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for the kindness he had shown to his wife. This liberty he must have meant as comparative, since it is unquestionable that Fouquet was never liberated from prison, whether he died at Pignerol or in the Bastile. The probable supposition is, that it had been made a condition with the family that it should observe a discreet silence on the subject both of the imprisonment and of the death; hence the misinformation even of his daughter-in-law. At all events, the ignorance of Voltaire, whether real or affected, has no bearing on the question, as he had not seen the correspondence between Louvois and Saint-Mars. On the whole, it is impossible to doubt that Fouquet died at Pignerol on the 23d of March 1680, and consequently that he was not the Man with the Iron Mask.
There remains the case of Matthioli to be considered. It is fortunately one in which no stubborn fact, such as a reputed death, or other untoward incident, is to be upset or even contested. In a word, Matthioli was the man.
THE TRUE MAN IS FOUND.
The account of the true Man of the Iron Mask involves one of the most curious points in history. It may be troublesome to get at the whole truth of the matter, but we repeat it is worth a little patient investigation. We shall try to make the story as plain as possible.
The Abbé d'Estrades, French ambassador at Venice, knowing well the insatiable ambition of his master Louis XIV., conceived, in the year 1677, the idea of inducing the Duke of Mantua tó permit the introduction of a French garrison into Casale, a strongly-fortified town, the capital of the Montferrat, and giving access to the whole of Lombardy. This scheme he proposed to effect through the medium of Count Matthioli, who had been secretary of state under the last Duke of Mantua, Charles III., and was greatly in the confidence of the present Ferdinand Charles IV.; who, however, was a complete cipher in the government, the reins of power being held by his mother, an Austrian princess. Having sent a messenger in whom he could confide to communicate with Matthioli, and finding him and the duke both agreeable to the project, in the hope of securing the aid of France against the Austrian and Spanish interests, to which the duchess-mother was devoted, he applied to Louis for leave to treat, which that potentate lost no time in cheerfully according. An active though secret negotiation was thereupon commenced between D’Estrades and Matthioli, which proceeded so favourably, that the Duke of Mantua himself repaired to Venice to have an interview with the French ambassador. At this interview, which took place at midnight on the 13th of March 1678, the duke expressed his eagerness to conclude the treaty, from the constant fear he was in of the Spaniards, and also his intention to send Matthioli to Paris, with the view of bringing the affair to a speedier issue. It suited the purpose of Louis to procrastinate, as he had no army ready to enter Italy; and hence the departure of Matthioli was delayed until November, when at length he started for Paris, and eventually concluded a treaty with M. de Pomponne, French minister, on the following terms :
1st, That the Duke of Mantua should receive the French troops into Casale.
2d, That if the king of France sent an army into Italy, the Duke of Mantua should have the command of it.
3d, That immediately after the execution of the treaty, the sum of 100,000 crowns should be paid to the Duke of Mantua. Matthioli
, upon the occasion of this treaty, was received in a secret audience by Louis himself, who graciously presented him with a valuable ring. He also received a sum of money for his own use, and the promise of a further largess after the ratification of the treaty. He then returned to Italy, after concerting with Louvois, the minister at war, as to the mode of putting the treaty into execution.
In the whole of this affair Matthioli appears to have been actuated by venal motives. He had forsaken the Spanish interest, to embrace the French, solely from a disappointment of a pecuniary nature; and being now master of an important secret, he resolved to turn it to account. Accordingly, as he passed through Turin on his way from France, he revealed the affair to the President Turki, one of the ministers of the court of Savoy, for a sum of money, and allowed him to take copies of all the documents. After committing this act of treachery, it is not surprising he should do all he could to delay the ratification and fulfilment of the treaty. The French, on the contrary, were eager to complete the transaction, and take possession of Casale; their negotiator and their general were both ready; but Matthioli still found excuses to postpone the final act, until certain suspicions began to be entertained touching his fidelity. Nevertheless, appearances were kept up, and an appointment was eventually made to exchange the ratifications at Increa, a village near Casale, the duke repairing in person to Casale to deliver it into the hands of the French immediately afterwards. But the French envoy charged with the ratifications was arrested as he passed through the Milanese from Venice, owing to the machinations of Matthioli, as was supposed; and although another person, Catinat, afterwards the celebrated marshal, was instantly appointed to supply his place, of which Matthioli was promptly apprised, that personage betook himself to Venice, instead of attending the appointment. Catinat, who was then simply a brigadier, actually proceeded to Increa, and narrowly escaped being seized by a detachment of cavalry sent for the purpose of capturing him. After this, little doubt could remain of Matthioli's treachery; but the French were too intent to conclude the arrangement wholly to
break with him, and the chargé-d'affaires at Veničednow. urged him, by combined threats and promises, to repair to Turin and confer with D’Estrades, who was then resident at that cityou to these exhortations Matthioli yielded, and in process of time presented himself before D'Estrades at Turin, making sundry, lane excuses for the delays he had caused. He arrived at the end of April 1679. !
ni uribid 14718 Meanwhile D'Estrades had obtained undoubted proofs of Mats thioli's treachery through the Duchess of Savoy herself,i who showed him copies of all the documents relative to the surrender of Casale; and Louis XIV., finding himself thus deceived and betrayed, gave vent to the liveliest indignation, and vowed to avenge himself on the traitor. With this view D’Estrades" was ordered forthwith to arrest Matthioli, who, little aware of the fate in store for him, easily fell into a snare laid to entrap himd Complaining continually to D’Estrades of the want of money, the latter told him that Catinat, who commanded the troops intended to take possession of Casale, had considerable sums at his disposal, and would be ready to supply his wants, provided he would give him a meeting on the frontier towards Pignerolo To this proposal Matthioli joyfully acceded, and on an appointed day met D’Estrades, who was accompanied by his relative the Abbé de Montesquieu, in a church at a short distance froma Turiny whence they proceeded to the frontier. About three miles from the place assigned for meeting Catinat, they came upon a river, whose banks were overflowed, and the only bridge over it broken. Matthioli assisted energetically in repairing this bridge, himself being the most impatient at the obstacle; and they were eventually enabled to continue their progress, which they did on foot, to where Catinat awaited them with two officers and four soldiers. Here, after a short conversation, directed to extort a confession as to the place in which the original papers regarding Casale were concealed, he was arrested, offering no resistance, though he always carried a sword and pistols upon his person, and conveyed that same night to the fortress of Pignerol. The arrest tookt place on the 2d of May 1679. Saint-Mars had been already prepared to expect and receive the prisoner by a letter from Louvois, dated the 27th April, to the following purport:- The king has sent orders to the Abbé d'Estrades to try and arrest a man with whose conduct his majesty has reason to be dissatisfied; of which he has commanded me to acquaint you, in order that you may not object to receive him when he shall be brought to you, and likewise that you may guard him in a manner to prevent him from holding communication with any one, and give him reason to repent his evil conduct, and so that it may not be discovered you have got a fresh prisoner.”
It was undoubtedly requisite that so flagrant an act as theseizure of a minister plenipotentiary, which Matthioli actually was at the time, should be kept, if possible, a profound secret ;
for although Louis XIV-was not at all scrupulous about violating his neighbours' territories, or kidnapping their subjects, and the prínce immediately injured was weak and impotent, yet it involved a breach of the law of nations, in the vindication of which all the powers of the earth were interested, and might combine. Therefore, notwithstanding the sudden disappearance of Matthioli, after being in close communion with the agents of the French government, might naturally point suspicion to the real destination he had been led, so long as nothing positive was known or capable of being proved, it was always competent to deny the fact, and so avoid humiliating explanations, if not a more humiliating atonement. And if this consideration rendered extraordinary precautions for concealment essential in the first instance, their continuance was equally necessary to the end, since the honour of the government would become pledged to uphold the falsebood with which it met the first application for restitution or redress Consequently, not in the mere spirit of vengeance, but from cogent motives of policy, Louis XIV. was impelled to buy the captive he had so foully and illegally abducted in the most absolute seclusion, in order that no chance might be given of the fatal secret transpiring. Besides, in addition to reasons of a general naturé, he had the
further object of keeping on a good understanding with the Duke of Mantua, as his ambition had not yet been appeased by the surrender of Casale, which that prince, notwithstanding the defection of his contidant, Matthioli, had always entertained the design of executing according to his first intention. That he effectually succeeded in cajoling the duke, and satisfying him that his trusted minister had vanished from the scene of politics and life without guilty participation on his-part, is proved by the fact, that, in two years afterwards, Casale was actually given up to a French garrison in terms of the treaty negotiated by Matthioli. -The arrest itself was conducted with all the secrecy such a delicate operation required, as appears from Catinat's letter to Louvois, giving the details. It is dated Pignerol, May 3, 1678, and thus commences :"I arrested Matthioli yesterday, three miles from this place, within the confines of the king's territories, during an interview which the Abbé d'Estrades had ingeniously contrived between him, Matthioli
, and myself, to facilitate the scheme. To effect his arrest I made use only of the Chevaliers de St Martin and de Villebois, two officers of M.' de Saint-Mars, and of four men of his company: it was accomplished without any violence, and no one knows the name of the rascal. He is in the room formerly occupied by the person called Dubreuil, where he will be treated civilly, in compliance with the request of the Abbé d’Estrades, until the wishes of the king with regard to him are known.” Ít afterwards states"! I have not as yet had any conversation with him for the purpose of obtaining his papers; but two hours hence I will go to his
room, and I do not doubt the menaces I shall make him, which his criminal conduct will render more terrible to him, will oblige him to do all that I wish.” It thus concludes—“I will give you, sir, an account by the next post of all that I may do with Matthioli, to whom I have given here the name of Lestang, no one knowing who he really is.” By this name of Lestang he is usually designated in the future correspondence between Louvois and Catinat, and subsequently in that between Louvois and SaintMars. It may be mentioned that Catinat himself passed at Pignerol under an assumed name, that of Richemont, his presence there being known only to Saint-Mars and D’Estrades.
It is evident that, besides the mere thirst of vengeance against Matthioli, his seizure was prompted by the desire to gain possession of his papers, especially the ratification of the treaty by the Duke of Mantua. From Matthioli’s conduct, and his prevarication with regard to these documents, it may be inferred that he designed to retain them in despite of both parties, expecting, doubtless, to reap profit from them ere the affair was settled. When first questioned as to where these papers were, he replied they were in a box at Bologna, in the hands of his wife; which was untrue. Catinat's next letter to Louvois is interesting on this subject. In it he says—“Since I had last the honour of writing to you, I have taken down shortly all the information I have been able to extract from the Sieur de Lestang. By making him sensible, somewhat forcibly, of the misery to which his bad conduct exposed him, I induced him to seek the means of avoiding it by doing readily and frankly all that was required of him. I have not said anything to him by which he might discover the means whereby we learnt so certainly the fact of his treachery; but I have spoken to him on the matter in such a way as to show him that we know it, and are convinced of it. He is assuredly a knave; yet I believe him sincere in his desire to deliver up the papers, either from the apprehensions with which his present condition inspires him, or with the view of rendering a service to the king, which may be agreeable to him, and may make him forget what has passed. The original papers are at Padua, concealed in a hole in the wall of a room which is in his father's dwelling, and which, he says, is known to him alone. These papers are—the treaty concluded by M. de Pomponne, and signed by him and Matthioli, signed below by the Duke of Mantua, a blank being left for the ratification when the exchange should be made for that of the king; a blank paper signed by the Duke of Mantua, intended as an order to the governor of Casale, directing him to receive the troops of the king; the powers conferred on M. de Pomponne to treat concerning Casale, and a list of the troops appointed to execute the business. once have possession of these papers, the affair is concluded as far as regards negotiation; but this is a fact we need make known only when we think proper. As I am aware of what importance