Madame Adam la grande Française; from Louis Philippe until 1917
LA GRANDE FRANÇAISE
FROM LOUIS PHILIPPE UNTIL 1917
AUTHOR OF “FROM THE CRUSADES TO THE FRENCH REVOLUTION,”
“FRENCH NOVELISTS OF TO-DAY,” “MARGARET OF FRANCE,”
WITH EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS
E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
Printed in Great Britain by
Richard Clay & Sons, Limited,
BRUNSWICK ST., STAMFORD ST., S.E. 1,
AND BUNGAY, SUFFOLK.
La Grande Française 
Professor of Energy,” a term first applied toNapoléon I, is a title which has been bestowed on more thanone living Frenchman. None has better claim to it thanMme. Adam, La Grande Française, as she has been happilycalled, the story of whose life, which is now running into itseighty-first year, is told in the following pages.
To write Mme. Adam’s biography is also to write one ofthe most momentous chapters of French history. For thisremarkable woman has lived through the Revolution of1848, the coup d’état of 1851, the agony of the siege of Paris,the civil war of the Commune, and two invasions of herbeloved patrie.
As the mistress of a leading political salon, as the founderand editor for twenty years of an influential fortnightlymagazine, La Nouvelle Revue, as for many years the intimatefriend of Gambetta, of Thiers, of other French ministers,of the representatives of foreign powers and of such eminentFrench writers as George Sand, Flaubert, Victor Hugo,Alphonse Daudet, Pierre Loti, Paul Bourget and MauriceBarrès, she has not only kept her finger on the pulse ofher great nation, but she has to some extent modulated itsheart-beats.
The key to Mme. Adam’s temperament and to all thevaried phases of her career is her passionate belief in self-government,in that cause of national independence forwhich the powers of L’Entente are now engaging in thisworld-embracing conflict. We may call it a belief, butoriginally in Mme. Adam’s case it was an instinct born inher and inherited from her father, one of the most ardentof revolutionaries. Mme. Adam is a revoltée to the core.Toujours hors des rangs, Gambetta said of her. In numerousincidents of her childhood her rebelliousness revealed[Pg vi]itself. The growth of her reasoning powers, however, ledher to submit to discipline, to embrace with fervour—shecan never do anything by halves—the republican creed,and to become the irreconcilable adversary of the SecondEmpire. Then the national defeat of 1871, acting uponwhat she has described as her combativité rentrée (her suppressedcombativeness), turned her passion for self-governmentinto an ardent advocacy of the principle of nationality,into a vehement protest against everything which couldin even the remotest manner be suspected of underminingthat principle.
Consequently we shall find Mme. Adam loudly lifting upher voice, vigorously wielding her pen most frequentlyagainst Prussian aggressiveness, but also against imperialisticideas, no matter in what shape or form, no matter inwhat part of the world she can detect them. We shall findher opposing alike the French tendency to colonial expansionand the Austrian Drang nach Osten, Mr. Gladstone’slater policy in Egypt and the Conservative coercion ofIreland, the Magyar domination over the Slav peoples andour war with the Boer Republic in South Africa. Weshall find her also ever glorifying the army and navy asthe most effective guarantee of national independence.
Nationalism is Mme. Adam’s creed, patriotism her religion.French Nationalists, like Léon Daudet, regard heras having been the strong tower of the French idea (laforteresse de l’idée française) throughout the forty-four yearsseparating the war of 1914 from the war of 1870. If inlater years Mme. Adam has renounced her father’s agnosticismand returned to the bosom of the Church, it isprimarily because she considers that only by submitting tothe Roman obedience can she best continue the traditionsof her country.
I am very fortunate, for Mme. Adam has throughouttaken a deep interest in this biography. We have discussedit together at length. Despite her multifarious waractivities she has found time to write me some forty lettersin response to my questions. She has also introduced meto her friend and collaborator in La Nouvelle Revue, Mme.Jeanne Krompholtz, who has kindly furnished me withvaluable information.
For the greater part of Mme. Adam’s life, however, fromher birth in 1836 down to 1880, my main authority has been[Pg vii]her seven volumes of Souvenirs. These living documents,written, many of them, under the immediate impressionof the events they record, I have carefully compared withcontemporary and more recent writings, indicated by foot-notesthroughout these pages. For the quarter of a centuryand more which has elapsed since the close of Mme.Adam’s Souvenirs I have consulted her numerous otherautobiographical works, her contributions to La NouvelleRevue and to other periodical literature, and also thefrequent references to her personally, and to her books,which have appeared from time to time in the French pressand elsewhere.
I have to thank Sir Sidney Colvin, who frequently visitedMme. Adam at her salon’s most brilliant moment, in theseventies, for generously bringing forth from the richtreasure-house of his remembrance and for permitting meto incorporate in this book valuable recollections whichenhance, confirm and complement impressions derivedfrom other sources.
Had he lived to see this work completed I should havegladly taken this opportunity to thank another of Mme.Adam’s acquaintances and admirers, M. Elie Mercadier,Director in London of L’Agence Havas. For to his livelytalk about La Grande Française and her circle I am indebtedfor many a striking trait and useful suggestion.
 “Celui qui l’a baptisée ‘la Grande Française’ a bien dit.”—LéonDaudet, L’Entre-Deux-Guerres, 231 (1915).
|I.||BIRTH, PARENTAGE AND INFANCY. 1836-1839||1|
|III.||HER FIRST REVOLUTION (FROM A SCHOOLGIRL’S POINT OF VIEW). 1848||19|
|IV.||FIRST MARRIAGE AND EARLY YEARS IN PARIS. 1849-1858||37|
|V.||HER FIRST BOOK. 1858||51|
|VI.||SALON LIFE DURING THE SECOND EMPIRE. 1858-1863||62|
|VII.||AMONG THE UTOPIANS. 1858-1864||80|
|VIII.||HER PRE-WAR SALON. 1864-1870||97|
|IX.||HER FRIENDSHIP WITH GEORGE SAND. 1858-1870||120|
|X.||THE WAR AND PREPARATIONS FOR THE SIEGE OF PARIS. 1870||133|
|XI.||THE SIEGE OF PARIS. 1870-1871||144|
|XII.||THE COMMUNE. 1871||158|
|XIII.||GAMBETTA’S EGERIA. 1871-1878||170|
|XIV.||LA REVANCHE. 1870-1880||188|
|XVI.||LA NOUVELLE REVUE. 1879-1899||212|
|XVII.||VIEWS ON FOREIGN POLITICS||222|
|XVIII.||THE ABBESS OF GIF. 1880-1917||236|