The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford — Volume 3 eBook

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(377) John, afterwards second Earl of Delawarr, vice-chamberlain to the Queen.-E.

(378) This singular person had been secretary to the Duke de Nivernois’s embassy, and in the interval between that ambassador’s departure and the arrival of M. de Guerchy, the French mission to our court devolved upon him.  This honour, as Mr. Walpole intimates, seems to have turned his head, and he was so absurdly exasperated at being superseded by M. de Guerchy, that he refused to deliver his letters of recall, set his court at defiance, and published a volume of libels on M. de Guerchy and the French ministers.  As he persisted in withholding the letters of recall, the two courts were obliged to notify in the London Gazette that his mission was at an end; and the French government desired that he be given up to them.  This, of course, could not be done:  but he was proceeded against by criminal information, and finally convicted of the libels against M. de Guerchy.  D’Eon asserted, that the French ministry had a design to carry him off privately; and it has been said that he was apprised of this scheme by Louis xv. who, it seems, had entertained some kind of secret and extra- official communication with this adventurer.  He afterwards continued in obscurity until 1777, when the public was astonished by the trial of an action before Lord Mansfield, for money lost on a wager respecting his sex.  On that trial it seemed proved beyond all doubt, that the person was a female.  Proceedings in the Parliament of Paris had a similar result, and the soldier and the minister was condemned to wear woman’s attire, which d’Eon did for many years.  He emigrated at the revolution, and died in London in May, 1810.  On examination, after death, the body proved to be that of a male.  This circumstance, attested by the most respectable authorities, is so strongly it variance with all the former evidence, that the French biographers have been induced to doubt whether the original Chevalier D’Eon and the person who died in 1810 were the same, and they even endeavour to show that the real person, the Chevali`ere, as they term it, died in 1790; but we cannot admit this solution of the difficulty, for one, at least, of the surgeons who examined the body in 1810, had known D’Eon in his habiliments, and he had for ten years lived unquestioned under the name of D’Eon.-C.

(379) On the 26th of October, D’Eon, meeting M. de Guerchy and a M. de Vergy at Lord Halifax’s, in Great George-street, burst out into such violence on some observation made by De Vergy, that it became necessary to call in the guard.  His whole behaviour in this affair looks like insanity.-C.

Letter 182 To The Earl Of Hertford.  Arlington Street, Dec. 2, 1763. (page 254)

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