Daily Chronicle, October 2, 1903

[1M. Jacques Lebaudy, “Emperor of the Sahara,” arrived in London on Monday for the purpose of purchasing agricultural implements for his colonists, and is staying at the Savoy Hotel, inaccessible to interviewers and tradesmen. “His Majesty” has been out on several occasions, but always contrives to escape observation.]

The lot of an emperor is one
Your comfort-loving man should shun;
It’s wholly free from skittles, beer,
And other things designed to cheer.
There are worries small, and worries great,
Private worries and worries of state,
But the one that most distresses me
Is the terrible lack of privacy.
  It rather tries my temper, for
  I’m such a retiring Emperor.

In the Savoy I sit all day
Wishing people would go away;
Cross, disgusted, wrapped in gloom,
I daren’t go out of my sitting-room.
Every minute fresh callers call.
There are men on the stairs and men in the hall,
And I go to the door, and I turn the key,
For everyone of them’s after me.
  Which is exasperating for
  A rather retiring Emperor.

There are strenuous journalistic crews,
Begging daily for interviews;
There arc camera fiends in tens and scores,
Philanthropists and other bores,
Men who are anxious to sell me hats,
Waistcoats, boots, umbrellas, and spats,
Men who simply yearn to do
Just whatever I want them to.
  Which causes me annoyance, for
  I’m such a retiring Emperor.

Of course “the compliment implied
Inflates me with legitimate pride,”
But often I feel, as my door I bar,
That they carry their compliments much too far.
  That sort of thing becomes a bore
  To a really retiring Emperor.

P. G. W. 




Surely one of the Edwardian era’s most colorful characters was Jacques Lebaudy (1868–1919) son of Jules Lebaudy, a French sugar magnate. Jacques inherited $15 million on his father’s death in 1894; in 1903, he set out with an armed expedition and claimed sovereignty over 185 miles of African coast and hinterland, declaring himself “Emperor of Sahara.” He made a royal visit to London in the Fall of 1903; staying at the Savoy Hotel, he refused all press inquiries, which prompted P.G. to compose ‘The Emperor’s Song’ (based on the Lord Chancellor’s song “The law is the true embodiment” from Act I of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe.) Intermittently confined to insane asylums, in 1919 Lebaudy was shot to death by his wife in his 50-room mansion on Long Island after he declared his intention to have a male heir by their daughter.

John Dawson