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by his vulgar companions; his spirits, and at last his health, failed; and after remaining twenty-two months in the Bicêtre, he was removed to the Hôtel Dieu of Paris. The Abbé de l'Epée, always in search of objects whom, by means of the wonderful system of signs of which he was the inventor, he could enable to communicate with their fellow creatures, found the deaf and dumb boy at the Hôtel Dieu, removed him to his own house, and in a few months rendered him capable of telling something about himself. The story which Joseph (that was the name given to him by the Abbé) related was, that he remembered having lived with his father, and mother, and sister, in a fine house with a large garden, and that he used to ride in a carriage and on horseback; that his father was tall, his face marked by wounds received in battle; that he died, and that his mother and sister, as well as himself, wore mourning; that he was taken from home by a man on horseback, and turned loose in a wood, wandered for some days until he reached the high road, and then passed through the adventures which we have related.
Joseph's story, which bears a wonderful similarity to that related by Caspar Hauser, sixty years afterwards, excited deep interest. It was frequently told by the Abbé in the sort of lectures which he gave to those who visited his establishment; and both the speaker and the audience indulged in conjectures as to what the great family might be of which Joseph was probably the representative. A lady who was present on one of these occasions, apparently in the beginning of the year 1777, mentioned that in the autumn of 1773, a deaf and dumb boy, the only son of Count Solar, the head of the ancient house of Solar, which has produced several knights celebrated in the history of the Order of Malta, had left Toulouse, where his father and mother then resided, and had never returned. He was said to have died soon after. It was suggested that this was Joseph. Inquiries were made at Toulouse, and the suggestion became plausible. The family of the Count had consisted of two children, a boy and a girl, the boy born in the year 1761, and deaf and dumb. The father had died in the beginning of 1773, and the mother had sent her son from Toulouse to Bagneres de Bigorre, under the care of a young lawyer named Cazeaux. In the beginning of the next year Cazeaux had returned, but not the boy; he was said to have died in January, 1774, of small pox. The mother died in 1775.
The Abbé de l'Epée took up the cause of his pupil with the enthusiasm which belonged to his character. He believed that
The false Count Solar.
in what had passed he could trace the hand of Providence. Young Solar's mother, he maintained, either to escape from the burden of an imperfect child, or to secure for herself or for her daughter his inheritance, had given him to Cazeaux to be exposed. To conceal the crime he had been taken 600 miles off, to Peronne, and abandoned to what appeared certain destruction in a wood. But the eye of God was watching. A traveller was sent to rescue him, a woman to receive him, the Abbé himself to instruct him; and now able for the first time to tell his story, he asked for restoration to the honours of his house, and for the punishment of Cazeaux, the only surviving actor in the crime.
The Duc de Penthievre, a prince of the blood, was among those whom the Abbé interested for his protégé. He provided munificently for Joseph's support, and supplied funds for the expensive legal proceedings necessary to establish him as Count Solar.
The boy was taken to Clermont, the birthplace of the Countess Solar, where she and her son had lived during the first four years of his life. It was not to be expected that those who had known him only when four years old would recognise him at seventeen. Some recognition, however, there was; Madame de Solar's father was still living; he fancied that Joseph resembled his grandson, and, what he thought more important, he felt for him an affection which must be instinctive. The Countess's brother believed Joseph to be his nephew, because he had the round shoulders and large knees of the Count. The woman who kept the school at Clermont, at which the young Count had been placed, her daughter, and two servants, also perceived a resemblance. It was recollected too that the young Count had on his back a mole in the shape of a lentil; a similar mole was found on the back of Joseph.
It appears that Joseph possessed considerable natural talents, and that his deafness was not complete. He soon ascertained the nature of the claim which was made on his behalf, and endeavoured to promote it. He had sufficient self-command to feign perfect insensibility to sound, and sufficient acuteness to make out something of the conversations which passed before him. He learned some facts connected with the Solar family, and reproduced them; and thus a considerable body of evidence of his identity was collected. The evidence, however, on the other side was strong. Many persons belonging to Toulouse, who had been intimate with the young Count, denied even his resemblance to Joseph; and, what seemed to be almost decisive, the young Countess Solar did not recognise Joseph as her brother,
nor did he know her to be his sister. Each treated the other as a stranger. The identity, therefore, of Joseph and the young Count sank from a probability to a possibility-a possibility which must vanish altogether, if the death of the latter could be established.
The Abbé de l'Epée, however, and the public, had taken up Joseph's cause with the inconsiderate vehemence to which the French are subject. He claimed, before the Cour du Châtelet, in Paris, the name and honours of Count Solar; and the first step taken by the court was to order the arrest of Cazeaux, and his prosecution as the abductor and exposer of Joseph.
As a specimen of Tronson du Coudray's powers, we extract his statement of the mode in which the arrest was made. It must be recollected that he was then a young advocate making his first important speech.
At mid-day the officers of justice, accompanied by a furious 'mob, seized M. Cazeaux, dragged him through the streets of Toulouse to the Hôtel de Ville, where they threw him into a 'horrible dungeon, called la Miséricorde, to wait among con'demned felons for the departure of the cart which was to carry him to Paris. The next day, and again at noon, both hands ❝ and feet in irons, he was thrown into it, and thus set out on a journey of five hundred miles. While they were in motion he was chained to the cart; when they halted he was chained to the inn table; at night he was chained to his bed. "At every "village," he has often said to me in our consultations, "the "inhabitants crowded round the carriage, and speculated on 6 66 my crimes. He is a highwayman, said some. He is a "murderer, said others. He is to be broken on the wheel; "no, he is to be burned, look at his chains; and I could not • "close my ears or hide my face." Painful as this picture is, I must dwell on it for an instant. For seventeen days this innocent man (for innocent he is; I shall prove it even to ' demonstration) was exposed to fresh witnesses of his dis'honour. For seventeen days he read in hundreds of eyes the horror and the disgust which his presence inspired. For "seventeen days he heard repeated at every stage prophecies of his infamous execution. Though his conscience told him that he was innocent, a hundred voices proclaimed his guilt. "I ""am innocent," he repeated. Nonsense," they replied, "look at your chains." And he could not close his ears or hide his face. Ah, Messieurs, if I could allow myself to admit the supposition that he is guilty, his guilt has been atoned for. The sufferings of seventeen days such as those avenge society. Let another scene of this tragedy pass before
The false Count Solar.
The ignominious journey at length came to an end. M. Cazeaux reached Paris; he was taken from his cart and thrown into one of the vaults of the Grand-Châtelet. Thence ' he was transferred to a still lower dungeon, without light or air, and kept for six days without examination. For six days and the law says that every prisoner shall be examined within twenty-four hours. For six days my unhappy client " was left in darkness and in solitude to brood over the cruelties ' which he had suffered, and to imagine those which he had to undergo. If the past indicates the future, what is the amount ' of the oppression that is reserved for him?'*
Tronson du Coudray then proceeded to prove, by the depo sitions of a host of witnesses, that the day on which the young Count left Toulouse, under the care of Cazeaux, was the 4th of September, 1773. It was on the first of August, in the same year, that Joseph was found in the wood near Peronne. From these respective dates he traced the contemporary history of the two youths; showed that in November, 1773, the Count Solar was at Bagneres, and Joseph at the Bicêtre; and, finally, that on the 28th of January, 1774, Count Solar died at Charlas, near Bagneres, of small pox, having survived his father about a year.
Cazeaux was of course acquitted; but the veil was never removed from the early history of Joseph. That he was the son of a man of fortune and rank, that during his father's life he was treated with kindness, and that when his father died his mother sacrificed him to family pride or cupidity, are facts which there seems no reason to doubt. It is scarcely possible that he could have invented them. And the circumstance that such a sacrifice could be made without detection throws some light on the state of French society before the Revolution. A frightful mystery must have been confided for many years to many persons; persons not selected as peculiarly fit to be its depositaries, but the ordinary domestics of a great family. Yet so strong was the feudal principle of loyalty by which they were bound to keep the secrets of the House in which they served, that not a whisper ever revealed the domestic tragedy in which many must have been actors and many more spectators. If such events were to take place now in France, if the deaf and dumb child of opulent parents were exposed by his family, and were rescued by accident, and public curiosity were seeking out his relations, not a month would pass before some accomplice or some confidant would supply a clue by which they would be
* Tome i. p. 40, 41, 42.
ascertained. The strong domestic discipline of the eighteenth century suppressed all indication.
Another set of events, distinguishing those times from ours, is the treatment of Cazeaux. We have extracted Tronson du Coudray's description of his violent arrest, and of his ignominious transportation to Paris. The subsequent proceedings in the inquiry were of a piece with its atrocious beginning. For twenty-two days he was left in a dungeon, unlighted and unventilated, with no intercourse with mankind, except six examinations, each of which, such was then the pace at which justice advanced in France, lasted eight hours. The intercession of the Archbishop of Toulouse procured for him a more tolerable prison, and legal assistance. He asked to be admitted to bail. It was refused. He demanded that Joseph should be taken to Toulouse, to Bagneres de Bigorre, and to Charlas, the last places in which Count Solar had been known, and staked his life on the result. If Joseph was there recognised as the Count, he would make no further defence.
It is obvious to us, and must have been obvious to the judges of Cazeaux, that this experiment would have been decisive. If Joseph was the Count Solar, a thousand witnesses were there to proclaim it; if he was not, there were there a thousand witnesses to deny it. This again was refused.
"On what grounds?' asked Tronson du Coudray. A reason has been given, but one which this Court would not have 'conjectured one which it can scarcely believe - but I must report it as I received it. The ground is, that the expense would be too great. This is the answer to the cries of an innocent man in his despair. This is the sort of excuse which keeps our prisons full. The expense! when the ques⚫tions at issue are the rank and fortune of one citizen and the ❝ honour and life of another. The expense! when an impostor is to be exposed or a murderer to be punished. The expense! as if the most sacred debt owed by the Crown were not the ⚫ protection of its subjects."*
For eleven months Cazeaux was detained in the prisons of the Châtelet of Paris, uncondemned, unacquitted. All his little fortune was wasted, his practice destroyed, and his health ruined. And if he had not appealed to the Parliament of Rouen, there seems no reason for fixing any term at which the inquiry would have terminated. How are this cruel rigour and indifference to be accounted for? It does not appear that the judges of the Châtelet had any personal quarrel with M. Ca
* Tome i, p. 84.