Born: Jean Antoine, Marquis de Condorcet, distinguished mathematician, 1743, Picardy; Samuel Prout, painter in water-colours, 1783, London.
Died: Henry Bullinger, Swiss Reformer, 1575, Zurich; Cardinal Robert Bellarmin, celebrated controversialist, 1621, Rome; Philip IV of Spain, 1665; Dr. John Kidd, mineralogical and medical writer, 1851, Oxford.
Feast Day: Saints Socrates and Stephen, martyrs, beginning of 4th century. St. Rouin, Rodingus, or Chrodingus, abbot of Beaulieu, about 680. St. Lambert, bishop of Maestricht, and patron of Liege, martyr, 709. St. Columba, virgin and martyr, 853. St. Hildegardis, virgin and abbess, 1179.
Than the Marquis de Condorcet the French Revolution had no more sincere and enthusiastic promoter. Writing to Franklin, in 1788, concerning American affairs, he observes:
The very name of king is hateful, and in France words are more than things. I see with pain that the aristocratic spirit seeks to introduce itself among you in spite of so many wise precautions. At this moment it is throwing everything into confusion here. Priests, magistrates, nobles, all unite against the poor citizens.' When 'the poor citizens' canoe into power, and proscribed those who served them, Condorcet's faith in democracy remained unaffected. In the words of Lamartine, 'the hope of the philosopher survived the despair of the citizen. He knew that the passions are fleeting, and that reason is eternal. He confessed it, even as the astronomer confesses the star in its eclipse.
Condorcet was born in Picardy in 1743. Early in life he distinguished himself as a mathematician, and his labours in the development of the differential and integral calculus, will preserve his name in the history of science. Associating with Voltaire, Helvetius, and D'Alembert, he became a sharer in their opinions, and a social reformer with an almost fanatical abhorrence of the present and the past, and with an invincible assurance in a glorious destiny for humanity in the future. The outbreak of the revolution was to him as the dawn of this new era when old wrongs should pass away and justice and goodness should rule the world. He wrote for the revolutionary newspapers, and was an indefatigable member of the Jacobin club, but he was less effective with his tongue than his pen. A cold and impassive exterior, a stoical Roman countenance, imperfectly expressed the fiery energy of his heart, and caused D'Alembert to describe him as 'a volcano covered with snow.'
When the rough and bloody business of the revolution came on, he was unable, either from timidity or gentle breeding, to hold his own against the desperadoes who rose uppermost. During the violent struggle between the Girondist and Mountain party, he took a decided part with neither, provoking Madame Roland to write of him, 'the genius of Condorcet is equal to the comprehension of the greatest truths, but he has no other characteristic besides fear. It may be said of his understanding combined with his person, that he is a fine spirit absorbed in cotton. Thus, after having deduced a principle or demonstrated a fact in the Assembly, he would give a vote decidedly opposite, overawed by the thunder of the tribunes, armed with insults and lavish of menaces. Such men should be employed to write, but never permitted to act.' This mingling of courage with gentleness and irresolution caused him, says Carlyle, 'to be styled, in irreverent language, mouton enrage'-peaceablest of creatures bitten rabid.'
Robespierre, in July 1793, issued a decree of accusation against Condorcet. At the entreaty of his wife he hid himself in an attic in an obscure quarter of Paris, and there remained for eight months without once venturing abroad. e relieved the weariness of his confinement by writing a treatise on his favourite idea, The Perfectibility of the Human Race; and had he been able to endure restraint for a few months longer, he would have been saved; but he grew anxious for the safety of the good woman who risked her life in giving him shelter, and the first verdure of the trees of the Luxembourg, of which he had a glimpse from his window, brought on an over-powering desire for fresh air and exercise. e escaped into the streets, passed the barriers, and wandered among thickets and stone-quarries in the outskirts of Paris. Wounded with a fall, and half-dead with hunger and fatigue, he entered. a cabaret in the village of Clamart, and asked for an omelet. 'How many eggs will you have in it?' inquired the waiter. 'A dozen,' replied the starving philosopher, ignorant of the proper dimensions of a working man's breakfast. The extraordinary omelet excited suspicion. Some present requested to know his trade. He said, a carpenter, but his delicate hands belied him. He was searched, and a Latin Horace and an elegant pocket-book furnished unquestionable evidence that he was a skulking aristocrat. He was forthwith arrested, and marched off to prison at Bourg-la-Reine. On the way, he fainted with exhaustion, and was set on a peasant's horse. Flung into a damp cell, he was found dead on the floor next morning, 24th March 1794. He had saved his neck from the guillotine by a dose of poison he always carried about with him in case of such an emergency.
Condorcet's works have been collected and published in twenty-one volumes. The Marquise de Condorcet long survived her husband. She was one of the most beautiful and accomplished women of her day, and distinguished herself by an elegant and correct translation into French of Adam Smith's Theory of the Moral Sentiments.
CURIOUS TESTAMENTARY DIRECTIONS ABOUT THE BODY
Sir Lewis Clifford, a member of the senior branch of this ancient and distinguished family, who lived in the reign of Henry IV, became a Protestant, or, to use the language of an ancient writer, was 'seduced by those zealots of that time, called Lollards (amongst which he was one of the chief); but being at length sensible of those schismatical tenets, he confessed his error to Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, and did cordially repent.' By way of atoning for his error, he left the following directions respecting his burial, in his last will, which begins thus:
In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, Amen. The seventeenth day of September, the yer of our Lord. Jesu Christ, a thousand four hundred and four, I Lowys Clyfforth, fals and traytor to my Lord God, and to alle the blessed company of Hevene, and unworthi to be clepyd Cristen man, make and ordeyn my testament and my last wille in this manere. At the begynnynge, I most unworthi and Goddys tray-tour, recommaund my wretchid and synfule sowle hooly to the grace and to the mercy of the blessful Trynytie; and my wretchid careyne to be beryed in the ferthest corner of the chirche-zerd, in which pariche my wretchid sowle departeth fro my body. And I prey and charge my survivors and myne executors, as they wollen answere to fore God, and as all myne hoole trest in this matere is in them, that on my stinking careyne be neyther leyd clothe of gold ne of silke, but a black clothe, and a taper at myne bed, and another at my fete; ne stone ne other thinge, whereby eny man may witte where my stinking careyne liggeth. And to that chirche do myne executors all thingis, which owen duly in such caas to be don, without eny more cost saaf to pore men. And also, I prey my survivors and myne executors, that eny dette that eny man kan axe me by true title, that hit be payd. And yf eny man can trewly say, that I have don hym eny harme in body or in good, that ye make largely his gree whyles the goodys wole stretche. And I wole alsoe, that none of myne executors meddle or mynystro eny thinge of my goodys withoutyn avyse and consent of any survivors or of sum of hem.
The rest of the will is in Latin, and contains Sir Lewis's directions for the disposal of his property.
THE GERMAN PRINCESS
Two hundred years ago, all London interested itself in the sayings and doings of a sharp-witted adventuress, known as 'the German Princess.' Mary Moders was the daughter of a Canterbury fiddler. After serving as waiting woman to a lady travelling on the continent, and acquiring a smattering of foreign languages, she returned to England with a determination to turn her talents to account in the metropolis, where, on arriving, she took up her quarters at 'the Exchange Tavern, next the Stocks,' kept by a Mr. King. Taking her hostess into confidence, she confessed that she was Henrietta Maria do Wolway, the only daughter and heiress of John de Wolway, Earl of Roscia, in Colonia, Germany, and had fled from home to avoid a marriage with an old count. If Mr. King and his wife had any doubts as to the truth of her story, they were reassured by the receipt of a letter from the earl's steward, thanking them for the kindness they had shewn to his young mistress.
Mrs. King had a brother; John Carleton, of the Middle Temple, whom she soon introduced to her interesting guest as a young nobleman. He played his part well, plied the mock-princess with presents, took her in his coach to Holloway and Islington, and vowed himself the victim of disinterested love. On Easter-Day, he proposed to take her to St. Paul's, 'to hear the organs and very excellent anthems performed by rare voices;' but, instead of going there, he persuaded the lady to accompany him to Great St. Bartholomew's Church, where he had a clergyman ready, and Miss Moders became Mrs. Carleton, to the great rejoicing of his relatives. After the wedding, the happy couple went to Barnet for a couple of days, after which they returned, and to make assurance doubly sure, were remarried by licence, and went home to Durham Yard.
For a time all went smoothly enough, although the newly-made Benedict found his wife's notions of economy more befitting a princess than the spouse of a younger brother. As weeks, however, passed by without the Carletons deriving any of the expected benefits from the great match, they grew suspicious; good-natured friends, taken into the secret, expressed their doubts of the genuineness of Mrs. John Carleton, and set inquiries on foot. Before long, old Carleton received a letter from Dover, in which his daughter-in-law was stigmatised as the greatest cheat in the world, having already two husbands living in that town, where she had been tried for bigamy, and only escaped conviction by preventing her real husband from putting in an appearance at the trial. Great was the indignation of the family at having their ambitious dream dispelled so rudely.
Carleton père, at the head of a posse of male and female friends, marched to Durham Yard, and, as soon as they gained admittance, set upon the offender, knocked her down, despoiled her of all her counterfeit rings, false pearls, and gilded brass-wire worked bracelets, and left her almost as bare as Mother Eve ere the invention of the apron. She strenuously denied her identity with the Dover damsel, but was taken before the magistrates, and committed to the Gatehouse, at 'Westminster, to await her trial for bigamy. Here for six weeks she held her levees, and exercised her wit in wordy warfare with her visitors. When one complimented her upon her breeding and education, she replied: 'I have left that in the city amongst my kindred, because they want it;' and upon a gentleman observing that 'marrying and hanging went by destiny,' told him, she had received marriage from the destinies, and probably he might receive hanging. Among her visitors were Pepys and his friend Creed.
Upon the 4th of June 1663, our heroine was brought up at the Old Bailey, before the Lord Chief-Justice of Common Pleas, the lord mayor, and alder-men. If the account of the trial contained in The Great Tryal and Arraignment of the late Distressed Lady, otherwise called the late German Princess, be correct, the result was a foregone conclusion. She was indicted in the name of Mary Moders, for marrying John Carleton, having two husbands, Ford and Stedman, alive at the time. The prosecution failed to prove either of the marriages, and one incident occurred which must have told greatly in her favour.
There came in a bricklayer with a pretended interest that she was his wife; but Providence or policy ordered it another way. There was a fair gentle-woman, standing at the bar by her, much like unto her, to whom he addressed himself, saying: 'This is my wife;' to which the judge said: 'Are you sure she is yours?' and the old man, taking his spectacles out of his pocket, looked her in the face again, and said: 'Yes; she is my wife, for I saw her in the street the other day.' Then said the lady: 'Good, any lord, observe this doting fellow's words, and mark his mistake, for he doth not know me here with his four eyes; how then is it possible that he should now know me with his two!' At which expression all the bench smiled. Again said she: 'My lord, and all you grave senators, if you rightly behold my face, that I should match with such a simple piece of mortality!' Then the old fellow drew back, and said no more.
The accused bore herself bravely at the bar, bewitching all auditors as she played with her fan, and defended herself in broken English. She insisted on her German birth, saying she came to England to better her fortunes-and if there was any fraud in the business, it lay on the other side.; 'for they thought by marrying of me, to dignify themselves, and advance all their relations, and upon that account, were there any cheat, they cheated themselves.'
She divided the witnesses against her into two classes - those who came against her for want of wit, and those who appeared for want of money. The jury acquitted her, and when she applied for an order for the restoration of her jewelry, the judge told her she had a husband to see after them. The verdict seems to have pleased the public, and we find lady-loving Pepys recording, 'after church to Sir W. Batten's; where my Lady Batten inveighed mightily against the German Princess, and I as high in defence of her wit and spirit, and glad that she is cleared at the sessions.' The author of An Encomiastick Poem, after comparing his subject to divers famous ladies, proceeds to tell us that:
Her most illustrious worth
Through all impediments of hate brake forth;
Which her detractors sought within a prison,
T' eclipse, whereby her fame's the higher risen.
As gems i' th' dark do cast a brighter ray
Than when obstructed by the rival day;
So did the lustre of her mind appear
Through this obscure condition, more clear.
And when they thought by bringing to the bar
To gain her public shame, they raised her far
More noble trophies-she being cleared quite
Both by her innocence and excellent wit.
Mr. Carleton, however, refused to acknowledge his wife, and published his Ultima Vale, in which, after abusing her to his heart's content, he grows sentimental, and indites a poetical farewell to his 'perjured Maria;' whose next appearance before the public was as an actress in a play founded upon her own adventures. Mr. Pepys records:
15 April 1664.-To the Duke's House, and there saw The German Princess acted by the woman herself; but never was anything so well done in earnest, worse performed in jest upon the stage.
The theatre failing her, Mary Carleton took to thieving, was detected, tried, and sentenced to transportation to Jamaica. By discovering a plot against the life of the captain of the convict-ship, she obtained her liberty upon arriving at Port Royal, but becoming tired of West-Indian life, she contrived to find her way back to England, and resumed her old life. For some time she appears to have done so with impunity, in one case succeeding in getting clear off with ₤600 worth of property belonging to a watchmaker.
The manner of her arrest was curious. A brewer, named Freeman, having been robbed, employed Lowman, a keeper of the Marshalsea, to trace out the thieves. With this object in view, Lowman called at a house in New Spring Gardens, and there spied a gentlewoman walking in one of the rooms, two pair of stairs high, in her night-gown, with her maid waiting upon her. He presently enters the room, and spies three letters lying upon the table, casts his eye upon the superscription of one of them, directed to a prisoner of his; upon which the lady began to abuse him in no measured terms, and so drew him to look at her more closely than he had done, and thereby recognise her as Mrs. Carleton. He at once took her into custody for the watch-robbery; she was tried at the Old. Bailey, found guilty, and sentenced. to death.
She was executed at Tyburn on the 22nd of January 1672-3, with five young men, 'who could not, among them all, complete the number of 120 years.' She made a short exhortation to the people, sent some words of good advice to her husband, whose portrait she placed in her bosom at the last moment. Her body was given up to her friends, by whom it was interred in the churchyard of St. Martin's, and 'thus,' says her biographer, 'exit German Princess, in the thirty-eighth year of her age, and the same month she was born in.'
In Luttrell's Collection of Eulogies and Elegies, there is preserved an 'Elegie on the famous and renowned Lady,' Madame Mary Carleton, which concludes with
Here lieth one was hurried hence,
To make the world a recompense
For actions wrought by wit and lust,
Whose closet now is in the dust.
Then let her sleep, for she bath wit
Will give disturbers hit for hit.