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livres a-month, being equal to that of the governors of the great places in Flanders.] I have requested the Sieur du Channoy to go with you to visit the buildings at Exiles, and to make there a list of the repairs absolutely necessary for the lodging of the two prisoners in the lower part of the tower, who are, I think, the only ones his majesty will have transferred to Exiles. Send me a list of all the prisoners under your care, and write opposite to each name all that you know of the reasons why they were arrested. With regard to the two in the lower part of the tower, you need only designate them by that title, without adding anything else. The king expects that, during the little time you
will be absent from the citadel of Pignerol, when you accompany the Sieur du Channoy to Exiles, you will provide for the guarding of your prisoners in such a manner that no accident may befall them, and that they may have no intercourse with any one more than they have hitherto had during the time they have been under your charge."
Again, on the 9th of June, he writes—“I send you the necessary grants as governor of Exiles, which the king has seen good to order to be sent you. The intention of his majesty is, that so soon as the room at Exiles which you shall judge the most proper for the secure keeping of the two prisoners in the lower part of the tower shall be in a state to receive them, you will send them out of the citadel of Pignerol in a litter, and conduct them there under the escort of your troop, for the march of which the order is hereunto annexed; and immediately after the departure of the aforesaid prisoners, it is his majesty's desire that you should repair to Exiles to take possession of the government, and make it your residence for the future. You will see by the annexed orders of the king, that your company is to be reduced to forty-five men, to commence from the 15th of this month; and by the statement which accompanies them, you will learn the footing upon which it is to be paid, as well as what the king has allotted for the subsistence of the two before-named prisoners, whom his majesty expects you will continue to guard with the same exactitude you have used hitherto. Therefore it only remains for me to beg you to give me intelligence respecting them from time to time. With regard to the effects belonging to the Sieur Matthioli in your possession, you will cause them to be removed to Exiles, in order that they may be restored to him, if ever his majesty should order him to be set at liberty.'
These letters contain the most precise directions that the two prisoners in the lower part of the tower—namely, Matthioli and the monk-should alone be removed to Exiles, and that they should be kept in the same rigorous seclusion as at Pignerol. They were so removed on the lžth of July 1681, on which occasion Saint-Mars gives Louvois a satisfactory account of the precautions he had taken for their security until he himself joined them, which, owing to another secret affair with Catinat relative to Casale, did not take place till two or three months subsequently. In his letter, he says-“In order that the prisoners may not be seen [at: Exiles), they will not leave their chamber when they hear mass; and for the purpose of insuring their more secure eustody, one of my lieutenants will sleep above them, and there will be two sentinels night and day, who will watch the whole circuit of the tower, without its being possible for them and the prisoners to see and speak to each other, or even to hear any attempted communication. They will be soldiers belonging to my company, who will always act as sentinels over the prisoners. About the confessor only I have some doubts; but, if you do not disapprove, I will give them the incumbent of Exiles instead, who is a good man, and very old, whom I will forbid, in the name of his majesty, to inquire who these prisoners are, their names, or what they have been, or to speak of them in any way, or to receive from them either oral or written communications."
The first letter from Saint-Mars after he settled at Exiles bears date the 4th of December 1681, and contains the following passage :-“ As one of my two prisoners is always ill, they give me as much trouble as I have ever had with any of those I have previously guarded."
About the identity of these two prisoners there cannot be the slightest doubt, after the citation of the above letters. Yet notwithstanding all the assurances and approved vigilance of SaintMars, Louvois still continued to express apprehensions lest they might find means of communicating with persons outside. This drew from Saint-Mars something like an indignant vindication, and a minute picture of the den in which he kept his rueful captives immured, which is worth transcribing, were it merely for its curiosity. Under date of Exiles, 11th March 1682, he says, "I have received the letter you were pleased to do me the honour to write to me on the 27th of last month, in which you impress upon me that it is of great importance my two prisoners should have no communication with any one. Since the first time, sir, that you gave me this order, I have guarded these two prisoners who are under my care as severely and exactly as it could be possible. They can hear the people talk as they pass along the road which winds round the bottom of the tower, but could not, were they even to try, make themselves: heard in return. They can also see persons on the hill which rises before their windows, but cannot themselves be seen, on account of the bars which block the openings of their room. There are two sentinels of my company continually on dutý át a short distance on each side of the tower, who keep watch night and day, and who can see the windows of the prisoners obliquely; They are ordered to take care that no one speaks to them, and that they do not cry out from their windows; and are also instructed to make the people move on if they attempt to loiter on the pathway, or on the side of the hill. My own room being
contiguous to the tower, and having no other aspect but towards this pathway, I hear and see everything, including the two sentinels, who are, on this account, always kept on the alert. The interior of the tower itself I have divided in such a manner, that the priest who says mass to them cannot see their persons, on account of a curtain I have hung up, which covers their double doors. The servants who bring their food, put whatever is necessary for the prisoners upon a table on the outside, and my. lieutenant takes it, and carries it into them. No one speaks to them but myself, my officer, M. Vigneron the confessor, and the physician from Pragelas, which is six leagues from here, and who only sees them in my presence. With regard to their linen and other necessaries, I take the same precautions which I did with my former prisoners.”
This statement in all probability satisfied Louvois, and calmed his uneasiness; for it does not appear, from any published document, that he again addressed Saint-Mars respecting the prisoners whilst he remained at Exiles; nor, indeed, is anything more heard of them for upwards of three years, during which period they lingered in sickness, as is evident from a short note written by Saint-Mars on the 23d of December 1685, in which he says, "My prisoners are still ill, and in a course of medicine; they are, however, perfectly tranquil.”.
Shortly after this the Jacobin monk succumbed to the severities of his imprisonment, and died. Saint-Mars himself was attacked by illness, and became persuaded that the situation of Exiles was unhealthy; whereupon he applied, by a petition to the king, for a change of governorship, which prayer being graciously granted, he was nominated, in 1687, to the command of the Isles of Sainte-Marguerite and Honorat, which lie near Antibes on the Provençal coast. To this fresh locality he was directed to remove his surviving prisoner Matthioli.
After receiving this appointment, Saint-Mars proceeded to visit the seat of his new government for the purpose of inspecting it, and preparing for the reception of his prisoner. Previous to setting out, however, he was careful to quiet any fears on the part of Louvois, writing from Exiles under date of January 20, 1687. “I will give such orders for the guarding of my prisoner that I can answer to you, sir, for his entire security, as well as for his not now or henceforth holding intercourse with my lieutenant, whom I have forbidden to speak to him, an injunction implicitly obeyed. If I take him with me to the Isles, I think the most secure conveyance will be a (sedan) chair, covered with oil-cloth, which would admit a sufficiency of air without the possibility of any one seeing or speaking to him during the journey, not even the soldiers whom I shall select to be near the chair. This conveyance will be less embarrassing than a litter, which is liable to break."
From the Isle of Sainte-Marguerite he writes on the 23d of March 1687—“I hope to be at Exiles in eight days. As soon as I shall have had the honour of receiving your commands, sir, I shall set forth again with my prisoner, whom I undertake tó conduct here in all security, without any one seeing or speaking to him. He shall not attend divine service after he leaves Exiles till he is lodged in the prison preparing for him here, to which a chapel is attached."
On the 18th of April, accordingly, Saint-Mars and Matthioli started from Exiles for Sainte-Marguerite. In addition to the precaution of the chair covered with oil-cloth, it is conjectured that the prisoner was likewise made to wear a mask for the first time not an iron mask, according to popular tradition, but one of black velvet, interlaced with whalebone, and fastened behind the head with a padlock, leaving the patient at liberty to eat, drink, and respire. This latter faculty, however, as is natural to suppose, was somewhat impeded, to the grievous suffering of the unfortunate prisoner. Saint-Mars himself coolly adverts to the fact in a letter written to Louvois after his arrival at Sainte-Marguerite, dated 3d May 1687. He says-" I arrived here on the 30th of last month, having been twelve days on the journey in consequence of the illness of my prisoner, occasioned, as he complained, by not having as much air as he wished. I can assure you, sir, that no one has seen him, and that the manner in which I have conducted and guarded him during all the journey makes everybody try to conjecture who he is.” In the same letter he remarks —“My prisoner's bed was so old and worn-out, as well as everything he had made use of, both table-linen and furniture, that it was not worth while to bring them here: they only sold for thirteen crowns (about £1, 128.). I have given to the eight porters, who brought the chair from Turin and my prisoner to this place (including the hire of the aforesaid chair), 203 livres, which I have paid out of my own pocket.”
This statement about the bed and furniture puts an end to the fable of the fine linen and lace allowed so profusely to this prisoner. The extraordinary respect said to be paid to him has long since been shown to be equally supposititious. The only true part of the tradition consists in the unremitting precautions taken to conceal his person, and prevent him from communicating with any one save his jailors. In his new prison the same rigorous system was pursued. The cell in which he was incarcerated had only one window, guarded by bars of iron, and looking upon the sea. Sentinels kept watch continually, and had orders to fire on boats which approached within a certain distance. The Père Papon, who has written a history of, and also a literary tour in, Provence, visited the island of Sainte-Marguerite in 1778, and was in the very room which had been occupied by the masked prisoner. He met there an old officer, aged seventy-nine, who related some particulars to him which he had gleaned from his father, who had held a confidential situation in the fortress
under Saint-Mars. Amongst other things, he mentioned an anecdote, variously reported by Voltaire and others, to the effect that an apothecary's boy had picked up, floating on the water, a fine shirt, written all over, which he carried to the governor, who, with a troubled air, questioned him whether he had read the writing, and although he protested vehemently he had not, “yet two days subsequently he was found dead in his bed.” In other versions of this story a fisherman is made to find a silver plate, which the Iron Mask had thrown out of his window on the beach, and on which he had scratched his name and history. This the fisherman carried to the governor, who asked him if he had read what was written on the plate, to which question he replied by declaring he could not read at all; but he was nevertheless imprisoned until the governor had completely satisfied himself that his tale was true, and that no one else had seen the plate. It now appears that this imposing anecdote is a pure fiction, or at least has no reference whatever to the masked prisoner, being founded on the conduct of two other prisoners who were incarcerated in Sainte-Marguerite at the same time. These were Protestant ministers, and Saint-Mars thus speaks of them in a letter dated from the Isle of Sainte-Marguerite the 4th of June 1692:-" The first of the ministers who have been sent here sings psalms night and day with a loud voice, expressly to make it be known who he is. I desired him in vain several times to discontinue this practice, on pain of severe punishment, which I have at last been obliged to inflict upon him, as well as on his comrade, who is called Selves, and who writes things upon his pewter vessels, and upon his linen, in order to make it known that he is imprisoned unjustly, on account of the purity of his faith."
Thus gradually is the tale of the Iron Mask stripped of those romantic incidents with which it was long invested, and which were necessary, in some measure, to give it that interest in the public mind sought to be excited and sustained by all who treated it, or assigned to it a hero.
The Père Papon relates, moreover, upon the authority of the venerable informant he found at Sainte-Marguerite, that the servant who attended the prisoner, and partook his captivity (whom we recollect had been sent by D’Estrades to Pignerol shortly after Matthioli's seizure), died there, and was carried to his grave in the dead of night by the officer's father, who bore the body in a sack on his shouiders. An endeavour was made to supply his place by a woman of the neighbourhood; but none could be found willing to undertake the charge on condition of being imprisoned for life, and debarred from all future intercourse with the world. Papon fails to state how, in default of a female attendant, the prisoner was subsequently waited upon, nor is there any other clue by which the point can be now ascertained; and he also fails, strange to say, to dogmatise on the subject of