In a long letter to his brother Sidney, of June 8, he describes some of their doings. At the Grand Review of sixty thousand troops he and his wife and eldest son were given seats in the Imperial Tribune, a little way behind the emperor and the King of Prussia, who were so soon to wage a deadly war with each other. On the way back from the review the following incident occurred:—
“After the review was over we took our carriage to return home. The carriages and cortege of the imperial personages took the right of the Cascade (which you know is in full view from the hippodrome of Longchamps). We took the left side and were attracted by the report of firearms on our left, which proceeded from persons shooting at pigeons from a trap. Soon after we heard a loud report on our right from a pistol, which attracted no further attention from us than the remark which I made that I did not know that persons were allowed to use firearms in the Bois. We passed on to our home, and in the evening were informed of the atrocious attempt upon the Emperor of Russia’s life. The pistol report which I heard was that of the pistol of the assassin.”
Farther on in this letter he describes the grand fete given by the City of Paris to the visiting sovereigns at the Hotel de Ville. There were thirty-five thousand applications for tickets, but only eight thousand could be granted. Of these Morse was gratified to receive three:—
“Well, the great fete of Saturday the 8th is over. I despair of any attempt properly to describe its magnificence. I send you the papers.... Such a blaze of splendor cannot be conceived or described but in the descriptions of the Arabian Nights. We did not see half the display, for the immense series of gorgeous halls, lighted by seventy thousand candles, with fountains and flowers at every turn, made one giddy to see even for a moment. We had a good opportunity to scan the features of the emperors, the King of Prussia and the renowned Bismarck, with those of the beautiful empress and the princesses and princes and other distinguished persons of their suite.
“I must tell you (for family use only) that the Emperor Napoleon made to me a marked recognition as he passed along. Sarah and I were standing upon two chairs overlooking the front rank of those ranged on each side. The emperor gave his usual bow on each side, but, as he came near us, he gave an unusual and special bow to me, which I returned, and he then, with a smile, gave me a second bow so marked as to draw the attention of those around, who at once turned to see to whom this courtesy was shown. I should not mention this but that Sarah and others observed it as an unusual mark of courtesy.”
Feeling the need of rest after all the gayety and excitement of Paris, Morse and part of his family retired to Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight, where in a neat little furnished cottage—Florence Villa—they spent part of two happy months. Then with his wife and daughter and youngest son he journeyed in leisurely fashion through England and Scotland, returning to Paris in October. Here he spent some time in working on his report to the. United States Government as Commissioner to the Exposition.