Imatges de pÓgina

He was highly, almost extravagantly, dressed as an English jockey, and well knew how to assume the manners befitting the character. But we cannot forbear remarking, in this place, on the stolidity of the French Directory, who took a personal interest in the retention of Sir Sidney Smith, and on the stupidity of the officials whom they had selected to enforce their views. Indeed, we can only account for it on the supposition of their profound ignorance of English manners. That a buck-skinned, booted, and spurred jockey should accompany Sir Sidney Smith, and be made prisoner with him in a cutting-out expedition under the batteries of Havre, must exhibit a very singular specimen of the genus, sailor; and might well make Messeurs les concernés, in viewing such an article, exclaim with the miserly father, in Molière's excellent comedy,

“ Que le diable fait-il dans cette galère ?"

But, however, not only was John so inexplicably in cette galère, but he was taken out of it, and, as we have seen, put in prison, and in prison he was soon completely at home. Every one was fond of him. He fraternised with the turnkeys, and made love to the governor's daughter. As the little English jockey was not supposed to have received an education the most profound, he


was compelled to study how sufficiently to mutilate and Anglicise his own mother tongue. He soon accomplished this like a clever farce-player. Indeed, he acted so well, that he almost overdid his part; for, in fraternising with the turnkeys he would sometimes get drunk with them, and in making love to the governor's daughter he promised her marriage, in which promise her faith was strong, which was very naughty in John, as he had long been a married man. It

may be said that, at this time, all the prisoners seemed as if they were acting a comedy ; for John appeared very eager and attentive to his fictitious master, and always spoke to him in the most respectful manner. In return for this, Sir Sidney repeatedly scolded this jockeyfied emigrant with great unction and gravity; and so well did they both play their parts, that Sir Sidney confesses that he sometimes ceased to simulate, and found himself forgetting the friend in the master, and most seriously rating his valet soundly.

At length John's wife, Madame de T. arrived at Paris, and immediately commenced making the most uncommon exertions for the liberation of the three prisoners. She is represented to have been a most interesting lady, with a considerable share of personal beauty. She dared not, however, fearing discovery, come herself to


[ocr errors]

the Temple, but from a neighbouring house she had the satisfaction of daily beholding her husband, as he paced to and fro in the courts of the Temple-a feeling in which her captive partner fully participated.

In the attempts for Sir Sidney's liberation, it appears that the ladies always took the initiative. Madame de T. devised and communicated a plan to a sensible and courageous young person of her acquaintance, who acceded immediately to it without hesitation. This convert to the cause of our hero was also influenced, like the three Muse-named ladies, by sentiments of what he conceived to be the true patriotism, for, in giving his adhesion to the cause of the prisoners, he said to Madame de T. “ I will serve Sir Sidney Smith with pleasure, because I believe that the English government intend to restore Louis XVIII. to the throne. But if the commodore is to fight against France, and not for the King of France, Heaven forbid that I should assist."

At this time, there were several agents of the emigrant king who were confined in the Temple, and to effect whose liberation a M. l'Oiseau was assiduously labouring. It was therefore proposed that all should go off together, that is to say, Sir Sidney's party and the royalist agents. One of these, a M. la Vilheurnois, being condemned to only one year's confinement, was resolved not to entail upon himself

any more evils, but quietly to remain until he should be relieved by the due course of his sentence; but the two others, Brothien and Duverne de Presle, had agreed to join in the attempt.

For some unexplained reasons, this plan completely failed, not improbably owing to the treachery or the misconduct of M. Le Presle; but of this we speak doubtingly. However, it is in these

. words that Sir Sidney Smith himself inculpates him: “Had our scheme succeeded, this Duverne would not, perhaps, have ceased to be an honest man; for, till then, he had conducted himself as such. His condition must now be truly deplorable, for 1 do not think him formed by nature for the commission of crimes."


Another attempt to escape made by boring—The general

disaffection to the Directorial Government of FranceThe failure of the attempt to escape – The urbanity of the jailer of the Temple-Anecdotes concerning him.

As M. C. l'Oiseau was indefatigable in making his preparations, they were soon in such a state of forwardness, that it was immediately resolved the attempt should be made. As all the arrangements seemed the best that could be adopted under existing circumstances, our gallant officer and his companions determined to follow them up to the best of their abilities.

In the cellar that adjoined the prison, it was purposed to make an excavation sufficiently wide to admit freely the passage of one person, but which it would be necessary to make twelve feet long. A Mademoiselle D---, who generously abetted these attempts, in order to mask their

« AnteriorContinua »