Page images

gence. The death scene is so rich a specimen of biographic fidelity, and what is called "fine writing," that I translate it for the benefit of those who wish to share the authentically demonstrated certainty of M. Beauchesne.

"You will ask, without doubt, what were the last words of the dying. You have heard those of his father, who, from the height of the scaffold, which his virtue had made a throne, sent pardon to his assassins, You have heard those of his mother, that heroic Queen, who, impatient to quit the earth, where she had suffered so much, prayed the executioner to make haste. You have known those of his aunt, of that Christian virgin, who, with supplicating eye, when they removed her dress to strike her better, asked in the name of modesty, that they would cover her bosom; and now shall I dare to repeat the last words of the orphan?

"Those who received his last sigh, have related them to me, and I come faithfully to inscribe them on the Royal Martyrology.

"Gomin seeing the infant calm, immovable and mute, said to him, I hope you do not suffer at this moment; 'Oh yes, I suffer still, but much less, the music is so fine. Now there was no music in the tower or its neighborhood; no noise from without came at this moment into the tower where the young martyr lay. Gomin astonished said to him, 'In what quarter do you hear this music? From above,' Have you heard it a long time? Since you have been on your knees.' And the child raised by a neryous movement his failing hand, and opened his great illuminated eyes in ecstasy. His poor guardian not wishing to destroy this sweet and last illusion, set himself to listen also, with the pious desire to hear that which could not be heard.

"After some moments of attention the child was again agitated, his eyes flashed, and he cried in indescribable transport, In the midst of all the voices, I have heard that of my mother. This name falling from the lips of the child seemed to take from him all pain. His contracted eyebrows distended and his look was illumined with that serene ray, which gives the certainty of deliverance or of victory. His eye fixed on an invisible spectacle, his ear open to the far-off sound of one of those concerts which the human ear has never heard, his young soul seemed to blaze out with a new existence."

But I must curtail this edifying scene, and come to the end.

"Do you think that my sister could have heard the music? What good it would have done her!' Lasne could not reply, a look full of anguish from the dying child darted earnest and piercing towards the window -an exclamation of happiness escaped from his lipsthen looking at his guardian, I have something to tell you; Lasne approached and took his hand-the little head of the prisoner fell on the breast of his guardian, who listened, but in vain-God had spared the young martyr the hour of the death rattle, God had preserved for himself alone the confidence of his last thought. Lasne put his hand upon the heart of the child. The heart of Louis XVII. had ceased to beat. It was two hours and a quarter after midnight."

Some glimpse of the dying scene is necessary to estimate the worth of the certificates. I should like to present the reader Lasne's soliloquy over the dead body. It is a gem of its kind. One sentence I must transcribe.

"An hour passed during which, breathless, with eyes fixed, without voice I continued near his remains.

That solemn hour had a great influence upon my whole life. A voice had spoken in my heart, to which I had promised to be an honest man."

Then you were not so before, M. Lasne? Honest M. Lasne!

On the 9th June, four surgeons were appointed to open the body, and visited the Temple for this purpose. We give the procès verbal, but it is worthy of remark, as indicating the nervous haste with which the affair was hurried through, that the year is omitted from the date entirely, and that although at the conclusion reference is made to a day and year on which the instrument was written, there are none given.

PROCES VERBAL of the opening of the body of the son of the deceased Louis Capet, drawn up at the Tower of the Temple, at eleven o'clock in the morning of this 21st prairial.

We, the undersigned Jean Baptiste Eugène Dumangin, Physician-in-Chief of the Hospital of the Unity, and Philippe-Jean Pelletan, Surgeon-in-Chief of the Grand Hospital of Humanity, accompanied by the citizens Nicholas Jeanroy, Professor in the Schools of Medicine at Paris, and Pierre Lassus, Professor of Legal Medicine in the School of Health at Paris: whom we have joined to ourselves in virtue of a decree of the Committee of General Safety of the National Convention, dated yesterday, and signed Bergoing, president, Courtois Cauthier, Pierre Guyomard, to the effect that we should proceed together to the opening of the body of the son of the deceased Louis Capet, to declare the condition in which we have found it, have proceeded as follows:

"All four of us having arrived at eleven o'clock in the morning at the outer gate of the Temple, we were received by the Commissaries, who introduced us into the Tower. We proceeded to the second story into an apartment, in the second division of which we found upon a bed the body of a child, who appeared to us about ten years of age, which the Commissaries told us was that of the son of the deceased Louis Capet, and which two among us recognized to be the child of whom they had taken care for some days past. The said Commissaries declared to us that the child died that night about 3 o'clock in the morning, upon which we sought to verify the signs of death, which we found characterized by an universal paleness, the coldness of the whole habit of the body, the stiffness of the limbs, the dulness of the eyes, the violet spots common to the skin of a corpse, and above all, by an incipient putrefaction at the stomach, the scrotum, and between the thighs.

"We remarked before proceeding to the opening of the body, a general leanness which was that of marasmus. The stomach was extremely swollen and puffed with air. On the inner side of the right knee we remarked a tumor without change of color to the skin; and another tumor, less voluminous, upon the os radius near the wrist of the left side. The tumor of the knee contained about two ounces of a grayish matter, pussy and lymphatic, situated between the periosteum and the muscles, and that of the wrist contained matter of the same kind, but thicker.

"At the opening of the stomach, there flowed out about a pint of purulent serum, yellow and very of fensive; the intestines were swollen, pale, and adhering one to another, and also to the sides of the cavity; they were covered with a great quantity of tubercles of different sizes, and which presented when opened the same matter that was contained in the exterior deposits of the knee and of the wrist.

"The intestines, open throughout their whole extent, were very healthy inwardly, and contained but a

small quantity of bilious matter. The stomach presented to us the same condition-it adhered to all the surrounding parts, was pale outside, covered with small lymphatic tubercles, like those on the surface of the intestines; its inner membrane was sound, also, the pilorus and the omentum, the liver adhered by its convexity to the diaphragm, and by its concavity to the viscera which it covered, its substance was healthy, its volume ordinary, the vessel of the gall bladder was moderately filled with bile of a yellowish green color. The spleen, the pancreas, the reins and the bladder were sound, the epiploon and mesentery, covered with fat, were filled with lymphatic tubercles, similar to those of which we have spoken. Similar tumors were scattered over the thickness of the peritoneum, covering the inward face of the diaphragm. This muscle was sound.

"The lungs adhered by their whole surface to the pleura, to the diaphragm and to the pericardium; their substance was sound and without tubercles. There were only some near the tracheal artery and the omentum. The pericardium contained the ordinary quantity of serosity-the heart was pale, but in its natural state. The brain and its dependencies were in their most perfect integrity.

"All the disorders of which we have given the detail, are evidently the effect of a scrofulous disease of a long standing, and to which the death of the child should be attributed.

"The present procès verbal has been made, and signed at Paris, at the said place, by the undersigned, at four hours and a half, in the morning of the day, and year below written.


"This procès verbal was completed in 1817, by M. Pelletan, who made the following declaration.

"Signed, Paris, 17 August, 1817.

"I the undersigned, chevalier of the order of the legion of Honor, member of the Royal Academy of Science, professor of the faculty of medicine, certify moreover, that after having cut the cranium transversely, on a level with the orbits, to make the anatomy of the brain in the opening of the body of the son of Louis XVI., which had been assigned to me, I replaced the skull-cap of the cranium, and covered it with four strips of skin which I had separated, and which I sewed together, and that finally, I covered the head with a linen handkerchief, or perhaps with a cotton cap fastened below the chin or at the nape, as is practised in similar cases. This dressing will be found, if it be true that corruption has not destroyed it, but certainly the skull-cap of the cranium still exists enveloped in the remains of those linens, or the cotton



M. Pelletan declared still later, that he had set apart the heart of the Dauphin in the operation of the autopsy, and had carried it away, so as to be able to offer to the royal family this sad and mournful relic of the infant king.

and place officially specified, and tells us that, having all his life told the truth, he will not lie at its conclusion. Both of the keepers unite in affirming the scrupulous exactness of our author. That these authentic testimonials of asserted facts may make the deepest impression, they are given in the form of fac-similes, after which M. Beauchesne states that Providence preserved the life of the two old men to give light to his researches and present, hour by hour, the bulletins of his dying agony. He then carries us to the grave in the cemetery of l'Eglise St. Marguerite, expresses "painful perplexity to whether the body was interred by itself or in a common sepulchre, indicates on a map the exact spot of interment, relates all the efforts which Louis XVIII. made to obtain certainty as to the place of burial, and of a certain monument which he intended to erect to the memory of the royal martyr, but which "n'a point été exécuté," and ends with the Latin epitaph which was to have been inscribed on the said Mausoleum, 'Memoriæ et cineribus Ludovici XVII."




Beside the procès verbal, the documentary proofs of the death of Louis XVII., are the official declaration of Lasne and Gomin, and of two other persons, and certificates written by the said Lasne and Gomin for M. Beauchesne in 1837 and 1840; that of Lasne being confided to the scented pages of our author's album. Lasne asserts 'on his honor, and before God, that the young prince died in his arms" at the time


I would here call attention to one or two

singular and suspicious facts. The royal ordinance, issued in 1816, for the disinterment of the body of Louis XVII., was, without any sufficient reason, revoked, as if it were a matter the king was afraid to meddle with. Again, orders were issued for the removal of the heart, asserted to be in the possession of Pelletan, to St. Denis; but, according to Beauchesne (see appendix), Lasne, who was present at the autopsy, declared that he never left the surgeons for a minute, and that Pelletan did not take the heart out; consequently he was left in possession of the sacred and precious relie, which the royal family did not deign to receive. Now, it is obvious that either Pelletan or Lasne must have lied, and thus either the procès verbal is discredited, or the testimony of Lasne; and the whole affair is left in uncertainty. For myself I believe the statement of Pelletan. And here too, the reader is requested to mark that the whole testimony as to identity resolves itself into the truth or falsehood of declarations made by Lasne and Gomin. To this we have only to add that, according to Beauchesne, the testimony as to the place of interment is equally contradictory; and that to say the least it is singular, that in 1817, after Louis XVIII. was on the throne, he should have thought it necessary to call in the aid of Pelletan to make a further statement, had it not been felt that the procès verbal was transparently defective. In point of fact we know that it never satisfied the great body of legitimists in France; for many of them to this day do not believe the Dauphin died in the Temple.

We are now prepared to consider the authentic demonstration of M. Beauchesne.

He has proved, undoubtedly, that a child died in the Temple 8th June, 1795, and was buried somewhere in the cemetery of l'E

glise St. Marguerite on the 10th June, and we will not dispute the assertion that at nine o'clock that night "the air was pure, and the golden hues of the luminous vapor which crowned that fine evening seemed to retain and to prolong the adieu of the sun." But I give the following reasons for denying entirely that it was Louis XVII. who then and there died, and was buried.

I. The surgeons do not testify that it was the body of the Dauphin which they opened. II. Louis XVII. had tumors at all the joints, and particularly at the knees. This is a fact, so positively stated by the French officials as to stand beyond reach of contradiction. The tumors were not scrofulous, but the result of confinement, and were in the shape of knots.

The procès verbal speaks of only two tumors, one on the inner side of the right knee and the other near the left wrist.

III. M. Desault, on 6th May, testified that scrofula had scarcely imprinted its seal on the constitution of the Dauphin, and that he had merely the germ of a scrofulous affection.

MM. Dumangin, Pelletan, Lassus, and Jeanroy certify that the death of the child, whose body they examined, was the effect of a scrofulous disease which had existed for a long time, and the internal condition of the body, so minutely specified by them, shows how deeply seated the disease was in the constitution, so that the whole stomach and intestines were covered with a great quantity of tubercles, and all the other organs where the disease could manifest itself, were in the state which showed the ripeness of the malady unto death.

IV. All testimony, except that of Lasne and Gomin, proves that, mentally, the Dauphin was in a condition of imbecility, coincident with his physical prostration, lethargic, timid, mute, difficult of access, shy of stran


The boy who died, if the whole account is not false, was exactly the contrary, forward, talkative, animated, imaginative.

V. Again, let any physician say whether a child in the mental condition in which Desault found the Dauphin, could have had not only the brain, but all its dependencies, perfectly healthy, or whether its vessels would not have been in a state of temporary derangement.

The examining physicians say, "Le cerveau et ses dependences étaient dans leur plus parfaite intégrité.

Now, unless M. Beauchesne can demonstrate that a body having tumors at both knees, both wrists, and both elbows, is the same with a body having only two tumors in all, and leaving one knee, two elbows, and one wrist, without them; that a child who, on the 8th of May, had scarcely a taint of scrofula, but whose diseases were caused by confinement, could, on the 8th of the next month, die of scrofulous disease of long standing; that mental characteristics the most opposite, are the same, and

[ocr errors]

all the dependencies of an enfeebled brain can be in the most perfect integrity, his certificates, and his witnesses, and his sentimentality, his tears, unbuilt cenotaph, and Latin epitaph, and even "le cœur de l'enfant," of which M. Pelletan says, "je l'enveloppai en linge et je la mit dans ma poche," and which he afterwards touched and examined, "avec attention, plus .de mille fois," will be of no avail, and he must be forced to confess that a fact may be authentically demonstrated, and yet physically and morally disproved.

The certificates of our author may be correctly copied-his reports of conversations as Lasne testifies, of the most.


scrupuleuse exactitude”—but certificates are pieces of paper with ink upon them, and words spoken are sounding breath and there their worth begins and ends, in times and cases on which great issues hang, unless consistent with confessed facts, and we have moral confidence in those who spoke and wrote.

But some possible objections may be made to this conelusion. It may be said that the number of the swellings was decreased by the frictions and applications made by order of Desault, and that he may have been mistaken in his opinion as to the nature of the Dauphin's malady, or that it increased with an unusual rapidity during the last month of his life. Such objections can never be made by medical men, but it is necessary to guard against the possible difficulties of others. If the disease were 'scrofulous, all diminution of the tumors would imply diminution of the disease, unless, it manifested itself in some other place of which there is no intimation, and thus the first and the last supposition would be at entire variance. Again Desault was the most celebrated surgeon of the time in France, and it is not conceivable that he could have erred in opinion in a case of such importance, and if his opinion were correct, that in the beginning of May, scrofula had scarcely imprinted its seal on the constitution of the Dauphin; then it is a physical impossibility that it should attain its most advanced stage in a month, for scrofula, as I am professionally advised, is a disease most slow in its progress, beginning in the glands, progressing to the skin and articulations, and gradually taking possession of the intestines and vital organs, nor does it destroy life until the mastery over the last is complete. It would require years to bring about the state of things described in the procès verbal, as being presented at the autopsy of the asserted Dauphin, and the declaration of the physicians that the disease was of long standing concedes this.

Now, against evidence of this character, proving by undeniable physical differences, the non-identity of two bodies, no official recognition of identity based on mere casual observation, however positively declared, and however formally certified, can be of any


avail. Bodies change so much after death, in many cases, that nothing but the closest examination, with the desire to ascertain the truth, can afford grounds for a certain or even probable opinion. Four members of the committee of general safety, came to verify the death of the Prince, but they showed the greatest indifference and actually said the event was of no consequence. The officers and sub-officers of the guard of the Temple were afterwards admitted, and we are told, but no documentary evidence is afforded of the fact, that a great number of them recognized the body. But I am at once able to neutralize such testimony, if any should be inclined to attach importance to it, by proof exactly similar to his own. Mr. B. H. Muller, of Howard-st., New York, elsewhere alluded to in this article, and who authorizes me to refer to him, assured me in the presence of Mr. A. Fleming, that he was well acquainted with a person named Auvray, formerly an officer of the household of Louis XVI., and who though afterwards a republican, still retained his attachment to the Royal Family, and frequently saw the Prince at the Temple both in a civil and military capacity, having previously known him well at the Tuileries. Now Auvray declared to Muller that he was present when the body was exhibited to the officers of the garde national, and that it was not the body of the Dauphin.* I therefore meet hearsay with hearsay; neither being legal testimony, and one just as good as the other

It seems necessary to suppose that the Dauphin was removed from the Temple after his last interview with Desault, and another boy of about the same age in the most advanced stage of scrofula introduced in his stead. In confirmation of this idea, let us look at certain undoubted facts.

Between May 30th and June 1st, there were only four persons who had any intercourse with the Prince, Desault, Bellanger, Lasne, and Gomin. The first who knew the Dauphin intimately, and who, as a noble and good man, could never have been brought to testify that he was dead when he knew him to be alive, died suddenly, as all Paris suspected, of poison, on 1st June. Bellanger was alone in the Dauphin's room for hours on the 31st May, under circumstances which show that he was seeking to gain the affections of the child. The keepers-one of whom was put in his place by an intriguer of Louis XVIII., the acting head of the royalist party, and the other who was a representative of the republican interestpresent us with the very conjunction of

instruments necessary to carry out what was most desirable for both parties at that time, viz., to remove the child from the Temple to some place of distant and secure concealment. To put him to death, provided they could have summoned sufficient boldness for the commission of the act, was a thing which the two parties could hardly have been brought to unite in, and which, as they were mutually a check upon each other, neither, by itself, could have dared to perpetrate. It may, indeed, be said, that in the weak state in which the Dauphin was, there was no necessity to remove him, since death would soon have taken him out of the way without the commission of any positive crime beyond the prolongation of his confinement. But I reply that in the absence of any notes of Desault concerning the condition of the child, an omission which is remarkable, and can perhaps be accounted for in another way than by supposing that he left no memoranda; there is no evidence but that of Lasne and Gomin, on which no dependence can be placed, to show that his danger was so extreme as is represented. Besides which there was probably the commingling of persons actuated by the most opposite feelings, and the sincere desire to save his life may have influenced some, as the desire to get rid of him by exile, did others.

The precise mode by which the death of Desault was accomplished, or the agents employed, may never be known, but 1 think there will be few to deny the extreme probability that he was poisoned. Certainly death never occurred more opportunely. He knew the Dauphin well, and was convinced of the identity of the patient whom he was attending, with the son of Louis XVI. A personal attachment had grown up between them. Had he visited the Temple after M. Bellanger was there, he would have at once detected and exposed the imposition that had been practised. It would have been impossible to obtain from him a procès verbal, stating that the Dauphin was dead when he knew him to be alive; or even an indefinite document of the character furnished by Pelletan and his colleagues, which would, in fact, from him, have been worthless. They might shelter themselves under the plea of personal ignorance-he could not do so; and had he violated the principles of his moral nature, and disgraced himself in the eyes of the profession and the world, by the lame non-committalism that the commissaries assured him the dead body was that of the Dauphin, no one would have

After the above was in type, we received the following paragraph, cut from the New Jersey State Gazette. of February 11, 1500, published at Trenton, N. J. It is given for what it is worth:-"It is stated in political circles as a fact, that about two years ago, a Frenchman, who had left his country on account of his principles, and resided at Philadelphia, affirmed that he was on the committee of surgeons who examined the body of the child said to be the Dauphin, and to have died of scrofula in the Temple; that having known the Prince while alive, on examining the face of the corpse (contrary to positive instructions), he perceived no resemblance, and was convinced that some artifice had been used to preserve the life of the young prince. The circumstance is related by gentlemen of credit, who received it two years ago, from the surgeon who was present at the dissection, and is therefore highly confirmative of the recent rumor that Louis XVII was really saved from the prisons of the National Convention by an artifice of Sieyes, and is still in existence on the Continent."

VOL. I-29

believed him, and the deception would have immediately recoiled on the heads of its contrivers. Nor would it have answered to have dismissed him and appointed other examining physicians in his place, for the world would immediately have asked, Why is this? Why keep away from the body the man who knows the Dauphin, and substitute others who do not know him? A crisis had evidently arrived in those unscrupulous and bloody days, when either Desault must die, or the combined treachery of two hostile factions must be exposed, and all their plans and contrivances, and hopes for the future, come to nought. Can we think the moving agents in this dark drama would hesitate a moment between murder and utter discomfiture, or that they would lack the instruments to accomplish their resolves.

With respect to Bellanger, a few words are necessary, to which I would beg especially to call the attention of the reader. At the time that my previous article was written, Mr. Williams was not aware that any person named Bellanger was known historically to have been in communication with the Dauphin during the last hours spent in the Temple. He feared, and I believed, that Bellanger was an assumed name. On obtaining the work of M. Beauchesne, I discovered that Bellanger alone could have been the chief agent in the removal of the Prince, and the surprise of Mr. Williams at the discovery was as great as my own. Is it possible to account, on the ground of accidental coincidence for the agreement between the historical fact and the rumor, which, as I shall show, was undoubtedly prevalent in the South in 1848, that Bellanger, when dying, made the confession that he had brought the Dauphin to this country? It will, I trust, have the effect of stimulating inquiry concerning Bellanger, of whom many particulars must yet be discoverable. His portfolios and paintings may be in existence, and the evidence to be derived from them may be of the utmost importance, since as cabinet painter to Monsieur-i. e., to the Count de Provence, he can scarcely fail to have been his agent, and thus by the strongest probability we connect the uncle with the removal of the nephew.

As to Lasne and Gomin, if my reasoning on the evidence be sustained, no other sentence can be passed on them than that they lied knowingly to the end, and the solemnity of their falsehood is on a par with the credulity of M. Beauchesne. Perhaps they were taught to regard it as a religious duty thus to act, and superstition was strengthened by habit, worldly interest, and the too natural desire to preserve consistency to the last. It might be worth while to trace the future of these two men. Of Lasne we know nothing; but Gomin long remained in a lucrative situation about the person of Madame Royale.

M. Beauchesne, I conceive, has failed en

tirely in establishing the proposition with which his work begins, and this labored production is a further instance of the weakness which must ever attach to every thing which is not founded in truth. His book, as I shall shortly show, is appealed to as authority by those who are interested in maintaining that the Dauphin died in the Temple in 1795, but what support they can derive from his lucubrations, the public must judge. "The literature of the book," says the London Athenæum,“ stantly reminds us of the peculiar kind of style employed by a certain school of French writers in composing Lives of the Saints.' The same publishers have put forward a good number of legendary tales on subjects sacred and profane; and this work bears all the marks of its particular class."



And now before advancing further, it will be necessary to "define my position." There is a distinction too obvious to be overlooked between legal evidence, and evidence morally convincing, based upon a collection of dovetailing circumstances and carrying with it a very high degree of probability. To the first, as a pioneer in an untrodden field of mystery, I made no pretence. My object was simply to arrest attention and to excite inquiry. To enable the public to aid in this, I threw before it all which seemed to have a bearing on the subject, not as proof, but as collateral issues to be examined. Thus, the mode by which the education of Mr. Williams was defrayed, and the knowledge of his personality by De Ferrier and Le Ray, were not stated as proven facts, but as hypothetical inferences. But there were certain other statements which were of a very different nature, and which could only receive stronger confirmation as time and investigation proceeded. These were that Eleazer Williams is not an Indian, that he bears the most decided resemblance to the house of Bourbon, that members of that family have held communication with him under circumstances of the most suspicious character, that he is a sane man, and a good, honest, simple-minded, Christian man, and that he, with the fullest sense of responsibility to God and man, declares certain things.-Such was my original position, and I have yet found nothing to weaken, but much to confirm it.

I shall now proceed in as brief a manner as possible, to give the public every means of arriving at a correct judgment on this question, as far as it may be predicated from the existing condition of the evidence; and to this end I shall lay before it all the principal documents in my possession, correct all important errors of transcription and typography in my previous narrative, and intersperse the whole with such argument and explanation as may seem necessary. For mere senseless ridicule, I have no ear and no answer. To sound reasoning, from whatever quarter, I am prepared to respond, and when convinced to confess it.

Having arranged the circumstantial evi

« PreviousContinue »