A Blupete Biography Page

Spurned, Discovered and Off to the Barbados, Part 7
Adele Hugo

A French cook, likely the same one Adele had befriended at the hotel when she first arrived at Halifax, now plays a pivotal role. He had found a new job in the service of Sir Hastings Doyle, who was then the commander of the military forces in British North America. Mr. Saunders was also in the service of Sir Hastings, on a part time basis, he use to wait on Sir Hastings' table when this distinguished military officer gave dinners attended by "the best people in town." It seems at one point the French cook was dispatched to the home of Mr. Saunders to advise him that he was needed to help out at a forth coming dinner party and it was at this time that he observed some "of Miss Lewly's letters lying on the parlour table, waiting to be mailed, at least one of which was addressed, Vicecomte Victor Hugo, Guernsey, Great Britain." Mrs. Saunders soon got the truth out of Adele. Mrs. Saunders, possibly out of motherly love, or possibly because she liked putting her nose into the affairs of others, wrote the famous author. A written correspondence sprung up between the two.49 The Saunders family, in later years turned up two of the letters and I reproduce them:
Brussels, October 15th, 1865.
"M. Hugo presents his best compliments to Mr. and Mrs. Saunders, and begs to inform them that a box full of winter clothes is being sent to the post to Miss Lewly, to be deposited in their house under the usual name of Madame Pinson. M. Hugo has not forgotten the obliging kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Saunders, and trusts that under their good care the box will be delivered as quick as possible to the young lady."

Guernsey, February 5th, 1866.
"My Dear Mrs Saunders:
I am indeed exceedingly thankful to you for your kind note. Your information has been most welcome... I hope Miss Lewly will at last be induced to come home to her own family. Her mother is very anxious to get her home, and has unfortunately been prevented by a serious indisposition from crossing over to Halifax. She intends doing so as soon as the spring will come. Until then be kind enough to give information which I will faithfully transmit to her friends, and for which they are extremely obliged to you. Tell me also, in your letter, how I can repay you for the stamps you are affixing to your letters. I can, indeed, very easily repay you for these trifling expenses, but never for your Christian kindness."50

As we have already described, Pinson was considered a person of "unsavory reputation," "a dandy." Proof of this might be had at looking to certain of his activities while at Halifax. At some point Pinson became engaged to marry Agnes Johnson, the daughter of the premier of Nova Scotia, J. W. Johnson. This distinguished family, the Johnsons came to the prevailing view as to what Lt. Pinson was all about, they did not want Agnes to be involved with Pinson. She was sent on an European tour; and, I believe, she never did return to Halifax.

In 1866, Pinson was posted to the Barbados. As the time drew near for the Sixteenth Regiment to leave Halifax, the infatuated Adele was keenly alert for the movements of her truant lover. Only one line of the new steamships of the day called at Halifax, and these always came to Cunard's wharf. Every steamer that came in and making preparations to depart, filled her with a vague fear that Pinson would attempt to make his escape. With each new arrival she took a cab and her essential belongings and went to the wharf, there to wait and watch if Pinson embarked for England; she was, however, ready to follow him wherever he might go. In time she learned that Pinson's regiment had embarked for the Barbados during the month of May; Adele promptly made arrangements to follow. While in the Barbados she took up residence with a Mrs. Chadderton.51 "Here she devoted herself to writing, and walked in the streets in dowdy apparel and with an air and manner so eccentric that she was subjected to jests and ribaldry."

Whether she ever met up with Pinson in the Barbados, is not known. Her life there was not much changed from that which she had led in Halifax, except that "the climate was much warmer and her dark, heavy clothing of velvets, satins, and silks were noticed, not only as they had been in Halifax, as faded and past their best days ..."52

Again, I need to point out, that there is not much we know about Pinson. While in the Barbados, in 1868, he did make captain. In 1869, Pinson with his regiment went from Barbados to England via Dublin; Adele was never to see him again. Not long after his return to England, Pinson got himself out the army. He met Catherine Edith Roxburgh, very well-off and the daughter of a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army. Roxburgh and Pinson were married at Hampstead, England, on March 31st, 1870.53

Adele carried on in the West Indies, alone. Eventually, she was befriended by a black woman54 in the Barbados who made arrangements in 1872 to bring Adele back to the Hugo family in France. By then her father was getting on (in 1872 he would have been 70) but likely in far better condition then his poor deranged daughter who by then was 41 years of age. Her desperate and well-off father sought out the best help for his daughter. We read from Victor Hugo's diary:

"I saw her again [in the mental institution]. She did not recognize [Francois-]Victor. She recognized me. I embraced her. I spoke words of tenderness and hope to her. She was calm and seemed, sometimes, to be asleep. It is just one year ago today that I left for Bordeaux with Charles, who would not return alive. Today I see Adele again. What sorrow."55
Victor Hugo lived another 13 years. We can only imagine the venerable old man being driven in a horse drawn carriage from his stylish home in Paris out into the French countryside and along the roads as they existed in 19th century France, to be drawn up along a round driveway of an imposing red brick building surrounded in trees and flowers, and with religious women in starched white gowns flocking about; there to visit his sick daughter; and to continue to do so, though not frequently, up to the last of his days. When, in 1885, Victor Hugo died, he left half of his fortune to his only surviving child, Adele -- two million francs. It meant nothing to Adele Hugo; she was immured in an insane asylum for the rest of her days where she played her piano, wrote and walked in the gardens. There, she was safe from the rigors of life; there, to grow old with visions of a young beautiful French girl, at Jersey, on the arm of an adoring young army officer. Adele Hugo died in 1915 at the age of 84.


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Peter Landry

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