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who the prisoner was, but very candidly avows that, "unless some hidden records of the time of the regency of Anne of Austria and the ministry of Cardinal Mazarin should be discovered, or memoirs written by persons initiated in the secret, the name of this prisoner, unknown to his contemporaries, will remain equally so to posterity.” To the justness of his general conclusion none can demur; but he has fallen into the error common at the time he wrote, and first propagated by Voltaire, that the imprisonment dated from a much earlier period than it actually did.
Saint-Mars remained governor of the Isles of Sainte-Marguerite and Honorat nearly eleven years, during all which time there is no correspondence published between him and the minister relative to his important prisoner, except the letter already quoted. In 1698 he was appointed to be governor of the Bastile, and he proceeded to assume the command of that fortress, accompanied by one prisoner, in the autumn of the same year. He passed by his estate of Palteau, where the appearance of the masked prisoner has been already portrayed. On the 18th of September he arrived at the Bastile,“ bringing with him," as Dujonca says,
an old prisoner whom he had had at Pignerol, and who is always kept masked.” This prisoner remained so masked to the end of his life, wearing, according to the authority of Linquetwho derived the information from persons in the Bastile,“ who had it from their fathers, old servants in the fortress, who had themselves seen the Man with the Iron Mask”.
-a mask of velvet, and not of iron-going occasionally to attend mass, on which occasions he was expressly forbidden to speak or show his face, the guards who accompanied him being ordered to fire on him in case he disobeyed the injunction, and being served by the governor himself, who also removed his linen. This seems all that is authentically known of his residence in the Bastile, where he lingered five more tedious years, and died on the 19th of November 1703, being buried the day after in the churchyard of St Paul's. After his death, all possible pains were taken to eradicate every vestige of his existence, and to cover his memory with an impenetrable mystery.
In the whole history of this imprisonment, there is a complete chain of evidence identifying Matthioli as its object. There is no improbability or inconsistency to gloss over or explain away, no rash surmises or strained inferences to postulate, no startling paradox to uphold, no intricacy to unravel, no unsupported assumptions to hazard. All is plain and clear, resting on veri, fied facts. First, we have the seizure of Matthioli, accredited not only by Catinat's letters already quoted, but by other authorities of an incontestable character, and his imprisonment at Pignerol under the charge of Saint-Mars. Here he is put into a room with a Jacobin monk, in the lower part of the tower ; and, upon Saint-Mars' removal to Exiles, these two prisoners are
alone transported to his new place of command, Matthioli being even mentioned by name in the letters both of Louyois and Saint-Mars. At Exiles the Jacobin dies, and thenceforth SaintMars speaks only of “ my prisoner," in the singular number. This one prisoner he carries with him, in 1687, to the Isles of Sainte-Marguerite and Honorat; and again, in 1698, to the Bastile, where he was entered as an old prisoner whom Saint-Mars had had Pignerol. The conclusion, then, from the testimony. already adduced, is irresistible, that the Man with the Iron Mask was none other than Count Matthioli, minister of the Duke of Mantua, and that the mystery which has excited so much curious speculation is at an end.
In addition to the direct evidence leading to this conviction, there are sundry accessory circumstances which tend still more to strengthen it. In the first place, Voltaire, who unquestionably had access to better sources of information than any writer of his time, declares positively that the prisoner stated to the apothecary of the Bastile, a short while before his death, that he thought he was about sixty years old. Now this tallies pretty exactly with the real age of Matthioli, who was born on the 1st of December 1640, and would therefore be sixty-three at the time of his death. If it be considered that long solitary confinement has the effect of confusing the mind, and dulling it to the lapse of time, the conjecture of Matthioli seems as accurate as might well be expected. In the next place, Voltaire remarks upon the singularity of an Italian name being given to the prisoner, which evidently caused him considerable perplexity. Why,
," he exclaims, was he always called Marchiali " This of course was inexplicable to one who was steadfast in the belief that a French prince was the individual in question.
The Duke of Orleans, who became regent of France after the death of Louis XIV., was naturally acquainted with the secret of the Iron Mask; but though often besought by his dissolute companions to divulge it, he always steadfastly refused to hearken to their importunities. He even resisted the solicitations of Louis XV., who evinced the utmost eagerness to be initiated in the mystery, until that monarch arrived at his majority, when it was confided to him. Afterwards, Louis XV. himself became the object of repeated questionings on the part of his courtiers, but he always evaded the subject, and generally replied, " Let them fight away, nobody has as yet told the truth about the Iron Mask.” But the Duke de Choiseul, his favourite minister, afterwards besought him with great earnestness to relieve his mind by acquainting him who the celebrated prisoner really was, upon which the king refused to say more than that all conjectures that had been hitherto broached were erroneous. The impatience of the Duke de Choiseul to solve the enigma was by no means satisfied with this reply, and he urged Madame de Pompadour to extort from Louis XV. a more distinct revelation upon
the subject. But, with all her wiles, she failed to wring from the cautious and reluctant monarch a more significant intimation than that he believed the prisoner was the minister of an Italian prince. This is unquestionably a strong corroborative fact of the truth of the hypothesis herein sought to be established, that Count Matthioli was the Man with the Iron Mask.
The first idea of the truth seems to have dawned upon a certain Baron d'Heiss, captain in the regiment of Alsace, who addressed a letter, dated Phalsbourg, 28th June, 1770, to the Journal Encyclopedique, accompanied by a document translated from the Italian, and inserted in a work called " An Abridgment of the History of Europe” (Histoire Abrégée de l'Europe), edited by Jacques Bernard, at Leyden, in 1685 to 1687. 'Upon the strength of this document, which gives an account, not altogether correct, of the negotiation between Louis XIV. and the Duke of Mantua, and the subsequent seizure by the former of the latter's minister, the Baron d'Heiss, with singular acumen, remarks“ It appears that the secretary of the Duke of Mantua, who is here mentioned, might very well be the Man in the Iron Mask, transferred from Pignerol to the Isle of Sainte-Marguerite, and thence to the Bastile in 1690, when Saint-Mars was made governor of it. I am the more inclined to believe this, because M. de Voltaire, and all who have made researches on this subject, have concurred in remarking there did not at that time disappear any prince or person of consequence in any part of Europe."
The supposition was afterwards supported by Dutens in his "Intercepted Correspondence" (1789), who, having resided at Turin in the suite of Lord Mountstuart, the British ambassador, had made it his study to acquire all the information to be gleaned upon the mysterious affair. He sums up his opinion in these emphatic words :-“ There is no point of history better established than the fact, that the prisoner with the Iron Mask was a minister of the Duke of Mantua, carried off at Turin.”
Nevertheless, the Baron d'Heiss and Louis Dutens jumped to their conclusions in the dark, however happily they alighted on the truth. They were ignorant of the documents which have been since discovered and published by M. Roux-Fazillac in his “ Historical and Critical Inquiry Touching the Man in the Iron Mask,” in the year 1800, and by M. Delort in his “ History of the Man with the Iron Mask,” in 1825, which have thrown such a flood of light upon the subject, and have been so largely quoted in the course of this analysis. It is needless to add that these two latter authors, in their respective essays, maintain the
* Louis Dutens, in his “Correspondance Intercepteé," 1789, and Mr Crawford, in an article in his “Melanges d'Histoire et de Litterature,” both vouch for the truth of this anecdote. The latter cites the affirmative testimony of two respectable French ecclesiastics who had lived on terms of intimacy with the Duke de Choiseul.
THE MAN WITH THE IRON MASK.
validity of the theory which fixes Matthioli as the hero of the melancholy tale. Their views have been presented in an English dress by the late Lord Dover in a short and able tract, and it is supposed that the weight of authority is so utterly preponderating, that the question may be pronounced finally determined, and thus one of the mysteries of history laid bare to public gaze.
The story of the Man with the Iron Mask has now been told, not according to the fancies of writers of fiction, but as verified by documents of whose trustworthiness there can be no reasonable doubt. In telling such a tale, we cannot but feel thankful that atrocities such as are disclosed can no longer take place in France or any other civilised nation. That they should ever have existed, is one of the marvels of history. We may conclude our narrative with the following observations of a writer on the subject, in the thirty-fourth volume of the Quarterly Review :" It has been thought incredible, and may still seem strange, that a person of no greater importance than the Duke of Mantua's agent should have been the object of those anxious precautions which distinguished the captivity of this unfortunate. Allowance must, however, be made for the false lights which have been thrown upon his fate by exaggeration and by pure fiction. That Louis XIV., and such a minister as Louvois, should doom Matthioli to perpetual imprisonment, and decree that no man should from thenceforth hear his story, or even look upon his face, was, under the circumstances, not surprising. His crime was peculiar: he had not only broken faith with the government of the great monarch, but exposed his baffled intrigue to the petty courts of Italy. Pride and resentment called
aloud for his destruction, and policy concurred in the demand, if Louis still cherished his views of Transalpine encroachment. The sentence pronounced under these impulses was not likely to be revoked or essentially mitigated. He who could have told Europe how Louis had avenged his wounded dignity by an act of lawless and unworthy outrage, was never more to be trusted in free converse with mankind. He was to be as one dead, although the king's hand was kept free from his blood. To invent means of effecting this design was the business of inferior agents, whose whole ambition centered in the perfect fulfilment of commands. The expedients used by them (if we confine our attention to those authentically recorded) were not perhaps more complicated or elaborate than the service required; and even if they were so, the history of state prisons, of the Bastile especially, will supply many other instances of fantastic and curious precaution, harassing alike to captive and to keeper, adopted from the mere excess and refinement of jealousy, as if in the practice of oppression, as of better arts, men learned to seek an excellence beyond the immediate need, and approach an ideal standard of perfect cruelty.”
HE most distinctly-marked epoch in the history of our island is the conquest of England by the Normans in the end of the eleventh century. This period of
British history has recently received much attention from historians; and perhaps the following brief narrative, in which we adopt the spirit, and avail ourselves of the investigations, of these historians, may be of popular service.
At the dawn of history our island was inhabited by different Celtic or Gaelic races. About the commencement of the Christian era the Romans invaded it, and having conquered the greater part of it, kept possession of it for four hundred years, governing and civilising the inhabitants. In the year 410, however, the Roman armies were called out of Britain, their services being required to assist in repelling the invasion of the German or barbarian races, which were pouring in upon the central parts of the Roman empire. Thus abandoned by the Romans, the island was for some time in a state' of confusion, owing to the inroads which the Scots and Picts of the north, who had not been softened by intercourse with the Romans, were constantly making upon the Cambrians and Logrians of the south, who, though belonging to the same original stock with themselves, had, in consequence of Roman influence, lost much of their native wildness of character. Not able to defend themselves against the Scots and Picts, the Cambrians and Logrians invited the assistance of Hengst and Horsa, two German corsairs, who, roving the seas in quest of booty, chanced to land on the coast of Kent. Hengst and Horsa quickly brought into England an