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to horrible punishments because their maladies have not sufficient breadth and relief to satisfy their surgeons. This point is touched upon by Mr. Marshall. Another reflection remains, unsuited to an army surgeon, but to which a civilian may give utterance without blame: is there not something unsound in the constitution of the service when the detection of fraudulent attempts to quit it becomes a separate branch of the medical art, and the discontented are so numerous, that it is doubtful whether they are the rule or the exception f
XI. MODERN PERKIN WARBECKS.
Even in our own days, there have not been wanting individuals who have drawn largely on public credulity, and endeavoured to pass themselves oft' as princes and heirs to royalty. The only son of Louis XVI. died in prison in the Temple during the horrors of the French revolution; and, on the restoration of the Bourbons, Louis XVllI., the dauphin's uncle, ascended the throne. Several men, however, in different places, and long after the dauphin's death, gave out that he had not died in the Temple, but had escaped, and that they were, or rather each of them was, the identical dauphin, who, after a series of iniquities and persecutions, had evaded his enemies and appeared publicly to assert his rights to the French throne. Not very long ago we saw one of these pretenders, in a very ragged coat, in Leicester-square. They were either madmen, or bare-faced vulgar impostors, who counted upon a resemblance of physiognomy to the Bourbon family, which might very well have happened by accident, or in an extra-legitimate manner. But the story we are about to relate treats of a very different sort of person, who was most decidedly a gentleman in education and manners, and who so conducted himself, and w as so treated by others (even by princes and potentates), as to have thrown an air of mystery and interest over his adventures.
In the year 1820, when the Italian poet Silvio Pellico was first arrested and thrown into the common prison of Milan for political opinions by the Austrian government, he found inscribed on the walls of his cell some elegant French verses, which were signed "Le Due de Normandie," which was the title of the unfortunate dauphin. To pass time, the poet began to hum over the verses, and this led to a conversation with another prisoner in a contiguous cell, who had formerly occupied Pellico's .room. After some conversation, the poet asked who it was he had the honour of addressing. The stranger replied solemnly, "The unhappy Duke of Normandy."
Pellico of course was very incredulous ; but his fellowcaptive went on to asseverate that he was in very deed Louis XVII., and that his uncle, Louis XVIII., was the usurper of his rights."
"But why did you not assert these rights at the time of the restoration of the Bourbons?"
"I was then mortally ill at Bologna. As soon as I recovered, I flew to France. I presented myself to the high allied powers; but what was done, was done. My iniquitous uncle would not acknowledge me, and my sister (the Duchess of Angouleme) united with him to oppress me. The good Prince de Conde alone received me with open arms, but his friendship could do nothing for me. One night I was assaulted in the streets of Paris by ruffians, from whose daggers I escaped with difficulty. After having wandered for some time in Normandy, I returned into Italy, and fixed myself at Modena; thence writing incessantly to the monarchs of Europe, and particularly to the Emperor Alexander, who answered me with the greatest politeness, I did not despair of finally obtaining justice; or if, for policy, they were determined to sacrifice my rights to the throne of France, I thought at least they would assign me a decent appanage. At last I was arrested, conducted to the frontiers of the Duchy of Modena, and given up to the Austrian government. I have now been buried here eight months, and God knows when I shall get out!"
Such was the strange narrative, at least as well as Pellico could remember it after his own ten years of imprisonment and torture. "He related this story," says the poet, "with an astonishing air of truth: though I could not believe it, I was forced to admire it. All the facts of the French revolution were most familiar to him; he spoke of that event with a great deal of spontaneous eloquence, and repeated a number of apposite
was something of the roughness of the soldier in his way of speaking, but yet it never was wanting in that elegance which is obtained by frequenting refined society.
and most curious anecdotes
"' You will permit me,' said I, 'to treat you without ceremony, and drop titles?'
"' That is what I wish,' replied he: 'I have at least derived this benefit from adversity—I can smile at all pomps and vanities; I assure you I value myself more as a man than as being a king.'
"Morning and evening," continues Pellico, "we held long conversations together; and in spite of what I considered a farce in him, his mind seemed to me upright, candid, and desirous of every moral good. Several times I was on the point of saying to him—' Pardon me, I would fain believe that you are Louis XVII., but in sincerity I must confess that a conviction to the contrary is too strong for me; be, then, so frank as to give up this imposture.' But I put it off from day to day, always waiting for an increase of our intimacy, and I never had courage to say what I intended."
After reproaching himself for this weakness, or pusillanimity, as he calls it, Pellico goes on to say—" The turnkeys of the prison were all inclined to believe that he was really Louis XVII.; and as they had seen so many changes of political fortune, they were not without hopes that he would one day ascend the throne of France and remember their devoted service to him. With the exception of favouring his escape, they treated him with all the kindness and respect he could desire. It was to this I was indebted for the honour of once seeing the great personage: he was of middling stature, apparently between forty and forty-five years of age, rather fat, and of an essentially Bourbonic physiognomy. It is probable that an accidental resemblance to the Bourbons had induced him to play this miserable part."
In the course of their melancholy conversations, which were carried on through the bars of their cell-windows, without their being able to see each other, they occasionally spoke of ethics and religion; and Pellico says the soi-disant duke was a man of religious feelings, though not altogether a good Catholic.
From this very curious account it will appear that, let him have been what he might, the prisoner of Milan was no common impostor. But he becomes still more interesting, and his story more involved or mysterious, from the following facts, which have been related to us by an Italian gentleman now resident in England, who knew the man well at Modena.
In the spring of 1819, our friend, having come from his residence in the country to spend some time at the capital of the little state of which he was a subject, went one evening to the theatre at Modena, and took his seat behind a person of most gentlemanly appearance, who was taking a lively interest in the comedy, though evidently not an Italian, but a foreigner. In the course of the evening they fell into conversation. The stranger not only spoke excellent Tuscan or pure Italian, but talked with the greatest facility in the patois or peculiar dialect of the place. From something, however, that fell
from him, Signor was given to understand (what,
at first, he could scarcely credit) that the stranger was a Frenchman; and they then conversed for some time in French. The conversation, suggested by the place they were in, turned chiefly on the drama and poetry, on which subjects the Frenchman spoke with a fine critical taste, extensive knowledge, and an unusual" degree of liberality and emancipation from national prejudices: his conversation was superior to his manner and appearance; it was that not merely of a refined gentleman, but of an accomplished scholar.
Signor was so struck with all this, that at the
end of the performance he followed the stranger out of the theatre, and, as it had come on to rain heavily, offered him the shelter of his umbrella, which the Frenchman accepted. Their roads lay in different directions, but our friend politely insisted on seeing him to his own door, which he did; and, on parting, named the hotel in which he was staying to the stranger, who thereon said that he knew it well and had lived there himself.
Signor , full of the curious meeting of the
evening, and with an uncertain sort of recollection of having seen the stranger somewhere before, on reaching the hotel, asked the people of the house what they knew