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The Flemings had by this time carried their coffin to the chapel; and shutting the door of which, they armed themselves with weapons from the coffin, and sallied forth on the few remaining French, who ran to the cliffs, and called to their companions on board the ship to hasten to their aid. But seeing the boat return filled with Flemings, they gave up all idea of resistance, and yielded up themselves and the place."
The Countess de Villeneuve de La Florêt is the widow of a nobleman, who, when travelling in France in 1793, was, upon suspicion of an intent to emigrate, dragged from the side of his wife in their carriage, and nailed, or rather crucified, on the wall of a barn in a village near Colleure. This act of barbarity was committed in the middle of the and a company of citizen-soldiers and soldier-citizens amused themselves during eight hours by firing at him as a target, before death made him insensible of their atrocities.
These republican ruffians, consisting of eighty volunteers, were headed by general Duhem, who regulated the order of his men's firing. The count's legs, thighs, stomach, feet, neck, and right side of the breast, were the parts at which they might take their aim. To make his agonies so much the more lingering, ten men only were permitted to fire during each hour, and at a distance of eighty steps. When they observed that the nobleman had expired, his corpse was cut down, and a large fire kindled in the marketplace, upon which it was roasted. When ready to be served up, all the young women of the place were put in requisition to assist at a fraternal banquet; and, horrid to relate, they were all, under pain of death, obliged by Duhem, who did the honours of the table, to give their opinion of the flavour of the Alesh of a roasted aristocrat! When this patriotic feast was over, a fraternal dance began, and four of the twenty-two women, who from VOL. 1.
terror fell into fits, were only prevented from becoming victims of another republican auto de fé by the liberality of some of their relations or friends, who entertained these French anthropophagi with several dozens of wine, which by inebriety relented their cruelty. As soon as the countess saw her husband seized and ill-treated, she fainted away, but was by the presence of mind and fidelity of her maid, carried into a neighbouring cottage, without obstruction from the banditti, who were busy in plundering the carriage. As soon as she had recovered her senses, a faithful guide was hired, who by bye-roads, after many dangers and fatigues, brought her at last safe back to Dijon, where she possessed a house.
Within a month after her return, she was, with her maid, arrested, as suspected, and shut up in a convent, transformed by the republicans into a gaol. During her confinement she was attacked by a brain fever, and continued deprived of her reason, or insensible, for ten months. By this disease her life was preserved, because the Committee of Public Safety had sent orders to transport her with other suspected persons to the Conciergerie prison at Paris, where the guillotine was waiting for her. When the members of the revolutionary committee at Dijon came to execute this order, they found her raving, and therefore judged it impossible to remove her.
After the death of Robespierre, the national seal was taken off, and her maid was permitted to bring the countess back to her house ; where, after some months convalescence, she recovered her senses sufficiently to be intrusted with the administration of her property that yet remained unsold. During her imprisonment, and after the murder of her husband, both their names had been put upon the list of emigrants; and seven-eighths of their possessions had, after being confiscated in the name of the nation, been disposed of by public auction as national estates. This is one of the many examples of revolutionary justice. Numbers of families and persons, during 1793 and 1794, who had never left France, or been abroad in their lives, were classed among emigrants, or proscribed as such, or ruined while they were detained in the republican prisons as suspected, with the revolutionary axe daily suspended over their heads.
The countess was in 1801 as collected as at any period of her life. She transacted business, corresponded with her friends, and conversed in company both reasonably and agreeably, except when any question was discussed concerning the revolution and its horrors, which she considered merely as a dreadful dream of her own. She believed Louis XVI. still reigning upon the throne of his ancestors; her own husband sent on a confidential mission by this prince; and six of her relatives, who had perished during the revolution, concealing themselves only to tease her. Bonaparte was, according to her opinion, an imaginary being, and all the changes she observed around her were supposed by her to be inventions or undertakings merely to delude her. When she heard any body complain of the losses experienced by the revolution, which was frequently the case, she would exclaim, “ Good God! how many persons my dream has made insane ! how much do I repent of ever having related it."
A neice, who is her heiress, resided with her, attended and watched her. This young lady by the advice of her friends, had refused to take out an act of lunacy against her aunt, for fear that some national guardians would lay hold of the remainder of their property ; and as the countess is sensible and reasonable in all other points but in speaking of the revolution, and as her antirevolutionary mania is very harmless, it would have been cruel to trouble her.
In the spring of 1801 the countess very unexpectedly determined to visit the former court at Versailles, and made her arrangements accordingly. She bespoke a new carriage, ordered new liveries for her servants, and new courtdresses for herself and her neice, who in vain endeavoured to dissuade her from this journey. After many consultations with her friends an expedient was adopted, which accomplished all their wishes. A returned emigrant dressed himself in the uniform of one of the king's former gardes du corps, with a white cockade fastened to his hat. Thus accoutred, he was introduced to the countess the evening before the day fixed for her departure. He informed her that he came on the part of the king, Louis XVI. who forbade her leaving Dijon without his majesty's orders. The sight of him, and particularly of his white cockade, seemed highly to delight her. She asked him to sit down, declaring, at the same time, her readiness to obey the orders of her sovereign, concerning whom she inquired with all the anxiety of a loyal subject, fearful of having incurred his displeasure. Being assured that the order of the king was not an act of disgrace, but of tendemess for her welfare, commanded besides by political circumstances, until her husband had fulfilled his mission; she inquired whether he dared charge himself with a letter for her friend Count de Montmorin, the minister of the foreign department. Being answered in the affirmative, she sat down and wrote the following lines :
“ It is not, my dear Count, that my friendship for you has decreased, but for fear of intruding upon your more precious time, that so long time has elapsed since you heard from me. I intended paying you a visit in person, but am compelled by the king's command to remain where I am till my husband's return. As he must correspond with you, tell him how cruel it is not to send me a single line during so many years, when he must be well acquainted with my discretion. How happy would it have made me to salute the royal family after all what the mad people encompassing me have been raving about them! Is not Madame Royal soon to be married ? and is no princess yet chosen as a consort for the Dauphin, who will soon be of the same age as his royal parent when he married our amiable queen ? Have you heard at court of a man called Bonaparte, and what has he done to turn the brains of so many persons in this town? I am frequently inclined to think that if he exists, he must be a conjuror. Embrace your worthy countess," &c.
The nobleman to whom the letter was addressed had been massacred on the second September, 1792, and his lady was guillotined in May, 1794. Of the royal personages mentioned, the king and queen had perished on the scaffold, and the dauphin had been poisoned in the Temple. Madame Royale was indeed alive, but she lived in exile, and had been married since 1799. What a fortunate folly!
After this visit of a pretended garde du corps of her imaginary king, the Countess used to exclaim more frequently: “ Oh! how many persons my dream has made insane! how I repent of ever having related it.”
GRATEFUL MINSTREL. A minstrel called Blondel, who owed his fortune to Richard Cæur de Lion, animated with tenderness towards his illustrious master (who on his return from the crusades had been imprisoned by the emperor), was resolved to go over the world, until he had discovered the destiny of this prince. He had already traversed Europe, and was returning through Germany, when at Litz, in Austria, he learnt that there was near that city, at the entrance of a forest, a strong and ancient castle, in which there was a prisoner who was guarded with great care. A secret impulse persuaded Blondel that the prisoner was Richard; he went immediately to the castle, the sight of which made him tremble; he got acquainted with a peasant who often went there to carry provisions, and questioned him; but the man was ignorant of the name and quality of the prisoner. He could only inform him that he was watched with the most exact attention, and was suffered to have no communication with any one but the keeper of the castle and his servants. He told him that this castle was a horrid abode; that the staircase and the apartments were black with age ; and so dark, that at noon day it was necessary to have lighted flambeaux to find the way along them. He added, that the prisoner had no other amusement than looking over the country through a small grated window, which served also for the light that glimmered into his apartments.
Blondel listened with eager attention, and meditated several ways of coming at the prisoner ; but all in vain. At last, when he found that from the height and narrowness of the window he could not get a sight of his dear master, for so he firmly believed him to be, he recollected a French song, the last couplet of which had been composed by Richard, and the first by himself. After he had sung with a loud and harmonious voice the first part, he suddenly stopped, and heard a voice which came from the castle window, continue and finish the song. Transported with joy, he was now assured it was the king, his master, who was confined in this dismal castle. The chronicle adds, that one of the keeper's servants falling sick, Blondel got himself hired in his place; and thus obtained personal access to Richard. The nobility of England were informed with all expedition of the situation of their monarch, and he was released from his confinement by the payment of a large ransom ; though but for the extraordinary perseverance of the grateful Blondel, he might have wasted out his days in the prison to which he had been treacherously consigned.
REMARKABLE EARTHQUAKE. In 1692 an earthquake happened at Jamaica, attended with almost all the terrible circumstances imaginable. In two minutes it destroyed the town of Port-Royal, at that time the capital of the island; and sunk the houses in a gulph forty fathoms deep. It was attended with a hollow noise like that of thunder; the streets rose like the waves of the sea, first lifting up the houses, and then immediately throwing them down into deep pits. All the wells discharged their waters with the most violent agitation. The sea burst over its bounds. The fissures of the earth were in some places so great, that one of the streets appeared twice as broad as formerly. In many places it opened and closed again; and continued this agitation for some time. Of these openings great numbers might be seen at a time. In some of them the people were swallowed up at once; in others, the earth caught them by the middle, and crushed them to death; while others, more fortunate, were swallowed up in one chasm, and thrown out alive by another. Some chasms were large enough to swallow up whole streets; and others, still more formidable, spouted up immense quantities of water, drowning such as the earthquake bad spared. The whole was attended with stenches and offensive smells, the noise of falling mountains at a distance, &c. and the sky, in a minute's time, turned dull and red, like a glowing oven. Yet, as great a sufferer as Port-Royal was, more houses were left standing therein than on the whole island besides. Scarce a planting-house, or sugar-house, was left standing in all Jamaica. A great part of them were swallowed up, houses, people, trees, and all in one gap; instead of which afterwards appeared great pools of water ; which, when dried up, left nothing but sand, without any mark that ever tree or plant had grown thereon. The shock was so violent, that it threw people on their knees or their faces, as they were running about for shelter. Several houses were shuffled some yards out of their places, and yet continued standing. One Hopkins had his plantation removed half a mile from the place where it stood, without any considerable alteration. All the wells in the island, as well as those of Port-Royal, from one fathom to six or seven deep, threw their water out at the top with great violence. About twelve miles from the sea, the earth gaped, and spouted out, with a prodigious force, vast quantities of water into the air; yet the greatest violence was among the rocks and mountains; and it is the general opinion, that the nearer the mountains, the greater the shock; and that the cause thereof lay among them. Most of the rivers were stopped up for twenty-four hours by the falling of the mountains ; till, swelling up, they made themselves new tracks and channels; tearing up, in their passage, trees, &c, After the great shock, those people who escaped got on board the ships in the harbour, where they continued about two months ; the shocks all that time being so violent, and coming so thick, sometimes two or three in an hour, accompanied with frightful noises like a rushing wind, or a hollow rumbling thunder, with brimstone blasts, that they durst not come on shore. The consequence of the earthquake was a general sickness, from the noisome vapours belched forth, which swept away about three thousand persons.
FEARFUL ENCOUNTER WITH A TIGER. Colonel Duff was perhaps one of the strangest and coollest men in the moment of enterprise and danger of any man in Europe. One day, he went from the settlement where he was stationed, in company with two of his most intimate friends on a shooting party. After having explored various coverts which promised game, they were unexpectedly surprised by the spring of a tyger. The colonel instantly levelled his piece and wounded him. The tyger instantly sprang on him, striking his talons into his cheek and neck, the flesh of which he tore away as effectually as if it had been done by a cannon ball. In the attempts to party him, the barrel of his fowling piece was bent double. The colonel, in the shock of this attack, fell against the stump of a tree, which put him in that precise posture wherein he could best exert his strength. He grappled his antagonist by the throat, and setting his knee against the chest of this fierce animal, threw him fairly from him. The tyger, astonished at so uncommon a reception, turned tail, and absolutely ran off. His friends, at the moment of his rencontre, had Aed with the utmost precipitation, and had returned to the settlement to relate the sad story of the colonel's fate. As the action was short, the colonel was not long after them, and personally contradicted the report of the enemy having carried him by storm, though he acknowledged that his outworks had received some injury.