During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), the Prussian army marched on Paris. Prussian military successes brought about the downfall of Emperor Napoleon III (1808-1873), and the French Third Republic replaced the Second Empire.
Interestingly, the American heiress Jennie Jerome (1854-1921), future wife of one of Beerbohm’s Merton College peers, Lord Randolph Churchill (1849-1895), escaped the Prussian march as a passenger on the last train out of Paris.
“Elysee” refers to the French Élysée Palace, which was used by Napoleon III as a retreat to which he took his mistresses. Since 1873, the palace has been the official residence of the President of the French Republic.