Lola Montez! The name suggests dark eyes and abundant hair, lithe limbs and a sinuous body, with twining hands and great eyes that gleam with a sort of ebon splendor. One thinks of Spanish beauty as one hears the name; and in truth Lola Montez justified the mental picture.
She was not altogether Spanish, yet the other elements that entered into her mercurial nature heightened and vivified her Castilian traits. Her mother was a Spaniard—partly Moorish, however. Her father was an Irishman. There you have it—the dreamy romance of Spain, the exotic touch of the Orient, and the daring, unreasoning vivacity of the Celt.
This woman during the forty-three years of her life had adventures innumerable, was widely known in Europe and America, and actually lost one king his throne. Her maiden name was Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert. Her father was a British officer, the son of an Irish knight, Sir Edward Gilbert. Her mother had been a danseuse named Lola Oliver. “Lola” is a diminutive of Dolores, and as “Lola” she became known to the world.
She lived at one time or another in nearly all the countries of Europe, and likewise in India, America, and Australia. It would be impossible to set down here all the sensations that she achieved. Let us select the climax of her career and show how she overturned a kingdom, passing but lightly over her early and her later years.
She was born in Limerick in 1818, but her father’s parents cast off their son and his young wife, the Spanish dancer. They went to India, and in 1825 the father died, leaving his young widow without a rupee; but she was quickly married again, this time to an officer of importance.
The former danseuse became a very conventional person, a fit match for her highly conventional husband; but the small daughter did not take kindly to the proprieties of life. The Hindu servants taught her more things than she should have known; and at one time her stepfather found her performing the danse du ventre. It was the Moorish strain inherited from her mother.
She was sent back to Europe, however, and had a sort of education in Scotland and England, and finally in Paris, where she was detected in an incipient flirtation with her music-master. There were other persons hanging about her from her fifteenth year, at which time her stepfather, in India, had arranged a marriage between her and a rich but uninteresting old judge. One of her numerous admirers told her this.
“What on earth am I to do?” asked little Lola, most naively.
“Why, marry me,” said the artful adviser, who was Captain Thomas James; and so the very next day they fled to Dublin and were speedily married at Meath.