« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
soldiers, becoming comfortably warm, became also drowsy, and the fire was allowed to get low ; upon which the prisoners suffered some respite from their alarm.
But this alleviation was not permitted to continue. The initiated police again commenced their search ; and axes and hammers resounded upon the wall next the closet, until it was feared the whole mass would be torn down, or driven in by such repeated batterings. One of the soldiers, also, had become so chilled during his sleep, that his first object on awaking was to revive the fire. Had he chosen ordinary fuel, the heat might have been, as before, resisted ; but the man's eye lighted upon a pile of newspapers, which, singularly enough, were copies of a Carlist journal, the Quotidienne, which, either to warm his body or gratify his hate of Carlism, he began heaping piles upon the furnace. These soon produced
a most intense heat, far more dangerous to the imprisoned party than the previous slower fire. Volumes of smoke were soon produced, which, stealing through the small crevices, soon filled the retreat to suffocation. To be burnt or stifled, or yield themselves prisoners, were now the only alternatives.
For nearly fourteen hours had the duchess and her companions been cooped up in this hole : their strength was exhausted, and now the suffocating smoke and stifling heat completed the climax of their miseries. In vain they placed their mouths close to the roof to gain some fresh air ; volumes of smoke rolled in, and the heat was rendering the air unfit for breathing. The duchess, being next to the heated iron door, was exposed to the greatest peril. Twice she extinguished the flames on her dress, burning her hands so severely that the marks were long retained after the struggle of La Vendée had ceased to agitate France. The last ray of hope seemed extinguished, and little did the editor and publishers of those copies of the Quotidienne imagine, as these
papers were issued from their active press, that the capture of the Duchess de Berri would result from those sheets of political disquisition. The royal lady's dress again took fire ; and in her efforts to extinguish the flames, she pushed back the secret door ; and though Mademoiselle Kersabiac instantly closed it, receiving some dreadful burns in the act, the peculiar noise aroused the attention of the
guards, glad of any event which relieved their monotony. No suspicions that any human beings were behind the fire then entered their heads, the sudden noise having been ascribed to the escape of rats driven by the heat from their holes ; and as others were expected to rush out, the
men stood, sword in hand, watching for their appearance. Thus they waited for some time, but no rats came, though something most unlooked-for by the guards did appear : the iron moved violently back, to the astonishment of the soldiers, one of whom crying out, “ What's there ?” received for answer I, the Duchess de Berri." The fire was instantly knocked out of the chimneyplace, and a passage made for the tortured prisoners to escape from the hole. The duchess appeared first, pale, and with her hair thrown back, and her merino dress burnt in various parts.
A bag of sixteen thousand francs was taken from the hole, and given in charge to the soldiers, who thus, by an accident, arrested her for whom so many active emissaries had so long been searching, She requested General D'Eulon, governor of the castle of Nantes, to be sent for, to whom she surrendered herself as a prisoner of war. Upon this, her whole party was immediately removed to the fortress. Thus ended the struggle of the Duchess de Berri to gain a crown for her son; and thus, in the garret of a house in Nantes, her hopes of triumph perished.
She had not been wholly taken by surprise in this arrest, as a letter was found in the house, stating that her retreat had been discovered. This communication was attributed to M. Jauge, the banker of the duchess, who was arrested at the Bourse on the afternoon of the day succeeding the capture of the “ Regent.” It does not appear that her retreat was detected by the skill of the police, but by the treachery of an agent named Etienne Gonzagnes Dentz, who was a converted Jew, recommended to her by Gregory XVI. as an acute, resolute, and trustworthy negociator. No sooner was he aware of her place of refuge, than he agreed, for a large sum, to betray her to the government. · He was not acquainted with the secret closet, and but for the fire made by the guards, she would probably have escaped the plan laid for her seizure.
The day after this arrest, Louis Philippe ordained that
a project of law shall be submitted to the chambers to decide respecting Madame la Duchess de Berri ;” and on November 9th, orders were received at Nantes for her removal to the Castle of Blaze—a fortress on the Gironde.
As it was now supposed that the government would bring her to trial, Chateaubriand and M. Hyde de Neuville offered te conduct her defence. Their efforts were not, however, required, as the duchess was, after some time, allowed to return to her friends, she having declared herself the wife of an Italian prince, Count Lucchese Palli, to whom she had been privately married. She gave birth to a daughter in the Castle of Blaze ; and being soon after liberated, departed for Palermo on the 10th of June, having been a prisoner about eight months.
Thus terminated the adventures of the Duchess de Berri, whose life had been singularly chequered, presenting on one side the luxuries and splendour of a court, and on another the seclusion of a state prison ; whilst the fierce struggles of civil strife, and the stormy passions of revolution, connected in the case a palace with a prison.
This is not the place to analyze her character, nor is it necessary to attempt a sketch of that mind, whose qualities were sufficiently developed by a series of determined deeds and many sufferings. That she was bold, energetic, and impelled by many noble feelings, is evident to all ; that she was rash, ill-informed, and too often the victim of violent partizans, must also be admitted. In some ages, and in some circumstances, she would have exercised her influence and natural character for noble ends ; but the whirlpool of revolution bore her into a vortex unsuited to her nature and injurious to her name.
PRISON ADVENTURES IN FRANCE ;
THE SUFFERINGS OF M. DE LATUDE, IN THE BASTILE, VINCENNES,
CHARENTON, AND THE BICETRE.
HAT kinds of suffering have exhibited the greatest
amount of human misery, and tested most
acutely the soul's capacity of endurance? Such
K a question may be suggested to the historical student, after a glance at the numerous devices by which one part of mankind has tormented the other. Exposure to the tiger's rage, in the midst of thirty thousand men, whose yells mock the victim's agony, is a scene which will rise to the view of some who take their stand in the Roman amphitheatre on some festal day during the reign of Nero. Another observer might point to the red-hot iron chain, the molten lead poured into the quivering flesh, the martyr's fiery stake, as grouping into small spaces of time incalculable weights of agony. A third would fix upon the slow wasting of life in the silence of the dungeon, where the victim hears not the voice of the world through the massive walls which separate him from the sympathies of men. This may appear the lowest deep of woe, combining suffering with duration, and adding to both that isolation so fearful to the heart. The wheel, the rack, and the stake soon exhaust their venom, and quickly expel the soul from her ruined house ; but the dungeon may see the captive's hair become grey, and mark the young man slowly pass, with a fearful quietude, to his three-score years and ten. Such a fate does in truth appear the height of desolation ; for to this child of misery the beauty of things created exists in vain : spring may glisten in its loveliness, summer rise in the full majesty of sunny gorgeousness, and all nature speak that language of melody which suggests images of Eden ; but for him, all is winter and night. These gloomy descriptions apply, of course, only to those long imprisonments by which tyrants have so often crushed the spirits of their fellow-men, and excited the scorn of all
, in every age, who have hearts capable of feeling for others' woes.
The following narrative will exhibit such a case of misery, the Bastile being the principal scene of the tragedy, and the victim a French gentleman, named Henri Masers de Latude. The history of his almost unparalleled sufferings has frequently been published, but this would not justify the writer in excluding it from a place in these “ adventures,” espe. cially as many readers may be unacquainted with the original narrative.
Before we accompany Latude to his dungeon in the Bastile, some account of that celebrated prison must precede the narrative. The term “ bastile” is probably derived from the Italian word bastia or bastione, a rampart or bulwark, and was generally applied to any fort. There were formerly three places in Paris bearing this name :
one being the Bastile of St. Denis, the other that of the Temple, and the third of St. Anthony, to which the term became exclusively applied in after times. It was erected in the fourteenth century, for the defence of one of the entries into Paris, when the English were approaching the capital, after the defeat of the French army at Poictiers.
In its original state, the Bastile was little more than a gateway, protected by two towers ; but two being added a few years after, the building had the appearance of a small four-sided fort, with a tower at each corner. The road to Paris ran, at first, through the Bastile, but was afterwards turned so as to skirt its walls, by which means the fort was rendered more secure against sudden attacks ; and the erection of more numerous towers contributed still further