The Valet's Tragedy and Other Stories
Part 1 out of 5
This etext was prepared by Les Bowler, St. Ives, Dorset.
THE VALET'S TRAGEDY AND OTHER STUDIES BY ANDREW LANG
TO THE MARQUIS D'EGUILLES 'FOR THE LOVE OF THE MAID AND OF CHIVALRY'
I. THE VALET'S TRAGEDY
II. THE VALET'S MASTER
III. THE MYSTERY OF SIR EDMUND BERRY GODFREY
IV. THE FALSE JEANNE D'ARC.
V. JUNIUS AND LORD LYTTELTON'S GHOST
VI. THE MYSTERY OF AMY ROBSART
VII. THE VOICES OF JEANNE D'ARC
VIII. THE MYSTERY OF JAMES DE LA CLOCHE
IX. THE TRUTH ABOUT 'FISHER'S GHOST'
X. THE MYSTERY OF LORD BATEMAN
XI. THE QUEEN'S MARIE
XII. THE SHAKESPEARE-BACON IMBROGLIO
These studies in secret history follow no chronological order. The
affair of James de la Cloche only attracted the author's attention
after most of the volume was in print. But any reader curious in
the veiled intrigues of the Restoration will probably find it
convenient to peruse 'The Mystery of James de la Cloche' after the
essay on 'The Valet's Master,' as the puzzling adventures of de la
Cloche occurred in the years (1668-1669), when the Valet was
consigned to lifelong captivity, and the Master was broken on the
wheel. What would have been done to 'Giacopo Stuardo' had he been a
subject of Louis XIV., ''tis better only guessing.' But his fate,
whoever he may have been, lay in the hands of Lord Ailesbury's 'good
King,' Charles II., and so he had a good deliverance.
The author is well aware that whosoever discusses historical
mysteries pleases the public best by being quite sure, and offering
a definite and certain solution. Unluckily Science forbids, and
conscience is on the same side. We verily do not know how the false
Pucelle arrived at her success with the family of the true Maid; we
do not know, or pretend to know, who killed Sir Edmund Berry
Godfrey; or how Amy Robsart came by her death; or why the Valet was
so important a prisoner. It is only possible to restate the cases,
and remove, if we may, the errors and confusions which beset the
problems. Such a tiny point as the year of Amy Robsart's marriage
is stated variously by our historians. To ascertain the truth gave
the author half a day's work, and, at last, he would have voted for
the wrong year, had he not been aided by the superior acuteness of
his friend, Mr. Hay Fleming. He feels morally certain that, in
trying to set historians right about Amy Robsart, he must have
committed some conspicuous blunders; these always attend such
enterprises of rectification.
With regard to Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, Mr. A. W. Crawley-Boevey
points out to me that in an unpublished letter of Mr. Alexander
Herbert Phaire in 1743-44 (Addit. MSS. British Museum 4291, fol.
150) Godfrey is spoken of in connection with his friend Valentine
Greatrakes, the 'miraculous Conformist,' or 'Irish Stroker,' of the
Restoration. 'It is a pity,' Mr. Phaire remarks, 'that Sir Edmund's
letters, to the number of 104, are not in somebody's hands that
would oblige the world by publishing them. They contain many
remarkable things, and the best and truest secret history in King
Charles II.'s reign.' Where are these letters now? Mr. Phaire does
not say to whom they were addressed, perhaps to Greatrakes, who
named his second son after Sir Edmund, or to Colonel Phaire, the
Regicide. This Mr. Phaire of 1744 was of Colonel Phaire's family.
It does not seem quite certain whether Le Fevre, or Lee Phaire, was
the real name of the so-called Jesuit whom Bedloe accused of the
murder of Sir Edmund.
Of the studies here presented, 'The Valet's Master,' 'The Mystery of
Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey,' 'The False Jeanne d'Arc,' 'The Mystery of
Amy Robsart,' and 'The Mystery of James de la Cloche,' are now
published for the first time. Part of 'The Voices of Jeanne d'Arc,'
is from a paper by the author in 'The Proceedings of the Society for
Psychical Research.' 'The Valet's Tragedy' is mainly from an
article in 'The Monthly Review,' revised, corrected, and augmented.
'The Queen's Marie' is a recast of a paper in 'Blackwood's
Magazine'; 'The Truth about "Fisher's Ghost,"' and 'Junius and Lord
Lyttelton's Ghost' are reprinted, with little change, from the same
periodical. 'The Mystery of Lord Bateman' is a recast of an article
in 'The Cornhill Magazine.' The earlier part of the essay on
Shakespeare and Bacon appeared in 'The Quarterly Review.' The
author is obliged to the courtesy of the proprietors and editors of
these serials for permission to use his essays again, with revision
*Essays by the author on 'The False Pucelle' and on 'Sir Edmund
Berry Godfrey' have appeared in The Nineteenth Century (1895) and in
The Cornhill Magazine, but these are not the papers here presented.
The author is deeply indebted to the generous assistance of Father
Gerard and Father Pollen, S.J.; and, for making transcripts of
unpublished documents, to Miss E. M. Thompson and Miss Violet
Since passing the volume for the press the author has received from
Mr. Austin West, at Rome, a summary of Armanni's letter about
Giacopo Stuardo. He is led thereby to the conclusion that Giacopo
was identical with the eldest son of Charles II.--James de la
Cloche--but conceives that, at the end of his life, James was
insane, or at least was a 'megalomaniac,' or was not author of his
I. THE VALET'S TRAGEDY
1. THE LEGEND OF THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
The Mystery of the Man in the Iron Mask is, despite a pleasant
saying of Lord Beaconsfield's, one of the most fascinating in
history. By a curious coincidence the wildest legend on the
subject, and the correct explanation of the problem, were offered to
the world in the same year, 1801. According to this form of the
legend, the Man in the Iron Mask was the genuine Louis XIV.,
deprived of his rights in favour of a child of Anne of Austria and
of Mazarin. Immured in the Isles Sainte-Marguerite, in the bay of
Cannes (where you are shown his cell, looking north to the sunny
town), he married, and begot a son. That son was carried to
Corsica, was named de Buona Parte, and was the ancestor of Napoleon.
The Emperor was thus the legitimate representative of the House of
This legend was circulated in 1801, and is referred to in a
proclamation of the Royalists of La Vendee. In the same year, 1801,
Roux Fazaillac, a Citoyen and a revolutionary legislator, published
a work in which he asserted that the Man in the Iron Mask (as known
in rumour) was not one man, but a myth, in which the actual facts
concerning at least two men were blended. It is certain that Roux
Fazaillac was right; or that, if he was wrong, the Man in the Iron
Mask was an obscure valet, of French birth, residing in England,
whose real name was Martin.
Before we enter on the topic of this poor menial's tragic history,
it may be as well to trace the progress of the romantic legend, as
it blossomed after the death of the Man, whose Mask was not of iron,
but of black velvet. Later we shall show how the legend struck root
and flowered, from the moment when the poor valet, Martin (by his
prison pseudonym 'Eustache Dauger'), was immured in the French
fortress of Pignerol, in Piedmont (August 1669).
The Man, IN CONNECTION WITH THE MASK, is first known to us from a
kind of notebook kept by du Junca, Lieutenant of the Bastille. On
September 18, 1698, he records the arrival of the new Governor of
the Bastille, M. de Saint-Mars, bringing with him, from his last
place, the Isles Sainte-Marguerite, in the bay of Cannes, 'an old
prisoner whom he had at Pignerol. He keeps the prisoner always
masked, his name is not spoken. . . and I have put him, alone, in
the third chamber of the Bertaudiere tower, having furnished it some
days before with everything, by order of M. de Saint-Mars. The
prisoner is to be served and cared for by M. de Rosarges,' the
officer next in command under Saint-Mars.*
*Funck-Brentano. Legendes et Archives de la Bastille, pp. 86, 87,
Paris, 1898, p. 277, a facsimile of this entry.
The prisoner's death is entered by du Junca on November 19, 1703.
To that entry we return later.
The existence of this prisoner was known and excited curiosity. On
October 15, 1711, the Princess Palatine wrote about the case to the
Electress Sophia of Hanover, 'A man lived for long years in the
Bastille, masked, and masked he died there. Two musketeers were by
his side to shoot him if ever he unmasked. He ate and slept in his
mask. There must, doubtless, have been some good reason for this,
as otherwise he was very well treated, well lodged, and had
everything given to him that he wanted. He took the Communion
masked; was very devout, and read perpetually.'
On October 22, 1711, the Princess writes that the Mask was an
English nobleman, mixed up in the plot of the Duke of Berwick
against William III.--Fenwick's affair is meant. He was imprisoned
and masked that the Dutch usurper might never know what had become
* Op. cit. 98, note 1.
The legend was now afloat in society. The sub-commandant of the
Bastille from 1749 to 1787, Chevalier, declared, obviously on the
evidence of tradition, that all the Mask's furniture and clothes
were destroyed at his death, lest they might yield a clue to his
identity. Louis XV. is said to have told Madame de Pompadour that
the Mask was 'the minister of an Italian prince.' Louis XVI. told
Marie Antoinette (according to Madame de Campan) that the Mask was a
Mantuan intriguer, the same person as Louis XV. indicated. Perhaps
he was, it is one of two possible alternatives. Voltaire, in the
first edition of his 'Siecle de Louis XIV.,' merely spoke of a
young, handsome, masked prisoner, treated with the highest respect
by Louvois, the Minister of Louis XIV. At last, in 'Questions sur
l'Encyclopedie' (second edition), Voltaire averred that the Mask was
the son of Anne of Austria and Mazarin, an elder brother of Louis
XIV. Changes were rung on this note: the Mask was the actual King,
Louis XIV. was a bastard. Others held that he was James, Duke of
Monmouth--or Moliere! In 1770 Heiss identified him with Mattioli,
the Mantuan intriguer, and especially after the appearance of the
book by Roux Fazaillac, in 1801, that was the generally accepted
It MAY be true, in part. Mattioli MAY have been the prisoner who
died in the Bastille in November 1703, but the legend of the Mask's
prison life undeniably arose out of the adventure of our valet,
Martin or Eustache Dauger.
2. THE VALET'S HISTORY
After reading the arguments of the advocates of Mattioli, I could
not but perceive that, whatever captive died, masked, at the
Bastille in 1703, the valet Dauger was the real source of most of
the legends about the Man in the Iron Mask. A study of M. Lair's
book 'Nicholas Foucquet' (1890) confirmed this opinion. I therefore
pushed the inquiry into a source neglected by the French historians,
namely, the correspondence of the English ambassadors, agents, and
statesmen for the years 1668, 1669.* One result is to confirm a
wild theory of my own to the effect that the Man in the Iron Mask
(if Dauger were he) may have been as great a mystery to himself as
to historical inquirers. He may not have known WHAT he was
imprisoned for doing! More important is the probable conclusion
that the long and mysterious captivity of Eustache Dauger, and of
another perfectly harmless valet and victim, was the mere automatic
result of the 'red tape' of the old French absolute monarchy. These
wretches were caught in the toils of the system, and suffered to no
purpose, for no crime. The two men, at least Dauger, were
apparently mere supernumeraries in the obscure intrigue of a
conspirator known as Roux de Marsilly.
*The papers are in the Record Office; for the contents see the
following essay, 'The Valet's Master.'
This truly abominable tragedy of Roux de Marsilly is 'another
story,' narrated in the following essay. It must suffice here to
say that, in 1669, while Charles II. was negotiating the famous, or
infamous, secret treaty with Louis XIV.--the treaty of alliance
against Holland, and in favour of the restoration of Roman
Catholicism in England--Roux de Marsilly, a French Huguenot, was
dealing with Arlington and others, in favour of a Protestant league
When he started from England for Switzerland in February 1669,
Marsilly left in London a valet, called by him 'Martin,' who had
quitted his service and was living with his own family. This man is
the 'Eustache Dauger' of our mystery. The name is his prison
pseudonym, as 'Lestang' was that of Mattioli. The French Government
was anxious to lay hands on him, for he had certainly, as the
letters of Marsilly prove, come and gone freely between that
conspirator and his English employers. How much Dauger knew, what
amount of mischief he could effect, was uncertain. Much or little,
it was a matter which, strange to say, caused the greatest anxiety
to Louis XIV. and to his Ministers for very many years. Probably
long before Dauger died (the date is unknown, but it was more than
twenty-five years after Marsilly's execution), his secret, if secret
he possessed, had ceased to be of importance. But he was now in the
toils of the French red tape, the system of secrecy which rarely
released its victim. He was guarded, we shall see, with such
unheard-of rigour, that popular fancy at once took him for some
great, perhaps royal, personage.
Marsilly was publicly tortured to death in Paris on June 22, 1669.
By July 19 his ex-valet, Dauger, had entered on his mysterious term
of captivity. How the French got possession of him, whether he
yielded to cajolery, or was betrayed by Charles II., is uncertain.
The French ambassador at St. James's, Colbert (brother of the
celebrated Minister), writes thus to M. de Lyonne, in Paris, on July
1, 1669:* 'Monsieur Joly has spoken to the man Martin' (Dauger),
'and has really persuaded him that, by going to France and telling
all that he knows against Roux, he will play the part of a lad of
honour and a good subject.'
*Transcripts from Paris MSS. Vol. xxxiii., Record Office.
But Martin, after all, was NOT persuaded!
Martin replied to Joly that HE KNEW NOTHING AT ALL, and that, once
in France, people would think he was well acquainted with the
traffickings of Roux, 'AND SO HE WOULD BE KEPT IN PRISON TO MAKE HIM
DIVULGE WHAT HE DID NOT KNOW.' The possible Man in the Iron Mask
did not know his own secret! But, later in the conversation, Martin
foolishly admitted that he knew a great deal; perhaps he did this
out of mere fatal vanity. Cross to France, however, he would not,
even when offered a safe-conduct and promise of reward. Colbert
therefore proposes to ask Charles to surrender the valet, and
probably Charles descended to the meanness. By July 19, at all
events, Louvois, the War Minister of Louis XIV., was bidding Saint-
Mars, at Pignerol in Piedmont, expect from Dunkirk a prisoner of the
very highest importance--a valet! This valet, now called 'Eustache
Dauger,' can only have been Marsilly's valet, Martin, who, by one
means or another, had been brought from England to Dunkirk. It is
hardly conceivable, at least, that when a valet, in England, is
'wanted' by the French police on July 1, for political reasons, and
when by July 19 they have caught a valet of extreme political
importance, the two valets should be two different men. Martin must
Here, then, by July 19, 1669, we find our unhappy serving-man in the
toils. Why was he to be handled with such mysterious rigour? It is
true that State prisoners of very little account were kept with
great secrecy. But it cannot well be argued that they were all
treated with the extraordinary precautions which, in the case of
Dauger, were not relaxed for twenty-five or thirty years. The King
says, according to Louvois, that the safe keeping of Dauger is 'of
the last importance to his service.' He must have intercourse with
nobody. His windows must be where nobody can pass; several bolted
doors must cut him off from the sound of human voices. Saint-Mars
himself, the commandant, must feed the valet daily. 'YOU MUST
NEVER, UNDER ANY PRETENCE, LISTEN TO WHAT HE MAY WISH TO TELL YOU.
YOU MUST THREATEN HIM WITH DEATH IF HE SPEAKS ONE WORD EXCEPT ABOUT
HIS ACTUAL NEEDS. He is only a valet, and does not need much
*The letters are printed by Roux Fazaillac, Jung, Lair, and others.
Saint-Mars replied that, in presence of M. de Vauroy, the chief
officer of Dunkirk (who carried Dauger thence to Pignerol), he had
threatened to run Dauger through the body if he ever dared to speak,
even to him, Saint-Mars. He has mentioned this prisoner, he says,
to no mortal. People believe that Dauger is a Marshal of France, so
strange and unusual are the precautions taken for his security.
A Marshal of France! The legend has begun. At this time (1669)
Saint-Mars had in charge Fouquet, the great fallen Minister, the
richest and most dangerous subject of Louis XIV. By-and-by he also
held Lauzun, the adventurous wooer of la Grande Mademoiselle. But
it was not they, it was the valet, Dauger, who caused 'sensation.'
On February 20,1672, Saint-Mars, for the sake of economy wished to
use Dauger as valet to Lauzun. This proves that Saint-Mars did not,
after all, see the necessity of secluding Dauger, or thought the
King's fears groundless. In the opinion of Saint-Mars, Dauger did
not want to be released, 'would never ask to be set free.' Then why
was he so anxiously guarded? Louvois refused to let Dauger be put
with Lauzun as valet. In 1675, however, he allowed Dauger to act as
valet to Fouquet, but with Lauzun, said Louvois, Dauger must have no
intercourse. Fouquet had then another prisoner valet, La Riviere.
This man had apparently been accused of no crime. He was of a
melancholy character, and a dropsical habit of body: Fouquet had
amused himself by doctoring him and teaching him to read.
In the month of December 1678, Saint-Mars, the commandant of the
prison, brought to Fouquet a sealed letter from Louvois, the seal
unbroken. His own reply was also to be sealed, and not to be seen
by Saint-Mars. Louvois wrote that the King wished to know one
thing, before giving Fouquet ampler liberty. Had his valet,
Eustache Dauger, told his other valet, La Riviere, what he had done
before coming to Pignerol? (de ce a quoi il a ete employe auparavant
que d'etre a Pignerol). 'His Majesty bids me ask you [Fouquet] this
question, and expects that you will answer without considering
anything but the truth, that he may know what measures to take,'
these depending on whether Dauger has, or has not, told La Riviere
the story of his past life.* Moreover, Lauzun was never, said
Louvois, to be allowed to enter Fouquet's room when Dauger was
present. The humorous point is that, thanks to a hole dug in the
wall between his room and Fouquet's, Lauzun saw Dauger whenever he
*Lair, Nicholas Foucquet, ii. pp. 463, 464.
From the letter of Louvois to Fouquet, about Dauger (December 23,
1678), it is plain that Louis XIV. had no more pressing anxiety,
nine years after Dauger's arrest, than to conceal WHAT IT WAS THAT
DAUGER HAD DONE. It is apparent that Saint-Mars himself either was
unacquainted with this secret, or was supposed by Louvois and the
King to be unaware of it. He had been ordered never to allow Dauger
to tell him: he was not allowed to see the letters on the subject
between Louvois and Fouquet. We still do not know, and never shall
know, whether Dauger himself knew his own secret, or whether (as he
had anticipated) he was locked up for not divulging what he did not
The answer of Fouquet to Louvois must have satisfied Louis that
Dauger had not imparted his secret to the other valet, La Riviere,
for Fouquet was now allowed a great deal of liberty. In 1679, he
might see his family, the officers of the garrison, and Lauzun--it
being provided that Lauzun and Dauger should never meet. In March
1680, Fouquet died, and henceforth the two valets were most
rigorously guarded; Dauger, because he was supposed to know
something; La Riviere, because Dauger might have imparted the real
or fancied secret to him. We shall return to these poor serving-
men, but here it is necessary to state that, ten months before the
death of their master, Fouquet, an important new captive had been
brought to the prison of Pignerol.
This captive was the other candidate for the honours of the Mask,
Count Mattioli, the secretary of the Duke of Mantua. He was
kidnapped on Italian soil on May 2, 1679, and hurried to the
mountain fortress of Pignerol, then on French ground. His offence
was the betraying of the secret negotiations for the cession of the
town and fortress of Casal, by the Duke of Mantua, to Louis XIV.
The disappearance of Mattioli was, of course, known to the world.
The cause of his enlevement, and the place of his captivity,
Pignerol, were matters of newspaper comment at least as early as
1687. Still earlier, in 1682, the story of Mattioli's arrest and
seclusion in Pignerol had been published in a work named 'La
Prudenza Trionfante di Casale.'* There was thus no mystery, at the
time, about Mattioli; his crime and punishment were perfectly well
known to students of politics. He has been regarded as the
mysterious Man in the Iron Mask, but, for years after his arrest, he
was the least mysterious of State prisoners.
*Brentano, op. cit. p. 117.
Here, then, is Mattioli in Pignerol in May 1679. While Fouquet then
enjoyed relative freedom, while Lauzun schemed escapes or made
insulting love to Mademoiselle Fouquet, Mattioli lived on the bread
and water of affliction. He was threatened with torture to make him
deliver up some papers compromising to Louis XIV. It was expressly
commanded that he should have nothing beyond the barest necessaries
of life. He was to be kept dans la dure prison. In brief, he was
used no better than the meanest of prisoners. The awful life of
isolation, without employment, without books, without writing
materials, without sight or sound of man save when Saint-Mars or his
lieutenant brought food for the day, drove captives mad.
In January 1680 two prisoners, a monk* and one Dubreuil, had become
insane. By February 14, 1680, Mattioli was daily conversing with
God and his angels. 'I believe his brain is turned,' says Saint-
Mars. In March 1680, as we saw, Fouquet died. The prisoners, not
counting Lauzun (released soon after), were now five: (1) Mattioli
(mad); (2) Dubreuil (mad); (3) The monk (mad); (4) Dauger, and (5)
La Riviere. These two, being employed as valets, kept their wits.
On the death of Fouquet, Louvois wrote to Saint-Mars about the two
valets. Lauzun must be made to believe that they had been set at
liberty, but, in fact, they must be most carefully guarded IN A
SINGLE CHAMBER. They were shut up in one of the dungeons of the
'Tour d'en bas.' Dauger had recently done something as to which
Louvois writes: 'Let me know how Dauger can possibly have done what
you tell me, and how he got the necessary drugs, as I cannot suppose
that you supplied him with them' (July 10, 1680).**
*A monk, who may have been this monk, appears in the following
**Lair, Nicholas Foucquet, ii. pp. 476, 477.
Here, then, by July 1680, are the two valets locked in one dungeon
of the 'Tour d'en bas.' By September Saint-Mars had placed
Mattioli, with the mad monk, in another chamber of the same tower.
He writes: 'Mattioli is almost as mad as the monk,' who arose from
bed and preached naked. Mattioli behaved so rudely and violently
that the lieutenant of Saint-Mars had to show him a whip, and
threaten him with a flogging. This had its effect. Mattioli, to
make his peace, offered a valuable ring to Blainvilliers. The ring
was kept to be restored to him, if ever Louis let him go free--a
contingency mentioned more than once in the correspondence.
Apparently Mattioli now sobered down, and probably was given a
separate chamber and a valet; he certainly had a valet at Pignerol
later. By May 1681 Dauger and La Riviere still occupied their
common chamber in the 'Tour d'en bas.' They were regarded by
Louvois as the most important of the five prisoners then at
Pignerol. They, not Mattioli, were the captives about whose safe
and secret keeping Louis and Louvois were most anxious. This
appears from a letter of Louvois to Saint-Mars, of May 12, 1681.
The gaoler, Saint-Mars, is to be promoted from Pignerol to Exiles.
'Thither,' says Louvois, 'the king desires to transport SUCH OF YOUR
PRISONERS AS HE THINKS TOO IMPORTANT TO HAVE IN OTHER HANDS THAN
YOURS.' These prisoners are 'THE TWO IN THE LOW CHAMBER OF THE
TOWER,' the two valets, Dauger and La Riviere.
From a letter of Saint-Mars (June 1681) we know that Mattioli was
not one of these. He says: 'I shall keep at Exiles two birds
(merles) whom I have here: they are only known as THE GENTRY OF THE
LOW ROOM IN THE TOWER; MATTIOLI MAY STAY ON HERE AT PIGNEROL WITH
THE OTHER PRISONERS' (Dubreuil and the mad monk). It is at this
point that Le Citoyen Roux (Fazaillac), writing in the Year IX. of
the Republic (1801), loses touch with the secret.* Roux finds, in
the State Papers, the arrival of Eustache Dauger at Pignerol in
1669, but does not know who he is, or what is his quality. He sees
that the Mask must be either Mattioli, Dauger, the monk, one
Dubreuil, or one Calazio. But, overlooking or not having access to
the letter of Saint-Mars of June 1681, Roux holds that the prisoners
taken to Les Exiles were the monk and Mattioli. One of these must
be the Mask, and Roux votes for Mattioli. He is wrong. Mattioli
beyond all doubt remained at Pignerol.
*Recherches Historiques, sur l'Homme au Masque de Fer, Paris. An
Mountains of argument have been built on these words, deux merles,
'two gaol-birds.' One of the two, we shall see, became the source
of the legend of the Man in the Iron Mask. 'How can a wretched
gaol-bird (merle) have been the Mask?' asks M. Topin. 'The rogue's
whole furniture and table-linen were sold for 1 pound 19 shillings.
He only got a new suit of clothes every three years.' All very
true; but this gaol-bird and his mate, by the direct statement of
Louvois, are 'the prisoners too important to be entrusted to other
hands than yours'--the hands of Saint-Mars--while Mattioli is so
unimportant that he may be left at Pignerol under Villebois.
The truth is, that the offence and the punishment of Mattioli were
well known to European diplomatists and readers of books. Casal,
moreover, at this time was openly ceded to Louis XIV., and Mattioli
could not have told the world more than it already knew. But, for
some inscrutable reason, the secret which Dauger knew, or was
suspected of knowing, became more and more a source of anxiety to
Louvois and Louis. What can he have known? The charges against his
master, Roux de Marsilly, had been publicly proclaimed. Twelve
years had passed since the dealings of Arlington with Marsilly.
Yet, Louvois became more and more nervous.
In accordance with commands of his, on March 2, 1682, the two
valets, who had hitherto occupied one chamber at Exiles as at
Pignerol, were cut off from all communication with each other. Says
Saint-Mars, 'Since receiving your letter I have warded the pair as
strictly and exactly as I did M. Fouquet and M. Lauzun, who cannot
brag that he sent out or received any intelligence. Night and day
two sentinels watch their tower; and my own windows command a view
of the sentinels. Nobody speaks to my captives but myself, my
lieutenant, their confessor, and the doctor, who lives eighteen
miles away, and only sees them when I am present.' Years went by;
on January 1687 one of the two captives died; we really do not know
which with absolute certainty. However, the intensified secrecy
with which the survivor was now guarded seems more appropriate to
Dauger; and M. Funck-Brentano and M. Lair have no doubt that it was
La Riviere who expired. He was dropsical, that appears in the
official correspondence, and the dead prisoner died of dropsy.
As for the strange secrecy about Dauger, here is an example. Saint-
Mars, in January 1687, was appointed to the fortress of the Isles
Sainte-Marguerite, that sun themselves in the bay of Cannes. On
January 20 he asks leave to go to see his little kingdom. He must
leave Dauger, but HAS FORBIDDEN EVEN HIS LIEUTENANT TO SPEAK TO THAT
PRISONER. This was an increase of precaution since 1682. He wishes
to take the captive to the Isles, but how? A sedan chair covered
over with oilcloth seems best. A litter might break down, litters
often did, and some one might then see the passenger.
Now M. Funck-Brentano says, to minimise the importance of Dauger,
'he was shut up like so much luggage in a chair hermetically closed
with oilcloth, carried by eight Piedmontese in relays of four.'
Luggage is not usually carried in hermetically sealed sedan chairs,
but Saint-Mars has explained why, by surplus of precaution, he did
not use a litter. The litter might break down and Dauger might be
seen. A new prison was built specially, at the cost of 5,000
livres, for Dauger at Sainte-Marguerite, with large sunny rooms. On
May 3, 1687, Saint-Mars had entered on his island realm, Dauger
being nearly killed by twelve days' journey in a closed chair. He
again excited the utmost curiosity. On January 8, 1688, Saint-Mars
writes that his prisoner is believed by the world to be either a son
of Oliver Cromwell, or the Duc de Beaufort,* who was never seen
again, dead or alive, after a night battle in Crete, on June 25,
1669, just before Dauger was arrested. Saint-Mars sent in a note of
the TOTAL of Dauger's expenses for the year 1687. He actually did
not dare to send the ITEMS, he says, lest they, if the bill fell
into the wrong hands, might reveal too much!
*The Duc de Beaufort whom Athos releases from prison in Dumas's
Vingt Ans Apres.
Meanwhile, an Italian news-letter, copied into a Leyden paper, of
August 1687, declared that Mattioli had just been brought from
Pignerol to Sainte-Marguerite. There was no mystery about Mattioli,
the story of his capture was published in 1682, but the press, on
one point, was in error: Mattioli was still at Pignerol. The known
advent of the late Commandant of Pignerol, Saint-Mars, with a single
concealed prisoner, at the island, naturally suggested the erroneous
idea that the prisoner was Mattioli. The prisoner was really
Dauger, the survivor of the two valets.
From 1688 to 1691 no letter about Dauger has been published.
Apparently he was then the only prisoner on the island, except one
Chezut, who was there before Dauger arrived, and gave up his chamber
to Dauger while the new cells were being built. Between 1689 and
1693 six Protestant preachers were brought to the island, while
Louvois, the Minister, died in 1691, and was succeeded by
Barbezieux. On August 13, 1691, Barbezieux wrote to ask Saint-Mars
about 'the prisoner whom he had guarded for twenty years.' The only
such prisoner was Dauger, who entered Pignerol in August 1669.
Mattioli had been a prisoner only for twelve years, and lay in
Pignerol, not in Sainte-Marguerite, where Saint-Mars now was.
Saint-Mars replied: 'I can assure you that nobody has seen him but
By the beginning of March 1694, Pignerol had been bombarded by the
enemies of France; presently Louis XIV. had to cede it to Savoy.
The prisoners there must be removed. Mattioli, in Pignerol, at the
end of 1693, had been in trouble. He and his valet had tried to
smuggle out letters written on the linings of their pockets. These
were seized and burned. On March 20, 1694, Barbezieux wrote to
Laprade, now commanding at Pignerol, that he must take his three
prisoners, one by one, with all secrecy, to Sainte-Marguerite.
Laprade alone must give them their food on the journey. The
military officer of the escort was warned to ask no questions.
Already (February 26, 1694) Barbezieux had informed Saint-Mars that
these prisoners were coming. 'They are of more consequence, one of
them at least, than the prisoners on the island, and must be put in
the safest places.' The 'one' is doubtless Mattioli. In 1681
Louvois had thought Dauger and La Riviere more important than
Mattioli, who, in March 1694, came from Pignerol to Sainte-
Marguerite. Now in April 1694 a prisoner died at the island, a
prisoner who, like Mattioli, HAD A VALET. We hear of no other
prisoner on the island, except Mattioli, who had a valet. A letter
of Saint-Mars (January 6, 1696) proves that no prisoner THEN had a
valet, for each prisoner collected his own dirty plates and dishes,
piled them up, and handed them to the lieutenant
M. Funck-Brentano argues that in this very letter (January 6, 1696)
Saint-Mars speaks of 'les valets de messieurs les prisonniers.' But
in that part of the letter Saint-Mars is not speaking of the actual
state of things at Sainte-Marguerite, but is giving reminiscences of
Fouquet and Lauzun, who, of course, at Pignerol, had valets, and had
money, as he shows. Dauger had no money. M. Funck-Brentano next
argues that early in 1694 one of the preacher prisoners, Melzac,
died, and cites M. Jung ('La Verite sur le Masque de Fer,' p. 91).
This is odd, as M. Jung says that Melzac, or Malzac, 'DIED IN THE
END OF 1692, OR EARLY IN 1693.' Why, then, does M. Funck-Brentano
cite M. Jung for the death of the preacher early in 1694, when M.
Jung (conjecturally) dates his decease at least a year earlier?* It
is not a mere conjecture, as, on March 3, 1693, Barbezieux begs
Saint-Mars to mention his Protestant prisoners under nicknames.
There are three, and Malzac is no longer one of them. Malzac, in
1692, suffered from a horrible disease, discreditable to one of the
godly, and in October 1692 had been allowed medical expenses.
Whether they included a valet or not, Malzac seems to have been non-
existent by March 1693. Had he possessed a valet, and had he died
in 1694, why should HIS valet have been 'shut up in the vaulted
prison'? This was the fate of the valet of the prisoner who died in
April 1694, and was probably Mattioli.
*M. Funck-Brentano's statement is in Revue Historique, lvi. p. 298.
'Malzac died at the beginning of 1694,' citing Jung, p. 91. Now on
P. 91 M. Jung writes, 'At the beginning of 1694 Saint-Mars had six
prisoners, of whom one, Melzac, dies.' But M. Jung (pp. 269, 270)
later writes, 'It is probable that Melzac died at the end of 1692,
or early in 1693,' and he gives his reasons, which are convincing.
M. Funck-Brentano must have overlooked M. Jung's change of opinion
between his P. 91 and his pp. 269, 270.
Mattioli, certainly, had a valet in December 1693 at Pignerol. He
went to Sainte-Marguerite in March 1694. In April 1694 a prisoner
with a valet died at Sainte-Marguerite. In January 1696 no prisoner
at Sainte-Marguerite had a valet. Therefore, there is a strong
presumption that the 'prisonnier au valet' who died in April 1694
After December 1693, when he was still at Pignerol, the name of
Mattioli, freely used before, never occurs in the correspondence.
But we still often hear of 'l'ancien prisonnier,' 'the old
prisoner.' He was, on the face of it, Dauger, by far the oldest
prisoner. In 1688, Saint-Mars, having only one prisoner (Dauger),
calls him merely 'my prisoner.' In 1691, when Saint-Mars had
several prisoners, Barbezieux styles Dauger 'your prisoner of twenty
years' standing.' When, in 1696-1698, Saint-Mars mentions 'mon
ancien prisonnier,' 'my prisoner of long standing,' he obviously
means Dauger, not Mattioli--above all, if Mattioli died in 1694. M.
Funck-Brentano argues that 'mon ancien prisonnier' can only mean 'my
erstwhile prisoner, he who was lost and is restored to me'--that is,
Mattioli. This is not the view of M. Jung, or M. Lair, or M.
Friends of Mattioli's claims rest much on this letter of Barbezieux
to Saint-Mars (November 17, 1697): 'You have only to watch over the
security of all your prisoners, WITHOUT EVER EXPLAINING TO ANY ONE
WHAT IT IS THAT YOUR PRISONER OF LONG STANDING DID.' That secret,
it is argued, MUST apply to Mattioli. But all the world knew what
Mattioli had done! Nobody knew, and nobody knows, what Eustache
Dauger had done. It was one of the arcana imperii. It is the
secret enforced ever since Dauger's arrest in 1669. Saint-Mars
(1669) was not to ask. Louis XIV. could only lighten the captivity
of Fouquet (1678) if his valet, La Riviere, did not know what Dauger
had done. La Riviere (apparently a harmless man) lived and died in
confinement, the sole reason being that he might perhaps know what
Dauger had done. Consequently there is the strongest presumption
that the 'ancien prisonnier' of 1697 is Dauger, and that 'what he
had done' (which Saint-Mars must tell to no one) was what Dauger
did, not what Mattioli did. All Europe knew what Mattioli had done;
his whole story had been published to the world in 1682 and 1687.
On July 19, 1698, Barbezieux bade Saint-Mars come to assume the
command of the Bastille. He is to bring his 'old prisoner,' whom
not a soul is to see. Saint-Mars therefore brought his man MASKED,
exactly as another prisoner was carried masked from Provence to the
Bastille in 1695. M. Funck-Brentano argues that Saint-Mars was now
quite fond of his old Mattioli, so noble, so learned.
At last, on September 18, 1698, Saint-Mars lodged his 'old prisoner'
in the Bastille, 'an old prisoner whom he had at Pignerol,' says the
journal of du Junca, Lieutenant of the Bastille. His food, we saw,
was brought him by Rosarges alone, the 'Major,' a gentleman who had
always been with Saint-Mars. Argues M. Funck-Brentano, all this
proves that the captive was a gentleman, not a valet. Why? First,
because the Bastille, under Louis XIV., was 'une prison de
distinction.' Yet M. Funck-Brentano tells us that in Mazarin's time
'valets mixed up with royal plots' were kept in the Bastille.
Again, in 1701, in this 'noble prison,' the Mask was turned out of
his room to make place for a female fortune-teller, and was obliged
to chum with a profligate valet of nineteen, and a 'beggarly' bad
patriot, who 'blamed the conduct of France, and approved that of
other nations, especially the Dutch.' M. Funck-Brentano himself
publishes these facts (1898), in part published earlier (1890) by M.
Lair.* Not much noblesse here! Next, if Rosarges, a gentleman,
served the Mask, Saint-Mars alone (1669) carried his food to the
valet, Dauger. So the service of Rosarges does not ennoble the Mask
and differentiate him from Dauger, who was even more nobly served,
*Legendes de la Bastille, pp. 86-89. Citing du Junca's Journal,
April 30, 1701.
On November 19, 1703, the Mask died suddenly (still in his velvet
mask), and was buried on the 20th. The parish register of the
church names him 'Marchialy' or 'Marchioly,' one may read it either
way; du Junca, the Lieutenant of the Bastille, in his contemporary
journal, calls him 'Mr. de Marchiel.' Now, Saint-Mars often spells
This is the one strength of the argument for Mattioli's claims to
the Mask. M. Lair replies, 'Saint-Mars had a mania for burying
prisoners under fancy names,' and gives examples. One is only a
gardener, Francois Eliard (1701), concerning whom it is expressly
said that, as he is a State prisoner, his real name is not to be
given, so he is registered as Pierre Maret (others read Navet,
'Peter Turnip'). If Saint-Mars, looking about for a false name for
Dauger's burial register, hit on Marsilly (the name of Dauger's old
master), that MIGHT be miswritten Marchialy. However it be, the age
of the Mask is certainly falsified; the register gives 'about forty-
five years old.' Mattioli would have been sixty-three; Dauger
cannot have been under fifty-three.
There the case stands. If Mattioli died in April 1694, he cannot be
the Man in the Iron Mask. Of Dauger's death we find no record,
unless he was the Man in the Iron Mask, and died, in 1703, in the
Bastille. He was certainly, in 1669 and 1688, at Pignerol and at
Sainte-Marguerite, the centre of the mystery about some great
prisoner, a Marshal of France, the Duc de Beaufort, or a son of
Oliver Cromwell. Mattioli was no mystery, no secret. Dauger is so
mysterious that probably the secret of his mystery was unknown to
himself. By 1701, when obscure wretches were shut up with the Mask,
the secret, whatever its nature, had ceased to be of moment. The
captive was now the mere victim of cruel routine. But twenty years
earlier, Saint-Mars had said that Dauger 'takes things easily,
resigned to the will of God and the King.'
To sum up, on July 1, 1669, the valet of the Huguenot intriguer,
Roux de Marsilly, the valet resident in England, known to his master
as 'Martin,' was 'wanted' by the French secret police. By July 19,
a valet, of the highest political importance, had been brought to
Dunkirk, from England, no doubt. My hypothesis assumes that this
valet, though now styled 'Eustache Dauger,' was the 'Martin' of Roux
de Marsilly. He was kept with so much mystery at Pignerol that
already the legend began its course; the captive valet was said to
be a Marshal of France! We then follow Dauger from Pignerol to Les
Exiles, till January 1687, when one valet out of a pair, Dauger
being one of them, dies. We presume that Dauger is the survivor,
because the great mystery still is 'what he HAS DONE,' whereas the
other valet had done nothing, but may have known Dauger's secret.
Again, the other valet had long been dropsical, and the valet who
died in 1687 died of dropsy.
In 1688, Dauger, at Sainte-Marguerite, is again the source and
centre of myths; he is taken for a son of Oliver Cromwell, or for
the Duc de Beaufort. In June 1692, one of the Huguenot preachers at
Sainte-Marguerite writes on his shirt and pewter plate, and throws
them out of window.* Legend attributes these acts to the Man in the
Iron Mask, and transmutes a pewter into a silver plate. Now, in
1689-1693, Mattioli was at Pignerol, but Dauger was at Sainte-
Marguerite, and the Huguenot's act is attributed to him. Thus
Dauger, not Mattioli, is the centre round which the myths
crystallise: the legends concern HIM, not Mattioli, whose case is
well known, and gives rise to no legend. Finally, we have shown
that Mattioli probably died at Sainte-Marguerite in April 1694. If
so, then nobody but Dauger can be the 'old prisoner' whom Saint-Mars
brought, masked, to the Bastille, in September 1698, and who died
there in November 1703. However, suppose that Mattioli did not die
in 1694, but was the masked man who died in the Bastille in 1703,
then the legend of Dauger came to be attributed to Mattioli: these
two men's fortunes are combined in the one myth.
*Saint-Mars au Ministre, June 4, 1692.
The central problem remains unsolved,
WHAT HAD THE VALET, EUSTACHE DAUGER, DONE?*
*One marvels that nobody has recognised, in the mask, James Stuart
(James de la Cloche), eldest of the children of Charles II. He came
to England in 1668, was sent to Rome, and 'disappears from history.'
See 'The Mystery of James de la Cloche.'
II. THE VALET'S MASTER
The secret of the Man in the Iron Mask, or at least of one of the
two persons who have claims to be the Mask, was 'WHAT HAD EUSTACHE
DAUGER DONE?' To guard this secret the most extraordinary
precautions were taken, as we have shown in the fore-going essay.
And yet, if secret there was, it might have got wind in the simplest
fashion. In the 'Vicomte de Bragelonne,' Dumas describes the tryst
of the Secret-hunters with the dying Chief of the Jesuits at the inn
in Fontainebleau. They come from many quarters, there is a Baron of
Germany and a laird from Scotland, but Aramis takes the prize. He
knows the secret of the Mask, the most valuable of all to the
intriguers of the Company of Jesus.
Now, despite all the precautions of Louvois and Saint-Mars, despite
sentinels for ever posted under Dauger's windows, despite
arrangements which made it impossible for him to signal to people on
the hillside at Les Exiles, despite the suppression even of the
items in the accounts of his expenses, his secret, if he knew it,
could have been discovered, as we have remarked, by the very man
most apt to make mischievous use of it--by Lauzun. That brilliant
and reckless adventurer could see Dauger, in prison at Pignerol,
when he pleased, for he had secretly excavated a way into the rooms
of his fellow-prisoner, Fouquet, on whom Dauger attended as valet.
Lauzun was released soon after Fouquet's death. It is unlikely that
he bought his liberty by the knowledge of the secret, and there is
nothing to suggest that he used it (if he possessed it) in any other
The natural clue to the supposed secret of Dauger is a study of the
career of his master, Roux de Marsilly. As official histories say
next to nothing about him, we may set forth what can be gleaned from
the State Papers in our Record Office. The earliest is a letter of
Roux de Marsilly to Mr. Joseph Williamson, secretary of Lord
Arlington (December 1668). Marsilly sends Martin (on our theory
Eustache Dauger) to bring back from Williamson two letters from his
own correspondent in Paris. He also requests Williamson to procure
for him from Arlington a letter of protection, as he is threatened
with arrest for some debt in which he is not really concerned.
Martin will explain. The next paper is endorsed 'Received December
28, 1668, Mons. de Marsilly.' As it is dated December 27, Marsilly
must have been in England. The contents of this piece deserve
attention, because they show the terms on which Marsilly and
Arlington were, or, at least, how Marsilly conceived them.
(1) Marsilly reports, on the authority of his friends at Stockholm,
that the King of Sweden intends, first to intercede with Louis XIV.
in favour of the French Huguenots, and next, if diplomacy fails, to
join in arms with the other Protestant Powers of Europe.
(2) His correspondent in Holland learns that if the King of England
invites the States to any 'holy resolution,' they will heartily lend
forces. No leader so good as the English King--Charles II!
Marsilly had shown ARLINGTON'S LETTER to a Dutch friend, who bade
him approach the Dutch ambassador in England. He has dined with
that diplomatist. Arlington had, then, gone so far as to write an
encouraging letter. The Dutch ambassador had just told Marsilly
that he had received the same news, namely, that, Holland would aid
the Huguenots, persecuted by Louis XIV.
(3) Letters from Provence, Languedoc, and Dauphine say that the
situation there is unaltered.
(4) The Canton of Zurich write that they will keep their promises
and that Berne IS ANXIOUS TO PLEASE THE KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, and
that it is ready to raise, with Zurich, 15,000 men. They are not
afraid of France.
(5) Zurich fears that, if Charles is not represented at the next
Diet, Bale and Saint Gal will be intimidated, and not dare to join
the Triple Alliance of Spain, Holland, and England. The best plan
will be for Marsilly to represent England at the Diet of January 25,
1669, accompanied by the Swiss General Balthazar. This will
encourage friends 'TO GIVE HIS BRITTANIC MAJESTY THE SATISFACTION
WHICH HE DESIRES, and will produce a close union between Holland,
Sweden, the Cantons, and other Protestant States.'
This reads as if Charles had already expressed some 'desire.'
(6) Geneva grumbles at a reply of Charles 'through a bishop who is
their enemy,' the Bishop of London, 'a persecutor of our religion,'
that is, of Presbyterianism. However, nothing will dismay the
Genevans, 'si S. M. B. ne change.'
Then comes a blank in the paper. There follows a copy of a letter
as if FROM CHARLES II. HIMSELF, to 'the Right High and Noble
Seigneurs of Zurich.' He has heard of their wishes from Roux de
Marsilly, whom he commissions to wait upon them. 'I would not have
written by my Bishop of London had I been better informed, but would
myself have replied to your obliging letter, and would have assured
you, as I do now, that I desire. . . .'
It appears as if this were a draft of the kind of letter which
Marsilly wanted Charles to write to Zurich, and there is a similar
draft of a letter for Arlington to follow, if he and Charles wish to
send Marsilly to the Swiss Diet. The Dutch ambassador, with whom
Marsilly dined on December 26, the Constable of Castille, and other
grandees, are all of opinion that he should visit the Protestant
Swiss, as from the King of England. The scheme is for an alliance
of England, Holland, Spain, and the Protestant Cantons, against
France and Savoy.
Another letter of Marsilly to Arlington, only dated Jeudi, avers
that he can never repay Arlington for his extreme kindness and
liberality. 'No man in England is more devoted to you than I am,
and shall be all my life.'*
*State Papers, France, vol. 125, 106.
On the very day when Marsilly drafted for Charles his own commission
to treat with Zurich for a Protestant alliance against France,
Charles himself wrote to his sister, Madame (Henriette d'Orleans).
He spoke of his secret treaty with France. 'You know how much
secrecy is necessary for the carrying on of the business, and I
assure you that nobody does, nor shall, know anything of it here,
but myself and that one person more, till it be fit to be public.'*
(Is 'that one person' de la Cloche?)
*Madame, by Julia Cartwright, p. 275.
Thus Marsilly thought Charles almost engaged for the Protestant
League, while Charles was secretly allying himself with France
against Holland. Arlington was probably no less deceived by Charles
than Marsilly was.
The Bishop of London's share in the dealing with Zurich is obscure.
It appears certain that Arlington was not consciously deceiving
Marsilly. Madame wrote, on February 12, as to Arlington, 'The man's
attachment to the Dutch and his inclination towards Spain are too
well known.'* Not till April 25, 1669, does Charles tell his sister
that Arlington has an inkling of his secret dealings with France;
how he knows, Charles cannot tell.** It is impossible for us to
ascertain how far Charles himself deluded Marsilly, who went to the
Continent early in spring, 1669. Before May 15/25 1669, in fact on
April 14, Marsilly had been kidnapped by agents of Louis XIV., and
his doom was dight.
*Madame, by Julia Cartwright, p. 281.
**Ibid. p. 285.
Here is the account of the matter, written to ----- by Perwich in
W Perwich to -----
Paris, May 25, '69.
. . . . . .
The Cantons of Switzerland are much troubled at the French King's
having sent 15 horsemen into Switzerland from whence the Sr de
Maille, the King's resident there, had given information of the Sr
Roux de Marsilly's being there negociating the bringing the Cantons
into the Triple League by discourses much to the disadvantage of
France, giving them very ill impressions of the French King's
Government, who was BETRAYED BY A MONK THAT KEPT HIM COMPANY and
intercepted by the said horsemen brought into France and is expected
at the Bastille. I believe you know the man. . . . I remember him
Can this monk be the monk who went mad in prison at Pignerol,
sharing the cell of Mattioli? Did he, too, suffer for his
connection with the secret? We do not know, but the position of
Charles was awkward. Marsilly, dealing with the Swiss, had come
straight from England, where he was lie with Charles's minister,
Arlington, and with the Dutch and Spanish ambassadors. The King
refers to the matter in a letter to his sister of May 24, 1669
(misdated by Miss Cartwright, May 24, 1668.)*
'You have, I hope, received full satisfaction by the last post in
the matter of Marsillac [Marsilly], for my Ld. Arlington has sent to
Mr. Montague [English ambassador at Paris] his history all the time
he was here, by which you will see how little credit he had here,
and that particularly my Lord Arlington was not in his good graces,
because he did not receive that satisfaction, in his negotiation, he
expected, and that was only in relation to the Swissers, and so I
think I have said enough of this matter.'
*Madame, by Julia Cartwright, p. 264.
Charles took it easily!
On May 15/25 Montague acknowledged Arlington's letter to which
Charles refers; he has been approached, as to Marsilly, by the
Spanish resident, 'but I could not tell how to do anything in the
business, never having heard of the man, or that he was employed by
my Master [Charles] in any business. I have sent you also a copy of
a letter which an Englishman writ to me that I do not know, in
behalf of Roux de Marsilly, but that does not come by the post,'
being too secret.*
*State Papers, France, vol. 126.
France had been well informed about Marsilly while he was in
England. He then had a secretary, two lackeys, and a valet de
chambre, and was frequently in conference with Arlington and the
Spanish ambassador to the English Court. Colbert, the French
ambassador in London, had written all this to the French Government,
on April 25, before he heard of Marsilly's arrest.*
*Bibl. Nat., Fonds Francais, No. 10665.
The belief that Marsilly was an agent of Charles appears to have
been general, and, if accepted by Louis XIV., would interfere with
Charles's private negotiations for the Secret Treaty with France.
On May 18 Prince d'Aremberg had written on the subject to the
Spanish ambassador in Paris. Marsilly, he says, was arrested in
Switzerland, on his way to Berne, with a monk who was also seized,
and, a curious fact, Marsilly's valet was killed in the struggle.
This valet, of course, was not Dauger, whom Marsilly had left in
England. Marsilly 'doit avoir demande la protection du Roy de la
Grande Bretagne en faveur des Religionaires (Huguenots) de France,
et passer en Suisse AVEC QUELQUE COMMISSION DE SA PART.' D'Aremberg
begs the Spanish ambassador to communicate all this to Montague, the
English ambassador at Paris, but Montague probably, like Perwich,
knew nothing of the business any more than he knew of Charles's
secret dealings with Louis through Madame.*
*State Papers, France, vol. 126.
To d'Aremberg's letter is pinned an unsigned English note, obviously
intended for Arlington's reading.
'Roux de Marsilly is still in the Bastille though they have a mind
to hang him, yet they are much puzzled what to do with him. De
Lionne has beene to examine him twice or thrice, but there is noe
witnes to prove anything against him. I was told by one that the
French king told it to, that in his papers they find great mention
of the DUKE OF BUCKS: AND YOUR NAME, and speak as if he were much
trusted by you. I have enquired what this Marsilly is, and I find
by one Mr. Marsilly that I am acquainted withall, and a man of
quality, that this man's name is onely Roux, and borne at Nismes and
having been formerly a soldier in his troope, ever since has taken
his name to gain more credit in Switserland where hee, Marsilly,
formerly used to bee employed by his Coll: the Mareschall de
Schomberg who invaded Switserland.'
We next find a very curious letter, from which it appears that the
French Government inclined to regard Marsilly as, in fact, an agent
of Charles, but thought it wiser to trump up against him a charge of
conspiring against the life of Louis XIV. On this charge, or
another, he was executed, while the suspicion that he was an agent
of English treachery may have been the real cause of the
determination to destroy him. The Balthazar with whom Marsilly left
his papers is mentioned with praise by him in his paper for
Arlington, of December 27, 1668. He is the General who should have
accompanied Marsilly to the Diet.
The substance of the letter (given in full in Note I.) is to the
following effect. P. du Moulin (Paris, May 19/29, 1669) writes to
Arlington. Ever since Ruvigny, the late French ambassador, a
Protestant, was in England, the French Government had been anxious
to kidnap Roux de Marsilly. They hunted him in England, Holland,
Flanders, and Franche-Comte. As we know from the case of Mattioli,
the Government of Louis XIV. was unscrupulously daring in breaking
the laws of nations, and seizing hostile personages in foreign
territory, as Napoleon did in the affair of the Duc d'Enghien. When
all failed, Louis bade Turenne capture Roux de Marsilly wherever he
could find him. Turenne sent officers and gentlemen abroad, and,
after four months' search, they found Marsilly in Switzerland. They
took him as he came out of the house of his friend, General
Balthazar, and carried him to Gex. No papers were found on him, but
he asked his captors to send to Balthazar and get 'the commission he
had from England,' which he probably thought would give him the
security of an official diplomatic position. Having got this
document, Marsilly's captors took it to the French Ministers.
Nothing could be more embarrassing, if this were true, to Charles's
representative in France, Montague, and to Charles's secret
negotiations, also to Arlington, who had dealt with Marsilly. On
his part, the captive Marsilly constantly affirmed that he was the
envoy of the King of England. The common talk of Paris was that an
agent of Charles was in the Bastille, 'though at Court they pretend
to know nothing of it.' Louis was overjoyed at Marsilly's capture,
giving out that he was conspiring against his life. Monsieur told
Montague that he need not beg for the life of a would-be murderer
like Marsilly. But as to this idea, 'they begin now to mince it at
Court,' and Ruvigny assured du Moulin 'that they had no such
thoughts.' De Lyonne had seen Marsilly and observed that it was a
blunder to seize him. The French Government was nervous, and
Turenne's secretary had been 'pumping' several ambassadors as to
what they thought of Marsilly's capture on foreign territory. One
ambassador replied with spirit that a crusade by all Europe against
France, as of old against the Moslems, would be necessary. Would
Charles, du Moulin asked, own or disown Marsilly?
Montague's position was now awkward. On May 23, his account of the
case was read, at Whitehall, to the Foreign Committee in London.
(See Note II. for the document.) He did not dare to interfere in
Marsilly's behalf, because he did not know whether the man was an
agent of Charles or not. Such are the inconveniences of a secret
royal diplomacy carried on behind the backs of Ministers. Louis XV.
later pursued this method with awkward consequences.* The French
Court, Montague said, was overjoyed at the capture of Marsilly, and
a reward of 100,000 crowns, 'I am told very privately, is set upon
his head.' The French ambassador in England, Colbert, had reported
that Charles had sent Marsilly 'to draw the Swisses into the Triple
League' against France. Montague had tried to reassure Monsieur
(Charles's brother-in-law), but was himself entirely perplexed. As
Monsieur's wife, Charles's sister, was working with Charles for the
secret treaty with Louis, the State and family politics were clearly
in a knot. Meanwhile the Spanish ambassador kept pressing Montague
to interfere in favour of Marsilly. After Montague's puzzled note
had been read to the English Foreign Committee on May 23, Arlington
offered explanations. Marsilly came to England, he said, when
Charles was entering into negotiations for peace with Holland, and
when France seemed likely to oppose the peace. No proposition was
made to him or by him. Peace being made, Marsilly was given money
to take him out of the country. He wanted the King to renew his
alliance with the Swiss cantons, but was told that the cantons must
first expel the regicides of Charles I. He undertook to arrange
this, and some eight months later came back to England. 'He was
coldly used, and I was complained of for not using so important a
man well enough.'
*Cf. Le Secret du Roi, by the Duc de Broglie.
As we saw, Marsilly expressed the most effusive gratitude to
Arlington, which does not suggest cold usage. Arlington told the
complainers that Marsilly was 'another man's spy,' what man's,
Dutch, Spanish, or even French, he does not explain. So Charles
gave Marsilly money to go away. He was never trusted with anything
but the expulsion of the regicides from Switzerland. Arlington was
ordered by Charles to write a letter thanking Balthazar for his good
These explanations by Arlington do not tally with Marsilly's
communications to him, as cited at the beginning of this inquiry.
Nothing is said in these about getting the regicides of Charles I.
out of Switzerland: the paper is entirely concerned with bringing
the Protestant Cantons into anti-French League with England,
Holland, Spain, and even Sweden. On the other hand, Arlington's
acknowledged letter to Balthazar, carried by Marsilly, may be the
'commission' of which Marsilly boasted. In any case, on June 2,
Charles gave Colbert, the French ambassador, an audience, turning
even the Duke of York out of the room. He then repeated to Colbert
the explanations of Arlington, already cited, and Arlington, in a
separate interview, corroborated Charles. So Colbert wrote to Louis
(June 3, 1669); but to de Lyonne, on the same day, 'I trust that you
will extract from Marsilly much matter for the King's service. IT
SEEMED TO ME THAT MILORD D'ARLINGTON WAS UNEASY ABOUT IT [EN AVAIT
DE L'INQUIETUDE]. . . . There is here in England one Martin'
(Eustace Dauger), 'who has been that wretch's valet, and who left
him in discontent.' Colbert then proposes to examine Martin, who
may know a good deal, and to send him into France. On June 10,
Colbert writes to Louis that he expects to see Martin.*
*Bibl. Nat., Fonds Francais, No. 10665.
On June 24, Colbert wrote to Louis about a conversation with
Charles. It is plain that proofs of a murder-plot by Marsilly were
scanty or non-existent, though Colbert averred that Marsilly had
discussed the matter with the Spanish Ministers. 'Charles knew that
he had had much conference with Isola, the Spanish ambassador.'
Meanwhile, up to July 1, Colbert was trying to persuade Marsilly's
valet to go to France, which he declined to do, as we have seen.
However, the luckless lad, by nods and by veiled words, indicated
that he knew a great deal. But not by promise of security and
reward could the valet be induced to return to France. 'I might ask
the King to give up Martin, the valet of Marsilly, to me,' Colbert
concludes, and, by hook or by crook, he secured the person of the
wretched man, as we have seen. In a postscript, Colbert says that
he has heard of the execution of Marsilly.
By July 19, as we saw in the previous essay, Louvois was bidding
Saint-Mars expect, at Pignerol from Dunkirk, a prisoner of the
highest political importance, to be guarded with the utmost secrecy,
yet a valet. That valet must be Martin, now called Eustache Dauger,
and his secret can only be connected with Marsilly. It may have
been something about Arlington's negotiations through Marsilly, as
compromising Charles II. Arlington's explanations to the Foreign
Committee were certainly incomplete and disingenuous. He, if not
Charles, was more deeply engaged with Marsilly than he ventured to
report. But Marsilly himself avowed that he did not know why he was
to be executed.
Executed he was, in circumstances truly hideous. Perwich, June 5,
wrote to an unnamed correspondent in England: 'They have all his
papers, which speak much of the Triple Alliance, but I know not
whether they can lawfully hang him for this, having been naturalised
in Holland, and taken in a privileged country' (Switzerland).
Montague (Paris, June 22, 1669) writes to Arlington that Marsilly is
to die, so it has been decided, for 'a rape which he formerly
committed at Nismes,' and after the execution, on June 26, declares
that, when broken on the wheel, Marsilly 'still persisted that he
was guilty of nothing, nor did know why he was put to death.'
Like Eustache Dauger, Marsilly professed that he did not know his
own secret. The charge of a rape, long ago, at Nismes, was
obviously trumped up to cover the real reason for the extraordinary
vindictiveness with which he was pursued, illegally taken, and
barbarously slain. Mere Protestant restlessness on his part is
hardly an explanation. There was clearly no evidence for the charge
of a plot to murder Louis XIV., in which Colbert, in England, seems
to have believed. Even if the French Government believed that he
was at once an agent of Charles II., and at the same time a would-be
assassin of Louis XIV., that hardly accounts for the intense secrecy
with which his valet, Eustache Dauger, was always surrounded. Did
Marsilly know of the Secret Treaty, and was it from him that
Arlington got his first inkling of the royal plot? If so, Marsilly
would probably have exposed the mystery in Protestant interests. We
are entirely baffled.
In any case, Francis Vernon, writing from Paris to Williamson (?)
(June 19/29 1669), gave a terrible account of Marsilly's death.
(For the letter, see Note V.) With a broken piece of glass (as we
learn from another source), Marsilly, in prison, wounded himself in
a ghastly manner, probably hoping to die by loss of blood. They
seared him with a red-hot iron, and hurried on his execution. He
was broken on the wheel, and was two hours in dying (June 22).
Contrary to usage, a Protestant preacher was brought to attend him
on the scaffold. He came most reluctantly, expecting insult, but
not a taunt was uttered by the fanatic populace. 'He came up the
scaffold, great silence all about.' Marsilly lay naked, stretched
on a St. Andrew's cross. He had seemed half dead, his head hanging
limp, 'like a drooping calf.' To greet the minister of his own
faith, he raised himself, to the surprise of all, and spoke out loud
and clear. He utterly denied all share in a scheme to murder Louis.
The rest may be read in the original letter (Note V.).
So perished Roux de Marsilly; the history of the master throws no
light on the secret of the servant. That secret, for many years,
caused the keenest anxiety to Louis XIV. and Louvois. Saint-Mars
himself must not pry into it. Yet what could Dauger know? That
there had been a conspiracy against the King's life? But that was
the public talk of Paris. If Dauger had guilty knowledge, his life
might have paid for it; why keep him a secret prisoner? Did he know
that Charles II. had been guilty of double dealing in 1668-1669?
Probably Charles had made some overtures to the Swiss, as a blind to
his private dealings with Louis XIV., but, even so, how could the
fact haunt Louis XIV. like a ghost? We leave the mystery much
darker than we found it, but we see reason good why diplomatists
should have murmured of a crusade against the cruel and brigand
Government which sent soldiers to kidnap, in neighbouring states,
men who did not know their own crime.
To myself it seems not improbable that the King and Louvois were but
stupidly and cruelly nervous about what Dauger MIGHT know. Saint-
Mars, when he proposed to utilise Dauger as a prison valet,
manifestly did not share the trembling anxieties of Louis XIV. and
his Minister; anxieties which grew more keen as time went on.
However, 'a soldier only has his orders,' and Saint-Mars executed
his orders with minute precision, taking such unheard-of precautions
that, in legend, the valet blossomed into the rightful king of
* * *
ORIGINAL PAPERS IN THE CASE OF ROUX DE MARSILLY.*
Note I. Letter of Mons. P. du Moulin to Arlington.**
Paris, May ye 19/29, 1669.
. . . . . .
Ever since that Monsieur de Ruvigny was in England last, and upon
the information he gave, this King had a very great desire to seize
if it were possible this Roux de Marsilly, and several persons were
sent to effect it, into England, Holland, Flanders, and Franche
Comte: amongst the rest one La Grange, exempt des Gardes, was a
good while in Holland with fifty of the guards dispersed in severall
places and quarters; But all having miscarried the King recommended
the thing to Monsieur de Turenne who sent some of his gentlemen and
officers under him to find this man out and to endeavour to bring
him alive. These men after foure months search found him att last
in Switzerland, and having laid waite for him as he came out from
Monsr Balthazar's house (a commander well knowne) they took him and
carryed him to Gex before they could be intercepted and he rescued.
This was done only by a warrant from Monsieur de Turenne but as
soone as they came into the french dominions they had full powers
and directions from this court for the bringing of him hither.
Those that tooke him say they found no papers about him, but that he
desired them to write to Monsr Balthazar to desire him to take care
of his papers and to send him THE COMMISSION HE HAD FROM ENGLAND and
a letter being written to that effect it was signed by the prisoner
and instead of sending it as they had promised, they have brought it
hither along with them. THEY DO ALL UNANIMOUSLY REPORT THAT HE DID
CONSTANTLY AFFIRME THAT HE WAS IMPLOYED BY THE KING OF GREAT
BRITTAIN AND DID ACT BY HIS COMMISSION; so that the general
discourse here in towne is that one of the King of England's agents
is in the Bastille; though att Court they pretend to know nothing of
it and would have the world think they are persuaded he had no
relacion to his Majesty. Your Lordship hath heard by the publique
newes how overjoyed this King was att the bringing of this prisoner,
and how farr he expressed his thanks to the cheife person employed
in it, declaring openly that this man had long since conspired
against his life, and agreable to this, Monsieur, fearing that
Mylord Ambr. was come to interpose on the prisoner's behalfe asked
him on Friday last att St. Germains whether that was the cause of
his coming, and told him that he did not think he would speake for a
man that attempted to kill the King. The same report hath been
hitherto in everybody's mouth but they begin now to mince it att
court, and Monsieur de Ruvigny would have persuaded me yesterday,
they had no such thoughts. The truth is I am apt to believe they
begin now to be ashamed of it: and I am informed from a very good
hand that Monsieur de Lionne who hath been at the Bastille to speake
with the prisoner hath confessed since that he can find no ground
for this pretended attempting to the King's life, and that upon the
whole he was of opinion that this man had much better been left
alone than taken, and did look upon what he had done as the
intemperancy of an ill-settled braine. And to satisfy your Lordship
that they are nettled here, and are concerned to know what may be
the issue of all this, Monsieur de Turenne's secretary was on Munday
last sent to several forreigne Ministers to pump them and to learne
what their thoughts were concerning this violence committed in the
Dominions of a sovereign and an allye whereupon he was told by one
of them that such proceedings would bring Europe to the necessity of
entering into a Croisade against them, as formerly against the
infidels. If I durst I would acquaint your Lordship with the
reflexions of all publique ministers here and of other unconcerned
persons in relation to his Majesty's owning or disowning this man;
but not knowing the particulars of his case, nor the grounds his
Ma'ty may go upon, I shall forbeare entering upon this discourse. .
Your Lordships' etc.
P. Du MOULIN.
*State Papers, France, vol. 126.
Note II. Paper endorsed 'Mr. Montague originally in Cypher.
Received May 19, '69. Read in foreigne Committee, 23 May. Roux de
I durst not venture to sollicite in Monsr Roux Marsilly's behalfe
because I doe not know whether the King my Master hath imployed him
or noe; besides he is a man, as I have beene told by many people
here of worth, that has given out that hee is resolved to kill the
French king at one time or other, and I think such men are as
dangerous to one king as to another: hee is brought to the Bastille
and I believe may be proceeded against and put to death, in very few
daies. There is great joy in this Court for his being taken, and a
hundred thousand crownes, I am told very privately, set upon his
head; the French Ambassador in England watcht him, and hee has given
the intelligence here of his being employed by the King, and sent
into Switzerland by my Master to draw the Swisses into the Triple
League. Hee aggravates the business as much as hee can to the
prejudice of my Master to value his owne service the more, and they
seeme here to wonder that the King my Master should have imployed or
countenanced a man that had so base a design against the King's
Person, I had a great deal of discourse with Monsieur about it, but
I did positively say that he had noe relation to my knowledge to the
King my Master, and if he should have I make a question or noe
whither in this case the King will owne him. However, my Lord, I
had nothing to doe to owne or meddle in a buisines that I was so
much a stranger to. . . .
This Roux Marsilly is a great creature of the B. d'Isola's, wch
makes them here hate him the more. The Spanish Resident was very
earnest with mee to have done something in behalfe of Marsilly, but
I positively refused.
*State Papers, France, vol. 126.
Note III. [A paper endorsed 'Roux de Marsilli. Read in for.
Committee, 23d May.']*
Roux de Marsilly came hither when your Majesty had made a union with
Holland for making the Peace betwixt the two Crownes and when it was
probable the opposition to the Peace would bee on the side of
Marsilly was heard telling of longe things but noe proposition made
to him or by him.
Presently the Peace was made and Marsilly told more plainly wee had
no use of him. A little summe of money was given him to returne as
he said whither he was to goe in Switzerland. Upon which hee
wishing his Ma'ty would renew his allience wth the Cantons hee was
answerd his M'ty would not enter into any comerce with them till
they had sent the regicides out of their Country, hee undertooke it
should bee done. Seven or eight months after wth out any intimation
given him from hence or any expectation of him, he comes hither, but
was so coldly used I was complained off for not using so important a
man well enough. I answerd I saw noe use the King could make of
him, because he had no credit in Switzerlande and for any thing else
I thought him worth nothing to us, but above all because I knew by
many circumstances HEE WAS ANOTHER MAN'S SPY and soe ought not to be
paid by his Majesty. Notwithstanding this his Ma'ty being moved
from compassion commanded hee should have some money given him to
carry him away and that I should write to Monsieur Balthazar
thanking him in the King's name for the good offices hee rendered in
advancing a good understanding betwixt his Ma'ty and the Cantons and
desiring him to continue them in all occasions.
The man was always looked upon as a hot headed and indiscreete man,
and soe accordingly handled, hearing him, but never trusting him
with anything but his own offered and undesired endeavours to gett
the Regicides sent out of Switzerland.
*State Papers, France, vol. 126.
Note IV. Letter of W. Perwich to -----.*
Paris: June 5, 1669.
. . . . . .
Roux Marsilly has prudently declared hee had some what of importance
to say but it should bee to the King himselfe wch may be means of
respiting his processe and as he hopes intercession may bee made for
him; but people talk so variously of him that I cannot tell whether
hee ought to bee owned by any Prince; the Suisses have indeed the
greatest ground to reclayme him as being taken in theirs. They have
all his papers which speak much of the Triple Alliance; if they have
no other pretext of hanging him I know not whether they can lawfully
for this, hee having been naturallised in Holland and taken in a
priviledged Country. . . .
*State Papers, France, vol. 126.
Note V. Francis Vernon to [Mr. Williamson?].*
Paris: June 19/29 1669.
My last of the 26th Currt was soe short and soe abrupt that I fear
you can peck butt little satisfaction out of it.
. . . . . .
I did intend to have written something about Marsilly but that I had
noe time then. In my letter to my Lord Arlington I writt that
Friday 21 Currt hee wounded himself wch he did not because hee was
confronted with Ruvigny as the Gazettes speake. For he knew before
hee should dye, butt he thought by dismembering himself that the
losse of blood would carry him out of the world before it should
come to bee knowne that he had wounded himselfe. And when the
Governor of the Bastille spied the blood hee said It was a stone was
come from him which caused that effusion. However the governor
mistrusted the worst and searcht him to see what wound he had made.
So they seared him and sent word to St. Germaines which made his
execution be hastened. Saturday about 1 of the clock hee was
brought on the skaffold before the Chastelet and tied to St.
Andrew's Crosse all wch while he acted the Dying man and scarce
stirred, and seemed almost breathlesse and fainting. The Lieutenant
General presst him to confesse and ther was a doctor of the Sorbon
who was a counsellr of the Castelet there likewise to exhort him to
disburthen his mind of any thing which might be upon it. Butt he
seemed to take no notice and lay panting.
Then the Lieutenant Criminel bethought himself that the only way to
make him speake would bee to sende for a ministre soe hee did to
Monsr Daillie butt hee because the Edicts don't permitt ministres to
come to condemned persons in publique butt only to comfort them in
private before they goe out of prison refused to come till hee sent
a huissier who if hee had refused the second time would have brought
him by force. At this second summons hee came butt not without
great expectations to bee affronted in a most notorious manner
beeing the first time a ministre came to appeare on a scaffold and
that upon soe sinister an occasion. Yet when he came found a great
presse of people. All made way, none lett fall soe much as a
taunting word. Hee came up the Scaffold, great silence all about.
Hee found him lying bound stretched on St Andrew's Crosse, naked
ready for execution. Hee told him hee was sent for to exhort him to
die patiently and like a Christian. Then immediately they were all
surprized to see him hold up his head wch he lett hang on one side
before like a drooping calfe and speake as loud and clear as the
ministre, to whom he said with a chearful air hee was glad to see
him, that hee need not question butt that hee would dye like a
Christian and patiently too. Then hee went and spoke some places of
Scripture to encourage him which he heard with great attention.
They afterward came to mention some things to move him to
contrition, and there hee tooke an occasion to aggravate the horrour
of a Crime of attempting against the King's person. Hee said hee
did not know what hee meant. For his part hee never had any evill
intention against the Person of the King.
The Lieutenant Criminel stood all the while behind Monsieur Daillie
and hearkened to all and prompted Monsr Daillie to aske him if hee
had said there were 10 Ravillacs besides wch would doe the King's
businesse. Hee protested solemnly hee never said any such words or
if hee did hee never remembred, butt if hee had it was with no
intention of Malice. Then Monsieur Daillie turned to the people and
made a discourse in vindication of those of the Religion that it was
no Principle of theirs attempts on the persons of King[s] butt only
loyalty and obedience. This ended hee went away; hee staid about an
hour in all, and immediately as soon as he was gone, they went to
their worke and gave him eleven blows with a barre and laid him on
the wheele. Hee was two houres dying. All about Monsr Daillie I
heard from his own mouth for I went to wait on him because it was
reported hee had said something concerning the King of England butt
hee could tell mee nothing of that. There was a flying report that
he should say going from the Chastelet--The Duke of York hath done
mee a great injury--The Swisses they say resented his [Marsilly's]
taking and misst butt half an hour to take them which betrayed him
[the monk] after whom they sent. When he was on the wheele hee was
heard to say Le Roy est grand tyrant, Le Roy me traitte d'un facon
fort barbare. All that you read concerning oaths and dying en
enrage is false all the oaths hee used being only asseverations to
Monsr Daillie that he was falsely accused as to the King's person.
Sr I am etc
*State Papers, France, vol. 126.
Note VI. The Ambassador Montague to Arlington.*
Paris: June 22, 1669.
. . . . . .
The Lieutenant criminel hath proceeded pretty farre with Le Roux
Marsilly. The crime they forme their processe on beeing a rape
which he had formerly committed at Nismes soe that he perceiving but
little hopes of his life, sent word to the King if hee would pardon
him he could reveale things to him which would concerne him more and
be of greater consequence to him, than his destruction.
*State Papers, France, vol. 126.
Note VII. The same to the same.
Paris: June 26, '69.
. . . . . .
I heard that Marsilly was to be broke on the wheel and I gave order
then to one of my servants to write Mr. Williamson word of it, soe I
suppose you have heard of it already: they hastened his execution
for feare he should have dyed of the hurt he had done himself the
day before; they sent for a minister to him when he was upon the
scaffold to see if he would confesse anything, but he still
persisted that he was guilty of nothing nor DID NOT KNOW WHY HE WAS
PUT TO DEATH. . . .
III. THE MYSTERY OF SIR EDMUND BERRY GODFREY
When London was a pleasanter place than it is to-day, when anglers
stretched their legs up Tottenham Hill on their way to fish in the
Lee; when the 'best stands on Hackney river' were competed for
eagerly by bottom fishers; when a gentleman in St. Martin's Lane,
between the hedges, could 'ask the way to Paddington Woods;' when a
hare haunted Primrose Hill and was daily pursued by a gallant pack
of harriers; enfin, between three and four on the afternoon of
October 17, 1678, two common fellows stepped into the White House
tavern in the fields north of Marylebone, a house used as a club by
a set of Catholic tradesmen. They had been walking in that region,
and, as the October afternoon was drawing in, and rain was falling,
they sought refuge in the White House. It would appear that they
had not the means of assuaging a reasonable thirst, for when they
mentioned that they had noticed a gentleman's cane, a scabbard, a
belt, and some add a pair of gloves, lying at the edge of a deep dry
ditch, overgrown with thick bush and bramble, the landlord offered
the new comers a shilling to go and fetch the articles.* But the
rain was heavy, and probably the men took the shilling out in ale,
till about five o'clock, when the weather held up for a while.
*A rather different account by the two original finders, Bromwell
and Walters, is in L'Estrange's Brief History, iii. pp. 97, 98. The
account above is the landlord's. Lords' MSS., Hist. MSS. Com., xi.
pp. 2, 46, 47.
The delay was the more singular if, as one account avers, the men
had not only observed the cane and scabbard outside of the ditch, on
the bank, but also a dead body within the ditch, under the
brambles.* By five o'clock the rain had ceased, but the tempestuous
evening was dark, and it was night before Constable Brown, with a
posse of neighbours on foot and horseback, reached the ditch.
Herein they found the corpse of a man lying face downwards, the feet
upwards hung upon the brambles; thus half suspended he lay, and the
point of a sword stuck out of his back, through his black camlet
coat.** By the lights at the inn, the body was identified as that
of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, a Justice of the Peace for Westminster,
who had been missing since Saturday October 12. It is an undeniable
fact that, between two and three o'clock, before the body was
discovered and identified, Dr. Lloyd, Dean of St. Asaph's, and
Bishop Burnet, had heard that Godfrey had been found in Leicester
Fields, with his own sword in his body. Dr. Lloyd mentioned his
knowledge in the funeral sermon of the dead magistrate. He had the
story from a Mr. Angus, a clergyman, who had it from 'a young man in
a grey coat,' in a bookseller's shop near St. Paul's, about two
o'clock in the afternoon. Angus hurried to tell Bishop Burnet, who
sent him on to Dr. Lloyd.*** Either the young man in the grey coat
knew too much, or a mere rumour, based on a conjecture that Godfrey
had fallen on his own sword, proved to be accurate by accident; a
point to be remembered. According to Roger Frith, at two o'clock he
heard Salvetti, the ambassador of the Duke of Tuscany, say: 'Sir E.
Godfrey is dead. . . the young Jesuits are grown desperate; the old
ones would do no such thing.' This again may have been a mere guess
*Pollock, Popish Plot, pp. 95, 96.
**Brown in Brief History, iii. pp. 212-215, 222.
***L'Estrange, Brief History, iii. pp. 87-89.
****Lords' MSS. p. 48, October 24.
In the circumstances of the finding of the body it would have been
correct for Constable Brown to leave it under a guard till daylight
and the arrival of surgical witnesses, but the night was
threatening, and Brown ordered the body to be lifted; he dragged out
the sword with difficulty, and had the dead man carried to the White
House Inn. There, under the candles, the dead man, as we said, was
recognised for Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, a very well-known justice
of the peace and wood and coal dealer. All this occurred on
Thursday, October 17, and Sir Edmund had not been seen by honest men
and thoroughly credible witnesses, at least, since one o'clock on
Saturday, October 12. Then he was observed near his house in Green
Lane, Strand, but into his house he did not go.
Who, then, killed Sir Edmund?
The question has never been answered, though three guiltless men
were later hanged for the murder. Every conceivable theory has been
tried; the latest is that of Mr. Pollock: Godfrey was slain by 'the
Queen's confessor,' Le Fevre, 'a Jesuit,' and some other Jesuits,
with lay assistance.* I have found no proof that Le Fevre was
either a Jesuit or confessor of the Queen.
*Pollock, The Popish Plot, Duckworth, London, 1903.
As David Hume says, the truth might probably have been discovered,
had proper measures been taken at the moment. But a little mob of
horse and foot had trampled round the ditch in the dark, disturbing
the original traces. The coroner's jury, which sat long and late,
on October 18 and 19, was advised by two surgeons, who probably,
like the rest of the world, were biassed by the belief that Godfrey
had been slain 'by the bloody Papists.' In the reign of mad terror
which followed, every one was apt to accommodate his evidence,
naturally, to that belief. If they did not, then, like the two
original finders, Bromwell and Walters, they might be thrown,
heavily ironed, into Newgate.*
*Lords' MSS. P. 47, note 1.
But when the Popish Plot was exploded, and Charles II. was firm on
his throne, still more under James II., every one was apt to be
biassed in the opposite direction, and to throw the guilt on the
fallen party of Oates, Bedloe, Dugdale, and the other deeply
perjured and infamous informers. Thus both the evidence of 1678-
1680, and that collected in 1684-1687, by Sir Roger L'Estrange, J.P.
(who took great trouble and was allowed access to the manuscript
documents of the earlier inquiries), must be regarded with
*L'Estrange, Brief History of the Times, London, 1687.
The first question is cui bono? who had an interest in Godfrey's
death? Three parties had an interest, first, the Catholics (IF
Godfrey knew their secrets); next, the managers of the great Whig
conspiracy in favour of the authenticity of Oates's Popish Plot;
last, Godfrey himself, who was of an hereditary melancholy (his
father had suicidal tendencies), and who was involved in a quandary
whence he could scarcely hope to extricate himself with life and
Of the circumstances of Godfrey's quandary an account is to follow.
But, meanwhile, the theory of Godfrey's suicide (though Danby is
said to have accepted it) was rejected, probably with good reason
(despite the doubts of L'Estrange, Hume, Sir George Sitwell, and
others), by the coroner's jury.*
*Sitwell, The First Whig, Sacheverell.
Privately printed, 1894, Sir George's book--a most interesting
volume, based on public and private papers--unluckily is
introuvable. Some years have passed since I read a copy which he
kindly lent me.
The evidence which determined the verdict of murder was that of two
surgeons. They found that the body had been severely bruised, on
the chest, by kicks, blows of a blunt weapon, or by men's knees. A
sword-thrust had been dealt, but had slipped on a rib; Godfrey's own
sword had then been passed through the left pap, and out at the
back. There was said to be no trace of the shedding of fresh living
blood on the clothes of Godfrey, or about the ditch. What blood
appeared was old, the surgeons averred, and malodorous, and flowed
after the extraction of the sword.
L'Estrange (1687) argues at great length, but on evidence collected
later, and given under the Anti-Plot bias, that there was much more
'bloud' than was allowed for at the inquest. But the early evidence
ought to be best. Again, the surgeons declared that Godfrey had
been strangled with a cloth (as the jury found), and his neck
dislocated. Bishop Burnet, who viewed the body, writes (long after
the event): 'A mark was all round his neck, an inch broad, which
showed he was strangled. . . . And his neck was broken. All this I
*Burnet, History of his own Time, ii. p. 741. 1725.
L'Estrange argued that the neck was not broken (giving an example of
a similar error in the case of a dead child), and that the mark
round the neck was caused by the tightness of the collar and the
flow of blood to the neck, the body lying head downwards. In favour
of this view he produced one surgeon's opinion. He also declares
that Godfrey's brothers, for excellent reasons of their own, refused
to allow a thorough post-mortem examination. 'None of them had ever
been opened,' they said. Their true motive was that, if Godfrey
were a suicide, his estate would be forfeited to the Crown, a point
on which they undoubtedly showed great anxiety.
Evidence was also given to prove that, on Tuesday and Wednesday,
October 15 and 16, Godfrey's body was not in the ditch. On Tuesday
Mr. Forsett, on Wednesday Mr. Harwood had taken Mr. Forsett's
harriers over the ground, in pursuit of the legendary hare. They
had seen no cane or scabbard; the dogs had found no corpse.
L'Estrange replied that, as to the cane, the men could not see it if
they were on the further side of the bramble-covered ditch. As to
the dogs, they later hunted a wood in which a dead body lay for six
weeks before it was found. L'Estrange discovered witnesses who had
seen Godfrey in St. Martin's Lane on the fatal Saturday, asking his
way to Paddington Woods, others who had seen him there or met him
returning thence. Again, either he or 'the Devil in his clothes'
was seen near the ditch on Saturday afternoon. Again, his clerk,
Moore, was seen hunting the fields near the ditch, for his master,
on the Monday afternoon. Hence L'Estrange argued that Godfrey went
to Paddington Woods, on Saturday morning, to look for a convenient
place of suicide: that he could not screw his courage to the
sticking place; that he wandered home, did not enter his house,
roamed out again, and, near Primrose Hill, found the ditch and 'the
sticking place.' His rambles, said L'Estrange, could neither have
been taken for business nor pleasure. This is true, if Godfrey
actually took the rambles, but the evidence was not adduced till
several years later; in 1678 the witnesses would have been in great
danger. Still, if we accept L'Estrange's witnesses for Godfrey's
trip to Paddington and return, perhaps we ought not to reject the
*Brief History, iii. pp. 252, 300, 174, 175; State Trials, viii. pp.
1387, 1392, 1393, 1359-1389.
On the whole, it seems that the evidence for murder, not suicide, is
much the better, though even here absolute certainty is not
attained. Granting Godfrey's constitutional hereditary melancholy,
and the double quandary in which he stood, he certainly had motives
for suicide. He was a man of humanity and courage, had bravely
faced the Plague in London, had withstood the Court boldly on a
private matter (serving a writ, as Justice, on the King's physician
who owed him money in his capacity as a coal dealer), and he was
lenient in applying the laws against Dissenters and Catholics.
To be lenient was well; but Godfrey's singular penchant for Jesuits,
and especially for the chief Catholic intriguer in England, was
probably the ultimate cause of his death, whether inflicted by his
own hand or those of others.
We now study Godfrey's quandary. On June 23, 1678, the infamous
miscreant Titus Oates had been expelled from the Jesuit College of
St. Omer's, in France. There he may readily have learned that the
usual triennial 'consult' of English Jesuits was to be held in
London on April 24, but WHERE it was held, namely in the Duke of
York's chambers in St. James's Palace, Oates did not know, or did
not say. The Duke, by permitting the Jesuits to assemble in his
house, had been technically guilty of treason in 'harbouring'
Jesuits, certainly a secret of great importance, as he was the head
and hope of the Catholic cause, and the butt of the Whigs, who were
eager to exclude him from the succession. Oates had scraps of other
genuine news. He returned to London after his expulsion from St.
Omer's, was treated with incautious kindness by Jesuits there, and,
with Tonge, constructed his monstrous fable of a Popish plot to kill
the King and massacre the Protestant public. In August, Charles was
apprised of the plot, as was Danby, the Lord Treasurer; the Duke of
York also knew, how much he knew is uncertain. The myth was little
esteemed by the King.
On September 6, Oates went to Godfrey, and swore before him, as a
magistrate, to the truth of a written deposition, as to treason.
But Godfrey was not then allowed to read the paper, nor was it left
in his hands; the King, he was told, had a copy.* The thing might
have passed off, but, as King James II. himself writes, he (being
then Duke of York) 'press'd the King and Lord Treasurer several
times that the letters' (letters forged by Oates) 'might be produced
and read, and the business examined into at the Committee of Foreign
Affairs.'** Mr. Pollock calls the Duke's conduct tactless. Like
Charles I., in the mystery of 'the Incident,' he knew himself
guiltless, and demanded an inquiry.
*Kirkby, Complete Narrative, pp. 2, 3, cited by Mr. Pollock. At the
time, it was believed that Godfrey saw the depositions.
**Clarke's Life of James II. i. p. 518. Cited from the King's
On September 28, Oates was to appear before the Council. Earlier on
that day he again visited Godfrey, handed to him a copy of his
deposition, took oath to its truth, and carried another copy to
Whitehall. As we shall see, Oates probably adopted this course by
advice of one of the King's ministers, Danby or another. Oates was
now examined before the King, who detected him in perjury. But he
accused Coleman, the secretary of the Duchess of York, of
treasonable correspondence with La Chaise, the confessor of Louis
XIV.: he also said that, on April 24, he himself was present at the
Jesuit 'consult' in the White Horse Tavern, Strand, where they
decided to murder the King! This was a lie, but they HAD met on
ordinary business of the Society, on April 24, at the palace of the
Duke of York. Had the Jesuits, when tried, proved this, they would
not have saved their lives, and Oates would merely have sworn that
they met AGAIN, at the White Horse.
Godfrey, having Oates's paper before him, now knew that Coleman was
accused. Godfrey was very intimate with many Jesuits, says Warner,
who was one of them, in his manuscript history.* With Coleman,
certainly a dangerous intriguer, Godfrey was so familiar that 'it
was the form arranged between them for use when Godfrey was in
company and Coleman wished to see him,' that Coleman should be
announced under the name of Mr. Clarke.**
* Pollock, p. 91, note 1.
**Ibid. p. 151, note 3. Welden's evidence before the Lords'
Committee, House of Lords MSS., p. 48. Mr. Pollock rather
overstates the case. We cannot be certain, from Welden's words,
that Coleman habitually used the name 'Clarke' on such occasions.
It is extraordinary enough to find a rigid British magistrate
engaged in clandestine dealings with an intriguer like Coleman, who,
for the purpose, receives a cant name. If that fact came out in the
inquiry into the plot, Godfrey's doom was dight, the general frenzy
would make men cry for his blood. But yet more extraordinary was
Godfrey's conduct on September 28. No sooner had he Oates's
confession, accusing Coleman, in his hands, than he sent for the
accused. Coleman went to the house of a Mr. (or Colonel) Welden, a
friend of Godfrey's, and to Godfrey it was announced that 'one
Clarke' wished to see him there. 'When they were together at my
house they were reading papers,' said Welden later, in evidence.*
It cannot be doubted that, after studying Oates's deposition,
Godfrey's first care was to give Coleman full warning. James II.
tells us this himself, in his memoirs. 'Coleman being known to
depend on the Duke, Sir Edmund Bury (sic) Godfrey made choice of
him, to send to his Highness an account of Oates's and Tongue's
depositions as soon as he had taken them,' that is, on September
28.** Apparently the Duke had not the precise details of Oates's
charges, as they now existed, earlier than September 28, when they
were sent to him by Godfrey.
*See previous note (Pollock, p. 151, note 3.)
**Life of James II. i, p. 534.
It is Mr. Pollock's argument that, when Godfrey and Coleman went
over the Oates papers, Coleman would prove Oates's perjury, and
would to this end let out that, on April 24, the Jesuits met, not
as Oates swore, at a tavern, but at the Duke of York's house, a
secret fatal to the Duke and the Catholic cause. The Jesuits then
slew Godfrey to keep the secret safe.*
*Pollock, p. 153.
Now, first, I cannot easily believe that Coleman would blab this
secret (quite unnecessarily, for this proof of Oates's perjury could
not be, and was not, publicly adduced), unless Godfrey was already
deep in the Catholic intrigues. He may have been, judging by his
relations with Coleman. If Godfrey was not himself engaged in
Catholic intrigues, Coleman need only tell him that Oates was not in
England in April, and could not have been, as he swore he was, at
the 'consult.' Next, Godfrey was not the man (as Mr. Pollock
supposes) to reveal his knowledge to the world, from a sense of
duty, even if the Court 'stifled the plot.' Mr. Pollock says:
'Godfrey was, by virtue of his position as justice of the peace, a
Government official. . . . Sooner or later he would certainly
reveal it. . . . The secret. . . had come into the hands of just
one of the men who could not afford, even if he might wish, to
retain it.'* Mr. Pollock may conceive, though I do not find him
saying so, that Godfrey communicated Oates's charges to Coleman
merely for the purpose of 'pumping' him and surprising some secret.
If so he acted foolishly.
*Pollock, p. 154.
In fact, Godfrey was already 'stifling the plot.' A Government
official, he was putting Coleman in a posture to fly, and to burn
his papers; had he burned all of them, the plot was effectually
stifled. Next, Godfrey could not reveal the secret without
revealing his own misprision of treason. He would be asked 'how he
knew the secret.' Godfrey's lips were thus sealed; he had neither
the wish nor the power to speak out, and so his knowledge of the
secret, if he knew it, was innocuous to the Jesuits. 'What is it
nearer?' Coleman was reported, by a perjured informer, to have
*State Trials, vii. 1319. Trial of Lord Stafford, 1680.
To this point I return later. Meanwhile, let it be granted that
Godfrey knew the secret from Coleman, and that, though, since
Godfrey could not speak without self-betrayal--though it was 'no
nearer'--still the Jesuits thought well to mak sikker and slay him.
Still, what is the evidence that Godfrey had a mortal secret? Mr.
Pollock gives it thus: 'He had told Mr. Wynnel that he was master
of a dangerous secret, which would be fatal to him. "Oates," he
said, "is sworn and is perjured."'* These sentences are not thus
collocated in the original. The secret was not, as from Mr.
Pollock's arrangement it appears to be, that Oates was perjured.
*Pollock, p. 150.
The danger lay, not in knowledge that Oates was perjured--all the
Council knew the King to have discovered that. 'Many believed it,'
says Mr. Pollock. 'It was not an uncommon thing to say.'* The true
peril, on Mr. Pollock's theory, was Godfrey's possession of PROOF
that Oates was perjured, that proof involving the secret of the
Jesuit 'consult' of April 14, AT THE DUKE OF YORK'S HOUSE. But, by
a singular oversight, Mr. Pollock quotes only part of what Godfrey
said to Wynell (or Wynnel) about his secret. He does not give the
whole of the sentence uttered by Wynell. The secret, of which
Godfrey was master, on the only evidence, Wynell's, had nothing to
do with the Jesuit meeting of April 24. Wynell is one of
L'Estrange's later witnesses. His words are:
Godfrey: 'The (Catholic) Lords are as innocent as you or I.
Coleman will die, but not the Lords.'
Wynell: 'If so, where are we then?'
Godfrey: 'Oates is sworn and is perjured.'
* * *
'Upon Wynell's asking Sir Edmund some time why he was so melancholy,
his answer has been, "he was melancholy because he was master of a
dangerous secret that would be fatal to him, THAT HIS SECURITY WAS
OATE'S DEPOSITION, THAT THE SAID OATES HAD FIRST DECLARED IT TO A
PUBLIC MINISTER, AND SECONDLY THAT HE CAME TO SIR EDMUND BY HIS (the
*Pollock, p. 152.
**L'Estrange, part iii. p. 187.
We must accept all of Mr. Wynell's statement or none; we cannot
accept, like Mr. Pollock, only Godfrey's confession of owning a
dangerous secret, without Godfrey's explanation of the nature of the
danger. Against THAT danger (his knowing and taking no action upon
what Oates had deposed) Godfrey's 'security' was Oates's other
deposition, that his information was already in the Minister's
hands, and that he had come to Godfrey by the Minister's orders.
The invidiousness of knowing and not acting on Oates's 'dangerous
secret,' Godfrey hoped, fell on the Minister rather than on himself.
And it did fall on Danby, who was later accused of treason on this
very ground, among others. Such is Wynell's evidence, true or
false. C'est a prendre ou a laisser in bulk, and in bulk is of no
value to Mr. Pollock's argument.
That Godfrey was in great fear after taking Oates's deposition, and
dealing with Coleman, is abundantly attested. But of what was he
afraid, and of whom? L'Estrange says, of being made actual party to
the plot, and not of 'bare misprision' only, the misprision of not
acting on Oates's information.* It is to prove this point that
L'Estrange cites Wynell as quoted above. Bishop Burnet reports
that, to him, Godfrey said 'that he believed he himself should be
knocked on the head.'** Knocked on the head by whom? By a
frightened Protestant mob, or by Catholic conspirators? To Mr.
Robinson, an old friend, he said, 'I do not fear them if they come
fairly, and I shall not part with my life tamely.' Qu'ils viennent!
as Tartarin said, but who are 'they'? Godfrey said that he had
'taken the depositions very unwillingly, and would fain have had it
done by others. . . . I think I shall have little thanks for my
pains. . . . Upon my conscience I believe I shall be the first
martyr.'*** He could not expect thanks from the Catholics: it was
from the frenzied Protestants that he expected 'little thanks.'
*L'Estrange, iii. p. 187.
**Burnet, ii. p. 740.
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