30 December 2013

Jewel History: The Bride of a Count (1896)

Louise Eugenie Bonaparte, Countess of Moltke-Huitfeldt [1]
"The Bride of a Count"
(originally appeared in the Washington Post, 30 Dec 1896)

Before the white marble altar of stately and imposing St. Paul's Church, illuminated with hundreds of brilliant candles and embedded with palms and gorgeous red and pure white bridal blossoms, and in the presence of a distinguished assemblage, Miss Louise Eugenie Bonaparte, only daughter of the late Col. Jerome-Napoleon Bonaparte [2], became yesterday morning at 11 o'clock the wife of Count Adam de Moltke-Huitfeldt, of Denmark, attaché of the Danish Legation at St. Petersburg.

The marriage was one of the most beautiful and notable which has taken place at the National Capital for a number of years, the alliance of the fair young bride of as distinguished and famous a name as history affords with the descendant of a leader of almost equal fame and the presence of the eminent dignitary of the church, Cardinal Gibbons [3], combining to make the nuptial scene one long to be remembered.

The bright sunshine of a perfect and ideal winter day as it fell with scintillating rays of prismatic color through the stained glass windows high above the altar upon the masses of white and cardinal bloom added the finishing touch to the ideal picture. The floral decorations, by Small, were exquisitely artistic. In the rear of the altar, reaching to the high windows above, were stately palms. The same foliage, surrounded the altar on either side, bringing out in striking relief the masses of brilliant red poinsettia and quantities of white Annunciation lilies which were gracefully grouped among the palms and red blossoms. Upon the altar amid the candles were poinsettia blossoms and the lilies, and the railing surrounding the sanctuary was trimmed with bunches of the lilies and their own foliage and asparagus vines tied with broad white satin bows.

The Cardinal's throne was erected to the right of the altar, and made a striking effect in its coloring, to the surroundings. The prie-dieux where the bridal couple kneeled during the nuptial mass, were also of cardinal and gold. Before the bride burned a candle encircled with a white ribbon bow, and before the bridegroom one upon which was a bow of cardinal ribbon.

The pews bordering the middle aisle were reserved for the family and distinguished guests. These were designated with ribbon streamers of white satin running lengthwise of the church instead of crossing the main aisle. At either end were clusters of the Annunciation lilies tied with great bows of white satin ribbon.

As the beautiful and inspiring strains of the Festival March from "Tannhauser," played by the organist, Miss Byrane, and accompanied by a portion of the Marine Band Orchestra, filled the church, the bridal party entered the sacred edifice, the bridegroom attended by the Danish Minister, Mr. Brun, as best man. Filing into the sanctuary and advancing to meet the bride, the acolytes passed before the altar preceding the pastor in charge, Rev. Father Foley, who was the celebrant at the nuptial mass, and finally, his eminence, Cardinal Gibbons, and his attendants.

The ushers who seated the brilliant assemblage, Mr. Charles McCawley, Mr. Van Rensselaer Berry, Mr. Robert Wallach, and Mr. Frank Andrews, led the way to the altar. They wore the conventional morning dress suit and large boutonnieres of lilies of the valley and an Annunciation lily, the bridegroom and his best man also wearing the same blossoms. The bride, who was unattended, was escorted by her uncle, Mr. Charles Joseph Bonaparte [4], of Baltimore, who gave her hand in marriage. Tall, beautiful, and aristocratic in her bearing, she looked exceptionally handsome in her superb bridal gown of ivory white satin, the skirt made with a long full train, and the bodice in the style now in vogue with short picturesque effect. Over the full, high puffed sleeves fell a bretelle, edged with rare old lace, of a narrow width. The finish about the throat was also of exquisite lace, amid which shone many handsome gems. Her long tulle veil, which completely enveloped her with its misty folds, was fastened to her wealth of short golden brown hair, with a graceful spray of lilies of the valley and jewels. She carried a great bouquet of the same flowers, surrounding white orchids and lilac. The blossoms also fell to the end of the long streamers in a shower effect.

Before the commencement of the solemn ceremony Cardinal Gibbons bestowed the special blessing of his holiness, the Pope of Rome [5], which had been sent to the young couple from over the seas. Following this Cardinal Gibbons delivered a brief and impressive address in his own beautiful words, filled with feeling and a loving admonition, for the two young hearts about to enter the sacred estate of marriage. At the completion of the exchange of vows and the solemn service nuptial mass was celebrated, Father Foley being the celebrant. The choir of which Prof. Treanor is director, sang Peter's mass in D, at the offertory Gounod's "Ave Maria" with violin obbligato, was brilliantly rendered in excellent voice by Mrs. Oscar Schmidt, and the selection was one of the features of the beautifully impressive musical service. At the conclusion of the mass and the Cardinal's blessing, to the accompaniment of beautiful music, the Count and Countess and the guests left the church.

Mme. Bonaparte [6], mother of the bride, was attired in a rich gown of black satin trimmed about the bodice with touches of white satin and handsome lace. The bonnet which completed the becoming toilet was of black velvet, with an aigrette of white. Among the guests present at the church were the British Ambassador and Lady Pauncefote [7], the Misses Pauncefote, the French Ambassador and Mme. Patenôtre [8], Senator and Mrs. Brice [9], the Misses Brice, Mr. and Mrs. Leiter [10], Miss Leiter, Dr. and Mrs. Loring, the Austrian Minister and Baroness Hengelmueller [11], Miss Elsie Anderson, Miss Alice Belknap, Mrs. Wallach, Mrs. Clifford Perin, and Mr. T. Sanford Beatty.

A wedding breakfast was served to the relatives and the bridal party, with two of the intimate friends of the bride, Miss Alice Belknap and Miss Elsie Anderson. The table, which was horseshoe-shaped, was decorated with a border of white orchids, carnations, and poinsettias, and resplendent with family plate and crystal.

The going-away gown of the Countess was of blue cloth with sable trimmings, with a handsome hat to correspond. The happy couple departed early in the afternoon for a honeymoon jaunt. They will return to Washington January 6, and will sail for Europe January 16, spending that interval of time with the mother of the bride. As the family carriage drove away yesterday the occupants were showered with rice and two dainty white satin slippers, thrown by Miss Belknap and Miss Anderson, landed upon the carriage top, and there remained, much to the amusement of the coachman and footman and the passers-by.

The bride's gifts made a magnificent collection, especially of jewels. The bridegroom presented the Moltke-Huitfeldt diamonds, a necklace of a pattern of roses and foliage with diamond pendants. From his mother came a tiara of rubies and diamonds. The bride's mother gave her a diamond bracelet and the ex-Empress Eugenie [12] sent her goddaughter a diamond crescent.

As the Count is in mourning, the Countess will also don black during the first few months of her life abroad.

The beautiful bride, tall and stately, of the brunette type, is the great-granddaughter of Jérôme Bonaparte and Mme. Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, of Baltimore, the story of whose beauty and belleship and romantic life is known almost the world over. She was the daughter of William Patterson, of Baltimore, and became the wife of Jérôme Bonaparte, the youngest of the brothers of Napoleon, Christmas Eve, 1803. The wedding which gave every promise of being unusually happy, proved to be one of the saddest ever recorded upon the pages of history. For the Emperor, never having recognized it, forced Jerome to a union with Princess Catharina Frederica of Württemberg. The son of Mme. Bonaparte [13] was born at Camberwell, near London in 1805; his mother spent the early years of his boyhood in Baltimore, but took him to Europe to finish his education. He afterward went to Harvard, and in 1829 married Miss Susan Williams, of Baltimore. The eldest son of the late Jérôme-Napoléon Bonaparte was the father of the bride of yesterday [2], and his brother, Mr. Charles Joseph Bonaparte [4], consigned her to the bridegroom's keeping. Col. Bonaparte served with distinction in the French Army, and was decorated for many deeds of valor. At the close of the commune, he came back to this country to live. In 1871 he married Caroline LeRoy Appleton [6], then Mrs. Newbold Edgar, granddaughter of Daniel Webster.

1. Cropped version of a photograph in the public domain; source here.
2. Colonel Jerome-Napoleon Bonaparte II (1830-1893) was the American-born grandson of Jérôme Bonaparte (briefly King of Westphalia), who was the youngest brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. He graduated from West Point and later joined the French army after his cousin, Napoleon III, became emperor of France.
3. Cardinal James Gibbons was the archbishop of Baltimore.
4. Charles Joseph Bonaparte (1851-1921) was the younger brother of Colonel Jerome-Napoleon Bonaparte II. He served as Secretary of the Navy and was the U.S. Attorney General under President Theodore Roosevelt; he established the agency that later became the FBI.
5. Pope Leo XIII.
6. Caroline Bonaparte, née Caroline LeRoy Appleton (1840-1911), was the wife of Colonel Jerome-Napoleon Bonaparte II. She was a granddaughter of Daniel Webster. She had previously been married to Newbold Edgar.
7. Sir Julian Pauncefote was the British ambassador; his wife was Selina (Cubitt) Pauncefote.
8. Jules Patenôtre des Noyers was the French ambassador.
9. Calvin S. Brice was a Democratic senator from Ohio.
10. Levi Leiter was one of the founders of the Marshall Field department store company. Two of his daughters wed British aristocrats; Mary Victoria married the 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, and Nancy married the 19th Earl of Suffolk and 12th Earl of Berkshire.
11. Ladislaus Hengelmüller von Hengervár was the Austro-Hungarian ambassador.
12. Eugénie de Montijo (1826-1920) was the wife of Napoleon III of France; she was also a godmother of Louise.
13. After Napoleon forced Jérôme to give up Elizabeth, she gave birth to the couple's only son, Jérôme Napoléon Bonaparte, in London. Jérôme Napoléon was the grandfather of Louise Bonaparte, the bride.