O God! Horatio, what a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me.
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
To tell my story.
Hamlet, V, ii
IT was Louis' choice that made England his last home. Like Napoleon he wished to end his life in an English country house. Dr. Evans, who had devoted himself to Eugénie's service, found the ideal retreat: in the country, but near London, a fine house with good grounds, but not too big, and with a Catholic church close by. Camden Place, Chislehurst, belonged to a Mr. Strode, who had acted as trustee for Louis' ex-mistress Miss Howard, and let it to him at a rent he could afford. It was a three-floored Georgian mansion furnished in 'Empire' style, standing in an ornamental garden with fine trees, and had over its porch the Latin motto Malo mori quam foedari (Death before Dishonour) which might have been put there for the fallen sovereigns. Here Eugénie arrived on September 20th, and soon settled in, with Filon, her secretary, Mme Lebreton, her reader, Ullmann, the Prince Imperial's valet, Dr. Conneau and his son, and others, with seven or eight servants. By degrees more adherents settled down within close reach; till the little court lacked only its Emperor.
For Louis remained six months more a prisoner at Wilhelmshöhe, and Eugénie, refusing to recognize the revolution of September 4th, still regarded herself as Regent. It was as Regent that she quarrelled with Prince Napoleon, who had settled down with his mistress, Cora Pearl, in London, and that she refused to have anything to do with the regime he planned with Walewski and Changarnier at Brussels. It was as Regent that she sounded Bismarck as to his peace terms, and as Regent that she snubbed the incompetent negotiations of Regnier and Bourbaki with Bazaine, until his surrender at Metz (October 28th) deprived her of her last argument. But it was as wife, rather than Regent, that on October 30th she paid a short visit to Wilhelmshöhe. She found Louis outwardly impassive, but inwardly as moved as she was by their misfortunes, as ready to make up their differences, as anxious to start their broken life over again.