The Project Gutenberg eBook of Wonderful escapes

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: Wonderful escapes

Author: Frédéric Bernard

Editor: Richard Whiteing

Release date: June 11, 2016 [eBook #52304]
Most recently updated: January 24, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by deaurider, Chuck Greif and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)


Image unavailable: book's cover


Some typographical errors have been corrected; a list follows the text.

List of Illustrations
(In certain versions of this etext [in certain browsers] clicking directly on the image, will bring up a larger version.)

(etext transcriber's note)






Image unavailable: Osmond carrying off Duke Richard.
Osmond carrying off Duke Richard.


Wonderful Escapes


R I C H A R D   W H I T E I N G.

With Twenty-six Plates.


Illustrated Library of Wonders.

Messrs. Charles Scribner & Co.,

 Each one volume 12mo.Price per volume, $1.50.
 Titles of Books.No. of Illustrations
  Thunder and Lightning,39
  Wonders of Optics,70
  Wonders of Heat,90
  Intelligence of Animals,54
  Great Hunts,22
  Egypt 3,300 Years Ago,40
  Wonders of Pompeii,22
  The Sun, by A. Guillemin,53
  Sublime in Nature,50
  Wonders of Glass Making,63
  Wonders of Italian Art,28
  Wonders of the Human Body,45
  Wonders of Architecture,50
  Lighthouses and Lightships,60
  Bottom of the Ocean,68
  Wonders of Bodily Strength and Skill,70
  Wonderful Balloon Ascents,30
  Wonders of the Heavens,48
* The Moon, by A. Guillemin,60
* Wonders of Sculpture,61
* Wonders of Engraving,32
* Wonders of Vegetation,45
* Wonders of the Invisible World,97
  Celebrated Escapes,26
* Water,77
* Hydraulics,40
* Electricity,71
* Subterranean World,27

* In Press for early Publication.

The above works sent to any address, post paid, upon receipt of the price by the publishers.{vii}


Aristomenes the Messenian1
Demetrius Soter4
Richard, Duke of Normandy15
Louis II., Count of Flanders17
The Duke of Albany19
James V., King of Scotland22
Secundus Curion25
Benvenuto Cellini26
Mary, Queen of Scots41
Caumont de la Force45
Charles de Guise54
Mary de Medicis56
Isaac Arnauld63
The Duke of Beaufort65
Cardinal de Retz69
Quiquéran de Beaujeu76
Charles II.78
Blanche Gamond90
Jean Bart and the Chevalier de Forbin96
Duguay Trouin99
The Abbé Count de Bucquoy101
Jacobite Insurrectionists108
Charles Edward111
Stanislaus Leczinski118
Baron Trenck122
Cassanova de Seingalt{viii}160
Twelve Priests saved by Geoffroy St. Hilaire236
De Chateaubrun238
Sydney Smith239
Pichegru, Ramel, Barthelemy, etc.241
Colonel de Richemont248
Captain Grivel254
Giovanni Arrivabene, Ugoni, and Scalvini262
Political Prisoners, 1834265
Monsieur Rufin Piotrowski267
Prince Louis Napoleon284
James Stephens298



I. They came at last to an opening,2
II. Marius sent away from Minturnæ,10
III. I then tore them up into long bands,29
IV. Cellini attacked by the dogs,36
V. Escape of Mary, Queen of Scots, from Loch Leven Castle,44
VI. “Hush!” said the man, “keep quiet, they are still there,”48
VII. She lifted the lid of the chest, and her master leaped out safe and sound,62
VIII. He let himself drop into the sea,78
IX. They grew very angry at my rudeness,88
X. I was obliged to support myself with one arm,92
XI. My foot got stuck, and the sentinel seized it,127
XII. Trenck escaping with Lieutenant Schell,138
XIII. The first grenadier I knocked down,155
XIV. I heard the sound of a door being unbolted,174
XV. I told him to be very careful not to spill the sauce,186
XVI. Balbi rolled down into my arms,{x}197
XVII. The monk clung to my waistband,202
XVIII. I told him I was going to bury him,213
XIX. I saw on the parapet the soldiers of the grand round,224
XX. Stop, thief!228
XXI. The woodman pulled out a knife and did so,239
XXII. He affected great surprise,241
XXIII. I held my handkerchief to my eyes,258
XXIV. They fell exhausted to the ground,264
XXV. The sight of the seal was sufficient,278
XXVI. Osmond carrying off Duke Richard,Frontispiece.




ABOUT 684 B.C.

Aristomenes, the Messenian general, fighting at the head of his troops against very superior numbers of the Lacedemonians, commanded by the two kings of Sparta, received a severe blow on the head from a stone, and fell insensible and to all appearance dead. He was taken prisoner, with fifty of his soldiers, and dragged to Sparta, where the Lacedemonians condemned them all to be thrown into the Cœada, a hideous gulf formed by a fissure in the earth, in whose depths already lay the bones of hundreds of criminals who had been put to death. The barbarous sentence was actually carried out; and Aristomenes, with all his surviving soldiers, was hurled into the gulf. The latter perished to a man in the fall; but their general, on this as on so many other occasions, was saved—as the historian Pausanias has it, by the favour of a god. The most enthusiastic chroniclers of his exploits say that an eagle flying towards him sustained his body on its extended wings, and thus bore him unharmed to the bottom of the ravine. A happy chance revealed to him a means of egress from this dismal prison. When he reached the bottom, he lay for some time on the ground, wrapped in his mantle, and in momentary expectation of death. He scarcely stirred from this position for two{2} days; on the third day of his entombment, however, he heard a noise, and uncovering his face, saw a fox creeping along in the gloom towards a heap of corpses. Judging from this that there must be an opening in the ravine, he waited until the animal approached him, and then seized its leg with one hand, thrust his mantle into its mouth with the other when it turned to bite, and suffered himself to be dragged through the passages of his subterranean prison. They came at last to an opening just large enough to give a passage to the fox and to admit a feeble ray of light into the cavern. The animal bounded forward into the daylight, and disappeared as soon as Aristomenes let go his hold, leaving the captive general to follow after he had enlarged the opening with his hands. This escape of Aristomenes was considered a manifest proof of the favour and protection of the gods. (Pausanias: Description of Greece, bk. iv., ch. xviii.)


ABOUT 475 B.C.

Mardonias had for an augur, according to the Greek rites, Hegesistratus of Elea. This man, at one time, was in the power of the Spartans, to whom he had wrought very great harm, and he lay heavily ironed in prison, and condemned to death. In this extremity, knowing that he had to expect, not only to lose his life, but to suffer the most frightful tortures before his execution, he performed an incredible exploit. He was fastened to a heavy wooden fetter bound with iron, and by the aid of a scrap of the same metal which he found by accident in his prison, he accomplished the

Image unavailable: They came at last to an opening.
They came at last to an opening.


most courageous action ever recorded; for, having carefully measured off as much of his foot as he could manage to drag out of the fetters, he cut it away from the rest by the tarsal bone. He then contrived, although the prison was strictly guarded, to pick a hole in the wall of his dungeon, and escape to Tegea, walking, or rather hobbling along, by night, and hiding during the day. He arrived at Tegea on the third night, after eluding all the vigilance of the Lacedemonians, who had, indeed, been struck with almost ludicrous astonishment when they found only the half of the man’s foot in their safe keeping and the owner gone. As soon as Hegesistratus was cured, he provided himself with a wooden foot, and became the declared enemy of the Lacedemonians. His hatred of them was about equalled by his love of gain; and he was enabled to gratify both passions by sacrificing, and by drawing divinations for the Persians at the battle of Platea, for which he was most liberally paid by Mardonius. But his enmity to the Spartans brought him to a bad end, for he was captured by them at Zacynthus, where he was following his trade of divination, and put to death. (Herodotus, bk. ix., § xxxvii.)

In the time of Herodotus, the term “tarsus” was applied, not only to that part of the foot so designated by modern anatomists, but also to that immediately above the toes. It would even seem to follow, from a passage in Hippocrates, that the term tarsus was employed specially to designate those portions now called metatarsal, and to the second row of the bones of the tarsus, from which he distinguishes those in direct communication with the leg. From the text of Herodotus, however, it is sufficiently clear that Hegesistratus cut off his foot at the part where the tarsus and metatarsus join.{4}

It would at first seem incredible that a man could have the resolution to mutilate himself in this way, and, above all, to do subsequently what is here recorded by the Greek author; but facts certainly as extraordinary have been observed among the North American Indians. It is but rarely, however, that among stories of the kind we have collected, even though they may be taken from the gravest historians, some details are not found open to at least the suspicion of exaggeration. We give the name of our authority: the reader must take the story for what it is worth.


162 B.C.

Demetrius had been sent to Rome as a hostage by his father, Seleucus Philopater. Antiochus having afterwards assassinated Seleucus, and made himself King of Syria, Demetrius asked the Senate to restore him his liberty and his throne. But, according to Polybius, although the senators were touched by the words of the young prince, they thought it more to the interest of the Republic to detain him in Rome, and to recognise the son of Antiochus.

Some time after, Demetrius wished to renew his appeal to the Senate, and he consulted Polybius, who tried to dissuade him from it: “Do not,” said the historian, “bruise yourself a second time against the same stone. Believe in yourself and in yourself alone, and prove by your own boldness that you deserve to be king.”

The prince, expecting no doubt advice more in harmony with his intentions, did not follow the counsel of Polybius till he was taught the value of it by a second refusal from{5} the Senate; and then he prepared for flight. Diodorus, who had educated him, arrived very opportunely at that moment from Syria, and assured him that if he were to present himself to his people with but one attendant at his back he would be immediately proclaimed king.

Polybius, Diodorus, and some other friends of the young prince, devoted themselves to his service. They bought a Carthaginian ship lying at the mouth of the Tiber, without much hindrance it would seem from the vigilance of the authorities; for the sale and all the arrangements, including the settlement of the very hour of departure, were effected with the utmost publicity. When the time came Demetrius assembled his friends around him, a limited number of them only being in the secret, and standing pledged to embark with their slaves at a given signal. Polybius was ill, and could not leave his house, but he became apprehensive lest the young man should abandon himself to the pleasures of the table, and forget the hour fixed for his setting out. He therefore sent a slave to him towards nightfall, with orders to approach him as though on business of importance, and to place a letter in his hand reminding him of his duty. Demetrius read the letter, invented a pretext for withdrawing from the table, and returned with his confidants to his own house, whence he sent away his servants to Anagnia with orders to get everything in readiness for a boar hunt on the next day but one—this being his favourite sport, and the one which had first brought him into contact with Polybius. His friends also gave the same orders to their slaves, and in due time all the confederates assembled at Ostia. Demetrius still pretended that he meant to stay at Rome, and that he was merely sending out some trusted friends of his own age with instructions to his brother. The{6} captain of the ship, for his part, was not disposed to be too particular in his inquiries about anything except the money for the voyage; and towards night Demetrius and his companions quietly embarked. At daybreak the anchors were raised, the vessel stood out to sea, and the fugitives were free. (Polybius, bk. xxxi., frag. xii.)


85 B.C.

When Marius felt himself menaced by Sylla’s march on Rome he tried to raise the slaves in his favour, but on the failure of the attempt, he took to flight, knowing that he had no mercy to expect from his rival, whose friends he had so remorselessly slain. He had hardly left the city when his attendants dispersed, and he was obliged to seek refuge alone at Solonium, one of his country retreats. From this place he sent his son to collect food in the grounds of his father-in-law, Mucius, which were not far off. The hunted man at the same time hurried away to Ostia, and without waiting for his son’s return, embarked with his son-in-law, Granius, in a vessel kept in readiness for him by Numerius, one of his friends. The young Marius had meanwhile got a store of provisions; but at daybreak he was alarmed by the approach of the horsemen of Sylla, whose suspicions had led them to the place. They were seen, however, at a distance by Mucius’s faithful steward, who hid the youth in a cart laden with beans, and harnessing his oxen to it, pushed boldly on before the horsemen into the city. The fugitive was then conveyed to his wife’s house, where he waited till nightfall, and then took ship, and reached Africa in safety.

The elder Marius had weighed anchor, and was carried{7} along the coasts of Italy by a favourable wind; but he ordered the sailors to stand off from Terracina, because he feared his enemy Geminius, one of the principal inhabitants of that place. They were in the act of obeying him when a gale began to blow, which soon swelled to such a furious tempest that it seemed impossible for the boat to live. This, joined to the illness of Marius, who was prostrated by sea-sickness, obliged them to make for the coast of Circæi, where they landed with great difficulty.

They were scarcely a league from Minturnæ when they saw a troop of horsemen approaching, and quite by chance perceived a couple of barks afloat. They at once turned in terror from the horsemen, and plunged into the sea to swim to the barks. Granius easily reached one of the boats and made for the island of Enaria, situated opposite to this point of the coast; but Marius, who was then seventy years of age, was dragged with great difficulty towards the other by two slaves, and had hardly been placed in it when his pursuers reached the bank and ordered the sailors to row him ashore, or else to throw him overboard and go wherever they pleased without him. Marius had recourse to supplications and to tears, and his companions, after hesitating a little while, refused to abandon him. But his enraged pursuers had hardly left the shore when the sailors again changed their minds and steered towards the land. They cast anchor at the mouth of the Liris (the Garigliano), the waters of which formed a marsh, and they urged Marius to land in order to take some nourishment and recover from his sea-sickness and to await a more favourable wind. He confided in them and followed their advice; and when they had put him ashore he hid himself in a meadow, little thinking of what was to follow, for he had hardly left the{8} vessel when they weighed anchor again and left the place, as though thinking it would neither be honest in them to deliver him to his enemies, nor safe to try to save his life.

Left thus alone and abandoned by all, Marius for a time lay stretched upon the shore, without the power to rise or to utter a single word; but at length, lifting himself up with difficulty, he began to totter painfully along a pathless waste of land. After crossing several deep marshes he came by chance to the cottage of an old labouring man, and falling at his feet he besought him to save one who, if he escaped from his present dangers, would have it in his power to bestow an unhoped-for recompense upon his deliverer. The old man, either knowing him or detecting something of his real importance in his bearing, replied that if he wished for rest he might find it in the cottage, but if he sought for safety from his enemies he would hide him in a more secret place. Marius begged him to do so, and the peasant, leading him into the marsh, told him to crouch in a hole on the bank of a river, and covered him up with reeds and other light things, which effectually concealed him, without oppressing him with their weight.

He had not lain there long when he heard a slight uproar and the sound of voices coming from the cottage. Geminius of Terracina had, in fact, sent a number of people in pursuit of him, and some of them, who had penetrated to that place, were trying to frighten the old man by charging him with having harboured the enemy of Rome. Marius then foolishly revealed himself by crawling out of his hiding-place and plunging naked into the filthy waters of the marsh, where he was at once seen by his pursuers. They dragged him out half suffocated and covered with mud, and took him to Minturnæ, where the magistrates thought it{9} prudent to deliberate on his fate, although the decree ordering his pursuit and immediate execution when captured had been published in all the cities. They decided at last on placing him for safe custody in the house of a woman named Fannia, whom he had formerly injured, and who, it was thought, would be very evilly disposed towards him. Fannia, however, on this occasion showed him no animosity; indeed, the sight of her supposed enemy did not appear to recall one bitter feeling to her mind, for she placed food before him and exhorted him to take courage. He told her he had just seen a favourable omen and was full of confidence, and ordered her to close the door of his chamber, as he wished for repose.

Meanwhile, the authorities of Minturnæ had decided that he should be put to death without delay, but not one citizen could be found to undertake his execution. At length a horse-soldier—a Gaul according to some, and according to others a Cimbrian—took a sword and entered the woman’s dwelling. The room in which the captive lay was very badly lit, and was indeed in almost total darkness; and the Cimbrian (so runs the story) thought he saw two fierce eyes darting flames, and heard a terrible voice calling to him out of the gloom, “Wretch! darest thou slay Caius Marius?” At all events, he at once threw down his sword in terror and ran away, exclaiming, as he leaped headlong over the threshold, “No, I dare not kill Caius Marius.” The whole city was seized with astonishment, and then with pity and repentance, and the people reproached themselves for their cruel and ungrateful resolution against a man who had saved Italy, and whom it had once been a crime to refuse to aid. “Let him go where he will to meet his destiny,” they said; “and, for our part, let us supplicate the gods to{10} pardon us for having cast him out naked and helpless from our midst.”

A number of the citizens then went to Fannia’s house, and forming in procession before the proscribed man led him to the sea. As each had some useful thing to present to him for his journey, he lost some time in receiving and acknowledging their attention, and this delay threatened to be further prolonged by the fact that the sacred grove, called Marica, lay in the way of their direct passage to the shore. An old man, however, had the courage to enter the wood, observing that where the safety of Marius was concerned there should be no forbidden path, and the rest followed his example. On reaching the shore Marius found a ship ready to receive him, which had been thoroughly equipped and provisioned for his service by a citizen named Beleus. In this manner he made his escape.

He afterwards ordered all these incidents to be made the subject of a grand picture, which he placed as an offering in the temple standing near the place of his embarkation.



Theodoric and Childebert entered into an alliance, took oath not to march against one another, and mutually received hostages for the better observance of the terms of their treaty. Among these hostages were many of the sons of senators, who, when the kings unfortunately began to quarrel again, were reduced to servitude, and became the slaves of those in whose guardianship they had been placed. Many of them, however, contrived to escape, and but a few

Image unavailable: Marius sent away from Minturnæ.
Marius sent away from Minturnæ.


were kept in servitude for any length of time. Among the latter was Attalus, nephew of Gregory, Bishop of Langres. He had been sold as a slave to the State, and had been employed in the care of horses under a certain barbarian in the district of Treves. Some servants of Bishop Gregory, who had been sent in search of the youth, and had discovered his whereabouts, tried to buy his freedom from the barbarian; but he refused their modest offerings, on the ground that a person so illustrious as his captive ought to pay at least ten pounds’ weight of gold for his ransom. On the return of these emissaries, one of them named Leon, employed in the bishop’s kitchen, said to his master, “God grant that your lordship give me permission to make the attempt, and perhaps I shall be able to redeem Attalus yet.”

The bishop consented, and Leon set out for Treves. He tried at first to get the young man away secretly, but this was impossible. He then deliberately caused himself to be sold to the barbarian, offering the price of the transaction as a reward to the man who had pretended to be his owner. The buyer asked what the new slave could do. “I am a very clever cook,” replied Leon; “I can serve everything fit for the table of a great lord; and I don’t believe that my equal in this science is to be found anywhere. I dare venture to say that if my master wanted to entertain the king, he could not do better than order me to invent him a right royal feast.”

“Sunday is coming,” said the barbarian, “and on that day I am going to invite my friends and relations. I want you to prepare a banquet for me which will excite their admiration.”

The Sunday came, and the new slave served one of his choicest repasts, which so pleased his master that he at{12} once took him into high favour, and made him almost the second person in the household. At the end of about a year he was so trusted that he was enabled one day, without exciting suspicion, to walk after Attalus into a meadow near the house, and to begin a conversation with him, though they took the precaution of sitting back to back and at some distance from one another. “It is time,” said Leon to the young man, “that we began to think of our country; and I have come to you to give you warning not to go to sleep to-night after you have put up your horses, but to be ready to leave this place the moment you hear me call.”

The barbarian was in the meanwhile feasting at his own table with a number of his relations and a son-in-law, to whom he wished to do especial honour. As they left the table at midnight to go to bed, Leon followed this son-in-law to his apartment, and presented him with a cup of wine.

“You are very high in the confidence of my father-in-law,” said the son-in-law, jocularly; “but, suppose you had the power, when would you have the will to jump on the back of one of his horses, and make a dash for your own country?”

“I hope to do it to-night, please God,” said Leon, adopting the same tone of pleasantry, with great self-possession.

“Then, please God too,” returned the other, laughing, “my servants will keep a sharp look out, for I must see that you don’t take away any property of mine;” and they left one another in this pleasant way.

When the whole household was asleep, Leon softly called Attalus, whose horses were ready saddled, and asked him if he had a sword. “I have nothing but a small spear,” said Attalus.

Leon went straight into his master’s room, and took down his sword and buckler, not without awakening him, however, {13} for he called out to know who was there. “Only Leon,” replied the slave; “I am going to wake Attalus, to make sure of his being up in time to take the horses to grass, for he is as sound asleep as a drunken man.”

“Oh! is that all?” murmured the master; “very well,” and he turned over and went to sleep again.

Leon stole out, and gave the weapons to the young man; and, by nothing less than a miracle, found the doors of the court-yard open, though they had been closed at nightfall, with heavy iron wedges, for the better security of the horses. They both gave thanks to God, and at once made off, taking with them all the horses, and their few personal effects as slaves. But at Moselle they were obliged to leave both horses and effects behind for fear of awakening the suspicion of some persons they overtook there; and once rid of these encumbrances, they easily gained the opposite bank of the river by floating over on their bucklers. The darkness favoured them; and they soon found shelter and concealment in a forest. They stayed there till they had been three whole days and nights without tasting food, till at length, by the special favour of Providence, they found a plum-tree, the fruit of which served to satisfy their more pressing and immediate wants. They then started with renewed strength on their journey, and took the road to Champagne. They had not gone far when they heard the sound of hoofs, and they hastily hid themselves in a thicket of brier, taking care, however, to draw their swords, so as to be ready to defend themselves in the last extremity. A moment after a number of horsemen drew up at the thicket, and one of them was heard to say, “Why cannot we find these wretches? I swear if I came across them, I would hang the one and hack the other in pieces with my sword.” It was the voice of the barbarian, their{14} master, who had ridden from Rheims in search of them, and who would certainly have found them on the way if the darkness had not been in their favour. The troop then pushed forward again, and the sound of their hoofs was soon lost in the distance.

The two fugitives resumed their journey, reached Rheims at nightfall, and asked the first person they met in the city the way to the house of the priest Pantellus. It was Sunday, and as they went through the great square on their way to the house, the bell sounded for matins. When they entered the priest’s dwelling, Leon disclosed to the good man the name and rank of Attalus. “My dream is made out,” said the overjoyed father; “for this very night in my sleep I saw two doves fly towards my threshold, and perch upon my hand, and one of them was a white one and the other black.” (The reader will bear in mind that Leon was a negro). “God forgive us,” replied the slave, “for not paying due observance to his holy day.” (On Sunday no one took nourishment till after mass.) “But we entreat you give us something to eat, for this is the fourth time we have seen the sun rise without breaking our fast.”

The priest hid the two young men, gave them some bread steeped in wine, and went to matins.

The barbarian, by-and-by, appeared on the scene, still in hot and eager pursuit of his slaves; but he had to go away again without them, for the priest deliberately put him on a wrong scent, out of his great friendship for Bishop Gregory. They then sat down to the uninterrupted enjoyment of a good meal; and they remained two days with the good priest until they had quite recruited their strength, and were enabled to pursue their journey towards their own home,{15} which they reached without any further trouble. The bishop, transported with joy at the sight of them, fell weeping on the neck of Attalus: and as a special mark of his gratitude to the preserver of his nephew, he gave Leon and all his family their freedom, with as much land as sufficed for their subsistence for the rest of their days. (Histoire Ecclésiastique des Francs, bk. iii., ch. xv., translated by M. Henri Bordier.)

Attalus afterwards became Count of Autun.



After the assassination of William Longsword, Duke of Normandy, near Pecquigny, on the Somme, his infant son Richard was called to the succession. Louis d’Outre-Mer, who had fixed his eyes on the throne, contrived to get the young prince in his power, and to have him sent to Laon, under pretence of giving him an education suited to his rank. The arch-plotter placed the child under the most rigorous espionage, and treated him with great cruelty. He even threatened to hamstring his innocent victim by fire, a frightful torture which the policy of the Middle Ages did not disdain to use as a means for depriving princes of their thrones.

The young prince’s steward, Osmond, hearing of the king’s determination, and foreseeing the terrible lot in store for the child, sent messengers to apprise the Normans of the perilous position of their lord. The news excited the utmost anxiety and alarm throughout all Normandy; and during a three days’ fast of the entire people, the clergy prayed continually for the safety of the captive. Osmond, meanwhile,{16} by the advice of Yvon, the father of William de Belesme, found an opportunity to advise the young prince to pretend to be very ill, and to take to his bed as if he never hoped to rise from it again. The child, understanding the object of his steward’s instructions, showed great intelligence in following them, and stretched himself at full length on his bed, to all appearance at the point of death. This naturally had the effect of making his guardians less vigilant, and they soon began to neglect their charge of the seeming invalid to look after their own affairs. When Osmond judged that the fitting moment had arrived, he went into the courtyard of the prince’s house, and, putting the child in a bundle of grass which he found there, hoisted him on his shoulders as if he were going to carry fodder to his horse, and scaled the walls of the city while the king sat at supper and the streets were almost deserted. He then took horse, and in due time arrived at Conci, where he placed the child in the care of the governor, himself pushing forward, till he reached Senlis by the break of day. Count Bernard showed some surprise at the sight of him, and made many eager inquiries about the safety of the child; and when he had received a full account of all that had been done, he rode away with the brave steward to ask help of Hugo the Great. The appeal was not in vain. Hugo remembered an oath by which he had engaged to protect the prince, and sent a large army to Conci, whence the fugitive was conducted in state to Senlis, to the great joy of the entire people. (Guillaume de Jumièges: Histoire des Normands, bk. iv., ch. iv.){17}



When Louis II., Count of Flanders, had succeeded his father, Louis I., in 1346, at the age of sixteen years, the Flemings wished him to marry Isabella, daughter of the King of England, while Duke John of Brabant and Philip VI. of Valois, King of France, had come to an understanding to unite the young count to the daughter of Duke John. Louis II., on his part, refused the marriage which his subjects wished to force on him, “Being,” says Froissart, “unwilling to marry the daughter of the man who had murdered his father, even if she brought him half the kingdom of England for her portion.” “When the Flemings heard that,” the old chronicler continues, “they said their lord was too much of a Frenchman, and was badly advised, and that he would not do for them at all if he did not mean to take their counsel. So they laid hands upon him, though with all courtesy and tenderness, and put him into prison, telling him he must remain there until he saw fit to do as they wished.

“The young count was shut up by his subjects a long while, and he even began to be in some danger, for his firmness provoked them. At last, however, he gave way, or pretended to do so, and told those about him that he would do as his people wished, since they were dearer to him than any other. This rejoiced the Flemings mightily, and they at once softened the excessive rigours of his captivity. They allowed him to extend his walks as far as the river, to his great joy though he was still attended by guards, who had orders never to leave him a moment out of their sight. When this had lasted a pretty long while, the young count seemed to{18} yield absolutely, and told the Flemings that he was now quite willing to marry the lady of their choice. They ran in great haste with the news to the King and Queen of England, who were before Calais, and signified to their majesties that if they would take their daughter to the abbey of Bergues, the young count should be there to meet her, and the preliminaries to the marriage should be at once concluded. This arrangement was actually carried out; the young people were betrothed at the abbey, and the Flemings once more took the count back to his prison for safe keeping until the marriage.

“The count,” continues Froissart, “still went down to the river every day with his guards, but he pretended to look forward to the marriage with so much joy that they did not think it needful to watch him half so narrowly as before. But they did not quite know the temper of their young lord, for submissive as he was to outward seeming, he was soon to prove that he had at heart all the courage of a Frenchman. It wanted scarcely a week to the day fixed for the marriage, when he went out one morning to fly his falcon by the river. His falconer started one bird, himself another; and when the two falcons were seen in hot pursuit of the same prey, the count ran forward as if carried away by the excitement of the chase, and encouraged them with his cries. This ruse enabled him to reach the open fields without suspicion, and, once there, he clapped spurs to his horse, and in an instant was lost to view. He hardly paused till he came to Artois, where he felt safe, and he lost no time in laying his case before King Philip and the French people, and telling them by what a fine stratagem he had escaped from his own people and the English. The King of France was greatly overjoyed, and told the young man he had done{19} more than well, and the French people said the same. The poor English, on the contrary, seemed to think that he had betrayed them.” (Froissart’s Chronicles, bk. i., ch. xxxi.)



James III., King of Scotland, saw, not without misgiving, that his two brothers, the Duke of Albany and the Earl of Mar, were greatly beloved by his subjects; and this feeling was soon changed into one of positive hate, thanks to the whisperings of certain evil counsellors who were about his person. These wretches, well knowing the feeble nature they had to deal with, threw the King into a very sickness of terror with impossible stories of his brothers’ design against his crown and life.

The Earl of Mar, they told him, had obtained a positive assurance from certain sorcerers that his royal kinsman would die by the hand of a near relation, and they brought a sorcerer of their own to the palace to say that there was a lion in Scotland which would be torn in pieces by its own whelps. This was enough for the king; his cowardly spirit was frightened into energy and decision, and he ordered the arrest of his brothers. Albany was thrown into Edinburgh Castle, but the fate of Mar was determined on at once. He was suffocated in a bath, according to some historians; or, according to others, bled to the last drop of his blood.

Albany was in great danger of the same miserable lot, but he had friends both in France and in Scotland who were resolved not to let him perish without making an effort to save his life. They were not long in forming their plans.{20} A little sloop sailed into Leith Roads with a cargo of Gascony wines, of which two small casks were sent as a present to the captive prince. The governor of the castle allowed them to be taken into the chamber in which his prisoner was confined, and when the duke came to dip into them, he found in one a ball of wax, containing a letter urging him to escape and make his way to the water-side, where he would find the little vessel waiting for him. In the other cask there was a coil of rope, which would enable him to drop from the walls of his prison to the rock on which the castle stands. His faithful chamberlain, who shared his captivity, promised to aid him in the enterprise.

The main point was to make sure of the captain of the guard. Albany, therefore, invited this officer to sup with him under the pretext of wishing to have his judgment on the wine. The invitation was accepted, and the captain, having as usual posted his men with due circumspection, led three of them into the duke’s room with him, and took his place at table.

The meal over, the duke proposed a game of trictrac, and took care while it was going on to ply his guest freely with the wine, while his chamberlain was no less attentive to the three soldiers. The drink, and the heat of a great fire, near which they had artfully placed him, soon made the officer very drowsy, and the men too began to nod their heads.

Their time was come: the duke, who was a strong man, suddenly jumped up, and with one blow of a poniard laid the captain dead at his feet. In another moment he had despatched two of the soldiers; while the chamberlain with his own dagger finished the third. Their work was the easier to do as the drink and the fire together had almost{21} stupefied the poor wretches before a blow was struck. After they had taken the keys out of the captain’s pockets, they threw the bodies on the fire, and making their way to an out-of-the-way corner of the wails, began their perilous descent.

The chamberlain went down first to try the cord, but it was too short, and he fell and broke his leg. He uttered no cry of pain, but simply told his master the cause of the disaster. The duke went back to fetch his bed-clothes, and finally made the descent in safety. His first care was to provide for the injured man; and he did not bestow a thought on himself till he had carried his faithful dependent to a hut where he might remain in perfect security until his recovery. This done, he flew to the sea-shore, and a boat answering to the hail—at the signal agreed on—he boarded the sloop, which instantly set sail for France.

During the night, the guards, who knew that their officer had three men with him in the duke’s room, had no suspicion of what was passing. But when at daybreak they saw the cord hanging from the wall, they took the alarm, and rushed hastily into the apartment, when they stumbled over the body of one soldier lying across the doorway, and saw those of the captain and the two other men smouldering amid the dying embers in the large fireplace. The King expressed much surprise at this extraordinary escape, and he could not be brought to believe in it till he had seen the place with his own eyes. (Sir Walter Scott’s History of Scotland, vol. i., ch. xix.){22}



Sir George Douglas and his brother, the Earl of Angus, who had married Queen Margaret of Scotland, had obtained possession of the person of the young King James V., then a child; and the Earl of Angus administered the kingdom, and discharged all the functions of a regent without assuming the title. In a word, these two lords manœuvred so as to substitute their family for the reigning one upon the throne of Scotland. Several attempts for the King’s deliverance had failed, and even two great battles had been fought without success by the partisans of James V. At the commencement of the second battle, George Douglas, seeing that the King was eagerly watching an opportunity to escape, said, “It is useless for your Grace to think of getting out of our hands; if our enemies held you by one arm, and we by the other, we would see you torn in pieces rather than loosen our grip.” To make quite sure of their prize, they appointed a hundred chosen men to guard the youthful monarch, commanded by one of their own family, Douglas of Parkhead.

Every attempt by open force having thus failed, James resolved to have recourse to stratagem. He persuaded his mother, Queen Margaret, to give up her castle of Stirling to him, and to place it under the command of a gentleman in whom he had confidence. All this was done very secretly, and the King, having thus prepared a possible retreat, began to seek an opportunity of flying to it. The better to disarm the vigilance of the Douglases, he showed such deference to the Earl of Angus, that people began to think he had gone over to that nobleman’s party, and had become resigned{23} to the loss of his own liberty. He was then living at Falkland, a royal residence very favourably situated for hunting and falconry, his favourite amusements.

The Earl of Angus and Archibald and George Douglas had all three left Falkland on various errands of business or pleasure, and no one remained near the King but Douglas of Parkhead, with the hundred men on whose vigilance the family knew they could rely. James saw the moment was favourable. To allay the suspicions of his guards, he announced his intention of rising early on a certain morning to hunt the stag, and Douglas of Parkhead never doubting that this was said in good faith, went to bed after posting his sentinels in the usual manner.

But the King no sooner found himself alone than he called his trusty page, John Hart, and looking at him very earnestly, said, “John, do you love me?”

“More than I love myself,” replied the page.

“And are you willing to risk everything for me?”

“My life, if needs be,” replied the youth.

The King then made him acquainted with his plan, and hastily putting on a servant’s livery, went to the stables with him, as though to prepare for the next day’s hunt. The guards, failing to recognise him in this disguise, suffered him to pass without hindrance. The King had previously taken another of his servants into his confidence, so that when he and the page reached the stable they found three good horses, ready saddled and bridled, awaiting them.

James mounted at once with his two faithful servants and galloped all night, light as a bird just escaped from its cage. At break of day he passed the bridge of Stirling, and as there was no other means of crossing the Forth than by this bridge or by a boat, he ordered the gates which barred the{24} passage to be closed against all comers, without exception. He was very tired when he reached Stirling Castle, where he was received with joy by the governor, whom, as we have seen, he had himself been the means of placing in that fortress. The drawbridge was raised, the portcullis lowered, the guards were doubled—in fact, every possible precaution was taken that prudence could dictate. But the King was so much afraid of again falling into the power of the Douglas, that in spite of his fatigue, he refused to go to bed until he had himself placed the keys of the castle under his pillow.

There was great alarm at Falkland on the following morning. George Douglas had returned on the very night of the King’s flight at about eleven o’clock, and had at once asked for his prisoner. He was told that James had gone to bed early, wishing to rise in good time for the hunt; and he himself retired, perfectly satisfied that all was safe. But in the morning he was destined to hear very different news, for a certain Peter Carmichael, baillie of Abernethy, came rapping at his door, to ask him if he knew where the King was at that moment.

“He is asleep in his bedchamber,” said Sir George.

“You are deceived,” replied Carmichael; “he passed over Stirling Bridge last night.”

Douglas, jumping out of bed, ran to the King’s room, knocked loudly, and receiving no answer, broke open the door. Finding the apartment empty, he cried, “Treason! the King is gone!” dispatched couriers to his brothers, and sent out in every direction to call his partisans together for the recapture of James. But the King had by this time proclaimed by sound of trumpet that he would declare traitor every person bearing the name of Douglas who should approach within twelve miles of his person, or take any part{25} in the administration of the kingdom. The Douglases were obliged to submit, and from that time commenced the decay of their house, for James could not be brought to pardon them. (Sir Walter Scott’s History of Scotland, ch. xxiii.)



Cœlius Secundus Curion, a zealous Lutheran, having dared to give the lie in open church to a Jacobin who had heaped on him the most odious calumnies from the pulpit, was immediately arrested by order of the inquisitor of Turin. He was dragged from prison to prison, but he at last made his escape so cleverly that his enemies could only account for it by accusing him of magic. In order to exculpate himself from an accusation extremely dangerous at that time, he published an account of his escape in a little Latin dialogue, entitled “Probus,” from which we select the following passages for translation:—

“I had been shut up for eight days in my new prison,” says Curion, “with my feet fastened to enormous pieces of wood, when, by nothing less than a sudden inspiration from Heaven, I was urged to supplicate the young man in charge of me to release me from at least one of my fetters. The other, as I pointed out to him, would be quite heavy enough to ensure my safe custody. As he was merciful, and bore no malice against me, he at length suffered himself to be persuaded, and set one of my feet at liberty. He had no sooner left me than I set to work to carry out a plan I had already formed for my escape. I tore my shirt into shreds, and taking off my stocking and slipper, stuffed them with{26} these rags till I had made a very fair model of a leg and foot. But though the form and contour of the flesh were there, you had only to touch the new limb to find that it was lamentably deficient in bone. What was to be done? I looked about everywhere, till at last my eye lighted on a stick hidden away under a settle. I seized it eagerly and soon fashioned bones for my leg; and then, hiding my real limb under my cloak, I sat calmly awaiting the success of my ruse. After a time the young man came in to pay me his usual visit and to ask me how I did. ‘I should feel better,’ I said, pointing to my dummy, ‘if you would kindly fasten this leg to the fetter and let me give the other a rest.’ He consented, and chained up my false limb with all imaginable care.”

The rest is soon told. The prisoner waited till nightfall, and as soon as he heard his attendants snoring, quietly parted company with his fettered leg, undressed it, clothed himself again, and softly stole out of his cell, which no one had taken the trouble to fasten on the outside. Even then his difficulties were not at an end; but he at length found means to scale the outer walls of his prison and to regain his liberty. (Ludovic Lalanne: Curiosities of Biography.)



Benvenuto Cellini lived nearly twenty years at Rome, producing those masterpieces of work in the precious metals which have immortalised his name. He was high in favour with Clement VII., and was sought after and entrusted with{27} the most important commissions by the princes of the Church and other great personages who visited the Eternal City. He had won the especial regard of Clement by his courage in taking part in the defence of the castle of St. Angelo when it was besieged by the army of the Constable of Bourbon; and such was the confidence placed in him at that time that all the costliest things among the Papal treasures were given to him to be broken up, and he was allowed to hide the jewels for safe keeping in his own clothes. He afterwards engraved for the same Pope and his successor a series of coins, which have always been considered by the best judges to rival the finest productions of antiquity. But his was not the mild temper of the artist, nor was the history of his studio all the history of his life. He was brutal and ungovernable in his rage, and licentious in his love; and he was feared and hated almost as much as he was admired, although an easy tolerance of vice was the fashion of the time. A certain goldsmith, named Pompeo, had incurred his enmity by trying to deprive him of the favour of Clement VII.; and during the interregnum which followed the death of that Pope, he stabbed the unfortunate artist in open day and in the very midst of Rome. But he escaped the direct punishment due to this atrocious crime, for Paul III., who succeeded to the Papal throne, not only pardoned him, but gave him many important commissions. He was actively engaged in these labours when he was threatened by a new danger—probably the consequence of a former outrage. A workman accused him of having stolen some of the jewels entrusted to his keeping during the siege of Rome. Paul could afford to forgive the murder of a subject, but he could not look so lightly on a theft by which he himself was likely to be a sufferer, and he began to{28} mistrust and to dislike Cellini before he had given himself much pains to examine into the truth of the accusation against him. Added to this, too, the artist had a mortal foe near the person of his patron in Peter Louis Farnese, the son of Paul. One such enemy would have been enough for his ruin; with two, he could hardly fail to be utterly lost.

“One morning,” says Cellini in his memoirs, “I put on my cloak to take a short walk, and was turning down the Julian street to enter the quarter called Chiavica, when Crispino, captain of the city guard, met me with his whole band of sbirri, and told me roughly I was the Pope’s prisoner. I answered him, ‘Crispino, you mistake your man.’ ‘By no means,’ said Crispino, ‘you are the clever artist Benvenuto; I know you very well, and have orders to conduct you to the Castle of St. Angelo, where noblemen and men of genius like yourself are confined.’ As four of his myrmidons were going to fall upon me and deprive me forcibly of a dagger which I had by my side, and of the rings on my fingers, Crispino ordered them not to offer to touch me. It was sufficient, he said, for them to do their office and prevent me from making my escape. Then coming up to me, he very politely demanded my arms. Whilst I was giving them up, I recollected that it was in that very place that I had formerly killed Pompeo. They conducted me to the castle, and locked me up in one of the upper apartments of the tower. This was the first time I ever tasted the inside of a prison; and I was then in my thirty-seventh year.”

It was not difficult for Benvenuto to disprove the charges against him; he was, nevertheless, kept in prison in spite of the good offices of Montluc, the ambassador of France, who begged for his release, in the name of Francis I. The governor of St. Angelo was a Florentine, and he showed{29} every attention to his unfortunate fellow-citizen, even allowing him on parole a certain freedom of movement within the walls. But after a time he shut him up closely again; and then once more restored him to his state of partial liberty.

“When I found,” says Benvenuto, “that I was being treated with so much rigour, I reflected deeply on the matter; and I said to myself, ‘If this man should again happen to take such a freak, and not choose to trust me any longer, I should feel myself released from my word, and should make a trial of my own skill.’ I then began to get my servants to bring me new thick sheets, and did not send back the dirty ones; and when they asked me for them, I told them that I had given them away to some of the soldiers, but that they were not to speak about it or the poor fellows would run the risk of being sent to the galleys. I hid my sheets in the mattress that served me for a bed, and burnt the straw with which it was stuffed, bit by bit, in my chimney, to make room for them. I then tore them up into long bands, and when I had enough of these bands to reach to the bottom of the tower, I told my servants I did not mean to give away any more of my linen, adding that they were to bring me finer sheets in future, and I would return them the dirty ones.

“The constable of the castle had annually a certain disorder which totally deprived him of his senses, and when the fit came on him he was talkative to excess. Every year he had some different whim: at one time he thought himself metamorphosed into a pitcher of oil; at another he believed himself a frog, and began to leap around like one; and again he imagined he was dead, and it was found necessary to humour him by making a show of burying him. He had, in fact, a new mania every year. This year he fancied himself a bat,

Image unavailable: I then tore them into long bands.
I then tore them into long bands.


and when he went to take a walk he sometimes made just such a noise as bats do, and made gestures with his hands and body as if he were going to fly. The physicians, who knew his disorder, and his old servants procured him all the amusements they could think of, and as they found he took very great pleasure in my conversation, they often fetched me to his apartments, where the poor man would chat with me for three or four hours at a time. On one of these occasions he asked me whether I had ever wished to fly. I answered that I had always been readiest to attempt such things as men found most difficult, and that with regard to flying, as God had given me a body admirably well calculated for running, I had even resolution enough to attempt to fly. He then asked me to explain how I proposed to do that. I replied that when I attentively considered the several creatures that fly, and thought of effecting by art what they do by the force of nature, I did not find one so fit to imitate as the bat. As soon as the poor man heard mention made of the bat, his mania for the year turning upon that animal, he cried out aloud, ‘That’s very true; a bat is the thing.’ He then suddenly turned to me and said, ‘Would you, Benvenuto, if you had the opportunity, have the heart to make the attempt to fly?’ I answered that if he would give me permission, I had courage enough to attempt to fly as far as Prati by means of a pair of wings waxed over. ‘I should like to see you fly,’ he returned, ‘but as the Pope has enjoined me to watch over you with the utmost care, and I know that you have the cunning of the devil, and would be glad of the opportunity to make your escape, I mean to keep you locked up with a hundred keys to prevent you from slipping out of my hands.’ I then began to supplicate him afresh, reminding him that I had{31} had it in my power to make my escape, but would never avail myself of the opportunity through respect for the promise I had given him. Whilst I was uttering these words he gave peremptory orders that I should be bound, and confined a closer prisoner than ever.

“I at once began to think about the means of making my escape. As soon as I was locked in, I made a careful examination of my prison, and thinking that I had found a sure way out of it, I turned over several plans for descending from the top of the great tower, where I was, to the ground. At last, guessing the length of line which would about carry me down, I took a new pair of sheets, cut them into the requisite number of strips, and sewed them fast together. The next thing I wanted was a pair of pincers, which I stole from a Savoyard on guard at the castle. This man had the care of the casks and the cisterns, and likewise worked as a carpenter; and as he had several pairs of pincers, and one amongst others which was thick and large, I took it, thinking it would suit my purpose, and laid it in the tick of my bed. When the time had come for making use of the pincers, I began to pull at the nails fastening the plates of iron fixed upon the door; and, as the door was double, the clenching of those nails could not be perceived. I exerted my utmost efforts to draw out one of them, and at last, with great difficulty succeeded. As soon as I had drawn a few, I was again obliged to torture my invention in order to devise some expedient to prevent the loss being perceived. I immediately thought of mixing a little of the filings of the rusty iron with wax; and, as this mixture was exactly of the colour of the heads of the nails I had drawn, I counterfeited a resemblance of them on the iron plates, and in this manner imitated in wax as{32} many as I drew. I left each of the plates fastened both at top and bottom, and refixed them with some of the nails I had drawn; but the nails were cut, and I drove them in only a little way, so that they just served to hold the plates. I found it a very difficult matter to do all this, because the governor dreamed every night that I had made my escape, and used to send often to have the prison searched. The man who came on these visits had the appearance and bearing of one of the city guards. His name was Bozza, and he used to bring with him another, named John Pedignone; the latter was a soldier, the former a servant. This Pedignone never came to my room without giving me abusive language. The other one confined himself to examining the plates of iron I have mentioned, as well as the whole prison. I constantly said to him, ‘Look after me well, for I mean to escape.’ These words once made him very angry with me, and I took that opportunity of depositing all my tools—that is to say, my pincers and a tolerably long dagger, with other things belonging to me—in the tick of my bed, and of sweeping the room myself, as soon as it was daylight, for I naturally delighted in cleanliness, and on this occasion I took care to be particularly neat. As soon as I had swept the room I made my bed with equal care, and adorned it with flowers which were every morning brought me by the Savoyard. When Bozza and Pedignone came near the bed, I told them angrily to keep away from it lest it should be defiled by their touch; and afterwards, when merely to amuse themselves, they tumbled the sheets, I added, ‘You dirty dogs, keep off, or I’ll draw one of your swords and maul you as you were never mauled before! Do you think your paws are fit to touch the bed of a man like me? If I made up my mind to kill you, I should not{33} in the least hesitate to sacrifice my own life; so be warned in time; leave me to my own troubles and sorrows, and do not add to the bitterness of my lot, or I will show you what a desperate man can do.’ The men duly repeated all this to the constable, who expressly ordered them never to go near my bed, to unbuckle their swords before coming to my cell, and to be as careful as possible in all other respects. The object of all this on my part was to secure my bed from search, and I gained my point.

“One holiday evening the constable was in a very bad way, and his mania had risen to such a pitch that he did nothing but repeat that he had become a bat. He told his attendants to take no notice if Benvenuto should escape, for he would soon be caught by a bat so much better able to fly by night than himself. ‘Benvenuto,’ the poor man was pleased to add, ‘is a counterfeit bat; I am a real one; let me alone to manage him. I’ll soon have him back again. I’ll be bound.’ He had continued in this state for several nights, till he quite tried the patience of all his servants, as I learned from my faithful Savoyard, who continued very much attached to me. I had made up my mind to escape that night, let what would happen, and I began by praying fervently to Almighty God that it would please his Divine Majesty to befriend and assist me in my hazardous enterprise. I then went to work, and was employed the whole night in getting everything in readiness. Two hours before daybreak I took the iron plates from the door, with great trouble and difficulty, for the bolt and the wood that received it made a great resistance, so that I could not open them, but was obliged to cut the wood. I, however, at last forced the door; and having taken with me the slips of linen I have mentioned, which I had rolled up in bundles{34} with the utmost care, I got out, and reached the right side of the tower, and leaped with the utmost ease upon two tiles of the roof which I had observed from within. I was in a white doublet, and had on a pair of white leggings, over which I wore tight boots that reached half-way up my legs, and in one of these I put my dagger. I then took the end of one of my bundles of long slips, which I had made out of the sheets of my bed, and fastened it to a tile that happened to jut out four inches, to which it hung like a stirrup. I then again prayed to God in these terms: ‘Almighty God,. come to my aid; for thou knowest that my cause is just, and that I aid myself.’ Then letting myself go very gently,. and supporting myself by the strength of my arms, I reached the ground. There was no moon, but the night was clear. When I once more felt the earth beneath my feet, I looked up with awe at the immense height from which I had made so adventurous a descent, and I went forward very joyfully believing I was free, though that was by no means the case.

“The constable had built on this side of the castle two pretty high walls, which enclosed his stables and his hen-houses, and which were closed by doors with very strong bolts. Despairing of being able to leave the place that way, I wandered on at hazard, reflecting on my sad position, when my foot struck suddenly against a large pole covered with straw. I reared it, though not without great difficulty, by the side of the wall, and then by sheer strength of arm I climbed to the top of it, and so reached the parapet. The end of the pole being firmly fixed in an angle of the coping stone, I could not draw it up after me, but it afforded me a secure fastening for my second band (I had been obliged to leave the first hanging from my window in the tower), and by this means I reached the ground on the other side{35} of the wall, though with hands torn and dripping with blood. I was very greatly fatigued, but after I had rested a little I felt strong enough to attempt to surmount the last wall looking towards Prati. I accordingly laid my roll of bands on the ground for a moment, and was just about to throw one of them over a battlement, when I saw a sentinel standing almost by my side. Feeling that not only the success of my enterprise, but my very life was in danger, I was preparing to attack the fellow, when he saved me the trouble by taking to his heels as soon as he saw the glitter of the poniard in my hand. I lost no time in getting back to my bands, and then I saw another man on guard, but he appeared not to wish to notice me. I fastened my band to the battlement; I clambered up the wall on one side, and I slid down it on the other; but, whether from fatigue or from a miscalculation as to the distance between my feet and the ground, I opened my hands too soon, and fell head first to the earth with such violence that I remained unconscious an hour and a half, as nearly as I can judge.

“The freshness of early morning brought me to myself, but I did not at once recover my memory. It seemed to me that I had had my head cut off and that I was in purgatory. But as my reason gradually came back, I saw that I was outside the castle, and then I remembered all I had been doing. I put my hands to my head, and found that it was covered with blood. There was no serious wound upon my body, but on attempting to raise myself, I found I had broken my right leg in three places at a point about midway between the knee and the heel. Without in the least losing courage, I drew my knife and its sheath from my boot. There was a great ball at the end of the sheath, and this, pressing on the bone in my fall, had caused the fracture. I{36} threw the sheath away, and cutting up what little of the band was left with the poniard, I set the leg as best I could and knife in hand began to crawl slowly on my knees towards the city gate. It was closed; but observing that one of the great stones that formed the threshold was loose, I managed to pick it out, and to squeeze my body through the aperture. It was more than five hundred paces from the place where I had fallen to this gate.

“I had hardly entered Rome when a number of prowling dogs rushed at me, and tore me cruelly; but when they returned to the charge, I gave them a taste of my poniard, and pricked one of them so vigorously that he limped off with a hideous howl that damped the ardour of the rest. I followed his example, so far as to leave that place, and I set out on my knees for the church of the Traspontina.

“When I came to the end of the street that turns down to St Angelo, I directed my steps towards St Peter’s. It was broad day, and I ran some risk of being discovered; so, seeing a water-carrier pass by leading a heavily laden ass, I called out to him to take me on his shoulders and carry me to St Peter’s market-place. ‘I am,’ said I, ‘a poor fellow who has broken his leg in trying to preserve the honour of a lady. I had to leap from a window to save myself from being cut to pieces, and I am still in danger. Take me up then, I beg of you, and you shall have a crown in gold for your trouble;’ and I put my hand to my purse, where I carried a good number of these tempters. He at once lifted me in his arms, and carried me to the market-place, where he left me very hastily, and went back to find the ass. I then took to my hands and knees once more, and slowly crawled towards the Duke Octavio’s house. The duchess, his wife, was a daughter of the Emperor, and had

Image unavailable: Cellini attacked by the dogs.
Cellini attacked by the dogs.


been married to Duke Alexander of Florence. Many of my friends had accompanied this great princess from Florence to Rome, and I knew that she was extremely well disposed towards me.

“I crawled, then, towards his Excellency’s house, where I felt certain of finding safety. But, as the adventures I had gone through were too wonderful for a mere mortal, God would not let me give myself up to the vain glory which must have followed an absolute success, but mercifully ordained for my good an affliction far more severe than any to which I had yet been subjected.

“While I was on my way to St. Peter’s market-place, I was recognised by a servant of Cardinal Cornaro, who was lodged at the Vatican. The man ran at once to his master’s bedroom, woke him, and said, ‘Benvenuto, your protégé, is below; he has escaped from the castle, and he is dragging himself along all covered with blood. He seems to have his leg broken, and there is no saying where he is going.’ ‘Quick,’ said the cardinal, ‘run and bring him to me—in this room.’ When I came before him, he at once told me I had nothing to fear, and he sent for the best surgeons in Rome to attend upon me. He also took care to have me placed in a secret apartment; and having thus provided for my immediate wants, he set out to demand, in person, my pardon of the Pope.

“By this time there was a great stir in Rome, for the bands hanging from the high tower had been discovered, and all the city ran to see this incredible thing.

“When Cardinal Cornaro reached the Vatican, he met Signor Roberto Pucci, and related to him the details of my escape, and the fact that I was at that moment hidden in his house. The two then went together to throw themselves{38} at the feet of the Pope; but before they could speak, his Holiness said to them, ‘I know what it is you want of me.’ ‘Most holy father,’ said Pucci, ‘we beg of you, for pity’s sake, to spare this poor man. His talents entitle him to some consideration; and he has just shown such courage and address as seem above humanity. We know not for what offences your Holiness has had him put in prison, but if they are at all pardonable, we entreat you to forget them for our sake.”

“The Pope, somewhat ashamed, replied that he had sent me to prison because I was too presumptuous; ‘But,’ he added, ‘his merit is very well known, and we wish to keep him near us, to which end we will place him beyond the necessity of returning to France. I am sorry that he is so ill. Tell him to make haste to get well, and say that we will then give him cause to forget all the miseries he has suffered.”

“These two great personages duly brought me these good tidings on the part of the Pope.”

  * * * * * *

The governor afterwards visited him, and asked if no one had aided him in his flight.

Cellini continues: “When he went back to the Pope, he gave him all the particulars of my escape, as he had heard them from me, to the astonishment of every one present. ‘It is truly something prodigious,’ said the Pope. ‘Most holy father,’ replied my old enemy, the Signor Peter Louis Farnese, ‘he will do many other things equally prodigious for you, if you set him at liberty, for he is one of the most audacious of men. I will give you a proof of it, of which perhaps you have not yet heard. Before you shut him up in the Castle of St. Angelo, this same Benvenuto, having had some words with one of the Cardinal Santa Fiore’s{39} gentlemen, threatened to strike him; and the cardinal hearing of the affair, said that if the arch-fool attempted to carry out his threat, he would cure him once for all. The words were repeated to Benvenuto, and the cardinal’s palace being in front of his studio, he took his musket one day when he saw his Eminence at the window, and was just going to shoot him, when his intended victim happened to be warned in time and withdrew. He can put a ball in the centre of a farthing with that musket; and when he saw that the cardinal had escaped him, he coolly blew off the head of a pigeon perched on the opposite roof, to give his enemies a proof of his skill. But let your Holiness do what you please with him; I, at least, have warned you. The man is quite capable, if he thought himself unjustly treated, of firing upon even you. He has a character of the utmost ferocity, and he stops at nothing. Remember, he ran his dagger twice into Pompeo’s throat, although the poor wretch was in the midst of ten men appointed expressly to guard him. One of Santa Fiore’s gentlemen was present, and confirmed what the Pope’s son had said.

“The Pope was still under the unfortunate impression produced by these words when, two days after the above conversation, Cardinal Cornaro came to ask him for a bishopric for one of his gentlemen, André Centano. The Pope had, in fact, promised him the bishopric; and, as one was now vacant, the cardinal reminded him of his word. ‘It is true,’ said his Holiness, ‘I have promised you a bishopric, and you shall have one; but I have one favour to ask in return—let me have Benvenuto again.’ ‘Most holy father,’ replied the cardinal, ‘you have for my sake consented to his pardon and his liberty, what will the world say of both of us?’ ‘You want your bishopric,’ replied{40} the Pope, ‘and I want my Benvenuto: let the world say what it pleases.’ ‘Give me my bishopric,’ said the good cardinal, ‘and for the rest your Holiness yourself shall be the judge of what ought to be, and what can be done.’ ‘I will send for Benvenuto,’ said the Pope, somewhat ashamed of breaking his word, ‘and I will put him in one of the lower apartments of my private garden, where he will want for nothing that can aid his recovery. His friends may come and see him, and I will bear the entire cost of his living myself.’

“The cardinal returned to his apartments, and sent to tell me through Signor André that the Pope wished to have me once more in his power, but that I should be lodged in his private garden, and should be free to see any one I pleased. I implored André to ask the cardinal not to give me up, but rather to let me have myself taken at once to a safe place I knew of outside Rome, for that to put me in the power of the Pope would be to send me to death.

“The cardinal would, I believe, have aided me to carry out this plan; but Signor André, who did not like to give up his bishopric, caused the Pope to be acquainted with the whole affair, and I was immediately ordered into custody.”

Cellini was well treated for a time in his new prison. He was afterwards sent to Torre di Nova, and from thence he was taken back again to the Castle of St. Angelo. The mad governor, incensed with a prisoner who had dared to brave him, threw the unfortunate artist into a subterranean cell, which only admitted the sun’s rays for about an hour and a half each day. He remained there four months, with nothing to occupy his time but the reading of the Bible and the Chronicles of Villani, which had been sent to him by his tormentor. This poor maniac felt that he was dying;{41} and attributing his death to Benvenuto, he sometimes redoubled his cruelty towards him, though at others he treated him with greater tenderness. He had him removed from his first dungeon to another and a deeper one, particularly famed since a certain preacher named Foiano had died there of starvation. Meanwhile Montluc, the ambassador of France, had very energetically demanded Cellini’s liberty, in the name of his master, Francis I., and after a time, the governor, whose reason was restored a few days before his death, also urged his release. At length Cardinal Ferrara, on his arrival from France, went to pay his respects to the Pope, who kept him to dinner, “Thinking,” says Cellini, “that a good meal loosens the tongue, and wishing to hear his Eminence talk on several important subjects.” The cardinal, an accomplished diplomatist, accepted the invitation, and entertained the Pope with the pleasures and the amusements of the Court of France, till he saw that he had put his Holiness into an excellent humour, when he implored him in the name of the King to pardon Cellini. The Pope consented, and said to him with a loud burst of laughter, “Take him away at once with you.” The necessary orders were given, and without so much as waiting for the morrow, the cardinal sent immediately for Cellini, who left the Castle of St. Angelo, never to return to it again.



When the confederate Scotch lords had taken Mary Stuart prisoner after her defeat at Carberry Hill, and had resolved to dethrone her, they sent her for safe custody to the castle{42} of Loch Leven, situate on a small island in the middle of the lake of that name. They chose this gloomy place, not only because it was nearly inaccessible, but because the hapless lady would there be in the keeping of that most watchful of all gaolers, a mortal enemy. Margaret Erskine, mother of William Douglas, the owner of the castle, had had a son by James V., whom it pleased her to regard as the legitimate heir to the throne of Scotland, and she hated Mary as an obstacle to her schemes of ambition. Religious differences intensified this feeling, for Margaret was a zealous Presbyterian. In short, her character, her faith, her family pride, and the natural harshness of her temper, all conspired to make her an inexorable guardian of the unfortunate Queen.

After Mary had been compelled by violence to renounce the crown in favour of her son, she was placed in the most rigorous confinement, the strictest watch being kept over her to prevent her, not only from effecting her escape, but from holding any sort of communication with the outer world. Many of the sovereigns of Europe were well disposed towards her, but she was not allowed to write to her friends, though she sometimes found an opportunity of doing so while the daughters of Margaret, who shared her chamber, were asleep, or at their meals. The cruelty of these restraints defeated their end, for it touched the very son her gaoler, George Douglas, with compassion for the captive Queen, and led him to form a plan for her escape. But his first attempt to aid her was unsuccessful. It was arranged that the Queen should leave the castle in the dress of the laundress who brought her linen to Loch Leven, and that George Douglas and a number of his partisans should be ready to receive her as soon she had crossed the lake.{43} The appointed day came; the young man was at his post, and the Queen, thanks to her disguise, had actually got clear of the castle, and reached the boat, when one of the boatmen, struck by the figure of the pretended laundress, attempted to lift her veil, and the hasty gesture with which the Queen resisted his touch, revealed a hand too white and too delicately formed to be that of a hard-working girl. The man at once guessed her real rank, but even at that moment Mary did not lose her presence of mind. She declared her name and title, and ordered him, on pain of death, to row her across the lake. The name of Margaret Erskine had, however, greater terror for the fellow than that of Mary Stuart; and the Queen was taken back to captivity again.

As the penalty of this unfortunate attempt of the 25th March, George Douglas was sent away from the island. This did not, however, make him one whit the less eager to succeed in his noble design; and he confided the Queen to the care of one who was equally devoted to her—his brother, a youth of fifteen or sixteen, called the “Little Douglas,” and employed as page to his mother.

Mary was, of course, made to suffer more heavily, and every fresh precaution against her escape took the form of a new torture. Her life became almost unendurable. She wrote to Elizabeth, to Catherine de’ Medicis, and to Charles IX., supplicating them for aid, but before any of them could move in her favour other help was at hand. George Douglas had never forgotten his promise to set her free. He used the liberty gained by his banishment from the castle in extending the circle of her friends. He engaged the powerful families of the Seatons and the Hamiltons in her cause, and with their aid formed a more carefully prepared plan than the last for her escape. It was arranged{44} that on a given night they should be waiting for her where he had formerly waited. The page, young Douglas, undertook the rest. Sunday, the 2nd May, 1568, was the day fixed for the execution of the project. The whole household at Loch Leven took their meals in a common hall; and while they were together the keys of the fortress were placed on the table by the governor’s side. At supper time on the appointed night the young page watched his opportunity; and while he held out his plate to be filled, he contrived to get possession of the keys without being for the moment observed. He at once ran to Mary’s chamber and released her, and then led her to the boat, locking every door behind him on his way to diminish the chances of pursuit. He then threw the keys into the lake, and took the oars, after handing the Queen and her waiting-woman into their seats, and pulled vigorously for the shore. Before leaving the castle he had placed a signal light in one of the windows, so that when the Queen stepped from the boat she found her friends waiting to receive her. She at once took horse, and accompanied by Lord Seaton, galloped hard for that nobleman’s house at Niddry, in East Lothian, whence after a few hours’ repose she made her way to the more strongly fortified castle of the Hamiltons. She was received there by the Archbishop St. Andrew’s and Lord Claude, who had gone out to meet her with fifty horses. The news of this escape, according to Scott, spread through Scotland with the rapidity of lightning, and the Queen was greeted everywhere with enthusiasm. The people remembered her affability, her grace, her beauty, and her misfortunes; and if they remembered her errors too, it was only to say that she had been punished for them too severely. On Sunday Mary had been a sad captive, abandoned to her enemies in a solitary tower; and on the Saturday

Image unavailable: Escape of Mary, Queen of Scots, from Loch Leven Castle.
Escape of Mary, Queen of Scots, from Loch Leven Castle.


following she found herself at the head of a powerful confederation, in which nine counts, eight lords, nine bishops, and a great number of gentlemen of the highest rank were engaged to defend her and to restore her to her throne. But this ray of hope only illumined her sombre destiny for an instant.

The keys thrown into the lake by the page were found by a fisherman in 1805, and are now placed at Kinross. The place where the fugitive Queen landed, on the southern shore of the lake, is still called Mary’s Knoll.



During the massacre of St. Bartholomew the murderers found their way into the Rue de la Seine, where lived Monsieur de la Force and his two sons, who were noted for their courageous profession of the condemned doctrines. Monsieur de la Force was strongly urged by his brother to escape, but he refused, because his eldest son, who had been very ill, was not yet able to travel, and he would not leave him behind. He had barely taken his heroic resolution before he was surrounded and made prisoner by a band of zealots, red-handed from the work of death. They threatened him, but desisted for a time when he offered their chief two thousand crowns of ransom. He was then led away with his two sons to a house in the Rue des Petits-Champs, and left there in the custody of two Swiss soldiers, after he had given his solemn word of honour that he would not try to escape. The soldiers felt some pity for the hapless gentleman, and gave him to understand that{46} they would not stand in the way of his flight; but he was a slave to his word, and he refused either to move himself or to allow even his youngest son to be taken to a place of safety.

On the next day, according to the Memoirs of La Force, Count Coconas, with a party of fifty soldiers, came to the house in the Rue des Petits-Champs, and told Monsieur de la Force that he had come to fetch him by order of Monsieur the King’s brother. There was a purposed vagueness in the words which did not escape the unhappy gentleman’s notice, and he asked where he was to be taken, at the same time beginning to make some few alterations in his dress, as if he thought it best to pretend to believe what he had heard. But Coconas spared him this trouble, and at the same time relieved himself of the irksomeness of concealment, by tearing hat and cloak out of his hands before he could put them on. Then both father and sons knew what was intended for them, and began to prepare their minds for death. It soon became evident that they were not being conducted to the apartments of Monsieur in the Louvre; but when De la Force pointed this out to the escort, and complained bitterly of the breach of faith towards him after his offer of ransom had been accepted, they answered not a word, but pushed their victims on towards the slaughterhouse.

The father, bareheaded and without his cloak, walked first; the sons, in the same half-naked condition, followed—the elder, who could scarcely move, but to whom terror had given a little strength, being second; and the younger the last in the dismal column. In this way they were taken the entire length of the Rue des Petits-Champs, until they came to the rampart, when the officer in charge, without {47}a word of warning, called out, “Kill! kill!” and in an instant, a circle of soldiers was formed round the victims, and the daggers were at work. The eldest son fell first with the cry, “O my God, I am dead!” The father, turning instinctively to help him, was struck as he was bending over the body, and fell across him—his shield even in death. The youngest son, by nothing less than a miracle of presence of mind, repeated his brother’s cry before a single dagger had reached him, and fell with the others, though his skin was not so much as scratched. But his body was covered all over with the blood that welled from their wounds, and the assassins stripped him almost naked without once suspecting that he had not received a mortal thrust. When they had treated all their victims in this way, they left their naked and still warm bodies with the contemptuous expression, “There they lie, all three.”

The eldest son was quite dead; his diseased frame had probably offered no resistance to the shock of the first blow; the father was mortally wounded, but he lay a long while gasping out his life, while the frame of his youngest and unhurt child, who had nestled close to him the better to feign death, vibrated to every shudder. The child was, of course, quite conscious, and perhaps his position was the more pitiable of the two, for he lay side by side with death, or worse than death, without daring to stir or to utter a single cry of horror, lest he should bring the assassins back. He remained in this sickening companionship till about four in the afternoon, when some persons crept out of the neighbouring houses to look at the bodies and secure what few valuables the soldiers had left behind. One of these marauders, a marker at tennis, in taking off the stockings of the living child, turned him over with his face to the sky, with the exclamation, “Alas! poor little one, what harm has{48} he done?” “I am not dead,” whispered young Caumont, raising himself gently: “pray, pray, save my life!”

“Hush!” said the man; “keep quiet: they are still there,” and pointing to a group of the murderers who were still hovering about the place, he went away, but returned after a little while, when the coast was clear, and told the child to get up. He had brought a tattered, dirty cloak with him, which he threw over Caumont’s naked shoulders; and in this guise of poverty and wretchedness he drove the child before him through the streets, pretending that he was chastising a runaway nephew who had sold his clothes. By this ruse he contrived to pass almost unquestioned through several groups both of citizens and of soldiers, and to lead the boy to the miserable garret in which he and his family lived.

Caumont hid himself for a while in the straw of the marker’s bed, and tried to get a little sleep. In the meantime the man had observed that he wore several rings of great value; and he asked for them in return for his hospitality as soon as the child awoke. Caumont unhesitatingly drew them one by one off his fingers with the exception of a certain diamond, which had been his mother’s gift; and in answer to a question by the marker’s wife, he told her why he wished to keep it. The woman angrily replied that he ought to grudge nothing to persons who had shown him so much kindness, and who could not afford to be out of pocket by their good actions; and the child knowing how much he was in their power, reluctantly yielded up the coveted reward. She then gave him a meal of very unpalatable food, and her husband offered to guide him to any place of safety he might select. The child at first chose the Louvre, where his sister, Madame de Larchant, was near

Image unavailable: “Hush!” said the man, “keep quiet, they are still there.”
“Hush!” said the man, “keep quiet, they are still there.”

the person of the Queen; but the man positively refused to take him there on account of the great risk of his being recognised by some of the guards. “Take me to the arsenal then,” said young De Caumont, “to the house of Madame de Brisambourg, my aunt.” “Agreed,” replied the tennis-marker; “it is a long way, but we will go round by the ramparts, and perhaps we shall be so lucky as not to meet a single person on the road.”

Early the next morning little Caumont, once more disguised in the dirtiest garments, and wearing a red hat bearing a leaden cross, set out with the tennis-marker for the arsenal, which they reached without any noteworthy incident. At the outer gate, Caumont told his guide to go no farther, but to wait until some one should return to him with the dress and thirty crowns. The child at the same time stood ready to enter the arsenal, but he could not summon up courage to call out to the soldiers to open the gate. At length, however, some one came out, and he passed in without having to submit to the dreaded scrutiny. He traversed the first court, and saw several people whom he thought he knew; but he was so effectually concealed in his rags that none of them had a moment’s suspicion of his real identity.

In the massacre in which Caumont had so narrowly escaped death, a page named La Vigerie, and called L’Auvergnat, to distinguish him from a namesake, had met with an equally miraculous preservation. He was with M. de la Force and his two sons in the house in the Rue des Petits-Champs when the Count de Coconas and his party arrived; and he was about to follow his master, when one of the Swiss soldiers said to him, “Look out for yourself; they are going to be killed.” He accordingly stayed behind; and as soon as the party had left he stole{50} quietly out of the house, and followed them at a distance without attracting notice, for he wore the livery of the Count de la Marck, one of the chiefs of the massacre. He watched the assassins at their bloody work, and then hurried away to Madame de Brisambourg at the arsenal, with the news of her brother-in-law’s death. He was kindly received, and though the lady was well-nigh overwhelmed with grief, she took ample measures to provide for his safety.

The young De la Force had stood for some time trembling before Madame de Brisambourg’s door, when it was opened from within, and he saw this page standing in the entry. He called out to him, but in so weak a voice that he was not heard, and the door was closed again. But shortly after it opened a second time, and then he made himself heard, calling out two or three times in the energy of his misery and his despair, “Auvergnat! Auvergnat!” The page ran out, and for a time failed to recognise his young master in the dirty and ill-dressed little boy who began to appeal to him for protection. “Do you not know me, Auvergnat?” inquired the child, looking him full in the face. The Auvergnat returned his gaze, and when at length he found out who it was, his astonishment at this return to life of one slain, as he thought, before his very eyes was almost ludicrous to witness. He at once seized Caumont by the hand, and hurried away with him to a gentleman of the household, by whom he was taken to Madame de Brisambourg. The lady fell on his neck, and for some time could not speak for sobs.

When she was a little recovered Caumont told her his story, and her first care was to have his dress changed, and to send back the bundle of dirty clothes with the promised reward of thirty crowns to the tennis-marker at the outer{51} gate. She then had him put to bed in the room occupied by her waiting-women. After he had slept a little he got up, and dressing himself, by his aunt’s direction, in the livery of the Marshal de Biron, Grand Master of the Artillery, was taken to see that nobleman, and allowed to enter his service as a page, with the Auvergnat for a play-fellow.

He had not been more than two days in the marshal’s apartments when word was brought that the King had heard of fugitives being concealed there, and had directed that the place should be searched. The marshal was greatly incensed, and he ordered four pieces of cannon to be pointed against the principal gate of the arsenal, to repel any attempt at intrusion. Whatever truth there may have been in this particular rumour, the Queen-mother had certainly heard of the escape and concealment of young De la Force; for a very few days after his arrival at the arsenal, she sent a gentleman to the marshal’s apartments, at the instance of a certain M. de Larchant, to demand him. While this messenger was discharging his errand, the child was hurried away into the room of the marshal’s daughters, and concealed between two beds, on which a few farthingales were thrown with such an appearance of carelessness that no one would ever have thought of looking for a fugitive there. When all was ready, the gentleman was invited to begin his search, and he passed through all the rooms without finding the boy. He then returned to the Louvre, with the tidings that the Queen had been deceived by a false rumour, greatly to the disgust and disappointment of M. de Larchant, for it was this person in effect who had mainly instigated the Queen-mother to order the search. He was actuated by the very vilest motives, being next heir after the three{52} De la Forces to a very considerable property. His influence was all-powerful at the palace; and but for this circumstance it is more than probable that none of that family would have been marked for destruction at the massacre.

When the Queen’s gentleman had gone, young Caumont crept out from between the beds and went back to his old place of concealment in the marshal’s apartments. But it was not considered prudent to let him remain there, and the very next day, M. de Born, Lieutenant-general of the Artillery, and a friend of his aunt, took him very secretly to his own lodgings, where they breakfasted. M. de Born then told him that he was to enter the service of M. Guillon, Controller of the Artillery, as page, and that when asked his name he was to say he was son of M. de Beaupuy, a lieutenant under the Marshal de Biron. He at the same time cautioned him particularly against leaving the house when in M. Guillon’s service, and against talking, lest he should by some chance word betray the secret of his identity. The poor child promised faithfully to observe all these directions, and was led away to the controller’s house, trotting by the side of his new protector, who was on horseback because he had a wooden leg, and could not walk without pain.

Arrived at the house, M. de Born delivered the child over to the controller, in a speech full of praises of his friend’s goodness of heart, and lamentations about the disturbed state of the country, which made it very difficult for persons who had the care of young children and such helpless folk to know how best to provide for their security. M. Guillon listened, and readily undertook the charge of young De Beaupuy, as Caumont was called. This was done simply out of his friendship for M. de Born, for the two had been long acquainted; and the fact that, notwithstanding{53} this intimacy, De Born did not think fit to entrust him with the whole secret, may serve to show in what extreme peril the young fugitive was judged to be. Guillon guessed it, nevertheless, from the evident anxiety of his friend, or at least he had a pretty shrewd suspicion that he had not heard all the truth.

Caumont had been some seven or eight days with the controller, and had not failed to do everything M. de Born had told him. His master came home every day to dinner, and it was the new page’s business to let him in; but one day opening the door in answer to a knock at the usual hour, Caumont was surprised to see, in place of M. Guillon, a person he had formerly known. He hastily shut the door in great terror; but the new comer only knocked more loudly than before, and called out that he had a very urgent message to deliver from Madame de Brisambourg. When he had thus gained admittance, he told the child that Madame de Brisambourg had sent him to say that she was in great trouble about her nephew, and wished to have news of him. This said he went away, and the terrified boy still suspecting him, jumped on horseback immediately, and rode to M. de Born to tell him what had happened. M. de Born took him to Madame de Brisambourg for an explanation, but the lady was equally astonished with himself, and said that no messenger had been sent by her.

The peril was immediate, and a council of the child’s friends was held without delay. It was seen that in the neighbourhood in which he then was, the safety of the little fugitive could no longer be reckoned on, and it was resolved to dispatch him into a distant part of the country. The marshal was accordingly prevailed on to apply to the King for a passport for his house-steward, whom he was{54} sending with a page to Guyenne, to look after his affairs in that province. The request was granted; a trusty gentleman of the marshal’s personated the house-steward, and the page was, of course, no other than the poor hunted child. They set out, and thanks to M. de Born, passed safely through the gates of Paris; but when they were about a two days’ journey from the capital, the child was horrified at the sight of a fellow wearing his father’s dressing-gown, whom he recognised as one of the executioners of the Rue des Petits-Champs. The wretch was boasting of his exploits, but some chance words dropped by him acquainted Caumont with the fact that his uncle, with about a hundred of his gentlemen, had escaped the massacre. Farther on their guide put them all in great peril by his imprudence, in publicly condemning the massacre in a little inn in which they stayed. At length, after having escaped many dangers, they arrived on the eighth day of their journey at the chateau of Castelnaut-des-Mirandes, in Guyenne, where the child was received in the arms of his uncle, with every demonstration of gratitude and joy, and where he found plenty, peace, and security awaiting him after all his troubles. (Memoirs of Caumont de la Force.)



Charles de Guise, eldest Son of Henry de Guise, who was assassinated at Blois, was arrested at the death of his father, in 1588, and confined in the chateau of Tours. He remained there three years (till 1591) before he could make his escape.{55}

“The duke,” says the president De Thou, had taken counsel with Claude de la Chastre and his son, and had resolved to make an effort for liberty on August 15th, the fête of the Virgin. He took the communion on that day, in order to deceive his guards and to remove all suspicion of his intention from their minds. He had remarked that it was their custom to close the doors after dinner, and to take the keys to the sheriff. On August 15th, accordingly, when the men were seated at their meal in the large hall, he quietly locked them in, and ran with great speed to the top of a high tower which lay nearest to the bridge beyond the city, first taking care to bolt the door behind him.

“Everything succeeded according to his wish. His trusty valet, who aided him on the occasion, was waiting for him at the top of the tower, holding a cord in his hand, with a piece of wood tied transversely to the end of it, to form a seat for the duke and facilitate his descent. When all was ready the valet let the cord go gently, and his master reached the ground in safety. The man then fastened the rope firmly to a stake, and at greater peril followed the duke, who had already hurried away along the course of the river, and whom he did not overtake till he reached Saint-Côme.

“The guards were in great consternation. Rouvray, the Governor of Tours, sent the news of the escape in all directions, with orders to the neighbouring population to take up arms and put themselves on the track of the fugitives. He had previously broken open the door of the tower; but the men employed in the work, finding no traces of their former prisoner, joined their companions, who were running wildly about the city. A great deal of time was wasted in the search for the keys of the bridge{56} gate and the various doors of the chateau, for all the doors were opened at hazard, as it was not known what direction the fugitives had taken.”

“As soon as the duke reached the ground,” says Davila, “he took the road into the country by the Loire, and soon found two men holding a horse ready for him to mount. Galloping hard, he presently joined the Baron de Maison, son of the Lord de la Chastre, who, with three hundred horsemen, attended him beyond the Cher, and who sent the escort on with him to Bourges, where he not only found safety but was received with every demonstration of joy.” (Ludovic Lalanne: Curiosities of Biography.)



Mary de’ Medicis, after the assassination of her favourite, Concini, seeing herself shut out from all participation in affairs by the intrigues of Luynes, asked for and obtained permission to retire to Blois (May, 1617), where she soon became a prisoner. Luynes surrounded her with spies, and placed two companies of cavalry in the neighbouring villages, with orders to watch her slightest movements. But the Duke d’Épernon and other malcontent lords, who had retired from the court, wishing to give more importance to their party, sought to deliver the Queen-mother and to place her at their head.

M. d’Épernon was chiefly urged on to this enterprise by a devoted adherent of the Queen-mother, named De Ruccellai, who had no other thought than how to serve his mistress, and no other inspiration than a passionate desire{57} to see her at liberty. After long meditation over various plans, Ruccellai thought that no person could be made so useful to him as M. de Bouillon, on account both of that nobleman’s reputation among all classes of his countrymen, particularly among the Huguenots, and of the security which was afforded by his retreat at Sedan. He accordingly made a secret journey to Blois, and obtained the Queen-mother’s permission to speak to M. de Bouillon, and to promise him whatever might be necessary, in her name. He then sought out M. de Bouillon, but at very great peril, for he was obliged to travel by night and alone, for fear of being discovered. M. de Bouillon, however, excused himself from all participation in the design on account of his age, his infirmities, and his good understanding with the King, which he was unwilling to risk, as he had no other wish than to enjoy the benefits of that mercy which had been extended to him after the death of Marshal d’Ancre, and to end his days in peace. He, however, referred the Queen-mother’s messenger to M. d’Épernon, who, being extremely ill-satisfied with De Luynes, and having, besides, a number of large establishments in the kingdom, would be likely to prove far more serviceable in the cause than himself.

Ruccellai, having written to the Queen-mother and obtained her consent to this change of plan, laid his proposals before M. d’Épernon. The latter at first received them with some suspicion, but he was finally won over. At the end of a secret conference at his house, which lasted several days, he authorised Ruccellai to tell the Queen that if she could once contrive to escape from the chateau, and to pass the bridge on the Loire, he would await her arrival on the other side of the river, with such an escort as would{58} conduct her safely, in spite of every obstacle, to Angoulême, or any other part of the kingdom to which she might choose to go. The Queen replied that nothing would be more easy; and Ruccellai pressed D’Épernon to hasten the execution of his part of the plan; but the latter insisted on putting off the enterprise till the February of the following year.

De Luynes, ever suspicious, and wishing to discover the real feelings of the Queen, sent one of his creatures to her, to say that the King was shortly going to Blois, and that he would fetch her away with him. The envoy also made repeated protestations of service on the part of De Luynes, and assured the Queen that she would in future be treated exactly in accordance with her own desires; but he never failed, while proffering these services, to narrowly watch the countenances of the Queen and all who approached her, to gather what he could of their real feelings. But not one of the Queen’s people was yet aware of her design; and as she had already sworn without scruple, so she did not hesitate to swear again, and that so well, that the agent of De Luynes went back firmly persuaded that she was impatient for the coming of the King, and was perfectly ready to be on good terms with his master and forget everything.

D’Épernon, having completed his measures, went to Confolens, where the Archbishop of Toulouse was waiting for him, with two hundred of his friends; but he did not find the expected news of the Queen-mother. He had, however, gone too far to recede; and he at once sent M. du Plessis to the Queen, to warn her of his arrival and to learn her wishes. When M. du Plessis had delivered his message, the Queen decided on setting out that same night.

She then for the first time took others into her confidence, and broke the matter to the Count de Brennes, her master{59} of the horse, to M. de Merçay, and another officer of her body guard, and to the Signora Caterine, her woman of the bedchamber. She ordered the Count de Brennes to be at the door of her room at five the next morning, and to see that her travelling chariot with six horses was at the same time beyond the bridge. The others she kept with her all night, to pack up her jewels and wearing apparel.

With these three gentlemen then, and a single woman of the bedchamber, she left the place on the 22nd of February, at six in the morning, by the window of a room looking out upon the terrace, from which, owing to a broken wall, it was easy to reach the ground without passing by the door of the chateau. After the Queen had let herself glide down this ruin, and had regained her feet, she made her way to the bridge, where she met two men, one of whom, seeing her almost alone at that early hour, passed a very uncharitable judgment upon her. The other, however, recognised her, guessed her purpose, and wished her “God speed.”

On the other side of the bridge she found her carriage, and entering it, with her attendants she went to Montrichard, where she came up with one of her gentlemen, who had preceded her to make sure of the passage of the Cher. She remained there two days, during which time she wrote to the King, and then she set out for Angoulême.

After long conferences and innumerable intrigues, in which De Luynes and Richelieu, then Bishop of Luçon, displayed all their ability, Mary de’ Medicis, seeing all her partisans abandoning her interests in their anxiety to carry on a quarrel among themselves, left Angoulême for Tours, where Louis XIII. and Anne of Austria were waiting for her. They received her at about two leagues from the city, and lavished upon her the most affectionate caresses. She{60} passed seven or eight days with them, and then withdrew for a time to Chinon, until the preparations were completed for her grand entry into Angers.—(Memoirs of Fontenay-Mareuil.)



Grotius was involved in the ruin of Barneveldt, for whom he had a very great admiration, and whose partisan he had been; and was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment, and the confiscation of all his property. He was confined in the castle of Louvenstein, near Gorcum. This was in 1619, when he was in his thirty-sixth year. He was very closely guarded, and the only consolation he enjoyed was that of the company of his wife, Marie de Reygesberg, who had obtained permission to visit him. The boon was accompanied by this cruel condition, that if she left the prison she would not be allowed to return to it. After a time, however, the severity of this rule was slightly relaxed, and she was allowed to leave the place twice a week.

Grotius had been some eighteen months at Louvenstein, when Muys van Holi, one of his declared enemies, who had also been one of his judges, warned the States-General that he had received certain information of the prisoner’s intention to escape. An agent was at once sent to the castle, to examine into the truth of the report, but he returned without having been able to find anything in confirmation of it. It was, however, so far true, that Marie de Reygesberg was constantly occupied with a design for effecting her husband’s liberation.{61}

The prisoner had been allowed to borrow books of his friends, and when he had read them they were sent away in a large trunk, together with his linen, which was washed at Gorcum. During the first year the guards had never once failed to make a close search of this trunk whenever it was sent out of the prison; but tired at length of turning over nothing but dirty linen and books, they used to allow it to pass without examination. Their negligence did not escape the notice of the prisoner’s wife, and it occurred to her that she might take advantage of it. She discussed her plans with her husband, and persuaded him to let himself be shut up in the trunk, first taking care to bore several small holes in it at either end for the admission of air. When all was ready, the intended escape was rehearsed. The prisoner was shut up in the trunk during the time usually occupied by the journey to Gorcum, and this experiment was repeated several times, until he had grown tolerably accustomed to all the inconveniences of the situation. The adventurous pair then awaited nothing but a favourable moment for carrying out their design.

This soon came: the commandant of the fortress left the place for a short time on business; and before his departure the brave wife sought an interview with him, and obtained his permission to send away the trunk full of books, alleging as a reason that her husband being very weak, she wished to place the temptation to study beyond his reach. On leaving the commandant she immediately returned to the apartment occupied by Grotius, and shut him up in the trunk. His valet and a female servant were in the secret, and she caused them to spread the report of her husband’s illness among the soldiers, so that his temporary absence from his accustomed place of resort within{62} the castle might occasion no surprise. Two soldiers were then brought in to carry the trunk, and one of them finding it very heavy, observed: “There must be an Arminian inside,” in allusion to the sect, flourishing at this epoch, to which Grotius belonged. The wife replied calmly, “In truth there are some Arminian books.” The chest was then lowered to the ground by means of a ladder, though not without great difficulty. The soldier who had found it too heavy was by no means satisfied with the explanation he had received; and he insisted that the trunk should be opened, in order that he might see what it really contained. He even went so far as to communicate his suspicions to the wife of the commandant, but the lady, either through negligence, or with the deliberate intention of refusing to notice what she had no desire to see, declined to listen to him. She replied, that the trunk contained nothing but books, as the wife of Grotius had assured her, and that it might be taken to the boat. This was done, and the female servant was allowed to take charge of it and to convey it to a certain house in Gorcum, as she had been ordered to do. She steadily refused, on its arrival at the landing-place, to have it placed on a sledge along with the rest of the luggage, on the ground that it was full of very fragile articles, which might easily be damaged. It was accordingly lifted into a hand barrow, and wheeled to the house of David Dazelaër, a friend of Grotius, and a relation of Marie de Reygesberg. When the woman found herself alone with her charge, she lifted the lid of the chest, and her master leaped out safe and sound, though he had suffered somewhat from his long confinement in a space three feet and a half in length. He at once assumed the dress of a mason; and taking a rule and trowel in his hand, he left the house by a back door

Image unavailable: She lifted the lid of the chest, and her master leaped out safe and sound.
She lifted the lid of the chest, and her master leaped out safe and sound.


and made his way across the square of Gorcum to a gate of the city leading to the river. Here he again took boat and went to Valvic, in Brabant, whence, after making himself known to some Arminian friends, he set out by coach for Anvers, using great precautions on the way to prevent discovery.

Meanwhile, the report of his illness was still current at Louvenstein; and his wife, in order to gain time for him, assured every one that he was in great danger. As soon, however, as she learned, by the return of the servant, that he had reached Brabant, and was, consequently, in safety, she boldly told the guards that their bird had flown. The commandant, who had just returned, ran at once to the prisoner’s apartment and ordered the courageous woman to say where her husband was hidden. She suffered him to spend some time in a fruitless search, and then informed him of the stratagem by which he had been duped. She was at once imprisoned, more rigorously than ever Grotius had been; but she petitioned the States-General, and in a few days was permitted to rejoin the husband for whose liberty she had risked so much.



During the winter of 1635, Isaac Arnauld was governor of Philipsburg—a place well fortified by earthworks and a large ditch (the water of which was constantly frozen), but very insufficiently garrisoned. “The Imperialists, who were well informed of everything,” says the Abbé Arnauld, in his “Memoirs,” “had little difficulty in forming their plan of{64} attack and putting it into execution.” When they entered the place they found the garrison under arms, but too weak to sustain a general assault. All the courage and conduct of the governor availed him nothing but to make a desperate defence and to sell his liberty dearly, after nearly all the garrison had been put to the sword. He was obliged to surrender, with a few companions who survived the slaughter; and after having been imprisoned in several places, was at length taken to Esslingen.

To add to the miseries of his situation, he was doomed to hear that he was openly accused, at the Court of France, of having lost Philipsburg by his negligence. From that moment he had but one thought—namely, how he could escape and clear his character before his sovereign; and with this view he steadily refused to become a prisoner on parole. His design was not easy of execution, for he was constantly guarded by soldiers, who accompanied him, even in his walks in the grounds of the fortress, and slept outside the door of his room at night. These difficulties, however, served only to give a stimulus to his invention. He carefully measured with his eye the exact height of his window which opened on the ditch of the fortress, and he became convinced that he had only to make the descent in safety to gain his liberty. He began by gaining the connivance of some French cavalry soldiers who were in the service of the Emperor, with the promise of giving them employment in his own regiment of carabineers, on his return to France; and he afterwards kept his word. The great and almost the only difficulty was to find rope for the descent, for there was but little to fear from the watchfulness of the garrison, the ditch beneath his window being very poorly guarded. To that end he always urged his confederates, when{65} he was taking exercise, to pretend to be amusing themselves with various games, which they were always the more ready to do as he never failed to encourage them with liberal supplies of drink. After a short time, indeed, they proposed the games themselves, and seemed to take a real pleasure in them. One of these games, called Girding the Ass, was peculiarly favourable to his design, for it involved the use of a cord for binding the principal player. Arnauld always found a piece of silver for the purchase of this cord, and never asked for the change. When the game was over, the cord, being too small to seem worth keeping, used to be thrown away, and those who were in the prisoner’s interest took care to pick it up and give it him without attracting attention. When he had as many pieces as he judged necessary for his purpose, he put his scheme into execution, and escaped with the soldiers who had helped him; and he used such diligence that his friends first received the news of his liberty from his own lips.

On his arrival at Paris he constituted himself, by his own act, a prisoner in the Bastille, and demanded a full inquiry into the allegations against him. He remained there several months, until he had cleared his character, and he then consented to be set free. (Memoirs of the Abbé Arnauld.)



The Duke of Beaufort, one of the chiefs of the party of the Fronde, was accused of having tried to assassinate Cardinal Mazarin, and was arrested at the Louvre, by order of Anne of Austria, and imprisoned in the tower of Vincennes. He{66} remained there five years, but at length made his escape by the aid of his friends. The story is best told in the words of Madame de Motteville:—

“On the Day of Pentecost, the 1st of June, 1648, the Duke of Beaufort, who had been confined for five years at Vincennes, escaped from his prison at about twelve at noon. He found means to break his fetters, through the skill of his friends and of some of his own people, who served him faithfully on this occasion. He was closely watched by an officer of the body-guard, and by seven or eight soldiers, who slept in his room and had orders never to lose sight of him. He was waited on, besides, by the King’s own servants, and was not allowed to have one of his own men near him; and, moreover, Chavigny, the Governor of Vincennes, was unfriendly to him. The officer in charge of him, La Ramée, yielding to the request of some companions, had secretly given an asylum in the prison to a certain person, who alleged that he had fought a duel and that he wished to escape the penalty of his offence. There is some reason, however, to believe that he had been taken to Vincennes by the creatures of Beaufort, and probably with the knowledge of the officer; but I cannot speak positively as to this circumstance, and I am unwilling to deceive myself by mere appearances.

“At first this man, willing to make himself useful, played more zeal than any one else in his self-imposed service of watching the prisoner, and even did not shrink from rudeness, as the Queen was informed when this story was told to her. But whether he was at first there for the Duke of Beaufort, or against him, he presently allowed himself to be gained over by that prince, and he became useful to him by communicating with his friend and informing{67} him of the schemes that were on foot for his release. When the time was ripe for the execution of their designs, the confederates expressly chose the Day of Pentecost, because every one was engaged in Divine service during that solemn fête. While the guards were at dinner, the Duke of Beaufort asked La Ramée to allow him to take a walk in a gallery, to which he had sometimes been permitted to have access. This gallery, although lower than the donjon in which the duke was confined, was, nevertheless, at a great height from the ditch, on which it looked. La Ramée followed his prisoner in his walk, and remained alone with him in the gallery. Meanwhile, the man whom the duke had gained had gone to dinner with the others, but, after taking a little wine, he feigned illness and left the table, as though to seek the fresh air of the gallery, taking care, on his way, to fasten several doors that were between his companions and their prisoner. As soon as he had joined the duke, the two threw themselves upon La Ramée so suddenly that he had not time to cry out. He was easily overpowered, for the duke alone was a very strong man. They were unwilling to take his life, though prudence might have dictated that course; but they gagged and bound him very securely, and left him on the floor. They then tied a cord to the window and slid, one after the other, to the ground, the man going first, as the one who would have been the most severely punished if their flight had been prevented. The depth of the ditch is so great, that although their rope was a very long one, they were obliged to drop a considerable distance. The servant suffered no injury from the fall, but the duke came to the earth with such violence that he fainted, and it took some time to bring him to himself. When he was sufficiently{68} recovered, four or five of his people, who were on the other side of the ditch, and who had witnessed his sufferings with an anxiety that may easily be conceived, threw another rope to the fugitives, and by means of it drew them up by sheer force of arm to their own side—the servant taking precedence of his master, as before, in accordance with the engagement between them, which the duke most faithfully observed throughout the affair. When he reached the bank, the duke was in a very poor plight, for he had not only been wounded in falling, but his flesh had been cruelly pressed and cut by the tightened rope. But having a little recovered his strength, as much by his own natural force of will as by his fear of losing the reward of all his exertions, he raised himself and walked into a neighbouring wood, where he found a troop of fifty horsemen ready to do his bidding. One of his gentlemen, who was with him at the time, has since told me that the duke’s joy at seeing himself again at liberty and among his friends was such that it seemed to cure him in an instant, and that he leaped on horseback and vanished like a flash of lightning, as though he were mad with joy at the idea of being able to breathe the air without restraint, and to say with King Francis, when he set foot in France, on his return from Spain, ‘I am free!’ A woman gathering herbs by the side of the ditch, with her little son, saw all that passed; but the men in ambush had so threatened them, and they had besides, so little interest in preventing the escape of the duke, that they were perfectly still and became passive spectators of all that passed. As soon, however, as the fugitives were gone the woman ran with the news to her husband, the gardener of the place, and the two together alarmed the guard. But it was too late; it was not for man to change what God had ordained, for{69} the stars, which seem sometimes to register the decrees of sovereigns, had already informed many persons, through an astrologer, named Goësel, that the duke would leave the chateau that very day. The news had a great effect on the whole court, and particularly on those who knew something of the duke’s plans. The minister was, no doubt, a good deal annoyed at the success of the little plot; but, true to his old habit, he did not make any display of his feelings.”

Madame de Motteville afterwards adds, “The Queen and Cardinal Mazarin talk very good-naturedly about it, and say laughingly, that M. de Beaufort has done right.”



In December, 1652, Cardinal de Retz, who had played so considerable a part in the troubles of the Fronde, was wasting his time in fruitless negotiations with the ministers, when he was arrested at the Louvre and taken to Vincennes. He did not like his prison, and he had therefore to do what was very distasteful to him—namely, to make a humble appeal to the Archbishop of Paris, ere he could procure his transfer to the Chateau of Nantes, then under the governorship of Chalucet. From thence in due time he made his escape; and he gives us the following account of the exploit in his memoirs:—

“The Marshal de la Meilleraye and the First President de Bellièvre came together to fetch me from Vincennes. As the marshal was a martyr to the gout he could not come upstairs, so that M. Bellièvre alone came to my room, and this gave him an opportunity to tell me, as we were leaving{70} it together, that I was to be sure not to give my parole when I was asked for it. I had no sooner reached the bottom of the staircase than the marshal demanded this pledge. I replied, that though I had heard of prisoners of war being required to give their parole, I did not know that the demand was customary in the case of prisoners of state. M. de Bellièvre then struck in on my side and said, ‘You don’t understand one another. The cardinal will not refuse to give his word provided only that you (turning to the marshal) confide absolutely in him, and let him walk about without guards; but if you guard him, monsieur, of what use will his parole be, for a man who is guarded is free from all obligations of honour?’

“The First President knew very well what he was about in saying this, for he had heard the Queen make the marshal promise that they should never lose sight of me. ‘You know,’ replied the marshal, looking M. de Bellièvre in the face, ‘whether or not I am able to do what you propose. But come,’ he continued, turning to me, ‘I must guard you, then, it seems; however, I will take care that you have nothing to complain of.’

“I remained there simply under the charge of M. de la Meilleraye, and he kept his word, for it would have been impossible to add to the kindness with which he treated me. I saw everybody; I had even all the amusements I desired, including a comedy almost every evening. All the ladies were there, and they supped with me very often. The fidelity of the guards to their trust was equal to their good nature. They never lost sight of me except when I entered my room, and the only door of this room was watched by six men, day and night. The window—a very high one—looked out on a courtyard, always filled with soldiers, and the six{71} men appointed to look after me used to watch me from a terrace when I was taking exercise in a little garden planted in a kind of bastion or ravelin on a level with the water.

“I resolved, however, to devote all my energies to the recovery of my liberty. The First President urged me very strongly to make the attempt, and Montresor had sent me, through a lady of Nantes, a note containing the following words:—‘You are to be taken to Brest at the end of the month, if you don’t get away.’ But my task was by no means an easy one. The first thing was to amuse the marshal, and in doing that I did not forget that the most suspicious persons are often the most easily duped. I then spoke to M. de Brissac, who made journeys to Nantes from time to time, and who promised to help me. As he carried a great deal with him he invariably had a number of mules in his train, and it occurred to me that I might easily hide myself in one of the large trunks fastened to these creatures’ backs. A trunk was accordingly made for me somewhat larger than the rest, and with a hole or two in it to admit air. I tried it myself, and came to the conclusion that this means of escape was not only practicable, but that it was as easy as it was simple, and that it would not oblige me to share my secret with many persons.

“M. de Brissac, too, was very much in favour of it at first, but in the course of a journey to Machecoul he quite changed his opinion. On his return to Nantes he assured me that I could not fail to be suffocated in the trunk; but to convince me that his good intentions on my behalf remained the same, he told me that if I devised some other plan I might reckon on very effectual help from him in all that concerned the outside of the castle. We therefore began to take new measures on a plan which I formed myself the{72} moment I became convinced that the other one could not be put into execution.

“I have already said that I used sometimes to take exercise on a kind of ravelin that gives on the river Loire. As we were in the month of August, and the river was very dry, the water did not quite touch the wall of the ravelin, but left a long strip of shore visible at the foot of it. Between the garden which was on the top of this bastion and the terrace where my guards took their station, there was a door, which Chalucet had had made to prevent the soldiers from stealing his grapes. This circumstance shaped my plan, which was to quietly fasten the door after me one day without letting the guards observe what I was doing, and then, while they could still see me through the open trellis-work, without being able to reach me if their suspicions should be aroused, to drop down from the wall by means of a rope provided for me by my doctor and the Abbé Rousseau, and to jump on horseback at the bottom of the ravelin with four gentlemen, whom I intended to make the companions of my flight. This plan was, of course, very difficult of execution. It could only be carried out in open day, between two sentries standing but thirty paces apart, and in full view of the six guards who could fire at me through the openings in the trellis-work. It was necessary again that the four gentlemen who were to accompany me and to favour my escape should be careful to be at the foot of the ravelin at exactly the proper time, for their presence there a moment too early would excite suspicions that might ruin all. If my object had merely been to get out of prison it would have been enough for me to have taken only such measures as I have already indicated; but I had very much more to do besides, for it was my intention to make my way to Paris and to appear there in{73} public. And more than that, I had other pretensions that entailed difficulties of a still more formidable nature. It was desirable that I should travel from Nantes to Paris by diligence, for the couriers of the marshal would be certain to carry the alarm along every road, and it would be impossible for me to avoid observation and arrest if I travelled alone. And lastly, I should have to take care to inform my friends in Paris of my intentions while keeping my enemies there in ignorance of them. No event of our time would be more extraordinary than the success of an escape like mine, if the end of it were at the same time to free me from my fetters and to make me master of the capital of the kingdom.

“I began my flight on Saturday the 8th of April, at five o’clock in the evening. The little garden door closed, so to speak, quite naturally after me, and I slid down easily (with a stick between my legs) from the bastion, which was forty feet high. My valet de chambre, Fromentin, who is with me still, kept the guards occupied by giving them drink, and they became quite absorbed in the amusement of watching a Jacobin, who had got out of his depth in the river and was drowning under the castle walls. The sentinel who was but seventy paces from me, but in such a position that he could not reach me, hesitated to fire, because the moment I saw him getting his match ready I called out to him that he would be hanged if he did me harm, and he afterwards declared that this led him to believe I was escaping with the connivance of the marshal. Two little pages, who were bathing, and who saw me hanging by the rope, cried out lustily that I was trying to get away, but no attention was paid to them, because it was thought that they were merely calling for help for the drowning Jacobin. The four gentlemen were waiting for me at the bottom of the ravelin, where{74} they pretended to be watering their horses as though they were just getting ready for the chase. To be brief, I was on horseback myself before the least alarm had been given, and as I had forty relays placed between Nantes and Paris, I should infallibly have reached the capital had not an accident occurred which I may say has exercised a fatal influence over the rest of my life.

“The moment I got to horse I took the road to Mauve—which is, if I am not mistaken, at about five leagues from Nantes by the river. It was agreed that M. de Brissac and the Chevalier de Sévigné should be in readiness there with a boat to carry me over. La Ralde, master of the horse to the Duke de Brissac, who preceded me, told me that I must gallop very fast, so as not to give the marshal’s guards time to close the gate of a little street in their quarter through which we should have to pass. I was mounted on one of the best horses in the world, which had cost M. de Brissac a thousand crowns, but I did not let him have his head, because the pavement was very bad and very slippery. We were making great speed when one of my gentlemen having suddenly warned me to take to my pistols because two of the marshal’s guards were approaching—who, however, were not paying the least attention to us—I unfortunately followed his advice, and was in the act of presenting the pistol at the nearest guard, when it exploded and frightened my horse, which reared and threw me. I fell with great violence against a door-post and broke my left shoulder. Another of my gentlemen, named Beauchesne, lifted me up and put me on horseback again: and though I endured such frightful sufferings that I was obliged every now and then to pull my hair to save myself from fainting, I finished my ride of five leagues before the grand-master,{75} who followed at full speed with all the couriers of Nantes, could come up with me. I found M. de Brissac and the Chevalier de Sévigné at the appointed place by the river, but I fainted the moment I entered the boat. They brought me to myself by throwing water in my face. I wanted to get on horseback again when we had passed the river, but I lacked the strength; and Monsieur de Brissac was obliged to put me in a stack of hay, where he left me with one of my gentlemen, named Montet, who held me in his arms. He took Joly away with him, who, with Montet, had alone been able to follow us, the horses of the others having broken down: and he went straight to Beaupreau, with the intention of assembling the nobility there to come to my aid.

“I was hidden there above seven hours, suffering agonies such as I can hardly describe. My shoulder was put out of joint, and I was covered with terrible bruises. I was seized with a fever at about nine o’clock in the evening, and the pain that gave me was cruelly aggravated by the heat of the hay. I did not dare drink, although I was on the bank of the river, because if Montet and I had quitted our hiding-place there would have been no one to arrange the hay after us; and this circumstance would have put our pursuers on our track. As it was, we heard the horse-soldiers passing to right and left of us. M. de la Poise St. Offanges, a gentleman of some distinction in the district, whom M. de Brissac had informed of my plight, came at about two o’clock in the morning to take me away from the stack as soon as he had remarked that there were no more horse-soldiers in the neighbourhood.

“Monsieur d’Offanges put me upon a hand-barrow and had me wheeled by two peasants to a barn at about two{76} leagues from the place, where I was again covered with hay; but as I now had something to drink I found myself in a state of almost perfect comfort.

“In about seven or eight hours Monsieur and Madame Brissac came to fetch me with about fifteen or twenty horses, and they took me to Beaupreau, where I only remained one night, while the nobility were being called together. In this short time M. de Brissac had assembled more than two hundred gentlemen, who were joined at about four leagues from the place by three hundred gentlemen under M. de Retz. We passed almost within sight of Nantes, from which place some of the marshal’s guards came to intercept us. They were vigorously repulsed and driven within the barrier, and we arrived at Machecoul, which is in the district of De Retz, in perfect safety.”

From Machecoul, Cardinal de Retz was taken, not without difficulty, to Belle-Isle; and some days after he reached San Sebastian, whence he went with Spanish passports to Rome. (Memoirs of Cardinal de Retz.)



Paul-Antoine Quiquéran de Beaujeu, Knight of Malta, had acquired the reputation of one of the first seamen of his time by the number and success of his fights against the Turks. In the month of January, 1660, he was driven by a storm into one of the worst ports of the Archipelago, where he was blockaded and attacked by thirty galleys of Rhodes, commanded by the Capitan Pacha Mazamet in person. He stood out against an overpowering fire for an entire day,{77} and only yielded when he had spent all his ammunition and lost three-fourths of his crew. He was put into irons and carried away in triumph; but the victorious fleet was assailed with a new storm of such violence that Mazamet was obliged to have recourse to the superior seamanship of his captive. M. de Beaujeu saved him, and so won the gratitude of the Turk that the latter, with a view to rescue his preserver, placed him for concealment among the lowest slaves. The grand vizier, however, who had probably been informed of this stratagem, demanded the illustrious prisoner by name; and recognising Beaujeu by his haughty air, he picked him out from among the slaves and sent him to the Seven Towers, bidding him give up all hope of ransom or of exchange. The Porte rejected every proposal made for his release, although the King interceded for him, and the Venetians sought in vain to have his name included in the terms of the Treaty of Candia. One of his nephews, about twenty-two years of age, then formed a plan for effecting his release and he executed it in the most brilliant and successful manner. He first went to Constantinople with M. de Nointel, the ambassador of France, and there he was allowed to see the prisoner—that permission being freely granted to every one on account of the supposed safety of the place. No other precaution was taken than that of searching the visitors, who were obliged, before seeing the prisoners, to give up their arms, their pocket-knives, and even their keys.

M. de Beaujeu was at first alarmed at a proposal which threatened to have very dangerous results; but eleven years of imprisonment, his natural taste for hazardous enterprises, and the contagious example of the young man’s courage and enthusiasm soon decided him to give his consent to the{78} attempt. His nephew then began to carry him at each visit a small piece of rope, which he placed round his body; and when he thought he had enough of it for his purpose, he fixed on the day, the hour, and the signal for his departure. When the signal was given, the chevalier slid down from the walls; but finding the rope somewhat too short, he let himself drop into the sea, which washes the base of the Seven Towers. The splash of the falling body was heard by some Turks passing in a brigantine, and they made towards the fugitive; but the nephew, reaching him first in a well-armed skiff, drove them off, picked up his uncle, and took him on board one of the King’s ships, commanded by his friend the Count d’Apremont. The vessel carried him safely to France, where he lived a long while in the bosom of his family, as Commandant of Bordeaux.

The Governor of the Seven Towers was put to death for permitting his escape.



Charles had landed in Scotland to attempt to reconquer the throne of the Stuarts, and had been doomed to witness the ruin of all his hopes at the disastrous battle of Worcester. He had displayed great courage on that occasion, but he had been compelled to take to flight, with many of his bravest and most distinguished officers. The following narrative, extracted from a fuller account in the Pepys MS., is in his own words:—

“After that the battle was so absolutely lost as to be beyond hope of recovery, I began to think of the best way of saving myself, and the first thought that came into my

Image unavailable: He let himself drop into the sea.
He let himself drop into the sea.


head was, that, if I could possibly, I would get to London as soon, if not sooner, than the news of our defeat could get thither; and it being near dark I talked with some, especially with my Lord Rochester, who was then Wilmot, about their opinions which would be the best way for me to escape, it being impossible, as I thought, to get back to Scotland. I found them mightily distracted, and their opinions different, of the possibility of getting to Scotland; but not one agreeing with mine for going to London, saving my Lord Wilmot; and the truth is I did not impart my design of going to London to any but my Lord Wilmot. But we had such a number of beaten men with us of the horse that I strove, as soon as it was dark, to get from them; and though I could not get them to stand by me against the enemy, I could not get rid of them now I had a mind to it. So we—that is, my Lord Duke of Buckingham, Lauderdale, Derby, Wilmot, Tom Blague, Duke Darcey, and several others of my servants—went along northwards towards Scotland; and at last we got about sixty that were gentlemen and officers, and slipped away out of the high road that goes to Lancashire, and kept on the right hand, letting all the beaten men go along the great road; and ourselves not knowing very well which way to go, for it was then too late for us to get to London on horseback, riding directly for it; nor could we do it, because there were many people of quality with us that I could not get rid of.

“So we rode through a town short of Wolverhampton, betwixt that and Worcester, and went through, there lying a troop of the enemies there that night. We rode very quietly through the town, they having nobody to watch, nor they suspecting us more than we did them, which I learnt afterwards from a country fellow.{80}

“We went that night about twenty miles, to a place called White Lady’s, hard by Tong Castle, by the advice of Mr. Giffard, where we stopped and got some little refreshment of bread and cheese, such as we could get, it being just beginning to be day. This White Lady’s was a private house, that Mr. Giffard, who was a Staffordshire man, had told me belonged to honest people that lived thereabouts.

“And just as we came thither there came in a country fellow, that told us there were three thousand of our horse just hard by Tong Castle, upon the heath, all in disorder, under David Leslie and some other of the general officers; upon which there were some of the people of quality that were with me, who were very earnest that I should go to him and endeavour to go into Scotland, which I thought was absolutely impossible, knowing very well they would all rise upon us, and that men who had deserted me when they were in good order would never stand to me when they had been beaten.

“This made me take the resolution of putting myself into a disguise, and endeavouring to get a-foot to London in a country fellow’s habit, with a pair of ordinary grey cloth breeches, a leathern doublet, and a green jerkin, which I took in the house of White Lady’s. I also cut my hair very short, and flung my clothes into a privy-house, that nobody might see that anybody had been stripping themselves, I acquainting none with my resolution of going to London but my Lord Wilmot, they all desiring me not to acquaint them with what I intended to do, because they knew not what they might be forced to confess; on which consideration they with one voice begged of me not to tell them what I intended to do.

“So all the persons of quality and officers who were with{81} me—except my Lord Wilmot, with whom a place was agreed upon for our meeting in London if we escaped, and who endeavoured to go on horseback, in regard, as I think, of his being too big to go on foot—were resolved to go and join with the three thousand disordered horse, thinking to get away with them to Scotland. But, as I did before believe, they were all routed by a single troop of horse; which shows that my opinion was not wrong in not sticking to men who had run away.

“As soon as I was disguised I took with me a country fellow, whose name was Richard Penderell, whom Mr. Giffard had undertaken to answer for to be an honest man. He was a Roman Catholic, and I chose to trust them, because I knew they had hiding-places for priests, that I thought I might make use of in case of need.

“I was no sooner gone out of the house with this country fellow (being the next morning after the battle, and then broad day) but as I was in a great wood, I sat myself at the edge of the wood, near the highway that was there, the better to see who came after us, and whether they made any search after the runaways, and I immediately saw a troop of horse coming by, which I conceived to be the same troop that beat our three thousand horse; but it did not look like a troop of the army’s, but of the militia, for the fellow before it did not look at all like a soldier.

“In this wood I stayed all night, without meat or drink, and by great good fortune it rained all the time, which hindered them, as I believe, from coming into the wood to search for men that might be fled thither; and one thing is remarkable enough, that those with whom I have since spoken, of them that joined with the horse upon the heath, did say that it rained little or nothing with them all the day,{82} but only in the wood where I was—thus contributing to my safety.

“As I was in the wood I talked with the fellow about getting towards London, and asking many questions about what gentlemen he knew. I did not find he knew any man of quality in the way towards London. And the truth is my mind changed as I lay in the wood, and I resolved on another way of making my escape; which was, to get over the Severn into Wales, and so to get either to Swansea or some other of the sea towns that I knew had commerce with France, to the end I might get over that way, as being a way that I thought none would suspect my taking; besides that I remembered several honest gentlemen that were of my acquaintance in Wales.

“So that night as soon as it was dark, Richard Penderell and I took our journey on foot towards the Severn, intending to pass over a ferry half way between Bridgenorth and Shrewsbury. But as we were going in the night, we came up by a mill, where I heard some people talking (memorandum that I had got some bread and cheese the night before at one of the Penderells’ houses, I not going in) and as we conceived it was about twelve or one o’clock at night, and the country fellow desired me not to answer if anybody should ask me any questions because I had not the accent of the country.

“Just as we came to the mill, we could see the miller, as I believed, sitting at the mill door, he being in white clothes, it being a very dark night. He called out, ‘Who goes there?’ Upon which Richard Penderell answered, ‘Neighbours going home,’ or some such like words, whereupon the miller cried out, ‘If you be neighbours, stand, or I will knock you down.’ Upon which we believing there was{83} company in the house, the fellow bade me follow him close, and he run to a gate that went up a dirty lane, up a hill; and opening the gate the miller cried out, ‘Rogues, rogues.’ And thereupon some men came out of the mill after us, which I believed were soldiers. So we fell a-running both of us, up the lane as long as we could run, it being very deep and very dirty, till at last I bade him leap over a hedge, and lie still to hear if anybody followed us, which we did, and continued lying upon the ground about half an hour, when hearing nobody come, we continued our way on to the village upon the Severn, where the fellow told me there was an honest gentleman, one Mr. Woolfe, that lived in that town, where I might be with great safety, for that he had hiding-holes for priests. But I would not go in, till I knew a little of his mind whether he would receive so dangerous a guest as me, and therefore stayed in a field, under a hedge, by a great tree. Commanding him not to say it was I, but only to ask Mr. Woolfe whether he would receive an English gentleman, a person of quality, to hide him the next day, till we could travel again by night—for I durst not go but by night.

“Mr. Woolfe, when the country fellow told him it was one that had escaped from the battle of Worcester, said that for his part, it was so dangerous a thing to harbour anybody that was known, that he would not venture his neck for any man, unless it were the King himself. Upon which Richard Penderell, very indiscreetly, and without my leave, told him it was I. Upon which Mr. Woolfe replied, he should be very ready to venture all he had in the world to secure me. Upon which Richard Penderell came and told me what he had done, at which I was a little troubled; but then there was no remedy, the day being just coming in,{84} and I must either venture that or run some greater danger.

“So I came into the house by a back way, where I found Mr. Woolfe, an old gentleman, who told me he was very sorry to see me there, because there were two companies of the militia sort at that time in arms in the town, and kept a guard at the ferry to examine everybody that came that way; and that he durst not put me into any of the hiding-holes of his house because they had been discovered, and consequently if any search should be made, they would certainly repair to these holes, and that therefore I had no other way of security but to go into his barn, and there lie behind his corn and hay. So after he had given us some cold meat that was ready, we, without making any bustle in the house, went and lay in the barn all the next day, when towards evening, his son who had been prisoner at Shrewsbury, an honest man, was released, and came home to his father’s house. And as soon as ever it began to be a little darkish, Mr. Woolfe and his son brought us meat into the barn, and then we discoursed with them whether we might safely get over the Severn into Wales, which they advised me by no means to adventure upon, because of the strict guards that were kept all along the Severn where any passage could be found, for preventing anybody escaping that way into Wales.

“Upon this I took resolution that night the very same way back again to Penderell’s house, where I knew I should hear some news what was become of my Lord Wilmot, and resolved again upon going for London.

“So we set out as soon as it was dark, but we came by the mill again; we had no mind to be questioned a second time there, and therefore asking Richard Penderell whether he could swim or no, and how deep the river was, he told{85} me it was a scurvy river, not easy to be passed in all places, and that he could not swim. So I told him the river being but a little one, I would undertake to help him over. Upon which we went over some closes by the river-side and I entering the river first to see if I could myself go over, who knew how to swim, found it was but a little above my middle, and thereupon taking Richard Penderell by the hand, I helped him over. Which being done, we went on our way to one of Penderell’s brothers (his house not being far from White Lady’s), who had been guide to my Lord Wilmot, and we believed might by that time be come back again, for my Lord Wilmot intended to go to London upon his own horse. When I came to this house I inquired where my Lord Wilmot was, it being now towards morning, and having travelled these two nights on foot.

“Penderell’s brother told me he had conducted him to a very honest gentleman’s house, one Mr. Pitchcroft[A], not far from Wolverhampton, a Roman Catholic. I asked him what news. He told me that there was one Major Careless in the house, that was that countryman whom, I knowing, he having been a major in our army, and made his escape thither, a Roman Catholic also, I sent for him into the room where I was, and consulted him what we should do the next day. He told me that it would be very dangerous for me to stay in that house or go into the wood—there being a great wood hard by Boscobel; that he knew but one way how to pass the next day, and that was to get up into a great oak, in a pretty plain place, where we might see round about us; for the enemy would certainly search at the wood for people that had made their escape.{86}

“Of which proposition of his, I approving, we (that is to say Careless and I) went, and carried up some victuals for the whole day; viz., bread, cheese, small beer, and nothing else, and got up into a great oak, that had been topped some three or four years before, and being grown out again very bushy and thick, could not be seen through, and here we stayed all the day. I having in the meantime sent Penderell’s brother to Mr. Pitchcroft’s, to know whether my Lord Wilmot was there or no; and had word brought me by him at night that my lord was there; that there was a very secure hiding-hole in Mr. Pitchcroft’s house, and that he desired me to come thither to him.

“Memorandum.—That, while we were in this tree we saw soldiers going up and down in the thicket of the wood, searching for persons escaped; we saw them now and then peeping out of the wood.

“That night Richard Penderell and I went to Mr. Pitchcroft’s, about six or seven miles off, when I found the gentleman of the house, and an old grandmother of his, and Father Hurlston, who had then the care, as governor, of bringing up two young gentlemen, who, I think, were Sir John Preston and his brother, they being boys. Here I spoke with my Lord Wilmot, and sent him away to Colonel Lane’s, about five or six miles off, to see what means could be found for my escaping towards London; who told my lord, after some consultation thereon, that he had a sister that had a very fair pretence of going hard by Bristol, to a cousin of hers, that was married to one Mr. Norton, who lived two or three miles towards Bristol, on Somersetshire side, and she might carry me there as her man, and from Bristol I might find shipping to get out of England.”{87}

After various adventures, some of them attended with great danger, they arrived safely at the house of Mr. Norton, the king passing as the servant of Mrs. Lane. The next day while he was dining with the servants, one of them gave so accurate a description of the battle of Worcester, that Charles took him to be a soldier of Cromwell. He turned out, however, to have been a soldier of the royal army, and one of the regiment of guards. “I asked him what kind of man the King was, and he gave me an exact description of the clothes I wore at the battle, and of the horse I rode, adding that the King was at least three inches taller than I. I left the place hastily, being much alarmed to find that the man had been one of my own soldiers.” Charles learnt soon after that Pope, the butler, had recognised him, and having previously heard that the man was honest, and incapable of treason, he thought it best to confide in him, and accordingly mentioned his real name and rank. Pope at once put himself under his orders, and was of the greatest service to him.

Just at the very moment when the King was setting out for the house of one of his partisans, Mrs. Norton was taken with the pains of labour, and as she was cousin to Mrs. Lane, whose servant Charles pretended to be, that lady found it difficult to invent a pretext for quitting her. A letter written to announce that Mrs. Lane’s father was dangerously ill, however, answered this purpose, and the fugitives set out for the house of Frank Wyndham at Trent.

When they arrived there the bells were ringing merry peals, and inquiring the cause, they learned that one of the soldiers of Cromwell’s army had entered the town, boasting that he had killed the King. Wyndham, however, had provided a boat, and Charles, accompanied by that loyal{88} gentleman and by Lady Coningsby, went to a place appointed for his reception. But as no vessel appeared, he set out for the neighbouring town. On arriving there he found the streets filled with red coats, the town being in possession of fifteen hundred of Cromwell’s troops. This sight somewhat alarmed Wyndham, “and he asked me,” says the King, “what we should now do? ‘We must go boldly,’ I said, ‘to the best inn, and ask for the best room,’ and we accordingly did so. We found the courtyard of the inn full of soldiers, and as soon as I alighted, I thought it would be best to walk boldly amongst them, and to take my horses to the stable. I did this, and they grew very angry at my rudeness.” When he arrived in the stable, Charles found himself confronted by a new danger. The ostler pretended to recognise him as an old acquaintance whom he had met at Exeter, but Charles had sufficient presence of mind to turn this to his own account. “True,” he replied, “I have been in the service of Mr. Potter, but I am just now in a great hurry, for my master is going straight to London; when he comes back we will renew the acquaintance over a mug of beer.” Shortly afterwards the King and his suite joined Lord Wilmot outside the city, but the master of the ship they had hired, yielding to the fears of his wife, refused to fulfil his engagement with them; Charles then once more took the Trent road.

Another vessel which had been procured at Southampton, had been seized by the authorities for the transport of troops, and certain mysterious rumours which began to circulate in the neighbourhood, made it dangerous for the King to stay any longer with Colonel Wyndham, at Salisbury; however, he found an asylum where he remained for five days, during which Colonel Gunter hired a boat at

Image unavailable: They grew very angry at my rudeness.
They grew very angry at my rudeness.


New Shoreham, and Charles set out in haste for Brighton. While he was at supper there, with his attendants and with Tattershall, the owner of the boat, the latter fixed his eyes, upon the King, and took occasion after the meal to draw one of the royal attendants aside, and complain of his having been deceived. “The gentleman in the grey dress was the King; he knew him well, having been with him in 1648, when he was Prince of Wales, and commanded the royal fleet.” This information was promptly conveyed to Charles, who thought it the more prudent course to keep his companions drinking with him all night, in order to make sure of their holding no conversation that he did not overhear.

Just before their departure, and while he was alone in his room, Tattershall came in, and kissing his hand, which was resting on the back of a chair, said, “I suppose, if I live I shall be a lord, and my wife will be a lady.” Charles laughed, to show that he understood him, and joined the company in the other room. At four in the morning of the 16th of October they set out for Shoreham. When Charles and Wilmot, his sole companion, had entered the vessel, Tattershall fell upon his knees and swore to the King that whatever might be the consequence he would land him safe and sound on the coast of France.

The boat made for the Isle of Wight, that being its ordinary course; but towards six o’clock in the evening, Charles, having previously arranged the matter with Tattershall, addressed the crew. He told them that his companion and himself were merchants, who were running away from their creditors, and asked them to join him in begging the captain to take them to France, backing his entreaties, at the same time, with a present of twenty shillings for drink. Tattershall raised a great many objections; but at last, with{90} apparent repugnance, he turned the vessel’s head towards France. At daybreak they sighted the city of Fécamp. At the same time they discovered a suspicious-looking sail which they took for an Ostend pirate. Without waiting to test the truth of their suspicions, the two fugitives took to the ship’s boat and arrived safely in port. (Guizot: Memoirs of Charles the Second; Lingard: History of England.)



Blanche Gamond belonged to a Protestant family of Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux. After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, when the Protestants were subjected to the most rigorous persecution, Mademoiselle Gamond, whose piety was of the most fervent and exalted kind, resolved to fly the kingdom. The city of Saint-Paul was closely invested, and the dragoons overran all the neighbouring country in search of the Protestants. Blanche left the city and wandered about for some time alone, and afterwards with her parents, who had joined her. At times they were exposed to all the hardships of forest life, and it was only at intervals that they could venture to show themselves in towns. In this manner they travelled through the greater part of Dauphiné; but they were obliged to separate at last, to escape the more easily from the dragoons; and our poor heroine was about to pass the frontier with her brother and her mother and sister, when she was taken near Goncelin. Her brother escaped from the soldiers, but her mother and her sister were brutally ill-treated by these wretches, and were taken to Grenoble and thrown into a horrible dungeon. Blanche Gamond was then twenty-one{91} years of age. She was subjected for a long time to the most terrible tortures; but insulted, mercilessly beaten, dying of hunger, and sinking under a lingering illness, as she was, she bore all with the courage and the resignation of a martyr.

The following is her account of her attempt at escape, the consequences of which were most disastrous to her:—

“We were told to get ourselves ready in three days for a voyage to America; ‘and when,’ it was added, ‘you are once on shipboard you will be made to walk the plank, and will be thrust into the sea, so that the detested race of the Huguenots may perish with you.’

“ ‘It concerns me little,’ I replied, ‘whether my body be eaten by the fish in the sea or by the worms in the earth.’

“When they had left us alone, Susan de Montélimart said, ‘We might make our escape by this window if we could only break the bars.’

“ ‘We are at such a height from the ground,’ I replied, ‘that we should either kill or lame ourselves; and then we should only be recaptured and treated worse than before. If that should happen, I could never survive my sufferings. I prefer death, therefore, and will rather set out for America. God will deliver us, as he delivered the victims of La Rapine.’ ”

La Rapine, or D’Herapine, who had been formerly condemned for robbery, under his real name of Guichard, had become director of the hospital of Valence, where he was told to employ all the means in his power for the conversion of the Protestants—a commission which he executed with all the cynicism and the ferocity of one of the worst of scoundrels.

“Susan replied, ‘If they had done to me what they have done to you I should have died ere this; but they are killing{92} us of hunger; and, besides, they are going to take us to America, and we shall be half dead when they throw us in the sea. We might get out of this window. We seem to be despising the means which God has placed within our reach; but, for my part, I mean to attempt to use them.’

“At length, by her persuasion, I joined her in cutting a piece of cloth into shreds, and sewing it together; and when we had made a long band in this manner we tied a piece of stone to the end of it and lowered it, to ascertain the height of the window from the ground. We were on the fourth storey, and we found that our band was too short; but we lengthened it, and finally the end touched the ground. I then put my head out of the window and said to my dear sisters, ‘Alas! we shall kill ourselves, for it almost frightens me to death to look down.’

“That same evening, when our guards were asleep, we crept to the window with bare feet, for we were afraid that the priest, whose chamber was beneath ours, would hear our footsteps. Susan was the first to get out, and she was followed by Mademoiselle Terrasson de Die, then by me and by Mademoiselle Anne Dumas, of La Salle, in Languedoc. When I got outside and began to lay hold of the band, my strength failed me, and I heard the bones of my arm crack. My dress caught in a hook outside the window, and I was obliged to support myself with one arm while I disengaged myself with the other. I no longer felt either strength or courage, and I cried, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ But I seized the band with my teeth, and joining my two hands over it, I fell, rather than lowered myself, to the ground, striking against the stones with such violence that I cried, ‘Mercy! My God, I am either killed or maimed for life!’

Image unavailable: I was obliged to support myself with one arm.
I was obliged to support myself with one arm.


“The dear sisters who were waiting for me ran up to me and asked me where I was hurt.

“ ‘Everywhere,’ I replied; ‘I am sure that I have broken my thigh,’ and I begged of them to tie it up for me with my apron. I then limped away, my two sisters supporting me on either side. I made sixty or seventy steps in great pain, and reached the gate of the Faubourg de Valence: but it was closed. They helped me to get upon the wall, but when I stood upon the top of it, and saw how high it was, I said to my three dear sisters, ‘This is a second precipice, and I am not brave enough to attempt to descend. Leave me and go alone.’

“They let me down from the wall and left me there, and then they tried to get down themselves, and succeeded after great trouble. When they had reached the other side, Mademoiselle Dumas cried out to me, ‘We are going. We are very sorry to leave you behind. God preserve you from our enemies. I wish you prosperity, and give you my blessing, and I beg of you to give me yours in return.’

“ ‘Who am I,’ I replied, ‘to give you my blessing? but I pray that God will give you his. I pray fervently that he will lead you in all his ways; and I conjure you to leave this place as quickly as you can, or all of us may be recaptured.’

“I was thus left quite alone, still suffering the cruel and violent pains which had never left me from the moment of my fall. It was not yet daybreak, and I lifted up my heart to God. But I fainted in the midst of my prayer, and did not come to myself for, at least, a quarter of an hour. I had no one to console me, or even to offer me a single drop of water; but as soon as I came to myself I cried out, ‘Lord, do not abandon me.’ I lay for a time{94} without being able to make any movement, and then I thought that at daybreak they would be sure to find me, and then I should be recaptured and taken to the hospice. ‘O God,’ I prayed, ‘grant me this mercy that this day may see the last of my troubles, for death is better than life. I have lived enough. Take my soul to thee, O God. Oh grant, if it please thee, that I may be taken to the tomb, and not to the hospice this day.’

“Day then began to break. I had not enough strength to raise myself, so that those who passed by did not know that I was lamed. I was only just able to hide my face from them by covering it with my tappeta. I was interrupted during my prayers by the agony which I suffered from my broken thigh and dislocated ankle. After a time a gentleman came by, and said, ‘It would be better, mademoiselle, for you to be at your own house than to remain here, and it would certainly be more becoming.’

“ ‘If you knew who I was, sir,’ I replied, ‘you would not address me in such language.’

“In another moment they opened the gate of the Faubourg and the passers-by said very hard and cruel things about me, seeing me lying at full length in the road so early in the morning.”

She begged one of them to fetch Mademoiselle Marsilière, a Protestant converted to Catholicism, whom she knew, and she prayed God that this early friend might turn out a good Samaritan, but this prayer was not heard.

“Are you asking for me?” said Mademoiselle Marsilière, when she approached the poor wounded creature. “Yes, mademoiselle; save me—for mercy’s sake help me. Take me to some place where I may die, so that no one may witness my sufferings.”{95}

“But Mademoiselle Marsilière replied that I should endanger her safety as well as my own. ‘I must go,’ she said, ‘before any one sees me, or I shall be put in prison myself.’

“I was wounded to the heart at this treatment from a co-religionist, and I asked her if she had the courage to leave me in this condition. ‘Help me, at least,’ I said, ‘to crawl behind this wall, so that I may not be seen by the passers-by.’ ”

But neither the prayers nor the sufferings of the unfortunate Blanche had the least effect on the prudent and charitable person whom she had called to her aid. Mademoiselle Marsilière went away, but returned shortly afterwards with the almoner of the religious house of which she was a member, who, without paying the least regard to the distressed condition of the wounded girl, began to address to her a series of questions about her escape and her accomplices. At length two men, seizing her by the shoulders and the feet, carried her to the hospice and laid her down upon the stones in the courtyard.

It is impossible to enter fully here into all the details of the rigorous punishment endured by the poor girl for some months after this. She bore all with her ordinary courage and patience, but the mere recital of such atrocities would give too much pain to the most unfeeling heart.

She was at last allowed to return to her parents, and she recovered her health after her long sufferings, and retired to Switzerland with her family.{96}



Jean Bart escorting a fleet of twenty merchantmen, had hoisted his flag on board the frigate La Raileuse, of twenty-eight guns, having for second in command under him the Chevalier de Forbin, captain of Les Jeux, a frigate of twenty-four. They were attacked by two English ships, one of forty-eight, and the other of forty-two guns, and they nobly sacrificed themselves to save the merchant fleet. Jean Bart lost nearly all his men and was slightly wounded in the head, but Forbin was still more unfortunate, for he received six wounds, and nearly all of his crew perished. They were compelled to surrender, but the fleet of merchantmen was saved, while all the English officers and a great number of the common seamen were killed.

They were taken to Portsmouth, where they of course expected to be treated as prisoners of war on parole, but the governor of the fortress would not even grant them this scanty honour. They were shut up in a sort of inn with barred windows, and sentinels were placed before their door. This wretched treatment naturally made them anxious to escape, and they did not even wait until their wounds were cured before they began to form their plans. An Ostend fisherman, a relation of Jean Bart—as some say, Gaspar Bart, his brother—having put in to Portsmouth, found means to gain admission to the prison, and to confer with his two friends on the project which occupied all their thoughts. On one of his visits he left a file behind him, with which they cut the bars before their windows, hiding the marks by covering them with pieces of moistened bread and soot.{97}

It happened fortunately that the surgeon sent to attend them was a Fleming, himself a prisoner, and equally desirous with his two patients of recovering his liberty. In due time too, the men who had been appointed to wait on them were gained over by a liberal present, and by still more liberal promises. The great difficulty was to find means of putting to sea; but the attendants who alone had power to leave the prison undertook to make the necessary arrangements for the embarkation. They accordingly hailed one day a Norwegian shallop, the master of which was at the time lying in a drunken sleep in his cabin. He was quietly transferred from his own vessel to another; and this was no sooner done than the two attendants ran to tell the prisoners to prepare for instant flight.

As soon as the surgeon came to pay his accustomed visit, he was told to give the Ostend fishermen notice to take everything necessary for a voyage of some days on board the Norwegian vessel. He lost no time in executing his commission, and the sloop was soon amply supplied with bread, cheese, beer, and other necessaries. It was then arranged that the surgeon should return at midnight with the fisherman and the two attendants, and as soon as he arrived beneath the prison window should signal his presence by throwing a small stone against the panes.

The signal was heard at the appointed hour. Jean Bart removed the bars in front of his window, fastened his bedclothes end to end, and sliding down the band, reached the ground in safety. The surgeon, the fisherman, and the two attendants led them at once to a little creek in which the vessel was moored, and they all embarked with the exception of the fisherman, who went quietly back to his own ship. In leaving Plymouth the fugitives had a narrow escape. They{98} were seen by the look-out on the guard ship, and hailed with the customary “Who goes there?” By great good fortune Jean Bart knew a little English, and he replied, “Fishermen.” They were then suffered to pass.

The poor lieutenant had not been able to follow his captain. He had lost an arm; he was very corpulent; and as he could not have rendered the least assistance during the voyage, his presence would only have tended to compromise the safety of his friends. He took, therefore, the heroic resolution of remaining in prison, and of assisting the fugitives by keeping the guard amused while they were running away. He continued this subterfuge after Jean Bart had left the house, and pretended to be conversing with him in his room, until long after he had had time to effect his embarkation in safety. He then drew in the sheets which had served his commander as a rope, and quietly went to bed. He affected great surprise next day when he was informed of the escape of his fellow-prisoners, pretending to believe they had basely abandoned him, and cursing them very heartily in both English and French.

His gaolers were deceived by this ruse, and put several questions to him as to the conversations with his commander, in the hope of ascertaining the direction the fugitives had taken. “These traitors,” he replied, “have told me nothing; all that I know is that Bart lately had a pair of shoes made, and that he remarked when he tried them on, how useful they would be to any one who had to take a long walk.” This completely deceived them, and they sent horse soldiers out in all directions in the hope of recapturing the fugitives, who were then in the middle of the Channel.

Jean Bart at length sighted the coast of Brittany, and disembarked{99} at a small village a few leagues from St. Malo. The journey from Plymouth had occupied forty-eight hours, and, this time included, he had not been in captivity more than eleven days. The party were received with transports of joy, for the merchantmen whom they had saved had spoken in the highest terms of their courage, but it was thought their patriotic devotion had cost them their lives. Jean Bart’s first care was to indemnify the Ostend fisherman whom the English had made responsible for his flight, and his next to purchase the liberty of his brave lieutenant, who was released a month after the escape of his commander.



Duguay-Trouin, commanding the frigate La Diligente, of forty guns, was driven by a storm into the midst of a squadron of six English vessels, of from fifty to seventy guns each. After fighting five of them for several hours, and refusing to surrender, notwithstanding the urgent solicitations of his officers, he was struck by a spent shot, and rendered insensible. When he came to himself he was a prisoner in the hands of the English. He was at first sent to Plymouth; and he had already begun to make preparations for his escape, when orders were given that his confinement should be made more rigorous. The captain of a company on guard at the prison had fallen in love with a young woman of Plymouth, and had confided his passion to Duguay-Trouin, who had promised to use all his influence to induce the fair one to consent to marriage. He took advantage of the comparative freedom which he enjoyed{100} through his good offices on the captain’s behalf, to come to a good understanding with the lady on his own account; and he was enabled by her aid to make arrangements with a Swedish captain for the hire of a vessel, properly provisioned and manned, for his intended flight. While the captain thought that Duguay-Trouin was pleading for him with the lady in a neighbouring inn, to which he had been permitted to extend his walks, the commander was leaping over the wall of the garden, with another officer who was to join him in trying to escape. The Swedish captain and six sailors were waiting for them at a neighbouring spot, and they all reached the little vessel in safety.

“We embarked,” he says in his “Memoirs,” “at about six in the evening. We had scarcely started when we ran almost between two English vessels, and were obliged to answer their inquiries as to our destination. We told them we were fishermen putting out to sea, and they allowed us to pass. At daybreak we came upon another English ship making for Plymouth. She was going to turn in pursuit of us, although we did not lie in her route, and we should certainly have been taken but for a sudden gust of wind, which carried us away from her almost without any effort of our own.

“We had been rowing all the time, and we were very tired when we reached the open sea. We relieved one another at nightfall, and the master of the vessel and I tried to make out our way with the aid of a small compass, illumined by the feeble rays of a lantern. While thus engaged I was so overpowered with fatigue that I fell asleep; but I was soon awakened by the noise of a terrible gust of wind, which threw the little vessel on her side, and filled her with water in an instant. By a quick movement{101} of the helm I was fortunate enough to avoid the threatened shipwreck—a disaster that must have proved fatal, as we were more than fifteen leagues from land. My companions, who were also asleep, were quite as suddenly awakened as myself by the waves beating about their heads. Our biscuit and our beer were quite spoiled by the seawater, and it took us a long while to bale out the water with our hats. At about eight o’clock on the following day we landed at a spot two leagues from Tréguier, on the coast of Brittany.”



The Count de Bucquoy, who was originally an officer in the army, had become, under the combined influence of the Jesuits and the monks of La Trappe, a religious enthusiast, but had afterwards quarrelled with his priestly friends. He was of an active mind, and, if we may believe his own account of himself, he was too much addicted to the advocacy of advanced ideas. This, and his hostility to Louis XIV., caused him to be arrested at Sens, on a charge of having been heard to mutter disaffection at an inn. While he was being taken to Paris he tried to escape, but without success; and his account of the attempt shows that he did not then possess the skill in conducting that class of enterprises which he afterwards acquired.

He was sent to For-l’Évêque; and from the very first day of his imprisonment he began to consider how he could recover his liberty. He remembered that one of the body-guard, who had been imprisoned in the same place, had{102} nearly made his escape through a window of a loft, which looked out upon one of the quays, then called the Valley of Misery, and that he had failed, owing solely to his terror at the sight of the precipice on which his prison was built.

Bucquoy, however, made up his mind to repeat this attempt. He tried at first to form a clear idea of the plan of this terrible place. He discovered that the loft in question served as a kind of antechamber to his small cell, and that it was, at the same time, the lumber-room of the prison. Wishing to make sure of everything before risking his life, he one day pretended to be ill, and asked to be led upstairs to breathe the air at a small window which over-looked that part of the building. The height from the quay was appalling; and, in addition to that, every one of the numerous window-gratings to which he would have to cling in making his descent was covered with short, sharp spikes. The sight was enough to strike terror into the stoutest heart.

When he had once more been locked up in his cell, he, however, confirmed himself in his resolution to escape through the loft. All that was necessary was to find means to leave the cell unobserved, and to reach a certain part of the antechamber.

To get out without the consent of the gaoler, he would have had to break the door down; but he soon saw that it would be impossible to do this, as he was wholly unprepared with tools, and as the noise of his operations would be certain to alarm his guards. It occurred to him, however, that he might burn away the door; and with this view he obtained permission to cook for himself in his own cell. He asked for a few eggs and some charcoal, and paid liberally for both, in order the more readily to induce the gaoler to supply them. All being ready, and the whole household{103} asleep, he placed the brasier close to the door and fanned the flame until it ignited the ponderous timbers. When he had by this means burnt a hole large enough to admit his body, he passed through, first taking care to extinguish the flames, as it was not his wish to destroy the building. In this operation he was nearly suffocated by the smoke from the smouldering beams. He was without a rope to tie to the window of the loft, but he made a substitute for it by binding together a number of strips of webbing cut from a mattrass which he found among the furniture. He then fastened this band to a bedstead, which he dragged to the window, and, gliding gently down, was fortunate enough to pass the windows without receiving any fatal injury from the spikes, and to reach the quay. It was daybreak, and the market people opening their shops did not fail to observe him, all torn and bloody as he was, for many of the spikes had entered his flesh. But a greater danger threatened him, in the unwelcome attentions of a number of young men, who had only just risen from supper, and who chased him through the streets with drunken cries. A timely shower of rain, however, dispersed them, and he was saved.

In trying to avoid them he made many turns and doubles, and at last found himself at the door of a café, near the Temple, which he entered for the purpose of making some slight changes in his appearance, in case he should meet his tormentors again. His dress, however, began to excite remark among the customers, and fearing he was already known, he hastily paid his reckoning, and went out without knowing what direction to take. He at last took refuge at the house of a relation of one of his servants, to whom he told a plausible story to excuse the negligence of his attire.{104} The woman fetched him some food at his request, but feeling he could not confide in her discretion, he soon left the house to seek a more secure asylum.

After spending some nine months in sending petition after petition from his various hiding-places, he tried to leave the kingdom, but choosing his time badly, was arrested at La Fère and sent to prison. He made two attempts to escape, and failed only by a hair’s breadth in the second, having scaled a wall and swum across a ditch before he was discovered. He was at length taken back to Paris, and imprisoned in the Bastille.

To enter the Bastille was almost to abandon hope, for escape seemed impossible. But even while he was passing the gates of the prison, Bucquoy was reconnoitering it to find means to effect his escape. He took particular notice of the drawbridge and the counterscarp, but he was not allowed much time for his observations; for he was at once hurried away to the Bretignière tower.

After passing a few days in one of the lowest dungeons of this tower, he was placed in a cell, shared by a number of prisoners in common. He proposed that they should make a joint effort to recover their liberty, but he was denounced by one of their number, an abbé. He was then once more shut up in his dungeon. He was suffered to leave it, however, on feigning to be ill and at the point of death. He was believed to be paralytic, and as it was thought there was no further danger of his attempting to carry out his plans, he was once more sent to the common room. In course of time he had made the circuit of nearly all the towers of the building, never failing to study the plan of each of them attentively; and he was at length sent to the Bertaudière, where he had for companion a German baron,{105} whom he undertook to convert from the Lutheran faith, and whom he persuaded to aid him in his attempt to escape. They had already commenced operations on an old window which had long been closed up, when they were betrayed by another prisoner. Bucquoy was adroit enough to exculpate himself, and to throw the blame upon his betrayer, but he was removed to a cell in the tower, La Liberté, together with the baron, whose conversion he represented was not quite complete.

They then began to renew their preparations, this time with the view of reaching the ditch of the Porte Saint Antoine. They made a hole in the wall by means of certain jagged pieces of iron and brass, old nails and knife-blades, which the abbé had carefully collected in the course of his long sojourn in the prison; and which, by the aid of the fire in the room, they fashioned into tools. At the same time they began to make a ladder, using for this purpose the strips of osier in which their wine bottles were enveloped, and telling the gaoler they were collecting them to serve as fuel. A hole which they had scooped out under the flooring of their cell served to conceal all these things.

Working steadily every day, and never losing sight of their design, they contrived in a short time to make a tolerable ladder. All was now nearly ready, and they were on the very point of making their attempt, when on visiting their subterranean cupboard one day, it gave way beneath them, and precipitated them into a room on the floor below occupied by a jesuit. The poor man’s mind was ill at ease, and this terrible accident made him quite mad. The abbé was taken back to his cell by a gaoler, but he was not allowed to remain there long, and he was thus doomed to lose almost in a moment the fruits of long months of most trying exertion.{106} He found means, however, to get rid of his German baron, who was no further use to him, as he could not be persuaded to embark in another attempt. But the baron had abjured his religion, and this gained the abbé such a reputation as a converter of heretics, that he was sent to attempt the reformation of a certain Protestant, named Grandville, who was considered a very excellent boon companion by his fellow prisoners, and who was known to be most anxious to make his escape.

Two other prisoners were placed in the same cell with them, and the abbé soon found means to come to an understanding with all his companions in misfortune. After he had bound them to him by the most solemn oaths, he informed them that he had a small file concealed in his clothes, which had hitherto escaped the closest search, and he proposed that they should cut through the bars of their windows with it, and make their way into the courtyard. He had managed to keep some pieces of osier that he and the German had plaited, and by the aid of his new confederates, he soon added largely to his store. They laboured together like the workmen of the tower of Babel, for they were almost as much hindered by differences of opinion, as the others were by differences of speech. At last they made up their minds to take the only course possible to them: viz. to descend by the ladder into the ditch. Once there, it was agreed that each should look after himself.

On the appointed day—or, rather, night—they removed the bars as soon as they found all was silent in the fortress. Fearing that their suspended bodies might be seen from the other cells, they first let down a long white sheet, which covered all the windows between their cell and the ground.{107} As it was necessary to prevent the ladder from falling close to the wall, the abbé had some days previously erected a kind of sundial at the end of a long pole, and the sentinels had already learned to regard it without suspicion. After they had taken all these precautions, and had smeared the white ropes of their ladder with soot, the abbé asked to be allowed to be first to make the descent, promising to await his companions in the ditch. He was, at the same time, to warn them of the approach of the sentinels by pulling a smaller rope, falling from the window to the ground. When all had been thus arranged he got out of the window, and reached the ditch in safety; but he remained there two hours without receiving a sign from his companions. He pulled the rope repeatedly, to no purpose, and he began to fear they were engaged in some new dispute, when he saw them lowering some cumbrous machine they had constructed to aid them in their flight. Two of them came down, but the rest had not at first been able to pass through the window, and this had been the cause of the delay. When they found, at length, they could force themselves through, they were still willing to stay with the unfortunate Grandville, whose obesity compelled him to remain behind, but he generously refused to allow them to make this useless sacrifice on his behalf.

Their sad story ended, the abbé urged them, with all the eloquence of which he was master, to follow his plan of escape; but not being able to persuade them he began to look to his own safety. He had only a small osier ladder; with this he contrived to gain the top of the ditch as soon as the sentinel’s back was turned; he then climbed the counterscarp and reached a deep gutter, and passing over another wall and ditch, finally dropped into the Rue St. Antoine,{108} nearly lacerating his arm on a hook outside a butcher’s shop in his fall. Before leaving the wall he looked round for his comrades, and hearing the cry of a half-strangled person, followed rapidly by a musket-shot, he concluded that they had tried to carry out their intention of seizing the guard but had been overpowered; and as he never heard of the unfortunate creatures again he remained all his life confirmed in this impression. Not caring to await a similar fate, he ran rapidly from the Rue St. Antoine to the Rue des Journelles; and after making half the circuit of Paris he arrived at the house of some friends, who furnished him with the means of leaving the country.



During the Jacobite insurrection of 1715 a great number of the partisans of the Pretender, who had been made prisoners at Preston, were taken to London, and lodged in Newgate and other gaols of the metropolis. Among these unfortunate men were Thomas Forster, of Bamborough, a man of excellent family and a member of Parliament for the county of Northumberland, who had been commander-in-chief of the insurrection in the north of England; Brigadier Macintosh, a highland gentleman, who had learnt the art of war in the service of France; Robert Hepburn, of Keith, one of the first lairds who had raised the standard of the chevalier; Charles Radcliffe, brother of the Earl of Derwentwater, a{109} chief of the insurrection in England; and the Earls of Nithsdale and of Winton, who had played the same in Scotland.

Like almost all their companions in misfortune, they had cherished the hope that the fact of their having surrendered at discretion would have saved their lives. But when they saw so many around them condemned for high treason they resolved to escape. The means at their command, their numerous friends in the capital, and the faulty construction of the gaols in which they were imprisoned afforded them a reasonable prospect of success.

Accordingly, on the 10th of April, 1716, Thomas Forster, having procured false keys, simply opened the door of his prison and escaped in a manner the very reverse of dramatic, but, beyond doubt, perfectly satisfactory to himself. Everything was prepared for his flight, and he arrived safely in France.

On the 10th of May following, Brigadier Macintosh, having succeeded in removing his irons and in reaching the lower storey of the prison, placed himself near the door, and the moment it opened for the admission of a servant, who had stayed out late, hurled the gaoler to the ground and passed out, with fourteen of his companions. Some of the fugitives were re-arrested in the streets, not knowing where to fly for safety, but Macintosh was not so unfortunate. Among the prisoners who escaped at about the same time was Robert Hepburn, of Keith. He overpowered the gaoler by his immense strength, and, taking the keys away from him, succeeded in gaining the street without being pursued. He was aware that his wife and a number of his own people were in London, ready to come to his aid; but he did not know how to find them in that immense city, living, as they probably{110} were, under an assumed name. While wandering about in this state of uncertainty, fearing to betray his nationality by asking a question, he saw in a window a piece of plate which had long been in possession of his family, and which was called the Tankard of Keith. Without a moment’s hesitation, the fugitive entered the house and was received in the arms of his wife and children. Informed of his intention to escape, they had taken a lodging as near the prison as they could; and, not daring to confide the secret of their retreat to any stranger, they had had recourse to this means of making it known to the head of the family. Hepburn of Keith succeeded in reaching France.

Charles Radcliffe and Lord Winton, who were condemned to death, also contrived to regain their freedom at about the same time—whether through the mere carelessness or the deliberate neglect of their guards it is not easy to say. But the escape which made the most noise at the time was that of the Earl of Nithsdale, who, like his companions, had been condemned to suffer the extreme penalty of the law.

The most strenuous exertions had been made to obtain a pardon for this unfortunate gentleman, but in vain. Lady Nithsdale, his wife, had thrown herself at the feet of George II., imploring mercy, but the king had refused to listen to her. She, however, obtained permission to bid her husband adieu on the night before his execution; and she accordingly went to the Tower, accompanied by two women, who were in her confidence. One of these women had on two suits of outer garments; and after leaving a suit in the earl’s chamber she immediately quitted the prison. The second woman gave the earl her clothes and put on those which the first had just taken off. Wrapped up in a long cloak, and with a handkerchief to his eyes, the prisoner then{111} passed through the midst of the sentinels, left the Tower, and at once took ship for France. Lady Nithsdale, who remained behind, ran some risk of suffering in her husband’s stead, but her life was spared, and she soon regained her liberty.

The Pretender himself succeeded in reaching the bridge of Montrose with his army, and embarked secretly with the Earl of Mar and a few other gentlemen, and thus abandoned his faithful mountaineers to all the violence of an infuriated government, as if, in his anxiety for his own safety, he had quite forgotten the unhappy creatures who had imperilled their liberty and their lives for his sake. This departure was, indeed, less of an escape than a dishonourable flight, and no sort of interest attaches to it. In this it differed altogether from the escape, at a future period, of his son, Prince Charles Edward, of which we propose to give an account.



After the battle of Culloden, which proved the ruin of his hopes, Charles Edward was obliged to fly, to escape the government of George II. A price was put on his head, and a reward of £30,000 sterling was offered for his discovery and capture. “One would have supposed,” says Scott, “that in a country so poor as the highlands of Scotland, where laws concerning property are almost unknown, and among a people whose propensities to pillage had almost passed into a proverb, a reward far less considerable would have sufficed to awake the cupidity of some traitor, and to have ruined the Pretender. That was not, however,{112} the case; and the escape of this prince, so long retarded by the agents of the victorious power, and effected with so much difficulty and amid a thousand obstacles, must be cited to the honour of Scotland, as a striking and brilliant example of good faith.”

During the battle of Culloden, Charles Edward had exposed himself to considerable danger. He was several times covered with earth thrown up by the bullets; he made repeated attempts to rally his troops, and according to the testimony of most of those who witnessed his conduct, he showed himself a brave and efficient commander. On quitting the field of battle he dismissed, under various pretexts, the greater number of the gentlemen who followed him—doubting, possibly, their fidelity—and kept with him only a few Irish officers, on whom he thought he could count. He directed his flight at first towards the residence of Lord Lovat, thinking, perhaps, that this person, who was renowned for his sagacity, could advise him as to his future course, and, perhaps, even give him some material help; for his son, the Master of Lovat, and Cluny MacPherson, another relative, had both raised considerable reinforcements, and they were on the march to join the prince’s army, when the battle took place. Charles and Lovat met for the first and last time, both of them a prey to the fears and embarrassments of a desperate situation. Charles spoke only of the distress into which Scotland was plunged, Lovat occupied himself solely with his personal dangers. The prince soon perceived that he had neither advice nor help to expect from his host, and he went away after hastily taking some refreshment. The place was dangerous, on account of the proximity of the victorious army; and, perhaps, even the fidelity of Lovat was to be suspected. Charles next halted at Invergarry—a{113} castle belonging to the laird of Glengarry, where he was served with an excellent repast of fresh-caught salmon. As a punishment for this isolated act of hospitality, the English soldiers shortly afterwards pillaged and sacked the castle.

From Invergarry the fugitive made his way to a village in the western mountains, near the place where he had disembarked on coming from France. He there resolved to abandon his enterprise, and he accordingly sent a message to the chiefs and the soldiers assembled at Ruthven, thanking them for their services, and urging them to provide for their own safety, since no other course was left to him but to try to make his escape to France. His partisans in vain implored him to suffer them to expose themselves to new dangers for his sake. Charles saw too clearly that all was lost, and he refused to be the means of sacrificing the lives of brave men, who he knew were only taking counsel of their own devotion and despair.

Separated from his faithful supporters and friends, Charles wandered about the Hebrides in the hope of finding a ship for France. But the very elements seemed to have declared against him; no ship appeared; and his daily life was fast becoming almost purposeless. He at length arrived at the spot where he had formerly disembarked. He was met by Clanronald, who had been the first to declare for him, and who remained faithful to him in this his dire distress. The prince was lodged in a miserable hut belonging to a woodcutter named Corradale, and situated upon the rugged mountain which bears the same name.

Meanwhile the agents of the English government were making a keen search for the fugitive in every place that seemed to offer him the possibility of an asylum. General Campbell went to the very extremity of the isle of St. Kilda,{114} which might be termed the boundary of the habitable world, and from thence passing to the other extremity of the Hebrides, he found the chiefs of Skye and of MacLeod engaged in a similar search. Two thousand men in all were employed in this undertaking, while the coasts of the island were constantly watched by ships of war. It seemed absolutely impossible for the prince to escape; yet he was saved by the courage of a woman.

That woman was Flora Macdonald, and her name is still honoured in the land of her birth. She was a relative of Clanronald, and she was at the time visiting that chief. Her father-in-law, who was of the clan of Sir Alexander MacDonald, was consequently an enemy of the Pretender, and he commanded the militia of the name of MacDonald, which was then exploring South Uist.

Having hastily formed a plan for saving the prince, Flora had sufficient address to obtain from her father-in-law permission to engage a male attendant and a servant girl, whom she named Betty Burke. The part of Betty was to be played by the prince dressed as a woman. Charles did in fact assume this disguise, and after having been several times in danger of capture, he arrived at Kilbride, in the Isle of Skye. But he was still in Sir Alexander MacDonald’s county, and he ran almost as great risks as before. Here, however, the courage and presence of mind of Flora were displayed anew in favour of the man thus so strangely placed under the protection of a young girl. She resolved to confide her secret to Lady Margaret MacDonald, wife of Sir Alexander, and to trust to the natural compassion of the sex, and to that enthusiasm for the Jacobite cause then common among nearly all the women of the Highlands.

This undertaking was the more dangerous, as the husband{115} of Lady Margaret was already suspected of having at first offered his services to the prince. Lady Margaret was alarmed at Flora’s revelation. Her husband was absent, and her house was full of officers of militia. She could think of no other way of providing for the safety of the prince than to confide him to the care of MacDonald of Kingsburgh, a brave and intelligent man, who acted as agent or steward to Sir Alexander. Flora undertook to conduct the prince to MacDonald’s house; and the prince was fortunate enough to avoid recognition on the road, although the awkwardness of his air, dressed as he was like a woman, more than once excited suspicion.

From Kingsburgh he went to Raasay, where he was in the greatest distress; the isle having been pillaged because the laird had taken part in the insurrection. During this period of his flight he passed for the servant of his guide. He then took refuge for a time in the country of the laird of MacKinnon; but notwithstanding all the efforts of this chief in his favour, he could find neither rest nor safety in that part of the Isle of Skye, and was obliged to return once more to the mainland of Scotland, on the borders of Loch Nevis. He was there exposed to new dangers, and was very nearly taken. A great number of soldiers were overrunning the district which was the cradle of the insurrection, the country of Lochiel, of Keppoch, of Glengarry, and of other Jacobite chiefs. The prince and his guide soon found themselves in the midst of a circle of sentinels, and were scarcely able to move for fear of detection. After having passed two days surrounded by enemies, and without daring to light a fire to cook their food, they at length avoided the threatened danger by passing through a narrow defile, which separated the posts of two sentinels. Living thus in misery{116} and nakedness, often without food, without fire, and without shelter, the unfortunate prince, sustained alone by the hope of learning that some French vessel was approaching the coast, arrived at length at the mountains of Strath-glass; And with Glen Allandale, who was then his only companion, was obliged to take shelter in a cavern which was shared by seven robbers. These men, however, were not ordinary outcasts; but like Charles himself, they had been obliged to hide because they had taken part in the insurrection. They willingly granted shelter to the fugitive, and recognising the prince for whom they had so often exposed their lives, they renewed to him their oaths of devotion. Among his most obedient and attached subjects, Charles Edward never found more zeal, fidelity, and effective help, than he met with at the hands of these men who had become the enemies of the world and of its laws. Wishing to give him all the assistance in their power, they undertook to procure him a suit of clothes, a change of linen, some provisions, and news. They executed their design with a strange mixture of that simplicity and ferocity which then formed the basis of the Highland character. Two of them lay in ambush for the servant of an officer who was going to Fort Augustine with his master’s baggage, and killed him. This was the means of furnishing the prince with clothes. Then another, in disguise, ventured to enter Fort Augustine, managed to obtain valuable information as to the movement of troops, and wishing to fulfil his mission of aid in all its integrity, brought away for the unfortunate prince a small piece of spiced bread of the value of a halfpenny. Charles Edward passed more than three weeks in this cave, and it was with great reluctance that his hosts suffered him to depart. “Stay with us,” they said. “The mountains of{117} gold which the government has promised for your head will perhaps lead some gentleman to betray you; for it will be easy for him to go in a distant land, and live upon the price of his infamy. But we are under no such temptation. We know no other language but our own; we cannot live in any other country; and if we were to harm a hair of your head, our own mountains would fall upon us and crush us.” Another remarkable example of enthusiasm and devotion aided at about this time the escape of the prince. The son of a goldsmith of Edinburgh, named Robert Mackenzie, who had been an officer in the Jacobite army, was then hidden in the country of Glen Moriston. He was of about the same height as Charles, and he resembled him very much, both in face and figure. He was discovered by a party of soldiers, and attacked. He defended himself bravely; and wishing by a last effort of heroism to render his death useful to the cause he had served, he cried as he fell mortally wounded, “Oh, wretches, you have killed your prince!” His generous plan succeeded. He was taken for Charles Edward, and his head was sent to London. Some time elapsed before the deception was discovered; and as most persons believed that the real prince was killed, the government began to relax the rigour of its search. Profiting by this momentary respite, Charles Edward sought an interview with Lochiel, Cluny MacPherson, and some others of his faithful partisans said to be hidden in a neighbouring district. He therefore bid farewell to his faithful banditti, two of whom, however, he kept with him to serve as guides and as an escort. He at length succeeded in reaching Lochiel and MacPherson, though not without running very great risks. They lived for some time in a hut called the cage, sheltered by a very thick copse on the slope{118} of the mountain Benalder. But they were in the midst of abundance; and for the first time since his flight the prince had enough to eat.

Towards the middle of September, Charles Edward learned that two French frigates had arrived at Loch Lannagh to convey him to France. He embarked on the twentieth, with a hundred of his partisans, and touched the coast of Brittany on the twenty-ninth, at a spot near Morlaix. For five months he had wandered a fugitive; leading a precarious life in the midst of fatigues and of dangers surpassing anything recorded in history. During this time his secret had been confided to hundreds of persons of both sexes, of all ages, and of all conditions, without one of them, even among the thieves who lived at the risk of their lives, having for a moment thought of enriching himself with the wages of the informer.



Stanislaus Leczinski was besieged by the Russians in the city of Dantzic, and having no hope of relief, and knowing that the enemy wished to capture him rather than the city, the unfortunate king of Poland resolved to subserve the interests of his country in providing for his own safety. Several means of escape were presented to him. Some wished him to place himself at the head of a hundred determined men, and to pierce the Russian lines, but the project was too impracticable to be entertained. He then{119} adopted the plan of the ambassador of France—that, namely, of flying in the disguise of a peasant.

“I left the house of the ambassador,” says the king, “in partial disguise. I had not gone far when I wished to return to reassure him, for he was greatly alarmed for my safety, and to dry the tears which I had seen him shed. I therefore walked up again to his apartments and tapped at the door, which he had gently closed. I found him prostrate on the ground, and offering up fervent prayers to God to guide me in my dangerous journey. ‘I come,’ said I, ‘to embrace you once more, and to beg of you to resign yourself, as I do, to Providence.’ ”

Accompanied by General Steinflycht, disguised like himself as a peasant, and by another officer who was engaged to assist him, the king crossed the ditch in a boat, intending to enter Prussia, but he was obliged to pass a post commanded by a serjeant, who interrogated the party so closely that they judged it most prudent to declare themselves. The serjeant then made a profound salute to the king, and allowed him to pass. The king’s guides did not belong to the most honourable portion of society, two of them being mere vagabonds; but that was of no great moment as they were perfectly acquainted with the roads, and were above all faithful. They began, however, by detaining the unfortunate king all one night and the following day in a miserable cabin in the midst of a marsh, about a quarter of a league from Dantzic. They assured him this was necessary for his safety, and Stanislaus soon discovered that the trusty fellows thought too little of his rank to make it worth his while to expostulate with them. On the following night they took to their boat, and rowed slowly and with difficulty along a sluggish river covered with weeds. Towards{120} midnight the guides separated in two parties, one of which led the general by the road bordering the river, while the other continued with the king in the boat. At daybreak they again hid themselves in a peasant’s hut, and the king slept on a truss of straw. He had not lain there long when some Cossacks entered with a great uproar, and he gave himself up for lost till he discovered that they had merely come in to breakfast. They remained at table two mortal hours, but at last they went away, and the peasant’s wife came to reassure Stanislaus with the news, though she was wholly unable to understand why he wished to avoid the Cossacks instead of drinking with them. At nightfall they again took to the boat, and passed over a great tract of country which had been flooded, and then after a long and fatiguing march arrived at a house, the owner of which uttered a loud cry at seeing the king. “He is merely one of our comrades,” said the guides; “what has alarmed you?” “No, I am not deceived,” said the peasant; “it is the king, Stanislaus.” “Yes, my friend,” said the king firmly and confidently; “it is myself; but you are too honest a man to refuse me help in the condition in which you see me.” The king’s confidence was not misplaced; the man promised to take him across the Vistula, and he kept his word.

This part of the journey, however, was not effected without the king being exposed to very great dangers. The Cossacks had possession of the roads, and they examined every person with the greatest care whose appearance resembled that of the king. The fugitives were often seen, and on one occasion the guides were preparing to abandon Stanislaus, telling him that they did not wish to be hanged without having the least chance of saving his life. But he made{121} them remain by threatening that if they left him he would at once call the Cossacks, although they all perished together. At another time he had to reanimate their courage by a liberal supply of beer and of brandy. He had already learned that Steinflycht had been misled and probably taken. At length they reached the shores of the Vistula, and the peasant, hiding the king in some bushes, went to look for a boat. When he was ready to embark, the king wished to recompense the brave fellow by a present of a considerable sum of money, but he could only induce him to accept two ducats, which the worthy man said he would regard “As a souvenir of the happiness he had known in seeing and knowing his sovereign.” “He took the ducats out of my hand,” says Stanislaus, “in a manner and with expressions not easily to be described.”

All danger was not at an end even when they had passed the Vistula. On one occasion one of the two vagabonds who had guided the king, got drunk, and in the midst of a village openly demanded the price of services he had rendered at the risk of his life. The chief guide had happily the presence of mind to ridicule him before the villagers, and to represent him as a kind of madman, who whenever he had too much to drink mistook every one around him for a prince. Stanislaus at length succeeded in passing the Nogat, and got rid at the same time of his fears and of his vagabond companions, who though they had not betrayed him, had added no little by their indiscretions to the discomforts and miseries of his journey.{122}



Frederic Baron Trenck, born at Königsberg in 1726, was the son of a superior officer in the Prussian army, and cousin-german of the famous Trenck, colonel of the Pandours in the service of Maria Theresa. At the age of eighteen he became an officer in the body-guard of Frederic II., and he was high in the favour of that prince. But the intelligence, the bravery, and the brilliant exploits to which he owed that favour had also procured him many enemies, who knew how to take advantage of the indiscretions of a high-spirited young man. Trenck was presumptuous enough to aspire to the regard of the Princess Amelia, sister of the king; and this was undoubtedly the main cause of his disgrace, though not the only one. In the campaign of 1744 the enemy’s foragers captured the young officer’s groom, with two of his horses. The king at once supplied him with another horse from the royal stables; but the next morning the groom and the captured horses were brought back again by a trumpeter of the enemy, who, on returning them to Trenck, placed in his hands the following letter from the chief of the Pandours:—

“Trenck the Austrian is not at war with his cousin Trenck the Prussian. He is delighted to have been able to get the two horses out of the clutches of his hussars, and to return them to his cousin, to whom they belong.”

The young officer at once took the letter to the king, who, regarding him with a frown, said: “Since your cousin has sent back your horses, you have no need of mine.”

Some months passed, and Trenck seemed perfectly restored to the favour of his sovereign, when, the blow with{123} which the king had long menaced him fell suddenly upon his head.

Some time previously, Trenck had been imprudent enough to write to his cousin in the Austrian service; and, though his letter contained only general expressions of compliment and regard, it was none the less a grave breach of discipline. The affair of the captured horses had afterwards happened, and Trenck had very nearly forgotten his letter, when he one day received what purported to be a reply to it, though there is every reason to believe that it was the work of some person in the Prussian service plotting his ruin. Trenck was, however, arrested, with the letter in his possession, and was taken to the castle of Glatz, where he was placed in one of the rooms allotted to the officers of the guard, and allowed the liberty of the fortress. He committed the error of writing a very haughty letter to Frederic, which gave great offence. He had remained five months in confinement; the king had vouchsafed no reply to his demand to be brought before a military tribunal; peace had been made; his post in the guards had been given to another; it was then that he began to think of making his escape.

During his imprisonment at Glatz he had made many friends among the officers who had charge of him, by freely supplying them with money, with which he was well provided. Two of these officers volunteered to aid him in his escape, and to accompany him; and in addition to this they all three undertook, from feelings of pity, to deliver another officer, who had been condemned to ten years’ imprisonment in the same fortress. After he had learned all their plans, this wretch, whom Trenck had loaded with benefits, betrayed them, and earned his own liberty as the reward of{124} his treachery. One of the confederates, warned in time, was enabled to save himself; the other, thanks to Trenck, who had bribed his judge, escaped with a year’s imprisonment. But Trenck himself was from that day watched more closely than before. Some years after, the wretch who had so basely sold him received his reward: Trenck met him at Warsaw, insulted him publicly, and killed him in a duel.

The king was greatly incensed at this attempted escape, the more so as he had already promised, at the earnest entreaty of Trenck’s mother, to release him in a year. But Trenck had, unfortunately, been kept in ignorance of this latter circumstance. He was not long, however, before he made another effort to recover his liberty, of which he gives an account in the following terms:—

“My window looked towards the city, and was ninety feet from the ground, in the tower of the citadel, out of which I dared not get before finding a place of refuge in the city. This an officer undertook to procure me, and prevailed on an honest soap-boiler to grant me a hiding-place. I then notched my penknife and sawed through three iron bars; but this mode was too tedious, it being necessary to file away eight bars from my window before I could pass through. Another officer, therefore, procured me a file, which I was obliged to use with caution, lest I should be overheard by the sentinels.

“Having ended this labour, I cut my leather portmanteau into thongs, sewed them end to end, added the sheets of my bed, and descended safely from this tremendous height.

“It rained, the night was dark, and all seemed fortunate; but I had to wade through moats full of mud before I could enter the city—a circumstance I had never once considered.{125} I sank up to the knees, and after long struggling and incredible efforts to extricate myself, I was obliged to call the sentinel and desire him to go and tell the governor Trenck was stuck fast in the moat.

“My misfortune was the greater on this occasion as General Fouquet was then governor of Glatz. He was one of the cruellest of men. He had been wounded by my father in a duel, and the Austrian Trenck had taken his baggage in 1744, and had also laid the country of Glatz under contribution. He was, therefore, an enemy to the very name of Trenck; nor did he lose any opportunity of giving proofs of his sentiments, and especially on the present occasion, when he left me standing in the mire till noon, the sport of the soldiers. I was then drawn out, half dead, only to be again imprisoned and shut up the whole day, without water to wash myself. No one can imagine how I looked—exhausted and dirty, my long hair having fallen into the mud, with which, by my struggling, it was loaded. I remained in this condition till the next day, when two fellow-prisoners were sent to assist and clean me.

“My imprisonment now became intolerable. I had still eighty louis d’ors in my purse, which had not been taken from me at my removal into another dungeon, and these afterwards did me good service.

“Eight days had not elapsed since my last fruitless attempt to escape when an event happened which would appear incredible were I, the principal actor in the scene, not alive to attest its truth, and might not all Glatz and the Prussian garrison be produced as eye and ear-witnesses. This incident will prove that adventurous and even rash daring will render the most improbable undertakings possible, and that desperate attempts may often make a general more{126} fortunate and famous than the wisest and best concerted plans.

“Major Doo came to visit me, accompanied by an officer of the guard and an adjutant. After examining every corner of my chamber, he addressed me, taxing me with a second crime in endeavouring to obtain my liberty, adding that this must certainly increase the anger of the king.

“My blood boiled at the word crime; he talked of patience, I asked how long the king had condemned me to imprisonment. He answered, a traitor to his country who has correspondence with the enemy, cannot be condemned for a certain time, but must depend for grace and pardon on the king.

“At that instant I snatched his sword from his side, on which my eyes had been some time fixed, sprang out of the door, tumbled the sentinel from the top to the bottom of the stairs, passed the men who happened to be drawn up before the prison door to relieve the guard, attacked them sword in hand, threw them suddenly into surprise by the manner in which I laid about me, wounded four of them, made way through the rest, sprang over the breastwork of the ramparts, and with the sword drawn in my hand immediately leaped this astonishing height without receiving the least injury; I leaped the second wall with equal safety and good fortune. None of their pieces were loaded; no one durst leap after me, and in order to pursue, they must go round through the tower and gate of the citadel, so that I had the start full half an hour.

“A sentinel, however, in a narrow passage endeavoured to oppose my flight, but I parried his fixed bayonet and wounded him in the face. A second sentinel, meantime, ran from the outworks to seize me behind, and I, to avoid{127} him, I made a spring at the palisades; unluckily my foot got stuck, and the sentinel seized it and held me by it till his comrades came up, who beat me with the butt end of their muskets, and dragged me back to prison, while I struggled and defended myself like a man grown desperate.

“Certain it is, had I more carefully jumped the palisades, and despatched the sentinel who opposed me I might have escaped, and gained the mountains. Thus might I have fled to Bohemia, after having, at noon day, broken from the fortress at Glatz, sprung past all its sentinels, over all its walls, and passed with impunity, in spite of the guard, who were under arms, ready to oppose me. I should not, with a sword in my hand, have feared any single opponent, and was able to contend with the swiftest runners. That good fortune which had so far attended me, forsook me at the palisades, where hope was at an end.

“The severities of imprisonment were increased, two sentinels and an under officer were locked in with me, and were themselves guarded by sentinels without. I was beaten and wounded by the butt ends of their muskets, my right foot was sprained. I spit blood, and my wounds were not cured in less than a month.

“I was now informed for the first time that the king had only condemned me to a year’s imprisonment to learn whether his suspicions were well founded. My mother had petitioned for me, and was answered, ‘Your son must remain a year imprisoned as a punishment for his rash correspondence.’ Of this I was ignorant, and it was reported in Glatz, that my imprisonment was for life. I had only three weeks longer to repine for the loss of liberty, when I made this rash attempt. What must the king think? Was he not obliged to act with this severity? How could prudence excuse my

Image unavailable: My foot got stuck, and the sentinel seized it.
My foot got stuck, and the sentinel seized it.


impatience, thus to risk a confiscation, when I was certain of receiving freedom, justification, and honour in three weeks. But such was my adverse fate, circumstances all tended to injure and persecute me, till at length I gave everyone reason to suppose I was a traitor, notwithstanding the purity of my intentions.

“Once more then I was in a dungeon, and no sooner was I there than I formed new projects of flight. I first gained the intimacy of my guards. I had money, and this, with the compassion I had inspired, might effect anything among discontented Prussian soldiers. Soon I had gained thirty-two men who were ready to execute, on the first signal, whatever I should command. Two or three excepted, they were unacquainted with each other, they consequently could not all betray me at once. One Nicholai, a subaltern, was chosen as the leader.

“The garrison consisted only of one hundred and twenty men from the garrison regiment—the rest being dispersed in the county of Glatz—and four officers their commanders, three of whom were in my interest. Everything was prepared, swords and pistols were concealed in the oven, which was in my prison. We intended to give liberty to all the prisoners, and retire with drums beating, into Bohemia.

“Unfortunately, an Austrian deserter, to whom Nicholai had imparted our design revealed our conspiracy. The governor instantly sent his adjutant to the citadel with orders that the officer on guard should arrest Nicholai, and with his men take possession of the casement.

“Nicholai was on the guard, and the lieutenant was my friend, and being in the secret gave the signal that all was discovered. Nicholai only knew all the conspirators, several of whom that day were on guard. He instantly{129} formed his resolution, leaped into the casement, crying, ‘Comrades, to arms! we are betrayed;’ all followed to the guard-house, where they seized on the cartridges. The officer having only eight men, and threatening to fire on whoever should offer resistance, came to deliver me from prison, but the iron door was too strong and the time too short for that to be demolished. Nicholai, calling to me, bid me aid them, but in vain; and perceiving nothing more could be done for me, this brave man, heading nineteen others, marched to the gate of the citadel, where there was a sub-officer and ten soldiers, obliged these to accompany him, and thus arrived safely at Braunau, in Bohemia, for before the news was spread through the city, and men were collected for the pursuit, they were nearly half way on their journey.

“Two years after I met with this extraordinary man at Ofenburg, where he was a writer; he entered immediately into my service, and became my friend, but died some months after of a burning fever at my quarters in Hungary, at which I was deeply grieved, for his memory will ever be dear to me.

“Now was I exposed to all the storms of ill fortune; a prosecution was entered against me as a conspirator, who wanted to corrupt the officers and soldiers of the King. They commanded me to name the remaining conspirators; but to these questions I made no answer except by steadfastly declaring I was an innocent prisoner, an officer unjustly broken, because I had never been brought to trial,—that consequently I was released from all my engagements.

“A lieutenant, whose name was Bach, a Dane, mounted guard every fourth day, and was the terror of the whole garrison; for being a perfect master of arms, he was{130} incessantly involved in quarrels, and generally left his marks behind him. He had served in two regiments, neither of which would associate with him for this reason, and he had been sent to the garrison regiment at Glatz as a punishment.

“Bach, one day sitting beside me, related how the evening before he had wounded a lieutenant, of the name of Schell in the arm. I replied, laughing, ‘Had I my liberty, I believe you would find some trouble in wounding me, for I have some skill in the sword.’ The blood instantly flew into his face. We split off a kind of a pair of foils from an old door, which had served me as a table, and at the first lunge I hit him on the breast.

“His rage became ungovernable, and he left the prison. What was my astonishment when, a moment after, I saw him return with two soldier’s swords, which he had concealed under his coat. ‘Now then, boaster, prove,’ said he, giving me one of them, ‘what thou art able to do.’ I endeavoured to pacify him, by representing the danger; but ineffectually. He attacked me with the utmost fury, and I wounded him in the arm.

“Throwing his sword down, he fell upon my neck, kissed me, and wept. At length, after some convulsive emotions of pleasure, he said, ‘Friend, thou art my master, and thou must, thou shalt, by my aid, obtain thy liberty, as certainly as my name is Bach.’ We bound up his arm as well as we could. He left me, and secretly went to a surgeon to have it properly dressed, and at night returned.

“Lieutenant Schell was just come from the garrison at Habelschwert, to the citadel of Glatz, and in two days was to mount guard over me, till which time our attempt was suspended. I had received no more supplies, and my{131} purse only contained some six pistoles. It was therefore resolved that Bach should go to Schweidnitz, and obtain money of a sure friend of his in that city.

“It must be borne in mind that at this period the officers and I all understood each other, Captain Roder alone excepted, who was exact, rigid, and gave trouble on every possible occasion. Major Quaadt was my kinsman by my mother’s side, a good friendly man, and ardently desirous I should escape, seeing my calamities were so much increased. The four lieutenants, who successively mounted guard over me, were Bach, Schroeder, Lunitz, and Schell. The first was the grand projector, and made all preparations. Schell was to desert with me, and Schroeder and Lunitz, three days after, were to follow. No one ought to be surprised that officers of garrison regiments should be so ready to desert; they are in general either men of violent passions, quarrelsome, overwhelmed with debts, or unfit for service. They are usually sent to garrison as a punishment, and are called the refuse of the army. Dissatisfied with their situation, their pay much reduced, and despised by the troops, such men, expecting advantage, may be brought to engage in the most desperate undertaking; for none of them can hope for their discharge. They all hoped by my means to better their fortune, I always having had money enough, and with money, nothing is more easy than to find friends in places where each individual is desirous of escaping from slavery.

“The governor had in the meantime been informed how familiar I had become with the officers, and, growing alarmed at this circumstance, he sent orders that my door should no more be opened, but that I should receive my food through a small window that had been made for the purpose. The care{132} of the prison was committed to the major, and he was forbidden to eat with me under pain of being broken.

“His precautions were ineffectual. The officers procured a false key, and remained with me half the day and night.

“A Captain Damnitz was imprisoned in an apartment by the side of mine. This man had deserted from the Prussian service, with the money belonging to his company, to Austria, where he obtained a commission in his cousin’s regiment. This cousin having prevailed on him to serve as a spy during the campaign of 1744, he was taken in the Prussian territories, recognised, and condemned to be hanged.

“Some Swedish volunteers who were then in the army interested themselves in his behalf, and his sentence was changed to perpetual imprisonment, with a sentence of infamy.

“This wretch, who two years afterwards, by the aid of his protectors, not only obtained his liberty, but a lieutenant-colonel’s commission, was the secret spy of the major over the prisoners, and he remarked that notwithstanding the express prohibition laid on the officers, they still passed the greater part of their time in my company.

“The 24th of December came, and Schell mounted guard. He entered my prison immediately, where he continued a long time, and we made our arrangements for flight when he should next mount guard.

“Meantime Lieut. Schroeder, who was in the secret, had no doubt but that we were betrayed, knowing that the spy Damnitz had informed the governor that Schell was then in my chamber. Schroeder, therefore, full of terror, came running to the citadel, and said to Schell: ‘Save thyself, friend; all is discovered, and thou wilt instantly be put under arrest.’{133}

“Schell might easily have provided for his own safety, by flying singly, Schroeder having prepared horses on one of which he himself offered to accompany him into Bohemia.

“How did this worthy man, in a moment so dangerous, act towards his friend? Running suddenly into my prison, he drew a corporal’s sabre from under his coat, and said, ‘My friend, we are betrayed; follow me, only do not allow me to fall alive into the hands of my enemies.’

“I would have spoken, but interrupting me, and taking me by the hand, he added, ‘Follow me, we have not a moment to lose.’ I therefore slipped on my coat and boots, without having time to take the little money I had left; and as we went out of the prison, Schell said to the sentinel, ‘I am taking the prisoner into the officer’s apartment; stand where you are.’

“Into this room we really went, but passed out at the other door. The design of Schell was to go under the arsenal, which was not far off, to gain the covered way, leap the palisadoes, and afterwards escape the best manner we might.

“We had hardly gone a hundred paces before we met the Adjutant and Major Quaadt. Schell started back, sprang upon the rampart, and leaped from the wall, which was at that part not very high. I followed, and alighted unhurt, except having grazed my shoulder. My poor friend was not so fortunate, having put out his ankle. He immediately drew his sword, presented it to me, and begged me to despatch him and fly. He was a small, weak man; but, far from complying with his request, I took him in my arms, threw him over the palisadoes, afterwards got him on my back, and began to run, without knowing very well which way I went.{134}

“It may not be unnecessary to notice the fortunate circumstances that favoured our enterprise.

“The sun had just set as we took to flight, and a hoar frost came on. No one would run the risk that we had done, by making so dangerous a leap. We heard a terrible noise behind us. Everybody knew us, but before they could go round the citadel, and run through the town, in order to pursue us, we had got a full half-league.

“The alarm guns were fired before we were a hundred paces distant, at which my friend was very much terrified, knowing that in such cases it was generally impossible to escape from Glatz unless the fugitives had got a start of full two hours; the passes being immediately all stopped by the peasants and hussars, who are exceedingly vigilant. No sooner is a prisoner missed than the gunner runs from the guard house and fires the cannon on the three sides of the fortress, which are kept loaded day and night for that purpose.

“We were not five hundred paces from the wall when all before us and behind us were in motion. It was daylight when we leaped, yet was our attempt as fortunate as it was wonderful; this I attributed to my presence of mind, and the reputation I had already gained, which made it thought a service of danger for two or three men to attack me.

“It was, besides, imagined we were well provided with arms for our defence, and it was little suspected that Schell had only his sword, and I an old corporal’s sabre.

“Scarcely had I borne my friend three hundred paces, before I set him down, and I looked round me; but darkness came on so fast, that I could see neither town nor citadel, consequently, we ourselves could not be seen.

“My presence of mind did not forsake me; death or freedom{135} was my determination. ‘Where are we, Schell?’ said I to my friend. ‘Where does Bohemia lie? On which side is the river Neiss.’ The worthy man could make no answer; his mind was all confusion, and he despaired of our escape. He still, however, entreated I would not let him be taken alive, and affirmed my labour was all in vain. After having promised, by all that was sacred, I would save him from an infamous death, if no other means were left, and thus raised his spirits, he looked round, and knew, by some trees, we were not far from the city gates.

“I asked him, ‘Where is the Neiss?’ He pointed sideways. ‘All Glatz has seen us fly towards the Bohemian mountains. It is impossible we should avoid the hussars, the passes being all guarded, and we beset with enemies.’ So saying, I took him on my shoulders, and carried him to the Neiss. Here we distinctly heard the alarm sounded in the villages, and the peasants, who likewise were to form the line of desertion, were everywhere in motion and spreading the alarm. I came to the Neiss, which was a little frozen, entered it with my friend, and carried him as long as I could wade; and when I could not feel the bottom, which did not continue for a space of eighteen feet, he clung round me, and thus we got safely to the other shore. The reader will easily suppose swimming in the midst of December, and remaining afterwards in the open air eighteen hours, was a severe hardship.

“About seven o’clock, the hoar frost was succeeded by frost and moonlight. The carrying of my friend kept me warm, it is true; but I began to be tired, while he suffered everything that frost, the pain of a dislocated foot (which I in vain endeavoured to reset), and the danger of death from a thousand hands could inflict.{136}

“We were somewhat tranquil, however, since nobody would pursue us to Silesia. I followed the course of the river for half an hour, and having once passed the first villages that formed the line of desertion, with which Schell was perfectly acquainted, we in a lucky moment found a fisherman’s boat moored to the shore. Into this we leaped, crossed the river again, and soon gained the mountains. Here being come, we sat ourselves down on the snow. Hope revived in our hearts, and we held council concerning how it was best to act. I cut a stick to assist Schell in hopping forward as well as he could when I was tired of carrying him; and thus we continued our route, the difficulties of which were increased by the mountain snows.

“Thus passed the night, during which, up to the middle in snow, we made but little way. There were no paths to be traced in the mountains, and they were in many places impassable.

“Day at length appeared. We thought ourselves near the frontiers, which are twenty English miles from Glatz, when we suddenly, to our terror, heard the city clock strike. Overwhelmed as we were by hunger, cold, pain, and fatigue, it was impossible we should hold out during the day. After some consideration, and another half-hour’s labour, we came to a village at the foot of the mountain, on the side of which, about three hundred paces from us, we perceived two separate houses, and the sight inspired us with a stratagem that was successful.

“We lost our hats in leaping the ramparts, but Schell had preserved his scarf and gorget, which would give him authority among the peasants.

“I then cut my finger, rubbed the blood over my face, my shirt, and my coat, and bound up my head, to give myself{137} the appearance of a man dangerously wounded. In this condition, I carried Schell to the end of the wood, not far from these houses. Here he tied my hands behind my back, but so that I could easily disengage them in time of need, and hobbled after me by aid of his staff, calling for help.

“Two old peasants appeared, and Schell commanded them to run to the village and tell a magistrate to come immediately with a cart. ‘I have seized this knave,’ added he, ‘who has killed my horse, and in the struggle I have put out my ankle. However, I have wounded him and bound him. Fly quickly; bring a cart, lest he should die before he is hanged.’

“As for me, I suffered myself to be led, as if half dead, into the house. A peasant was dispatched to the village.

“An old woman and a pretty girl seemed to take great pity on me, and gave me some bread and milk; but how great was our astonishment when the aged peasant called Schell by his name, and told him he well knew we were deserters, he having the night before been at a neighbouring alehouse, where the officer in pursuit of us came, named and described us, and related the whole history of our flight. The peasant knew Schell, because his son served in his company, and had often spoken of him when he was quartered at Habelschwert.

“Presence of mind and resolution were all that were now left. I instantly ran to the stable, while Schell detained the peasant in the chamber. He, however, was a worthy man, and directed him to the road towards Bohemia. We were still about seven miles from Glatz, having lost ourselves among the mountains, where we had wandered many miles. The daughter followed me. I found three horses in the{138} stable but no bridles. I conjured her in the most passionate manner possible to assist me. She was affected, seemed half willing to follow me, and gave me two bridles. I led the horses to the door, called Schell, and helped him, with his lame leg, on horseback. The old peasant then began to weep, and begged I would not take his horses; but he luckily wanted courage, and perhaps the will to impede us, for with nothing more than a dung fork, in our then feeble condition, he might have stopped us long enough to have called in assistance from the village.

“And now behold us on horseback, without hats or saddles—Schell with his uniform scarf and gorget, and I in my red regimental coat. Still we were in danger of seeing all our hopes vanish, for my horse would not stir from the stable. However, at last, good horseman-like, I made him move. Schell led the way, and we had scarcely gone a hundred paces before we perceived the peasants coming in crowds from the village. As kind fortune would have it, the people were all at church, it being a festival. It was nine in the morning, and had the peasants been at home we had been lost without redemption. We were obliged to take the road to Wunshelburg, and pass through the town where Schell had been quartered a month before, and in which he was known by everybody. Our dress, without hats or saddles, sufficiently proclaimed we were deserters; our horses, however, continued to go tolerably well, and we had the good luck to get through the town, although there was a garrison of one hundred and eighty infantry and twelve horse purposely to arrest deserters. Schell knew the road to Brummen, where we arrived at eleven o’clock, and from thence we went to Braunau, where we were safe.”

During the first few months following his escape, Trenck

Image unavailable: Trenck escaping with Lieutenant Schell.
Trenck escaping with Lieutenant Schell.


wandered about miserably, pursued everywhere by the vengeance of Frederick, and being obliged sometimes to resist sword in hand persons sent in pursuit of him. Proscribed in his own country, he had taken service with Austria. At length, after a series of adventures, of which he gives an account in his “Memoirs” that bears all the impress of sincerity, notwithstanding the extraordinary events to which it refers, he found himself at Dantzic, where he was delivered up to the King of Prussia by the treachery of the imperial resident and the authorities of the city. He was then taken to Magdeburg, and imprisoned in the citadel.

“My dungeon,” he says, “was in a casemate, the fore part of which, six feet wide and ten feet long, was divided by a party wall. In the inner wall were two doors, and a third at the entrance of the casemate itself. The window in the outer wall, which was seven feet thick, was so situated, that though I had light, I could see neither heaven nor earth, but only the roof of the magazine within, and outside this window were iron bars, and in the space between, an iron grating, so narrow and with such small interstices that it was impossible I should see any person without the prison or that any person should see me. On the outside was a wooden palisado six feet from the wall, by which the sentinels were prevented conveying anything to me. I had a mattress, and a bedstead, fastened to the floor by iron cramps so firmly that it was impossible to move it up to the window. Beside the door was a small iron stove and a table, in like manner fixed to the floor. I was not yet put in irons, and my allowance was a pound and a half per day of ammunition bread, and a jug of water. From my youth I always had a good appetite, and my bread was so mouldy I could at first scarcely eat the half of it. This{140} was one result of the commandant’s avarice, who endeavoured to profit even by the food supplies of the unfortunate prisoners. It is impossible for me to describe to my reader the excess of tortures that during eleven months I endured from ravenous hunger. I could easily have devoured six pounds of bread every day; and every twenty-four hours, after having received and swallowed my small portion I continued as hungry as before I began, yet I was obliged to wait another twenty-four hours for a new morsel. How willingly would I have signed a bill of exchange for a thousand ducats, on my property at Vienna, only to have satiated my hunger on dry bread. Scarcely had I dropped into a sweet sleep before I dreamed I was feasting at some table, luxuriously loaded, where the whole company were astonished to see me, eating like a glutton, to such an extent was my imagination heated by the sensation of famine.

“Awakened by the pains of hunger, I used to find that the dishes had vanished, and that nothing remained but the reality of my distress. The cravings of nature were but inflamed, my tortures prevented sleep, and looking into futurity, the cruelty of my fate seemed to me, if possible to increase, for I imagined that the prolongation of pangs like these was insupportable. God preserve every honest man from sufferings like mine! They were not to be endured by the most obdurate villain. Many have fasted three days, many have suffered want for a week or more, but certainly no one beside myself ever endured it in the same excess for eleven months; some have supposed that to eat little might become habitual, but I have experienced the contrary. My hunger increased every day, and of all the trials of fortitude my whole life has afforded, this eleven months was the most bitter.{141}

“My three doors were kept always shut, and I was left to such meditations as such feelings and such hopes might inspire. Daily, about noon, or once in twenty-four hours, my pittance of bread and water was brought. The keys of all the doors were kept by the governor; the inner door was not opened, but my bread and water were delivered through an aperture. The prison was opened only once a week, on a Wednesday, when the governor and town major paid their visit, after my den had been cleaned.

“Having remained thus two months, and observed this method was invariable, I began to execute a project I had formed, and of the possibility of which I was convinced.

“Where the table and stove stood, the floor was bricked, and this paving extended to the wall that separated my casemate from the adjoining one, in which no one was confined. My window was only guarded by a single sentinel. I therefore soon found among those who successively relieved guard, two kind-hearted fellows, who described to me the situation of my prison, whence I perceived I might effect my escape, could I but penetrate into the adjoining casement (the door of which was not shut), and find a friend and a boat waiting for me at the Elbe. Or could I swim that river, the confines of Saxony were but a mile distant.

“To describe my plan at length would lead to prolixity, yet I must enumerate some of its main features, as it was remarkably intricate and it involved gigantic labour.

“I worked through the iron, eighteen inches long, by which the table was fastened, and broke off the clinchings of the nails, but preserved their heads, that I might put{142} them again in their places, that all might appear secure to my weekly visitors. This procured me tools to raise up the brick floor, under which I found earth. My first attempt was to work a hole through the wall, seven feet thick behind, and concealed by the table. The first layer was of brick; I afterwards came to large hewn stones. I endeavoured accurately to number and remember the bricks, both of the flooring and the wall, so that I might replace them, that all might appear safe. This having been accomplished, I awaited the day of visitation. All was carefully replaced, and the intervening mortar as carefully preserved. The cell had probably been whitewashed a hundred times, and, that I might fill up all remaining interstices, I pounded the white stuff from the walls, wetted it, made a brush of my hair, washed it over, that the colour might be uniform, and afterwards stripped myself, and sat, with my naked body against the place, by the heat of which it was dried.

“While labouring, I placed the stones and bricks upon my bedstead; and had they taken the precaution to come at any other time of the week, the stated Wednesday excepted, I had inevitably been discovered; but as no such ill accident befell me, in six months my Herculean labours gave me a prospect of success.

“Means were to be found to remove the rubbish from my prison, all of which, in so thick a wall, it was impossible to replace. Mortar and stone could not be removed. I therefore took the earth, scattered it about my chamber, and ground it under my feet the whole day, till I had reduced it to dust, which I strewed in the aperture of my window, making use of the loosened table to stand upon. I tied splinters from my bedstead together, with the ravelled{143} yarn of an old stocking, and to this I affixed a tuft of my hair. I worked a large hole under the middle grating, which could not be seen by any one standing on the ground, and through this I pushed my dust with the tool I had prepared in the outer window, then waiting till the wind rose, during the night I brushed it away. It was blown off, and no appearance remained on the outside.

“By this single expedient, I rid myself of at least three hundredweight of earth, and thus made room to continue my labours; yet this being still insufficient, I had recourse to many other artifices, among them that of kneading up the earth into little balls which, and when the sentinel’s back was turned, I blew through a paper tube, out of the window. Into the empty space I put my mortar and stones, and worked on successfully.

“I cannot, however, describe my difficulties after having penetrated about two feet into the hewn stone. My tools were the irons I had dug out, which fastened my bedstead and table. A compassionate soldier also gave me an old iron ramrod, and a soldier’s sheath knife, which did me excellent service, more especially the latter, as I shall presently more fully show. With the knife I cut splinters from my bedstead, which aided me to pick the mortar from the interstices of the stone; yet the labour of penetrating through this seven-feet wall was incredible. The building was ancient, and the mortar occasionally quite petrified, so that the whole stone was obliged to be reduced to dust. After continuing my work unremittingly for six months, I at length approached the accomplishment of my hopes, as I knew by coming to the facing of brick which alone remained between me and the adjoining casemate.{144}

“Meantime, I found opportunity to speak to some of the sentinels, among whom was an old grenadier, called Gefhardt, whom I here name because he displayed qualities of the greatest and most noble kind. From him I learned the precise situation of my prison, and every circumstance that might best conduce to my escape.

“Nothing was wanting but money to buy a boat, so crossing the Elbe with Gefhardt, I might take refuge in Saxony. By Gefhardt’s means I became acquainted with a kind-hearted girl, a Jewess, and a native of Dessau, Esther Heymannin by name, whose father had been ten years in prison. This good, compassionate maiden, whom I had never seen, won over two grenadiers, who gave her an opportunity of speaking to me every time they stood sentinel. By tying my splinters together, I made a stick long enough to reach beyond the palisadoes that were before my window, and thus obtained paper, another knife, and a file.

“I now wrote to my sister, the wife of the before-mentioned only son of General Waldow, described my awful situation, and entreated her to remit three hundred rix-dollars to the Jewess, hoping by this means I might escape from my prison. I then wrote another affecting letter to Count Puebla, the Austrian ambassador at Berlin, in which was enclosed a draft for a thousand florins on my effects at Vienna, desiring him to remit these to the Jewess, having promised her that sum as a reward for her fidelity. She was to bring the three hundred rix-dollars my sister should send me, and take measures with the grenadiers to facilitate my flight, which nothing seemed able to prevent; I having the power either to break into the casemate, or, aided by{145} the grenadiers and the Jewess, to cut the locks from the doors and that way escape my dungeon. The letters were open, I being obliged to roll them round the stick to convey them to Esther.

“The faithful girl diligently proceeded to Berlin, where she arrived safely, and immediately spoke to Count Puebla. The Count gave her the kindest reception, received the letter, with the letter of exchange, and bade her go and speak to Weingarten, the secretary of the embassy, and act entirely as he should direct. She was received by Weingarten in the most friendly manner, and he, by his questions, drew from her the whole secret, our intended plan of flight, and the names of the two grenadiers who were to aid us. She told him also that she had a letter for my sister, which she must carry to Hammer, near Custrin.

“He asked to see this letter, read it, told her to proceed on her journey, gave her two ducats to bear her expenses, and ordered her to come to him on her return; adding that during this interval he would endeavour to obtain the thousand florins for my draft, and would then give her further instructions.

“Esther cheerfully departed for Hammer, where my sister, then a widow, and no longer, as in 1746, in dread of her husband, immediately gave her a letter to me, with three hundred rix-dollars, exhorting her to exert every possible means to obtain my deliverance. Having prospered so far, Esther hastened back to Berlin, with the letter from my sister, and told Weingarten all that passed, whom she allowed to read the letter. He told her the two thousand florins from Vienna were not yet come, but gave her twelve ducats, bade her hasten back to Magdeburg, to carry me all this good news, and then return to Berlin, where he{146} would pay her the thousand florins. Esther came to Magdeburg, went immediately to the citadel, and most luckily met the wife of one of the grenadiers, who told her that her husband and his comrade had been taken and put in irons the day before. Esther’s quickness of perception told her that we had been betrayed: she, therefore, instantly again began her travels, and happily came safe to Dessau.”

One of the grenadiers was hung, the other cruelly tortured. Trenck’s sister was condemned to pay a heavy fine, and the expenses of building a new cell for her brother. Trenck did not know at first what had happened, but he was soon informed of it by Gefhardt, who told him that his new prison would be finished in a month. Frederic, who had come to Magdebourg to hold a review, himself designed the chains for the limbs of his victim. Meanwhile Trenck was still in hopes of regaining his liberty. As yet nothing had been discovered of his subterranean operations. His preparations were at length finished, and he was getting ready to fly during the night, when suddenly the doors were opened; he was seized, and bound hand and foot; a bandage was placed over his eyes, and he was dragged away to his new cell. His feelings are best described in his own words:—

“The bandage was taken from my eyes. The dungeon was lighted by a few torches. Great heaven! what were my feelings when I beheld the floor covered with chains, a fire pan, and two grim men standing with their smiths’ hammers.

“These engines of despotism went to work at once: enormous chains were fixed to my ancles at one end, and at the other to a ring which was fixed in the wall. This ring was three feet from the ground, and only allowed me{147} to move about two or three feet to the right and left. They next riveted another huge iron ring of a hand’s breadth round my naked body, to which hung a chain fixed into an iron bar as thick as a man’s arm. This bar was two feet in length, and at each end of it was a handcuff. The iron collar round my neck was not added till the year 1756.

“No soul bade me good-night. All retired in dreadful silence, and I heard the horrible grating of four doors that were successively locked and bolted upon me.

“Thus does man act by his fellow, knowing him to be innocent, in blind obedience to the commands of another man.

“O God! Thou alone knowest how my heart, void as it was of guilt, beat at this moment. There I sat, destitute, alone, in thick darkness, upon the bare earth, with a weight of fetters insupportable to nature, thanking Thee that these cruel men had not discovered my knife by which my miseries might yet find an end. Death is a last certain refuge that can indeed bid defiance to the rage of tyranny. What shall I say. How shall I make the reader feel as I then felt? How describe my despondency, and yet account for that latent impulse that withheld my hand on this fatal, this miserable night?

“The misery I foresaw was not of short duration. I had heard of the wars that were lately broken out between Austria and Prussia. To patiently wait their termination amid sufferings and wretchedness such as mine, appeared impossible, and freedom even then was doubtful. Sad experience had I had of Vienna, and well I knew that those who had despoiled me of my property would most anxiously endeavour to prevent my return. Such were my meditations, such my night thoughts. Day at length returned,{148} but where was its splendour? I beheld it not, yet its glimmering obscurity was sufficient to show me my dungeon.

“In breadth, the cell was about eight feet; in length, ten. Near me stood a table; in a corner was a seat four bricks broad, on which I might sit and recline against the wall opposite to the ring to which I was fastened; the light was admitted through a semicircular aperture one foot high, and two in diameter. This aperture ascended to the centre of the wall, which was six feet thick, and at this central part was a close iron grating from which outward the aperture descended, having its two extremities again closely secured by strong iron bars. My dungeon was built in the ditch of the fortification, and the aperture by which the light entered was so covered by the wall of the rampart, that instead of finding immediate passage, the light only gained admission by reflection. This, considering the smallness of the aperture and the impediments of grating and iron bars, made the obscurity very great, yet my eyes in time became so accustomed to this gloom, that I could see a mouse run. In winter, however, when the sun did not shine into the ditch, it was dense night with me. Between the bars and the grating was a glass window, most curiously formed, with a small central casement, which might be opened to admit the air. The name of Trenck was built in the wall in red brick, and under my feet was a tombstone with the name of Trenck also cut on it, and carved with a death’s head. The doors to my dungeon were double, of oak, two inches thick; without, there was an open space in front of the cell, in which was a window. And this space was likewise shut in by double doors. The ditch in which this dreadful den was built was inclosed on both sides by palisadoes twelve feet high, the key of the gate of which{149} was intrusted to the officer of the guard, it being the king’s intention to prevent all possibility of speech or communication with the sentinel. The only motion I had the power to make was that of jumping upward, or swinging my arms to procure myself warmth. When more accustomed to the fetters, I became capable of moving from side to side about four feet, but this pained my shin-bones.

“The cell had been finished with lime and plaster but eleven days, and everybody supposed it impossible I should exist above a fortnight after breathing the damp air. I remained six months, continually drenched with very cold water, that trickled upon me from the thick arches above; and I can safely affirm that for the first three months I was never dry, yet I continued in health. I was visited daily at noon, after the relieving of guard, and the doors were then obliged to be left open for some minutes, otherwise the dampness of the air put out my gaolers’ candles.

“This was my situation. And here I sat, destitute of friends, helplessly wretched, preyed on by all the tortures of an imagination that continually suggested the most gloomy, the most horrid, the most dreadful of images. My heart was not yet wholly turned to stone; my fortitude was reduced to despondency; my dungeon was the very cave of despair; yet was my arm restrained, and this excess of misery endured.

“How, then, may hope be wholly eradicated from the heart of man? My fortitude, after some time, began to revive. I glowed with the desire of convincing the world I was capable of suffering what man had never suffered before, perhaps of, at last, emerging from beneath this load of wretchedness triumphant over my enemies. So long and ardently did my fancy dwell on this picture that my mind{150} at length acquired a heroism which Socrates himself certainly never possessed. Age had benumbed his sense of pleasure, and he drank the poisonous draught with cool indifference; but I was young, inured to high hopes, yet now beholding deliverance impossible, or at an immense, a dreadful distance. Such, too, were my other sufferings of soul and body that I could not hope and live.

“About noon my door was opened. Sorrow and compassion were painted on the countenances of my keepers; no one spoke, no one bade me ‘Good morrow!’ Dreadful, indeed, was the sound of their arrival; for the monstrous bolts and bars moved with difficulty, and the noise of their removal would be resounding for a good half hour through the vaults of the prison.

“But at length a camp bed, mattress, and blankets were brought me, and beside it an ammunition loaf of six pounds’ weight. ‘That you may no more complain of hunger,’ said the town major, when the loaf was laid before me, ‘you shall have as much bread as you can eat.’ The door was shut, and I again left to my thoughts.”

For eleven months Trenck had been dying of hunger, and he devoured the bread so greedily that repletion nearly finished what starvation had begun, and he became seriously ill. When he had somewhat recovered he began anew to meditate a scheme of escape.

“I observed, as the four doors of my cell were opened, that they were only of wood; I therefore considered whether I might not even cut off the locks with the knife that I had so fortunately concealed; and should this and every other means fail, then would be the time to die. I likewise determined to make an attempt to free myself of my chains. I happily forced my right hand through the handcuffs, though{151} the blood trickled from my nails. My attempts on the left were long ineffectual, but by rubbing with a brick, which I got from my seat, on a rivet that had been negligently closed, I effected this also.

“The chain was fastened to the ring round my body by a hook, the end of which was not inserted in the ring; therefore, by setting my foot against the wall, I had strength enough so far to bend this hook back, and open it, as to force out the link of the chain. The remaining difficulty was the chain that attached my foot to the wall; the links of this I took, doubled, twisted, and wrenched, till at length, nature having bestowed on me great strength, I made a desperate effort, sprang forcibly up, and two links at once flew off. Fortunate indeed did I think myself. I hastened to the door, groped in the dark to find the clinchings of the nails by which the lock was fastened, and discovered no very large piece of wood need be cut. Immediately I went to work with my knife, and cut through the oak door to find its thickness, which proved to be only one inch, therefore it was possible to open all the four doors in four and twenty hours.

“Again hope revived in my heart. To prevent discovery I hastened to put on my chains; but, O Heaven! what difficulties had I to surmount. After much groping about, I at length found the link that had flown off, but this I hid. It had hitherto been my good fortune to escape examination, as the possibility of ridding myself of such chains was in no wise suspected. The separated iron links I tied together with my hair ribbon; but when I again endeavoured to force my hand into the ring, it was so swelled that every effort was fruitless. The whole night was employed upon the rivet, but all labour was in vain.

“It was near the hour of visitation, and necessity and{152} danger again obliged me to attempt forcing my hand through the ring, an operation at length, after excruciating tortures, I effected. My visitors came, and everything had the appearance of order. I found it, however, impossible to again free my right hand while it continued swelled.

“I therefore remained quiet for the time; and on the fourth of July, the day I had fixed for my attempt, the moment my visitors had left me, I disencumbered myself of irons, took my knife and began my Herculean labours on the doors. The first of them that opened inwards was conquered in less than an hour. The other was a very different task. The lock was soon cut round, but it opened outwards; there was, therefore, no other means left but to cut the whole door away above the bar. Incessant and incredible labour made this possible, though it was the more difficult as everything was to be done by feeling, as I was totally in the dark; the sweat dropped, or rather flowed from my body. My fingers were clotted in my own blood, and my lacerated hands were one continued wound.

“Daylight appeared. I clambered over the door that I had cut through, and got up to the window in the space or cell that was between the double doors as before described. Here I saw that my dungeon was in the ditch of the first rampart; before me I saw the road from the rampart, the guard but fifty paces distant, and the high palisades that were in the ditch, and must be scaled before I could reach the rampart. Hope grew stronger. My efforts were redoubled. The first of the next double doors was attacked, which likewise opened inward, and was soon conquered. The sun set before I had ended this, and the fourth was cut away as the second had been. My strength failed, both my hands were raw. I rested awhile, began again, and{153} had made a cut of a foot long when my knife snapped, and the broken blade dropped to the ground.”

Seeing all his dreams of liberty thus vanish in a moment, the unfortunate prisoner, abandoning himself to despair, opened the veins of his left arm and foot with the broken blade.

“I fainted, and I know not how long I remained in this state. Suddenly I heard my own name, awoke, and again heard the words, ‘Baron Trenck!’ ‘Who calls?’ was my answer. And who indeed was it to be but my loved grenadier Gefhardt—my former faithful friend in the citadel. The good, the kind fellow had got upon the rampart that he might see and comfort me.

“ ‘In what state are you?’ said Gefhardt. ‘Weltering in my blood,’ answered I; ‘to-morrow you will find me dead.’ ‘Why should you die?’ replied he. ‘It is much easier for you to escape from this place than from the citadel. There is no sentinel here, and I shall soon find means to furnish you with tools. If you can only break out, leave the rest to me. As often as I am on guard, I will seek an opportunity to speak to you. In the whole of the Star Fort there are only two sentinels, the one at the entrance and the other at the guard-house. Do not despair, God will help you, trust to me.’ The good man’s kindness and his words revived my hopes. I saw the possibility of my escape. A secret joy diffused itself through my soul. I immediately tore my shirt, bound up my wounds, and waited the approach of day; and the sun soon after shone through my window with more than its accustomed brightness.

“Till noon I had time to consider what might further be done; yet what could be done? What could be expected but that I should now be much more cruelly treated, and{154} even more insupportably ironed than before, finding as they must the doors cut through and my fetters shaken off.

“After mature consideration I therefore made the following resolution, which succeeded happily, and even beyond my hopes. Before I proceed, however, I will speak a few words concerning my situation at this moment. It is impossible to describe how much I was exhausted. The prison swam with blood, and certainly but little was left in my body. With painful wounds, swelled and torn hands, I stood shirtless in my cell. I felt an almost irresistible inclination to sleep, scarcely had strength to keep my legs out, and I was obliged to rouse myself that I might execute my plan.

“With the bar that separated my hands I loosened the bricks of my seat, which as they were newly laid, was easily done, and heaped them up in the middle of my prison. The inner door was quite open, and with my chains I so barricaded the upper half of the second, as to prevent any one climbing over it. When noon came, and the first of the doors was unlocked, all were astonished to find the second open. There I stood, besmeared with blood, the picture of horror, with a brick in one hand, and in the other my broken knife, crying as they approached, ‘Keep off, major, keep off. Tell the governor I will live no longer in chains, and that here I stand if he pleases, to be shot, for so only will I be conquered. No man shall enter; I will destroy every one that approaches; here are my weapons; I will die in despite of tyranny.’ The major was terrified, and lacking resolution to approach, made his report to the governor. I, mean time, sat down on my bricks to await what might happen. My second intent, however, was not so desperate as it appeared. I sought only to obtain a favourable capitulation.{155}

“The governor-general, Borck, presently came, attended by the town major and some officers. He entered the outer cell, but sprang back the moment he beheld a figure like me, standing with a brick and uplifted arm. I repeated what I had told the major, and he immediately ordered six grenadiers to force the door. The front cell was scarcely six feet broad, so that no more than two at a time could attack my intrenchment, and when they saw my threatening bricks ready to descend, they leaped back in terror. A short pause ensued, and the old town major, with the chaplain, advanced towards the door to soothe me: the conversation continued some time to no purpose. The governor grew angry, and ordered a fresh attack. The first grenadier I knocked down, and the rest ran back to avoid my missiles.

“The town major again began a parley. ‘For God’s sake, my dear Trenck,’ said he, ‘in what have I injured you, that you endeavour to effect my ruin? I must answer for your having through my negligence concealed a knife; be persuaded, I entreat you; be appeased. You are not without hope or without friends.’ My answer was, ‘But will you promise not to load me with heavier irons than before?’

“He went out and spoke with the governor, and gave me his word of honour that the affair should be no further noticed, and that everything should be reinstated as formerly.

“Here ended the capitulation, and my wretched citadel was taken.”

The state of the unfortunate prisoner excited commiseration, and he was attended with great care, and supplied with everything needful to his recovery. For four days he was suffered to remain out of irons, but on the fifth he was again fettered, and new doors, one of them of double thickness, were set up in place of those he had destroyed.

Image unavailable: The first grenadier I knocked down.
The first grenadier I knocked down.


Gefhardt came on guard soon after this, and he at once began to concert with Trenck measures for a new attempt at flight. He furnished him with writing materials, and undertook to post a letter to a friend of the prisoner, in Vienna. This friend sent back some money, which Gefhardt found means to convey to the prisoner while handing him his food.

“Having money to carry on my designs, I began to put into execution my plan, of burrowing under the foundation. The first thing necessary was to free myself from my fetters. To accomplish this Gefhardt supplied me with two small files, and by the aid of these this operation, though a difficult one, was effected.

“The cap or staple of the foot-ring was made so wide that I could draw it forward a quarter of an inch. I filed the iron which passed through it on the inside; the more I filed this away the farther I could draw the cap down, till at last the whole inside iron through which the chains passed was cut quite through; by this means I could slip off the ring, while the cap on the outside continued whole, and it was impossible to discover any cut, as only the outside could be examined. My hands, by continued efforts, I so compressed, as to be able to draw them out of the handcuffs. I then filed off the hinge, and made a screw-driver of one of the foot-long flooring nails, with which I could take out the screws at pleasure. The rim round my body was but a small impediment, were it not for the chain which passed from my hand bar, and this I removed by filing an aperture in one of the links, which at the necessary hour I closed with bread rubbed over with rusty iron, first drying it with the heat of my body; and I would wager any sum that, without striking the chain link by link with a hammer, no one not in the secret would have discovered the fracture.{157}

“The window was never strictly examined. I therefore drew the two staples by which the iron bars were fixed to the wall, daily replacing and carefully plastering them over. I procured wire from Gefhardt, and tried how well I could imitate the inner grating. Finding I succeeded tolerably, I cut the real grating totally away, and substituted an artificial one of my own making, by which I obtained a free communication with the outside, additional fresh air, together with all necessary implements, tinder and candles.

“In order that the light might not be seen, I hung the coverlet of my bed before the window, so that I could work fearless and undetected. The floor of my dungeon was not of stone, but of oak plank three inches thick, three beds of which were laid crossways, and were fastened to each other by nails half an inch in diameter and a foot long. Having worked round the head of a nail, I made use of the hole at the end of the bar which separated my hands to draw it out, and this nail, sharpened upon my tombstone, made an excellent chisel.

“I now cut through the board more than an inch in width, that I might work downwards, and having drawn away a piece of wood which was inserted two inches under the wall, I cut this so as to exactly fit. The small crevice it occasioned I stopped up with bread, and strewed over with dust, so as to prevent all suspicions. My labour under this was continued with less precaution, and I had soon worked through my nine-inch planks. Under them I came to a fine white sand, on which the Star Fort was built. My chips I carefully distributed beneath the boards, but I soon saw that, if I had not help from without, I could proceed no farther; for it would be useless to dig, unless I could rid myself of my rubbish.{158}

“Gefhardt supplied me with some ells of cloth, of which I made long narrow bags, stuffed them with earth, and passed them between the iron bars to Gefhardt, who, as he was on guard, scattered or conveyed away their contents. Furnished with room to secrete them under the floor, I obtained more instruments, together with a pair of pistols, powder, ball, and a bayonet. I now discovered that the foundation of my prison, instead of two, was sunk four feet deep. Time, labour, and patience were all necessary to break out unheard and undiscovered; but few things are impossible where resolution is not wanting.

“The hole I made was obliged to be four feet deep, corresponding with the foundation, and wide enough to kneel and to stoop in. The lying down on the floor to work, the continual stooping to throw out the earth, the narrow space in which all must be performed,—these made the labour incredible; and after this daily labour, all things were to be replaced, and my chains again resumed, which alone required some hours to effect.

“I now continued my labour, and found it very possible to break out under the foundation, but Gefhardt had been so terrified by the late accident, that he started a thousand difficulties, in proportion as my end was more nearly accomplished; and at the moment when I wished to concert with him the means of flight, he persisted that it was necessary to find additional help to escape in safety, and not bring both him and myself to destruction. At length we came to a new determination, which, however, after eight months’ incessant labour, rendered my whole project abortive.”

A letter posted by Gefhardt’s wife, containing an unusual number of recommendations, revealed the whole plot; though, after a strict search, the authorities failed to discover{159} any of the signs of Trenck’s activity on either his chains or the flooring of his cell. All that was noticed was the changes he had made in his window, which was immediately closed up with planks. The prisoner was interrogated with threats as to the names of his accomplices, in presence of his guards, and his firmness in refusing to make any revelations proved of great service to him afterwards among men, who were not unwilling to aid a prisoner if they could feel quite certain of not being betrayed. Some days after, all his chains were padlocked together; and his window too was narrowed till it became little better than a mere air-vent. He was at the same time deprived of his bed, and he had no other means of taking repose than by sitting on the floor with his back against the wall, in which position he was half strangled by the weight of the padlock. He became ill, and lay for two months at the point of death without receiving any aid. He was again, however, allowed the use of his bed.

When he had again recovered, he contrived to gain by bribes three of the four officers who attended him, and through them he obtained candles, books, newspapers; and, more precious than all, some tools for cutting through the chains hanging from his padlock. He also, through one of the officers, obtained larger handcuffs, from which he could easily withdraw his hands. He then renewed his subterranean labours with the design of cutting a passage, thirty-seven feet in length, to the gallery beneath the rampart. He made a new opening, however, to avoid working beneath the feet of the sentinels:—

“The work at first proceeded so rapidly that, while I had room to throw back my sand, I was able in one night to gain three feet; but ere I had proceeded ten feet, I discovered{160} all my difficulties. Before I could continue my work, I was obliged to make room for myself, by emptying the sand out of the hole upon the floor of the prison, and this itself was an employment of some hours. The sand was obliged to be thrown out by the hand, and after it thus lay heaped in my prison, it had again to be returned into the hole. I have calculated that, after I had proceeded twenty feet, I was obliged to creep underground in my hole from fifteen hundred to two thousand fathoms within twenty-four hours, in the removal and replacing of the sand. This labour ended, care was to be taken that in none of the crevices of the floor there might be any appearance of this fine white sand. The flooring was next to be exactly replaced, and my chains to be resumed. So severe was the fatigue of one day of this kind, that I was always obliged to rest the three following.

“To reduce my labour as much as possible, I was constrained to make the passage so small that my body only had space to pass, and I had not room to draw my arm back to my head. The work, too, had all to be done naked, otherwise the dirtiness of my shirt would have been remarked; and the sand was wet, water being found at the depth of four feet, where the stratum of the gravel began. At length the expedient of sand bags occurred to me, by which it might be removed out and in more expeditiously. I obtained linen from the officers, but not in sufficient quantities. Suspicions would have been excited had too much linen been brought into the prison. At last I took my sheets, and the ticking that inclosed my straw, and cut them up for sand bags, taking care to lie down on my bed as if ill, when Bruckhausen paid his visit.

“The labour, towards the conclusion, became so intolerable{161} as to excite despondency. I frequently sat contemplating the heaps of sand, during a momentary respite from work; and thinking it impossible I could have strength or time again to replace all things as they were, have resolved patiently to wait the consequences, and leave everything in its present disorder. Yes, I can assure the reader that to effect concealment, I have scarcely had time in twenty-four hours to sit down and eat a morsel of bread. Recollecting, however, the efforts and all the progress I had made, hope would again revive in me, and exhausted strength return, and again would I begin my labours; yet it has frequently happened that my visitors have entered a few minutes after I had reinstated everything in its place.

“When my work was within six or seven feet of being accomplished, a new misfortune happened, that at once frustrated all further attempts. I worked, as I have said, under the foundation of the rampart, near where the sentinels stood. I could disencumber myself of my fetters, except my neck collar and its pendant chain. This, as I worked, though it was fastened, got loose, and the clanking was heard by one of the sentinels, about fifteen feet from my dungeon. The officer was called, they laid their ears to the ground and heard me as I went backward and forward to bring my earth bags. This was reported the next day, and the major, who was my best friend, with the town major, and a smith and mason, entered my prison. I was terrified. The lieutenant, by a sign, gave me to understand I was discovered. An examination was begun; but the officers would not see, and the smith and mason found all, as they thought, safe. Had they examined my bed they would have seen the ticking and sheets were gone. The town major, who was a dull man, was persuaded the thing{162} was impossible, and said to the sentinel, ‘Blockhead, you have heard some mole underground, and not Trenck. How indeed could it be, that he should work underground at such a distance from his dungeon?’ Here the scrutiny ended.

“There was now no time for delay. Had they altered their hour of coming, they must have found me at work; but this, during ten years, never happened, for the governor and town major were stupid men, and the others, poor fellows, wishing me all success, were willingly blind. In a few days I could have broken out; but when ready, I was desirous to wait for the visitation of the man who had treated me so tyrannically, Bruckhausen; but this man, though he wanted understanding, did not want good fortune. He was ill for some time, and his duty devolved on K——. He recovered, and the visitation being over, the doors were no sooner barred than I began my supposed last labour. I had only three feet farther to proceed, and it was no longer necessary that I should bring out the sand, as I had room to throw it behind me. What my anxiety was, what my exertions were, can well be imagined. My evil genius, however, had decreed that the same sentinel who had heard me before, should be that day on guard. He was piqued by vanity to prove he was not the blockhead he had been called, he therefore again laid his ear to the ground, and again heard me burrowing. He called his comrades first, next the major; who came and heard me likewise, they then went outside the palisades and heard me working next the door, at which place I was to break into the gallery. This door they immediately opened, entered the gallery with lanterns, and waited to catch the hunted fox when unearthed.

“Through the first small breach I made I perceived a{163} light, and saw the heads of those who were expecting me. This was indeed a thunderstroke. I crept back, made my way through the sand I had cast behind me, and shudderingly awaited my fate. I had the presence of mind to conceal my pistols, candles, paper, and some money, under the moveable floor. The money was disposed of in various holes, well concealed in the panels of the doors; and I hid my small files and knives under different cracks in the floor. Scarcely were these disposed of before the doors resounded. The floor was covered with sand and sand bags; my handcuffs, however, and the separating bar I had hastily resumed, that they might suppose I had worked with them on, which they were silly enough to credit, highly to my future advantage.”

The passage which had cost Trenck so much trouble was filled up, the flooring repaired, heavier irons replaced those which he had broken, and he was once more deprived of his bed. Bruckhausen and the major interrogated him in presence of the workmen and the soldiers as to the manner in which he had obtained his tools. “My answer,” says Trenck, was ‘Gentlemen, Beelzebub is my best and most intimate friend; he brings me everything I want, and supplies me with light. We play whole nights at piquet, and, guard me as you please, he will finally deliver me out of your power.’

“Some were astonished, others laughed. At length, as they were barring the last door, I called, ‘Come, gentlemen, you have forgotten something of great importance in the interior.’ I had taken up one of my hidden files when they returned: ‘Look you, gentlemen,’ said I, ‘here is a proof of the friendship Beelzebub has for me, he has brought me this in a twinkling.’ Again they examined the cell, and again they{164} shut the doors. While they were so doing I took out a knife and the louis-d’ors. Their consternation was excessive, and I solaced my misfortunes by jesting at such blundering short-sighted keepers. It was soon rumoured through Magdeburg, especially among the simple and vulgar, that I was a magician, to whom the devil brought all that I asked. One Major Holtzkammer, a very selfish man, profited by this report. A foolish citizen had offered him fifty dollars if he might only be permitted to see me through the door, as he was very desirous to see a wizard. Holtzkammer told me, and we jointly determined to sport with his credulity. The major gave me a mask with a monstrous nose, which I put on when the doors were opening, and threw myself in an heroic attitude. The affrighted burgher drew back, but Holtzkammer stopped him, and said, ‘Have patience for some quarter of an hour and you shall see he will assume quite a different countenance.’ The burgher waited. My mask was thrown by, and my face appeared whitened with chalk and made ghastly. The burgher again shrunk back, Holtzkammer kept him in conversation, and I assumed a third facial form. I tied my hair under my nose, and fastened a pewter dish to my breast, and when the door opened a third time, I thundered, ‘Begone, rascals, or I’ll twist your necks awry.’ They both ran, and the silly burgher, eased of his fifty dollars, scampered first.”

Some time after this Trenck meditated another and a far bolder plan of escape. The garrison of Magdeburg was but 900 strong, and there were at least 7000 Croat prisoners of war in the fortress. He proposed to gain access to the Croats by bribing his jailers, and then putting himself at their head to seize the place for Maria Theresa. He sent to Vienna for 2,000 ducats, but failed to obtain them, and the project came to nothing.{165}

He then once more began his mining operations, and had already made considerable progress with them, when the governor of the fortress becoming mad, he was replaced by the hereditary Prince of Hesse Cassel, who treated Trenck with so much kindness that the grateful prisoner pledged himself not to attempt to escape. This state of things continued for eighteen months, at the end of which time the prince, leaving the fortress in consequence of the death of his father, Trenck considered himself justified in making another effort for liberty. He accordingly procured the necessary tools with the same facility as before, and was opening up one of his old galleries, when an accident happened that had nearly put an end to his project and his life.

“While mining under the foundation of the ramparts,” he says, “just as I was going to carry out the sand bag, I struck my foot against a stone in the wall, which fell down and closed up the passage. What was my horror to find myself thus buried alive! After a short time for reflection, I began to work the sand away from the side that I might obtain room to turn round. By good fortune there were some feet of empty space into which I threw the sand as I worked it away, but the small quantity of air soon made it so foul that I a thousand times wished myself dead, and made several attempts to strangle myself. Further labour began to seem impossible. Thirst almost deprived me of my senses, but as often as I put my mouth to the sand I inhaled fresh air. My sufferings were incredible, and I imagine I passed full eight hours in this distraction of horror. Of all dreaded deaths surely such a one as this is the most dreadful. My spirits fainted, again I somewhat recovered, again I began to labour, but the earth was as high as my chin, and I had no more space into which I might throw the sand, that I might{166} turn round. I made a more desperate effort, drew my body into a ball and turned round. I now faced the stone, which was as wide as the whole passage, but there being an opening at the top I respired fresher air. My next labour was to root away the sand under the stone and let it sink, so that I might creep over, and by this means at length I once more happily arrived in my dungeon.”

He had hardly time to clear away the traces of his work, and to put all in order, before he received the daily visit of his jailers. A change of the garrison and other circumstances somewhat hindered the accomplishment of his design, but the gallery was at length finished, and an officer had even promised to bring him false keys to open his prison doors. The thought that he was on the very eve of liberty turned his head, as he admits himself.

“I was then vain enough, stupid enough, mad enough,” he says, “to form the design of casting myself on the generosity and magnanimity of the great Frederic! Should this fail, I still thought my lieutenant a certain saviour. Having heated my imagination with this lamentable scheme, I awaited the hour of visitation with great anxiety. The major entered. ‘I know, sir,’ I said, ‘the great Prince Ferdinand is again in Magdeburg’ (my new friend had told me this): ‘Be pleased to inform him that he may first examine my prison, and double the sentinels, and afterwards give me his commands, stating at what hour it will please him I should make my appearance in perfect freedom on the glacis of Klosterbergen. If I prove myself capable of this, I then hope for the protection of Prince Ferdinand, and I trust he will relate my proceedings to the king, who may thereby be convinced of my innocence and the perfect clearness of my conscience.’{167}

“The major was astonished, and he supposed my brain turned. The proposal he held to be ridiculous, and the performance impossible. As I, however, persisted, he rode to town and returned with the sub-governor, Reichmann, the town major, Riding, and the major of inspection. The answer they delivered was, ‘That the prince promised me his protection, the king’s favour, and a certain release from my chains, should I prove the truth of my assertion.’ I required they would appoint a time; they ridiculed the thing as impossible, and at last said that it would be sufficient could I only prove the practicability of such a scheme; but should I refuse they would immediately break up the whole flooring and place sentinels in my dungeon night and day; adding, ‘The governor would not admit of any actual breaking out.’

“After the most solemn promises of good faith, I immediately disencumbered myself of my chains, raised up the flooring, gave them my arms and implements, and also two keys, that my friend had procured me, to the doors of the subterranean gallery. I desired them to enter this gallery and sound with their sword hilts at a place through which I could easily break in a few minutes. I further described the road I was to take through the gallery, informed them that two of the doors had not been shut for six months, and that they already had the keys to the others, adding, I had horses waiting at the glacis that would be ready the moment I wanted them.

“They went, examined, returned, and put questions, which I answered with as much precision as the engineer could have done who built the Star Fort. They left me with seeming friendship, continued away about an hour, came back, told me the prince was astonished at what he had heard, that he{168} wished me all happiness, and then took me unfettered to the guard-house. The major came in the evening, treated us with a sumptuous supper, assured me everything would happen in accordance with my wishes, and that Prince Ferdinand had already written to Berlin.

“But all these promises were illusory. The guard was reinforced next day; two grenadiers entered the officers’ room as sentinels; the whole guard loaded with ball before my eyes; the drawbridges were raised in open day, and precautions were taken as if it were supposed I intended to make attempts as desperate as those I had made at Glatz.”

Nothing had come from the Duke of Brunswick. The commandant and the officers, dreading the king’s displeasure, had spread the rumour that a new attempt at escape had been discovered on the part of the prisoner. The cell was repaired in eight days and paved with great flagstones, and the unfortunate Trenck was again placed there, with a single chain about his feet, which weighed as much as all those he had previously worn put together. The duke, however, was some time afterwards informed of all the circumstances, and he spoke to the king, who kept Trenck in prison another year and then set him at liberty.

It is well known that Trenck, after a life of constant agitation, perished on the scaffold of the revolution with André Chénier.—(Holcroft’s Life of Trenck.){169}



Jacques Cassanova de Seingalt says of himself that he was one of the most good-for-nothing fellows in Venice when he was arrested; but, perhaps, in the sense in which he used the words this title may be considered too flattering for him. Be that as it may, however, his account of his imprisonment and escape at Venice is not wanting in interest. Many details are, no doubt, erroneous or exaggerated; not a few writers, indeed, have declared that Cassanova had no greater obstacle to surmount than the watchfulness of his gaolers, and that he found it an easy matter to gain them over by liberal presents; but these assertions, in their turn, have to be taken entirely on trust. All that seems certain is, that Cassanova escaped from the prison near the Bridge of Sighs. We quote from his own account of the exploit, without offering any guarantee of his veracity:—

“At daybreak on the 26th of July, 1755, the terrible Messer Grande came into my room while I lay asleep, and waking me with a rude shake, asked me if my name was Jacques Cassanova. On my replying in the affirmative, he told me to get up and dress myself, to give up every piece of writing I had in my possession, and to follow him.

“ ‘In whose name,’ I asked, ‘do you bring these orders?’

“ ‘In the name of the tribunal.’

“The word tribunal frightened me so much that I had only the strength left to yield him a passive obedience. I was led to a gondola, and Messer Grande took his seat by my side with an escort of four men. When we reached his house he offered me some coffee, but I refused it. I was then locked up in one of the rooms and closely guarded.{170} At about three the captain of the archers came in and said that he had received orders to take me to prison, and I followed him without saying a word. We again took to the gondola, and after passing along many of the smaller canals came at last to the Grand Canal and landed on the Prison Quay (Riva de Schiavoni). We mounted several staircases and crossed the Bridge of Sighs, and at length found ourselves in the presence of a person in the dress of a patrician, who just glanced at me, and then ordered the guard to take me to my cell.”

Cassanova was now placed in a small chamber, opening, with many others, on a large gallery, in which were heaped together a number of the most diverse objects—official papers, decrees of the tribunals, and articles of furniture of every kind. The prisoners took their exercise in this gallery every day while the gaolers were sweeping out the cells. Cassanova suffered a good deal from the heat during the first few days of his incarceration, and fell ill, but he soon recovered and began to form plans for making his escape. One day, while exercising in the gallery, he found a kind of round bolt of iron and a piece of marble, and, hastily concealing them, took them back with him to his cell. He pointed the iron at his leisure by grinding it on the marble, though this was an operation of great difficulty and of the most fatiguing kind.

“After pondering for several days over the best way of using my chisel—or, rather, crowbar, for it was of considerable length—I resolved to make a hole with it through the flooring underneath my bed. I knew that the room to which this would give me access was that in which I had been received by the secretary of the inquisitors on my arrival; and I thought that if I could contrive to secrete{171} myself under the council table during the night I might escape by running hastily out of the room as soon as the door was opened in the morning. I did not forget that in all probability I should find an archer on guard in the room, but I felt confident that my crowbar would enable me to dispose of him. The great difficulty lay in the thickness of the flooring. I should, perhaps, be engaged for two months in cutting my way through, and how was I to avoid discovery, meanwhile, when the guards came to sweep out my room? To forbid them to sweep it would be to awaken their suspicions, more especially as I had previously insisted on its being kept very clean. I began, however, by telling them not to trouble themselves to put the place in order; but in a few days Laurent, the gaoler, asked me the meaning of this unusual request. I replied that the dust raised by the sweepers was peculiarly disagreeable to me. This satisfied him for awhile, but he soon grew suspicious again, and not only ordered the cell to be swept out, but himself examined it most carefully in every corner with a lighted candle.”

Cassanova then cut his finger and rolled his handkerchief round the wound, telling Laurent that the sweeping had affected his lungs, and that he was beginning to spit blood. The surgeon of the place, who was, without doubt, in the prisoner’s interest, bled him, and declared that his life was in danger. The result was that the guards were ordered to discontinue the sweeping.

“My resolution grew stronger every day; but the time for beginning the great work of my deliverance had not yet arrived, for the weather was so cold that I could not hold the crowbar in my frozen hands. The long winter nights made me wretched, for I was obliged to pass nineteen{172} mortal hours in darkness; and even during the day, the light that entered by the window was not strong enough to enable me to read. The possession of even a wretched kitchen lamp would have rendered me happy; but how was I to make one. I required a cup, a wick, oil, a flint and steel, besides tinder and matches. But nevertheless I set to work to obtain them, and succeeded after repeated efforts, in which I availed myself of every pretext my ingenuity could devise. As soon as the lamp was in working order, I fixed on the first Monday in Lent for the commencement of my operations on the floor, for I was apprehensive of being disturbed during the carnival.”

His fears were well founded; a Jew was sent to bear him company in his cell; and for two whole months, Cassanova was not relieved of this man’s unwelcome presence.

“As soon as I was alone again I began to work with renewed activity. It was above all things necessary to avoid delay, now that I had actually cut into the planks, for a new companion might have insisted, as the Jew had done, on having the prison swept. I first removed my bed, and then throwing myself upon my chest, crowbar in hand, began to hack away at the boards, carefully collecting the débris in a napkin which I spread out by my side. I have said that I had to hack away the boards. I ought rather to have said that I was obliged to pick them to pieces with the point of my crowbar. The work was fatiguing in the extreme, and at first I brought away pieces no bigger than a grain of wheat; but after a time my labour was cheered with more encouraging results.

“The plank I had selected was of very tough wood, and was about sixteen inches in breadth. I continued to pick it to pieces for about six hours, and then I carefully gathered{173} up the débris in the napkin, in order to throw them away behind a heap of papers in the gallery. They formed a bundle four or five times as large as the hole from which I had taken them. I put the bed back in its place, and on the morning contrived to get rid of the rubbish without being perceived. By the next day, having worked my way through the first plank, which was about two inches in thickness, I came upon a second of nearly the same solidity, as far as I could judge. But I was so afraid of having a new visitor quartered upon me, that I now wielded my crowbar with even greater energy than before. In less than three weeks I had made a hole clean through all the three planks; but judge of my despair when I found that these rested on a tesselated marble pavement, which turned the point of the tool and seemed to defy all my efforts to remove it. I was cast down, disgusted, heart-broken, in a word; but at length, I know not how, the story of Hannibal came unto my mind, and I forthwith emptied into the hole a bottle of very strong vinegar which I had by me. In the morning—whether it was owing to the action of the vinegar or to my renewed strength, I cannot say—I was able to remove the pieces of marble by pulverising the cement which held them together; and in four days the mosaic was destroyed. I found another plank beneath it, but this was no more than I expected, and I concluded that it would be the last, for I was tolerably familiar with the plan on which these ceilings and floors were made. I had great difficulty, however, in cutting through it, for as the hole in the planking was over ten inches in depth, it was well nigh impossible to use the crowbar at all at the bottom of it.

“At about three in the afternoon of the 25th June, while I was working quite naked, and covered with sweat, in the{174} hole, I heard—with an emotion of agony I can hardly describe—the sound of a door being unbolted in the corridor which led to my cell. I blew out the candle hastily, left crowbar and napkin in the hole, wheeled my bed in its place and threw myself upon it as though dead; and in a moment after, the door of my cell flew open, and Laurent came in. Two seconds earlier and he would have surprised me. He was about to walk straight up to me when I uttered a cry of pain that made him draw back. ‘Good heaven, Signor!’ he cried, ‘I pity you, for this place would be enough to suffocate any one. Get up and give thanks to Providence for having sent you an excellent companion.’

“The new comer seemed to think he was entering the infernal regions, for he began to cry out, ‘What a heat! what a stench!’ and Laurent ordered us out into the gallery, in order, as he said, that the cell might be purged of the unpleasant odour of oil that hung about it. The pain and surprise with which I heard these last words was extreme. I had forgotten in my hurry to snuff out the smouldering wick of the lamp after having extinguished the flame. I thought that Laurent knew everything, and that the Jew had completely betrayed me; but in reality he had not discovered the secret of the lamp.”

Eight days after that he was relieved of his unwelcome companion.

The next day he says, “Laurent having rendered me an account of the money that belonged to me, I found I had an odd sum of four sequins remaining, and I won his favour by telling him he might keep it as a present for his wife. I did not tell him it was for the rent of my lamp, but he was quite free to think so if he pleased. After this I pursued

Image unavailable: I heard the sound of a door being unbolted.
I heard the sound of a door being unbolted.


my labours for a considerable time without any interruption whatever, but I did not witness the completion of them till the 23rd August. This delay was due to a very natural accident in cutting through the last plank. I had formed at first, a very small hole indeed, in order that I might safely reconnoitre the room in which the inquisitors sat. But I found that the opening was quite close to one of the thick beams on which the ceiling was supported; this of course obliged me to change the direction of my little shaft, for it would have cost me too much labour to have cut through the beam. I worked for some time in great doubt and fear, lest the other beams should be placed so closely together as to bar the passage to my body, but to my great joy, I soon discovered that this alarm was groundless. It is needless to say that I always carefully covered up the little peep hole when I was not actually looking through it, lest a single ray of light from my lamp should discover me to the inquisitors below.

“I fixed on the eve of St Augustine’s Day for my flight, for I knew that at that time there would be no one in the room contiguous to the council chamber, through which I should have to pass. This was on the 27th, but on the 25th, I was doomed to suffer a misfortune, the bare recollection of which makes me tremble as I write.

“At the stroke of midnight I heard some one drawing the bolts of my cell door, and my heart began to beat as violently as though I were a criminal who knew that his last hour was come. I had barely time to throw myself upon my bed, when Laurent came in, and said: ‘I congratulate you on the good news I bring.’ This made me tremble all the more, for believing nothing less than that he came to announce my restoration to liberty, I dreaded lest a discovery of my{176} attempt to escape should lead the judges to revoke their pardon. Laurent told me to follow him. I asked him to wait a few moments while I put my dress in order. ‘No need to wait for that,’ said he, ‘for I am going to change your lodging from this miserable den, to a well lit and lofty room, from which you can see the half of Venice.’

“I could not utter a word, and I felt my strength rapidly giving way. I begged him to give me a little vinegar, and to tell the tribunal in my name, that while I thanked them for their generous consideration, I should greatly prefer to be left where I was.

“ ‘You make me laugh,’ he replied. ‘Are you mad? You are offered the chance of removal from the infernal regions to paradise; and you refuse to profit by your good fortune. Come, you must obey. Get up at once: I will give you my arm, and your clothes and books shall be carried to your new room.’

“Seeing that resistance was impossible, I got up, and I was somewhat comforted to hear him order an archer to move my bed, for that contained my invaluable crowbar. How I wished that at the same time it could have been made to hold the floor itself, through which I had cut with such incredible labour and pains. I can truthfully declare that though my body left this horrible dungeon, my spirit remained behind.

“Leaning on the shoulder of Laurent, who tried to put me on a better footing with myself, with his abominable pleasantries, I passed through several long corridors, until I reached a room about twelve feet in length, and very narrow, the barred aperture of which looking out on the two windows of a corridor beyond it, commanded the view of Venice, of which he had spoken. I was not disposed at that{177} particular moment to find much pleasure in the prospect, but I was afterwards glad to discover that the window admitted not only light, but fresh air, which tempered the intolerable heat and closeness of the atmosphere of the place. As soon as I entered the room, Laurent had my chair brought in, and told me that he would at once order the removal of the rest of my effects. I sat for some time immoveable as a statue, expecting every moment that the storm would burst over my head, but too apathetic from despair to dread it. I was in this state when two sbirri came in with the bed. They left again, to fetch the rest of my things, and I sat there for two hours without seeing any one, the door remaining open all the time. I was a prey to a host of conflicting emotions, but I found it impossible to fix any one impression clearly on my mind. I at length heard hasty steps, and then Laurent came in, foaming at the mouth, and blaspheming in a manner frightful to hear. He began by ordering me to hand over to him the hatchet and the other tools with which I had cut through the flooring; and to give the name of the soldier who had furnished me with them. I replied calmly, and without stirring, that I really did not understand him. He then told some of his people to search me, but before they could approach, I stripped myself of my scanty clothing, and assuming a threatening attitude, cried out ‘Do your office, but beware every one of you of laying hands on me.’ They turned over my mattrass, my paillasse, and the cushions of my chair, but they found nothing.

“ ‘You will not tell me then,’ said Laurent, ‘how you found your tools, but never fear, I shall find out how to make you speak.’

“ ‘If it be true,’ I replied, ‘that I have made a hole or two, I shall be prepared to prove that it is you who have{178} furnished me with the tools, and that I have already returned them to you.’

“At this threat, which made one or two of his people smile, whom he had probably irritated by some act of rigour, he stamped on the ground, tore his hair, and rushed out of the place like one possessed. His people came back, and brought me all my effects, with the exception of the stove and lamp. Before quitting the corridor, and after he had closed my door, he shut up the windows by which I had received the supply of air, but, with all his knowledge of his trade, he heedlessly forgot to search my armchair; and so, thanks to Providence, I yet kept possession of my little crowbar.”

The next day Laurent brought the prisoner some provisions of the worst quality; and an archer, furnished with an iron bar, sounded the place everywhere—particularly under the bed.

“I observed,” says Cassanova, “that he did not notice the ceiling, so I at once fixed on that route for leaving this horrible place. I could attempt nothing however, without being instantly discovered. The cell was quite new, and the faintest mark of chisel or crowbar, would have been at once visible to my guardians.”

On the following days Laurent continued to bring him food it was almost impossible to swallow, and to refuse to allow him either to have his cell cleaned, or to open the windows. On the eighth day, Cassanova vented his impatience in some angry words, and asked for a reckoning of the money belonging to him in his jailer’s hands. Laurent promised to furnish it next day, and in the meantime he brought the prisoner a basket of lemons, and a nice roast fowl, on the part of M. de Bragadin.{179}

“When he had brought my account I cast my eyes over it, and told him to give the odd money to his wife, with the exception of one sequin, which was to be presented to the archers who waited on me. Laurent then being left alone with me, addressed me thus: ‘You have already said Monsieur, that it was from me you received the tools with which you made that enormous hole. I am inquisitive enough about that, but more so about another thing. In the name of Fortune, how did you contrive to make your lamp?’ ‘You assisted me in that, as in the other matters,’ I replied. ‘Oh!’ he exclaimed, adding after a few moments, when he had recovered from his astonishment, ‘I did not think wit consisted in lying and effrontery.’ ‘I am not lying: it is you who with your own hands gave me all that was necessary—oil, flint, matches,—I already had the rest.’ ‘You are right: but you cannot convince me so easily that I supplied you with the tools for digging that enormous hole.’ ‘Assuredly, for I received nothing from anybody but you.’ ‘Mercy, what do I hear! tell me how, when, and where I gave you a hatchet!’ ‘I will tell you everything; and I will speak the truth, but it can only be in presence of the secretary.’ ‘I don’t want to know anything more, and I believe all you have said,’ returned Laurent hastily; ‘I beg of you to be silent, for remember I am but a poor man, and have children.’ He then went, pressing his hands to his head.

“I congratulated myself heartily on having found the means to make myself feared by this fellow. I saw that his own interest compelled him to conceal from his masters all that had passed.... I had ordered Laurent to buy me the works of Maffei. ‘I will borrow the books for you from some one here,’ he said, ‘and you can lend him some of yours in return. By that plan you will save your money.’{180} ”

Cassanova consented, and gave a book in exchange for another that Laurent brought him.

“Delighted at the opportunity of entering into a correspondence with some one who might perhaps help me to escape from the place, I opened the book as soon as Laurent was gone, and read with intense joy a paraphrase of these words of Seneca. ‘Calamitosus est animus futuri anxius,’ done in six good lines, and written on the fly leaf. I made as many more lines at once, and had recourse to the following expedients for copying them out. I had let the nail of my little finger grow until it was very long, and I had only to cut it to a point to make a pen. I was just on the point of pricking my finger, to make ink out of my own blood, when it struck me I could write equally well with mulberry juice, of which I had a quantity by me. Besides the six lines, I wrote out a catalogue of all my books, and slid it down the back of the book which I had borrowed. It must be remembered that in Italy, the books are for the most part bound in parchment, and on opening them the back forms a kind of pocket. On the title page I inscribed the word ‘Latet.’ I was impatient to have an answer, so when Laurent came in the morning, I told him I had read my book through, and wanted another. In a few moments he returned with the second volume. I was no sooner alone than I opened it, and found a slip of paper, containing these words, written in Latin: ‘We are both in the same prison, and we both discover with the greatest pleasure that the ignorance of a miserly gaoler has procured us a privilege almost unexampled in places of this sort. I, who write to you, am Marin Balbi, a noble Venetian, and my companion is the Count André Asquin, of Udine. He charges me to tell you that all the books he possesses are catalogued on a{181} slip in the back of this volume, and that they are wholly at your service, but we both warn you that you must use the greatest circumspection to prevent Laurent from learning what is going on.’ I am bound to say that I thought this exhortation to prudence, written openly on a leaf not belonging to the book, rather odd. It was too much to expect that Laurent would not at one time or other open the book he carried, and if he should find a sheet of manuscript, he could easily find some one to read it for him, and then all would be discovered. The note led me to conclude that my correspondent was but a kind of plain-speaking blunderer. I looked over the catalogue, and then in reply wrote my name, the manner of my arrest, and my ignorance of the cause, with the hopes that I cherished of soon regaining my liberty. Balbi, who was a monk, sent in return a letter of sixteen pages, in which he gave me the history of all his misfortunes, and told me that he had been four years in prison. His companion did not write.”

The monk’s history proved that he had nothing of the ecclesiastic in him but the title. It showed him to be a sensualist, a poor reasoner, a mischievous rogue, and a careless and ungrateful fool. At least, such were the conclusions that Cassanova drew from it, and the event satisfied him that they were not incorrect.

“I found pencil, pens, and paper in the back of the book, and these enabled me to write at my ease. Balbi next furnished me with the history of all the persons confined in the place during his imprisonment. He told me that the archer Nicholas had given him his information, and had, besides, brought him everything he required; and in proof of the former statement, he gave me a pretty exact account of my own abortive effort to escape. It had taken{182} two hours to repair the damage I had done, and Laurent had forbidden the workmen engaged, as well as the archers, to mention the matter, under pain of death. ‘Another day,’ said the archer, ‘and Cassanova would have escaped, and Laurent’s life would hardly have been worth an hour’s purchase; for with all his surprise at the sight of the hole, there can be no doubt that he himself unwittingly supplied the instruments with which it was made.’ The monk concluded by begging me to give him an account of the whole affair, and in particular to inform him how I had obtained my tools, adding, that I might count safely on his discretion.

“I had no doubt whatever as to his curiosity, but I was absolutely without confidence in his discretion, especially after the proof of it he had just given me in his foolish request. I thought, however, I might make him useful, for he seemed just the kind of man to follow my directions in everything. I began a reply to it; but while writing it a suspicion crossed my mind, which induced me to hold it back for a time. What if this correspondence might, after all, be a mere device of Laurent’s for finding out how I obtained my tools! But, in order to satisfy Balbi without compromising myself, I told him that I had made the opening by means of a strong knife, which I had hidden in the sill of the corridor window. In less than three days I was satisfied that the suspicion was groundless, for Laurent took no notice of the window-sill. Balbi, too, wrote to say that he could easily understand how I had concealed the knife, for Laurent himself had told him that I had not been searched on entering the prison. He concluded by begging me to send him my knife, through Nicholas, in whom, he assured me, I might safely confide. The carelessness of this monk was almost inconceivable. I wrote to tell him that I was not{183} by any means inclined to share my secrets with Nicholas, and that I was still less disposed to trust them to paper.

“My suspicions were, however, quite set at rest, and I again began to think about my escape. I reflected in this way:—I wish at any price to procure my liberty. The crowbar I have is an excellent one, but it is impossible to use it, for every part of my cell, except the ceiling, is sounded and examined every day. To escape from here I must make a hole through the ceiling; but that will be no easy matter, working, as I do, from below; and in no case will it be the affair of a day. I want an ally, who would be willing to escape with me. There was not much choice, and the only person whose name suggested itself to my mind was the monk. He was twenty-eight years of age, and, though he was not rich in good sense, I thought that the love of liberty—that most enduring of man’s passions—would, at least, give him resolution enough to obey my instructions. I was obliged to commence with a resolution to confide everything to him, and then to find out how to make him my instrument—both very difficult points.

“I began by asking him if he desired his liberty, and if he were willing to risk everything for the sake of procuring it with me. He replied that both his companion and himself were capable of any enterprise that might lead to freedom, but that it would be folly to peril one’s life in schemes that had no reasonable prospect of success. He filled four long pages with a list of the impossibilities which overawed his poor spirit. I replied that in forming my plans I paid no attention to mere difficulties of detail, for that I felt sure of being able to overcome them the moment they presented themselves, and I went on to give him my word of honour that I would set him free if he would follow{184} my directions in everything. He gave the required promise, and I then informed him that I had a crowbar some twenty inches in length, and that by means of this instrument he was to break through the ceiling of his cell, and then make a hole in the wall that separated us, and join me, and that afterwards he was to help me to break through my ceiling and to make my way through the opening.

“ ‘When we have arrived at that point,’ I added, ‘your task will be done, and mine will begin, and I will undertake to set you and the Count Asquin at liberty.’

“He replied that when he had helped me out of my cell we should still be nevertheless in prison,—that we should simply have effected a change of place without any corresponding change of circumstances, for we should be wandering in the gallery, cut off from the outer world by the three strong doors.

“ ‘I know that very well, reverend father,’ I replied; ‘but we are not going to leave the place by the doors at all. My plan is complete, and I feel certain of success. All that I ask of you is exactness and fidelity in the execution of your part of it, and some self-control in the matter of raising objections. Try to think only of a way of getting the crowbar conveyed to you without exciting the suspicion of the man who carries it. In the meantime ask the jailer to buy you some hangings ornamented with the images of saints, and cover your cell with them. The saintly images will remove all suspicion from Laurent’s mind, and they will serve excellently well to hide the hole in the ceiling. It will take you several days to make the hole, and you can by this means always contrive to hide the signs of your activity. I would undertake that part of the plan myself, but I am already suspected, as you know.’{185}

“Although I urged him to find out a means for the removal of the crowbar, I tried constantly to discover one myself, and at length I had an idea, which I hastened to carry out. I told Laurent to buy me a copy of a Bible in folio, which had just appeared. I hoped to be able to place my crowbar in the back of this Bible, and thus to get it conveyed to the monk. But as soon as I obtained the book I saw that it was shorter than the instrument by just two inches. My correspondent had already written to inform me that his cell was covered with images, and I had told him of my plan for sending him the crowbar, and of the difficulty I had met with. I was however firmly resolved to send him the implement by some means, and at length I hit on the following stratagem. I told Laurent that I wished to celebrate St. Michael’s day by feasting on a dish of maccaroni with cheese, and that in return for the politeness of the person who had lent me the books, I thought of sending him a dish especially prepared by myself. Laurent observed that the gentleman was very anxious to read the large book, which had cost three sequins. ‘Very well,’ I replied, ‘I will send it to him with the maccaroni, only bring me the very largest dish you have in the place, for I wish to make him a present worth his acceptance.’ I then wrapped the crowbar up in paper and placed it in the back of the book, taking care that it projected equally at either end. I was sure that if I placed a good dishfull of maccaroni on the Bible, Laurent’s attention would be too much occupied by that delicacy to allow him any opportunity to discover the hiding-place of the crowbar. I prepared Balbi for all that was about to happen, and enjoined him above all to be careful to take both the dish and the book from the jailer’s hands.{186}

“On the appointed day Laurent came earlier than was his wont, with a pot full of boiling maccaroni, and all the ingredients for seasoning it. I then melted a quantity of butter, and placing the maccaroni in the dish, I poured the butter over it until it touched the very edges. The dish was an enormous one, and it very greatly exceeded the book in size. All this was done at the door of my cell while Laurent was standing outside. When everything was ready, I carefully lifted Bible and dish, and placing the back of the book towards the gaoler, I told him to hold out his arms, to be very careful not to spill the sauce, and to make the best of his way to the other cell. While giving him this important commission I kept my eyes fixed on his, and I was delighted to see that he did not remove his gaze from the dish, for fear of spilling the butter. He suggested that it might be better to take the dish first, and then to return for the Bible, but I replied that the present would lose something of its value if both were not sent together. He then complained that I had put too much butter, and warned me laughingly that if he should spill any of it he would not hold himself responsible for the damage.

“As soon as I saw the Bible in the simpleton’s arms, I felt certain of success, for the ends of the crowbar were quite imperceptible. I followed him with my eyes until I saw him enter the antechamber, and in a few moments, the monk, blowing his nose three times, gave the signal that everything had turned out well. Laurent’s speedy reappearance, too, gave me another intimation of the same joyful event.

“Father Balbi lost no time in carrying out my intimations and in eight days he had made an opening which he concealed with a piece of bread crumb. On the 8th October,

Image unavailable: I told him to be very careful not to spill the sauce.
I told him to be very careful not to spill the sauce.


he wrote to tell me that he had been working all night. On the 16th, at ten o’clock in the morning, just as I was occupied in translating an ode of Horace, I heard a stamping of feet overhead, followed by three gentle raps—the signal agreed on—to show us that the first part of our plan had been carried to a successful termination. He worked on until the evening, and the next day he wrote to say that if my ceiling was only two boards thick, his labours would be finished on that day. He told me, moreover, that he would take great care to make the hole circular, as I had suggested, and that he would not cut through the floor. This precaution was absolutely essential, for the smallest crack in the floor would have led to instant detection. The excavation, he added, was in such a state that another quarter of an hour’s work would suffice to finish it.

“I had determined to leave my cell during the night, for with a companion I felt sure of being able to make a hole in the great roof of the ducal palace, in three or four hours; and once on the roof, I would take what opportunity offered to reach the ground. But I had not yet reached the roof, alas, for my bad fortune placed yet another difficulty in my way, that demanded all my skill and address. On this very day—it was Monday—while Balbi was striking his last strokes, I heard the opening of a door close to my cell. I felt all the blood in my body freeze, but I had enough presence of mind to give the two raps that warned Balbi to hurry back to his cell, and put everything in order. In less than a minute Laurent came in, and asked my pardon for thrusting a very disagreeable companion upon me. The new comer, whom he immediately introduced, was a little thin man, between forty and fifty years of age, very ugly, and very badly dressed. There could be no doubt about{188} his being a scoundrel, the more especially as Laurent announced the fact to his face, without making any visible impression on him. ‘The tribunal,’ I said sulkily, in reply to my jailer’s communication, ‘will of course do what it pleases.’

“Overwhelmed with vexation at this miserable misadventure, I stared fixedly at my fellow prisoner, whose hang-dog physiognomy as I have said, betrayed him. I was thinking of saying something to him, when he began a conversation by thanking me for giving him a palliasse. With a view to gaining him over, I asked him if he would share my meals with me. He kissed my hand, and asked whether his acceptance of my generous invitation would deprive him of his right to the ten sous, which the tribunal had assigned him for his support. On my telling him that it would, he fell on his feet, and drawing an enormous chaplet from his pocket, he rolled his eyes about, until his glance fell in every corner of the room. I asked him what he was looking for. ‘Pardon, Signor,’ he replied: ‘I was in hopes of finding some image of the Virgin, for I am a Christian.’ It was with difficulty that I kept from laughing—not on account of his piety, for conscience and faith are sentiments which it is not given to any of us to control—but because of the oddity of his appearance and manner. I concluded that he mistook me for a Jew, so to undeceive him, I gave him an image of the Virgin, which he kissed with great fervour, and proceeded to inform me that his father, an alquazil, had neglected to have him taught to read. ‘I am,’ he added, ‘devoted to the holy rosary;’ and he went on to relate a number of miracles he had witnessed, while I listened with the patience of an angel. When he had done, I asked him if he had dined, and he told me that he was dying of hunger.{189} I gave him everything I had, and he ate and drank more like a beast than a human being. At length he got quite drunk, and began to weep, and to babble all kinds of foolish things. I asked him what afflicted him, and received the following answer. ‘My sole passion has always been the glory of God, and of this holy republic; and an exact obedience to the laws. Ever watchful of the tricks of rogues, I have tried to discover their secrets, and to disclose them to the authorities. I have been well paid, it is true, but that was no more than I deserved, and I have always been unable to understand the prejudices of those people who pretend to see something shameful in the trade of a spy. A spy is a person who seeks the good of the state, and is a faithful subject of his government and prince. And I can truly say, that unlike others of my calling, I have never suffered private friendship to stand in the way of my performance of a public duty.’

“The wretch went on in this manner till I knew him for the foulest spy the imagination can conceive. His last achievement had been the discovery of a political plot, but he had had the weakness—incredible, in a man of his stamp—to give one of his friends engaged in the conspiracy a recommendation to prudence. The friend, and his companions, had thereupon fled, and our spy had been sent to prison in their stead. He ended by telling me that he had hopes of being soon released, his wife being a Legrenzi, and daughter of one of the secretaries of the Council of Ten.

“I shuddered to think with what a monster I was associated, but feeling that my situation was a delicate one, I at once chose my part. I pretended to sympathise with him, and was loud in praises of his patriotism, nor did I hesitate to assure him that so excellent a man must be set at liberty{190} in a few days. He shortly after fell asleep, and I took the opportunity of writing to Father Balbi, to tell him everything, and to warn him to suspend his labours until he should hear from me again. On the next day, I asked Laurent to buy me a wooden crucifix, an image of the Holy Virgin, and a portrait of St. Francis, and at the same time to procure two bottles of holy water. Soradaci (my companion) took the opportunity to ask for the ten sous allowed for his maintenance, and Laurent tossed twenty sous to him with an air of great disdain. When the jailer had gone away, I opened the book, and found a letter from Balbi, depicting his fright in very moving terms. He thought that all was lost, so far as our plan of escape was concerned, but he none the less congratulated me and himself on our good fortune in having Soradaci brought to my cell, rather than to theirs, ‘for if Laurent had come to our cell,’ he continued, ‘I should have been missed, and everything would have been discovered.’

“Soradaci’s tale convinced me that he was no better than a spy upon me, so I made up my mind to meet him with his own weapons of stratagem and cunning. I wrote and confided to his care two letters, so worded, that if sent to their address, they would do me neither harm nor good, while they would be likely to do me good, if handed over to the secretary, and that I did not doubt would be the case.”

Soradaci, on receiving the letters, took the most solemn and the most terrible oaths that he would faithfully deliver them at their destinations when he recovered his liberty. In some few days he was called before the secretary of the tribunal, and afterwards taken back to prison. Cassanova wishing to assure himself of the correctness of his suspicions, asked him to return one of the letters, on the plea that it contained something he wished to alter.{191}

“The monster then threw himself at my feet, and declared that on his appearance before the terrible secretary, he had been so seized with fright, that it was seen he had some secret on his mind, and he had been obliged to betray me. I pretended to be greatly troubled, and throwing myself before an image of the Virgin, I solemnly demanded vengeance on the head of the villain who had consigned me to destruction. I next flung myself on the bed with my face to the wall, and had the constancy to remain in this position all day, without moving, or uttering a word, and pretending not to hear the sobs, the repentant cries, and the protestations of this miserable wretch. In short, I admirably played my part in a comedy of which I had the entire plan in my head. During the night, I wrote to Balbi to come and finish his work at half-past eleven in the morning—not a moment sooner or later—and to work exactly four hours, and not a moment more. ‘Our liberty,’ I said, ‘depends on the most rigorous exactitude in this matter, and you have nothing to fear.’

“It was the 25th of October, and the time for me to carry out my plan or to abandon it for ever was at hand. The state inquisitors and the secretary went every year to pass the three first days of November in the country; and Laurent, taking advantage of their absence, used invariably to get drunk in the evening and to make a very late appearance among the prisoners in the morning. I chose this time, therefore, for my flight, persuaded that I should not be missed till the day was pretty well advanced. Another reason, too, had something to do with my determination. I had consulted an oracle of fate by looking into Ariosto, according to certain cabalistic formulas, and had lighted oil the following verse:—‘Frà il fin d’ ottobre e il capo di{192} novembre’ (between the end of October and the beginning of November). The precision of the passage and its applicability to the design I had already formed both seemed so extraordinary that the reader will pardon me if I used every effort to bring about the fulfilment of the prophecy it seemed to contain.

“I passed the morning in the following manner, in order to deceive this base and stupid creature, to confuse his weak understanding, to hinder him, in a word, from ruining my scheme. As soon as Laurent had left us I bade Sorodaci come and take his soup. The wretch had gone to bed; he had told Laurent that he was ill, and he would not have dared to come to me if I had not called him. He advanced towards me with every sign of fear, and throwing himself flat on his stomach he crawled to my feet, kissed them, and assured me, amid floods of tears, that if I did not forgive him it would certainly be the death of him before the day was out, for he already felt the effect of the Holy Virgin’s curse. He was seized with racking pains in the inside, and his mouth was full of ulcers. I did not take the trouble to examine him to ascertain if he spoke the truth; my object was to appear to believe him and to make him entertain hopes of pardon; and to do that it was at first necessary to make him eat and drink. The traitor probably intended to deceive me; but as I had the same intention with regard to him it was simply a question as to which of us should forestal the other. I had prepared an attack on his credulity which I knew it would be difficult for him to withstand. I assumed an inspired air, and bade him, in a voice of authority, sit down and eat his soup, assuring him that when he had done that I would give him ‘a piece of good news.’ ‘Know,’ I continued, ‘that the Holy Virgin has appeared to me and has{193} commanded me to pardon you; you will not die, but you will leave this place with me.’ He was thunderstruck, and he at once began to eat his soup, submissively resting on his knees, there being no chair in the cell. He afterwards sat down on his palliasse and listened attentively for further revelations. I then continued: ‘Your horrible treason has cost me a sleepless night, for my letter was of a nature to ensure my condemnation to perpetual imprisonment. My sole consolation, I confess, was the certainty that in less than three days you would die in torments before my eyes. With my heart full of this wicked thought—unworthy of a Christian, for God commands us to pardon our enemies—I went to sleep, and in my dream the Holy Virgin came to me in a vision and said, “Sorodaci is a devotee of the Holy Rosary and I protect him. I command you to pardon him, and I will remove the curse which you have called down upon his head. As a reward for your generous act I will command one of my angels to assume the human form, to descend from heaven to break your prison bonds, and to release you from this place in five or six days. The angel will commence his work to-day at half-past eleven precisely, and will finish it at half-past three, for he must re-ascend to heaven in open day. On leaving the prison, in company with the angel, you must take Sorodaci with you and provide for his safety, on condition of his giving up his trade of spy. Repeat to him all I have said to you.” At these words the Holy Virgin disappeared, and I awoke.’

“Still maintaining my seriousness and my inspired air, I watched the traitor’s face, and observed that he was petrified with astonishment and fear. I then took my breviary in one hand, and with the other sprinkled the cell with holy water in every part. In a little time the fellow asked me at{194} what hour the angel would descend, and whether he would make any noise in breaking into the prison.

“ ‘I am certain,’ I replied, ‘that he will come at half-past three, that we shall hear him at work, and that he will leave precisely at the time the Virgin has named.’

“ ‘You may have been merely dreaming,’ he ventured, timidly.

“ ‘No; I am sure I did not dream. And now, do you feel yourself capable of taking an oath never again to become a spy?’

“Instead of replying, he lay down on the bed and went to sleep. He awoke in two hours with the question. Whether it was not possible to defer the taking of the oath?

“ ‘You may defer it,’ I replied, ‘until the coming of the angel, if you like; but if you are not ready to swear then, I will leave you to your miserable trade and the miserable fate that will surely overtake you if you continue thus to offend God and man.’

“I read in his detestable face the satisfaction he derived from this announcement, for it was easy to see he felt sure the angel would not come. I waited anxiously to hear the clock strike, for I felt certain that the ‘arrival of the angel’ would end in the overthrow of his miserable reason. As soon, therefore, as I heard the first stroke of the appointed hour, I threw myself on my knees and ordered him, in a voice of authority, to do the same. He obeyed me with a terrified air. As soon as I heard the monk approaching I cried out hastily, ‘The angel is coming!’ and throwing myself flat on my stomach I gave the terrified spy a vigorous blow with my fist, that forced him to assume the same posture. The monk’s operations made a great noise, and they lasted a sufficiently long time, for I had to remain for{195} at least a quarter of an hour in my disagreeable position. In any other case I should have been ready to die with laughter at the sight of the miserable wretch lying motionless at my side. But I carefully refrained even from smiling, for I felt that too much was at stake to permit of such an indulgence. I presently got up and assumed a kneeling attitude, giving him to understand that he was to do the same; and he passed three hours and a half in this manner, telling his beads all the while. From time to time he fell asleep, from sheer weariness, and now and then he cast a furtive glance at the ceiling, his face all the while wearing an expression of the most complete stupor. At length I called out, in a tone half solemn, half devotional, ‘Prostrate yourself, for the angel is leaving!’ and just then Balbi went away to his own cell, and every sound was hushed. On rising, I perceived, by the wretch’s countenance, that his mind was full of anxiety and fright. I was delighted, for I saw in this an opportunity of imposing on him some penance adequate to his manifold misdeeds. ‘When Laurent comes in the morning,’ I said, ‘you will throw yourself on the bed, with your face to the wall, without making the slightest movement or uttering a word. If he should speak you must reply, without looking at him, that you have not been able to sleep, and that you are in want of rest. Do you promise this without reserve?’

“ ‘I promise,’ he stammered out, ‘to do everything you have said.’

“ ‘Swear it,’ I said, ‘before this holy image! And now, most Holy Virgin,’ I continued, addressing the image, ‘I swear that if I hear Sorodaci utter a word, or make a single movement, I will strangle him like a dog.’ I reckoned that this threat would have at least as much effect upon him as{196} the oath. I then gave him something to eat, and ordered him to go to bed; and as soon as he had fallen asleep I sat down and wrote for a couple of hours, informing Balbi that all was ready, and that he had nothing to do to reach me but to revisit the roof of my cell and break the planks of the ceiling. I added that we should leave on the 31st of October, and that there would be four of us, counting his companion and mine.

“It was the 28th. The next day the monk wrote to say that the passage between the two cells was quite ready, and that the breaking through the last plank would be an affair of but four or five minutes. Sorodaci, faithful to his sworn promise, pretended to be asleep, and Laurent did not speak to him. But I did not keep my eyes off him for a moment, and I really believe that if he had uttered a word I should have killed him on the spot. I devoted the rest of the day to the delivery of a series of sublime discourses on the recent remarkable visitation, and I was pleased to see that every word I spoke increased the fanatical terror with which he regarded me. I took care to ply him well with wine, as well as with mystifying influences of a religious nature, and I did not leave him to himself until I saw him fairly overpowered with drunkenness and sleep. For one moment, indeed, he had a feeble glimmering of common sense, for he observed that it ought not to take an angel three hours to break into a cell. ‘The ways of heaven,’ I replied, ‘are incomprehensible to mortals, and this heavenly messenger clearly is not working in his celestial capacity, or otherwise he could force a way through the ceiling with a single breath. He works in his human capacity, doubtless out of pity for us, who could not otherwise endure the sight of his glory.’{197}

“On the next day Laurent asked after his health, and he replied without raising his head. It was the same on succeeding days, till at length we had our last interview with our gaoler on the 31st. I gave him the book as usual, containing a message for Balbi to come at half-past nine in the morning, and break through the ceiling. I had no apprehension that any accident would mar the execution of our plot, for I had heard from Laurent that the inquisitors and the secretary had already gone into the country. There was no danger of my again having a companion thrust upon me at the eleventh hour, and I had found out how to manage the wretch whose coming had once threatened to prove the downfall of all my hopes.

“When Laurent left I told Sorodaci that we might now expect the angel very shortly. ‘He will bring a pair of scissors with him,’ I added, ‘and it will be your office to clip his beard and mine.’

“ ‘Has the angel a beard then?’ inquired the simpleton.

“ ‘Yes, as you will see. When you have done this, we shall all leave the cell and break through the roof of the palace, whence we shall drop down into the great square of St. Mark.’

“He did not reply, but went on eating his breakfast. As for me, I could touch nothing at all, for my anxiety as to the success of my enterprise deprived me of all appetite, as it had made me quite insensible to fatigue.

“The appointed hour struck, and the angel was heard. Sorodaci was about to prostrate himself, but I told him that was no longer necessary. In less than three minutes the ceiling was broken through, and Balbi rolled down into my arms. ‘And now,’ said I, ‘your work is done, and mine begins.’ We embraced, and he gave me back

Image unavailable: Balbi rolled down into my arms.
Balbi rolled down into my arms.


my crowbar and placed the scissors in my hands. I told Sorodaci to cut our beards; but I could not help laughing at the sight of the wretch, with his mouth wide open, staring at the angel, who bore so much resemblance to a supernatural being of another kind. But astonished and terrified as he was, he did his office with the greatest ease.

“Anxious to reconnoitre our position, I told Balbi to stay with the spy (for I dared not leave Sorodaci alone) while I visited the cell where the count was confined. I found it without difficulty, and embraced a noble looking old man who, however, seemed scarcely strong enough to support the fatigues of our meditated flight. He asked me what my plan was, and observed that he feared I was going to work rather recklessly. ‘I must go on,’ I replied, ‘until I find either liberty or death.’ ‘If you think,’ said he, ‘to break through the roof and then to drop into the courtyard, I don’t see how you can possibly succeed, as you are without wings; and I, at least, dare not venture to accompany you; but I will stay here and pray to Heaven on your behalf.’

“I left him to look at the palace roof, drawing as near as I could to the walls of the granary. In tapping the woodwork of the roof with my crowbar, I discovered to my great satisfaction that it was quite rotten. The planks crumbled to dust the moment they were touched. Judging that I could easily make an opening large enough for my requirements in about an hour, I returned to my cell, and spent four hours in cutting up my bedclothes and every piece of drapery I could find there, and making a rope of the shreds. I took care to make the knots very strong, and to test each one as I went on. When the rope was finished I made a bundle of my coat, my cloak, and a few other things, and{199} went with the monk and Sorodaci to the count’s cell. Sorodaci’s air of utter bewilderment would have made the dullest fellow smile. I had long since thrown off the inconvenient mask of the visionary which I had at first assumed, and I could see that he felt he had been tricked, though it must still have been a matter of wonder to him how I could have contrived to ensure the visits of my ‘angel’ at the appointed hours. He listened with great attention to the count’s arguments against our plan of escape, and he seemed to be meditating an excuse for staying behind. Meanwhile, I told the monk to get his bundle ready while I went to make the hole in the roof.

“At about seven o’clock I had finished this part of the work. I pierced a hole through the wood without the least difficulty, but the leaden coating of the planks did not yield so easily, and I was obliged to obtain the assistance of the monk before I could wrench it off. I then put my head through the opening, and felt for a few moments, with a delight that I can hardly express, that I was breathing the air of liberty. But unfortunately the moon was at the full, and I saw myself doomed to wait for many weary hours before I could venture to move. The night was a superb one; all the best society in Venice was taking the air in the square of St. Mark, but I dared not stand on the roof, for my shadow would have betrayed me to the people below, I therefore told my companions firmly that we could not leave before ten o’clock at the earliest, and as the sun did not rise before half-past six, this would give us some eight hours and a half of perfect darkness,—more by far than we were likely to require.

“I accordingly suggested to Balbi that we might while away part of the time in conversation with the count, and{200} I sent him at once—before leaving the roof myself—to borrow thirty sequins of the old man, for I knew that money would now be as indispensable to the success of our plan as the crowbar had formerly been. Balbi went away, but soon returned with the message that the count would like to see me alone. The poor old nobleman began to tell me, with his usual mildness, that money would not help me to escape, that in fact he had no money, that his family was a large one, and that if I perished, anything he might give me would be lost. He ended by giving me two sequins on condition that I should return them if I finally decided on abandoning my perilous design. His last words showed how little he knew me, for I was fully prepared to die rather than remain where I was.

“I called my companions together, and when we had placed our bundles near the hole, we passed some hours in talking of the difficulties we had already surmounted, and of those that still lay before us. The first proof that Balbi gave me of the nobleness of his character was to repeat at least half a dozen times that I had deceived him in saying my plan was complete, and that if he had foreseen the real state of my preparations, he would never have helped me to leave my cell.

“The count too employed all his eloquence to dissuade me from the attempt. ‘The roof, covered as it is with lead,’ said he, ‘is so steep that you cannot hope to keep your footing on it.’ (This was totally false, for the slope is unusually gentle.) ‘And on which side do you propose to drop? Surely not on that looking towards the piazzetta, for you would be seen at once. You cannot take the side nearest the church, for that looks into a high walled court; and to drop on the side nearest the arsenal,{201} would be to fall right into the hands of the guards, who are constantly making their rounds.’

“This kind of talking made my blood boil, though I forced myself to listen to it with patience. The monk’s reproaches in particular, incensed me greatly, but I felt that my position was a delicate one. I was dealing with a coward who might at any time discover that he was not desperate enough to set death at defiance, and without him I knew it would be impossible to proceed. I, therefore, did violence to my feelings, and mildly assured both my fellow-prisoners, that I felt sure of success though I could not give them all the details of my plan. While thus engaged I from time to time put forth my hand to ascertain if Sorodaci was still near me, and I laughed inwardly at what I guessed would be his secret meditations now that he knew I had deceived him. At ten o’clock I told him to go and find out in what quarter the moon lay. He obeyed, and in a short time came back to say that in a quarter of an hour it would be quite dark, and that a thick fog was falling, which threatened to add a new danger to our attempted flight. ‘Never mind that,’ I replied, ‘but take your bundle and be ready to follow me.’ At these words, what was my surprise to find Sorodaci at my feet, seizing my hands, and imploring me, in a voice broken by sobs, not to lead him to certain death. ‘I shall be sure to fall into the canal,’ he whimpered, ‘and I cannot be of the least use in the world to you. Alas, leave me here, and I will pass the night in praying to St. Francis for your success. You may kill me if you like, but I will never follow you.’ The fool did not know how exactly he anticipated my wishes. ‘You are right,’ I replied, ‘and you may remain, but only on condition that you pray incessantly to St. Francis, and that{202} you carry all the books I have left behind to the count’s room.’ He ran away without replying, and doubtless with a heart overflowing with joy. My books were worth about a hundred crowns, and the count told me that he would give me the money for them on my return. ‘You will never see me here again,’ I replied, ‘on that you may safely rely; but the value of the books may be taken as a set off against your loan of the sequins. As for this scoundrel I am delighted to think he has not the courage to follow me, for I should not know what to do with him; and besides he is altogether unworthy to share the honour of such an escape as this with Balbi and myself.’ ‘Very good,’ replied the count; ‘only take care that to-morrow he has not occasion to congratulate himself on his cowardice.’

“It was now time to go, for the moon had disappeared, and it was quite dark. I tied half our bundle of cords round Balbi’s shoulders, together with his own bundle of clothes; and having equipped myself in the same way, we made for the opening in the roof.

“I went out first, and Balbi followed. I had the crowbar in my right hand, and, using this as a kind of prop, I contrived, by crawling on all fours, to reach the summit of the roof. The monk clung to my waistband, and I dragged him up, so that I was like a beast of burden groaning under a double load; and all this on a sloping roof, rendered quite slippery by a dewy fog.

“When we were about half way up, the monk implored me to stop, as he had lost one of his packets, and hoped to be able to find it in the gutter. My first impulse was to give him a sound kick and to send him after his packet. But, happily, I was enabled to restrain myself, for to have lost his co-operation would have been to forfeit my only

Image unavailable: The Monk clung to my waistband.
The Monk clung to my waistband.


chance of escape. I asked him if it was the packet of cords, and he informed me, to my great joy, that it was the other one, containing a valuable manuscript, which he had discovered in the prison, and which he hoped would be the means of making his fortune. I told him that we could not possibly return for it, for that a single retrograde step would be the ruin of us. The poor fellow breathed a deep sigh, and we went on climbing as before.

“At length, as I have said, we reached the summit of the roof. I comfortably got astride, and Father Balbi followed my example. Behind us was the little island of St. George the Greater, and a couple of hundred paces in front were the numerous cupolas of the church of St. Mark. My first act was to rid myself of my burden, and I invited my companion to do the same. He placed his bundle of cords under his thighs, as well as he could; but, wishing to take off his hat, which hurt him, and being awkward, it rolled from tile to tile, and at last joined the packet of clothes in the canal. My poor companion was in despair. ‘Bad omen!’ he exclaimed. ‘Here I am, at the beginning of our enterprise, without shirt or hat, without even my precious manuscript.’

“ ‘My dear fellow,’ I said, ‘these two accidents, which are far from discouraging me, prove to you that God protects us; for if your hat, instead of falling to the right, had fallen to the left, we should have been lost: it would have fallen into the court-yard of the palace, where the guards would have found it, and we should, before long, have been retaken.’

“After passing some minutes looking right and left, I told the monk not to stir from there till I returned; and I advanced, carrying only my crowbar in my hand, along the{204} summit of the roof without any difficulty. I spent nearly an hour on the roof, going from side to side, observing; but in vain, for I could nowhere find a point to which to fasten the end of the rope. I was in the greatest perplexity. The canal and the palace court-yard were both out of the question, and on the top of the church I could see only precipices which led to no opening. To go beyond the church I should have had to climb ascents so steep that I saw it was impossible.

“Yet it was necessary to do something—either to get out or to return to the dungeon, never, perhaps, to come out again, or to throw myself into the canal. My eye was caught by a garret window on the side next the canal, and about two-thirds of the way down the slope of the roof. It was far enough from the place whence I had come out to enable me to judge that the garret it gave light to did not belong to the inclosure of the prison I had broken out from. It must be a loft over some apartment of the palace, the doors of which I should naturally find open at daybreak. Under this impression I thought it right to have a look at the garret window; and, sliding down gently, I was soon astride of the little roof. Leaning on my hands, and stretching forward, I was able to see and touch a little grating, behind which was a window with small panes of glass set in lead. The window was nothing, but the grating seemed an invincible obstacle, for without a file I did not see how I could remove it. I was confounded, when a very simple and natural thing revived my spirits. The clock of St. Martin’s striking midnight was the phenomenon which produced this effect. The clock reminded me that All Saints’ Day was setting in, and being the feast of my patron saint, the prediction of my Jesuit confessor recurred to me:{205}Know that you will not get out of this till the feast of the patron saint whose name you bear.’ But I own that what especially roused my courage and added to my strength was the profound oracle I had received from my beloved Ariosto: ‘Fra il fin d’ottobre, e il capo di novembre.

“The stroke of the clock was like a speaking talisman calling on me to act, and promising victory. Extended at full length, with my head over the grating, I pushed the lock into the framework for it, and determined to tear it off bodily. In a quarter of an hour I had succeeded. I placed the grating aside, and I had no difficulty in breaking the glass out, despite my bleeding hands. Retracing my steps, I got back to where I had left my companion. He was furious. He heaped the grossest abuse on me for leaving him there so long. He assured me he was only waiting for it to strike one, to return to his prison.

“ ‘What did you think about me then?’

“ ‘I thought you had fallen down some precipice.’

“ ‘And you express your joy at seeing me by loading me with abuse?’

“ ‘What were you doing so long then?’

“ ‘Follow me, and you shall see.’

“Having picked up my packets, I made my way back to the garret window. When we reached it, I gave Balbi an exact account of what I had done, and consulted him as to how we should get into the garret. The thing was easy, I told him, for one of us, for by means of the rope he could be let down by the other; but I did not see how the second was to get down, having no means of fastening the rope. If I were to get in and let myself slip down, I might break my arms or legs, for I did not know the distance of the floor.{206} To this reasoning in the most friendly tone, the brute replied, ‘Let me down, and when I am below you will have time enough to think of how to follow me.’

“I own that in my indignation I was tempted to bury my crowbar in his breast. My good genius restrained me, however. I did not utter a word of reproach for his base selfishness, but undoing my bundle of ropes, I tied them firmly under his arms, and getting him to be down flat, feet foremost, I lowered him on to the roof of the garret window. When he was there I bid him creep into the window as far as the hips, and to balance himself in that position. When that was done, I slid along the roof as before, and holding the rope firmly, told him to let go, and not be afraid. Having reached the floor, he untied the rope, and I found that the height was more than fifty feet.[B] The leap would be too dangerous. The monk cried out to me to throw him the ropes and he would take care. I was very careful not to follow his advice.

“Not knowing what to do, and waiting for an inspiration, I crept upon the summit of the roof, and my eye rested upon a spot near a cupola which I had not visited. I made my way to it. I found a scaffolding covered with plates of lead, near a large garret window, closed with two shutters. On it was a barrel of mortar, a trowel, and at one side a ladder which appeared long enough to assist me to descend to the loft where I had left my companion. Passing my rope through the first round, I dragged the ladder through the window. The point then was to get in this heavy mass which was twelve of my cubits long,[C] and the difficulty of{207} the task made me repent having deprived myself of the monk’s assistance. I had pushed the ladder until one of the ends touched the window while the other reached a full third beyond the gutter. I got on to the top of the window, and dragging the ladder after me, I tied the rope to the eighth round, then I let it run until it was parallel with the window. I tried to pass it through the window, but found it impossible to get it past the fifth rung, for the end was stopped inside by the top of the window. I might have put the ladder across, tied the rope to it, and then slid down without danger, but the ladder would then have remained to point to where we were hiding.

“I did not wish to risk losing by imprudence the fruit of so much fatigue and danger, and to leave no trace the entire ladder must be got in. Being without help, I resolved to mount to the gutter, raise it, and shove it in. I did so, but with so much danger that it was a marvel I was not killed. I could let the ladder run with the rope without any fear of its falling into the canal, because it was in a manner hooked on to the spout by the third round. I lay on my stomach with my feet against the marble spout. I then raised the ladder half a foot, pushed it forward, and to my delight saw it enter about a foot. This diminished its weight. I had still to get it two feet farther by raising it as much, then by getting atop of the window by means of the rope I could get it in. I got on my knees to raise it, but the force I had to use made me shoot as far as the chest over the roof.{208}

“It was a horrible moment: even now I tremble at it. The natural instinct of self-preservation made me almost unconsciously use all my strength to turn on my side and stop myself, and miraculously I succeeded. Happily I had nothing to fear for the ladder, for in the unlucky effort which was near costing me so dear, I had sent it more than three feet in, which fixed it immovable. In trying to clamber back to my former position I was seized with a cramp which deprived me of the use of my limbs. Retaining my self-possession, I lay still till the cramp passed. The moment was terrible, but in two minutes more I had the happiness to succeed in getting my knees back in the gutter. Lifting the ladder as soon as I had recovered breath, till it was parallel with the window, I then mounted on the top of the window, and easily got the whole of the ladder in, my companion catching one end of it, and then throwing in ropes, clothes, and the débris of the window, I descended myself into the garret.

“Arm in arm we inspected the dark place we found ourselves in. It was about thirty paces long by twenty wide. At one end was a folding door barred with iron. It looked badly, but it opened at a touch. In the next enclosure we knocked up against a large table surrounded by seats and armchairs. Opening one of the windows we saw by the starlight only precipices between the cupolas. Shutting the window we returned to where we had left our packages, and as I was utterly exhausted, body and mind, I put one of them under my head and fell fast asleep. Had death stared me in the face I could not have kept awake, and well I remember the delightful pleasure of that sleep.

“I slept for three hours and a half, and was at last wakened by the shaking and cries of the monk. He told{209} me five o’clock had struck, and that my sleeping was inconceivable. It was, however, not surprising. For two whole days excitement had prevented me from eating or sleeping; and, besides, the exertions I had just made would have exhausted any man. This sleep completely refreshed me, and there was now sufficient light to know what one was doing.

“When I cast my eyes about I cried out, ‘This is not a prison; there must be an exit easy to find.’ In a corner opposite the iron door I spied out another door; running my hand over it I found the key-hole. Putting in my crowbar I opened it, and we found ourselves in a little chamber, where a key lay on the table. With this key I opened another door opposite, sent the monk back for our clothes, replaced the key, and we entered a gallery, the niches of which were full of papers. It was the archives. We descended a stone staircase, and then another, and at the bottom found a glass door, which we opened, and were in a hall I knew—the ducal chancellery. I opened a window. I could easily have got out, but I should have found myself in the labyrinth of little streets surrounding the church of St. Mark. God protect me from such folly!

“I tried the lock of the door; but finding it impossible to force it, I decided on making a hole in one of the panels. The monk aided me, trembling at the noise my crowbar made each time I tried to drive it through the plank; such a noise was sure to be heard at a distance. I felt the danger, but it was necessary to brave it.

“In half an hour the hole was large enough. Had it not been, I could not have enlarged it without a saw. The sides of this hole bristled with points, liable to tear the clothes and lacerate the flesh. It was five feet from the{210} ground. Placing two chairs together under it we mounted on them, and I pushed the monk through. Then I handed him our bundles, and placing another chair on these two, I scrambled through the hole, the monk dragging me, tearing my side and legs till the blood flowed in streams. Going down two staircases, I opened a door at the bottom and entered the passage, where the great gate of the royal staircase is situate, and beside the door of the cabinet of the Savio alla Scrittura. The great gate was fastened, and I saw at a glance I could not force it.

“Calm, resigned, and perfectly tranquil, I seated myself, telling the monk to do the same. ‘My work is finished.’ said I; ‘the rest is now in the hands of God and fortune.’

“ ‘Abbia chi regge il ciel cura del resto,
O la fortuna se non tocca a lui.’

“ ‘I don’t know whether the palace sweepers will come here either to-day, All Saints’ Day, or to-morrow, All Souls Day. Should any one come I shall save myself as soon as the door is opened, and do you follow me. But if no one comes, here I remain, were I to die of hunger.’

“At this the poor man became furious: he called me mad, desperado, a seducer, traitor, liar. Six o’clock struck. It was only an hour since I awoke in the garret.

“What chiefly occupied my thoughts was, how to get a change of clothes. Father Balbi was dressed as a peasant, and his clothes were intact; while I could inspire only horror and pity, for I was covered with blood, and my dress was in rags. Tearing up my handkerchief, I staunched my wounds. I gathered my hair into my purse, drew on white stockings, a lace shirt, and put on my fine coat. I then{211} resembled a man who had been at a ball and passed the night at a tavern and got disordered there.

“Thus decked out, my fine hat, with Spanish lace and black plume on my head, I opened a window. Some idlers in the court, not understanding how one so dressed could be in such a place so early, ran to inform those who were in charge. The doorkeeper immediately came and opened the door, supposing he had locked somebody in the previous evening. Hearing him coming, I told the monk to be silent, and placed close by the door.

“When the man opened it he was stupefied at my appearance. Profiting by his confusion I passed out without saying a word. Without appearing to fly, I took the magnificent staircase called the ‘Giants’, and passed on without heeding the monk, who kept calling to enter the church. He knew as well as I did that churches were no longer sanctuaries in Venice, but in his terror he forgot the fact.

“I made my way at once for the frontier. I hastened straight to the royal gate of the ducal palace, traversed the piazetta, and stepped with the monk, who had followed me, into the first gondola I met, telling the gondolier I wished to go to Fusine, and to call another rower.

“When we had passed the custom-house, I asked the gondolier if we could reach Mestre before eight.

“ ‘But, sir,’ said he, ‘you told me to go to Fusine.’

“I told him he was mistaken. The other gondolier insisted he was not, and the stupid monk joined them. I could have knocked his head off. But I laughed, said probably I was wrong, but that I wished to go to Mestre, and for Mestre we started.

“Arrived at Mestre I hired a carriage. I mounted; and as we were starting I turned to make a remark to Father{212} Balbi: he was not at my side. I sent a stable-boy for him, but he was not to be found. I looked into a tavern, and found him taking a cup of chocolate. Repressing my indignation, I got him out, and we were getting into the carriage again, when a man came up who knew me, and who had the reputation of being a familiar of the inquisition of the republic. He saluted me, said he was happy to see me, and asked how I had escaped.

“ ‘I have not escaped, sir; I have been discharged.’

“ ‘Impossible, sir; for only yesterday I was at Signor Grimani’s, and I should have heard it there.’

“Descending from the carriage, I asked him to step aside with me behind the house. There I seized him, and raised my crowbar to strike; but he broke from me and ran away. When he had got at a safe distance he kissed hands, in token that he wished me a happy voyage, and I thanked God I had not taken his life.

“Arrived at Trevisa, I ordered a post carriage for ten o’clock; but I had no intention of using it, for I had not the means to pay for it; and I feared, hungry as I was, I did not even dare to break my fast.

“Passing out of the gate of the city I took to the fields, determined not to get on the road again while in the territories of the republic. For safety sake, to avoid any ambuscades that might lie in wait for me on the shortest route, I everywhere took the longest way. After three hours’ walking I threw myself on the ground exhausted, and sent the monk to a neighbouring farmer’s house for food, and a good dinner was soon sent me by a girl. After walking for four hours more we sat down, and I told the monk we must separate to pass the frontiers, but that we should meet again at Borgo di Val Sugana, and I directed him how to{213} go, making him a present of my cloak. Giving him all the money that remained to me, I appointed finally a place for meeting in two days. He refused to leave me, reminding me of the promise I had made when inducing him to help my escape—that I would never separate from him. I rose with much effort, took his measure, and began to dig a hole, without answering his questions. After a quarter of an hour’s work I told him to prepare his soul, for I was going to bury him, if he drove me to it by his obstinacy. He still refused to go; but at length, either from fear or reflection, he consented, and we embraced one another. When he had gone, I approached a shepherd, asked the name of the village and the owners of several houses, and decided to apply for a night’s lodging at the house of the chief of the sbirri, inquiring from a child playing in the yard where her father was.”

The child called its mother, who mistook Cassanova for Signor Vitturi, who had promised to become godfather to her child. She told him her husband had been summoned to search for two prisoners who had escaped from the leads, and that she did not expect him back for two or three days. He explained that he had received his hurts in a fall from his horse, and the mother of his hostess eagerly dressed them. He was served an excellent supper, and after twelve hours’ refreshing sleep, set out again at five in the morning. After five hours’ travelling he heard a bell, and remembering it was All Souls’ Day, he entered the church, and met there one he had thought his friend. This friend was very eager to hear the story of his escape, but refused him any assistance. At an isolated farmhouse, however, he was well entertained, and again at a Capuchin convent. At the house of another friend he was refused even a drink of water; but,

Image unavailable: I told him I was going to bury him.
I told him I was going to bury him.


crowbar in hand, he extorted six sequins. He passed the night at a farmhouse. In the morning he bought some old clothes and an ass, and on its back he passed the frontier, without being even asked his name. He arrived early at Borgo, where he found the monk, who told him, by way of welcome, that he had not expected him.



Masers de Latude was born in 1725, at the castle of Craiseih, near Montagnac, in Languedoc. His father, the Marquis de Latude, was an officer in high rank, and the young Latude was destined for the military profession. While, however, he was studying at Paris, in 1749, he unfortunately conceived the idea of having recourse to subterfuge, in order to attract the notice of Madame de Pompadour, and to obtain her protection. He accordingly placed a small cardboard box in the post containing a harmless powder, and addressed to the marchioness, and then went straight to Versailles with the information that two individuals wished to poison the royal favourite, and that he had discovered their secret. The marchioness at first thanked him in the warmest terms; but he had scarcely left her presence when she began to suspect that she had been the victim of a shameful fraud. She obtained a few lines in his own handwriting from her pretended preserver; and comparing them with the address on the box, had her suspicions confirmed. Some few days after that, Latude found himself in the Bastille.{215}

When he had remained there four months, he was taken to the castle of Vincennes, and he had every reason to fear that his imprisonment was to last for life, for the enraged woman proved inexorable to every appeal in his favour.

“I kept up my courage,” he says in his “Memoirs,” “with the hope that I should one day obtain my liberty, and that I should owe it to my own exertions alone, not to the favour of my gaolers. I was constantly forming plans. Among my fellow-prisoners I noticed an aged ecclesiastic, who appeared at a particular time every day in the garden of the chateau. He had been deprived of his liberty a long while on account of Jansenism. He was frequently visited by the abbé of St. Sauveur, and he devoted a great deal of his leisure to teaching the children of the officers to read and write. He was allowed to go almost wherever he pleased when in the company of his little pupils. He usually took his walk at about the time when I was led into a small garden adjoining the one I have spoken of—an indulgence granted me through the kindness of M. Berryer, the lieutenant of police. Two turnkeys used to accompany me on my leaving the cell, and on my return; but sometimes the elder of the two would wait for me in the garden, while the younger came up alone to let me out. I gradually accustomed the latter to see me run down the stairs in advance of him, and join his comrade in the garden, so that he always moved in the most leisurely manner when he came to fetch me.

“On a certain day I had resolved, at any price, to make an effort for liberty. As soon, therefore, as he came into my cell I ran downstairs with inconceivable swiftness, and hastily bolting the door on the outside, left him a prisoner within. There were then four sentinels to deal with. The{216} first was on the other side of a door which led from the donjon, and which was always closed. I knocked; the door was opened. ‘Where is the abbé of St. Sauveur?’ I asked, hurriedly. ‘Our priest has been waiting for him in the garden over two hours, and I have been looking for him everywhere.’ I ran forward, as I spoke, till I came to a second sentinel, to whom I put the same question, and who allowed me to pass in the same way; and to a third, posted on the other side of the drawbridge, with whom I was equally fortunate. The fourth sentinel did not for a moment suspect I was a prisoner, seeing I had passed the others. I crossed the threshold of the outermost gate; I ran forward and was lost to view: I was free.

“I made my way across the fields, avoiding the high road as much as possible, and at length I came to Paris, where I took furnished lodgings, and tasted to the full the joys of liberty, with an appetite sharpened by fourteen months of captivity.”

Having had the imprudence to write to the king to excuse his fault, and to urge that he had already made sufficient expiation for it, Latude was again arrested and taken to the Bastille, where he was confined in a very strong cell. After remaining there eighteen months, however, he was removed, by M. Berryer’s orders, to a tolerably comfortable room, which he occupied jointly with a young man of his own age, named Alègre, whose crime was also that of having given offence to Madame de Pompadour.

“Under such circumstances, young men could come to but one resolution—to escape, or perish in the attempt. But every one able to form the slightest idea of the Bastille will conceive that this project had in it a touch of the wildness of delirium. In adopting it, however, I knew what I was{217} about, and I hope I shall be credited with a soul a little above the common for having invented, formed, and carried it out.

“It was now no longer of any use to think of escaping from the Bastille by the gates. Every physical impossibility tended to render that idea impracticable. The ground being thus denied me, there was but one other way—to mount into the air. There was in our room a chimney running to the top of the tower; but, like every other in the place, it was so fortified with bars of iron as scarcely to leave a free passage to the smoke; and any one making his way to the top of the tower would find himself cut off from all communication with surrounding buildings, and with a ditch, commanded by a high wall some two hundred feet beneath him. Yet all these obstacles, all these dangers, could not daunt me. I communicated my ideas to my companion, but his timorous soul at first shrunk from the possible sufferings they involved. He chose to regard me as a madman, and for a time I thought and worked alone.

“There were many things to provide for, and to do: to climb to the top of the chimney, in spite of the iron bars; to make a ladder long enough to reach to the foot of the tower, and a second one (of wood) for mounting the ditch on the other side. In order to do all this I should have to procure tools and materials, and to use them in secret, yet, as it were, under the gaoler’s eyes.

“My first care was to find out a place in which I could hide my implements and the other things as soon as I should obtain them. Through thinking earnestly about it, I at length hit on a happy idea. I had been in several rooms in the Bastille, and I had always been able to ascertain whether the one below or above me happened to be{218} occupied, by the noise the prisoner made. On this occasion I heard sounds from above, but none from below, and yet I knew that some one was in the room beneath me. This led me to believe that there was a double thickness of boards between us; and I took the following means to test the correctness of my conclusion:—

“There was a chapel in the Bastille, where mass was said once a day during the week, and three times on Sunday. Permission to be present on these occasions was a favour very rarely granted, and obtained with no little difficulty. Both myself and my companion, however, with the prisoner in the room beneath us, were allowed to attend the service.

“I resolved to seek the opportunity of our leaving the chapel together, to obtain a hasty glimpse of this prisoner’s room, and I told Alègre how he could help me. He was to let his knife case fall down stairs, as though by accident, in drawing out his pocket-handkerchief, so that one of the turnkeys would be obliged to run back to pick it up. All this was managed to perfection. The turnkey went down to find the case; and I, in the meantime, hurried away to our fellow-prisoner’s room. The ceiling was a very low one, and measuring it and the height of the entire storey with my eye, I judged that there was an unoccupied space of about five feet between the two chambers. ‘My friend,’ said I to Alègre on my return, ‘we are saved; we have hiding-place enough for a whole workshop full of things.’ ‘But how are we to get them?’ he asked impatiently. ‘Well, as for materials, this trunk of mine will supply us with more rope than we are likely to want.’ ‘Trunk! rope! why, the thing does not contain a single yard of rope!’ ‘What! have I not a quantity of linen—several dozens of shirts, and a number of napkins, stockings, and other things? We{219} have only to tear them up into strips to make a ladder of any length we please.’

“There was a folding table in our room with a good deal of iron work about it; and, by cutting away part of this iron work with our pocket knives, we soon obtained a kind of rough chisel for loosening the bars of the chimney. As soon as our guards had left us for the night, we prized up a portion of the flooring with this implement, and we then began to pick a hole in the brickwork beneath. After we had worked in this way for some six hours, I found that my hasty calculation had not deceived me. There was a clear space of four feet between our floor and the ceiling below. This was work enough for one day; so we carefully swept all the rubbish into the hole, and replaced the piece of flooring that had been torn up.

“Our next operation was to unstitch two of my shirts—carefully preserving the thread—and by cutting them in pieces, and tying or stitching them together, we made a ladder some twenty feet long, which enabled us to move from place to place in the chimney while we were removing the bars. This part of the undertaking was of the most painful and trying character, and its execution cost us six months of an agony which even now I shudder to think of. We were obliged to work in the most uncomfortable and torturing positions, and we had scarcely struck a dozen strokes before our hands were covered with blood. The bars were fixed in an extremely hard cement, on which we could make no impression with our tools till we had moistened it with water, and the water had to be carried up in our mouths. Our progress was so slow that we were well satisfied when we removed a single square inch of the cement in the course of a night. As soon as we had{220} loosened one bar we left it in its place, not daring to remove it until the very last moment, for fear the chimney should be examined in the meantime.

“When this odious labour was at length completed, we set to work upon the wooden ladder, by means of which we were to make our way into the governor’s garden that lay beyond the ditch. It had to be from twenty to twenty-five feet in length; and to make it, we set aside the pieces of wood sent up as firing, using part of an old chandelier, notched with our pocket knives for a saw. With this and another rude tool, made from the ironwork of the table, we cut our logs of wood into smaller pieces, which we fastened together with small bits of metal and bolts of wood, that served as hinges and screws. Through the single pole thus made we placed the rounds of the ladder, which projected some six inches on either side. The whole thing could be taken to pieces easily, and therefore we had no difficulty in hiding it beneath the flooring of our room.

“Our little subterranean workshop (as I may call it) was now quite nicely furnished, and its contents were known to none but ourselves. We had contrived to avoid detection in a most wonderful manner, but there was one danger which still gave us particular uneasiness. It was the custom with the officers of the Bastille, not only to make irregular and unexpected visits to the cells, but even to set spies upon the prisoners’ most secret hours. We had to take care therefore to do all our work by night, and not to leave the faintest trace of it behind us. But guards have ears as well as eyes. We were, of course, talking over our projects incessantly; and since we could not avoid the necessity for doing this, we had to invent a language intelligible only to ourselves. This was easily done; the saw was called faun;{221} a hook, Tubal Cain; the hole in the floor, Polyphemus; the wooden ladder, Jacob; and the rounds, sprigs; the ropes, doves (from their whiteness); the pocket knife, puppy, and so forth. We were constantly on our guard, however, in using even this gibberish, and we succeeded perfectly in keeping our guards in the dark.

“When the operations already spoken of were completed, we began to think about our great ladder. We calculated that it would have to be at least one hundred and eighty feet in length; and to find material for it we had to sacrifice shirts, napkins, stockings, flannels—in short, nearly the whole of our underclothing. As soon as we had made a hank, or twist, out of the shreds, we hid it away in ‘Polyphemus.’ When we had a sufficient number of these, we spent the whole night in binding them together; and I would defy any ropemaker to produce a stouter cable (of its size) than the one we then possessed.

“At the summit of all the towers of the Bastille a ledge projected some four or five feet beyond the wall. This we knew would cause any one using our ladder to swing about in the air, and in all probability to lose his hold from giddiness, and fall to the ground. We were obliged, there fore, to invent an apparatus for steadying the ladder, which was far too complicated to describe here. Suffice it to say, that it involved the use of another rope, some three hundred and sixty feet long; and this we actually made, together with shorter ropes for tying our ladder to a cannon, and for other necessities of the moment.

“When all these ropes were ready we measured them, and found they were fourteen hundred feet in length. Our ladders, all taken together, had two hundred and eight rounds.{222}

“There was one other danger to be dreaded—the noise likely to be made by the friction of our ladders against the wall. We endeavoured to avoid this by carefully binding up the ladders with pieces of our dressing-gowns, etc., at the places where they were likely to touch the stonework.

“We had been employed some eighteen months in these preparations, and yet our work was not done. We had found a means of reaching the top of the tower, and for dropping into the ditch; but now other operations would be needed to enable us to leave the place. The first was to mount the parapet of the governor’s wall, which looks into the ditch of the Porte St. Antoine. But this parapet was always guarded by sentinels. We might choose a very rainy and dark night for our attempt; but then it might rain while we were leaving the chimney, and yet be perfectly fine by the time we reached the parapet and the sentinels. And, besides, there were not only the sentinels, but the guard going the grand rounds. To be seen by the latter was to be hopelessly lost.

“The second operation promised to be less of a danger than a difficulty. It consisted of making a passage through the wall separating the ditch of the Bastille from the Porte St. Antoine. It would necessitate the use of a couple of crowbars, and these we could easily obtain from our chimney.

“We fixed on Monday, the 25th of February, 1756, for our flight. The river had overflowed its banks, and there was water to the depth of four feet in the ditches of the Bastille. We judged it prudent, therefore, to pack up a change of clothes in a portmanteau, so that we might not run the risk of perishing of cold if we happened to be fortunate enough to escape from the prison.{223}

“Immediately after our dinner hour, on the appointed day, we took our rope-ladder from its hiding-place beneath the floor, and having seen that all the rounds were in order, put it away again in a more convenient place for instant use. At the same time we tied the three pieces of the wooden ladder together, bound our crowbars in rags, to prevent the metal from coming in contact with the wall, and furnished ourselves with a small bottle of brandy for our sustenance during the nine hours we were to pass up to our necks in water in the ditch. This done, we waited impatiently for the hour of supper. It came at length, and our gaolers left us for the night.

“I was the first to mount the chimney. I was suffering from rheumatism in the left arm, but I paid very little attention to that. I was nearly suffocated, however, with the soot accumulated in the upper part of the chimney beyond the bars, and the rough brickwork tore open my elbows and my knees, and made them run with blood. I was in this state when I reached the roof; I nevertheless, without thinking of my wounds, dropped a rope down the chimney, and drew up the portmanteau, which Alègre had fastened to the end of it. In the same manner we conveyed the wooden ladder, the crowbars, and the other packets to the top of the roof. Alègre made the ascent more easily than I, thanks to my having lowered the rope ladder for him. We then slid down from the top of the chimney on the outside, and stood both together on the roof of the Bastille.

“We lost no time in preparing for our descent. Doubling up our rope ladder till it formed a kind of ball, we rolled it along the roof till we came to the Treasury Tower, where we tied one end of it to a cannon and let the other fall gently into the ditch. I then fastened the single rope round my{224} body, and Alègre holding it, to steady me, I stepped on to the ladder. But I swayed about dreadfully, nevertheless, and became so giddy that once or twice I felt myself on the point of losing consciousness, and gave up all for lost. I reached the ditch, however, without serious accident; and when Alègre had lowered the things to me, I was lucky enough to find a little eminence to place them on, so that they did not get wetted. My companion then made the descent, but he had one advantage over me—I was at the bottom to hold the ladder for him, so that he did not suffer from giddiness nearly so much as I had done. When we had both reached the bottom we could not suppress a sigh of regret at being obliged to leave behind us the ladder it had cost so much pains to make.[D]

“It was not raining, and we could distinctly hear the footfall of a sentinel, at the distance of a few paces. We were obliged therefore, to give up the idea of reaching the parapet, and to turn our steps towards the governor’s garden. We accordingly shouldered our crowbars, and went straight to the wall between the ditches, where we began to work. But unfortunately, just at the spot we were obliged to choose, the ditch was deepest, so that we were up to our armpits in water, instead of being up to our breasts. There had been a thaw but a few hours previously, and the ditch was full of lumps of ice, yet we had to endure all this for more than nine hours, our strength exhausted by labour of the most fatiguing kind, and our limbs more than half frozen. Hardly had we began to work, when I saw on

Image unavailable: I saw on the parapet the soldiers of the grand round.
I saw on the parapet the soldiers of the grand round.


the parapet, some twelve feet above us, the soldiers of the grand round. Their lantern lit up the place where we were perfectly, and there was no way of avoiding discovery but to plunge down into the water, an operation which had to be repeated at each visit of the grand round—that is to say, every half-hour. At length after nine hours of labour and of terror, and after having picked stone from stone with inconceivable difficulty, we succeeded in making, through a wall four feet and a half in thickness, a hole large enough to admit of our passing, and we dragged ourselves through to the other side. Our souls were already full of joy, when we experienced a new and wholly unforeseen danger. We were now crossing the ditch of St. Antoine in order to gain the road to Bercy. We had hardly advanced twenty steps in the water when we fell into the aqueduct, which is in the middle of the ditch, and where we had ten feet of water above our heads; and beneath our feet some two feet of a thick purifying substance (for the most part salt) on which it was well-nigh impossible to walk. But for this latter circumstance, there could have been no difficulty in gaining the opposite side, for the aqueduct was only six feet in breadth. D’Alègre, when he found himself out of his depth, was foolish enough to clutch me convulsively. But I saw this must infallibly end in the ruin of us both, since if by any accident we should fall into the salt mud, we should not have strength enough to raise ourselves again. I therefore dealt D’Alègre a heavy blow with my fist, and having freed myself from him, I succeeded by a vigorous push in gaining the side of the aqueduct, and thus saving us both, for nothing was easier than to stretch out my hand and drag him ashore from my vantage-ground. It struck five when we emerged from the ditch: the sound of the bell had{226} hardly died away, when we stood together on the main road—free men.

“Transported with the same sentiment, we threw ourselves into one another’s arms in a close embrace, and then fell upon our knees to express our gratitude to God. This first duty fulfilled, we began to think about a change of dress, and we then felt by what a happy inspiration of prudence and foresight, we had been prompted to furnish our portmanteau with some spare clothes. The cold had frozen our limbs, and, as I had anticipated, we suffered a good deal more now than during the nine hours we were in the water. Each of us had far too little control over his movements to be able to undress and dress himself, but by rendering some assistance to one another, we contrived at length to effect these operations. We then jumped into a fiacre and drove straight to the house of M. de Silhouette; the chancellor of the Duke of Orleans, but unfortunately we learned that he had gone to Versailles.”

They however, found an asylum with some friends, natives of Languedoc, like themselves, and, after hiding with them a month, left separately for Brussels. D’Alègre arriving first, was immediately arrested by the agents of the French government. He was taken back to France, and fifteen years later Latude found him at Charenton. He had become mad. As for Latude, during his stay in Brussels, he managed to avoid the snares laid for him by the French police, but he was finally arrested at Amsterdam, and conducted back to France, with irons on his ankles and wrists.

In 1764 he was transferred to Vincennes, and subjected to the most cruel treatment by order of M. de Sartines. After a time Guyonnet, the governor, released him from his cell, and gave him a furnished room to live in, at the same{227} time permitting him to take exercise in the gardens of the chateau, two hours every day.

“What I valued most about this favour was that it promised to afford me sooner or later, the prospect of another escape. For eight months however, so carefully was I watched, I did not find a single opportunity of putting my project into execution, and I began to feel that I could owe my liberty only to some happy chance. Such a chance presented itself at length in a most unexpected manner.

“On the 23rd of November, 1765, I was walking in the garden at about four o’clock in the afternoon, when a thick fog suddenly rose from the ground. The idea of escape immediately occurred to me; but how was I to get rid of my guards? for, to say nothing of the many sentinels in the passages, I had two at my side, with a sergeant who never quitted me an instant. I could not attack them, nor could I glide quietly from their side, for their orders were to accompany me everywhere and to follow all my movements. I therefore addressed myself boldly to the sergeant, and called his attention to the fog which had come upon us so suddenly.

“ ‘What do you think of this weather?’ I asked.

“ ‘It is very bad, monsieur.’

“ ‘Do you think so?’ I replied in an instant, and in the calmest and most natural tone. ‘It seems to me, on the contrary, the very weather to favour my escape.’

“While uttering these words I raised my elbows suddenly and thrust the soldiers from me, and at the same time, giving the sergeant a violent push, I took to flight, passing a third sentinel, who did not seem to perceive what I was doing until I was at some distance from him. They all, however, rapidly recovered from their surprise, and{228} pursued me with cries of ‘Stop him! stop him!’ The guard assembled: the windows began to open; everybody ran into the courtyard, and ‘Stop him! stop him!’ was heard on every side. How to escape? I did not remain long at a loss. There was nothing for it but to dash right into the midst of the crowd and take up their cry. ‘Stop thief! stop thief!’ I bawled louder than any of them, pointing in front of me at the same time. They took the bait admirably, following their noses in search of nothing at all with the most praiseworthy energy and zeal. I outran them easily; there was scarcely a step between me and liberty. I had reached the end of the royal court; there was but one sentinel to pass, but to pass him would not be easy, for, alarmed by the uproar, he would naturally be suspicious of the first comer in the crowd. I had, in fact, foreseen the exact state of things. At the first cry, the sentinel had placed himself in the middle of the pathway, which was very narrow in this place; and, to add to the ill luck of the situation, the man knew me. He was named Chenu. I came up; he stopped the way, and bade me stand still, or he would run me through with his bayonet.

“ ‘Chenu,’ said I, ‘you know me; your duty is to arrest, not to kill me.’ I slackened my pace and drew near to him slowly, and when I was within a yard or two I suddenly threw myself upon him, and snatched his gun with so much and such unexpected violence that he fell to the ground. I leaped over his body, and hurled his gun as far from him as I could, for fear he should recover it and fire. And now I was free once more. I easily hid myself in the park, for I had at once avoided the main road; I leaped over the low wall, and I awaited the night to enter Paris.”

Having taken refuge with two girls, with whom he had

Image unavailable: Stop thief.
Stop thief.


entered into correspondence from the top of the towers of the Bastille, and who had vainly tried to serve him by delivering letters to his friends, he could think of no better means of providing for his safety than that of writing to implore M. de Sartines to become his protector. It would seem that Latude’s active and acute spirit, which, while he was a captive, enabled him so well to calculate his opportunities of escape, and to profit by them, abandoned him the moment he was at liberty. Not content with having invited the attention of M. de Sartines, he could conceive of nothing wiser, fugitive and prison-breaker as he was, than to go to Fontainebleau, to see M. de Choiseul and M. de la Vallière, both ministers, and to recommend himself to them. He was, of course, re-arrested and taken back to Vincennes, where he was put in a cell, called the black hole. In 1775 he was transferred to Charenton, and he was set at liberty in 1777 by a lettre de cachet, ordering his exile to Montagnac, his native place. He delayed his departure some time, but at length he set out, only to be arrested once more, when he was some fifty leagues from Paris, and taken to the Bicêtre. He was then fifty-three years of age; and since his twenty-fourth year he had passed very little time out of prison. At length, in 1784, Madame Necker humanely exerted her influence to procure his total release.



Count Beniowski, a magnate of Hungary and of Poland, was taken prisoner by the Russians, and sent to Kamtschatka. On the very day after his arrival in the little city of{230} Bolska, or Bolchérietzkoi, which had been assigned him as a residence, he had persuaded seven of his companions in exile, to join with him in an attempt to escape. At first they thought only of procuring a boat for their attempted flight, but they afterwards found it necessary to make many material alterations in their plan. Beniowski was only thirty years old; and to the physical advantages of force, elegance, and address, he united that of a good education, which naturally placed him in the first rank among the other exiles, and he was chosen as their chief without one dissentient voice. The governor employed him as a teacher of languages to his three daughters, the youngest of whom, Aphanasia, fell desperately in love with her master. Beniowski dexterously took advantage of this passion to further his scheme.

The confederates, at first few in number, obtained additions to their ranks every day; but they had many difficulties to surmount. Their prime need, however, was money; and in this respect, chance and the cupidity of their guards came very opportunely to their aid. The three principal personages of Bolska were the governor, the chancellor, and the hetman of Cossacks. The two last had discovered Beniowski’s skill at chess, and they thought that by using him as a kind of employé, to play in their interest with the richest merchants of the district, they might make considerable additions to their income. He was obliged, for the sake of his companions and for the furtherance of his scheme, to lend himself to this discreditable trick; but he did not forget his own wants while he was filling the pockets of the hetman and the chancellor. The confederates already possessed some twelve thousand roubles, when the rage of one of Beniowski’s victims at the chess-board nearly led to the discovery of the entire plot.{231}

A merchant, named Casarinow, who had lost considerable sums at the game, presented his conqueror with a quantity of poisoned sugar. On the 1st of January, 1771, the principal confederates assembled, according to custom, to take tea; but they had scarcely swallowed the first cup when they were all seized with frightful pains. One of them died during the night; the rest, escaping by a miracle, tested the sugar on various animals, and when they had satisfied themselves as to its poisonous properties they denounced Casarinow to the governor. The merchant was at once summoned, and when he came before the governor was offered a cup of unsweetened tea. He took it. “See,” said his host, offering him some of the poisoned sugar, “what good fellows these exiles are; they have given me all this, and only yesterday they received it as a present themselves.”

Casarinow grew pale, complained of a sudden illness, and asked to be allowed to retire. He was at once arrested, and, yielding to the evidence of facts, confessed his crime, alleging, as an excuse, that he had attempted it in order to punish Beniowski for plotting to arm the exiles and to escape with them from Kamtschatka. He was indebted for the information to Pianitsin, one of the confederates. Too irritated to pay due attention to this defence, the governor imprisoned Casarinow, and ordered the chancellor to take immediate steps for the confiscation of his property, and his despatch to the mines, according to law. But Beniowski had been present during the interview, though he was hidden in a cabinet, the law forbidding not only the functionaries, but simple citizens, to hold any communication with the exiles. He had, therefore, become acquainted with the guilt of Pianitsin; and on his return to the confederates, finding the traitor present, he denounced him. The unfortunate wretch{232} was at once condemned, and was allowed only three hours to prepare for death. A priest who was in the plot prayed with him during that time, and he was then taken out of the village and shot.

Some time after, the authorities seemed willing to test the truth of Casarinow’s depositions; but they looked in vain for the only person who could enlighten them on the point—Pianitsin. They accordingly suffered the matter to rest, convinced that the whole story was nothing better than a fable, invented by the poisoner to serve his own ends.

We cannot give in detail the different episodes of this history of four months, during which the plot was several times on the point of being discovered. The confederates owed their safety to the presence of mind of their chief, and, above all, to the folly and the corruption of their guardians. But on one occasion certain suspicions excited by Beniowski’s conduct had nearly ruined all. Some days after the affair of Casarinow, poor Aphanasia, in presence of her father and of a crowd of persons invited to a fête, declared her passion for the count. Her father was at first in a great rage; but this did not last long; and eventually—it is not easy to say through whose good offices—he was induced to show Beniowski more kindness than ever. He, in fact, threw his house open to the exile, and allowed him to come and go as he pleased. All this soon got rumoured abroad, and one day, on entering his own house, Beniowski found himself confronted by four of the principal conspirators, who summoned him to the general assembly, to give an account of his suspicious intimacy with the authorities. He went at once; and on entering the council-room, found that it was guarded by two conspirators, sabre in hand. A cup of poison stood on the table. Beniowski was accused of intriguing{233} for his liberty by the betrayal of his associates. He easily justified himself, and his accuser was the first to embrace him warmly, and to desire his pardon for having suspected him. In time, thanks to Beniowski’s influence with the governor, all the exiles were declared free as to residence within the country, and were allowed to form a colony in the district of Lopattka. He was thus slowly advancing towards his object, when the governor’s wife, Madame Nilow, insisted that his marriage with her daughter should take place at once; while one of the conspirators, named Stephanow, becoming enamoured of Aphanasia, attempted to kill her lover, and nearly revealed the plot. He was, however, terrified into silence, and then pardoned.

The conspirators were at last perfectly organized. They had arms and munitions, and they only awaited the breaking of the ice to embark in a vessel already prepared for them, when circumstances again rendered the authorities suspicious. Beniowski, learning from various signs that all might be compromised in a moment, engaged Aphanasia, to whom he had confided the secret of the plot, to send him a piece of red riband whenever she judged that danger was imminent. All the confederates, meanwhile, were ready and armed; but a day or two preceding that fixed for their departure, Beniowski received a piece of red riband from Aphanasia, while, at the same time, a sergeant brought him a note from the governor, asking him to breakfast. One may easily judge whether the daughter’s present inclined him to accept the father’s invitation. He pretended to be ill, and put off the visit till the next day. But the sergeant had the imprudence to tell him that he would do well to come by fair means, unless he wished to be dragged to the governor’s table by force.{234}

“You had better confess yourself, friend,” replied the exile, haughtily, “before you bring me another message like that.”

At midday the hetman arrived at Beniowski’s house, and was very civilly received; but his air of confidence and of good nature, unskilfully assumed as it was, did not avail to conceal his real purpose from the penetrating glance of the exile. On Beniowski’s refusal to go to the fort, the poor hetman so far forgot his rôle as to get into a violent passion, and to threaten the unwilling guest with his Cossacks. Beniowski laughed in his face, and the hetman called two of his men. Beniowski whistled, and in an instant five of his companions appeared, and hetman and Cossacks stood disarmed and bound.

At five o’clock in the evening the governor sent a message, urging Beniowski to throw himself on the clemency of the throne, and threatening him with death if he did not instantly set the captives at liberty. The count gave an evasive reply, in order to gain time, and meanwhile seized the chancellor’s nephew and two other persons, whose influence he feared. He would have seized the chancellor himself had he come within his reach. These acts marked the beginning of the insurrection.

On the next day the governor despatched four men and a corporal to arrest the count, who, however, managed to arrest them instead, and to shut them up in his cellar. These were duly followed by a regular detachment of troops, who approached the house with as much circumspection as though it had been a fortress. Beniowski went out to meet them, and killed three of their number; the rest ran away. Then came another detachment, with a cannon. The officer in command allowed Beniowski to approach within fifteen{235} paces, as though willing to hold a parley; but when they had got so near, the confederates suddenly opened fire, and those of the soldiers who did not fall down in terror, ran away outright, so that the cannon became the property of the insurgents. The latter then re-formed their ranks and marched straight upon the fort. The sentinel, seeing the cannon in their hands, mistook them for the detachment which had left in the morning, and lowered the drawbridge. Beniowski, as soon as he found himself inside the place, ran to the governor’s room, with a view of saving him from the violence of the confederates; but the enraged official, incensed at finding himself outwitted, snapped a pistol in his preserver’s face, and sprang at Beniowski’s throat with such violence that the latter was about to defend himself, when one of the confederates spared him the trouble by shooting the unfortunate governor dead. Towards nightfall, however, the Cossacks approached the fort, and prepared to assault it; but their ladders were too short, and the flashes from their muskets serving to betray their position, the confederates were enabled to point their cannon upon them with very destructive effect. On the following day the exiles shut up in a church all the women and children of the city, to the number of about a thousand, and sent word to the eight hundred Cossacks who invested the place, that if they did not at once surrender their arms and give hostages for their peaceable behaviour, the building should be fired. The Cossacks accepted the conditions, and the insurgents remained masters of the place, the former having seven of their number seriously wounded, and nine killed.

Some days after, the exiles took possession of the war corvette, St. Peter and St. Paul; and after they had rendered the last honours of war to the poor governor, they{236} occupied themselves in fitting out the vessel. The hostages were then sent back to the city, with the exception of the chancellor’s secretary, who was detained on board to serve as cook, as a punishment for his malicious intentions.

At length, on the 11th, Beniowski went on board, raised the flag of the confederation of Poland, which was saluted by the guns of the corvette, and quitted Kamtschatka—not as a prisoner escaping, but like a sovereign leaving one of the ports of his empire.



On the 13th of August, 1792, Haüy, Lhomond, and the other professors at the college of Cardinal Lemoine, were arrested as non-jurors, and were shut up in the seminary of St. Firmin, temporarily converted into a prison. Near St. Firmin lived a young student, Geoffroy St. Hilaire, who was destined soon to become one of the stars of France. He had pursued his studies at the college of Lemoine; and not less devoted to his professors than passionately fond of science, without giving a thought to the danger to which he exposed himself, he resolved on saving Haüy and his companions.

By great perseverance he persuaded the members of the Academy of Sciences to appeal in favour of Haüy; and an order of liberation was granted. Geoffroy brought it in great haste; and a few days after, Haüy obtained from Tallien the same liberty for Lhomond that Geoffroy and the Academy had obtained for himself. But several of Haüy’s colleagues were still in prison. It was the day before the{237} September massacres; and though nothing of these wild projects was officially known to the public, after the Brunswick manifesto something terrible was expected. Geoffroy, at any price, was resolved on saving his masters from the danger threatening them. On the 2nd of September, at the moment when the massacres had already begun at the Abbaye and La Force, he disguised himself as a commissary of the prisons, obtained access by this means to the prisoners, and informed them of the means he had prepared to facilitate their escape.

“No,” answered one of them, the Abbé D’Keranran; “no, we will not leave our brethren; our flight would make their deaths more certain.”

This sublime refusal grieved Geoffroy, without discouraging him. At night he took a ladder and went to St. Firmin, standing by an angle of the wall that he had taken care to indicate to the Abbé D’Keranran and his companion that same morning. He remained there for more than eight hours without seeing a soul. At last a priest appeared, and was soon safely out of the fatal place. Several others followed. One of them, on climbing the wall too hastily, fell and hurt his foot. Geoffroy took him in his arms, and carried him to a barn near by. He then ran back to his post, and by his help more priests escaped. Twelve victims had thus been snatched from death, when a shot was fired on Geoffroy from the garden, and touched his clothes. He was then on the top of the wall; and, entirely absorbed in his generous task, he did not perceive that the sun was up. He was obliged to come down, and leave both the happy and the miserable at once, for those that he had been unable to save he was never to see again.—(Life of Geoffroy St. Hilaire, by Isidore Geoffroy.){238}



M. de Vaublanc, in his “Memoirs,” relates the following circumstance:—

“A nobleman, named M. de Chateaubrun, having been condemned to death by the revolutionary tribunal, had been placed on the fatal tumbril and taken to the Place de la Revolution, to be put to death. After the ‘Terror’ he was met by a friend, who gave a cry of surprise; and, scarcely able to believe the evidence of his senses, asked De Chateaubrun, to explain the mystery of his appearance. The explanation was given, and I heard it from his friend.

“He was taken away with twenty other unhappy victims. ‘After twelve or fifteen executions,’ he said, ‘one part of the horrible instrument broke, and a workman was sent for to mend it. M. de Chateaubrun was, with the other victims, near the scaffold, with his hands tied behind his back. The repairing took a long time. The day began to darken; the great crowd of spectators were far more intent on watching the repairing of the guillotine than on looking at the victims who were to die; and all, even the gendarmes themselves, had their eyes fixed on the scaffold. Resigned, but very weak, the condemned man leant, without meaning it, on those behind him; and they, pressed by the weight of his body, mechanically made way for him, till gradually, and by no effort of his own, he came to the last ranks of the crowd. The instrument once repaired, the executions began again, and they hurried to the end. A dark night concealed both executioners and spectators. Led on by the crowd, De Chateaubrun was at first amazed at his situation, but soon conceived the hope of escaping. He went to the Champs{239} Elysées and there, addressing a man who looked like a workman, he told him, laughingly, that some comrades with whom he had been joking had tied his hands behind his back, and taken his hat, telling him to go and look for it. He begged the man to cut the cords, and the workman pulled out a knife and did so, laughing all the while at the joke. M. de Chateaubrun then proposed going into one of the small wineshops in the Champs Elysées. During a slight repast he seemed to be expecting his comrades to bring back his hat; and seeing nothing of them, he begged his guest to carry a note to some friend, whom he knew would lend him one, for he could not go bareheaded through the streets. He added that his friend would bring him some money, for his comrades, in fun, had taken away his purse. The poor man believed every word M. de Chateaubrun told him, took the note, and returned in half an hour, accompanied by the friend, who embraced Chateaubrun, and gave him all the help he required.’"—(Memoirs of M. de Vaublanc.)



Commodore William Sydney Smith, afterwards admiral, had been made prisoner at the mouth of the Seine, where he had ventured in his frigate, then stationed at Havre. This enterprise seemed so daring that the English sailor was suspected of having wished to favour a royalist attempt, and of being a dangerous spy. The suspicions as to the nature of his mission seemed confirmed by the fact that his secretary was an exile, named De Trommelin, who had been with him a long time, in the hopes of being in some way useful

Image unavailable: The woodman pulled out a knive and did so.
The woodman pulled out a knive and did so.


to the royal cause. If the nationality of this man had been recognised, he would have been instantly put to death, according to the law then existing in France; but the commodore passed him as his servant. In vain England begged the exchange of Sydney Smith; the Directory refused, knowing how dangerous an enemy to France he was. Imprisoned at the Abbaye, then at the Temple, he was more than once on the point of escaping, in spite of the vigilance of the police. Several ladies, as well as Trommelin, attempted to aid him at various periods. Trommelin’s wife—who could, at least, invoke duty as the motive of her conduct—came to Paris, and hired a house near the Temple. A mason was bribed to open a communication between this house and the Temple, by way of the cellar, and everything seemed sure of success, when the fall of a few stones gave the alarm. The prisoners were more strictly watched than ever. In a short time Trommelin, having a better fate than a man deserves who carries arms against his country, was exchanged; but Sydney Smith was obliged to forego that advantage. After the 18th Fructidor, he was still more rigorously treated; but the moment of his freedom was drawing nigh.

Among the royalists then hidden and conspiring in Paris, was an officer named Philippeaux, formerly the fortunate rival of Bonaparte at the military school, and, since that time, his sworn enemy. Certainly without any idea that Sydney Smith and himself would, two years afterwards, be together in the presence of General Bonaparte at St. Jean d’Acre, and without any other motive than that of injuring the republic, Philippeaux determined to deliver the commodore. He associated himself with other royalists, and notably with an opera dancer, named Boisgirard; and he entered into{241} relations with the daughter of one of the Temple gaolers, by whose aid he succeeded in deceiving her father. Disguised as a prison commissary, and accompanied by his accomplices, wearing the uniform of gendarmes—one of whom, Boisgirard, represented a general—Philippeaux went at night to the Temple. Boisgirard, at the gate, showed an order of release, signed by the minister of foreign affairs, and demanded that the prisoner might be given up. Either bribed, or deceived by appearances, the gaolers and director of the prison obeyed, and Sydney Smith was brought out. Playing his part perfectly, he affected great surprise; and on hearing his immediate transfer to another prison spoken of, he vehemently protested against it. Then, feigning obedience, he followed his liberators, and entered a carriage that conveyed him to Rouen, from whence he crossed to Havre. There he succeeded in getting on board an English ship, the Argo, which took him to London. The English captain, Brenton, certifies, in his “History of the Navy,” that he knows, from good authority, that £3000 sterling (75,000 francs), given by the English government, opened the doors of Sydney Smith’s prison, and smoothed all obstacles as far as the coast. He adds that Lord St. Vincent (Jervis) assured him he had seen the order from the Treasury.



A short time after the 18th Fructidor, a certain number of those who had taken part in the counter-revolutionary riots were transported to Guiana. They all belonged, more or

Image unavailable: He affected great surprise.
He affected great surprise.


less, to the royalist party. Among them were—Pichegru, one of the greatest soldiers and one of the worst citizens France ever produced; Barthélemy, a member of the Directory; Ramel, adjutant-general, commander of the grenadiers of the Corps Législatif; Delarue, a member of the council of the Five Hundred; and generals Aubry and Willot, who had been among the first arrested. To the names of these party-men it is but right to add that of Letellier, Barthélemy’s servant, who having begged, as a favour, that he might be allowed to follow his master to prison, accompanied him in his exile, and died, at last, the victim of his devotion. At Cayenne, and then at Sinnamary, the deputies saw, with sorrow, several of their companions struck down by the influence of the climate; and, to fly from a similar fate, they resolved on escaping and making their way to Dutch Guiana. Of this adventure we have two very different versions—one by Ramel, who, on his return to London, published the journal of his escape; and the other by Delarue, who, long after, under the restoration, wrote a “History of the 18th Fructidor,” where this escape is related. Seen from our point of view, Ramel’s journal is, in all probability, nothing more than a romance; while the narrative of Delarue, far simpler, seems to be the expression of truth. We give both, beginning with the first:—

“We were accustomed to walk,” says Ramel, “on the ramparts along the river. We often contemplated, with deep sighs, the western coast, but saw nothing, either on land or water, that could give us the faintest hope of escape. At the foot of the bastion, outside the fort and on the edge of the river, there was a small boat, used for conveying the guard to and fro. This little boat, with its moorings, was consigned to the care of the sentinel placed near the battlements{243} of the fort, in which the guards were stationed. We had often looked with longing eyes at this boat; but it was only by degrees, and when impelled by despair, that we became accustomed to the idea of venturing out to sea in so frail a skiff. None of us knew how to manage a boat; we had no compass, and should have been obliged to trust ourselves to some Indian or sailor.”

The first attempt proved fruitless. Pichegru having tried to win over an Indian, who sold vegetables to the fort, this latter spread abroad suspicions which the general’s half offer had created in his mind. But this check was only a temporary one. A person at that time in the fort, whom Ramel does not otherwise specify, gave them much information as to the road they should take, and as to the proper means of insuring their flight. They procured passports under supposed names, and ripened their plans, without divulging them to those of their companions who were not in the plot, and several of whom inspired them with a not unfounded mistrust.

A pirate captain, named Poisvert, having captured an American ship, commanded by a certain Tilly, the owner of the cargo, brought his capture to Sinnamary, and lodged the crew and their captain in the fort. The American captain soon found out Pichegru, Ramel, and their companions, with whom he was well acquainted, and gave them news of their families and friends. They informed him of their plans, and showed him the boat. After trying to convince them of the impossibility of putting out to sea, and attempting a journey of several days in such a vessel; and seeing, at last, that they were fully determined to perish rather than remain at Sinnamary, the brave Tilly resolved on joining his fate to theirs. “I give up all,” he said, “to{244} save you. I will take my pilot, Barrick, with me, and we will set out together.”

Everything was settled, when they learnt that Tilly was to be immediately transferred to Cayenne. He went away, leaving them Barrick in his place, who soon disappeared, and remained hidden in the wood near by for thirty-six hours, perched on a tree, to escape from the serpents. “It had been agreed that the following day, the 3rd of June, at nine in the evening, he should go down to the edge of the river near the fort, and should jump into the boat on seeing us appear.”

Everything seemed in favour of the fugitives. Captain Poisvert gave a dinner on board the American capture to the commander of the place; and the wine soon began to flow freely both on the ship and in the fort—soldiers, officers, convicts, even, were at the feast. All were soon drunk, except the eight conspirators, who simply feigned intoxication, and quarrelled, to ward off suspicion.

“Night came on. We saw the commander taken home quite insensible, and carried as if he were dead. Silence had succeeded to songs and drunken shouts; soldiers and slaves were lying here and there; the service was forgotten; the guard-house left empty.

“The final hour of our stay at Sinnamary rang at last. At nine o’clock Dessonville, who was watching, warned each of us. We went out and met at the gate of the fort, the bridge of which was not yet taken up. Everything was profoundly quiet. I went with Pichegru and Aubry to the top of the guard-house, and walked straight to the sentinel. He was a wretched drummer, who had worried us to his utmost. I asked him what time it was; he raised his eyes to the stars; I sprang at his throat; Pichegru disarmed{245} him; and we dragged him away, tightening our hold to prevent his crying out. We were on the parapet; the man struggled violently, slipped from us, and fell into the river. We joined our companions at the foot of the rampart, and seeing no one in the guard-house, we ran in and took out arms and cartridges, left the fort, and flew into the boat. Barrick was there, and carried us into the skiff. Barthélemy, an infirm man, and not so active as we were, fell and stuck in the mud. Barrick, with his strong arm, caught him, pulled him out, and placed him in the boat. The cable was cut; Barrick took the helm; motionless and silent we drifted with the current. The tide and the current together impelled our frail vessel. We listened, but could hear nothing but the murmur of the waters, and the land breeze, which soon swelled our little sail. We were then unable to distinguish the tower of Sinnamary. On approaching the watch on the point we took down the sail, so as to make ourselves less visible. We knew that the eight men on guard there had received their full share of the captain’s bounty, and that, consequently, they must be as drunk as their comrades. We were not hailed; the tide carried us across the bar. We left on our right our brave friend Tilly’s ship, and passed close to The Victoire, just come from Cayenne, and commanded by Captain Brochet, who was much pleased at our escape, and who certainly would not have opposed it.

“The breeze freshened, the sea was calm; but in going out far we ran the risk of losing ourselves; while, hugging the coast too closely, we were in danger of wrecking the ship on the rocks, which extend as far as Iracouba. The moon shone out suddenly, as if to light up our path. The moment was delicious; we congratulated ourselves; we thanked Providence{246} and our generous pilot, Barrick, who was in a dreadful state from the mosquito bites. We sailed safely on for about two hours, when we heard three cannon-shots—two from the Sinnamary fort, and one from the Point. Soon after the watch at Iracouba repeated the three reports. We could no longer doubt of our escape being discovered. We did not now fear direct pursuit from Sinnamary, where there was not a single boat they could arm; besides, we had a good start. The only thing we dreaded was the detachment from Iracouba, composed, as we knew, of twelve men. They could only have met us in a boat similar to ours, with eight or ten men. We kept sailing on near the coast, all the while preparing our arms, and fully determined on defending ourselves if they attacked, or attempted to bar the passage under the fort of Iracouba.

“At four in the morning two cannon-shots were heard towards the east, and were immediately responded to by a report close to our ears. We were in front of the fort. It was still dark; but at daybreak we found ourselves to windward of Iracouba. We had nothing more to fear from pursuit; the dangers of the sea were all we had to overcome.”

In such a vessel, which was so small, and so light that the waves filled it at every moment, and had to be baled incessantly with a gourd, the fugitives were in imminent danger of perishing. A movement of Ramel’s, who wished to catch his hat, which fell in the water, almost upset the boat; and Pichegru, who had been unanimously chosen captain, severely reprimanded him. Without a compass, and without the necessary instruments to show them the way, without food, and with two bottles of rum as their sole sustenance, if Ramel is to be believed, they suffered acutely{247} from hunger for eight days. But their moral strength kept them up, and they even had the courage to joke about their misery and their hunger, which they bore with great patience.

After being fired at on their passage in front of fort Orange, because they would not hoist their flag, they were thrown by a storm upon the coast. On the following day they were reconnoitred by some Dutch soldiers. There was at first some slight difficulty as to their admission to the Dutch territory; but that being soon settled, they found themselves the objects of the most generous hospitality.—(Journal of the Adjutant-General Ramel.)

According to Delarue, the convicts enjoyed great liberty at Sinnamary: they could go about, so long as they kept within certain limits; they had guns and ammunition, and could shoot. The post of Sinnamary, guarded by a few soldiers, had no resemblance whatever to a fort; it was only a poor village, inhabited by Indian or Creole fishermen; and the boat they used for their escape belonged to a German, whom they knew to be engaged in smuggling between Surinam and Cayenne. It was thought that such a state of things did not guarantee much for the security of the convicts, and it was decided to transport them to a much less healthy part of Guiana. By the advice of Tilly, who could not accompany them, as he was being transferred to Cayenne, and with the certainty of the help of Barrick, his pilot, they determined to escape. They quietly went one night with their firearms to a wood, where Barrick awaited them, without all the attending circumstances of revelling Ramel speaks of. They had no sentinel to disarm, but only to give help to a negro, who was trying to master a turtle. The boat contained provisions—scanty, it is true, but still{248} more than sufficient to last them till their arrival in the Dutch possessions. So they did not suffer a week from hunger, as Ramel says: they heard no cannon fired, to signal their departure; in short, they escaped without most of those episodes with which Ramel has thought proper to embellish his recital.


In the year 1807 the Baron de Richemont, a French colonel, was taken by an English privateer in the ship bringing him from the Mauritius to Europe. The town of Chesterfield was assigned to him for a residence. Richemont had been in England about eighteen months, and every proposal of exchange had been refused, when one morning he saw something in his newspaper which made a deep impression on his mind. “I had just been reading,” he says in his memoirs, “an account of Colonel Crawford who had escaped from Verdun, where he was a prisoner on parole, and who, not being willing to take the command of his regiment, until his conduct had been approved of, had appealed to a jury. The jury had declared, that he being detained prisoner against the law of nations, had acted rightly in breaking through the obligation imposed on him. This narrative interested me very much, and I read it several times over with deep attention. I found all the details of the escape plainly set forth, with an account of the ruse to which he had recourse to ensure without fail the success of his plan. He had petitioned the French Government for permission to drink the waters of Spa, promising to return and deliver himself prisoner again at Verdun,{249} and he had taken advantage of this favour, granted with the confidence always inspired by the word of a gentleman, to return to England.

“The various thoughts that such a recital gave rise to in my mind are more easily felt than described. I also was detained against the law of nations, and my position admitted of a far different statement from that of the English colonel’s, a decree of the high court of admiralty having declared neutral the ship on which I had been arrested. I had officially protested against the injustice of my detention. I was moreover free from any kind of engagement by the declaration of the jury who had pronounced the acquittal of Colonel Crawford. I was not troubled now with the slightest scruple of delicacy.”

Having made up his mind, Richemont joined himself to a Frenchman, a marine officer who had already proposed to him to escape. They first decided on their plan, and then Richemont wrote a letter to the gentlemen of the transport-office, in which he declared his intention of leaving England, at the same time giving his reasons, and reminding his gaolers of the verdict of their own countrymen in the Verdun case. “This letter, posted two hours after my departure from Chesterfield, reached the gentlemen of the transport-office on the day that I arrived in London, and I only left England eight or ten days afterwards. I evidently gave them all the necessary time to make their search; but in all conscience they could not expect me to surrender myself to their generosity.” The two fugitives, calling themselves Spaniards, and having a well-filled purse, reached the capital without any difficulty. They then immediately posted to Folkstone to the house of a certain smuggler, about whom Richemont had very{250} precise information. “I knocked, and went in. The girl who had opened the door showed me into a very clean and comfortably furnished parlour, where I found the man alone, smoking his pipe, with a glass of grog before him. I nodded to him, and asked if I had the honour of speaking to Mr. W. G——.

“ ‘Yes sir,’ he said; ‘I am the man.’

“Then going straight to the subject, I told him that we were two Frenchmen, who looked to him for the means to return to France.

“ ‘What do you take me for?’ said he in an angry tone.

“ ‘Master,’ I answered directly, ‘don’t let us get angry; talk coolly. If you have to complain of me in any way, you will always be free to do as you please, but listen to me first. We are two honourable and discreet gentlemen, who only wish to deal pleasantly with you; but I ought to tell you, that I have taken measures to make you pay dearly, if necessary, for an obstinate refusal, for I have about me all the documents to prove that, at such a time, you came to Chesterfield, took Captain X—— away in your post chaise, kept him hidden so many days in your house, and at last carried him in your vessel to the other side of the channel. I have now to offer you one hundred pounds sterling, and the gratitude and friendship of two men of heart and loyalty besides.’

“ ‘A man that talks in that way,’ said he, taking my hand, and shaking it vigorously, ‘is served in every country. Your manner suits me; there is frankness and resolution in your words. You are welcome; I am your man; you shall always have reason to think well of me. Don’t fear; we are the real kings of the sea, and not those upstarts of the royal navy.’{251}

“ ‘Quite true,’ said I, and shook his hand cordially. ‘That’s a bargain,’ I added; ‘and now we must agree as to the carrying out of the plan.’ I then told him where we had put up, and that the important thing was to be able to wait in safety for decidedly favourable weather, and to provide for everything during our stay.

“ ‘All right,’ said the master; ‘everything shall be done, and well done. At such a time to-night, come to me here, and I will take you to a place of safety, where you can drink, smoke, and sleep at your ease, without thinking about anything.’

“At the time mentioned we went to the smuggler, who was expecting us. I put into his hands the hundred pounds agreed on, telling him he must expect to see on the walls, a notice of the transport-office, promising a reward to whoever should arrest us.

“ ‘Never mind,’ said he quickly; ‘I might be offered the crown of England, but never shall an act of cowardice or treachery be laid to my door.’

“We started, and entered rather a mean looking place, a regular den of smugglers, a house with innumerable doors or traps. Had they come to arrest us here, we might have escaped in a dozen different directions. The house was lighted, and consequently inhabited. We found in it a woman, no longer young, who was introduced to us as our servant and cook; we saw in the sitting-room a side table, laid out with plenty of china. As for the kitchen, it was arranged à l’anglaise, with iron ovens.

“ ‘You will only have to give your orders,’ said Master G——. ‘The pantry is well furnished; beer, tobacco, and eatables are there in abundance, and you can choose the best.’{252}

“He showed us two bedrooms, each containing a bed, a table, and a few chairs. In one was a writing table, with paper and ink. Installed thus, and treated with more care and attention than even the strictest hospitality demanded, when we could only expect security in the most humble retreat, we thanked and shook hands with our liberator, who took leave of us laughing, and wishing us a good night.

“We had already passed seven or eight days trying to kill time in this solitude, when the smuggler suddenly came and told us that the wind had changed most favourably; that there was every chance of it remaining in its present quarter, and that at about ten that night, he would come with some sailors’ clothes, and we should set sail under the best auspices. Happy news! We paid all our scores; we thanked and rewarded our cook as she deserved; in short, we satisfied all the exigencies of equity, and even the most generous liberality, and awaited the solemn moment. It came at last. We put on our clothes, the pantaloons and large sailor waistcoats brought for us, and we went out with cutlasses at our sides. We reached the beach, where we found a pretty little skiff of 15 or 16 feet long, without a deck, and launched her. We put up the mast, unfurled the sail, fixed the helm, and jumped in with the two sailors given us by Master G——. We pushed off, the sail swelled to the breeze, and we were gone. A custom-house ship was on guard in the harbour, and made signs for us to go alongside of it; we did not pay any attention, and before it had time to lower and arm its boat, we were far ahead, for our skiff was a swift one, and the darkness shrouded us. We were all four sailors, and each had his post; one at the helm, another managing the sail, the third{253} in the front of the boat, and the fourth, furnished with a night-glass, was commissioned to explore the horizon. A good breeze was blowing, but the sea was calm; in less than two hours we had passed Cape Grisnez. We steered a southward course, and each time we heard a signal of recognition, we answered it in a friendly manner, for we were provided with all the signals corresponding to those of the coast. We kept close in shore, so that at the least suspicious movement, we might be able to reach the coast and land in spite of all the small boats. At daybreak we boldly entered the little harbour of Vimerene, and I jumped lightly on land.

“The commander of that post making his usual morning rounds, came up the moment after, and said with some temper: ‘If I had been present, you would not have landed, monsieur.’

“ ‘Sir,’ I answered, ‘even if the emperor, to whom I am devoted body and soul as much as any man in France, had wished to forbid my touching the soil of my country, I should have done so in defiance of him and his valiant guard, in defiance of you and your garrison. I am Colonel Richemont; make your report.’ ”

Richemont proceeded direct to Boulogne, and there obtained the liberty of the two English sailors, who had been temporarily detained, and rewarded them generously.—(Mémoires du Général Camus, Baron de Richemont.){254}



Admiral Rosily having taken refuge in the port of Cadiz with four ships, the poor remnants of Trafalgar, was, after a gallant struggle, obliged to surrender to overpowering numbers. The infamous capitulation of Baylen singularly increased the number of prisoners condemned to the tortures of those plague-stricken prisons, the guardships. Still, one of these vessels, the Vieille Castille was a privileged abode. Specially set apart for the officers, whose daily pay allowed them to live very comfortably, the Vieille Castille, was not ravaged by typhus fever, nor were the unhappy prisoners there afflicted with the agonies of hunger. Still, they felt themselves prisoners, and only dreamt of freedom, the more especially when, on the French army approaching Cadiz, they discovered their comrades encamped at only an hour’s distance from their prisons. Many plans were formed, and then abandoned, for peace and amity did not precisely reign among the prisoners, who kept reproaching each other with their prudence or temerity. At last, the boldest of them—Grivel, then captain of the sailors of the guard, now rear-admiral and senator, agreed with his friends to carry off the first boat approaching in a high wind. On the 25th February, 1810, the Mulet, a small Spanish ship carrying water barrels, came alongside the Vieille Castille. The breeze was a favourable one; under pretext of helping to transport the barrels, the chiefs of the plot were lowered into the boat, and there gained the sailors. The sail was unfurled and spread, without loss of time. While they were getting under way in great haste, an English boat left the admiral’s ship, and saluted the fugitives with a discharge of musketry; the guard on{255} shore, answered the signal, and soon cannons, muskets, pistols—everything in short, was turned against the little boat. Only one man, however, perished, a sailor. Captain Grivel and his companions headed straight among the merchant ships anchoring near Cadiz, and made a bulwark of them. The greatest interest was shown in their success. “Hurrah! Hurrah;” cried the different crews. “Courage Frenchmen!” Encouraged by these signs of sympathy, the fugitives profited by the favourable breeze, and landed, to the number of thirty-four, on the coast of Andalusia, after an hour of constant anxiety and danger. Marshal Soult expressed the highest admiration of their courageous conduct. “Bah! Marshal,” answered Grivel, “it is only a sailor’s trick!



Arrested on the 18th June, 1815, and imprisoned at the Conciergerie, Count Lavalette had been condemned to death, for having taken an active part in the return from Elba. In vain his wife endeavoured to soften Louis XVIII., who would not forego his revenge; in vain she hoped to find mercy in the Duchess d’Angouleme. She was cruelly repulsed on every side. “Literally worn out,” says Lavalette in his Memoirs, “she sank down on the stone steps of the palace, and stayed there for an hour, still hoping against hope that she would be allowed to enter. She attracted the notice of all the passers by, especially of those going to the chateau; but none dared show her a sign of compassion. At last she decided on leaving the palace, and{256} returning to my prison, where she soon arrived, weary and heart-broken.”

The hours of Lavalette were numbered; by dint of questioning his jailers, he had discovered that the execution was fixed for Thursday morning, and it was then Tuesday evening. “At six,” says he, “my wife came to dine with me, and when we were alone, she said, ‘It appears only too certain that we have nothing now to hope for. It is time then to decide on something, and this is what I propose: at eight o’clock you will go from here, in my clothes, and, accompanied by my cousin, you will step into my sedan chair, which will take you to the Rue des Saints-Pères, where you will find M. Baudus in a gig: he will take you to some place prepared for you, and you will wait there till you can leave France without danger.”

This plan seemed at first quite impracticable to Lavalette; but his wife urged it so strongly, that he feared to increase her grief, and perhaps endanger her life by a refusal. He only suggested, that the gig being so far away, he should not be able to reach it before they had discovered his escape, and that then he could be easily taken prisoner again. They then agreed to modify and somewhat change the plan. The next day was spent in heart-rending adieux.

“At five o’clock, Madam de Lavalette arrived, accompanied by Josephine, whom I recognised with as much surprise as joy. ‘I think it better,’ said she, ‘to take our child with us, she will now easily follow out my idea.’ She had put on a dress of merino, lined with fur, and she carried a black silk skirt in her bag. ‘Nothing more is needed,’ she said, ‘to disguise you perfectly.’ She then sent her daughter to the window, and said in a low tone: ‘At seven exactly you will be ready dressed, everything is well{257} prepared: you will walk out, giving your arm to Josephine. Mind and walk slowly; and when you cross the large hall, put on my gloves, and hold my handkerchief to your face. I had thought of bringing a veil, but unfortunately I have not been accustomed to wear one during my visits here, so it must not be thought of. Take great care, when passing under the doors, which are very low, not to knock off the flowers on your bonnet, for all would be lost then.’ ” Madame de Lavalette next proceeded to give the necessary instructions to her daughter, and had almost finished, when there entered a friend of Lavalette’s, M. de Sainte-Rose, who came to bid him adieu. It was important that he should be dismissed as soon as possible. This Lavalette did under the pretext that his wife was still ignorant of the fatal hour. He treated in the same manner Colonel de Bricqueville who had quitted his bed, where he was kept by several serious wounds, to come and take leave of his friend. “At last dinner was served up. This meal which perhaps was to be the last in my life, I found horrible. We could not swallow a morsel; we did not exchange a word, and we were obliged to pass nearly an hour in that manner. At last the clock struck the three quarters past six, and Madame de Lavalette rang the bell. Bonneville, my valet, entered the room; she took him aside, said a few words in his ear, and added aloud, ‘Be sure to have the porters ready; I am going soon. Come,’ she said to me; ‘it is time for you to dress now.’ I had had a screen placed in my chamber, so as to form behind it a small dressing-room; we then went behind this screen. While dressing me with charming quickness and skill, she never ceased repeating, ‘Don’t forget to bend your head as you pass under the doors. Walk slowly through the outer room, like a person worn out{258} by much suffering.’ In less than three minutes my toilet was completed. We all advanced in silence towards the door. ‘The porter,’ I said to Emily, ‘comes every night after you leave. Mind and stay behind the screen, and make a slight noise by moving some piece of furniture. He will think I am there, and will go out for the few moments that will give me the necessary time to escape.’ She understood me, and I pulled the bell rope. We heard the jailor’s footsteps; Emily sprang behind the screen, and the door was opened. I passed out first, my daughter next, Madame Dutoit (an old servant of Madame de Lavalette’s) closed the march. After crossing the passage I came to the door of the outer room. There I was obliged to lift my foot on account of the doorstep, and at the same time to bow my head so that the feathers of the bonnet should not touch the ceiling. I succeeded; but on raising my head, I found myself opposite to five jailors, sitting, leaning, standing, the whole length of the way. I held my handkerchief to my eyes, and waited for my daughter to place herself near me, as was agreed. The child took my right arm, and the porter coming down the stairs from his room, which was on the left, advanced towards me, and placing his hand on my arm, said, ‘You are leaving early, my lady.’ He seemed very agitated, and probably thought the wife had bidden the husband adieu for ever. They afterwards said that my daughter and I cried aloud, though we scarcely dared sigh. At last I came to the end of the hall. Day and night a turnkey sits there in a large armchair, in a space narrow enough to allow him to place his hands on the keys of the two gates, one an iron gate, the other made of wood, and called the first entrance. The jailor kept looking at me, but did not open; I therefore passed my hand between the bars to

Image unavailable: I held my handkerchief to my eyes.
I held my handkerchief to my eyes.


make him aware of our presence. At last he turned his two keys, and we walked out. Once outside, my daughter did not forget, but took my right arm. There are twelve steps to mount before you get to the court, but the guard of gendarmes is stationed at the foot of them. About twenty soldiers headed by the officer, stood three paces from me to see Madame de Lavalette pass. I at length reached the last step, and entered the chair which stood two or three yards off. But there were no signs of porters or servants. My daughter and the old servant were standing near the chair, the sentinel ten paces off motionless and turned towards me. To my astonishment succeeded a feeling of violent agitation; my eyes were fixed on the sentry’s gun, as those of a serpent on its prey. I felt, so to speak, the gun between my clenched hands. At the slightest movement, the slightest noise, I felt myself springing on this arm.... This terrible situation lasted about ten minutes only, but to me it seemed the length of a night. At last I heard Bonneville’s voice, saying in a low tone: ‘One of the porters was missing, but I have found another.’ I then felt myself lifted. The chair crossed the great court, and turned to the right on going out. We proceeded in that way to the Quai des Orfévres, opposite the little Rue du Harlay. There the chair stopped, the door opened, and my friend Baudus, offering me his arm, said aloud; ‘You know, madame, you have still a visit to pay to the president.’ I stepped out, and he pointed out to me a gig a short distance off in the small, dark street. I sprang into this carriage, and one touch made the horse start at a good trot. Passing the quay I saw Josephine, her hands clasped, and praying to God with all her heart. We crossed the Pont St. Michel, the Rue de la Harpe, and were soon in the Rue Vaugirard{260} behind the Odéon, where I began to breathe. I then looked at the coachman, and what was my astonishment to recognise the Comte de Chassenon! ‘What! you here!’ said I. ‘Yes; and you have behind you four double-barrelled pistols. I hope you will use them.’ ‘No; really I do not wish to endanger you.’ ‘Then I’ll set you the example; and woe to any who tries to stop you!’ We went as far as the boulevard, at the corner of the Rue Plumet, where we stopped. On the way I had thrown off all my feminine attire, and put on a postillion’s coat, with the round gold-braided hat.

“M. Baudus soon came up. I took leave of M. du Chassenon, and modestly followed my new master. It was eight in the evening; the rain fell in torrents, the night was dark, and the solitude complete in this part of the Faubourg St. Germain. I walked with much trouble, and it was with great difficulty I followed M. Baudus, whose pace was very rapid. I soon lost one of my shoes, but still had to go on. We met some gendarmes, running fast, and little thinking I was there, for they were probably in search of me. At last after an hour’s march, tired out, one foot in my shoe, the other naked, I saw M. Baudus stop for an instant at the Rue de Grenelle near the Rue du Bac. ‘I am going,’ he said, ‘into an hotel; while I am talking to the porter, enter the court. On the left you will find a staircase; go up to the last story, and follow the dark passage on the right; at the end of that is a pile of wood,—stay there and wait.’ We proceeded a few steps farther along the Rue du Bac, and a sort of giddiness came over me when I saw him knock at the door of the minister of foreign affairs. He entered first, and while he stood talking with the porter, whose head was out of his lodge, I passed quickly by. ‘Where’s that{261} man going?’ cried the porter. ‘He is my servant.’ I went up stairs to the third story, and came to the place mentioned. I had scarcely reached it, when I heard the rustling of a stuff dress, and felt myself gently taken by the arm, and pushed into a room, the door of which was closed after me.”

A fire was burning, and on a small table Lavalette saw a candlestick and some matches, from which he concluded that the room could be lighted without danger. On the bureau was a paper, containing these words: “No noise, open the window at night, only wear soft shoes, and wait patiently.” Near this paper was a bottle of excellent Bordeaux wine, with several volumes of Molière and Rabelais, and a small basket containing some elegant toilet fittings.

M. Baudus shortly came in, threw himself in his friend’s arms, and told him he was in the apartment of M. Bresson, cashier at the office of foreign affairs. Proscribed under the Reign of Terror, M. Bresson and his wife had found shelter with some kind people who had concealed them at the peril of their lives. Lavalette shared this shelter with them for eighteen days, during all which time he heard the criers in the streets, threatening severe punishment to any person harbouring him.

Madame de Lavalette was soon discovered by the jailor behind the screen. The alarm once given, this heroic woman found herself a butt for the insults of those wretches who were not capable of appreciating her courage. The procureur général Bellart, ordered them to cease their noisy rudeness, but assaulted Madame de Lavalette with ribaldry and abuse, and put her in a room overlooking the court of the women, whose shouts and coarse talk were a martyrdom for her. After studying with great care the best means{262} of getting Lavalette out of the kingdom, his friends took counsel of a young Englishman, Mr. Bruce, who accepted the proposal with joy, and entrusted it to General Wilson. This latter, whose efforts to save Marshal Ney had proved so vain, wished to take his revenge. Everything was settled, every event well provided for, and in spite of gendarmes, custom-house officers, and all the difficulties of such a journey, Lavalette, in the uniform of an English officer, was conducted by General Wilson on to Belgian ground. “On shaking hands with the general, I expressed with deep emotion all my gratitude; but he, still preserving his imperturbable calm, only smiled without answering. Half an hour after, he turned to me, and said very seriously: ‘Now, my dear fellow, give me your reasons for not wishing to be guillotined?’ I was surprised, and looked at him without answering. ‘Yes,’ he went on; ‘I was told that you had requested as a particular favour that you might be shot.’ ‘Because,’ I said; ‘the prisoner is dragged in a cart with his hands tied behind his back; he is attached to a plank’—— ‘Oh, I understand; you did not wish to die like a calf.’ A few hours afterwards, the two friends separated: one proceeding to Germany, the other returning to Paris, where he underwent several months’ imprisonment for his generous conduct.”



During his campaign of Guaita, in 1820, the Count Giovanni Arrivabene had had the hardihood to receive Pellico, his two pupils, and their father, Count Porro,{263} men who, to use the expression of Lamennais, had dared to pronounce the word country. This crime incurred the penalty of death, though the tender mercy of Austria sometimes commuted it to fifteen or twenty years of hard labour. Porro being pursued, and Pellico arrested, their host could not expect less; and he was, in fact, seized and arraigned. He was, however, released, but shortly after he found out that the Austrian police regretted their clemency. He accordingly left his home one day in the greatest secrecy, crossed Brescia, and came to the house of his two oldest and most devoted friends, Camillo Ugoni and Giovita Scalvini, whom he informed of his determination to fly, and of their own state of insecurity, offering them at the same time places in his carriage. They did not hesitate a moment, but their preparations for departure occupied some little time, and they were, of course, anxious to maintain the greatest secrecy. It being then four in the afternoon, they decided to wait till daybreak. Scalvini took Arrivabene home with him, and put him in the bed usually occupied by his mother. The good lady, from whom they wished to conceal the real state of affairs, was so effectually kept in the dark, that, without knowing anything of their secret, she was made instrumental in giving the alarm in case of a visit from the police. On the 10th of April, 1822, the fugitives and one of Arrivabene’s servants left Brescia; and choosing the roads along the valley, they soon dismissed the carriage, and pursued their way on horseback. They passed three days and three nights in the labyrinth of valleys, constantly changing guides, and they were received everywhere with the attention and respect worthy of the most ancient times. At Edolo, a village on the Adda, twelve hours from Tirano, they saw the uniforms of some gendarmes hung over a large{264} fire in an inn. “What’s this?” “Hush! they are asleep! poor wretches, it would be a pity to wake them!”

The gendarmes had been pursuing three fugitives, and half dead with the long ride and with the drenching rain, they had taken shelter in the inn. The three outlaws were too charitably disposed to disturb them; but one of them, touching the pockets of a sleeping soldier, called out, “This, perhaps, contains the order for our arrest; let us leave the den before the lion roars!” In spite of all the kind offers of those around, they could only procure two horses. The man walked; Ugoni rode one horse, and Scalvini and Arrivabene mounted the other as best they could. The gendarmes slept on. At daybreak the fugitives crossed the heights of the mountain called the Sapei della Briga, where they found some gendarmes quartered; but the good angel who had sent the men at Edolo to sleep, did the same for their comrades, and Arrivabene and his companions passed them unseen. There still remained the most difficult place to pass,—the frontier. They called themselves cattle drivers, going to the fair, and quietly crossed the line of Austrian custom-house officers. The fugitives uncovered their heads, but scarcely had they passed the boundary mark when they fell exhausted to the ground. The effect was indescribable. On one side the officers, blaspheming and threatening, furious at the trick played upon them; and on the other, the poor exiles, leaving country, fortune, friends, and all they held most dear; but blessing Heaven for their safety, and only answering the insults heaped on them by a quiet indifference. The innkeeper of Edolo was imprisoned for a long period; and his poor wife, whom they had told that her husband would be hanged, died suddenly of fear and grief. (My Prisons. Silvio Pellico.)

Image unavailable: They fell exhausted to the ground.
They fell exhausted to the ground.



July, 1834.

Soon after the riots of April, 1834, at Paris and at Lyons, many men, whose hostile opinions to the Government were well known, were arraigned before the court of peers, and accused of having taken part in those movements. Among those accused were MM. Guinard, Marrast, Godefroi Cavaignac, brother to the great general of that name, Berrier-Fontaine, etc.

The trial went on, but on the night of the 12th July, news was brought that twenty eight of those imprisoned at Sainte Pelagie, formerly the prison for debtors, had managed to escape.

The watch kept over them was purely nominal, they had communication with persons outside, and passed the whole of their time either in their own rooms or in the court provided for them to walk in. The door of a cellar opened on to this court, and the cellar itself extended as far as the centre of the prison, so that the end of it was only separated by a very short distance from the garden of a neighbouring house. To enter this garden they had only to pierce the wall of the cellar, and to form a gallery passing under the sentinel’s post and the two exterior walls, which they accomplished. They hollowed out a passage, about ten yards in length, by one yard in diameter, and so constructed that its extremity touched the ground of the garden, belonging to a house situated at 7, Rue Copeau. Maintaining their communications with those outside, they found everything in this house that could aid their flight, all matters being so arranged as not to compromise any person.{266} About nine at night they pierced through the thin crust of earth that still divided their passage from the open air, posted in that way from Sainte Pelagie into the garden, and from there hurried away singly or in twos and threes. The ministerial newspapers declared that they had managed to obtain a false key for the cellar door. According to the National, this cellar was always given up to the prisoners. Some twenty-eight of them escaped in this way, but, about fifteen others refused to follow them from various motives, or were hindered from doing so by illness. Those, however, who were not kept to their rooms, stayed in the court, as they were accustomed to do till ten o’clock every night, and their presence in that place, their conversation, and their noise, prevented the keepers from suspecting the flight of the rest. In short, this escape was so easy, and so favoured by circumstances, that it was even said authority had lent its aid, in order to escape the difficulties of a trial very hard to terminate. Those prisoners who went abroad found very few obstacles on their way out of the kingdom. Still Armand Marrast and his travelling companions were arrested by gendarmes at only forty kilometres from the frontier, and on a cross road which they fancied very secure. For two hours they were detained by a brigadier of gendarmes, when fortunately for them, a civil officer came up. Marrast quickly addressed him: “Sir, I will make you responsible for the consequences of this delay; for two hours I have been awaiting your presence to get rid of the absurd mistakes of these gendarmes, who take me for I don’t know what.” The official, rather confused, carefully examined the passports of the two travellers, which of course were in perfect order, and allowed them to go. That same night, Marrast, guided by some smugglers, passed the frontier without difficulty. M.{267} Guinard had the same good fortune. He went to dine at Compiegne with a friend, who, to make matters safer, brought the fugitive and the procureur de roi together at dinner. The magistrate who had within his grasp a splendid opportunity for promotion, had no suspicion whatever of his agreeable convive. At the close of the evening, the friend carried off his guest in a gig, conducted him to the frontier, and gave him over to the care of a smuggler, whom they had bribed, and who took him safely across the custom-house lines.



Of all the innumerable victims transported during the last century by the Russian government to Siberia, two alone were able to escape from that dreadful place; their names are Beniowski, whose escape we have already related, and M. Piotrowski. If, on one side, the adventures of the Hungarian magnate are as full of interest as any novel, on the other, the simple story of the modest and intrepid Polish soldier inspires one with quite a different feeling. There we have all the emotion excited by a pompous show; here the hidden drama, the laceration of every fibre of a heart tortured by slow and almost secret anguish. Beniowski, as a general and a prisoner of war, was treated according to his rank, and even among exiles was allowed a certain liberty and the privileges of his order. Piotrowski, the veteran warrior of 1831, being only the simple emissary of his exiled countrymen in France, was sent to Siberia, thrown into a convict’s den, and forced to obey the orders of{268} a scoundrel himself condemned for theft. The half-savage population of the country gave the infamous appellation of “Varnak,” as well to the noble Pole transported for patriotism, as to the vilest forger and assassin. Rufin Piotrowski is in fact the Silvio Pellico of Poland. The book of Silvio Pellico raised against Austria the indignation of all civilized nations. Beaten at Solferino, annihilated at Sadowa, the jailors of Spielberg have nowhere met a look of pity. The “Memoirs of a Siberian” are a terrible witness against the jailors of Siberia.

M. Piotrowski being sent to Russia by the Polish Emigration Society, went in 1843 to Kamiéniec, in Podolia, under the supposed name and title of Catharo, an English subject. He had remained there about nine months as a professor of languages, when he was recognised as a Pole, arrested, and condemned to hard labour in Siberia. Transported in 1844 to the place of his exile, he was sent to the distillery of Ekaterininski-Zavod, three hundred kilometres north of Omsk, and for a year was obliged to perform the hardest and most repulsive labour. A word or sign on his part, or only a fit of ill temper on the part of those over him, would have exposed him to the bastinado or the knout; but being resolved on suffering everything rather than be struck, and cherishing always in his heart the hope of escape, he learnt to control himself sufficiently to show great docility, and a constant care to do thoroughly the work imposed on him. He so succeeded by this means in raising himself, that he was allowed to enter the distillery. “My office,” said he, “was the rendezvous for many travellers who came either for the sale of grains or for the purchase of spirits; peasants, townspeople, tradesmen, Russians, Tartars, Jews, and Kirghis. Of{269} passing strangers I inquired with a curiosity that never flagged concerning Siberia. I talked with men who had been, some to Berezov, others to Nertchinsk, to the frontiers of China, to Kamtschatka, among the steppes of Kirghis, and in Bokhara, so that without leaving my office I learned to know Siberia intimately. This acquired knowledge was in the future of immense use to me in my plan of escape. A circumstance that much softened my fate was the permission I obtained from the inspector to leave the barracks; by this means I was able to quit the ordinary dwelling-place of the convicts, and live with two of my countrymen in a house belonging to Siesicki.

“This man had succeeded little by little in building for himself a small wood cabin; thanks to his long stay at Ekaterininski-Zavod, and to the savings made out of his small pay. The house was not yet completed; in fact there was then no roof, but we nevertheless carried in our goods and chattels. The wind entered by every crack, but wood costing very little, we lit a large fire on the hearth every night. In spite of these inconveniences, we felt ourselves at home, and were relieved of the disagreeable companionship of the convicts; the soldiers alone, whom we had to pay, never leaving us. We spent the long winter evenings in thinking about those dear to us, and even in making plans for the future. Ah, if that house still exists, and if it shelters some unfortunate exiled brother, let him remember he is not the first who has wept in it, and invoked his absent country! I had quickly risen from the lowest to the highest degree which a convict of our establishment on the banks of the Irtiche could attain. In 1846, I could almost fancy myself a simple recruit, banished to distant shores, and under an inclement sky. How different was{270} this to that terrible winter of 1844, when I swept out gutters, carried or split wood, and lived under the same roof with the scum of humanity! How many of my brethren, alas! were now groaning in the mines of Nertchinsk! How many even who had been condemned to a less severe punishment than mine, would have thought themselves happy in my position, though I had resolved on flying from it even at the risk of the knout, and the mysterious dungeons of Akatouïa!

“In 1845, the Emperor Nicholas had issued a decree, by which the situation of those exiled to Siberia was considerably aggravated. Commissions visited the penitentiary establishments with the object of proposing new measures of severity. The forced residence of all the convicts in the barracks was the first point conceded to the suspicious despotism of the czar. All this necessarily made me persist in a plan conceived long ago.

“During the summer of 1845, I had already made two attempts, rather hasty and thoughtless ones, and both having the same result, though neither, fortunately, creating any suspicions. In the month of June I had noticed a small skiff often left by carelessness on the banks of the river; I had thought of using this skiff to carry me down the river to Tobolsk; but scarcely had I loosed the boat, one dark night, and rowed a little way, when the moon shone out, lighting the country most dangerously, and at the same time I heard from the shore the voice of the inspector who was walking with some employés. I landed with as little noise as possible, thinking how fruitless that attempt had proved. The following month I perceived that the same boat had been left in a more advantageous place, on a lake leading, by a canal and the Irtiche, to a rather distant point{271} of our establishment. A phenomenon pretty frequent on the waters of Siberia during this season formed an insurmountable barrier to this second attempt of mine. Caused by the sudden chill of the air at nightfall, there rise from the earth great columns of vapour, so thick as to make even the nearest things quite indistinguishable. It was in vain that I kept pushing my boat in all directions during the long mortal hours of that night of anxiety; the fog prevented my finding the canal which would have led me to the Irtiche. It was only at day-break that I at last discovered the long-sought issue, but it was already too late to proceed, so I returned home, rejoiced to be able to do that without mishap. From that time I gave up all thought of flight by the inclement waves of the Irtiche, and began in earnest to ripen my first plan of escape.”

After long and due meditation on all the different and possible ways of quitting the Russian empire, he resolved on effecting his escape by the north, the Oural Mountains, the steppe of Petchora, and Archangel.

“Slowly and with great difficulty I collected the necessary things for a journey, the first and chief of which was a passport. There are two kinds of passports for the Siberians; one being a sort of pass ticket, granted for a very limited time, and for places not far distant from each other; the other being a much more important document, given by the high authorities on stamped paper. I succeeded in forging both. I managed slowly also to get the clothes and other things necessary for my disguise. I endeavoured to transform myself into a native, ‘a man of Siberia’ (Sibirski tchèlovieck), as they say in Russia. Ever since my departure from Kiow, I had purposely allowed my beard to grow, and it had then reached quite a respectable and{272} orthodox length. By great perseverance, I also became possessor of a wig,—a Siberian wig, that is a wig made of sheepskin turned inside out. Thanks to these various means, I was pretty sure of not being recognised. I had also 180 roubles (about 200 francs) left, a small enough sum for so long a journey, and which was destined by a fatal accident to become still much smaller. I was in no way blind to the difficulties of my enterprise, nor to the many dangers to which I was exposed at each step. One thing alone sustained me, and while aggravating my situation, at all events eased my conscience: it was the oath I had sworn to myself never to reveal my secret to any one till I was in a free country; to ask neither help, nor protection, nor advice of any living being, so long as I had not passed the limits of the czar’s empire; and rather to give up my own liberty than to endanger any one of my brethren. I might have brought my own sad fate on many of my poor countrymen by my stay at Kamiéniec, when I imagined I was fulfilling a mission of general interest. Now, my own personal safety was the only thing in question, therefore I ought to look to none but myself. God gave me grace to keep this resolution to the last, which after all, was simply an honest one; and who knows that it is not in consideration of this oath, which I swore on the outset of my attempt, that He has always stretched over me His protecting arm!

“About the end of January, 1846, I had finished my preparations, and the opportunity seemed all the more favourable to me from the fact of it being near the time for the large fair of Irbite, at the foot of the Oural Mountains,—one of those fairs only seen in eastern Russia. I thought I should be lost among such a migration of people, and hastened to profit by the occasion.{273}

“On the 8th February, I started. I had on three shirts, one of which, a coloured one, was put over the trousers of thick cloth, and over all, a small burnous (armiack) of sheepskin, well greased with tallow, and coming down to my knees. Large riding boots, well tarred, completed my costume. Around my waist I wore a large sash of white, red, and black wool, and on my wig a round cap of red velvet, trimmed with fur, such as is worn by a well-to-do peasant of Siberia on holidays, or by a travelling merchant. I was moreover well wrapped in a large pelisse, the collar of which being turned up and fastened by a handkerchief tied round it, had as much the effect of keeping out the cold as of hiding my face. A small bag which I carried contained a second pair of boots, a fourth shirt, a pair of blue summer trousers, according to the custom of the country, some bread and some dried fish. In the leg of the right boot, I had concealed a large dagger. The money, which was in notes of five or ten roubles, I placed in my waistcoat, and in my hands, which were covered with large skin gloves, with the hair outside, I carried a formidable, knotty stick.

“So rigged out, at night I quitted the establishment of Ekaterininski-Zavod, by a small by-path. It froze very hard, and the flying sleet glistened in the moonbeams. I had soon passed my Rubicon, the Irtiche, and hurrying rapidly forward, I took the road to Tara, a village twelve kilometres distant from my place of detention. ‘Winter nights,’ I thought to myself, ‘are very long in Siberia: how far can I go before day-break, and before my escape is signalled? What will become of me afterwards?’

“I had scarcely passed the Irtiche, when I heard behind me the sound of a sleigh. I shivered, but resolved on waiting for the nocturnal traveller, and, as it has happened{274} to me more than once during my dangerous peregrination, what I most dreaded as a peril, became a quite unexpected means of escape.

“On the peasant asking me where I was going, I replied ‘To Tara.’

“ ‘Where are you from?’

“ ‘The village of Zalivina.’

“ ‘Give me sixty kopeks (ten sous), and I will take you to Tara, where I am going myself.’

“ ‘No, it’s too much; fifty kopeks if you like.’

“ ‘Very well; get up at once.’

“I took my place next to him; we started at a gallop, and in half an hour were at Tara. Left alone, I asked, according to the Russian custom, at the first house I saw, if I could get any horses.

“ ‘Where for?’

“ ‘For the fair at Irbite.’

“ ‘There are some.’

“ ‘A pair?’

“ ‘Yes, a pair.’

“ ‘How much the verst?’

“ ‘Eight kopeks.’

“ ‘I wont give so much. Six kopeks. What do you say to that?’

“ ‘Very well, then.’

In a short time the horses were ready and harnessed to the sleigh.

“ ‘And where are you from?’ was asked of me.

“ ‘From Tomsk. I am the employé of N. (I gave the first name that occurred to me); my master has gone on before me to Irbite. I had to stay behind for some small matters, and am horribly late; I fear he will be angry. If{275} you will take me there quickly, I will give you something more for yourself.’

“The peasant whistled, and the horses started like arrows. All at once the clouds gathered, the snow began to fall thickly, and the peasant lost his way, and after wandering about a good deal, we were obliged to halt, and pass the night in the forest. I pretended to be greatly enraged, and my guide humbly begged my forgiveness. It would be impossible to describe the terrible anxiety of that night, spent in a sleigh in the midst of a snowstorm, scarcely four miles distant from Ekaterininski-Zavod, and expecting every minute to hear the bells of the kibitkas sent in pursuit of me. At last the day began to dawn.

“ ‘We will return to Tara,’ I said to the peasant, ‘where I shall engage another sleigh. As for you, fool, you may expect nothing. I will take care, moreover, to give you up to the police for making me waste my time.’ The poor peasant, quite ashamed, started to return to Tara, but scarcely had he gone a verst, when he stopped, looked round, and showing the vestige of a pathway under the drifts of snow, said, ‘That is the road we should have taken!’ ‘Follow it then,’ I said, ‘and God speed us.’ He then did his utmost to make up for lost time. A most horrible idea struck me just then; I remembered how our unhappy Colonel Wysocki was, like me, detained in the forest for a whole night, and was given up to the gendarmes by his guide. Vain terrors! The peasant took me to a friend’s house, where I managed to get tea and some fresh horses. So I went on, changing my horses at very moderate prices; when having arrived late one night at a village called Soldatskaïa, and not having sufficient money to pay my guide, I went with him to an inn filled with a number of drunken wretches.{276} I had taken from under my waistcoat a few notes, intending to have one or two changed by the landlord, when a movement of the crowd, done purposely or not, I cannot tell, pushed me from the table where I had spread my papers, which were quickly seized by some clever hand. In vain I made my loss known: I never could discover the thief, nor seriously think of calling in the gendarmes; so I resigned myself to my misfortune. I was in that manner deprived of forty-five roubles in notes; but what greatly increased my regrets, and even my terror, was the fact that the thief had taken at the same time two papers of the greatest worth to me: a small sheet on which I had inscribed the towns and villages I must pass through on my way to Archangel, and my passport, the one on stamped paper, the making of which had cost me so much pains. Thus at the outset I lost almost a quarter of the modest allowance for my journey, the note that was to have been my guide, and the only paper capable of satisfying any curious people. I was in despair.”

Still the fugitive was obliged to go on: each step taken brought him nearer to freedom; but whether he was taken at only a few miles’ distance from the place of his exile, or on the Russian frontier, his fate would be the same. Lost in the immense morass which covered the road to Irbite he did not reach the gates of that town, till the third day of his escape, having travelled, thanks to the celerity of sleigh-riding, 1000 kilometers since his departure from Ekaterininski-Zavod.

“ ‘Halt, and show your passport!’ shouted the sentinel; fortunately he added in a low tone, ‘Give me twenty kopeks, and be off with you.’ I yielded with great satisfaction to the exigencies of the law so opportunely modified in my favour.”

Having passed one night at Irbite, M. Piotrowski hastened to leave it next morning; but the expenses of his journey,{277} and his losses by theft having reduced his purse to seventy-five roubles (about eighty francs), he could only proceed on foot.

“The winter of 1846 was extremely severe; still on the morning I left Irbite the atmosphere softened, but then the snow fell so thickly that it quite obscured the light. Walking became almost impossible among these white masses, which grew higher and thicker at every step. About midday the sky cleared a little, and my journey grew easier. I generally avoided villages, if possible; but when I found myself obliged to cross one, I went straight along as if I belonged to the neighbourhood, and needed no directions. Only at the last house of a hamlet did I venture sometimes to ask a few questions, and then not until I had great doubt as to which road I was to take. When I felt hungry, I took from my bag a piece of frozen bread, and ate it while walking, or sitting at the foot of a tree in some retired spot in the forest. To appease my thirst I looked eagerly out for the holes made in the ice by the people of the country to water their cattle. I was sometimes obliged to content myself with letting snow melt in my mouth, although that means was far from satisfactory.

“My first day’s march after leaving Irbite was very hard, and at night I found myself quite worn out. The heavy clothes I wore added to my fatigue, and still I did not dare throw them off. At nightfall I ran to the thickest part of the forest and began to prepare my bed. I knew the method used by the Ostiakes to shelter themselves in their deserts of ice; they simply hollow out a deep hole under a great heap of snow, and in that way find a bed—a hard one in truth, but a good warm one. I did the same, and soon found the repose of which I stood greatly in need.”

On the morrow he lost his way, and after wandering about{278} almost the whole of the day, he found himself at nightfall on a road which fortunately happened to be the right one. Seeing a small house not far from a hamlet, he resolved on asking shelter there: it was not denied him. He gave himself out for a workman seeking employment in the iron works of Bohotole, in the Oural. He played his part to the best of his ability, but was thought to be too well clothed and furnished with linen for a workman, and was woke from his first sleep by peasants asking for his passport. With the greatest coolness he showed them the pass ticket, the only one he had left; fortunately the sight of the seal was sufficient for these self-appointed gendarmes, who begged his pardon for having taken him for an escaped convict.

“The rest of the night I spent very quietly, and the next day took leave of those whose hospitality was so near growing fatal to me. This incident carried a sad conviction to my mind that I could never ask shelter for the night of any human being without exposing myself to the greatest risks, and the Ostiake bed must be, until further notice, my only place of repose. I had, in short, to put up with this Ostiake style of sleeping during the whole of the time I was crossing from the Oural mountains to Veliki-Oustioug; that is, from the middle of February to the beginning of April. Three or four times only dared I beg hospitality for the night in some isolated hut, worn out by fifteen or twenty days’ march in the forest, almost exhausted, and scarcely knowing what I did. Every other night I was satisfied with digging out a hole to lie in, and by degrees became accustomed to that way of sleeping. Sometimes at nightfall I even found myself going towards the thick part of the wood, as to a well-known inn; at other times I confess this savage kind of life became intolerable to me. The absence of any

Image unavailable: The sight of the seal was sufficient.
The sight of the seal was sufficient.


human habitation, the want of hot food, and even of frozen bread, my only nourishment for whole days sometimes, made me face in all their terrible reality those two hideous spectres called cold and hunger. In moments like these I dreaded specially the fits of drowsiness that suddenly came over me, for they were evident invitations to death, against which I fought with the little strength I had left. And now and then the craving for hot food became so strong in me, that it was with the greatest difficulty I resisted the temptation of begging in some hut for a few spoonfuls of the root soup of Siberia.”

After slowly climbing the heights of the Ourals, he at last crossed them on a fine night; but his troubles were precisely the same on the western side of the mountains. On one occasion, during a snowstorm he lost his way, passed a horrible night in the agonies of hunger, and at daybreak, while trying to find the path, he fell exhausted at the foot of a tree. The sleep, which in these regions is the forerunner of death, had already fallen on him, when he was saved by a trapper who was crossing the forest. This kind man gave him a little brandy and a few mouthfuls of bread, told him to take heart, pointed out to him a house of refuge, and disappeared in the woods.

“When I saw the house in the distance, my joy was beyond all description; I would have gone to it, I think, even had I known it to be full of gendarmes. I got as far as the door; but no sooner had I crossed the threshold, than I fell down and rolled under a wooden bench.”

After a few minutes of complete insensibility, he came to himself, and not being able to touch the food offered him by his host, he fell into a sleep which lasted twenty-four hours; kindly taken care of all the while by the landlord, who{280} became doubly attentive when he found the traveller to be a pilgrim going to the holy island of the White Sea. That was the character taken by the fugitive; he had transformed himself into a bohomolets (worshipper of God) going to salute the holy images of the convent of Solovetsk, near Archangel. Protected by the respect and sympathy with which this title inspires a Russian peasant, M. Piotrowski managed, without much trouble, to get to Veliki-Oustioug, and was well received there by his brethren the bohomolets, who were waiting in large numbers in that town for the thaw which would permit them to embark on the Dwina for Archangel. After a month’s stay in the midst of them, during which he established his reputation as a good pilgrim by the punctuality with which he performed all his duties, he embarked on one of the many boats collected for that special service, and hired himself to the captain as a rower during the crossing, for the usual sum of fifteen roubles in notes, that sum being exactly what he had spent during his journey from Irbite. About a fortnight after his arrival at Veliki-Oustioug, he landed at Archangel, the point on which all his expectations were centred; for he hoped that in the port, which was much frequented by ships of all nations, he should find one vessel that would bring him over to France or England. Without neglecting the religious duties which the title of pilgrim imposed on him, nor the precautions the neglect of which might endanger him, he sought in vain during two long days for this saviour ship. On the deck of each vessel stood, night and day, a Russian sentinel; and along the whole length of the quays, to be able to cross the line of sentinels, it was necessary to give explanations and papers, a demand which the fugitive could not dream of subjecting himself to. Relinquishing then, not without grief, his long{281} cherished hopes, he took the road to Onéga, as a pilgrim who having visited the holy images of Solovetsk, was going to Kiow “to salute the sacred bones.” After many adventures, more or less agreeable, he arrived at Vytiegra. He was accosted on the quay by a peasant who asked him where he was going, and proposed to take him in his boat to St. Petersburg. He engaged himself to the man as a rower, and on the passage had occasion to render some services to a poor old peasant woman also going to St. Petersburg. On entering the harbour the unhappy fugitive felt great anxiety as to how he could avoid the police on landing, and where he should lodge, etc. All at once his protégé, the old peasant woman, said, “Stay near me. My daughter, who knows of my arrival, is coming to meet me, and will find you a good lodging-house.” He landed, and carrying the old woman’s trunk, went to the same inn with her. There still remained the difficulty about the passport and police. He much feared that his hostess would prove exacting on this point; but, on being questioned by him as to the formalities to be gone through, she said, he need not trouble to call on the police for two or three days. Being easy on this score, he went the next day towards the harbour, furtively scanning as he walked,—for a Russian peasant ought not to know how to read,—the advertisements on many steam packets announcing the time of their departure.

“All at once my eyes fell on an announcement in large letters placed near the mast of one of the steamers, to the effect that this ship was to leave for Riga the next day. I saw a man walking on the deck with his red shirt worn over his trousers, à la Russe, but not daring to speak to him, I remained satisfied with devouring him with my eyes.{282} In the meantime the sun went down; it was already seven in the evening, when suddenly the man with the red shirt raised his head, and called to me:—

“ ‘Do you happen to want to go to Riga? If you do, come here.’

“ ‘I do certainly want to go; but what means has a poor man like me of taking the steamboat? It must cost a great deal, and is not for such as I am.’

“ ‘And why not come? We won’t ask much from a moujik like you.’

“ ‘How much?’

“He mentioned some price which I do not quite remember now, but which astonished me—it was so small.

“ ‘Well, does that suit you? Why do you still hesitate?’

“ ‘Why, I have only just arrived to-day, and I must have my passport looked to by the police.’

“ ‘Oh, your police will detain you three days, and the boat starts to-morrow morning.’

“ ‘What’s to be done?’

“ ‘Why, start without having it looked at.’

“ ‘Yes; and if some misfortune happened to me?’

“ ‘Fool! you, a moujik, teach me what I have to do! Have you got your passport with you? Show it.’

“I pulled from my pocket my pass-ticket, carefully wrapped in a silk handkerchief, after the fashion of all the Russian peasants; but he spared himself the trouble looking at it, and said,—

“ ‘Come to-morrow morning at seven; and if you don’t see me, wait for me. Now, be off with you.’

“I joyfully returned home, and the next morning was punctual at the rendezvous. The man soon perceived me, but only said, ‘Give me the money!’ He went off, but immediately{283} returned, bringing me a yellow ticket, which of course I pretended not to know anything about: a circumstance which occasioned another gracious observation,—‘Hold your tongue moujik, and don’t trouble yourself.’ The bell rang three times, the passengers crowded together, a rough blow from my companion drove me after them, and the ship was in full motion. I thought I was in a dream.”

From Riga, M. Piotrowski, still travelling on foot, soon reached the frontier without difficulty. He had slightly modified his costume, but still kept the distinct garment of a Russian—the little bornous of sheepskin. He called himself a pork merchant, which allowed of his asking on the road all necessary information. Having once ascertained all the obstacles he could possibly encounter on his way from Russia to Prussia, he succeeded in crossing the frontier in open daylight, in spite of the shots fired at him; and taking refuge in a wood, where he cut off his beard, and transformed his costume, leaving behind him all the signs of a Russian peasant, he arrived at last at Kœnigsberg. But when he thought himself all but saved, a circumstance occurred that nearly proved his ruin. He had resolved on journeying by steamer to Elbing, and towards evening he sat down on some ruins, thinking of going at nightfall in the fields to sleep on some hay, while waiting the time for departure; but, quite tired out, he fell asleep, and was woke by a night guard, who, not satisfied with his answers, took him to the first police-station. He at once volunteered the statement that he was a French workman, who had lost his passport, but he was put in prison. A month afterwards he was called again before the police, his statements were proved to be false, and he was clearly allowed to see that the grossest suspicions were afloat concerning him. Tired of concealment, and especially irritated{284} at being taken for a malefactor in hiding, he at last declared himself. A recent treaty between Prussia and Russia obliged these two countries mutually to give up their fugitives. The Prussian authorities on hearing the declaration of M. Piotrowski, were mute with consternation; thinking it quite impossible to elude the convention. But steps were taken by the principal inhabitants of Kœnigsberg, and by many persons of high rank, which Government itself evidently shrank from opposing. M. Piotrowski soon after was informed that an order had come from Berlin, enjoining his being given up to the Russians, but that time would be allowed him to escape at his own risk; and by the help of his generous friends, he was next day on his road to Dantzic.

“I had, he says, letters for different people, in all the towns of Germany I had to cross, and everywhere I found the same zeal to render my journey more comfortable. Thanks to all the help, that failed me in no place, I had very quickly crossed the whole of Germany, and on the 22nd September, 1846, I found myself again in that Paris that I had quitted four years ago.”


In the summer of 1840, Prince Louis Napoleon, afterwards Emperor of the French, landed with a number of adherents at Boulogne, to assert his claim to the French throne, as the nephew and heir of the first Napoleon. It had been represented to the prince by his friends that the people were everywhere ill-affected, and would rise in insurrection against King Louis Philippe, as soon as any one bearing the great name of Napoleon{285} appeared on the soil of France. Events, however, proved that these councillors were wrong; the people did not rise, and the prince and his followers, to the number of fifty-three, were captured and sent to Paris. After a trial, which attracted the attention of Europe, on account of the eloquence of the advocates on both sides, and the great names and issues concerned, thirty-three of the prisoners were discharged, nineteen received sentences ranging from a few months to twenty years’ imprisonment, and the prince was ordered into close confinement for life.

The sentence was read to his highness in his solitary cell in the Conciergerie at four o’clock in the afternoon of October 26th; and without exhibiting the least emotion, he remarked, “Then I shall at least die on the soil of France.” A few hours afterwards, in speaking of the sentence, he said, “You say perpetual imprisonment; but just as ‘impossible’ used to be a word unknown to the French, so I suspect it will be with the word perpetual in this instance.” It is needless to add that the prince’s prophecy was fulfilled; for instead of lasting for life, his imprisonment endured some five years and nine months, when it came to an end in the manner we shall hereafter relate. It will be necessary to say a few words upon the prison itself, and some of the prince’s fellow-captives, to make the narrative more easily understood.

The prince was removed, after sentence, to the fortress of Ham. This fortress is about ninety miles to the north-east of Paris; and with the exception of a few houses which have sprung up around it in the form of a very small town, the gloomy building stands almost in the centre of a great treeless plain. The greater part of the castle was rebuilt between four and five hundred years ago, but there are still portions of{286} the wall which date from the seventh and eighth centuries. In the interior, at the time of the prince’s incarceration, there were two low, dilapidated brick buildings, serving as barracks for the garrison, which consisted of 400 men. It was at the end of one of these that the state prisoners were kept, in two or three rooms which the friends of the captives declared were dirty, damp, and dark; and as they were only removed from the old ivy-covered walls of the fort by a few feet, it is not to be wondered at if they were not particularly dry. In these apartments lived the prince, Dr. Conneau, his physician (who had been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for his share in the invasion of Boulogne), and the Count and Countess Montholon; the former undergoing a term of twenty years for the same reason as Dr. Conneau, and the latter having received permission to reside with her husband. Besides these, there was a faithful manservant named Thelin, who had followed the prince’s fortunes in various countries, and had been tried with the rest, but was acquitted. With much trouble this man had obtained leave from the minister of the interior to share his master’s imprisonment. We must not forget to mention a large dog to which the prince was much attached, which was named after the prison, “Ham.” The reader has now before him the entire household, the members of which passed so many dreary years and months together.

The guard kept over the prisoners was a very careful one. The commandant, M. Demarle, although a kind-hearted man, was a strict disciplinarian; and took every precaution, in accordance with his instructions, to keep his captives safe. Sixty soldiers, besides a number of warders, were constantly on duty; one keeper was always stationed at the{287} door of the prince’s room, and two at the bottom of his stairs; and he was never allowed to either walk or ride around the courtyard of the fortress without armed attendants.

It should be stated, however, that the servant Thelin, as he was only residing in the castle of his own free will, was allowed to go in and out on errands; but this only with a pass from the governor. Nor were all these precautions unnecessary; for before the prince had been long in confinement, there were rumours that the working men of Paris, and some of the other large towns, among whom the Bonapartes were at that time very popular, were about to march on Ham to release their friend.

At one time it was stated that a body of 2000 had actually started on the expedition; and the Government, in a panic, hastily sent down several regiments of horse and foot to strengthen the garrison.

These energetic measures either frightened the revolutionists, or they changed their plans; for it is certain that beyond a few little groups who used occasionally to cheer the prince when he appeared with his keepers on the walls, no demonstration of any kind was ever actually made.

As with most men of education undergoing state imprisonment, the prince passed his time chiefly in study and in writing to his friends outside and to the newspapers. Every letter, however, either to or from the prisoner, had not only to pass through the governor’s hands, but to be read by him. He also occupied himself in gardening, of which he was very fond; and now and then, by the direct permission in writing of the minister of the interior, a visitor was allowed to enter the castle, but this was a privilege very rarely afforded.{288}

The following systematic division of the day was rigidly adhered to by the prince. He rose early, and studied until ten. Then breakfasted and walked half an hour for exercise around the parapet of the fort, where a space of 100 feet by 60 had been allotted for the purpose. He then retired to his room, and read and corresponded with the outside world until dinner, which was between seven and eight. In the evenings, there was usually conversation and a game at whist, in which the governor frequently joined, after seeing that all the doors were locked, and the guards properly posted for the night. In this quiet manner the little household passed their days, waiting and watching for events which should either induce the Government to grant a pardon, or afford the prince an opportunity of effecting his escape.

Louis Napoleon, however, did not allow any chance of exciting the sympathy of the people in his behalf to pass by. In spite of the precautions which were adopted, he several times got spirited literary articles smuggled out of the prison by his friends, and published in Paris. These were usually in the form of comments upon passing events, but were so written that the object was only transparently veiled. For instance, when the remains of the first Napoleon were brought back to France from St. Helena, on the 15th of December, 1840, we find him dating a touching letter from his “prison at Ham,” addressed “to the manes of” his “uncle.” In this, approaching the dead emperor, he says:—

“Sire,—You return to your capital, and the people in multitudes hail your return; but I, from the depths of my dungeon, can discern but a ray of that sun which shines upon your obsequies. Be not displeased with your family{289} because they are not there to receive you. Your exile and your misfortunes have ceased with your life, but ours continue still.

“You have died upon a rock, far from your country and kindred; the hand of a son has not closed your eyes.

“Even to-day no relative will follow your bier!

“Montholon, whom you loved the most among your faithful companions, rendered you the service of a son. He remains faithful to your thoughts, to your last wishes. He has brought to me your last words. He is in prison with me.

“A French vessel, conducted by a noble young man, went to claim your ashes; but it is in vain you would seek upon the deck any one of your kindred—your family were not there.

“In landing upon the soil of France, an electric shock was felt. You raised yourself in your coffin. Your eyes for a moment re-opened, the tricolour flag floated upon the shore; but your eagle was not there. The people press, as in other times upon your passage; they salute you with their acclamations as if you were living; but the great men of the day in rendering you homage, in suppressed voice say, ‘God grant that he may not awake.’ ”

When nearly six years had elapsed, the prince had received letters containing news of the critical state of his father’s health, and accordingly made great efforts to obtain permission to visit him. To this end he wrote several times to the ministers, and even to the king himself, promising on his word of honour to return and place himself at the Government’s disposal, whenever called upon to do so. All his efforts however were unsuccessful. The king was said to favour his release, but the ministers were firm in their refusal. Finding therefore that escape was his only remedy, the prince resolved upon making the attempt. After several long and{290} earnest conferences with his faithful friends, it was decided that the effort should be made in May.

The first thing to be done was to throw the governor off his guard as much as possible; for which purpose letters were written from various persons in Paris to the prisoners, telling them that the Government was shortly about to grant a general amnesty, and congratulating them upon it. These being carefully read by M. Demarle, were of course calculated to make him less apprehensive of any attempt at flight, than from his knowledge of the failure of the prince’s effort to procure permission to visit his father, he would otherwise have been. About this time, too, fortune favoured the plot in a way that the actors in it had scarcely ventured to reckon upon.

The illustrious captive had for years been making representations to the authorities in Paris upon the subject of the dilapidated state of his rooms. Again and again had he begged that something might be done to render the place at least safe and wholesome. The staircase was rickety, and the whole of that part of the building in which he was confined as unsafe as it could possibly be. But a deaf ear had as usual been turned to all his remonstrances, and the matter had been allowed to drop. It was therefore with no small pleasure that one evening the captives learnt from their kind hearted governor, over a game at cards, that the order had come down for the necessary repairs to be done, and that the workmen would set about them in a few days’ time. From this moment it was resolved that the prince should endeavour to leave the place in the disguise of a joiner, and a suitable dress for the purpose was accordingly procured from friends outside. Dr. Conneau, who although the five years of his sentence had{291} expired, still stayed with the others, was now allowed to go in and out occasionally, just as the servant Thelin was, and the two made all necessary arrangements for the flight. The day of departure was originally fixed for Saturday, the 23rd of May, but the unexpected arrival of some English visitors made it necessary to wait until the Monday. With his usual careful attention to details, the prince had ascertained both from his own and reported observations of his friends, the movements of every workman and guard about the place. It was found that the greatest precautions were taken to have the unfrequented parts of the fort well watched. If a workman was seen in any retired spot he was immediately challenged; but beyond the usual measures of causing the men to pass in single file through a serjeant’s guard when they left, there were no extra pains taken to hinder them passing out through the gate. By a strange fatuity all the Government’s anxiety seemed to be centred in preventing people coming into the prison, for there had always been some fear of a possible rescue. The walls were also narrowly watched within and without; but it had not apparently occurred to anybody that the captive might coolly walk through the door and politely wish his gaolers good day, as eventually he did.

As may be imagined, the Sunday before their departure was a very anxious day. The smallest accident might bring failure, and with it all hope of liberty and the certainty of universal ridicule; for people would have all shaken their heads, and said a man must have been destitute of the most common sense to believe he could walk out of prison, through men who had known him for a half a dozen years, in the flimsy disguise of a journeyman carpenter. The friendly ostrich would have been severely laid under contribution to point innumerable morals and adorn no end of tales.{292}

A passport had been procured from Paris by which the prince was to travel, of course under an assumed name; and the fact of the faithful Thelin not being similarly supplied, caused much anxiety to the little circle; but the accident of the English visitors’ arrival, was turned to good account in this matter. Telling his friends that he wished his valet to take a journey, the prince begged that one of them would be good enough to let his courier give the man his passport, which was immediately done. It is curious to note that afterwards, when in power, as if the emperor had remembered this small favour, he passed a law to the effect that English people might travel through France without a passport.

Very early on the Monday morning, the prince, Dr. Conneau, and Charles Thelin stood, without their shoes, watching the courtyard from behind the window curtains, for the arrival of the workmen. “St. Monday” is kept in France as religiously as it is here by certain classes of operatives; and to their great vexation they saw but very few of the men come in, and those were in cleaner blouses than the “Saturday” one which was to form the prince’s disguise. Again: by an unfortunate chance, the only sentinel they were particularly anxious to avoid happened to be on duty just outside. The prince had noticed that this man had been extremely zealous in his inspection and cross-examination of the workmen, every one of whom, as he was a keen, eagle-eyed fellow, he knew at sight. However, this man was relieved at six o’clock, and one who was considered less active took his place. The danger of discovery was, of course, chiefly to be apprehended from two sources—from the soldiers and keepers, and from the workmen themselves, who, seeing a stranger among them, would be sure to give an alarm. To lessen the chances from the latter, as soon as{293} the workmen were all in, Thelin, having clipped his master’s moustaches, went out and invited them into the dining-room to have a morning dram; and while he was pouring it out and detaining them with light conversation, the prince slipped down the first stairs, and picking up a plank, waited coolly for his man to rejoin him; for as the two keepers at the bottom of the stairs knew him well, it was necessary for Thelin to be there to take off the attention of one, while his highness’s face was covered from the other by the plank on his shoulder. Here another difficulty arose. The prince being much below the middle stature, and therefore smaller than any of the workmen, his friends had provided a pair of high-heeled boots, which gave him the appearance of being four inches taller than he really was, and the feet of these were hidden from observation by being placed in a pair of clumsy-looking sabots. But as it was Monday, and the weather was fine, it was noticed that not one of the men had sabots on, so that at the last moment a whispered consultation became necessary upon the subject of sabots or no sabots. The prince was for kicking them off; but Thelin insisted upon their retention. So, with plank and sabots, and a much-soiled blouse, with a short, common clay pipe between his lips, the future Emperor of the French marched out of Ham.

Going down the stairs, the prince was alarmed to see that one of the workmen, who was probably a teetotaller, and had resisted Thelin’s invitation, was already at his work on the baluster; but fortunately he did not look up as the man with the plank went by. At the bottom, the fugitive heard the workmen come pouring out of the dining-room overhead, just as he was rejoined by Thelin; and with great presence of mind Dr. Conneau called out to the workmen{294} that he had something to say to them, and so delayed them until the others had passed between the keepers.

“Good morning, Thelin,” said Dupin, one of these, stooping to pat the prince’s dog, which went with them: “so you are off on a journey, eh?” seeing the great coat on his arm.

“Yes, I am off for a short drive with master doggy here,” replied Thelin, making room for the awkward man with the board, who walked straight through.

“Well, good-bye, take care of yourself,” replied Dupin; while Issali, the other keeper, walked on in conversation with Thelin as far as the gate of the fort. Here, as they went out, the soldier on guard would have taken no notice had not the prince dropped his pipe right at the man’s feet, which attracted his attention, and he looked him straight in the face as he stooped to pick it up. That must have been a moment long after remembered by the ruler of the French. Recovering his pipe, he passed out through the serjeant’s guard, and being narrowly scanned by one of the soldiers, he shifted the plank as if he were tired, and managed so as very nearly to knock his examiner on the head. With an exclamation of impatience the man turned aside, and the prince was free!

The fugitives had not gone far, however, when they met two workmen, who looked very hard at the prince, who had once more to shift his board so as to hide his face. As they passed, one of them exclaimed, “Is that Bertou?” To which, with almost pardonable disregard of truth, his highness gave a laconic “Oui!” and passed on.

The moment they were out of sight of the fortress, the board was thrown into a ditch, with the dirty blouse; and as the prince was disguised as a cabman, he waited outside the cemetery of St. Sulpice, two miles from Ham, while his companion{295} went for the cab in which the master was to drive the servant to St. Quentin, on their way to Valenciennes.

When Charles Thelin returned with the cabriolet, he found the prince on his knees before a large crucifix, returning thanks for his delivery.

As they drove towards St. Quentin, an old woman who knew Thelin passed them, and afterwards told her friends that she had never before seen him in such disreputable looking company, for she had always regarded the valet to the good prince as a very respectable young man. At St. Quentin the prince walked round the outskirts of the town to the opposite side to that on which he had entered, while the valet drove to the post-house to get a chaise to take them to Valenciennes.

Thelin being a great favourite with Madame Abrai, who kept the inn from which the chaise had to be obtained, had much trouble to get away. She insisted upon his taking some breakfast, and to tempt him, brought out a pie of her own making, which she declared he must taste or never speak to her again. Always ready to improve the occasion, her guest not only ate some, but in a jocular way declared that the pasty was so good that he should steal it and take it with him to eat on the journey. The good soul consenting, it was taken to his highness, who, being very hungry, condescended to finish it.

Owing to the pressure put upon him at the inn, Thelin was so long that the prince feared he had mistaken the rendezvous. As he sat in great suspense on a bank by the roadside, a fussy-looking little gentleman passed and scanned him somewhat narrowly.

“Have you seen a postchaise on the road you have come, sir?” said the prince.{296}

“I have not, sir!” replied the little man, pompously. This was the Procureur du Roi, who would have been charged with the prosecution of the prince if he had been recaptured.

After the postchaise arrived, there were no further adventures until Valenciennes was reached a little before two. The train for Brussels did not leave till four, so for two weary hours the travellers sat together in the waiting room of the station talking over the events of the journey, and wondering how it fared with poor Dr. Conneau, who, although free to walk out of the prison when he liked, had insisted upon remaining to cover their retreat. While they sat there, a gendarme from Ham suddenly appeared, and clapped Thelin on the shoulder. The consternation of the travellers may be easily imagined.

“How goes it, Thelin?” said the man, in cheerful accents which speedily reassured them. “Who would have thought now of meeting anybody from Ham all this way off?”

“Good morning, neighbour,” said Thelin. “I am off to Belgium.”

“Ah! and how is the good prince?”

“He was very well when I last saw him. I have left his service now.”

“Oh, indeed! That gentleman with you is not from Ham, is he?”

“Oh, dear no! he is a man whom I have known years ago, and we have met again on the journey.”

“Ah, well, good-bye; my train is going, and I cannot stop any longer with you. Bon jour, monsieur” (to the prince). Hats raised.

“Bon jour, monsieur.”

And so the two fugitives got safely into Belgium. From{297} Brussels they went to Ostend, and from Ostend to London, where, as soon as the prince arrived, he wrote a letter to the premier, Lord Aberdeen, to acquaint him with the facts of his escape, and to assure Her Majesty’s Government that he did not intend to conspire against the Government of France, but was merely desirous of attending to his private affairs. In reply, Lord Aberdeen wrote a polite letter, telling him that, under the circumstances, he was welcome to remain in England as long as he pleased. Thus ended one of the most memorable flights in history.

As the reader may like to know how the faithful Dr. Conneau fared, we will just state that, by various pretences he delayed the discovery of the prince’s departure for more than twelve hours. As the governor always made a point of seeing the prince at frequent intervals during the day, it was necessary to give it out that he was ill, and wanted repose. To aid in the deception the doctor made up a stuffed figure, dressed it in the prince’s clothes, and placed it on his bed; then leaving his door ajar, he allowed the governor to peep in and satisfy his mind that his prisoner was still there. Towards eight o’clock at night, however, M. Demarle’s suspicions were aroused, and he insisted on entering the prince’s room with the doctor, when, of course, the ruse was discovered.

“When did the prince go?” said he, turning round sharply to Dr. Conneau.

“At seven this morning.”

“You are under arrest, Doctor.”


The worthy doctor was afterwards sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, for his share in the transaction.{298}


After the seizure of the Fenian newspaper, the Irish People, in the summer of 1865, the British Government made great efforts to capture a number of the leading members of the “brotherhood,” which had caused them so much trouble in Ireland. Among those who were thus “wanted,” there was nobody whose presence in a court of justice was felt to be more desirable than Mr. James Stephens, alias Power, the chief centre, and indeed, prime mover of Fenianism. The available detective force of the three kingdoms were in active pursuit, and spies and informers were being anxiously interrogated concerning the antecedents and personal habits of their enterprising enemy. Wonderful were the tales told to the authorities of this Mr. Stephens. He had for years, ever since 1848, it was said, been carefully educating the Irish peasantry in the art and mystery of treason, having travelled for the purpose in all sorts of disguises through every town and hamlet of the country. At one time he would be met with in the dress of a parish priest; then he would hobble past police barracks on crutches; again, he would assume the character of a rollicking farm servant on his way to a country fair, and so on, ad infinitum. Whether all or any of these tales were true or not, it is certain that, by some means or other, the organization which the Government was determined to put down was not only widely spread but continually increasing, and had members in every corner of the land; and although the police felt quite certain that James Stephens had not left the country or ceased from his labours, he somehow or other did for months manage to baffle his innumerable pursuers.{299}

The Government knew the man’s history. He had been connected with the abortive attempts at insurrection with Smith O’Brien in 1848; was present at the “battle” in the cabbage garden, and had escaped to the Continent, where he had for a year or two made a precarious living as a teacher of English and drawing. In Paris he had, with two friends, John O’Mahoney and Michael Doheny, invented and drawn up the plans for the conspiracy of which the world has since heard so much. The organization was to be called the “Fenian Brotherhood,” after the Fenians, a semi-mystical body of militia, celebrated for its deeds of chivalry and prowess in ancient Irish history. Among other modest achievements set down to the credit of these old warriors, in ballads still sung in the wilds of Connemara and Mayo, it is recorded that each of them singly was in the habit of conquering any nine men who had the temerity to engage with him in mortal combat; in fact, it appears not to have been allowed by the rules of the order for a private in that distinguished corps to fight less than nine ordinary mortals, save under exceptionally provoking circumstances. In fixing upon the title, “Fenian,” therefore, the conspirators showed an intimate knowledge of the weakness of thousands of their poorer fellow-countrymen, who are to this day as proud of the doings of the old Fenian heroes, as English schoolboys are of the self-reliance and wonderful performances of Robinson Crusoe.

The cleverest part of the programme, however, was that by which it was determined to carry on the organization simultaneously in Ireland and America. Two of the sedition farmers were to proceed to the United States, and one to his native land; so that as fast as the treason plants were sufficiently grown in the one country to bear transplantation{300} to the soil of the other, an experienced nurseryman might be on the spot to receive them. Of course, the post of honour and danger being the Irish one, there was a friendly contest in which each of the conspirators endeavoured to secure it for himself. Each urged his claims, but as no one would yield to the others, it was decided to toss for it with a golden coin, for in such a sacred cause it was unanimously agreed that neither silver or bronze was pure enough for use. This decision caused some little delay, owing to the fact that among the three original members of the brotherhood there did not happen to be as much as five and fourpence; and as there is no French gold coin of less value, the settlement of the momentous question was deferred. Mr. Stephens soon after this obtaining some money from one of his pupils, won the toss, and after seeing his friends off for New York, went to Ireland, where, obtaining a living, first in a situation as teacher, and afterwards as a commercial traveller, he devoted himself to his enterprise with a zeal and devotion which as loyal citizens we must regret were not applied in a worthier cause.

Among his other studies, Mr. Stephens had with much foresight included the internal economy of the gaols of his native land. It was said, and probably with some truth, that under various pretences he had made himself tolerably well acquainted with the arrangements for the detention of prisoners in most of the leading strongholds of the country. He had evidently become imbued with the belief that the battle of Irish liberty would have to be fought out in Her Majesty’s gaols, and the sequel has proved the soundness of his conclusion. This was the man whom the Government was so desirous of capturing all through the summer and autumn of 1865.{301}

Towards the end of July, 1865, a gentleman, named Herbert, with his wife and daughter, went to reside in a handsome residence, called Fairfield House, at the corner of Newbridge Avenue, Sandy Mount, Dublin. The arrival of the family was hailed with much satisfaction among the tradesmen of the neighbourhood; for the new comers evidently had not only expensive tastes, but what was more important, plenty of money to gratify them. Mr. and Mrs. Herbert laid out considerable sums, not only in the embellishment and furnishing of Fairfield House, but in the adornment of the grounds which were rather extensive; and although it was observed that they kept very little company, yet, as they always paid punctually for what they had, they soon became much respected in the neighbourhood. The gentleman seldom went out and was therefore but little known; but Mrs. Herbert, from her kindly manner and frequent purchases, was a general favourite with the shopkeepers. So this quiet household pursued the even tenor of its way until one dark winter’s morning, when an accident happened to them, which as it has an immediate bearing upon our narrative, we shall now relate.

Between five and six o’clock, on the 11th of November, a body of about thirty well-armed policemen surrounded Mr. and Mrs. Herbert’s premises, and three inspectors with cocked pistols in their hands scaled the wall and effected an entrance. Of course, the peaceable inhabitants of the house were all wrapped in slumber, from which Mr. Herbert was rudely awakened by a loud knocking at his bedroom door.

“Who is there, and what is the matter?” were the questions which that gentleman naturally put to his disturbers, who, commencing to break in the door, replied as follows:{302}

“Come, Mr. Stephens, open the door, we know you, and resistance is perfectly useless.” To which summons Mr. Herbert, alias Power, alias Stephens, responded by opening the door and letting his captors in. One of the inspectors stayed with Mr. Stephens while he dressed, and the others searched the house, where, in an adjoining bedroom they found two gentlemen in bed together, and one lying on a mattress on the floor. These were Messrs. Brophy, Duffy, and Kickham, who were immediately arrested upon the same charge as Stephens. In the other parts of the house provisions enough to last the inmates six months, a quantity of arms, and nearly £2000 in gold and cheques were found; one draft recently received from New York being drawn in favour of a “Mr. Hooper,” for no less a sum than £1525 8s. 6d.

Mrs. Stephens had been tracked by female detectives during one of her numerous shopping excursions, and thus the discovery of her husband’s whereabouts had been effected. Without the least trouble the whole party were conveyed to a police court, and after several preliminary examinations were committed to Richmond Bridewell, to take their trial before a Special Commission convened by Government for the purpose.

It was observed that Mr. Stephens bore himself with great composure during his examination. Upon being called upon to make a defence, he handed in a written protest as follows:

“I deliberately and conscientiously repudiate the existence of British law in Ireland. I despise and defy any punishment it may inflict upon me.


James Stephens.

During the proceedings his cool and even defiant manner{303} were calculated to impress the by-standers with the belief that he was an attorney watching a case, rather than a prisoner expecting the loss of his liberty, and perhaps life. He seemed fully conscious of the goodness of his cause and his superior ability, and appeared to feel a sovereign contempt for “the other side.” He is described as being a “smart” looking man, very neatly dressed, rather below the middle stature, with smooth cheeks, a fair complexion, a fine large auburn beard, and hair of light brown colour curling round the back of the head, the front and top of which was entirely bald, and showed a very good development of the intellectual and moral faculties, “firmness” being remarkably large. The eyes small, lively, and restless. Temperament evidently sanguine and nervous, indicating quickness of perception, energy, and determination. He spoke fluently and correctly, with a slight Yankee accent (acquired during his frequent visits to America which he had made to report progress to his friends there). His manners were described as being gentlemanly, savouring of a certain degree of abruptness and impatience. This is the description which by general testimony applied to one who was certainly the ablest man ever before the public in connection with the Fenian conspiracy. As we have said before, the prisoners were kept for safety in the Richmond Bridewell, one of the strongest prisons in Ireland.

A portion of the gaol was selected which could not be approached without passing through a number of doors composed of iron, and double locked. The cell occupied by Stephens was in the corridor leading to the eastern wing of the building, and adjoining the chapel where he was in the habit of attending mass. His cell door was composed of strong hammered iron, and secured,{304} by a massive stock-lock and a huge padlock, to a staple and thick swinging bar. The corridor on which the cell door opened was guarded by another ponderous iron door of great strength and thickness, and also double locked. But these were only the commencement of the obstacles which would prevent escape by the doors, and escape from the windows was absolutely impossible. No persons were permitted to see the Fenian prisoners save the officials of the prison and the prisoners’ legal advisers; and it is stated that Stephens only saw a legal gentlemen once, and that for a short time since his committal. The instructions of the governor of the gaol to the officials under his command were most stringent, and were apparently most strictly carried out; and with the view of having a sufficient force on the premises, in case it should be required, some of the metropolitan police were kept constantly on duty in one of the outer corridors of the prison. All communications to the prisoners were opened and read before they were delivered, and also all letters written from them to their acquaintance.

Every article of food, clothing, etc., brought in was closely scrutinized, and in fact, everything which foresight and precaution could suggest was adopted, and a perfect control kept over any communication with the prisoners’ friends outside.

At ten o’clock on a certain Thursday night, when the warders made their last rounds, the cell in which James Stephens was confined was locked. The keys had been at five o’clock duly handed over to the governor, who had had them deposited in their proper order in the case in his office.

The watchman for the night was Daniel Byrne, who went on duty at ten o’clock; and nothing occurred to disturb{305} the ordinary routine of the prison until a quarter to four the following morning, when Byrne gave an alarm that he had discovered two tables placed one above the other, near the south-western wall adjoining the governor’s garden. Mr. Philpots, the deputy-governor and manager, and the gate warder, went quickly to the place and found the two tables to be as Byrne had described them. These tables belonged to the lunatic dining-hall and had to be brought a long distance; but strange to say, there were no footprints on the upper table, which there would have been if it had been stood upon by any person who had walked through the open passages which were muddy, as torrents of rain were falling. The wall bore no marks whatever of persons having escaped by climbing over it. The night was particularly dark and tempestuous.

When the governor and his assistants went to the section of the prison in which Stephens had been confined, they found the doors of the corridor open and also the door of his cell. His bed looked as if he had not recently slept in it, and as if he had only rolled himself up in a railway rug (found on the floor), and had waited for his deliverance.

A master key, quite bright, as if only recently made, was found in the lock of the corridor door.

Byrne was accused of being an accomplice; and he certainly was a very unfit person for so responsible a trust, seeing that he had been one of the Irish legion at Castelfidardo, and was believed to be a captain in the Fenian conspiracy. The patronage of the gaol appeared to be vested in a body closely connected with the Dublin corporation. It is further alleged that there were only three policemen employed in the prison, and that while the barracks of Dublin were full of troops, there was no guard{306} to protect a building in which so many prisoners charged with such serious offences were confined. There was a theory, which however was not believed by the police, that Stephens was conveyed at once on board a Cunard steamer, on his way to America, to relate to his brethren there an account of the most brilliant achievement of the militant branch of the order resident in Ireland.

As may be imagined, the escape caused immense excitement all over the three kingdoms. Indignant leading articles appeared in the chief English newspapers, blaming the police, Government, and everybody concerned in what was felt to be a most disastrous business.

The Lord Lieutenant immediately caused the following proclamation to be issued.



“Whereas, James Stephens, has been an acting member of a treasonable conspiracy against the Queen’s authority in Ireland, and has this morning escaped from the Richmond prison:

“Now, we being determined to bring the said James Stephens to justice, do hereby offer a reward of £1000 to any person or persons who shall give such information as shall lead to the arrest of the said James Stephens.

“And we do hereby offer a further reward of £300 to any person or persons who shall give such information as shall lead to the arrest of any one whomsoever who has knowingly harboured, or received, or concealed, or assisted, or aided in any way whatsoever in his escape from arrest the said James Stephens.

“And we do also hereby offer a free pardon, in addition{307} to the above-mentioned reward, to any person or persons concerned in the escape of the said James Stephens, who shall give such information as shall lead to his arrest as aforesaid.

“Given at Her Majesty’s Castle of Dublin, this 24th day of November, 1865.

“By his Excellency’s command,
Thomas A. Larcom.”

Mr. Stephens was only too successful in eluding the vigilance of the police; for finding that he was an exception to the rest of their leaders, whose chief characteristic appeared to be to utterly fail in everything they undertook, the Fenians began to suspect that their head-centre had betrayed them to the Government, who had let him off as the price of his treachery; and this in spite of the declarations of the warder Byrne, who, after his acquittal from want of proof, went to America, and told the story of the escape; how Col. Kelly and friends were outside, and received the prisoner after he had let him out. There were so many believers in the “treachery” view of the question, that Stephens was deposed from office, and has never since been held of the least importance in connection with the movement. It is only fair to state, however, that of late years there has been a growing belief, as expressed in the columns of the so-called “National” press, among the Fenians, that Mr. Stephens was most unjustly accused. After his escape he spent a few months in Ireland, and then visited New York, from whence, disgusted with his reception, he departed for Paris, where he lived for several years in great poverty. A story is told of his meeting with an English detective at the Paris Exhibition, which, if true,{308} would appear to show that he was at least innocent of the “betrayal of his companions for gold,” as was alleged against him by his American accusers. The detective officer in question was enjoying a few weeks’ holiday in Paris, and being unable to speak French at the bar of one of the refreshment rooms in the exhibition, got in dispute with a waiter. After some time, he was helped out of the difficulty by a shabbily-dressed but good-looking gentleman with a bald head.

“Why, you are Mr. Stephens, I believe!” said the policeman, in some amazement, when he had time to take a good look at his new friend.

“Yes, I am indeed,” said the proprietor of the bald head, with a good natured laugh; “and as one good turn deserves another, you shall stand a dinner for old acquaintance sake; for to tell you the truth, I have not been able to dine yet.”

“Why, Mr. Stephens, they say you are doing remarkably well here,” said the other with a knowing wink.

“Ah! they do say so, but they are wrong. I was doing pretty well when I was on here as interpreter, but your good friends in Scotland Yard have got me out of that berth by their kind intercession on my behalf with the French Government here; so make no more fuss about it, but stand treat like a man;” which the correspondent of the respectable English journal who related the story at the time was happy to inform his readers the detective did.

Mr. Stephens is said to be at the present time in Russia.

THE END.{309}

Charles Scribner & Co.,

654 Broadway, New York,


The Illustrated Library of Wonders.

This Library is based upon a similar series of works now in course of issue in France, the popularity of which may be inferred from the fact that


have been sold. The volumes to be comprised in the series are all written in a popular style, and, where scientific subjects are treated of, with careful accuracy, and with the purpose of embodying the latest discoveries and inventions, and the results of the most recent developments in every department of investigation. Familiar explanations are given of the most striking phenomena in nature, and of the various operations and processes in science and the arts. Occasionally notable passages in history and remarkable adventures are described. The different volumes are profusely illustrated with engravings, designed by the most skilful artists, and executed in the most careful manner, and every possible care will be taken to render them complete and reliable expositions of the subjects upon which they respectively treat. For THE FAMILY LIBRARY, for use as PRIZES in SCHOOLS, as an inexhaustible fund of ANECDOTE and ILLUSTRATION for TEACHERS, and as works of instruction and amusement for readers of all ages, the volumes comprising THE ILLUSTRATED LIBRARY OF WONDERS will be found unexcelled.

The following volumes of the series have been published:—{310}

Optical Wonders.

THE WONDERS OF OPTICS.—By F. Marion. Illustrated with over seventy engravings on wood, many of them full-page, and a colored frontispiece. One volume, 12mo. Price

$1 50

For specimen illustration see page 13.

In the Wonders of Optics, the phenomena of Vision, including the structure of the eye, optical illusions, the illusions caused by light itself, and the influence of the imagination, are explained. These explanations are not at all abstract or scientific. Numerous striking facts and events, many of which were once attributed to supernatural causes, are narrated, and from them the laws in accordance with which they were developed are derived. The closing section of the book is devoted to Natural Magic, and the properties of Mirrors, the Stereoscope, the Spectroscope, &c., &c., are fully described, together with the methods by which “Chinese Shadows,” Spectres, and numerous other illusions are produced. The book is one which furnishes an almost illimitable fund of amusement and instruction, and it is illustrated with no less than 73 finely executed engravings, many of them full-page.


“The work has the merit of conveying much useful scientific information in a popular manner."—Phila. North American.

“Thoroughly admirable, and as an introduction to this science for the general reader, leaves hardly anything to be desired."—N. Y. Evening Post.

“Treats in a charming, but scientific and exhaustive manner, the wonderful subject of optics."—Cleveland Leader.

“All the marvels of light and of optical illusions are made clear."—N. Y. Observer.

Thunder and Lightning.

THUNDER AND LIGHTNING. By W. De Fonvielle. Illustrated with 39 Engravings on wood, nearly all full-page. One volume. 12mo

$1 50

For specimen illustrations see page 14.

Thunder and Lightning, as its title indicates, deals with the most startling phenomena of nature. The writings of the author, M. De Fonvielle, have attracted very general attention in France, as well on account of the happy manner in which he calls his readers’ attention to certain facts heretofore treated in scientific works only, as because of the statement of others {311}often observed and spoken of, over which he appears to throw quite a new light. The different kinds of lightning—forked, globular, and sheet lightning—are described; numerous instances of the effects produced by this wonderful agency are very graphically narrated; and thirty-nine engravings, nearly all full-page, illustrate the text most effectively. The volume is certain to excite popular interest, and to call the attention of persons unaccustomed to observe to some of the wonderful phenomena which surround us in this world.


“In the book before us the dryness of detail is avoided. The author has given us all the scientific information necessary, and yet so happily united interest with instruction that no person who has the smallest particle of curiosity to investigate the subject treated of can fail to be interested in it."—N. Y. Herald.

“Any boy or girl who wants to read strange stories and see curious pictures of the doings of electricity, had better get these books."—Our Young Folks.

“A volume which cannot fail to attract attention and awaken interest in persons who have not been accustomed to give the subject any thought."—Daily Register (New Haven).


THE WONDERS OF HEAT. By Achille Cazin. With 90 illustrations, many of them full-page, and a colored frontispiece. One volume, 12mo

$1 50

For specimen illustration see page 15.

In the Wonders of Heat the principal phenomena are presented as viewed from the standpoint afforded by recent discoveries. Burning-glasses, and the remarkable effects produced by them, are described; the relations between heat and electricity, between heat and cold, and the comparative effects of each, are discussed; and incidentally, interesting accounts are given of the mode of formation of glaciers, of Montgolfier’s balloon, of Davy’s safety-lamp, of the methods of glass-blowing, and of numerous other facts in nature and processes in art dependent upon the influence of heat. Like the other volumes of the Library of Wonders, this is illustrated wherever the text gives an opportunity for explanation by this method.


“From the first to the very last page the interest is all-absorbing."—Albany Evening Times.

“The book deserves, as it will doubtless attain, a wide circulation."—Pittsburg Chronicle.{312}

“This book is instructive and clear."—Independent.

“It describes and explains the wonders of heat in a manner to be clearly understood by non-scientific readers."—Phila. Inquirer.

Animal Intelligence.

THE INTELLIGENCE OF ANIMALS, with Illustrative Anecdotes.—From the French of Ernest Menault. With 54 illustrations. One volume, 12mo.

$1 50

For specimen illustration see page 16.

In this very interesting volume there are grouped together a great number of facts and anecdotes collected from original sources, and from the writings of the most eminent naturalists of all countries, designed to illustrate the manifestations of intelligence in the animal creation. Very many novel and curious facts regarding the habits of Reptiles, Birds, and Beasts are narrated in the most charming style, and in a way which is sure to excite the desire of every reader for wider knowledge of one of the most fascinating subjects in the whole range of natural history. The grace and skill displayed in the illustrations, which are very numerous, make the volume singularly attractive.


“May be recommended as very entertaining."—London Athenæum.

“The stories are of real value to those who take any interest in the curious habits of animals."—Rochester Democrat.


EGYPT 3,300 YEARS AGO; or, Rameses the Great. By F. De Lanoye. With 40 illustrations. One volume, 12mo.

$1 50

For specimen illustration see Page 17.

This volume is devoted to the wonders of Ancient Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs and under Sesostris, the period of its greatest splendor and magnificence. Her monuments, her palaces, her pyramids, and her works of art are not only accurately described in the text, but reproduced in a series of very attractive illustrations as they have been restored by French explorers, aided by students of Egyptology. While the volume has the attraction of being devoted to a subject which possesses all the charms of novelty to the great number of readers, it has the substantial merit of discussing, with intelligence and careful accuracy, one of the greatest epochs in the world’s history.


[A] Charles mistook the name, which was Whitgreave. He was thinking of the field called Pitchcroft, near Worcester, where his army was encamped the night before the memorable battle.—Ed.

[B] The floor of the lowest storey of the palace is only about 6 metres (19½ feet) below the top of the roof.

[C] The word cubit here evidently corresponds with the cordwainer’s cubit. And if so the ladder measured 247 yards. But there never was a ladder of this length. The longest are not more than 130, and the strongest man cannot manœuvre such a one, nor even carry it. Supposing the cubit here to mean the same as the Italian braccio, the ladder would even then be 91 yards long, and it would have been difficult for Cassanova to move such a ladder, as he relates. We must set it down to exaggeration, and let him go on with his story.

[D] Latude found all these things again on the 15th July, 1789—the day after the capture of the Bastille. They were in the Archives with a procès-verbal, dated the 27th February, 1756, and signed by the major of the Bastille and the Commissary Rochebrune.

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:
Duguay Tronin=> Duguay Trouin {pg iii}
to Magdebourg to a hold a review=> to Magdebourg to hold a review {pg 146}
but to out the whole door=> but to cut the whole door {pg 152}
dressed, everything is well=> dressed, everthing is well {pg 256}
wai-patiently=> wait patiently {pg 261}
This man had suceeded=> This man had succeeded {pg 269}
fastened by a handkerhief=> fastened by a handkerchief {pg 273}
been making repretentations=> been making representations {pg 290}
selling them that=> telling them that {pg 293}