her and her guests.  Here is a design for “Diana:”

From the Victoria & Albert collections

From the Victoria & Albert collections

However, the acerbic tone and the nonsense about wrenching jewels from the Crown make one suspect that this article was a piece of anti-Eugenie propaganda rather than an actual account of a fancy-dress costume.

The “moon-maker” was an 8th-century Arabian magician, also known as Hakim Ben-Hashem. He wore a veil to conceal the brilliance of his eyes, the result of causing a moon to issue from a well and remain visible for a week.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


Magical Jewels of the Monarchs: 1900-1906

Modern Talismanic Jewels

One of the best collections of stories concerning the magic of talismanic jewels in strictly modern times is contained in a chapter of Geo. H. Bratley’s “Power of Gems and Charms.” In it we read the following interesting paragraphs: “Emperor William of Germany [this was written in 1906] possesses a ring which has a very curious history. It is the talisman of the family. Legend relates that since the time of the Elector John of Brandenburg, every ruler of the House of Hohenzollern has, when dying, if possible, handed a sealed packet to his successor. This packet contains a ring in which is set a black stone that was dropped by an enormous toad upon the bed of the wife of the Elector immediately after she had given birth to a son, the toad afterwards mysteriously disappearing. The stone was zealously taken care of, and the father of Frederick the Great had it set in a ring. Schneider, the librarian of William I., declares that he witnessed the handing over of the precious packet by Geiling, the treasurer, to his royal master on his succession; and he further asserts that he read the full account of the stone to the Emperor, who fully confirmed it. The ring has ever since been worn by the head of the House of Hohenzollern. William II wears it on all great occasions, and he has great respect, like every Hohenzollern, for the curious old jewel. In the archives at Berlin are many documents of that time referring to it…

[The author then tells the story of the cursed Spanish opal, which we have previously visited in these pages.]

The Czar of Russia is said to be very superstitious [remember this was written in 1906] and to have great confidence in relics. He wears a ring in which is imbedded a piece of the true cross, and it is said to have the virtue of shielding its wearer from any physical danger. It was originally one of the treasures of the Vatican, and was presented to an ancestor of the Czar for diplomatic reasons. The value which its owner sets upon the ring is shown by the fact that he will never, if possible, move any distance without it. Some years ago he was traveling from St. Petersburg to Moscow when he suddenly discovered he had forgotten the ring. The train was stopped immediately, and a special messenger sent back in an express for it; nor would the Czar allow the train to move until eight hours afterwards, when the messenger returned with the ring. It is said that when his grandfather was so cruelly assassinated he had left the ring behind him. The Czar has also another ring with a more pleasant history to it; the story is both pretty and romantic. It is a plain ring and of a quaint Gothic design. The ring was given to Princess Charlotte of Prussia, daughter of Frederick William III., by her governess, while the princess was still a schoolgirl. On the inside of it in faint characters the words ‘Russia’s Czarina’ are just legible. Many years later Prince Nicholas of Russia, then without any hope of succeeding to the throne, saw and fell in love with the young princess, and, during dinner, on the first evening of their meeting, begged her to give him a little remembrance as a sign that his love was returned. ‘Pray give me that little ring,’ he whispered; and secretly it was handed to him. Eight years later the prophetic words engraved within the ring came true. Nicholas became Czar of Russia and Charlotte its Czarina. [Where were these rings during the bloody assassination in the Ekaterinenburg cellar?] [Mrs Daffodil’s note: This ring belonged to Czar Nicholas I. (d. 1855)]

But it is not only royalty who believe in the magic of charms, for we find the great composer, Haydn, had a ring which was his source of inspiration. Without the ring he could rack his brain in vain for melodies: with it the music would leap to his fingers. Mr. Rider Haggard, the novelist, wears a quaint signet ring which once adorned the finger of that Pharaoh who made Israel captive, and to this ornament the novelist ascribes many virtues.

The well-known jeweler, Mr. Streeter of Bond St., though not afraid to walk under ladders, spill salt, and do other unlucky things, always carries attached to his watch chain a small, quaint, sharply carved seal which was originally found in an Egyptian coffin. He has worn it for many years and would not be without it for anything.

The clever black-and-white artist, Mr. Austin Osman Spare, once picked up a golden skull bearing the word ‘One’ in opals. On the night he picked it up he dreamed that as long as he kept the trinket he would be lucky. So far his dream has come true. It is for this reason that he signs his drawings ‘One.’

Madame [Alice] Esty [the opera singer] never appears in public without a small green heart, which is attached to a delicate necklace of gold. She also values highly an antique topaz trophy, which she has converted into a brooch. This stone was once possessed by a famous Indian necromancer. By appealing to its power he was able to command the appearance of food and drink. One night he lay by the side of a suffering comrade on the battlefield. He himself was wounded by a dart. He heard his comrade moaning in an agony of thirst, and, taking the charm from his bosom, threw it to the side of the sufferer, saying, ‘Wear it near thy heart if thy parched throat would find relief,’ and fell back dead. The strange command was obeyed, and when at dawn the grateful soldier looked for his benefactor, no trace could be found.

Mrs. Nicholas Longworth’s [née Alice Roosevelt] favorite ornament is a beautiful jade necklace, which was given to her when she visited the Empress of China. The empress herself decorated Miss Roosevelt with the necklace, and told her that the linked bits of stone were very old; that they had been cut by an artist who had the reputation of being one-half wizard, and that the ornament would bring to its owner her heart’s desire. After her engagement to Congressman Nicholas Longworth was made public she confided to some friends that she believed there really was virtue in the necklace. The Jewelers’ Circular, Volume 83, Issue 1, 1921

Other rulers with protective talismans:

The Shah of Persia always wears a belt set with a superb emerald, to which he ascribes the same virtue as the Czar attributes to his sacred ring. The belt is filled with onion peelings, the object of which is said to be to move any would-be assassin to tears. When the late Shah visited this country he was never seen in public without his protecting belt and gem. He thoroughly believed that if he traveled without the emerald disaster would overtake him, and by a strange coincidence it actually did. It will be remembered that this Persian monarch was foully assassinated not many years ago, and it was a singular fact that he was not wearing the gem at the time.

King George of Greece possesses a talisman, which is also a grim reminder of an attempt on his life. Just at the conclusion of the war with Turkey he was waylaid and shot at several times, one of the bullets embedding itself in the box of his carriage. His Majesty’s escape was so miraculous that he had this bullet extracted and made into a charm for his watch-chain. He would not part with it for a kingdom, firmly believing that as it mercifully missed him when directed at him, it was designed to insure him immunity from assassination.

The Sultan of Turkey, who lives in constant dread of what has been described as the “happy dispatch,” would not be an Oriental if he did not believe in the efficacy of charms. His own particular talisman is said to be a richly bejeweled miniature dagger which he invariably carries about with him. Despite its virtues, however, he takes the precaution of insisting on one of his ministers tasting every dish prepared for him before partaking of it himself.

When the late German Emperor [Frederick III] was lying desperately ill at San Remo, a remarkable amulet was sent to him by the Sultan. It consisted of a string of nine stones of the size of hazel nuts, each of which bore an inscription from the Koran and had been prayed over by a Moslem priest. Accompanying this royal talisman was a letter assuring the Emperor that if he only wore it his health would be at once restored. [Alas, for Europe, the talisman did not work and his son, the blood-thirsty Kaiser Wilhelm, succeeded him.]

The Ameer of Afghanistan wears a beautiful gold ring, to which he ascribes the fact of his having survived so long the machinations of his enemies. He has been a good many times reported dead, but thanks to the magic of his golden ring he still lives to praise its protecting virtues.

No Chinese potentate has ever been without his precious amulet. It is recorded of a former Son of Heaven that his talisman was a bracelet which he wore upon his forearm. The result was that, when His Celestial Majesty was stricken with paralysis, the use of that particular arm was preserved to him, and he was able to issue his decrees as usual. But the full extent of the amulet’s mystic power was only revealed at the Emperor’s death. Three days after that event, when the priests were viewing the body, the removal of the bracelet was suggested. Instantly the hand was lifted up in deprecation at the proposal, which was thereupon abandoned. At least, so runs the story.

The talisman of the sorrow-stricken ex-Empress Eugenie is an artistically jeweled breastpin, fashioned in the shape of a clover-leaf. That has been her companion throughout her checkered career, albeit it has not always brought her happiness. She is said to have pinned it on her bosom before bidding farewell to her beloved son, the late Prince Imperial, when he left this country to meet his death in South Africa. London Tit-Bits 1900 

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The belief in the magical properties of jewels is a constant in the history of mankind. Perhaps the confidence engendered by a talisman really does have a stimulating effect on the wearer, hence the saying, “Fortune favours the brave.”  Or, the obverse, as Mrs Daffodil has often found helpful: “Accidents visit the anxious.” There is certainly a magical correlation between jewels and personal attraction:  hence the plethora of diamond bracelets presented to chorus girls by wealthy older gentlemen, who instantly take on a new glamour as they pull a velvet-lined jewel-case from their pockets.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes.