Page images
PDF
EPUB

resolved to wear crape on the left arm, for the space of twenty days.

His body was interred in the same grave with his wife, at Charettee village, county of Montgomery, Missouri.

THOMAS MIFFLIN.

THOMAS MIFFLIN, one of the signers of the federal constitution, and major-general in the army of the United States, was born about the year 1744. His education was intrusted to the care of the Rev. Dr. Smith, provost of the university of Pennsylvania, with whom he was connected in habits of cordial intimacy and friendship for more than forty years. At an early period of our struggles he zealously espoused the cause of his country, and ably advocated the liberties of the people against the usurpations of tyranny. In 1774 he was elected a member of the first Congress.

In 1775 on the organization of the continental army, he was appointed quartermaster-general.

In 1787, he was a member of the convention which framed the constitution of the United States, and his name is affixed to that instrument.

In 1788 he succeeded Dr. Franklin as president of the supreme executive council of Pennsylvania, in which station he continued till 1790. In September, a constitution of this state was formed by a convention, in which he presided, and was chosen the first governor.

In 1794 he contributed not a little by his eloquence and activity to restore order and peace among the insurrectionists of Pennsylvania.

He was succeeded in the office of governor by Mr. M'Kean at the close of the year 1799, and died at Lancaster, January 20, 1800, in the fifty-seventh year of his age. He was an active and zealous patriot, who had devoted much of his life in the service of his country.

THE IRON MASK.

ALTHOUGH conjecture has long been exhausted, as to the identity of the person in the Iron Mask, yet the fact of such a prisoner having been confined, and dying in the Bastile, as first made public by Voltaire, has since been abundantly confirmed in all its leading points. The Journal of M. de Jonca, who was many years Lieutenant du Roi at the Bastile, gives an account of the prisoner being removed from the Island of St. Marguerite, on M. de St. Mars being appointed Governor of the Bastile. He says the prisoner always wore a mask of black velvet, a circumstance confirmed by several writers, although he has been called the Iron Mask; and that he died in the Bastile, and was buried on the 20th of November, 1703, in the burying place of St. Paul. In the register of this parish there is the following entry :

“In the year 1703, on the 19th day of November, Marchiali, aged forty-five years or thereabouts, died at the Bastile. His body was interred in the burying place of this parish of St. Paul, on the 20th of the said month, in the presence of Monsieur de Rosarges, Mayor of the Bastile, and Monsieur Reilh, the surgeon, who accordingly sign this."

Father Grisset, in his Traite de Preuves qui servent pour etablir la Verite de l'Histoire, says nothing can exceed the dependence that may be placed on the Journal of M. de Jonca. He adds that a great many circumstances relating to this prisoner were known to the officers and servants at the Bastile, when Monsieur de Launay was appointed mayor there ; that M. de Launay told him he was informed by them, that immediately after the prisoner's death, his apparel, linen, clothes, mattresses, and, in short, every thing that had been used by him, were burnt'; that the walls of his room were scraped, and the floor taken up; all evidently from the apprehension that he might have found means of writing something that would have discovered who he was; and that Monsieur d'Argenson, who often came to the Bastile when lieutenant-general of the police, hearing that the garrison still spoke of this prisoner, asked one day what was said about him, and after hearing some of the conjectures observed, " they will neper knmo."

It is related by others, that beside the precautions mentioned by M. de Launay, the glass was taken out of the window of his room, and pounded to dust; the window frame and doors burnt; and the ceiling of the room, and the plaster of the inside of the chimney taken down. Several persons have affirmed, that the body was buried without a head; and M. de St. Foix, in his Essais Historiques informs us, that a gentleman having bribed the sexton, had the body taken up in the night, and found a stone instead of the head.

Monsieur de la Grange Chaucel, who was sent prisoner to St. Marguerite, for, writing a satire called the Philipic, on the Duke of Orleans, speaking of the Iron Mask, says, that “the governor behaved with the greatest respect to the prisoner ; that he was always served on plate, and furnished with as rich clothes as he desired; that, when he had occasion to see a surgeon or physician, he was obliged, under pain of death, constantly to wear his mask; but when he was alone, he sometimes amused himself with pulling out the hairs of his beard with fine steel pincers." He adds, “ Several persons have informed me that, when M. de St. Mars went to take possession of the government of the Bastile, whither he was to conduct the prisoner, they heard the latter say to him,

Has the king any intention against my life?' and de St. Mars replied, "No, PRINCE, your life is in safety ; you must only allow yourself to be conducted." »

One Dubuisson, who was confined at St. Marguerite, says, that "he was lodged with other persons in the room immediately above that where the prisoner

[ocr errors]

with the mask was; that they found means of speaking to him by the vents of their chimneys; and that having one day pressed him to tell who he was, he refused, saying, that it he did, it would not only cost him his own life, but the lives of those to whom the secret might be revealed.”

M. de St. Mars, in his way from St. Marguerite to the Bastile, halted with the prisoner at his house at Palteau. The house was afterwards bought by a person who took its name, and who in a letter to M. Freron, on this subject, says,

“In 1698, M. de St. Mars was removed from his government of St. Marguerite to that of the Bastile. In going to this new government, he stopped with his prisoner at Palteau. The prisoner was in a litter that went before that of M. de St. Mars, and was accompanied by several men on horseback. Some peasants that Í examined, who went to pay their compliments to their master, said, that while he was at table with his prisoner, the latter sat with his back towards the window that looked into the court ; that they did not observe, therefore, whether he ate with his mask on, but saw very distinctly that M. de St. Mars, who sat opposite to him, had a pair of pistols laying by his plate. They were attended at dinner only by a valet-de-chambre."

But Voltaire is the most circumstantial ; in his Age of Louis XIV.” he says;

“ Some months after the death of Cardinal Mazarine, in 1661, there happened an event of which there is no example, and what is no less strange, the historians of that time seem to have been unacquainted with it.

6. There was sent, with the greatest secresy, to the castle on the Island of Marguerite, in the sea of Provence, an unknown prisoner, rather above the middle size, young, and of a graceful figure. On the road he wore a mask, with steel springs, that enabled him to eat without taking it off. Those who con. ducted him had orders to kill him if he made any attempt to discover himself. He remained there until the Governor of Pignerol, an officer of confidence, named St. Mars, being appointed governor of the Bastile, in 1690, brought him from thence to the Bastile, always covered with a mask. The Marquess de Louvois, who went and saw him at St. Marguerite, spoke to him standing, and with that kind of attention that marks respect. He was lodged at the Bastile as well as that castle would admit. Nothing was refused him that he desired. His chief taste was for lace and linen, remarkably fine. He played on the guitar. His table was the best that could be provided ; and the governor seldom sat down in his presence. An old physician of the Bastile, who had often attended him when he was indisposed, said that he never saw his face, though he had frequently examined his tongue and parts of his body ; that he was admirably well made, that his skin was rather brown, that he had something interesting in the sound of his voice, that he never complained, or let drop any thing by which it might be guessed who he

“ This unknown person died in 1703, and was buried in the night, at the burying ground of the parish of St. Paul. What increases our astonishment is, that when he was sent to St. Marguerite, no person of importance in Europe was missing. Yet this prisoner certainly was a person of import

See what happened soon after his arrival there. The governor put the dishes on the table himself; retired and locked the door. One day the prisoner wrote something with his knife on a silver plate and threw it out of the window towards a boat that was drawn on shore near the bottom of the tower.

A fisherman to whom the boat belonged, took up the plate and brought it to the governor, who, with evident astonishment, asked the man if he had read what was written on the plate, or if any other person

was.

ance.

« PreviousContinue »