‘Ever, ever,’ replied Edoardo, wiping away a tear. He then muttered to himself: ’Poor, poor Sophia!—she was an Angel, and I am a villain.’
A ROMANCE OP REAL LIFE.
The continental journals announced that, on the 10th of August 1845, there died at Delft, in Holland, Charles-Louis, known as the ’Duke of Normandy.’ This individual presented one of those extraordinary instances of doubtful identity which we find scattered over ancient and modern biography. The mystery of his birth has not been cleared up by his death, and continues as impenetrable as that of the celebrated Man with the Iron Mask.
It is well known that, in 1791, Louis XVI. of France was overtaken during his attempted flight from France at Varennes, and afterwards dragged to the prison of the Temple. He was accompanied by his family, which consisted of his wife, Marie Antoinette, his sister, daughter, and his only son, the dauphin of France. On the 21st January 1793, the unfortunate monarch was beheaded; and his son, still a prisoner, was partially acknowledged as Louis XVII., though only in the ninth year of his age. This was but a mockery, for his captivity only became the more close and cruel. He was separated from his mother, and handed over to the custody of one Simon, a ferocious cobbler, and his wife, who, besides practising all sorts of external cruelties on him, tried every means to demoralise his mind. When this ruffian was promoted to a seat in the ‘Commune’ (a kind of common council), the royal prisoner’s hardships increased. He was shut up in a room, rendered totally dark both night and day. In this he was kept for a whole year, without once being allowed to leave it; neither was his body or bed linen changed during that time. The filth, stench, and vermin amidst which the child dragged on his existence, at length, it is said, terminated it. On the eve of death, his persecutors sent the physician Dessault to see if his life could be prolonged by better treatment; but the doctor’s reply was that it was too late: nothing could save him; and his demise was announced to have taken place on the 8th of June 1795, at the age of ten years and two months. The National Convention, which then managed the public affairs, appointed a commission to verify the event, and the body was opened by two surgeons, named Pelletan and Dumangin. In speaking of the remains, they describe them as a corpse ’represented to us as that of Charles-Louis.’ The doctor Pelletan took out the heart, and preserved it in spirits of wine; which he gave to the deceased’s sister when she had married the Duke d’Angouleme. The rest of the body was huddled with other corpses into a common grave in the cemetery of the parish of St Margaret; so that, at the restoration of the Bourbons in 1815, when Louis XVIII. desired that the remains of his predecessor should be disentombed, they could not be distinguished.