“And why,” the correspondent of the Times asked me, “do you bring apologies to the French Government?”
“Because we massacred some French residents.”
“French residents! That’s of no importance nowadays. France no longer exists. You can, if it amuses you, throw all the French residents into the sea.”
“We also thoughtlessly massacred some English residents.”
“You massacred some English residents! Oh, that’s very different! England is still a great nation. And you have brought apologies to Queen Victoria?”
“Yes, apologies and presents.”
“Go to London, go straight to London, and don’t bother about France; there is no France.”
The correspondent of the Times looked quite happy when he spoke those words: “there is no France.”
LONDON, October 10, 1870.
I’ve seen the Queen of England. She received me very cordially. She has accepted the apologies; she has accepted the presents.
LONDON, October 12, 1870.
Had a long conversation with Lord Granville, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Queen of England. I explained to his Excellency that I meant to go home at once, and that I feel I need not pay further attention to my French embassy, as France no longer exists. Lord Granville answered me:
“Don’t go away so soon; you will perhaps be obliged to come back, and sooner than you imagine. France is an extraordinary country, which picks up very quickly. Await the end of the war, and then you can take your apologies to the Government that France will have decided on giving itself. Till then remain in England. We shall be most happy to offer you our hospitality.”
LONDON, November 3, 1870.
I did not return to China. I am waiting in London till the Minister of Foreign Affairs is not besieged, and till there is some way of laying one’s hands on the French Government. There are many Parisians here who escaped from their country on account of the war. I dined yesterday with his Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales. Three Parisian women, all three young, and all three pretty, took possession of me after dinner. We had a very interesting conversation in English.
“You are looking for the French Government, the legitimate Government?” said the first of these Parisians. “Why, it is here in England, half an hour from London. To-morrow go to the Waterloo station and buy a ticket for Chiselhurst, and there you will find Napoleon III., who is, and has never ceased to be, the Emperor of the French.”
“Don’t listen to her, Mr. Ambassador,” laughingly said the second Parisian, “don’t listen to her; she is a terrible Bonapartist. Yes, the true sovereign of France is in England, quite near London, but not at Chiselhurst; and it is not the Waterloo station you must go to, but the Victoria station. You mustn’t take a ticket for Chiselhurst, but for Twickenham, and there you will find at Orleans House his Royal Highness the Count of Paris.”