jeudi 7 juin 2018

Impressions and memories: when Baroness Deichmann met King Ludwig II

A newspaper clipping from The Sidney Mail, october 13, 1926 (p.20).

"AMONG other royal personages whom the Baroness Deichmann met, and of whom she has something to say in her reminiscences, was that fantastic and unfortunate monarch King Ludwig II. of Bavaria, whom she here calls Louis. You will remember that this was the king who was so lavish a patron of the genius of Wagner, and who eventually drowned himself in the lake at his palace at Sternberger. I quote at some length the Baroness's reference to him, for his memory is invested with a peculiar sadness and mystery, and few there are who care to make much mention of him: 

"— It was on her return from Florence in 1866 that my sister Marie and I accompanied our parents on a visit to Queen Marie, of Bavaria, at her castle in the mountains,, "Hohenschwangen[sic]."... It was very interesting, to observe the young  King, then only eighteen. His mental condition was a source of anxiety, to all. Every day a place was laid for him at dinner, and all hoped for his appearance; but he was even  then possessed with the idea that he could not meet strangers, and was more and more inclined to remain in his rooms, from whence we heard him playing the piano in a marvellous way. During the night he would drive a four-in-band at full gallop through the forest unattended. All were much distressed, for his undoubted genius was even then manifestly allied to madness. His brother Otto had been in an asylum since his childhood [sic] , a circumstance which could not but increase the alarm regarding Louis. 

One memorable day, when l was in the garden alone, the King came down to speak to me. Even at this distance of time I could not describe the impression his great beauty and a certain strange fascination in his eyes had upon me. He invited me to see his rooms in the tower, and I followed him up the many steps of the old castle. His sitting-rooms were full of musical instruments and curiosities, but what most astonished me was his bedroom. His bed was surrounded by orange trees, and a cascade of rushing water was arranged next door; many birds of brilliant plumage were flying round, and the whole had a fairy-like aspect. His windows were arranged, as he told me with pride, so that the moon should fall upon his face when he was asleep, and the beams of the rising sun should wake him early. Such was my fleeting vision of this extraordinary and very pathetic historic figure."

Hilda Elisabeth von Bunsen, Baroness DeichmannBirthdate: 30 November 1848 in London
Birthplace: London
Death: 17 Avril 1932 in Sondershausen

She published her autobiography, Impressions and memories, in 1926.

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