Historical Mysteries by Andrew Lang - HTML preview
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[Footnote 28: Mr. Merrifield has reiterated his opinion that the conditions of light were adequate for his view of the object described on p. 184, _supra_. _Journal S.P.R._ October 1904.]
NOTE.--Since this paper was written, I have been obliged by several interesting communications from a person very intimate with Home. Nothing in these threw fresh light on the mystery of his career, still less tended to confirm any theory of dishonesty on his part. His legal adviser, a man of honour, saw no harm in his accepting Mrs. Lyon's proffered gift, though he tried, in vain, to prevent her from increasing her original present.IX _THE CASE OF CAPTAIN GREEN_
'Play on Captain Green's wuddie,' said the caddy on Leith Links; and his employer struck his ball in the direction of the Captain's gibbet on the sands. Mr. Duncan Forbes of Culloden sighed, and, taking off his hat, bowed in the direction of the unhappy mariner's monument.
One can imagine this little scene repeating itself many a time, long after Captain Thomas Green, his mate, John Madder or Mather, and another of his crew were taken to the sands at Leith on the second Wednesday in April 1705, being April 11, and there hanged within the floodmark upon a gibbet till they were dead. Mr. Forbes of Culloden, later President of the Court of Session, and, far more than the butcher Cumberland, the victor over the rising of 1745, believed in the innocence of Captain Green, wore mourning for him, attended the funeral at the risk of his own life, and, when the Porteous Riot was discussed in Parliament, rose in his place and attested his conviction that the captain was wrongfully done to death.[Footnote 29: Gibbet.]
Green, like his namesake in the Popish Plot, was condemned for a crime of which he was probably innocent. Nay more, he died for a crime which was not proved to have been committed, though it really may have been committed by persons with whom Green had no connection, while Green may have been guilty of other misdeeds as bad as that for which he was hanged. Like the other Green, executed for the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey during the Popish Plot, the captain was the victim of a fit of madness in a nation, that nation being the Scottish. The cause of their fury was not religion--the fever of the Covenant had passed away--but commerce.
'Twere long to tell and sad to trace the origin of the Caledonian frenzy. In 1695 the Scottish Parliament had passed, with the royal assent, an Act granting a patent to a Scottish company dealing with Africa, the Indies, and, incidentally, with the globe at large. The Act committed the occupant of the Scottish throne, William of Orange, to backing the company if attacked by alien power. But it was unlucky that England was then an alien power, and that the Scots Act infringed the patent of the much older English East India Company. Englishmen dared not take shares, finally, in the venture of the Scots; and when the English Board of Trade found out, in 1697, the real purpose of the Scottish company--namely, to set up a factory in Darien and anticipate the advantages dreamed of by France in the case of M. de Lesseps's Panama Canal--'a strange thing happened.' The celebrated philosopher, Mr. John Locke, and the other members of a committee of the English Board of Trade, advised the English Government to plagiarise the Scottish project, and seize the section of the Isthmus of Panama on which the Scots meant to settle. This was not done; but the Dutch Usurper, far from backing the Scots company, bade his colonies hold no sort of intercourse with them. The Scots were starved out of their settlement. The few who remained fled to New York and Jamaica, and there, perishing of hunger, were refused supplies by the English colonial governors. A second Scottish colony succumbed to a Spanish fleet and army, and the company, with a nominal capital of 400,000_l._ and with 220,000_l._ paid up, was bankrupt. Macaulay calculates the loss at about the same as a loss of forty millions would have been to the Scotland of his own day; let us say twenty-two millions.
We remember the excitement in France over the Panama failure. Scotland, in 1700, was even more furious, and that led to the hanging of Captain Green and his men. There were riots; the rioters were imprisoned in the Heart of Midlothian--the Tolbooth--the crowd released them; some of the crowd were feebly sentenced to the pillory, the public pelted them--with white roses; and had the Chevalier de St. George not been a child of twelve, he would have had a fair chance of recovering his throne. The trouble was tided over; William III. died in 1702. Queen Anne came to the Crown. But the bankrupt company was not dead. Its charter was still legal, and, with borrowed money, it sent out vessels to trade with the Indies. The company had a vessel, the 'Annandale,' which was seized in the Thames, at the instance of the East India Company, and condemned for a breach of that company's privileges.
This capture awakened the sleeping fury among my fiery countrymen (1704). An English ship, connected with either the English East India Company or the rival Million Company, put into Leith Road to repair. Here was a chance; for the charter of the Scots company authorised them 'to make reprisals and to seek and take reparation of damage done by sea and land.' On the strength of this clause, which was never meant to apply to Englishmen in Scottish waters, but to foreigners of all kinds on the Spanish Main, the Scottish Admiralty took no steps. But the company had a Celtic secretary, Mr. Roderick Mackenzie, and the English Parliament, in 1695, had summoned Mr. Mackenzie before them, and asked him many questions of an impertinent and disagreeable nature. This outrageous proceeding he resented, for he was no more an English than he was a Japanese subject. The situation of the 'Worcester' in Scottish waters gave Roderick his chance. His chief difficulty, as he informed his directors, was 'to get together a sufficient number of such genteel, pretty fellows as would, of their own free accord, on a sudden advertisement, be willing to accompany me on this adventure' (namely, the capture of the 'Worcester'), 'and whose dress and behaviour would not render them suspected of any uncommon design in going aboard.' A scheme more sudden and daring than the seizure, by a few gentlemen, of a well-armed English vessel had not been executed since the bold Buccleuch forced Carlisle Castle and carried away Kinmont Willie. The day was Saturday, and Mr. Mackenzie sauntered to the Cross in the High Street, and invited genteel and pretty fellows to dine with him in the country. They were given an inkling of what was going forward, and some dropped off, like the less resolute guests in Mr. Stevenson's adventure of the hansom cabs. When they reached Leith, Roderick found himself at the head of eleven persons, of whom 'most be as good gentlemen, and (I must own) much prettier fellows than I pretend to be.' They were of the same sort as Roy, Middleton, Haliburton, and Dunbar, who, fourteen years earlier, being prisoners on the Bass Rock, seized the castle, and, through three long years, held it for King James against the English navy.
The eleven chose Mr. Mackenzie as chief, and, having swords, pistols, 'and some with bayonets, too,' set out. Mackenzie, his servant, and three friends took a boat at Leith, with provision of wine, brandy, sugar, and lime juice; four more came, as a separate party, from Newhaven; the rest first visited an English man-of-war in the Firth, and then, in a convivial manner, boarded the 'Worcester.' The punch-bowls were produced, liquor was given to the sailors, while the officers of the 'Worcester' drank with the visitors in the cabin. Mackenzie was supposed to be a lord. All was festivity, 'a most compleat scene of a comedy, acted to the life,' when, as a Scottish song was being sung, each officer of the 'Worcester' found a pistol at his ear. The carpenter and some of the crew rushed at the loaded blunderbusses that hung in the cabin; but there were shining swords between them and the blunderbusses. By nine at night, on August 12, Mackenzie's followers were masters of the English ship, and the hatches, gunroom, chests, and cabinets were sealed with the official seal of the Scottish African and East India Company. In a day or two the vessel lay without rudder or sails, in Bruntisland Harbour, 'as secure as a thief in a mill.' Mackenzie landed eight of the ship's guns and placed them in an old fort commanding the harbour entry, manned them with gunners, and all this while an English man-of-war lay in the Firth!
For a peaceful secretary of a commercial company, with a scratch eleven picked up in the street on a Saturday afternoon, to capture a vessel with a crew of twenty-four, well accustomed to desperate deeds, was 'a sufficient camisado or onfall.' For three or four days and nights Mr. Mackenzie had scarcely an hour's sleep. By the end of August he had commenced an action in the High Court of Admiralty for condemning the 'Worcester' and her cargo, to compensate for the damages sustained by his company through the English seizure of their ship, the 'Annandale.' When Mackenzie sent in his report on September 4, he added that, from 'very odd expressions dropt now and then from some of the ship's crew,' he suspected that Captain Green, of the 'Worcester,' was 'guilty of some very unwarrantable practices.'
The Scottish Privy Council were now formally apprised of the affair, which they cautiously handed over to the Admiralty. The Scottish company had for about three years bewailed the absence of a ship of their own, the 'Speedy Return,' which had never returned at all. Her skipper was a Captain Drummond, who had been very active in the Darien expedition; her surgeon was Mr. Andrew Wilkie, brother of James Wilkie, tailor and burgess of Edinburgh. The pair were most probably descendants of the Wilkie, tailor in the Canongate, who was mixed up in the odd business of Mr. Robert Oliphant, in the Gowrie conspiracy of 1600. Friends of Captain Drummond, Surgeon Wilkie, and others who had disappeared in the 'Speedy Return,' began to wonder whether the crew of the 'Worcester,' in their wanderings, had ever come across news of the missing vessel. One George Haines, of the 'Worcester,' hearing of a Captain Gordon, who was the terror of French privateers, said: 'Our sloop was more terrible upon the coast of Malabar than ever Captain Gordon will be to the French.' Mackenzie asking Haines if he had ever heard of the 'Speedy Return,' the missing ship, Haines replied: 'You need not trouble your head about her, for I believe you won't see her in haste.' He thought that Captain Drummond had turned pirate.
Haines now fell in love with a girl at Bruntisland, aged nineteen, named Anne Seaton, and told her a number of things, which she promised to repeat to Mackenzie, but disappointed him, though she had blabbed to others. It came to be reported that Captain Green had pirated the 'Speedy Return,' and murdered Captain Drummond and his crew. The Privy Council, in January 1705, took the matter up. A seal, or forged copy of the seal, of the Scottish African and East India Company was found on board the 'Worcester,' and her captain and crew were judicially interrogated, after the manner of the French _Juge d'Instruction_.
On March 5, 1705, the Scottish Court of Admiralty began the trial of Green and his men. Charles May, surgeon of the 'Worcester,' and two negroes, Antonio Ferdinando, cook's mate, and Antonio Francisco, captain's man, were ready to give evidence against their comrades. They were accused of attacking, between February and May, 1703, off the coast of Malabar a vessel bearing a red flag, and having English or Scots aboard. They pursued her in their sloop, seized and killed the crew, and stole the goods.
Everyone in Scotland, except resolute Whigs, believed the vessel attacked to have been Captain Drummond's 'Speedy Return.' But there was nothing definite to prove the fact; there was no _corpus delicti_. In fact the case was parallel to that of the Campden mystery, in which three people were hanged for killing old Mr. Harrison, who later turned up in perfect health. In Green's, as in the Campden case, some of the accused confessed their guilt, and yet evidence later obtained tends to prove that Captain Drummond and his ship and crew were all quite safe at the date of the alleged piracy by Captain Green. None the less, it does appear that Captain Green had been pirating somebody, and perhaps he was 'none the waur o' a hanging,' though, as he had an English commission to act against pirates, it was argued that, if he had been fighting at all, it was against pirates that he had been making war. Now Haines's remark that Captain Drummond, as he heard, had turned pirate, looks very like a 'hedge' to be used in case the 'Worcester' was proved to have attacked the 'Speedy Return.'
There was a great deal of preliminary sparring between the advocates as to the propriety of the indictment. The jury of fifteen contained five local skippers. Most of the others were traders. One of them, William Blackwood, was of a family that had been very active in the Darien affair. Captain Green had no better chance with these men than James Stewart of the Glens in face of a jury of Campbells. The first witness, Ferdinando, the black sea cook, deponed that he saw Green's sloop take a ship under English colours, and that Green, his mate, Madder, and others, killed the crew of the captured vessel with hatchets. Ferdinando's coat was part of the spoil, and was said to be of Scottish cloth. Charles May, surgeon of the 'Worcester,' being on shore, heard firing at sea, and, later, dressed a wound, a gunshot he believed, on the arm of the black cook; dressed wounds, also, of two sailors, of the 'Worcester,' Mackay and Cuming--Scots obviously, by their names. He found the deck of the 'Worcester,' when he came on board, lumbered with goods and chests. He remarked on this, and Madder, the mate, cursed him, and bade him 'mind his plaister box.' He added that the 'Worcester,' before his eyes, while he stood on shore, was towing another vessel, which, he heard, was sold to a native dealer--Coge Commodo--who told the witness that the 'Worcester' 'had been fighting.' The 'Worcester' sprang a leak, and sailed for five weeks to a place where she was repaired, as if she were anxious to avoid inquiries.
Antonio Francisco, Captain Green's black servant, swore that, being chained and nailed to her forecastle, he heard the 'Worcester' fire six shots. Two days later a quantity of goods was brought on board (captured, it would seem, by the terrible sloop of the 'Worcester'), and Ferdinando then told this witness about the killing of the captured crew, and showed his own wounded arm. Francisco himself lay in chains for two months, and, of course, had a grudge against Captain Green. It was proved that the 'Worcester' had a cipher wherein to communicate with her owners, who used great secrecy; that her cargo consisted of arms, and was of such slight value as not to justify her voyage, unless her real business was piracy. The ship was of 200 tons, twenty guns, thirty-six men, and the value of the cargo was but 1,000_l._ Really, things do not look very well for the enterprise of Captain Green! There was also found a suspicious letter to one of the crew, Reynolds, from his sister-in-law, advising him to confess, and referring to a letter of his own in which he said that some of the crew 'had basely confessed.' The lady's letter and a copy of Reynolds's, admitted by him to be correct, were before the Court.
Again, James Wilkie, tailor, had tried at Bruntisland to 'pump' Haines about Captain Drummond; Haines swore profane, but later said that he heard Drummond had turned pirate, and that off the coast of Malabar they had manned their sloop, lest Drummond, whom they believed to be on that coast, should attack them. Other witnesses corroborated Wilkie, and had heard Haines say that it was a wonder the ground did not open and swallow them for the wickedness 'that had been committed during the last voyage on board of that old [I omit a nautical term of endearment] _Bess_.' Some one telling Haines that the mate's uncle had been 'burned in oil' for trying to burn Dutch ships at Amsterdam, 'the said George Haines did tell the deponent that if what Captain Madder [the mate] had done during his last voyage were known, he deserved as much as his uncle had met with.' Anne Seaton, the girl of Haines's heart, admitted that Haines had told her 'that he knew more of Captain Drummond than he would express at that time,' and she had heard his expressions of remorse. He had blabbed to many witnesses of a precious something hidden aboard the 'Worcester;' to Anne he said that he had now thrown it overboard. We shall see later what this object was. Anne was a reluctant witness. Glen, a goldsmith, had seen a seal of the Scots East India Company in the hands of Madder, the inference being that it was taken from the 'Speedy Return.'
Sir David Dalrymple, for the prosecution, made the most he could of the evidence. The black cook's coat, taken from the captured vessel, 'in my judgment appears to be Scots rugg.' He also thought it a point in favour of the cook's veracity that he was very ill, and forced to lie down in court; in fact, the cook died suddenly on the day when Captain Green was condemned, and the Scots had a high opinion of dying confessions. The white cook, who joined the 'Worcester' after the sea-fight, said that the black cook told him the whole story at that time. Why did the 'Worcester' sail for thirty-five days to repair her leak, which she might have done at Goa or Surat, instead of sailing some 700 leagues for the purpose? The jury found that there was 'one clear witness to robbery, piracy, and murder,' and accumulative corroboration.
The judges ordered fourteen hangings, to begin with those of Green, Madder, and three others on April 4. On March 16, at Edinburgh, Thomas Linsteed made an affidavit that the 'Worcester' left him on shore, on business, about January 1703; that fishing crews reported the fight of the sloop against a vessel unknown; they left before the fight ended; that the Dutch and Portuguese told him how the 'Worcester's' men had sold a prize, and thought but little of it, 'because it is what is ordinary on that coast,' and that the 'Worcester's' people told him to ask them no questions. On March 27 George Haines made a full confession of the murder of a captured crew, he being accessory thereto, at Sacrifice Rock, between Tellicherry and Calicut; and that he himself, after being seized by Mackenzie, threw his journal of the exciting events overboard. Now, in his previous blabbings before the trial, as we have seen, Haines had spoken several times about something on board the 'Worcester' which the Scots would be very glad to lay hands on, thereby indicating this journal of his; and he told Anne Seaton, as she deponed at the trial, that he had thrown the precious something overboard. In his confession of March 27 he explained what the mysterious something was. He also declared (March 28) that the victims of the piracy 'spoke the Scots language.' A sailor named Bruckley also made full confession. These men were reprieved, and doubtless expected to be; but Haines, all the while remorseful, I think, told the truth. The 'Worcester' had been guilty of piracy.
But had she pirated the Scottish ship, the 'Speedy Return,' Captain Drummond? As to that point, on April 5, in England, two of the crew of the 'Worcester,' who must somehow have escaped from Mackenzie's raid, made affidavit that the 'Worcester' fought no ship during her whole voyage. This would be more satisfactory if we knew more of the witnesses. On March 21, at Portsmouth, two other English mariners made affidavit that they had been of the crew of the 'Speedy Return;' that she was captured by pirates, while Captain Drummond and Surgeon Wilkie were on shore, at Maritan in Madagascar; and that these two witnesses 'went on board a Moca ship called the "Defiance,"' escaped from her at the Mauritius, and returned to England in the 'Raper' galley. Of the fate of Drummond and Wilkie, left ashore in Madagascar, they naturally knew nothing. If they spoke truth, Captain Green certainly did not seize the 'Speedy Return,' whatever dark and bloody deeds he may have done off the coast of Malabar.
In England, as Secretary Johnstone, son of the caitiff Covenanter, Waristoun, wrote to Baillie of Jerviswoode, the Whigs made party capital out of the proceedings against Green: they said it was a Jacobite plot. I conceive that few Scottish Whigs, to be sure, marched under Roderick Mackenzie.
In Scotland the Privy Council refused Queen Anne's demand that the execution of Green should be suspended till her pleasure was known, but they did grant a week's respite. On April 10 a mob, partly from the country, gathered in Edinburgh; the Privy Council, between the mob and the Queen, let matters take their course. On April 11 the mob raged round the meeting-place of the Privy Council, rooms under the Parliament House, and chevied the Chancellor into a narrow close, whence he was hardly rescued. However, learning that Green was to swing after all, the mob withdrew to Leith sands, where they enjoyed the execution of an Englishman. The whole affair hastened the Union of 1707, for it was a clear case of Union or war between the two nations.
As for Drummond, many years later, on the occasion of the Porteous riot, Forbes of Culloden declared in the House of Commons that a few months after Green was hanged letters came from Captain Drummond, of the 'Speedy Return,' 'and from the very ship for whose capture the unfortunate person suffered, informing their friends that they were all safe.' But the 'Speedy Return' was taken by pirates, two of her crew say, off Madagascar, and burned. What was the date of the letters from the 'Speedy Return' to which, long afterwards, Forbes, and he alone, referred? What was the date of the capture of the 'Speedy Return,' at Maritan, in Madagascar? Without the dates we are no wiser.
Now comes an incidental and subsidiary mystery. In 1729 was published _Madagascar, or Robert Drury's Journal during Fifteen Years' Captivity on that Island, written by Himself, digested into order, and now published at the Request of his Friends_. Drury says, as we shall see, that he, a lad of fifteen, was prisoner in Madagascar from _about_ 1703 to 1718, and that there he met Captain Drummond, late of the 'Speedy Return.' If so, Green certainly did not kill Captain Drummond. But Drury's narrative seems to be about as authentic and historical as the so-called _Souvenirs of Madame de Crequy_. In the edition of 1890 of Drury's book, edited by Captain Pasfield Oliver, R.A., author of _Madagascar_, the Captain throws a lurid light on Drury and his volume. Captain Pasfield Oliver first candidly produces what he thinks the best evidence for the genuineness of Drury's story; namely a letter of the Rev. Mr. Hirst, on board H.M.S. 'Lenox,' off
Madagascar, 1759. This gentleman praises Drury's book as the best and most authentic, for Drury says that he was wrecked in the 'Degrave,' East Indiaman, and his story 'exactly agrees, as far as it goes, with the journal kept by Mr. John Benbow,' second mate of the 'Degrave.' That journal of Benbow's was burned, in London, in 1714, but several of his friends remembered that it tallied with Drury's narrative. But, as Drury's narrative was certainly 'edited,' probably by Defoe, that master of fiction may easily have known and used Benbow's journal. Otherwise, if Benbow's journal contained the same references to Captain Drummond in Madagascar as Drury gives, then the question is settled: Drummond died in Madagascar after a stormy existence of some eleven years on that island. As to Drury, Captain Pasfield Oliver thinks that his editor, probably Defoe, or an imitator of Defoe, 'faked' the book, partly out of De Flacourt's _Histoire de Madagascar_ (1661), and a French authority adds another old French source, Dapper's _Description de l'Afrique_. Drury was himself a pirate, his editor thinks: Defoe picked his brains, or an imitator of Defoe did so, and Defoe, or whoever was the editor, would know the story that Drummond really lost the 'Speedy Return' in Madagascar, and could introduce the Scottish adventurer into Drury's romance.
We can never be absolutely certain that Captain Drummond lost his ship, but lived on as a kind of _condottiere_ to a native prince in Madagascar. Between us and complete satisfactory proof a great gulf has been made by fire and water, 'foes of old' as the Greek poet says, which conspired to destroy the journal kept by Haines and the journal kept by Benbow. The former would have told us what piratical adventures Captain Green achieved in the 'Worcester;' the latter, if it spoke of Captain Drummond in Madagascar, would have proved that the captain and the 'Speedy Return' were not among the 'Worcester's' victims. If we could be sure that Benbow's journal corroborated Drury's romance, we could not be sure that the editor of the romance did not borrow the facts from the journal of Benbow, and we do not know that this journal made mention of Captain Drummond, for the only valid testimony as to the captain's appearance in Madagascar is the affidavit of Israel Phippany and Peter Freeland, at Portsmouth, March 31, 1705, and these mariners may have perjured themselves to save the lives of English seamen condemned by the Scots.
Yet, as a patriotic Scot, I have reason for believing in the English affidavit at Portsmouth. The reason is simple, but sufficient. Captain Drummond, if attacked by Captain Green, was the man to defeat that officer, make prize of his ship, and hang at the yardarm the crew which was so easily mastered by Mr. Roderick Mackenzie and eleven pretty fellows. Hence I conclude that the 'Worcester' really had been pirating off the coast of Malabar, but that the ship taken by Captain Green in these waters was not the 'Speedy Return,' but another, unknown. If so, there was no great miscarriage of justice, for the indictment against Captain Green did not accuse him of seizing the 'Speedy Return,' but of piracy, robbery, and murder, though the affair of the 'Speedy Return' was brought in to give local colour. This fact and the national excitement in Scotland probably turned the scale with the jury, who otherwise would have returned a verdict of 'Not Proven.' That verdict, in fact, would have been fitted to the merits of the case; but 'there was mair tint at Shirramuir' than when Captain Green was hanged. That Green was deeply guilty, I have inferred from the evidence. To Mr. Stephen Ponder I owe corroboration. He cites a passage from Hamilton's _New Account of the East Indies_ (1727), chap. 25, which is crucial.
[Footnote 31: The trial is in Howell's _State Trials_, vol. xiv. 1812. Roderick Mackenzie's account of his seizure of the 'Worcester' was discovered by the late Mr. Hill Burton, in an oak chest in the Advocates' Library, and is published in his _Scottish Criminal Trials_, vol. i., 1852.]
'The unfortunate Captain Green, who was afterwards hanged in Scotland, came on board my ship at sunset, very much overtaken in drink and several of his men in the like condition (at Calicut, February 1703). He wanted to sell Hamilton some arms and ammunition, and told me that they were what was left of a large quantity that he had brought from England, but had been at Madagascar and had disposed of the rest to good advantage among the pirates. I told him that in prudence he ought to keep these as secrets lest he might be brought in trouble about them. He made but little account of my advice, and so departed. About ten in the night his chief mate Mr. Mather came on board of my ship and seemed to be very melancholy.... He burst out in tears and told me he was afraid that he was undone, that they had acted such things in their voyage that would certainly bring them to shame and punishment, if they should come to light; and he was assured that such a company of drunkards as their crew was composed of could keep no secret. I told him that I had heard at Coiloan (Quilon) that they had not acted prudently nor honestly in relation to some Moors' ships they had visited and plundered _and in sinking a sloop with ten or twelve Europeans in her_ off Coiloan. Next day I went ashore and met Captain Green and his supercargo Mr. Callant, who had sailed a voyage from Surat to Sienly with me. Before dinner-time they were both drunk, and Callant told me that he did not doubt of making the greatest voyage that ever was made from England on so small a stock as 500_l._
'In the evening their surgeon accosted me and asked if I wanted a surgeon. He said he wanted to stay in India, for his life was uneasy on board of his ship, that though the captain was civil enough, yet Mr. Mather had treated him with blows for asking a pertinent question of some wounded men, who were hurt in the engagement with the sloop. I heard too much to be contented with their conduct, and so I shunned their conversation for the little time I staid at Calicut.
'Whether Captain Green and Mr. Mathew had justice impartially in their trial and sentence I know not. I have heard of as great innocents condemned to death as they were.'
The evidence of Hamilton settles the question of the guilt of Green and his crew, as regards some unfortunate vessel, or sloop. Had the 'Speedy Return' a sloop with her?X _QUEEN OGLETHORPE_ (_In collaboration with_ MISS ALICE SHIELD).
'Her Oglethorpe majesty was kind, acute, resolute, and of good counsel. She gave the Prince much good advice that he was too weak to follow, and loved him with a fidelity which he returned with an ingratitude quite Royal.'
So writes Colonel Henry Esmond, describing that journey of his to Bar-le-Duc in Lorraine, whence he brought back 'Monsieur Baptiste,' all to win fair Beatrix Esmond. We know how 'Monsieur Baptiste' stole his lady-love from the glum Colonel, and ran after the maids, and drank too much wine, and came to the King's Arms at Kensington the day after the fair (he was always 'after the fair'), and found Argyll's regiment in occupation, and heard King George proclaimed.
Where in the world did Thackeray pick up the materials of that brilliant picture of James VIII., gay, witty, reckless, ready to fling away three crowns for a fine pair of eyes or a neat pair of ankles? His Majesty's enemies brought against him precisely the opposite kind of charges. There is a broad-sheet of 1716, _Hue and Cry after the Pretender_, which is either by Swift or by one of 'the gentlemen whom,' like Captain Bobadil, he 'had taught to write almost or altogether as well as himself.' As to gaiety in James, 'you tell him it is a fine day, and he weeps, and says he was unfortunate from his mother's womb.' As to ladies, 'a weakness for the sex remarked in many popular monarchs' (as Atterbury said to Lady Castlewood), our pamphleteer tells the opposite tale. Two Highland charmers being introduced 'to comfort him after the comfort of a man,' James displayed 'an incredible inhumanity to beauty and clean linen,' merely asking them 'whether they thought the Duke of Argyll would stand another battle?' It is hard on a man to be stamped by history as recklessly gay and amorous, also as a perfect Mrs. Gummidge for tearful sentiment, and culpably indifferent to the smiles of beauty. James is greatly misunderstood: the romance of his youth--sword and cloak and disguise, pistol, dagger and poison, prepared for him; story of true love blighted by a humorous cast of destiny; voyages, perils, shipwrecks, dances at inns--all is forgotten or is unknown.
Meanwhile, who was her 'Oglethorpean majesty,' and why does the pamphleteer of 1716 talk of 'James Stuart, _alias_ Oglethorpe'? By a strange combination of his bad luck, James is called Miss Oglethorpe's ungrateful lover by Thackeray, and Miss Oglethorpe's brother by the pamphleteer, and by Whig slander in general. Thackeray, in fact, took Miss Oglethorpe from the letter which Bolingbroke wrote to Wyndham, after St. Germains found him out, as St. James's had done, for a traitor. Bolingbroke merely mentions Fanny Oglethorpe as a busy intriguer. There is no evidence that she ever was at Bar-le-Duc in her life, none that she ever was 'Queen Oglethorpe.' We propose to tell, for the first time, the real story of this lady and her sisters.
The story centres round The Meath Home for Incurables! This excellent institution occupies Westbrook Place, an old house at Godalming, close to the railway, which passes so close as to cut off one corner of the park, and of the malodorous tanyard between the remnant of grounds and the river Wey that once washed them. On an October day, the Surrey hills standing round about in shadowy distances, the silence of two centuries is scarcely broken by the rustle of leaves dropping on their own deep carpet, and the very spirit of a lost cause dwells here, slowly dying. The house stands backed by a steep wooded hill, beyond which corn-fields 'clothe the wold and meet the sky;' the mansion is a grey, two-storied parallelogram flanked by square towers of only slighter elevation; their projecting bays surmounted by open-work cornices of leafy tracery in whiter stone.
The tale used to run (one has heard it vaguely in conversation) that the old house at Godalming is haunted by the ghost of Prince Charlie, and one naturally asks, 'What is _he_ doing there?' What he was doing there will appear later.In 1688, the year of the _Regifugium_, Westbrook Place was sold to Theophilus Oglethorpe, who had helped to drive the Whigs Frae Bothwell Brigs,
and, later, to rout Monmouth at Sedgemoor. This gentleman married Eleanor Wall, of an Irish family, a Catholic--'a cunning devil,' says Swift. The pair had five sons and four daughters, about whom county histories and dictionaries of biography blunder in a helpless fashion. We are concerned with Anne Henrietta, born, probably, about 1680-83, Eleanor (1684), James (June 1, 1688, who died in infancy), and Frances Charlotte, Bolingbroke's 'Fanny Oglethorpe.' The youngest brother, James Edward, born 1696, became the famous philanthropist, General Oglethorpe, governor of Georgia, patron of the Wesleys, and, in extreme old age, the 'beau' of Hannah More, and the gentleman who remembered shooting snipe on the site of Conduit Street.
After the Revolution Sir Theophilus was engaged with Sir John Fenwick, was with him when he cocked his beaver in the face of the Princess of Orange, had to fly to France, after the failure at La Hogue, and in 1693 was allowed to settle peacefully at Westbrook Place. Anne and Eleanor were left in France, where they were brought up as Catholics at St. Germains, and befriended by the exiled James and Mary of Modena. Now in 1699 Theophilus, one of the Oglethorpe boys, was sent out to his father's old friend Mr. Pitt, Governor of Fort St. George in India, the man of the Pitt Diamond. His outfit had to be prepared in a hurry, and a young gentlewoman, Frances Shaftoe, was engaged to help with the sewing of his several dozens of linen shirts, 'the flourishing of neckcloths and drawing of cotton stripes;' as young gentlewomen of limited means were used to do before they discovered hospitals and journalism. This girl, who developed a political romance of her own, was of good Northumberland family, related to Sir John Fenwick and the Delavals. Her father, a merchant in Newcastle, had educated her 'in a civil and virtuous manner,' and she had lived there about eighteen years, behaving herself discreetly, modestly, and honestly, as nine Northumbrian justices of the peace were ready to testify under their hand. The strange story she later told of her experiences at Westbrook and afterwards cannot, therefore, be wholly dismissed as a tale trumped up for political purposes, though its most thrilling incident is so foolish a lie as to discredit the whole.
On the Saturday before Christmas 1699 (so ran her later 'revelations,' made in 1707) she took the coach from Godalming, obedient to instructions by letter from Sir Theophilus. A little way down the Strand he joined her in the coach, accompanied by two young ladies--friends, she was told, of Lady Oglethorpe; and for some time she knew no more of who they were and whence they came. They were very secret, appeared in no company, but made themselves useful in the pleasant, homely ways of English country life of that time: helped with the sewing, made their own bed, swept their chamber, dressed the two little girls, Mary and Fanny, and waited on each other. Presently it turned out that they were Anne and Eleanor Oglethorpe, who had been eleven years in France, at the Court of James II., where they were known as Anne and Eleanor Barkly. They had taken advantage of the peace to come secretly 'over a long sea,' and had waited at the house of their mother's brother-in-law, Mr. Cray the City wine-merchant, until Parliament was up and their father could take them home for Christmas. A member of Parliament must not be compromised by the presence of Catholic daughters from St. Germains, whom it was treason even to harbour.[Footnote 32: _Narrative of Frances Shaftoe._ Printed 1707.]
Fanny Shaftoe was admitted into the family, she says, on quite familiar terms, but 'always behaved very meek and humble, ready to help any of the servants to make beds or to take care of the little boy' (the General) 'when his nurse was busy helping in the garden.' Anne and Eleanor were merry, friendly girls, and chatted only too freely with Fanny Shaftoe over the sewing. She certainly heard a great deal of 'treason' talked. She heard how Sir Theophilus and his wife went back and forward, disguised, between England and St. Germains; how Lady Oglethorpe had taken charge of the Queen's diamonds when she fled from Whitehall and safely returned them three years later, travelling as an old doctor-woman in a riding-hood, selling powders and plasters in a little basket. There was unseemly jubilation over the death of Queen Anne's son, the little Duke of Gloucester, in July 1700--though Fanny admits they were sorry at first--and somewhat partisan comparisons were drawn between him, 'a poor, soft child who had no wit' (he was really a very promising, spirited boy), and the little Prince of Wales, 'who was very witty.'
To this careless chatter Fanny Shaftoe added exaggerations and backstairs gossip, and an astounding statement which lived as the feeblest lie _can_ live. Anne Oglethorpe, she said, informed her that the real Prince of Wales (born June 10, 1688) had died at Windsor of convulsions when five or six weeks old; that Lady Oglethorpe hurried up to town with her little son James, born a few days before the Prince, and that the Oglethorpe baby died, or _was lost on the road_. The truth was a secret between her mother and the Queen! All they knew was that their little brother never turned up again. Anne added, confusing the story by too much detail, as all accounts of the royal fraud are confused, that the children had been sick together; that the Prince had then died, and her brother had been substituted for him.
In November 1700 Frances Shaftoe (according to her later revelations) left Westbrook: her mother had written from Newcastle to say her sister was dying. Anne and Eleanor were very sympathetic--they were really nice girls. Lady Oglethorpe was very kind, and gave her four guineas for her eleven months' services; and she seems to have been satisfied with it as handsome remuneration. She asserts,
inconsistently, that she had much ado to get away; but she never went to Newcastle. Three months later, being still in London, she was sent for to a house in the Strand, where she met Anne Oglethorpe. Anne gave her a letter from her mother, which had been kept back because Anne had expected to come up sooner to town, otherwise she would have sent it. Anne had a cold and a swelled face. She and Eleanor were going to France, and she persuaded Fanny to go with them. To make a long tale short, they shut her up in a convent lest she should blab the great secret, 'James Stuart is really James Oglethorpe!'
In September 1701 James II. died, and Lady Oglethorpe carried to the Princess Anne the affecting letter of farewell he wrote to her, commending his family to her care. Anne and Eleanor went to England in November 1702, and from that date until Easter 1706 Fanny Shaftoe says she heard no more about them. In April 1702 Sir Theophilus died, and was buried in St. James's, Piccadilly, where the memorial erected by his widow may be seen.
Theophilus, the heir, probably remained a while in the far East with Pitt; but there were Oglethorpes nearer home to dabble in the Scots plot of that year (1704). In June several Scottish officers--Sir George Maxwell, Captain Livingstone, and others, amounting to fifteen or sixteen, with three ladies, one of whom was Anne Oglethorpe, embarked at the Hague for Scotland. Sir George had tried in vain to procure a passport from Queen Anne's envoy, so, though it was in war-time, they sailed without one. Harley informed by Captain Lacan, late of Galway's Foot in Piedmont, told Lord Treasurer Godolphin, who had the party arrested on landing. The Queen, who plotted as much as anybody on behalf of her brother, was indulgent to fellow-conspirators, and, though it was proved their purpose had been 'to raise commotions in Scotland,' they were soon set at liberty, and the informer sent back to Holland with empty pockets.[Footnote 33: Boyer, _Reign of Queen Anne_.]
Anne Oglethorpe, nevertheless, having crossed without a pass, lay at the mercy of the Government, but, as with Joseph in Egypt, her misfortune turned into her great opportunity. The late Mr. H. Manners, in an article in the _Dictionary of National Biography_, supposes she had been King James's mistress before she left St. Germains. Now, see how Thackeray has misled historians! _He_ makes _Fanny_ Oglethorpe, James's mistress, 'Queen Oglethorpe,' at Bar-le-Duc in 1714. And, resting on this evidence, Mr. Manners represents _Anne_ Oglethorpe as James's mistress at St. Germains in 1704! Anne left St. Germains before James was sixteen, and her character is blasted by the easy plan of mistaking her for her younger sister, who was no more Queen Oglethorpe than _she_ was.[Footnote 34: Article, 'Oglethorpe (Sir Theophilus).']
Poor Anne did not 'scape calumny, perhaps deserved it. Boyer says that Godolphin and Harley quarrelled for her smiles, which beamed on Harley (Lord Oxford, Swift's 'Dragon'), and 'an irreconcilable enmity' arose. In 1713 Schutz describes Anne Oglethorpe as Oxford's mistress, but she had troubles of her own before that date. She arrived in England, a Jacobite conspirator, in 1704. Her wit and beauty endeared her to Harley, and she probably had a foot in both camps, Queen Anne's and King James's.
But in 1706 strange rumours came from the North. Mrs. Shaftoe had, after five years' silence, received letters from her daughter Fanny, the sempstress, by a secret hand, and was filling Newcastle with lamentations over trepanning, imprisonment, and compulsory conversion, with the object of making Fanny a nun. A young English priest, agent for supplying the Catholic squires of Northumberland with chaplains, was sent to France by her Catholic cousin, Mrs. Delaval, to find out the truth. The consequence of his inquiries was that Anne Oglethorpe was arrested in England, and charged before the Queen and Council with trepanning and trying to force Fanny Shaftoe to become a nun. Anne flung herself at the Queen's feet and implored mercy. She escaped being sent to Newgate, but was imprisoned in a Messenger's house to await further proceedings, and ordered to produce Fanny Shaftoe as a witness.
Eleanor Oglethorpe was in France, and rushed to the convent where Fanny Shaftoe was held captive, told her how Anne was in prison on her account, and entreated her to sign a statement that she had come to France and become a Catholic of her own free will. But Fanny refused. Her long detailed story was printed and published for the prosecution in 1707, at the moment when the Chevalier's chances in Scotland were most promising. Had he landed only with his valet, says Ker of Kersland, Scotland would have been his. Cameronians and Cavaliers alike would have risen. But the French Admiral would not put him on shore. As for Anne she was discharged, having great allies; but Fanny Shaftoe's story did its work. James Stuart, for Whig purposes, was 'James Oglethorpe,' Anne's brother. Fanny's narrative was republished in 1745, to injure Prince Charlie.
Restored to society and Harley, Anne queened it royally. If we believe old Tom Hearne, whose MSS. are in the Bodleian, Anne practically negotiated the Treaty of Utrecht. She found a French priest, whose sister was in the household of Madame de Maintenon, she wrote mysterious letters to him, he showed them to Louis XIV., and the priest was presently lurking in Miss Oglethorpe's town house. Harley visited his Egeria; she introduced the abbe; Gauthier (the abbe himself?) and Messager were appointed by France to treat. Harley insisted on the surrender of Dunkirk! Louis offered Anne Oglethorpe 2,000,000 livres if she would save Dunkirk for France. Her Oglethorpean majesty refused the gold, but did Louis's turn, on condition that he would restore King James! For all this magnanimity we have only Tom Hearne's word. Swift, for example, was not likely to reveal these romantic circumstances about the Lady and the Dragon.
Swift does not mention Anne in his letters, but being so deep in the greatest intrigues of the day and in the smallest, she was a valuable source of information to Thomas Carte, the nonjuring historian and her lifelong correspondent, when he was gathering materials for his Life of the first Duke of Ormond and his _History of England_. In 1713, Nairne, James's secretary, desires Abram (Menzies) to inquire if Mrs. _Oglethorpe_ had credit with Honyton (Harley), and how far? Schutz, the Hanoverian envoy, writes to Bothmar, November 21, 1713: 'Miss Oglethorpe, the Lord Treasurer's mistress, said that the Pretender was to travel, and she said it on the very day the news came from Holland that the Bishop of London had declared to the plenipotentiaries who are there, that the Queen entreated their masters not to receive the Pretender in their dominions.' She knew all the particulars of Harley's opposition to the Duke of Ormond's schemes for improving the army, and what the Exchequer could and could not supply to back them. She knew all about Lady Masham's quarrel with her cousin, Lord Oxford, in 1713, over the 100,000_l._ in ten per cents which Lady Masham had expected to make out of the Quebec expedition and Assiento contract, had not his lordship so 'disobliged her.' Anne acted as intermediary, hunting up her friend the Duke of Ormond, with whom her mother had great influence, and fetching him to meet Lady Masham at Kensington--who told him how ill the Queen was, and how uneasy at nothing being done for her brother, the Chevalier. If Ormond would but secure Lady Masham 30,000_l._ of the 100,000_l._, she would join with him, and he should have the modelling of the army as he pleased. Ormond also failed to oblige Lady Masham, but Bolingbroke, whom she hated, snatched his opportunity in the quarrel and got her the money; in return for which service, Lady Masham had Harley turned out of office and Bolingbroke set in his place. And then Queen Anne died.[Footnote 35: Carte MSS.] [Footnote 36: Macpherson, _Hanoverian Papers_.] [Footnote 37: Carte MSS. In the Bodleian.]
Miss Oglethorpe also knew that Sir Thomas Hanmer and Bishop Atterbury were the two persons who sent the messenger (mentioned only as Sir C.P. in the Carte Papers) to warn Ormond to escape to France in 1715. Women seem to have managed the whole political machine in those days, as the lengthy and mysterious letters of 'Mrs. White,' 'Jean Murray,' and others in the Carte MSS. testify.
We are not much concerned with the brothers of the Oglethorpe girls, but the oldest, Theophilus, turned Jacobite. That he had transferred his allegiance and active service to King James is proved by his letters from Paris to James, and to Gualterio in 1720 and 1721. According to the second report on the Stuart Papers at Windsor, he was created a baron by James III in 1717. In 1718 he was certainly outlawed, for his younger brother, James Edward (the famous General Oglethorpe), succeeded to the Westbrook property in that year.[Footnote 38: Gualterio MSS. Add. MSS. British Museum.]
In July 1714 Fanny Oglethorpe, now about nineteen, turns up as an active politician. The Chevalier at Bar and his adherents in Paris, Scotland, and London, were breathlessly waiting for the death of Queen Anne, which was expected to restore him to the throne of his ancestors. Fanny had been brought up a Protestant by her mother in England, under whose auspices she had served her apprenticeship to plotting. Then she came to France, but Fanny cannot have been Thackeray's 'Queen Oglethorpe' at Bar-le-Duc. In the first place, she was not there; in the second, a lady of Lorraine was reigning monarch.[Footnote 39: Wolff, _Odd Bits of History_ (1844), pp. 1-58.]
With the fall of Oxford in 1714 ended Anne's chief opportunity of serving her King. The historian therefore turns to her sister Eleanor, who had been with her in the Fanny Shaftoe affair, but remained in France. Penniless as she was, Eleanor's beauty won the heart of the Marquis de Mezieres, a great noble, a man over fifty, ugly, brave, misshapen. Theirs, none the less, was a love match, as the French Court admiringly proclaimed. 'The frog-faced' Marquis, the vainest of men, was one of the most courageous. Their daughters became the Princesses de Montauban and de Ligne, whose brilliant marriages caused much envy. Of their sons we shall hear later. Young Fanny Oglethorpe, a girl of twenty in 1715, resided with her sister Eleanor (Madame de Mezieres), and now Bolingbroke, flying from the Tower, and become the Minister of James, grumbles at the presence of Fanny, and of Olive Trant, among the conspirators for a Restoration. Olive, the Regent's mistress, was 'the great wheel of the machine,' in which Fanny 'had her corner,' at Saint Germains. 'Your female teazers,' James calls them in a letter to Bolingbroke. Not a word is said of a love affair.
How the Fifteen ended we all know. Ill-managed by Mar, perhaps betrayed by Bolingbroke, the rising collapsed. Returning to France, James dismissed Bolingbroke and retired to Avignon, thence to Urbino, and last to Rome. In 1719 he describes 'Mrs. Oglethorpe's letters' as politically valueless, and full of self-justifications, and 'old
stories.' He answers them only through his secretary; but in 1722 he consoled poor Anne by making her a Countess of Ireland. Anne's bolt was shot, she had had her day, but the day of her fair sisters was dawning. Mr. John Law, of Lauriston _soi-disant_, had made England too hot to hold him. His great genius for financial combinations was at this time employed by him in gleek, trick-track, quadrille, whist, loo, ombre, and other pastimes of mingled luck and skill. In
consequence of a quarrel about a lady, Mr. Law fought and slew Beau Wilson, that mysterious person, who, from being a poverty-stricken younger son, hanging loose on town, became in a day, no man knows how, the richest and most splendid of blades. The Beau's secret died with him; but Law fled to France with 100,000 crowns in his valise. Here the swagger, courage, and undeniable genius of Mr. Law gained the favour of the Regent d'Orleans, the Bank and the Mississippi Scheme were floated, the Rue Quincampoix was crowded, France swam in a dream of gold, and the friends of Mr. Law, 'coming in on the ground-floor,' or buying stock before issue at the lowest prices, sold out at the top of the market.
Paris was full of Jacobites from Ireland and Scotland--Seaforth, Tullibardine, Campbell of Glendaruel, George Kelly (one of the Seven Men of Moidart), Nick Wogan, gayest and bravest of Irishmen, all engaged in a pleasing plan for invading England with a handful of Irish soldiers in Spanish service. The Earl Marischal and Keith his brother (the Field-Marshal) came into Paris broken men, fleeing from Glenshiel. _They_ took no Mississippi shares, but George Kelly, Fanny Oglethorpe, and Olive Trant, all _lies_ with Law and Orleans, 'plunged,' and emerged with burdens of gold. Fanny for her share had 800,000 livres, and carried it as her dowry to the Marquis des Marches, whom she married in 1719, and so ceased conspiring. The Oglethorpe girls, for penniless exiles, had played their cards well. Fanny and Eleanor had won noble husbands. Poor Anne went back to Godalming, where--in the very darkest days of the Jacobite party, when James was a heart-broken widower, and the star of Prince Charles's natal day shone only on the siege of Gaeta--she plotted with Thomas Carte, the historian.
The race of 1715 was passing, the race of 1745 was coming on, and touching it is to read in the brown old letters the same loyal
names--Floyds, Wogans, Gorings, Trants, Dillons, Staffords, Sheridans, the Scots of course, and the French descendants of the Oglethorpe girls. Eleanor's infants, the de Mezieres family, had been growing up in beauty and honour, as was to be expected of the children of the valiant Marquis and the charming Eleanor. Their eldest daughter, Eleonore Eugenie, married Charles de Rohan, Prince de Montauban, younger brother of the Duc de Montbazon, whose wife was the daughter of the Duc de Bouillon and Princess Caroline Sobieska, and so first cousin to the sons of James III. That branch of Oglethorpes thus became connected with the royal family, which would go far towards rousing their hereditary Jacobitism when the Forty-Five cast its shadow before.
In May 1740, Madame de Mezieres took it into her head to run over to England, and applied to Newcastle for a pass, through Lady Mary Herbert of Powis--a very _suspect_ channel! The Minister made such particular inquiries as to the names of the servants she intended to bring, that she changed her mind and did not go. One wonders what person purposed travelling in her suite whose identity dared not stand too close scrutiny. There was a brave and eager Prince of Wales over the water, nearly twenty, who had some years ago fleshed his maiden sword with honour, and who was in secret correspondence on his own account with his father's English supporters. Could he have had some such plan even then of putting fate to the touch? He is reported in Coxe's _Walpole_ to have been in Spain, in disguise, years before.
In 1742 Eleanor had the sorrow of losing a daughter in a tragic way. She had recently become a canoness of Povesay, a very noble foundation, indeed, in Lorraine, where the Sisters wore little black ribbons on their heads which they called 'husbands.' She was twenty-five, very pretty, and most irreligiously devoted to shooting and hunting. Though these chapters of noble canonesses are not by any means strict after the use of ordinary convents, there were serious expostulations made when the novice insisted upon constantly carrying a gun and shooting. She fell one day when out with her gun as usual. It went off and killed her on the spot.
Whatever Eleanor aimed at in 1740 by a journey to England, was baulked by Newcastle's caution. In 1743 the indefatigable lady, 'and a Scottish lord,' submitted a scheme to Louis XV., but it was thwarted by de Noailles. Then Prince Charles rode secretly out of Rome, landed, like Napoleon, at Frejus, and at the expedition of Dunkirk met the Earl Marischal and young Glengarry.
The Chevalier de Mezieres, too, Eleanor's son, went to Dunkirk with Saxe to embark for England. There was a great storm, and the ships went aground. Several officers and soldiers jumped into the sea, and some were drowned. The Chevalier de Mezieres came riding along the shore, to hear that a dear friend was drowning. The sea was going back, but very heavy, and de Mezieres rode straight into the raging waters to seek his friend. The waves went over his head and carried away his hat, but he persevered until he had seized a man. He dragged him ashore, to find it was a common soldier. He hastened back, and saved several soldiers and two or three officers. His friend, after all, had never been in danger.
The Saxe expedition never sailed, so Eugene de Mezieres went to beat Hanoverians elsewhere, and was wounded at Fontenoy. Consequently he could not follow the Prince to Scotland. His mother, Eleanor, plunged into intrigue for the forward party (Prince Charlie's party),
distrusted by James at Rome. 'She is a mad woman,' said James. She and Carte, the historian, were working up an English rising to join the Prince's Scottish adventure, but were baffled by James's cautious, helpless advisers. Then came the Forty-Five. Eleanor was not subdued by Culloden: the undefeated old lady was a guest at the great dinner, with the splendid new service of plate, which the Prince gave to the Princesse de Talmond and his friends in 1748. He was braving all Europe, in his hopeless way, and refusing to leave France, in accordance with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. When he was imprisoned at Vincennes, Eleanor was threatened. Catholic as she was, she frankly declared that Prince Charles had better declare himself a Protestant, and marry a German Protestant Princess. He therefore proposed to one, a day or two before he disappeared from Avignon, in February 1749, and he later went over to London, and embraced the Anglican faith.
It was too late; but Eleanor Oglethorpe was not beaten. In October 1752 'the great affair' was being incubated again. Alexander Murray, of the Elibank family, exasperated by his imprisonment for a riot at the Westminster election, had taken service with Prince Charles. He had arranged that a body of young Jacobite officers in foreign service, with four hundred Highlanders under young Glengarry, should overpower the Guards, break into St. James's Palace, and seize King George; while the Westminster mob, Murray's lambs, should create an uproar. Next day Glengarry would post north, the Highlanders would muster at the House of Touch, and Charles would appear among his beloved subjects. The very medal to commemorate the event was struck, with its motto, _Laetamini Cives_. The Prince was on the coast in readiness--nay, if we are not mistaken, the Prince was in Westbrook House at Godalming!
This we conjecture because, in that very budding time of the Elibank Plot, Newcastle suddenly discovered that the unwearied Eleanor Oglethorpe, Marquise de Mezieres, was in England,--had arrived secretly, without any passport. He tracked her down at Westbrook House, that lay all desolate and deserted, the windows closed, the right-of-way through the grounds illegally shut up. General Oglethorpe after 1746 had abandoned his home, for he had been court-martialled on a charge of not attacking Cluny and Lord George Murray, when the Highlanders stood at bay, at Clifton, and defeated Cumberland's advanced-guard. The general was acquitted, but, retiring to his wife's house at Carham, he deserted Westbrook Place.
The empty house, retired in its woodlands, on the Portsmouth road, convenient for the coast, was the very place for Prince Charles to lurk in, while Murray and Glengarry cleared the way to the throne. And so, in fact, we find Eleanor Oglethorpe secretly ensconced at Westbrook Place while the plot ripened, and local tradition still shows the vault in which 'the Pretender' could take refuge if the house was searched. All this, again, coincides with the vague legend of the tall, brown-haired ghost who haunts Westbrook Place,--last home of a last hope.
The young Glengarry, as we know, carried all the tale of the plot to the English Prime Minister, while he made a merit of his share in it with James at Rome. Eleanor, too, was run to earth at Westbrook Place. She held her own gallantly. As to having no passport, she reminded Newcastle that she _had_ asked for a passport twelve years ago, in 1740. She was now visiting England merely to see her sister Anne, who 'could not outlast the winter,' but who did so, none the less. Nor could Anne have been so very ill, for on arriving at Dover in October Eleanor did not hasten to Anne's sick-bed. Far from that, she first spent an agreeable week--with whom? With my Lady Westmoreland, at Mereworth, in Kent. Now, Lord Westmoreland was the head of the English Jacobites, and at Mereworth, according to authentic family tradition, Prince Charles held his last Council on English ground. The whole plot seems delightfully transparent, and it must be remembered that in October Newcastle knew nothing of it; he only received Glengarry's information early in November.
The letter of Madame de Mezieres, with her account of her innocent proceedings, is written in French exactly like that of the Dowager Countess of Castlewood, in _Esmond_. She expressed her special pleasure in the hope of making Newcastle's personal acquaintance. She went to Bath; she made Lady Albemarle profoundly uncomfortable about her lord's famous mistress in Paris, and no doubt she plunged, on her return, into the plots with Prussia for a Restoration. In the Privy Council, in November 1753, her arrest was decided on. Newcastle jots down, on a paper of notes: 'To seize Madame de Mezieres with her papers. No expense to be spared to find the Pretender's son. Sir John Gooderich to be sent after him. Lord Anson to have frigates on the Scotch and Irish coasts.'
By 1759 Eleanor was, perhaps, weary of conspiring. Her daughter, the Princesse de Ligne, was the fair patroness of that expedition which Hawke crushed in Quiberon Bay, while Charles received the news at Dunkirk.
All was ended. For seventy-two years the Oglethorpe women had used their wit and beauty, through three generations, for a lost cause. They were not more lucky, with the best intentions, than Eleanor's grandson, the Prince de Lambesc. With hereditary courage he rescued an old woman from a burning cottage, and flung her into a duck-pond to extinguish her blazing clothes. The old woman was drowned!
Not long ago a lady of much wit, but of no occult pretensions, and wholly ignorant of the Oglethorpes, looked over Westbrook Place, then vacant, with the idea of renting it. On entering it she said, 'I have a feeling that very interesting things have happened here'! Probably they had.
[Footnote 40: The facts are taken from Ailesbury's, de Luynes', Dangeau's, and d'Argenson's _Memoirs_; from Boyer's _History_, and other printed books, and from the Newcastle, Hearne, Carte, and Gualterio MSS. in the Bodleian and the British Museum.]
The mystery of the Chevalier d'Eon (1728-1810), the question of his sex, on which so many thousand pounds were betted, is no mystery at all. The Chevalier was a man, and a man of extraordinary courage, audacity, resource, physical activity, industry, and wit. The real mystery is the problem why, at a mature age (forty-two) did d'Eon take upon him, and endure for forty years, the travesty of feminine array, which could only serve him as a source of notoriety--in short, as an advertisement? The answer probably is that, having early seized opportunity by the forelock, and having been obliged, after an extraordinary struggle, to leave his hold, he was obliged to clutch at some mode of keeping himself perpetually in the public eye. Hence, probably, his persistent assumption of feminine costume. If he could be distinguished in no other way, he could shine as a mystery; there was even lucre in the pose.
[Footnote 41: The most recent work on d'Eon, _Le Chevalier d'Eon_, par Octave Homberg and Fernand Jousselin (Plon-Nourrit, Paris, 1904), is rather disappointing. The authors aver that at a recent sale they picked up many MSS. of d'Eon 'which had lain for more than a century in the back shop of an English bookseller.' No other reference as to authenticity is given, and some letters to d'Eon of supreme importance are casually cited, but are not printed. On the other hand, we have many new letters for the later period of the life of the hero. The best modern accounts are that by the Duc de Broglie, who used the French State archives and his own family papers in _Le Secret du Roi_ (Paris, 1888), and _The Strange Career of the Chevalier d'Eon_ (1885), by Captain J. Buchan Telfer, R.N. (Longmans, 1885), a book now out of print. The author was industrious, but not invariably happy in his translations of French originals. D'Eon himself drew up various accounts of his adventures, some of which he published. They are oddly careless in the essential matter of dates, but contain many astounding genuine documents, which lend a sort of 'doubtsome trust' to others, hardly more incredible, which cannot be verified, and are supposed by the Duc de Broglie to be 'interpolations.' Captain Buchan Telfer is less sceptical. The doubtfulness, to put it mildly, of some papers, and the pretty obvious interpolations in others, deepen the obscurity.]
Charles d'Eon was born on October 7, 1728, near Tonnerre. His family was of _chetive noblesse_, but well protected, and provided for by 'patent places.' He was highly educated, took the degree of doctor of law, and wrote with acceptance on finance and literature. His was a studious youth, for he was as indifferent to female beauty as was Frederick the Great, and his chief amusements were fencing, of which art he was a perfect master, and society, in which his wit and gaiety made the girlish-looking lad equally welcome to men and women. All were fond of 'le petit d'Eon,' so audacious, so ambitious, and so amusing.
The Prince de Conti was his chief early patron, and it was originally in support of Conti's ambition to be King of Poland that Louis XV. began his incredibly foolish 'secret'--a system of foreign policy conducted by hidden agents behind the backs of his responsible ministers at Versailles and in the Courts of Europe. The results naturally tend to recall a Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera of diplomacy. We find magnificent ambassadors gravely trying to carry out the royal orders, and thwarted by the King's secret agents. The King seems to have been too lazy to face his ministers, and compel them to take his own line, while he was energetic enough to work like Tiberius or Philip II. of Spain at his secret Penelope's task of undoing by night the warp and woof which his ministers wove by day. In these mysterious labours of his the Comte de Broglie, later a firm friend of d'Eon, was, with Tercier, one of his main assistants.
The King thus enjoyed all the pleasures and excitements of a conspirator in his own kingdom, dealing in ciphered despatches, with the usual cant names, carried in the false bottoms of snuff-boxes, precisely as if he had been a Jacobite plotter. It was entertaining, but it was not diplomacy, and, sooner or later, Louis was certain to be 'blackmailed' by some underling in his service. That underling was to be d'Eon.
In 1755 Louis wished to renew relations, long interrupted, with Elizabeth, Empress of Russia, the lady whom Prince Charlie wanted to marry, and from whose offered hand the brave James Keith fled as fast as horses could carry him. Elizabeth, in 1755, was an ally of England, but was known to be French in her personal sympathies, though she was difficult of access. As a messenger, Louis chose a Scot, described by Captain Buchan Telfer as a Mackenzie, a Jesuit, calling himself the Chevalier Douglas, and a Jacobite exile. He is not to be found in the _Dictionary of National Biography_. A Sir James and a Sir John Douglas--if both were not the same man--were employed as political agents between the English and Scottish Jacobites in 1746, and, in 1749, between the Prince and the Landgrave of Hesse. Whatever the true name of the Douglas of Louis XV., I suspect that he was one or the other of these dim Jacobites of the Douglas clan. In June 1755 this Chevalier Douglas was sent by Louis to deal with Elizabeth. He was certainly understood by Louis to be a real Douglas, a fugitive Jacobite, and he was to use in ciphered despatches precisely the same silly sort of veiled language about the fur trade as Prince Charles's envoys had just been using about 'the timber trade' with Sweden.
Douglas set forth, disguised as an intellectual British tourist, in the summer of 1755, and it is Captain Buchan Telfer's view that d'Eon joined him, also as a political agent, in female apparel, on the road, and that, while Douglas failed and left Russia by October 1755, d'Eon remained at St. Petersburg, attired as a girl, Douglas's niece, and acting as the _lectrice_ of the Empress, whom he converted to the French alliance! This is the traditional theory, but is almost certainly erroneous. Sometimes, in his vast MSS., d'Eon declares that he went to Russia disguised in 1755. But he represents himself as then aged twenty, whereas he was really twenty-seven, and this he does in 1773, before he made up his mind to pose for life as a woman. He had a running claim against the French government for the expenses of his first journey to Russia. This voyage, in 1776, he dates in 1755, but in 1763, in an official letter, he dates his journey to Russia, of which the expenses were not repaid, in 1756. That is the true chronology. Nobody denies that he did visit Russia in 1756 attired as a male diplomatist, but few now believe that in 1755 he accompanied Douglas as that gentleman's pleasing young niece.
MM. Homberg and Jousselin, in their recent work, declare that among d'Eon's papers, which lay for a century in the back shop of a London bookseller, they find letters to him, from June 1756, written by Tercier, who managed the secret of Louis XV. There are no known proofs of d'Eon's earlier presence in Russia, and in petticoats, in 1755.[Footnote 42: _Le Chevalier d'Eon_, p. 18.]
He did talk later of a private letter of Louis XV., of October 4, 1763, in which the King wrote that he 'had served him usefully in the guise of a female, and must now resume it,' and that letter is published, but all the evidence, to which we shall return, tends to prove that this paper is an ingenious deceptive 'interpolation.' If the King did write it, then he was deceiving the manager of his secret policy--Tercier--for, in the note, he bids d'Eon remain in England, while he was at the same time telling Tercier that he was uneasy as to what d'Eon might do in France, when he obeyed his _public_ orders to return. If, then, the royal letter of October 4, 1763, testifying to d'Eon's feminine disguise in Russia, be genuine, Louis XV. had three strings to his bow. He had his public orders to ministers, he had his private conspiracy worked through Tercier, and he had his secret intrigue with d'Eon, of which Tercier was allowed to know nothing. This hypothesis is difficult, if not impossible, and the result is that d'Eon was not current in Russia as Douglas's pretty French niece and as reader to the Empress Elizabeth in 1755.[Footnote 43: Broglie, _Secret du Roi_, ii. 51, note.]
In 1756, in his own character as a man and a secretary, he did work under Douglas, then on his second visit, public and successful, to gain Russia to the French alliance; for, dismissed in October 1755, Douglas came back and publicly represented France at the Russian Court in July 1756. This was, to the highest degree of probability, d'Eon's first entrance into diplomacy, and he triumphed in his mission. He certainly made the acquaintance of the Princess Dashkoff, and she, as certainly, in 1769-1771, when on a visit to England, gave out that d'Eon was received by Elizabeth in a manner more appropriate to a woman than a man. It is not easy to ascertain precisely what the tattle of the Princess really amounted to, but d'Eon represents it so as to corroborate his tale about his residence at Elizabeth's Court, as _lectrice_, in 1755. The evidence is of no value, being a biassed third-hand report of the Russian lady's gossip. There is a mezzotint, published in 1788, from what professes to be a copy, by Angelica Kauffmann, of a portrait of d'Eon in female costume, at the age of twenty-five. If these attributions are correct, d'Eon was masquerading as a girl three years before he went to Russia, and, if the portrait is exact, was wearing the order of St. Louis ten years before it was conferred on him. The evidence as to this copy of an alleged portrait of d'Eon is full of confusions and anachronisms, and does not even prove that he thus travestied his sex in early life.
In Russia, when he joined Douglas there in the summer of 1756, d'Eon was a busy secretary of legation. In April 1757, he went back to Versailles bearing rich diplomatic sheaves with him, and one of those huge presents of money in gold, to Voltaire, which no longer come in the way of men of letters. While he was at Vienna, on his way back to St. Petersburg, tidings came of the battle of Prague; d'Eon hurried to Versailles with the news, and, though he broke his leg in a carriage accident, he beat the messenger whom Count Kaunitz officially despatched, by thirty-six hours. This unladylike proof of energy and endurance procured for d'Eon a gold snuff-box (Elizabeth only gave him a trumpery snuff-box in tortoiseshell), with the King's
miniature, a good deal of money, and a commission in the dragoons, for the little man's heart was really set on a military rather than a diplomatic career. However, as diplomat he ferreted out an important secret of Russian internal treachery, and rejected a bribe of a diamond of great value. The money's worth of the diamond was to be paid to him by his own Government, but he no more got that than he got the 10,000 livres for his travelling expenses.
Thus early was he accommodated with a grievance, and because d'Eon had not the wisdom to see that a man with grievances is a ruined man, he overthrew, later, a promising career, in the violence of his attempts to obtain redress. This was d'Eon's bane, and the cause of the ruinous eccentricities for which he is remembered. In 1759 he ably seconded the egregious Louis XV. in upsetting the policy which de Choiseul was carrying on by the King's orders. De Choiseul's duty was to make the Empress mediate for peace in the Seven Years' War. The duty of d'Eon was to secure the failure of de Choiseul, without the knowledge of the French ambassador, the Marquis de l'Hospital, of whom he was the secretary. Possessed of this pretty secret, d'Eon was a man whom Louis could not safely offend and snub, and d'Eon must therefore have thought that there could scarcely be a limit to his success in life. But he disliked Russia, and left it for good in August 1760.
He received a life pension of 2,000 livres, and was appointed aide-de-camp to the Marechal de Broglie, commanding on the Upper Rhine. He distinguished himself, in August 1761, by a very gallant piece of service in which, he says, truly or not, he incurred the ill-will of the Comte de Guerchy. The pair were destined to ruin each other a few years later. D'Eon also declares that he led a force which 'dislodged the Highland mountaineers in a gorge of the mountain at Einbeck.' I know not what Highland regiment is intended, but D'Eon's orders bear that he was to _withdraw_ troops opposed to the Highlanders, and a certificate in his favour from the Duc and the Comte de Broglie does not allude to the circumstance that, instead of retreating before the plaids, he drove them back to the English camp. It may therefore be surmised that, though D'Eon often distinguished himself, and was wounded in the thigh at Ultrop, his claim of a victory over a Highland regiment is--'an interpolation.' De Broglie writes, 'we purpose retreating. I send M. d'Eon to withdraw the Swiss and Grenadiers of Champagne, who are holding in check the Scottish Highlanders lining the wood on the crest of the mountain, whence they have caused us much annoyance.' The English outposts were driven in; but, after that was done, the French advance was checked by the plaided Gael: d'Eon did notquell the mountaineer As their tinchel quells the game. Not a word is said about his triumph even in the certificate of the two de Broglies which d'Eon published in 1764.
In 1762, France and England, weary of war, began the preliminaries of peace, and d'Eon was attached as secretary of legation to the French negotiator in London, the Duc de Nivernais, who was on terms so intimate with Madame de Pompadour that she addressed him, in writing, as _petit epoux_. In the language of the affections as employed by the black natives of Australia, this would have meant that de Nivernais was the recognised rival of Louis XV. in the favour of the lady; but the inference must not be carried to that length. There are different versions of a trick which d'Eon, as secretary, played on Mr. Robert Wood, author of an interesting work on Homer, and with the Jacobite _savant_, Jemmy Dawkins, the explorer of Palmyra. The story as given by Nivernais is the most intelligible account. Mr. Wood, as under secretary of state, brought to Nivernais, and read to him, a diplomatic document, but gave him no copy. D'Eon, however, opened Wood's portfolio, while he dined with Nivernais, and had the paper transcribed. To this d'Eon himself adds that he had given Wood more than his 'whack,' during dinner, of a heady wine grown in the vineyards of his native Tonnerre.
In short, the little man was so serviceable that, in the autumn of 1762, de Nivernais proposed to leave him in England, as interim Minister, after the Duc's own return to France. 'Little d'Eon is very active, very discreet, never curious or officious, neither distrustful nor a cause of distrust in others.' De Nivernais was so pleased with him, and so anxious for his promotion, that he induced the British Ministers, contrary to all precedent, to send d'Eon, instead of a British subject, to Paris with the treaty, for ratification. He then received from Louis XV. the order of St. Louis, and, as de Nivernais was weary of England, where he had an eternal cold, and resigned, d'Eon was made minister plenipotentiary in London till the arrival of the new ambassador, de Guerchy.
Now de Guerchy, if we believe d'Eon, had shown the better part of valour in a dangerous military task, the removal of ammunition under fire, whereas d'Eon had certainly conducted the operation with courage and success. The two men were thus on terms of jealousy, if the story is true, while de Nivernais did not conceal from d'Eon that he was to be the brain of the embassy, and that de Guerchy was only a dull figure-head. D'Eon possessed letters of de Broglie and de Praslin, in which de Guerchy was spoken of with pitying contempt; in short, his despatch-boxes were magazines of dangerous diplomatic combustibles. He also succeeded in irritating de Praslin, the French minister, before returning to his new post in London, for d'Eon was a partisan of the two de Broglies, now in the disgrace of Madame de Pompadour and of Louis XV.; though the Comte de Broglie, 'disgraced' as he was, still managed the secret policy of the French King.
D'Eon's position was thus full of traps. He was at odds with the future ambassador, de Guerchy, and with the minister, de Praslin; and would not have been promoted at all, had it been known to the minister that he was in correspondence with, and was taking orders from, the disgraced Comte de Broglie. But, by the fatuous system of the King, d'Eon, in fact, was doing nothing else. De Broglie, exiled from Court, was d'Eon's real master, he did not serve de Guerchy and de Praslin, and Madame de Pompadour, who was not in the secret of her royal lover.
The King's secret now (1763) included a scheme for the invasion of England, which d'Eon and a military agent were to organise, at the very moment when peace had been concluded. There is fairly good evidence that Prince Charles visited London in this year, no doubt with an eye to mischief. In short, the new minister plenipotentiary to St. James's, unknown to the French Government, and to the future ambassador, de Guerchy, was to manage a scheme for the ruin of the country to which he was accredited. If ever this came out, the result would be, if not war with England, at least war between Louis XV., his minister, and Madame de Pompadour, a result which frightened Louis XV. more than any other disaster.
The importance of his position now turned d'Eon's head, in the opinion of Horace Walpole, who, of course, had not a guess at the true nature of the situation. D'Eon, in London, entertained French visitors of eminence, and the best English society, it appears, with the splendour of a full-blown ambassador, and at whose expense? Certainly not at his own, and neither the late ambassador, de Nivernais, nor the coming ambassador, de Guerchy, a man far from wealthy, had the faintest desire to pay the bills. Angry and tactless letters,
therefore, passed between d'Eon in London and de Guerchy, de Nivernais, and de Praslin in Paris. De Guerchy was dull and clumsy; d'Eon used him as the whetstone of his wit, with a reckless abandonment which proves that he was, as they say, 'rather above himself,' like Napoleon before the march to Moscow. London, in short, was the Moscow of little d'Eon. When de Guerchy arrived, and d'Eon was reduced to _secretariser_, and, indeed, was ordered to return to France, and not to show himself at Court, he lost all self-control. The recall came from the minister, de Praslin, but d'Eon, as we know, though de Praslin knew it not, was secretly representing the King himself. He declares that, at this juncture (October 11, 1763), Louis XV. sent him the extraordinary private autograph letter, speaking of his previous services in female attire, and bidding him remain with his papers in England disguised as a woman. The improbability of this action by the King has already been exposed. (Pp. 242, 243 _supra_.)
But when we consider the predicament of Louis, obliged to recall d'Eon publicly, while all his ruinous secrets remained in the hands of that disgraced and infuriated little man, it seems not quite impossible that he may have committed the folly of writing this letter. For the public recall says nothing about the secret papers of which d'Eon had quantities. What was to become of them, if he returned to France in disgrace? If they reached the hands of de Guerchy they meant an explosion between Louis XV. and his mistress, and his ministers. To parry the danger, then, according to d'Eon, Louis privately bade him flee disguised, with his cargo of papers, and hide in female costume. If Louis really did this (and d'Eon told the story to the father of Madame de Campan), he had three strings to his bow, as we have shown, and one string was concealed, a secret within a secret, even from Tercier. Yet what folly was so great as to be beyond the capacity of Louis?
Meanwhile d'Eon simply refused to obey the King's public orders, and denied their authenticity. They were only signed with a _griffe_, or stamp, not by the King's pen and hand. He would not leave London. He fought de Guerchy with every kind of arm, accused him of suborning an assassin, published private letters and his own version of the affair, fled from a charge of libel, could not be extradited (by virtue of what MM. Homberg and Jousselin call 'the law of _Home Rule_!'), fortified his house, and went armed. Probably there really were designs to kidnap him, just as a regular plot was laid for the kidnapping of de la Motte, at Newcastle, after the affair of the Diamond Necklace. In 1752 a Marquis de Fratteau was collared by a sham marshal court officer, put on board a boat at Gravesend, and carried to the Bastille!
D'Eon, under charge of libel, lived a fugitive and cloistered
existence till the man who, he says, was to have assassinated him, de Vergy, sought his alliance, and accused de Guerchy of having suborned him to murder the little daredevil. A grand jury brought in a true bill against the French ambassador, and the ambassador's butler, accused of having drugged d'Eon, fled. But the English Government, by aid of what the Duc de Broglie calls a _noli prosequi_ (_nolle_ being usual), tided over a difficulty of the gravest kind. The granting of the _nolle prosequi_ is denied. The ambassador was mobbed and took leave of absence, and Louis XV., through de Broglie, offered to d'Eon terms humiliating to a king. The Chevalier finally gave up the warrant for his secret mission in exchange for a pension of 12,000 livres, but he retained all other secret correspondence and plans of invasion. As for de Guerchy, he resigned (1767), and presently died of sheer annoyance, while his enemy, the Chevalier, stayed in England as London correspondent of Louis XV. He reported, in 1766, that Lord Bute was a Jacobite, and de Broglie actually took seriously the chance of restoring, by Bute's aid, Charles III., who had just succeeded, by the death of the Old Chevalier, to 'a kingdom not of this world.'
The death of Louis XV., in 1774, brought the folly of the secret policy to an end, but in the same year rumours about d'Eon's dubious sex appeared in the English newspapers on the occasion of his book, _Les Loisirs du Chevalier d'Eon_, published at Amsterdam. Bets on his sex were made, and d'Eon beat some bookmakers with his stick. But he persuaded Drouet, an envoy from France, that the current stories were true, and this can only be explained, if explained at all, by his perception of the fact that, his secret employment being gone, he felt the need of an advertisement. Overtures for the return of the secret papers were again made to d'Eon, but he insisted on the restoration of his diplomatic rank, and on receiving 14,000_l._ on account of expenses. He had aimed too high, however, and was glad to come to a compromise with the famous Beaumarchais. The extraordinary bargain was struck that d'Eon, for a consideration, should yield the secret papers, and, to avoid a duel with the son of de Guerchy, and the consequent scandal, should pretend to be a woman, and wear the dress of that sex. In his new capacity he might return to France and wear the cross of the Order of St. Louis.
Beaumarchais was as thoroughly taken in as any dupe in his own comedies. In d'Eon he 'saw a blushing spinster, a kind of Jeanne d'Arc of the eighteenth century, pining for the weapons and uniform of the martial sex, but yielding her secret, and forsaking her arms, in the interest of her King. On the other side the blushless captain of dragoons listened, with downcast eyes, to the sentimental compliments of Beaumarchais, and suffered himself, without a smile, to be compared to the Maid of Orleans,' says the Duc de Broglie. 'Our manners are obviously softened,' wrote Voltaire. 'D'Eon is a Pucelle d'Orleans who has not been burned.' To de Broglie, d'Eon described himself as 'the most unfortunate of unfortunate females!' D'Eon returned to France, where he found himself but a nine days' wonder. It was observed that this _pucelle_ too obviously shaved; that in the matter of muscular development she was a little Hercules; that she ran upstairs taking four steps at a stride; that her hair, like that of Jeanne d'Arc, was _coupe en rond_, of a military shortness; and that she wore the shoes of men, with low heels, while she spoke like a grenadier! At first d'Eon had all the social advertisement which was now his one desire, but he became a nuisance, and, by his quarrels with Beaumarchais, a scandal. In drawing-room plays he acted his English adventures with the great play-writer, whose part was highly ridiculous. Now d'Eon pretended to desire to 'take the veil' as a nun, now to join the troops being sent to America. He was consigned to retreat in the Castle of Dijon (1779); he had become a weariness to official mankind. He withdrew (1781-85) to privacy at Tonnerre, and then returned to London in the semblance of a bediamonded old dame, who, after dinner, did not depart with the ladies. He took part in fencing matches with great success, and in 1791 his library was sold at Christie's, with his swords and jewels. The catalogue bears the motto, from Juvenal,Quale decus rerum, si virginis auctio fiat,
no doubt selected by the learned little man. The snuff-box of the Empress Elizabeth, a gift to the diplomatist of 1756, fetched 2_l._ 13_s._ 6_d._! The poor old boy was badly hurt at a fencing match in his sixty-eighth year, and henceforth lived retired from arms in the house of a Mrs. Cole, an object of charity. He might have risen to the highest places if discretion had been among his gifts, and his career proves the _quantula sapientia_ of the French Government before the Revolution. In no other time or country could 'the King's Secret' have run a course far more incredible than even the story of the Chevalier d'Eon.
Among the best brief masterpieces of fiction are Lytton's _The Haunters and the Haunted_, and Thackeray's _Notch on the Axe_ in _Roundabout Papers_. Both deal with a mysterious being who passes through the ages, rich, powerful, always behind the scenes, coming no man knows whence, and dying, or pretending to die, obscurely--you never find authentic evidence of his decease. In other later times, at other courts, such an one reappears and runs the same course of luxury, marvel, and hidden potency.
Lytton returned to and elaborated his idea in the Margrave of _A Strange Story_, who has no 'soul,' and prolongs his physical and intellectual life by means of an elixir. Margrave is not bad, but he is inferior to the hero, less elaborately designed, of _The Haunters and the Haunted_. Thackeray's tale is written in a tone of mock mysticism, but he confesses that he likes his own story, in which the strange hero, through all his many lives or reappearances, and through all the countless loves on which he fatuously plumes himself, retains a slight German-Jewish accent.
It appears to me that the historic original of these romantic characters is no other than the mysterious Comte de Saint-Germain--not, of course, the contemporary and normal French soldier and minister, of 1707-1778, who bore the same name. I have found the name, with dim allusions, in the unpublished letters and MSS. of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, and have not always been certain whether the reference was to the man of action or to the man of mystery. On the secret of the latter, the deathless one, I have no new light to throw, and only speak of him for a single reason. Aristotle assures us, in his _Poetics_, that the best known myths dramatised on the Athenian stage were known to very few of the Athenian audience. It is not impossible that the story of Saint-Germain, though it seems as familiar as the myth of Oedipus or Thyestes, may, after all, not be vividly present to the memory of every reader. The omniscient Larousse, of the _Dictionnaire Universel_, certainly did not know one very accessible fact about Saint-Germain, nor have I seen it mentioned in other versions of his legend. We read, in Larousse, 'Saint-Germain is not heard of in France before 1750, when he established himself in Paris. No adventure had called attention to his existence; it was only known that he had moved about Europe, lived in Italy, Holland, and in England, and had borne the names of Marquis de Montferrat and of Comte de Bellamye, which he used at Venice.'
Lascelles Wraxall, again, in _Remarkable Adventures_ (1863), says: 'Whatever truth there may be in Saint-Germain's travels in England and the East Indies, it is indubitable that, for from 1745 to 1755, he was a man of high position in Vienna,' while in Paris he does not appear, according to Wraxall, till 1757, having been brought from Germany by the Marechal de Belle-Isle, whose 'old boots,' says Macallester the spy, Prince Charles freely damned, 'because they were always stuffed with projects.' Now we hear of Saint-Germain, by that name, as resident, not in Vienna, but in London, at the very moment when Prince Charles, evading Cumberland, who lay with his army at Stone, in Staffordshire, marched to Derby. Horace Walpole writes to Mann in Florence (December 9, 1745):
'We begin to take up people ... the other day they seized an odd man who goes by the name of Count Saint-Germain. He has been here these two years, and will not tell who he is, or whence, but professes that he does not go by his right name. He sings, plays on the violin wonderfully, composes, is mad, and not very sensible. He is called an Italian, a Spaniard, a Pole; a somebody that married a great fortune in Mexico, and ran away with her jewels to Constantinople; a priest, a fiddler, a vast nobleman. The Prince of Wales has had unsatiated curiosity about him, but in vain. However, nothing has been made out against him; he is released, and, what convinces me he is not a gentleman, stays here, and talks of his being taken up for a spy.'
Here is our earliest authentic note on Saint-Germain; a note omitted by his French students. He was in London from 1743 to 1745, under a name not his own, but that which he later bore at the Court of France. From the allusion to his jewels (those of a deserted Mexican bride?), it appears that he was already as rich in these treasures as he was afterwards, when his French acquaintances marvelled at them. As to his being 'mad,' Walpole may refer to Saint-Germain's way of talking as if he had lived in remote ages, and known famous people of the past.
Having caught this daylight glimpse of Saint-Germain in Walpole, having learned that in December 1745 he was arrested and examined as a possible Jacobite agent, we naturally expect to find contemporary official documents about his examination by the Government. Scores of such records exist, containing the questions put to, and the answers given by, suspected persons. But we vainly hunt through the Newcastle MSS. and the State Papers, Domestic, in the Record Office, for a trace of the examination of Saint-Germain. I am not aware that he has anywhere left his trail in official documents; he lives in more or less legendary memoirs, alone.
At what precise date Saint-Germain became an intimate of Louis XV., the Duc de Choiseul, Madame de Pompadour, and the Marechal de Belle-Isle, one cannot ascertain. The writers of memoirs are the vaguest of mortals about dates; only one discerns that Saint-Germain was much about the French Court, and high in the favour of the King, having rooms at Chambord, during the Seven Years' War, and just before the time of the peace negotiations of 1762-1763. The art of compiling false or forged memoirs of that period was widely practised; but the memoirs of Madame du Hausset, who speaks of Saint-Germain, are authentic. She was the widow of a poor man of noble family, and was one of two _femmes de chambre_ of Madame de Pompadour. Her manuscript was written, she explains, by aid of a brief diary which she kept during her term of service. One day M. Senac de Meilhan found Madame de Pompadour's brother, M. de Marigny, about to burn a packet of papers. 'It is the journal,' he said, 'of a _femme de chambre_ of my sister, a good kind woman.' De Meilhan asked for the manuscript, which he later gave to Mr. Crawford, one of the Kilwinning family, in Ayrshire, who later helped in the escape of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette to Varennes, where they were captured. With the journal of Madame du Hausset were several letters to Marigny on points of historical anecdote.
[Footnote 45: One of these gives Madame de Vieux-Maison as the author of a _roman a clef_, _Secret Memoirs of the Court of Persia_, which contains an early reference to the Man in the Iron Mask (died 1703). The letter-writer avers that D'Argenson, the famous minister of Louis XV., said that the Man in the Iron Mask was really a person _fort peu de chose_, 'of very little account,' and that the Regent d'Orleans was of the same opinion. This corroborates my theory, that the Mask was merely the valet of a Huguenot conspirator, Roux de Marsilly, captured in England, and imprisoned because he was supposed to know some terrible secret--which he knew nothing about. See _The Valet's Tragedy_, Longmans, 1903.]
Crawford published the manuscript of Madame du Hausset, which he was given by de Meilhan, and the memoirs are thus from an authentic source. The author says that Louis XV. was always kind to her, but spoke little to her, whereas Madame de Pompadour remarked, 'The King and I trust you so much that we treat you like a cat or a dog, and talk freely before you.'
As to Saint-Germain, Madame du Hausset writes: 'A man who was as amazing as a witch came often to see Madame de Pompadour. This was the Comte de Saint-Germain, who wished to make people believe that he had lived for several centuries. One day Madame said to him, while at her toilet, "What sort of man was Francis I., a king whom I could have loved?" "A good sort of fellow," said Saint-Germain; "too fiery--I could have given him a useful piece of advice, but he would not have listened." He then described, in very general terms, the beauty of Mary Stuart and La Reine Margot. "You seem to have seen them all," said Madame de Pompadour, laughing. "Sometimes," said Saint-Germain, "I amuse myself, not by making people believe, but by letting them believe, that I have lived from time immemorial." "But you do not tell us your age, and you give yourself out as very old. Madame de Gergy, who was wife of the French ambassador at Venice fifty years ago, I think, says that she knew you there, and that you are not changed in the least." "It is true, madame, that I knew Madame de Gergy long ago." "But according to her story you must now be over a century old." "It may be so, but I admit that even more possibly the respected lady is in her dotage."'
At this time Saint-Germain, says Madame du Hausset, looked about fifty, was neither thin nor stout, seemed clever, and dressed simply, as a rule, but in good taste. Say that the date was 1760,
Saint-Germain looked fifty; but he had looked the same age, according to Madame de Gergy, at Venice, fifty years earlier, in 1710. We see how pleasantly he left Madame de Pompadour in doubt on that point.
He pretended to have the secret of removing flaws from diamonds. The King showed him a stone valued at 6,000 francs--without a flaw it would have been worth 10,000. Saint-Germain said that he could remove the flaw in a month, and in a month he brought back the
diamond--flawless. The King sent it, without any comment, to his jeweller, who gave 9,600 francs for the stone, but the King returned the money, and kept the gem as a curiosity. Probably it was not the original stone, but another cut in the same fashion, Saint-Germain sacrificing 3,000 or 4,000 francs to his practical joke. He also said that he could increase the size of pearls, which he could have proved very easily--in the same manner. He would not oblige Madame de Pompadour by giving the King an elixir of life: 'I should be mad if I gave the King a drug.' There seems to be a reference to this desire of Madame de Pompadour in an unlikely place, a letter of Pickle the Spy to Mr. Vaughn (1754)! This conversation Madame du Hausset wrote down on the day of its occurrence.
Both Louis XV. and Madame de Pompadour treated Saint-Germain as a person of consequence. 'He is a quack, for he says he has an elixir,' said Dr. Quesnay, with medical scepticism. 'Moreover, our master, the King, is obstinate; he sometimes speaks of Saint-Germain as a person of illustrious birth.'
The age was sceptical, unscientific, and, by reaction, credulous. The _philosophes_, Hume, Voltaire, and others, were exposing, like an ingenious American gentleman, 'the mistakes of Moses.' The Earl Marischal told Hume that life had been chemically produced in a laboratory, so what becomes of Creation? Prince Charles, hidden in a convent, was being tutored by Mlle. Luci in the sensational philosophy of Locke, 'nothing in the intellect which does not come through the senses'--a queer theme for a man of the sword to study. But, thirty years earlier, the Regent d'Orleans had made crystal-gazing fashionable, and stories of ghosts and second-sight in the highest circles were popular. Mesmer had not yet appeared, to give a fresh start to the old savage practice of hypnotism; Cagliostro was not yet on the scene with his free-masonry of the ancient Egyptian school. But people were already in extremes of doubt and of belief; there might be something in the elixir of life and in the philosopher's stone; it might be possible to make precious stones chemically, and Saint-Germain, who seemed to be over a century old at least, might have all these secrets.
Whence came his wealth in precious stones, people asked, unless from some mysterious knowledge, or some equally mysterious and illustrious birth?
He showed Madame de Pompadour a little box full of rubies, topazes, and diamonds. Madame de Pompadour called Madame du Hausset to look at them; she was dazzled, but sceptical, and made a sign to show that she thought them paste. The Count then exhibited a superb ruby, tossing aside contemptuously a cross covered with gems. 'That is not so contemptible,' said Madame du Hausset, hanging it round her neck. The Count begged her to keep the jewel; she refused, and Madame de Pompadour backed her refusal. But Saint-Germain insisted, and Madame de Pompadour, thinking that the cross might be worth forty louis, made a sign to Madame du Hausset that she should accept. She did, and the jewel was valued at 1,500 francs--which hardly proves that the other large jewels were genuine, though Von Gleichen believed that they were, and thought the Count's cabinet of old masters very valuable.
The fingers, the watch, the snuff-box, the shoe buckles, the garter studs, the solitaires of the Count, on high days, all burned with diamonds and rubies, which were estimated, one day, at 200,000 francs. His wealth did not come from cards or swindling--no such charges are ever hinted at; he did not sell elixirs, nor prophecies, nor
initiations. His habits do not seem to have been extravagant. One might regard him as a clever eccentric person, the unacknowledged child, perhaps, of some noble, who had put his capital mainly into precious stones. But Louis XV. treated him as a serious personage, and probably knew, or thought he knew, the secret of his birth. People held that he was a bastard of a king of Portugal, says Madame du Hausset. Perhaps the most ingenious and plausible theory of the birth of Saint-Germain makes him the natural son, not of a king of Portugal, but of a queen of Spain. The evidence is not evidence, but a series of surmises. Saint-Germain, on this theory, 'wrop his buth up in a mistry' (like that of Charles James Fitzjames de la Pluche), out of regard for the character of his royal mamma. I believe this about as much as I believe that a certain Rev. Mr. Douglas, an obstreperous Covenanting minister, was a descendant of the captive Mary Stuart. However, Saint-Germain is said, like Kaspar Hauser, to have murmured of dim memories of his infancy, of diversions on magnificent terraces, and of palaces glowing beneath an azure sky. This is reported by Von Gleichen, who knew him very well, but thought him rather a quack. Possibly he meant to convey the idea that he was Moses, and that he had dwelt in the palaces of the Ramessids. The grave of the prophet was never known, and Saint-Germain may have insinuated that he began a new avatar in a cleft of Mount Pisgah; he was capable of it.
However, a less wild surmise avers that, in 1763 the secrets of his birth and the source of his opulence were known in Holland. The authority is the 'Memoirs' of Grosley (1813). Grosley was an archaeologist of Troyes; he had travelled in Italy, and written an account of his travels; he also visited Holland and England, and later, from a Dutchman, he picked up his information about Saint-Germain. Grosley was a Fellow of our Royal Society, and I greatly revere the authority of a F.R.S. His later years were occupied in the compilation of his Memoirs, including an account of what he did and heard in Holland, and he died in 1785. According to Grosley's account of what the Dutchman knew, Saint-Germain was the son of a princess who fled (obviously from Spain) to Bayonne, and of a Portuguese Jew dwelling in Bordeaux.[Footnote 46: _Voyage en Angleterre_, 1770.]
What fairy and fugitive princess can this be, whom not in vain the ardent Hebrew wooed? She was, she must have been, as Grosley saw, the heroine of Victor Hugo's _Ruy Blas_. The unhappy Charles II. of Spain, a kind of 'mammet' (as the English called the Richard II. who appeared up in Islay, having escaped from Pomfret Castle), had for his first wife a daughter of Henrietta, the favourite sister of our Charles II. This childless bride, after some ghostly years of matrimony, after being exorcised in disgusting circumstances, died in February 1689. In May 1690 a new bride, Marie de Neubourg, was brought to the grisly side of the crowned mammet of Spain. She, too, failed to prevent the wars of the Spanish Succession by giving an heir to the Crown of Spain. Scandalous chronicles aver that Marie was chosen as Queen of Spain for the levity of her character, and that the Crown was expected, as in the Pictish monarchy, to descend on the female side; the father of the prince might be anybody. What was needed was simply a son of the _Queen_ of Spain. She had, while Queen, no son, as far as is ascertained, but she had a favourite, a Count Andanero, whom she made minister of finance. 'He was not a born Count,' he was a financier, this favourite of the Queen of Spain. That lady did go to live in Bayonne in 1706, six years after the death of Charles II., her husband. The hypothesis is, then, that Saint-Germain was the son of this ex-Queen of Spain, and of the financial Count, Andanero, a man, 'not born in the sphere of Counts,' and easily transformed by tradition into a Jewish banker of Bordeaux. The Duc de Choiseul, who disliked the intimacy of Louis XV. and of the Court with
Saint-Germain, said that the Count was 'the son of a Portuguese Jew, _who deceives the Court_. It is strange that the King is so often allowed to be almost alone with this man, though, when he goes out, he is surrounded by guards, as if he feared assassins everywhere.' This anecdote is from the 'Memoirs' of Gleichen, who had seen a great deal of the world. He died in 1807.
It seems a fair inference that the Duc de Choiseul knew what the Dutch bankers knew, the story of the Count's being a child of a princess retired to Bayonne--namely, the ex-Queen of Spain--and of a Portuguese-Hebrew financier. De Choiseul was ready to accept the Jewish father, but thought that, in the matter of the royal mother, Saint-Germain 'deceived the Court.'
A queen of Spain might have carried off any quantity of the diamonds of Brazil. The presents of diamonds from her almost idiotic lord must have been among the few comforts of her situation in a Court overridden by etiquette. The reader of Madame d'Aulnoy's contemporary account of the Court of Spain knows what a dreadful dungeon it was. Again, if born at Bayonne about 1706, the Count would naturally seem to be about fifty in 1760. The purity with which he spoke German, and his familiarity with German princely Courts--where I do not remember that Barry Lyndon ever met him--are easily accounted for if he had a royal German to his mother. But, alas! if he was the son of a Hebrew financier, Portuguese or Alsatian (as some said), he was likely, whoever his mother may have been, to know German, and to be fond of precious stones. That Oriental taste notoriously abides in the hearts of the Chosen People.Nay, never shague your gory locks at me, Dou canst not say I did it.
quotes Pinto, the hero of Thackeray's _Notch on the Axe_. 'He pronounced it, by the way, I _dit_ it, by which I _know_ that Pinto was a German,' says Thackeray. I make little doubt but that Saint-Germain, too, was a German, whether by the mother's side, and of princely blood, or quite the reverse.
Grosley mixes Saint-Germain up with a lady as mysterious as himself, who also lived in Holland, on wealth of an unknown source, and Grosley inclines to think that the Count found his way into a French prison, where he was treated with extraordinary respect.
Von Gleichen, on the other hand, shows the Count making love to a daughter of Madame Lambert, and lodging in the house of the mother. Here Von Gleichen met the man of mystery and became rather intimate with him. Von Gleichen deemed him very much older than he looked, but did not believe in his elixir.
In any case, he was not a cardsharper, a swindler, a professional medium, or a spy. He passed many evenings almost alone with Louis XV., who, where men were concerned, liked them to be of good family (about ladies he was much less exclusive). The Count had a grand manner; he treated some great personages in a cavalier way, as if he were at least their equal. On the whole, if not really the son of a princess, he probably persuaded Louis XV. that he did come of that blue blood, and the King would have every access to authentic information. Horace Walpole's reasons for thinking Saint-Germain 'not a gentleman' scarcely seem convincing.
The Duc de Choiseul did not like the fashionable Saint-Germain. He thought him a humbug, even when the doings of the deathless one were perfectly harmless. As far as is known, his recipe for health consisted in drinking a horrible mixture called 'senna tea'--which was administered to small boys when I was a small boy--and in not drinking anything at his meals. Many people still observe this regimen, in the interest, it is said, of their figures. Saint-Germain used to come to the house of de Choiseul, but one day, when Von Gleichen was present, the minister lost his temper with his wife. He observed that she took no wine at dinner, and told her she had learned that habit of abstinence from Saint-Germain; that _he_ might do as he pleased, 'but you, madame, whose health is precious to me, I forbid to imitate the regimen of such a dubious character.' Gleichen, who tells the anecdote, says that he was present when de Choiseul thus lost his temper with his wife. The dislike of de Choiseul had a mournful effect on the career of Saint-Germain.
In discussing the strange story of the Chevalier d'Eon, we have seen that Louis XV. amused himself by carrying on a secret scheme of fantastic diplomacy through subordinate agents, behind the backs and without the knowledge of his responsible ministers. The Duc de Choiseul, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, was excluded, it seems, from all knowledge of these double intrigues, and the Marechal de Belle-Isle, Minister of War, was obviously kept in the dark, as was Madame de Pompadour. Now it is stated by Von Gleichen that the Marechal de Belle-Isle, from the War Office, started a _new_ secret diplomacy behind the back of de Choiseul, at the Foreign Office. The King and Madame de Pompadour (who was not initiated into the general scheme of the King's secret) were both acquainted with what de Choiseul was not to know--namely, Belle-Isle's plan for secretly making peace through the mediation, or management, at all events, of Holland. All this must have been prior to the death of the Marechal de Belle-Isle in 1761; and probably de Broglie, who managed the regular old secret policy of Louis XV., knew nothing about this new clandestine adventure; at all events, the late Duc de Broglie says nothing about it in his book _The King's Secret_.[Footnote 47: The Duc de Broglie, I am privately informed, could find no clue to the mystery of Saint-Germain.]
The story, as given by Von Gleichen, goes on to say that Saint-Germain offered to conduct the intrigue at the Hague. As Louis XV. certainly allowed that maidenly captain of dragoons, d'Eon, to manage his hidden policy in London, it is not at all improbable that he really entrusted this fresh cabal in Holland to Saint-Germain, whom he admitted to great intimacy. To the Hague went Saint-Germain, diamonds, rubies, senna tea, and all, and began to diplomatise with the Dutch. But the regular French minister at the Hague, d'Affry, found out what was going on behind his back--found it out either because he was sharper than other ambassadors, or because a personage so extraordinary as Saint-Germain was certain to be very closely watched, or because the Dutch did not take to the Undying One, and told d'Affry what he was doing. D'Affry wrote to de Choiseul. An immortal but dubious personage, he said, was treating, in the interests of France, for peace, which it was d'Affry's business to do if the thing was to be done at all. Choiseul replied in a rage by the same courier. Saint-Germain, he said, must be extradited, bound hand and foot, and sent to the Bastille. Choiseul thought that he might practise his regimen and drink his senna tea, to the advantage of public affairs, within those venerable walls. Then the angry minister went to the King, told him what orders he had given, and said that, of course, in a case of this kind it was superfluous to inquire as to the royal pleasure. Louis XV. was caught; so was the Marechal de Belle-Isle. They blushed and were silent.
It must be remembered that this report of a private incident could only come to the narrator, Von Gleichen, from de Choiseul, with whom he professes to have been intimate. The King and the Marechal de Belle-Isle would not tell the story of their own discomfiture. It is not very likely that de Choiseul himself would blab. However, the anecdote avers that the King and the Minister for War thought it best to say nothing, and the demand for Saint-Germain's extradition was presented at the Hague. But the Dutch were not fond of giving up political offenders. They let Saint-Germain have a hint; he slipped over to London, and a London paper published a kind of veiled interview with him in June 1760.
His name, we read, when announced after his death, will astonish the world more than all the marvels of his life. He has been in England already (1743-17--?); he is a great unknown. Nobody can accuse him of anything dishonest or dishonourable. When he was here before we were all mad about music, and so he enchanted us with his violin. But Italy knows him as an expert in the plastic arts, and Germany admires in him a master in chemical science. In France, where he was supposed to possess the secret of the transmutation of metals, the police for two years sought and failed to find any normal source of his opulence. A lady of forty-five once swallowed a whole bottle of his elixir. Nobody recognised her, for she had become a girl of sixteen without observing the transformation!
Saint-Germain is said to have remained in London but for a short period. Horace Walpole does not speak of him again, which is odd, but probably the Count did not again go into society. Our information, mainly from Von Gleichen, becomes very misty, a thing of surmises, really worthless. The Count is credited with a great part in the palace conspiracies of St. Petersburg; he lived at Berlin, and, under the name of Tzarogy, at the Court of the Margrave of Anspach. Thence he went, they say, to Italy, and then north to the Landgrave, Charles of Hesse, who dabbled in alchemy. Here he is said to have died about 1780-85, leaving his papers to the Landgrave; but all is very vague after he disappeared from Paris in 1760. When next I meet Saint-Germain he is again at Paris, again mysteriously rich, again he rather disappears than dies, he calls himself Major Fraser, and the date is in the last years of Louis Philippe. My authority may be cavilled at; it is that of the late ingenious Mr. Van Damme, who describes Major Fraser in a book on the characters of the Second Empire. He does not seem to have heard of Saint-Germain, whom he does not mention.
Major Fraser, 'in spite of his English (_sic_) name, was decidedly not English, though he spoke the language.' He was (like Saint-Germain) 'one of the best dressed men of the period.... He lived alone, and never alluded to his parentage. He was always flush of money, though the sources of his income were a mystery to every one.' The French police vainly sought to detect the origin of Saint-Germain's supplies, opening his letters at the post-office. Major Fraser's knowledge of every civilised country at every period was marvellous, though he had very few books. 'His memory was something prodigious.... Strange to say, he used often to hint that his was no mere book knowledge. '"Of course, it is perfectly ridiculous,"' he remarked, with a strange smile, '"but every now and then I feel as if this did not come to me from reading, but from personal experience. At times I become almost convinced that I lived with Nero, that I knew Dante personally, and so forth."' At the major's death not a letter was found giving a clue to his antecedents, and no money was discovered. _Did_ he die? As in the case of Saint-Germain, no date is given. The author had an idea that the major was 'an illegitimate son of some exalted person' of the period of Charles IV. and Ferdinand VII. of Spain.[Footnote 48: _An Englishman in Paris_, vol. i. pp. 130-133. London 1892.]
The author does not mention Saint-Germain, and may never have heard of him. If his account of Major Fraser is not mere romance, in that warrior we have the undying friend of Louis XV. and Madame de Pompadour. He had drunk at Medmenham with Jack Wilkes; as Riccio he had sung duets with the fairest of unhappy queens; he had extracted from Blanche de Bechamel the secret of Goby de Mouchy. As Pinto, he told much of his secret history to Mr. Thackeray, who says: 'I am rather sorry to lose him after three little bits of _Roundabout Papers_.'
Did Saint-Germain really die in a palace of Prince Charles of Hesse about 1780-85? Did he, on the other hand, escape from the French prison where Grosley thought he saw him, during the French Revolution? Was he known to Lord Lytton about 1860? Was he then Major Fraser? Is he the mysterious Muscovite adviser of the Dalai Lama? Who knows? He is a will-o'-the-wisp of the memoir-writers of the eighteenth century. Whenever you think you have a chance of finding him in good authentic State papers, he gives you the slip; and if his existence were not vouched for by Horace Walpole, I should incline to deem of him as Betsy Prig thought of Mrs. Harris.
NOTE.--Since the publication of these essays I have learned, through the courtesy of a Polish nobleman, that there was nothing mysterious in the origin and adventures of the Major Fraser mentioned in pp. 274-276. He was of the Saltoun family, and played a part in the civil wars of Spain during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Major Fraser was known, in Paris, to the father of my Polish
No historical problem has proved more perplexing to Englishmen than the nature of the differences between the various Kirks in Scotland. The Southron found that, whether he worshipped in a church of the Established Kirk ('The Auld Kirk'), of the Free Church, or of the United Presbyterian Church (the U.P.'s), it was all the same thing. The nature of the service was exactly similar, though sometimes the congregation stood at prayers, and sat when it sang; sometimes stood when it sang and knelt at prayer. Not one of the Kirks used a prescribed liturgy. I have been in a Free Kirk which had no pulpit; the pastor stood on a kind of raised platform, like a lecturer in a lecture-room, but that practice is unessential. The Kirks, if I mistake not, have different collections of hymns, which, till recent years, were contemned as 'things of human invention,' and therefore 'idolatrous.' But hymns are now in use, as also are organs, or harmoniums, or other musical instruments. Thus the faces of the Kirks are similar and sisterly:Facies non omnibus una Nec diversa tamen, qualem decet esse sororum.
What, then, the Southron used to ask, _is_ the difference between the Free Church, the Established Church, and the United Presbyterian Church? If the Southron put the question to a Scottish friend, the odds were that the Scottish friend could not answer. He might be a member of the Scottish 'Episcopal' community, and as ignorant as any Anglican. Or he might not have made these profound studies in Scottish history, which throw glimmerings of light on this obscure subject.
Indeed, the whole aspect of the mystery has shifted, of late, like the colours in a kaleidoscope. The more conspicuous hues are no longer 'Auld Kirk,' 'Free Kirk,' and 'U.P.'s,' but 'Auld Kirk,' 'Free Kirk,' and 'United Free Kirk.' The United Free Kirk was composed in 1900 of the old 'United Presbyterians' (as old as 1847), with the overwhelming majority of the old Free Kirk, while the Free Kirk, of the present moment, consists of a tiny minority of the old Free Kirk, which declined to join the recent union. By a judgment (one may well call it a 'judgment') of the House of Lords (August 1, 1904), the Free Kirk, commonly called 'The Wee Frees,' now possesses the wealth that was the old Free Kirk's before, in 1900, it united with the United
Presbyterians, and became the United Free Church. It is to be hoped that common sense will discover some 'outgait,' or issue, from this distressing imbroglio. In the words which Mr. R.L. Stevenson, then a sage of twenty-four, penned in 1874, we may say 'Those who are at all open to a feeling of national disgrace look forward eagerly to such a possibility; they have been witnesses already too long to the strife that has divided this small corner of Christendom.' The eternal schisms of the Kirk, said R.L.S., exhibit 'something pitiful for the pitiful man, but bitterly humorous for others.'
The humour of the present situation is only too manifest. Two generations ago about half of the ministers of the Kirk of Scotland left their manses and pleasant glebes for the sake of certain ideas. Of these ideas they abandoned some, or left them in suspense, a few years since, and, as a result, they have lost, if only for the moment, their manses, stipends, colleges, and pleasant glebes.
Why should all these things be so? The answer can only be found in the history--and a history both sad and bitterly humorous it is--of the Reformation in Scotland. When John Knox died, on November 24, 1572, a decent burgess of Edinburgh wrote in his Diary, 'John Knox, minister, deceased, who had, as was alleged, the most part of the blame of all the sorrows of Scotland, since the slaughter of the late Cardinal,' Beaton, murdered at St. Andrews in 1546. 'The sorrows of Scotland' had endured when Knox died for but twenty-six years. Since his death, 332 years have gone by, and the present sorrows of the United Free Kirk are the direct, though distant, result of some of the ideas of John Knox.
The whole trouble springs from his peculiar notions, and the notions of his followers, about the relations between Church and State. In 1843, half the ministers of the Established Kirk in Scotland, or more, left the Kirk, and went into the wilderness for what they believed to be the ideal of Knox. In 1904 they have again a prospect of a similar exodus, because they are no longer rigid adherents of the very same ideal! A tiny minority of some twenty-seven ministers clings to what it considers to be the Knoxian ideal, and is rewarded by all the wealth bestowed on the Free Kirk by pious benefactors during sixty years.
The quarrel, for 344 years (1560-1904), has been, we know, about the relations of Church and State. The disruption of 1843, the departure of the Free Kirk out of the Established Kirk, arose thus, according to Lord Macnaghten, who gave one of the two opinions in favour of the United Free Kirk's claim to the possessions held by the Free Kirk before its union, in 1900, with the United Presbyterians. Before 1843, there were, says the sympathetic judge, two parties in the Established Church--the 'Moderates' and the 'Evangelicals' (also called 'The Wild Men', 'the Highland Host' or the 'High Flyers'). The Evangelicals became the majority and 'they carried matters with a high hand. They passed Acts in the Assembly ... altogether beyond the competence of a Church established by law.... The State refused to admit their claims. The strong arm of the law restrained their extravagancies. Still they maintained that their proceedings were justified, and required by the doctrine of the Headship of Christ ... to which they attached peculiar and extraordinary significance.'
Now the State, in 1838-1843, could not and would not permit these 'extravagancies' in a State-paid Church. The Evangelical party therefore seceded, maintaining, as one of their leaders said, that 'we are still the Church of Scotland, the only Church that deserves the name, the only Church that can be known and recognised by the maintaining of those principles to which the Church of our fathers was true when she was on the mountain and on the field, when she was under persecution, when she was an outcast from the world.'
Thus the Free Kirk was _the_ Kirk, and the Established Kirk was heretical, was what Knox would have called 'ane rottin Laodicean.' Now the fact is that the Church of Scotland had been, since August 1560, a Kirk established by law (or by what was said to be a legal Parliament), yet had never, perhaps, for an hour attained its own full ideal relation to the State; had never been granted its entire claims, but only so much or so little of these as the political situation compelled the State to concede, or enabled it to withdraw. There had always been members of the Kirk who claimed all that the Free Kirk claimed in 1843; but they never got quite as much as they asked; they often got much less than they wanted; and the full sum of their desires could be granted by no State to a State-paid Church. Entire independence could be obtained only by cutting the Church adrift from the State. The Free Kirk, then, did cut themselves adrift, but they kept on maintaining that they were _the_ Church of Scotland, and that the State _ought_ in duty to establish and maintain _them_, while granting them absolute independence.
The position was stated thus, in 1851, by an Act and Declaration of the Free Kirk's Assembly: 'She holds still, _and through God's grace ever will hold_, that it is the duty of civil rulers to recognise the truth of God according to His word, and to promote and support the Kingdom of Christ without assuming any jurisdiction in it, or any power over it....'The State, in fact, if we may speak carnally, ought to pay the piper, but must not presume to call the tune.
Now we touch the skirt of the mystery, what was the difference between the Free Kirk and the United Presbyterians, who, since 1900, have been blended with that body? The difference was that the Free Kirk held it to be the duty of the State to establish _her_, and leave her perfect independence; while the United Presbyterians maintained the absolutely opposite opinion--namely, that the State cannot, and must not, establish any Church, or pay any Church out of the national resources. When the two Kirks united, in 1900, then, the Free Kirk either abandoned the doctrine of which, in 1851, she said that 'she holds it still, and through God's grace ever will hold it,' or she regarded it as a mere pious opinion, which did not prevent her from coalescing with a Kirk of contradictory ideas. The tiny minority--the Wee Frees, the Free Kirk of to-day--would not accept this compromise, 'hence these tears,' to leave differences in purely metaphysical theology out of view.
Now the root of all the trouble, all the schisms and sufferings of more than three centuries, lies, as we have said, in some of the ideas of John Knox, and one asks, of what Kirk would John Knox be, if he were alive in the present state of affairs? I venture to think that the venerable Reformer would be found in the ranks of the Established Kirk, 'the Auld Kirk.' He would not have gone out into the wilderness in 1843, and he would most certainly have opposed the ideas of the United Presbyterians. This theory may surprise at a first glance, but it has been reached after many hours of earnest consideration.
Knox's ideas, as far as he ever reasoned them out, reposed on this impregnable rock, namely that Calvinism, as held by himself, was an absolutely certain thing in every detail. If the State or 'the civil magistrate,' as he put the case, entirely agreed with Knox, then Knox was delighted that the State should regulate religion. The magistrate was to put down Catholicism, and other aberrations from the truth as it was in John Knox, with every available engine of the law, corporal punishment, prison, exile, and death. If the State was ready and willing to do all this, then the State was to be implicitly obeyed in matters of religion, and the power in its hands was God-given--in fact, the State was the secular aspect of the Church. Looking at the State in this ideal aspect, Knox writes about the obedience due to the magistrate in matters religious, after the manner of what, in this country, would be called the fiercest 'Erastianism.' The State 'rules the roast' in all matters of religion and may do what Laud and Charles I. perished in attempting, may alter forms of worship--always provided that the State absolutely agrees with the Kirk.
Thus, under Edward VI., Knox would have desired the secular power in England, the civil magistrate, to forbid people to kneel at the celebration of the Sacrament. _That_ was entirely within the competence of the State, simply and solely because Knox desired that people should _not_ kneel. But when, long after Knox's death, the civil magistrate insisted, in Scotland, that people should kneel, the upholders of Knox's ideas denied that the magistrate (James VI.) had any right to issue such an order, and they refused to obey while remaining within the Established Church. They did not 'disrupt,' like the Free Church; they simply acted as they pleased, and denounced their obedient brethren as no 'lawful ministers.' The end of it all was that they stirred up the Civil War, in which the first shot was fired by the legendary Jenny Geddes, throwing her stool at the reader in St. Giles's. Thus we see that the State was to be obeyed in matters of religion, when the State did the bidding of the Kirk, and not otherwise. When first employed as a 'licensed preacher,' and agent of the State in England, Knox accepted just as much of the State's liturgy as he pleased; the liturgy ordered the people to kneel, Knox and his Berwick congregation disobeyed. With equal freedom, he and the other royal chaplains, at Easter, preaching before the King, denounced his ministers, Northumberland and the rest. Knox spoke of them in his sermon as Judas, Shebna, and some other scriptural malignants. Later he said that he repented having put things so mildly; he ought to have called the ministers by their names, not veiled things in a hint. Now we cannot easily conceive a chaplain of her late Majesty, in a sermon preached before her, denouncing the Chancellor of the Exchequer, say Mr. Gladstone, as 'Judas.' Yet Knox, a licensed preacher of a State Church, indulged his 'spiritual independence' to that extent, and took shame to himself that he had not gone further.
Obviously, if this is 'Erastianism,' it is of an unusual kind. The idea of Knox is that in a Catholic State the ruler is not to be obeyed in religious matters by the true believers; sometimes Knox wrote that the Catholic ruler ought to be met by 'passive resistance;' sometimes that he ought to be shot at sight. He stated these diverse doctrines in the course of eighteen months. In a Protestant country, the Catholics must obey the Protestant ruler, or take their chances of prison, exile, fire and death. The Protestant ruler, in a Protestant State, is to be obeyed, in spiritual matters, by Protestants, just as far as the Kirk may happen to approve of his proceedings, or even further, in practice, if there is no chance of successful resistance.
We may take it that Knox, if he had been alive and retained his old ideas in 1843, would not have gone out of the Established Church with the Free Church, because, in his time, he actually did submit to many State regulations of which he did not approve. For example, he certainly did not approve of bishops, and had no bishops in the Kirk as established on his model in 1560. But, twelve years later, bishops were reintroduced by the State, in the person of the Regent Morton, a ruffian, and Knox did not retire to 'the mountain and the fields,' but made the most practical efforts to get the best terms possible for the Kirk. He was old and outworn, and he remained in the Established Kirk, and advised no man to leave it. It was his theory, again, as it was that of the Free Kirk, that there should be no 'patronage,' no presentation of ministers to cures by the patron. The congregations were to choose and 'call' any properly qualified person, at their own pleasure, as they do now in all the Kirks, including (since 1874) the Established Church. But the State, in Knox's lifetime, overrode this privilege of the Church. The most infamous villain of the period, Archibald Douglas, was presented to the Kirk of Glasgow, and, indeed, the nobles made many such presentations of unscrupulous and ignorant cadets to important livings. Morton gave a bishopric to one of the murderers of Riccio! Yet Knox did not advise a secession; he merely advised that non-residence, or a scandalous life, or erroneous doctrine, on the part of the person presented, should make his presentation 'null and of no force or effect, and this to have place also in the nomination of the bishops.' Thus Knox was, on occasion, something of an opportunist. If alive in 1843, he would probably have remained in the Establishment, and worked for that abolition of 'patronage' which was secured, from within, in 1874. If this conjecture is right the Free Kirk was more Knoxian than John Knox, and departed from his standard. He was capable of sacrificing a good deal of 'spiritual independence' rather than break with the State. Many times, long after he was dead, the National Church, under stress of circumstances, accepted compromises.
Knox knew the difference between the ideal and the practical. It was the ideal that all non-convertible Catholics 'should die the death.' But the ideal was never made real; the State was not prepared to oblige the Kirk in this matter. It was the ideal that any of 'the brethren,' conscious of a vocation, and seeing a good opportunity, should treat an impenitent Catholic ruler as Jehu treated Jezebel. But if any brother had consulted Knox as to the propriety of assassinating Queen Mary, in 1561-67, he would have found out his mistake, and probably have descended the Reformer's stairs much more rapidly than he mounted them.
Yet Knox, though he could submit to compromise, really had a remarkably mystical idea of what the Kirk was, and of the attributes of her clergy. The editor of _The Free Church Union Case_, Mr. Taylor Innes (himself author of a biography of the Reformer), writes, in his preface to _The Judgment of the House of Lords_: 'The Church of Scotland, as a Protestant Church, had its origin in the year 1560, for its first Confession dates from August, and its first Assembly from December in that year.' In fact, the Confession was accepted and passed as law, by a very dubiously legal Convention of the Estates, in August 1560. But Knox certainly conceived that the Protestant Church _in_, if not _of_, Scotland existed a year before that date, and before that date it possessed 'the power of the Keys' and even, it would perhaps seem, 'the power of the Sword.' To his mind, as soon as a local set of men of his own opinions met, and chose a pastor and preacher, who also administered the Sacraments, the Protestant Church was 'a Church in being.' The Catholic Church, then by law established, was, Knox held, no Church at all; her priests were not 'lawful ministers,' her Pope was the man of Sin _ex officio_, and the Church was 'the Kirk of the malignants'--'a lady of pleasure in Babylon bred.'
On the other hand, the real Church--it might be of but 200 men--was confronting the Kirk of the malignants, and alone was genuine. The State did not make and could not unmake 'the Trew Church,' but was bound to establish, foster, _and obey it_.
It was this last proviso which caused 130 years of bloodshed and 'persecution' and general unrest in Scotland, from 1559 to 1690. Why was the Kirk so often out 'in the heather,' and hunted like a partridge on the field and the mountain? The answer is that when the wilder spirits of the Kirk were not being persecuted they were persecuting the State and bullying the individual subject. All this arose from Knox's idea of the Church. To constitute a Church no more was needed than a local set of Calvinistic Protestants and 'a lawful minister.' To constitute a lawful minister, at first (later far more was required), no more was needed than a 'call' to a preacher from a local set of Calvinistic Protestants. But, when once the 'call' was given and accepted, that 'lawful minister' was, by the theory, as superior to the laws of the State as the celebrated emperor was superior to grammar. A few 'lawful ministers' of this kind possessed 'the power of the Keys;' they could hand anybody over to Satan by excommunicating the man, and (apparently) they could present 'the power of the Sword' to any town council, which could then decree capital punishment against any Catholic priest who celebrated Mass, as, by the law of the State, he was in duty bound to do. Such were the moderate and reasonable claims of Knox's Kirk in May 1559, even before it was accepted by the Convention of Estates in August 1560. It was because, not the Church, but the wilder spirits among the ministers, persevered in these claims, that the State, when it got the chance, drove them into moors and mosses and hanged not a few of them.
I have never found these facts fully stated by any historian or by any biographer of Knox, except by the Reformer himself, partly in his _History_, partly in his letters to a lady of his acquaintance. The mystery of the Kirks turns on the Knoxian conception of the 'lawful minister,' and his claim to absolutism.
To give examples, Knox himself, about 1540-43, was 'a priest of the altar,' 'one of Baal's shaven sort.' On that score he later claimed nothing. After the murder of Cardinal Beaton, the murderers and their associates, forming a congregation in the Castle of St. Andrews, gave Knox a call to be their preacher. He was now 'a lawful minister.' In May 1559 he, with about four or five equally lawful ministers, two of them converted friars, one of them a baker, and one, Harlow, a tailor, were in company with their Protestant backers, who destroyed the monasteries in Perth, and the altars and ornaments of the church there. They at once claimed 'the power of the Keys,' and threatened to excommunicate such of their allies as did not join them in arms. They, 'the brethren,' also denounced capital punishment against any priest who celebrated Mass at Perth. Now the lawful ministers could not think of hanging the priests themselves. They must therefore have somehow bestowed 'the power of the Sword' on the baillies and town council of Perth, I presume, for the Regent, Mary of Guise, when she entered the town, dismissed these men from office, which was regarded as an unlawful and perfidious act on her part. Again, in the summer of 1560, the baillies of Edinburgh--while Catholicism was still by law established--denounced the death penalty against recalcitrant Catholics. The Kirk also allotted lawful ministers to several of the large towns, and thus established herself before she was established by the Estates in August 1560. Thus nothing could be more free, and more absolute, than the Kirk in her early bloom. On the other hand, as we saw, even in Knox's lifetime, the State, having the upper hand under the Regent Morton, a strong man, introduced prelacy of a modified kind and patronage; did not restore to the Kirk her 'patrimony,'--the lands of the old Church; and only hanged one priest, not improbably for a certain reason of a private character.
There was thus, from the first, a battle between the Protestant Church and State. At various times one preacher is said to have declared that he was the solitary 'lawful minister' in Scotland; and one of these men, Mr. Cargill, excommunicated Charles II.; while another, Mr. Renwick, denounced a war of assassination against the Government. Both gentlemen were hanged.
These were extreme assertions of 'spiritual independence,' and the Kirk, or at least the majority of the preachers, protested against such conduct, which might be the logical development of the doctrine of the 'lawful minister,' but was, in practice, highly inconvenient. The Kirk, as a whole, was loyal.
Sometimes the State, under a strong man like Morton, or James Stewart, Earl of Arran (a thoroughpaced ruffian), put down these pretensions of the Church. At other times, as when Andrew Melville led the Kirk, under James VI., she maintained that there was but one king in Scotland, Christ, and that the actual King, the lad, James VI., was but 'Christ's silly vassal.' He was supreme in temporal matters, but the judicature of the Church was supreme in spiritual matters.
This sounds perfectly fair, but who was to decide what matters were spiritual and what were temporal? The Kirk assumed the right to decide that question; consequently it could give a spiritual colour to any problem of statesmanship: for example, a royal marriage, trade with Catholic Spain, which the Kirk forbade, or the expulsion of the Catholic peers. 'There is a judgment above yours,' said the Rev. Mr. Pont to James VI., 'and that is God's; _put in the hand of the ministers_, for "we shall judge the angels," saith the apostle.' Again, '"Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones and judge"' (quoted Mr. Pont), 'which is chiefly referred to the apostles, and consequently to ministers.'
Things came to a head in 1596. The King asked the representatives of the Kirk whether he might call home certain earls, banished for being Catholics, if they 'satisfied the Kirk.' The answer was that he might not. Knox had long before maintained that 'a prophet' might preach treason (he is quite explicit), and that the prophet, and whoever carried his preaching into practical effect, would be blameless. A minister was accused, at this moment, of preaching libellously, and he declined to be judged except by men of his own cloth. If they acquitted him, as they were morally certain to do, what Court of Appeal could reverse the decision of men who claimed to 'judge angels'? A riot arose in Edinburgh, the King seized his opportunity, he grasped his nettle, the municipal authorities backed him, and, in effect, the claims of true ministers thenceforth gave little trouble till the folly of Charles I. led to the rise of the Covenant. The Sovereign had overshot his limits of power as wildly as ever the Kirk had tried to do, and the result was that the Kirk, having now the nobles and the people in arms on her side, was absolutely despotic for about twelve years. Her final triumph was to resist the Estates in Parliament, with success, and to lay Scotland open to the Cromwellian conquest. What Plantagenets and Tudors could never do Noll effected, he conquered Scotland, the Kirk having paralysed the State. The preachers found that Cromwell was a perfect 'Malignant,' that he would not suffer prophets to preach treason, nor even allow the General Assembly to meet. Angels they might judge if they pleased, but not Ironsides; excommunication and 'Kirk discipline' were discountenanced; even witches were less frequently burned. The preachers, Cromwell said, 'had done their do,' had shot their bolt.At this time they split into two parties: the Extremists, calling themselves 'the godly,' and the men of milder mood.
Charles II., at the Restoration, ought probably to have sided with the milder party, some of whom were anxious to see their fierce brethren banished to Orkney, out of the way. But Charles's motto was 'Never again,' and by a pettifogging fraud he reintroduced bishops without the hated liturgy. After years of risings and suppressions the ministers were brought to submission, accepting an 'indulgence' from the State, while but a few upholders of the old pretensions of the clergy stood out in the wildernesses of South-western Scotland. There might be three or four such ministers, there might be only one, but they, or he, to the mind of 'the Remnant,' were the only 'lawful ministers.' At the Revolution of 1688-89 the Remnant did not accept the compromise under which the Presbyterian Kirk was re-established. They stood out, breaking into many sects; the spiritual descendants of most of these blended into one body as 'The United Presbyterian Kirk' in 1847. In the Established Kirk the Moderates were in the majority till about 1837, when the inheritors of those extreme views which Knox compromised about, and which the majority of ministers disclaimed before the Revolution of 1688, obtained the upper hand. They had planted the remotest parishes of the Highlands with their own kind of ministers, who swamped, in 1838, the votes of the Lowland Moderates, exactly as, under James VI., Highland 'Moderates' had swamped the votes of the Lowland Extremists. The majority of Extremists, or most of it, left the Kirk in 1843, and made the Free Kirk. In 1900, when the Free Kirk joined the United Presbyterians, it was Highland ministers, mainly, who formed the minority of twenty-seven, or so, who would not accept the new union, and now constitute the actual Free Kirk, or Wee Frees, and possess the endowments of the old Free Kirk of 1843. We can scarcely say _Beati possidentes_.
It has been shown, or I have tried, erroneously or not, to show that, wild and impossible as were the ideal claims of Knox, of Andrew Melville, of Mr. Pont, and others, the old Scottish Kirk of 1560, by law established, was capable of giving up or suppressing these claims, even under Knox, and even while the Covenant remained in being. The mass of the ministers, after the return of Charles II. before Worcester fight, before bloody Dunbar, were not irreconcilables. The Auld Kirk, the Kirk Established, has some right to call herself the Church of Scotland by historical continuity, while the opposite claimants, the men of 1843, may seem rather to descend from people like young Renwick, the last hero who died for their ideas, but not, in himself, the only 'lawful minister' between Tweed and Cape Wrath. 'Other times, other manners.' All the Kirks are perfectly loyal; now none persecutes; interference with private life, 'Kirk discipline,' is a vanishing minimum; and, but for this recent 'garboil' (as our old writers put it) we might have said that, under differences of nomenclature, all the Kirks are united at last, in the only union worth having, that of peace and goodwill. That union may be restored, let us hope, by good temper and common sense, qualities that have not hitherto been conspicuous in the ecclesiastical history of Scotland, or of England.XIV _THE END OF JEANNE DE LA MOTTE_
In the latest and best book on Marie Antoinette and the Diamond Necklace, _L'Affaire du Collier_, Monsieur Funck-Brentano does not tell the sequel of the story of Jeanne de la Motte, _nee_ de Saint-Remy, and calling herself de Valois. He leaves this wicked woman at the moment when (June 21, 1786) she has been publicly flogged and branded, struggling, scratching, and biting like a wild cat. Her husband, at about the same time, was in Edinburgh, and had just escaped from being kidnapped by the French police. In another work Monsieur Funck-Brentano criticises, with his remarkable learning, the conclusion of the history of Jeanne de la Motte. Carlyle, in his well-known essay, _The Diamond Necklace_, leaves Jeanne's later adventures obscure, and is in doubt as to the particulars of her death.
Perhaps absolute certainty (except as to the cause of Jeanne's death) is not to be obtained. How she managed to escape from her prison, the Salpetriere, later so famous for Charcot's hypnotic experiments on hysterical female patients, remains a mystery. It was certain that if she was once at liberty Jeanne would tell the lies against the Queen which she had told before, and tell some more equally false, popular, and damaging. Yet escape she did in 1787, the year following that of her imprisonment at the Salpetriere; she reached England, compiled the libels which she called her memoirs, and died strangely in 1791.
On June 21, 1786, to follow M. Funck-Brentano, Jeanne was taken, after her flogging, to her prison, reserved for dissolute women. The majority of the captives slept as they might, confusedly, in one room. To Jeanne was allotted one of thirty-six little cells of six feet square, given up to her by a prisoner who went to join the promiscuous horde. Probably the woman was paid for this generosity by some partisan of Jeanne. On September 4 the property of the swindler and of her husband, including their valuable furniture, jewels, books, and plate, was sold at Bar-sur-Aube, where they had a house.
So far we can go, guided by M. Funck-Brentano, who relies on authentic documents. For what followed we have only the story of Jeanne herself in her memoirs: I quote the English translation, which appears to vary from the French. How did such a dangerous prisoner make her escape? We cannot but wonder that she was not placed in a prison more secure. Her own version, of course, is not to be relied on. She would tell any tale that suited her purpose. A version which contradicts hers has reached me through the tradition of an English family, but it presents some difficulties. Jeanne says that about the end of November or early in December, 1786, she was allowed to have a maid named Angelica. This woman was a prisoner of long standing, condemned on suspicion of having killed her child. One evening a soldier on guard in the court of the Salpetriere passed his musket through a hole in the wall (or a broken window) and tried to touch Angelica. He told her that many people of rank were grateful to her for her kindness to Madame La Motte. He would procure writing materials for her that she might represent her case to them. He did bring gilt-edged paper, pens, and ink, and a letter for Angelica, who could not read.
The letter contained, in invisible ink, brought out by Jeanne, the phrase, 'It is understood. Be sure to be discreet.' 'People are intent on changing your condition' was another phrase which Jeanne applied to herself. She conceived the probable hypothesis that her victims, the Queen and the Cardinal de Rohan, had repented of their cruelty, had discovered her to be innocent and were plotting for her escape. Of course, nothing could be more remote from the interests of the Queen. Presently the soldier brought another note. Jeanne must procure a model of the key that locked her cell and other doors. By dint of staring at the key in the hands of the nuns who looked after the prisoners, Jeanne, though unable to draw, made two sketches of it, and sent them out, the useful soldier managing all communications. How Jeanne procured the necessary pencil she does not inform us. Practical locksmiths may decide whether it is likely that, from two amateur drawings, not to scale, any man could make a key which would fit the locks. The task appears impossible. In any case, in a few days the soldier pushed the key through the hole in the wall; Jeanne tried it on the door of her cell and on two doors in the passages, found that it opened them, and knelt in gratitude before her crucifix. In place of running away Jeanne now wrote to ladies of her acquaintance, begging them to procure the release of Angelica. Her nights she spent in writing three statements for the woman, each occupying a hundred and eighty pages, presumably of gilt-edged paper. Soon she heard that the King had signed Angelica's pardon, and on May 1 the woman was released.
The next move of Jeanne was to ask her unknown friend outside to send her a complete male costume, a large blue coat, a flannel waistcoat, a pair of half boots, and a tall, round-shaped hat, with a switch. The soldier presently pushed these commodities through the hole in the wall. The chaplain next asked her to write out all her story, but Sister Martha, her custodian, would not give her writing materials, and it did not apparently occur to her to bid the soldier bring fresh supplies. Cut off from the joys of literary composition, Jeanne arranged with her unknown friend to escape on June 8. First the handy soldier, having ample leisure, was to walk for days about 'the King's garden,' disguised as a waggoner, and carrying a whip. The use of this manoeuvre is not apparent, unless Jeanne, with her switch, was to be mistaken for the familiar presence of the carter.
Jeanne ended by devising a means of keeping one of the female porters away from her door. She dressed as a man, opened four doors in succession, walked through a group of the nuns, or 'Sisters,' wandered into many other courts, and at last joined herself to a crowd of sight-seeing Parisians and left the prison in their company. She crossed the Seine, and now walking, now hiring coaches, and using various disguises, she reached Luxembourg. Here a Mrs. MacMahon met her, bringing a note from M. de la Motte. This was on July 27. Mrs. MacMahon and Jeanne started next day for Ostend, and arrived at Dover after a passage of forty-two hours. Jeanne then repaired with Mr. MacMahon to that lady's house in the Haymarket.
This tale is neither coherent nor credible. On the other hand, the tradition of an English family avers that a Devonshire gentleman was asked by an important personage in France to succour an unnamed lady who was being smuggled over in a sailing boat to our south-west coast. Another gentleman, not unknown to history, actually entertained this French angel unawares, not even knowing her name, and Jeanne, when she departed for London, left a miniature of herself which is still in the possession of the English family. Which tale is true and who was the unknown friend that suborned the versatile soldier, and sent in not only gilt-edged paper and a suit of male attire, but money for Jeanne's journey? Only the Liberals in France had an interest in Jeanne's escape; she might exude more useful venom against the Queen in books or pamphlets, and she did, while giving the world to understand that the Queen had favoured her flight. The escape is the real mystery of the affair of the Necklace; the rest we now
The death of Jeanne was strange. The sequel to her memoirs, in English, avers that in 1791 a bailiff came to arrest her for a debt of 30_l._ She gave him a bottle of wine, slipped from the room, and locked him in. But he managed to get out, and discovered the wretched woman in a chamber in 'the two-pair back.' She threw up the window, leaped out, struck against a tree, broke one knee, shattered one thigh, knocked one eye out, yet was recovering, when, on August 21, 1791, she partook too freely of mulberries (to which she was very partial), and died on Tuesday, August 23. This is confirmed by two newspaper paragraphs, which I cite in full.First, the _London Chronicle_ writes (from Saturday, August 27, to Tuesday, August 30, 1791):
'The unfortunate Countess de la Motte, who died on Tuesday last in consequence of a hurt from jumping out of a window, was the wife of Count de la Motte, who killed young Grey, the jeweller, in a duel a few days ago at Brussels.' (This duel is recorded in the _London Chronicle_, August 20-23.)Next, the _Public Advertiser_ remarks (Friday, August 26, 1791):
'The noted Countess de la Motte, of Necklace memory, and who lately jumped out of a two-pair of stairs window to avoid the bailiffs, died on Tuesday night last, at eleven o'clock, at her lodgings near Astley's Riding School.'
But why did La Motte fight the young jeweller? It was to Grey, of New Bond Street, that La Motte sold a number of the diamonds from the necklace; Grey gave evidence to that fact, and La Motte killed him. La Motte himself lived to a bad old age.* * * * *
On studying M. Funck-Brentano's work, styled _Cagliostro & Company_ in the English translation, one observes a curious discrepancy. According to the _Gazette d'Utrecht_, cited by M. Funck-Brentano, the window in Jeanne's cell was 'at a height of ten feet above the floor.' Yet the useful soldier, outside, introduced the end of his musket 'through a broken pane of glass.' This does not seem plausible. Again, the _Gazette d'Utrecht_ (August 1, 1780) says that Jeanne made a hole in the wall of her room, but failed to get her body through that aperture. Was _that_ the hole through which, in the English translation published after Jeanne's death, the soldier introduced the end of his musket? There are difficulties in both versions, and it is not likely that Jeanne gave a truthful account of her escape.* * * * *
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