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  • 1919
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“Ah, but you shall. How do you know this?”

“That I cannot tell you without betraying a confidence. Let it suffice you that I do know it. Consider now whether in banishing this profligate you have sufficiently avenged the honour of your son.”

“My God, if I thought this were true….” He choked with rage, stood shaking a moment, then strode to the door, calling.

“The truth is easily ascertained,” said Madame. “Conceal yourself in the Rittersaal, and await his coming forth. But you had best go attended, for it is a very reckless rogue, and he has been known aforetime to practice murder.”

Whilst the Elector, acting upon this advice, was getting his men together, Koenigsmark was wasting precious moments in Sophia’s antechamber, whilst Mademoiselle de Knesebeck apprised her Highness of his visit. Sophia had already retired to bed, and the amazing announcement of the Count’s presence there startled her into a fear of untoward happenings. She was overwhelmed, too, by the rashness of this step of his, coming after the events of yesterday. If it should be known that he had visited her thus, terrible consequences might ensue. She rose, and with Mademoiselle de Knesebeck’s aid made ready to receive him. Yet for all that she made haste, the precious irreclaimable moments sped.

She came to him at last, Mademoiselle de Knesebeck following, for propriety’s sake.

“What is it?” she asked him breathlessly. “What brings you here at such an hour?”

“What brings me?” quoth he, surprised at that reception. “Why, your commands–your letter.”

“My letter? What letter?”

A sense of doom, of being trapped, suddenly awoke in him. He plucked forth the treacherous note, and proffered it.

“Why, what does this mean?” She swept a white hand over her eyes and brows, as if to brush away some thing that obscured her vision. “That is not mine. I never wrote it. How could you dream I should be imprudent as to bid you hither, and at such an hour How could you dream it?”

“You are right,” said he, and laughed, perhaps to ease her alarm, perhaps in sheer bitter mirth. “It will be, no doubt, the work of our friend, Madame von Platen. I had best begone. For the rest, my travelling chaise will wait from noon until sunset to-morrow by the Markt Kirck in Hanover, and I shall wait within it. I shall hope to conduct you safely to Wolfenbuttelyy.”

“I will come, I will come. But go now–oh, go!”

He looked very deeply into her eyes–a valedictory glance against the worst befalling him. Then he took her hand, bowed over it and kissed it, and so departed.

He crossed the outer ante-room, descended the short flight of stairs, and pushed open the heavy door of the Hall of Knights. He passed through, and thrust the door behind him, then stood a moment looking round the vast apartment. If he was too late to avoid the springs of the baited trap, it was here that they should snap upon him. Yet all was still. A single lamp on a table in the middle of the vast chamber shed a feeble, flickering light, yet sufficient to assure him that no one waited here. He sighed relief, wrapped his cloak about him, and set out swiftly to cross the hall.

But even as he passed, four shadows detached themselves from the tall stove, resolved themselves into armed men, and sprang after him.

He heard them, wheeled about, flung off his cloak, and disengaged his sword, all with the speed of lightning and the address of the man who for ten years had walked amid perils, and learned to depend upon his blade. That swift action sealed his doom. Their orders were to take him living or dead, and standing in awe of his repute, they were not the men to incur risks. Even as he came on guard, a partisan grazed his head, and another opened his breast.

He went down, coughing and gasping, blood dabbling his bright golden hair, and staining the priceless Mechlin at his throat, yet his right hand still desperately clutching his useless sword.

His assassins stood about him, their partisans levelled to strike again, and summoned him to yield. Then, beside one of them, he suddenly beheld the Countess von Platen materializing out of the surrounding shadows as it seemed, and behind her the squat, ungraceful figure of the Elector. He fought for breath. “I am slain,” he gasped, “and as I am to appear before my Maker I swear to you that the Princess Sophia is innocent. Spare her at least, your Highness.”

“Innocent!” said the Elector hoarsely. “Then what did you now in her apartments?

“It was a trap set for us by this foul hag, who . . .”

The heel of the vindictive harridan ground viciously upon the lips of the dying man and choked his utterance. Thereafter the halberts finished him off, and he was buried there and then, in lime, under the floor of the Hall of Knights, under the very spot where he had fallen, which was long to remain imbrued with his blood.

Thus miserably perished the glittering Koenigsmark, a martyr to his own irrepressible romanticism.

As for Sophia, better might it have been for her had she shared his fate that night. She was placed under arrest next morning, and Prince George was summoned back from Berlin at once.

The evidence may have satisfied him that his honour had not suffered, for he was disposed to let the matter drop, content that they should remain in the forbidding relations which had existed between them before this happening. But Sophia was uncompromising in her demand for strict justice.

“If I am guilty, I am unworthy of you,” she told him. “If innocent, you are unworthy of me.”

There was no more to be said. A consistory court was assembled to divorce them. But since with the best intentions there was no faintest evidence of her adultery, this court had to be content to pronounce the divorce upon the ground of her desertion.

She protested against the iniquity of this. But she protested in vain. She was carried off into the grim captivity of a castle on the Ahlen, to drag out in that melancholy duress another thirty- two years of life.

Her death took place in November of 1726. And the story runs that on her death-bed she delivered to a person of trust a letter to her sometime husband, now King George I. of England. Seven months later, as King George was on his way to his beloved Hanover, that letter was placed in his carriage as it crossed the frontier into Germany. It contained Sophia’s dying declaration of innocence, and her solemn summons to King George to stand by her side before the judgment-seat of Heaven within a year, and there make answer in her presence for the wrongs he had done her, for her blighted life and her miserable death.

King George’s answer to that summons was immediate. The reading of that letter brought on the apoplectic seizure of which he died in his carriage next day–the 9th of June, 1727–on the road to Osnabruck.


Charlotte Corday and Jean Paul Morat

Tyrannicide was the term applied to her deed by Adam Lux, her lover in the sublimest and most spiritual sense of the word–for he never so much as spoke to her, and she never so much as knew of his existence.

The sudden spiritual passion which inflamed him when he beheld her in the tumbril on her way to the scaffold is a fitting corollary to her action. She in her way and he in his were alike sublime; her tranquil martyrdom upon the altar of Republicanism and his exultant martyrdom upon the altar of Love were alike splendidly futile.

It is surely the strangest love-story enshrined in history. It has its pathos, yet leaves no regrets behind, for there is no might-have-been which death had thwarted. Because she died, he loved her; because he loved her, he died. That is all, but for the details which I am now to give you.

The convent-bred Marie Charlotte Corday d’Armont was the daughter of a landless squire of Normandy, a member of the chetive noblesse, a man of gentle birth, whose sadly reduced fortune may have predisposed him against the law of entail or primogeniture– the prime cause of the inequality out of which were sprung so many of the evils that afflicted France. Like many of his order and condition he was among the earliest converts to Republicanism– the pure, ideal republicanism, demanding constitutional government of the people by the people, holding monarchical and aristocratic rule an effete and parasitic anachronism.

From M. de Corday Charlotte absorbed the lofty Republican doctrines to which anon she was to sacrifice her life; and she rejoiced when the hour of awakening sounded and the children of France rose up and snapped the fetters in which they had been trammelled for centuries by an insolent minority of their fellow- countrymen.

In the early violence of the revolution she thought she saw a transient phase–horrible, but inevitable in the dread convulsion of that awakening. Soon this would pass, and the sane, ideal government of her dreams would follow–must follow, since among the people’s elected representatives was a goodly number of unselfish, single-minded men of her father’s class of life; men of breeding and education, impelled by a lofty altruistic patriotism; men who gradually came to form a party presently to be known as the Girondins.

But the formation of one party argues the formation of at least another. And this other in the National Assembly was that of the Jacobins, less pure of motive, less restrained in deed, a party in which stood pre-eminent such ruthless, uncompromising men as Robespierre, Danton,–and Marat.

Where the Girondins stood for Republicanism, the Jacobins stood for Anarchy. War was declared between the two. The Girondins arraigned Marat and Robespierre for complicity in the September massacres, and thereby precipitated their own fall. The triumphant acquittal of Marat was the prelude to the ruin of the Girondins, and the proscription of twenty-nine deputies followed at once as the first step. These fled into the country, hoping to raise an army that should yet save France, and several of the fugitives made their way to Caen. Thence by pamphlets and oratory they laboured to arouse true Republican enthusiasm. They were gifted, able men, eloquent speakers and skilled writers, and they might have succeeded but that in Paris sat another man no less gifted, and with surer knowledge of the temper of the proletariat, tirelessly wielding a vitriolic pen, skilled in the art of inflaming the passions of the mob.

That man was Jean Paul Marat, sometime medical practitioner, sometime professor of literature, a graduate of the Scottish University of St. Andrews, author of some scientific and many sociological works, inveterate pamphleteer and revolutionary journalist, proprietor and editor of L’Ami du Peuple, and idol of the Parisian rabble, who had bestowed upon him the name borne by his gazette, so that he was known as The People’s Friend.

Such was the foe of the Girondins, and of the pure, altruistic, Utopian Republicanism for which they stood; and whilst he lived and laboured, their own endeavours to influence the people were all in vain. From his vile lodging in the Rue de l’Ecole de Medecine in Paris he span with his clever, wicked pen a web that paralysed their high endeavours and threatened finally to choke them.

He was not alone, of course. He was one of the dread triumvirate in which Danton and Robespierre were his associates. But to the Girondins he appeared by far the most formidable and ruthless and implacable of the three, whilst to Charlotte Corday–the friend and associate now of the proscribed Girondins who had sought refuge in Caen–he loomed so vast and terrible as to eclipse his associates entirely. To her young mind, inflamed with enthusiasm for the religion of Liberty as preached by the Girondins, Marat was a loathly, dangerous heresiarch, threatening to corrupt that sublime new faith with false, anarchical doctrine, and to replace the tyranny that had been overthrown by a tyranny more odious still.

She witnessed in Caen the failure of the Girondin attempt to raise an army with which to deliver Paris from the foul clutches of the Jacobins. An anguished spectator of this failure, she saw in it a sign that Liberty was being strangled at its birth. On the lips of her friends the Girondins she caught again the name of Marat, the murderer of Liberty; and, brooding, she reached a conclusion embodied in a phrase of a letter which she wrote about that time.

“As long as Marat lives there will never be any safety for the friends of law and humanity.”

From that negative conclusion to its positive, logical equivalent it was but a step. That step she took. She may have considered awhile the proposition thus presented to her, or resolve may have come to her with realization. She understood that a great sacrifice was necessary; that who undertook to rid France of that unclean monster must go prepared for self-immolation. She counted the cost calmly and soberly–for calm and sober was now her every act.

She made her packages, and set out one morning by the Paris coach from Caen, leaving a note for her father, in which she had written:

“I am going to England, because I do not believe that it will be possible for a long time to live happily and tranquilly in France. On leaving I post this letter to you. When you receive it I shall no longer be here. Heaven denied us the happiness of living together, as it has denied us other happinesses. May it show itself more clement to our country. Good-by, dear Father. Embrace my sister for me, and do not forget me.”

That was all. The fiction that she was going to England was intended to save him pain. For she had so laid her plans that her identity should remain undisclosed. She would seek Marat in the very Hall of the Convention, and publicly slay him in his seat. Thus Paris should behold Nemesis overtaking the false Republican in the very Assembly which he corrupted, and anon should adduce a moral from the spectacle of the monster’s death. For herself she counted upon instant destruction at the hands of the furious spectators. Thus, thinking to die unidentified, she trusted that her father, hearing, as all France must hear, the great tidings that Marat was dead, would never connect her with the instrument of Fate shattered by the fury of the mob.

You realize, then, how great and how terrible was the purpose of this maid of twenty-five, who so demurely took her seat in the Paris diligence on that July morning of the Year 2 of the Republic–1793, old style. She was becomingly dressed in brown cloth, a lace fichu folded across her well-developed breast, a conical hat above her light brown hair. She was of a good height and finely proportioned, and her carriage as full of dignity as of grace. Her skin was of such white loveliness that a contemporary compares it with the lily. Like Athene, she was gray-eyed, and, like Athene, noble-featured, the oval of her face squaring a little at the chin, in which there was a cleft. Calm was her habit, calm her slow-moving eyes, calm and deliberate her movements, and calm the mind reflected in all this.

And as the heavy diligence trundles out of Caen and takes the open country and the Paris road, not even the thought of the errand upon which she goes, of her death-dealing and death- receiving mission, can shake that normal calm. Here is no wild exaltation, no hysterical obedience to hotly-conceived impulse. Here is purpose, as cold as it is lofty, to liberate France and pay with her life for the privilege of doing so.

That lover of hers, whom we are presently to see, has compared her ineptly with Joan of Arc, that other maid of France. But Joan moved with pomp in a gorgeous pageantry, amid acclamations, sustained by the heady wine of combat and of enthusiasm openly indulged, towards a goal of triumph. Charlotte travelled quietly in the stuffy diligence with the quiet conviction that her days were numbered.

So normal did she appear to her travelling companions, that one among them, with an eye for beauty, pestered her with amorous attentions, and actually proposed marriage to her before the coach had rolled over the bridge of Neuilly into Paris two days later.

She repaired to the Providence Inn in the Rue des Vieux Augustine, where she engaged a room on the first floor, and then she set out in quest of the Deputy Duperret. She had a letter of introduction to him from the Girondin Barbaroux, with whom she had been on friendly terms at Caen. Duperret was to assist her to obtain an interview with the Minister of the Interior. She had undertaken to see the latter on the subject of certain papers relating to the affairs of a nun of Caen, an old convent friend of her own, and she was in haste to discharge this errand, so as to be free for the great task upon which she was come.

From inquiries that she made, she learnt at once that Marat was ill, and confined to his house. This rendered necessary a change of plans, and the relinquishing of her project of affording him a spectacular death in the crowded hall of the Convention.

The next day, which was Friday, she devoted to furthering the business of her friend the nun. On Saturday morning she rose early, and by six o’clock she was walking in the cool gardens of the Palais Royal, considering with that almost unnatural calm of hers the ways and means of accomplishing her purpose in the unexpected conditions that she found.

Towards eight o’clock, when Paris was awakening to the business of the day and taking down its shutters, she entered a cutler’s shop in the Palais Royal, and bought for two francs a stout kitchen knife in a shagreen case. She then returned to her hotel to breakfast, and afterwards, dressed in her brown travelling- gown and conical hat, she went forth again, and, hailing a hackney carnage, drove to Marat’s house in the Rue de l’Ecole de Medecine.

But admittance to that squalid dwelling was denied her. The Citizen Marat was ill, she was told, and could receive no visitors. It was Simonne Everard, the triumvir’s mistress–later to be known as the Widow Marat–who barred her ingress with this message.

Checked, she drove back to the Providence Inn and wrote a letter to the triumvir:

“Paris, 13th July, Year 2 of the Republic. “Citizen,–I have arrived from Caen. Your love for your country leads me to assume that you will be anxious to hear of the unfortunate events which are taking place in that part of the Republic. I shall therefore call upon you towards one o’clock. Have the kindness to receive me, and accord me a moment’s audience. I shall put you in the way of rendering a great service to France.
“Marie Corday.”

Having dispatched that letter to Marat, she sat until late afternoon waiting vainly for an answer. Despairing at last of receiving any, she wrote a second note, more peremptory in tone:

“I wrote to you this morning, Marat. Have you received my letter? May I hope for a moment’s audience? If you have received my letter, I hope you will not refuse me, considering the importance of the matter. It should suffice for you that I am very unfortunate to give me the right to your protection.”

Having changed into a gray-striped dimity gown–you observe this further manifestation of a calm so complete that it admits of no departure from the ordinary habits of life–she goes forth to deliver in person this second letter, the knife concealed in the folds of the muslin fichu crossed high upon her breast.

In a mean, brick-paved, ill-lighted, and almost unfurnished room of that house in the Rue de l’Ecole de Medecine, the People’s Friend is seated in a bath. It is no instinct of cleanliness he is obeying, for in all France there is no man more filthy in his person and his habits than this triumvir. His bath is medicated. The horrible, loathsome disease that corrodes his flesh demands these long immersions to quiet the gnawing pains which distract his active, restless mind. In these baths he can benumb the torment of the body with which he is encumbered.

For Marat is an intellect, and nothing more–leastways, nothing more that matters. What else there is to him of trunk and limbs and organs he has neglected until it has all fallen into decay. His very lack of personal cleanliness, the squalor in which he lives, the insufficient sleep which he allows himself, his habit of careless feeding at irregular intervals, all have their source in his contempt for the physical part of him. This talented man of varied attainments, accomplished linguist, skilled physician, able naturalist and profound psychologist, lives in his intellect alone, impatient of all physical interruptions. If he consents to these immersions, if he spends whole days seated in this medicated bath, it is solely because it quenches or cools the fires that are devouring him, and thus permits him to bend his mind to the work that ishis life. But his long-suffering body is avenging upon the mind the neglect to which it has been submitted. The morbid condition of the former is being communicated to the latter, whence results that disconcerting admixture of cold, cynical cruelty and exalted sensibility which marked his nature in the closing years of his life.

In his bath, then, sat the People’s Friend on that July evening, immersed to the hips, his head swathed in a filthy turban, his emaciated body cased in a sleeveless waistcoat. He is fifty years of age, dying of consumption and other things, so that, did Charlotte but know it, there is no need to murder him. Disease and Death have marked him for their own, and grow impatient.

A board covering the bath served him for writing-table; an empty wooden box at his side bore an inkstand, some pens, sheets of paper, and two or three copies of L’Ami do Peuple. There was no sound in the room but the scratch and splutter of his quill. He was writing diligently, revising and editing a proof of the forthcoming issue of his paper.

A noise of voices raised in the outer room invaded the quiet in which he was at work, and gradually penetrated his absorption, until it disturbed and irritated him. He moved restlessly in his bath, listened a moment, then, with intent to make an end of the interruption, he raised a hoarse, croaking voice to inquire what might be taking place.

The door opened, and Simonne, his mistress and household drudge, entered the room. She was fully twenty years younger than himself, and under the slattern appearance which life in that house had imposed upon her there were vestiges of a certain comeliness.

“There is a young woman here from Caen, who demands insistently to see you upon a matter of national importance.”

The dull eyes kindle at the mention of Caen; interest quickens in that leaden-hued countenance. Was it not in Caen that those old foes of his, the Girondins, were stirring up rebellion?

“She says,” Simonne continued, “that she wrote a letter to you this morning, and she brings you a second note herself. I have told her that you will not receive anyone, and . . .”

“Give me the note,” he snapped. Setting down his pen, he thrust out an unclean paw to snatch the folded sheet from Simonne’s hand. He spread it, and read, his bloodless lips compressed, his eyes narrowing to slits.

“Let her in,” he commanded sharply, and Simonne obeyed him without more ado. She admitted Charlotte, and left them alone together–the avenger and her victim. For a moment each regarded the other. Marat beheld a handsome young woman, elegantly attired. But these things had no interest for the People’s Friend. What to him was woman and the lure of beauty? Charlotte beheld a feeble man of a repulsive hideousness, and was full satisfied, for in this outward loathsomeness she imagined a confirmation of the vileness of the mind she was come to blot out.

Then Marat spoke. “So you are from Caen, child?” he said. “And what is doing in Caen that makes you so anxious to see me?”

She approached him.

“Rebellion is stirring there, Citizen Marat.”

“Rebellion, ha!” It was a sound between a laugh and a croak. “Tell me what deputies are sheltered in Caen. Come, child, their names.” He took up and dipped his quill, and drew a sheet of paper towards him.

She approached still nearer; she came to stand close beside him, erect and calm. She recited the names of her friends, the Girondins, whilst hunched there in his bath his pen scratched briskly.

“So many for the guillotine,” he snarled, when it was done.

But whilst he was writing, she had drawn the knife from her fichu, and as he uttered those words of doom to others his own doom descended upon him in a lightning stroke. Straight driven by that strong young arm, the long, stout blade was buried to its black hilt in his breast.

He looked at her with eyes in which there was a faint surprise as he sank back. Then he raised his voice for the last time.

“Help, chere amie! Help!” he cried, and was for ever silent.

The hand still grasping the pen trailed on the ground beside the bath at the end of his long, emaciated arm. His body sank sideways in the same direction, the head lolling nervelessly upon his right shoulder, whilst from the great rent in his breast the blood gushed forth, embruing the water of his bath, trickling to the brick-paved floor, bespattering–symbolically almost–a copy of L’Ami du Peuple, the journal to which he had devoted so much of his uneasy life.

In answer to that cry of his came now Simonne in haste. A glance sufficed to reveal to her the horrible event, and, like a tigress, she sprang upon the unresisting slayer, seizing her by the head, and calling loudly the while for assistance. Came instantly from the anteroom Jeanne, the old cook, the Fortress of the house, and Laurent Basse, a folder of Marat’s paper; and now Charlotte found herself confronted by four maddened, vociferous beings, at whose hands she may well have expected to receive the death for which she was prepared.

Laurent, indeed, snatched up a chair, and felled her by a blow of it across her head. He would, no doubt, have proceeded in his fury to have battered her to death, but for the arrival of gens d’armes and the police commissioner of the district, who took her in their protecting charge.

The soul of Paris was convulsed by the tragedy when it became known. All night terror and confusion were abroad. All night the revolutionary rabble, in angry grief, surged about and kept watch upon the house wherein the People’s Friend lay dead.

That night, and for two days and nights thereafter, Charlotte Corday lay in the Prison of the Abbaye, supporting with fortitude the indignities that for a woman were almost inseparable from revolutionary incarceration. She preserved throughout her imperturbable calm, based now upon a state of mind content in the contemplation of accomplished purpose, duty done. She had saved France, she believed; saved Liberty, by slaying the man who would have strangled it. In that illusion she was content. Her own life was a small price to pay for the splendid achievement.

Some of her time of waiting she spent in writing letters to her friends, in which tranquilly and sanely she dwelt upon what she had done, expounding fully the motives that had impelled her, dwelling upon the details of the execution, and of all that had followed. Among the letters written by her during those “days of the preparation of peace “–as she calls that period, dating in such terms a long epistle to Barbaroux–was one to the Committee of Public Safety, in which she begs that a miniature-painter may be sent to her to paint her portrait, so that she may leave this token of remembrance to her friends. It is only in this, as the end approaches, that we see in her conduct any thought for her own self, any suggestion that she is anything more than a instrument in the hands of Fate.

On the 15th, at eight o’clock in the morning, her trial began before the Revolutionary Tribunal. A murmur ran through the hall as she appeared in her gown of grey-striped dimity, composed and calm–always calm.

The trial opened with the examination of witnesses; into that of the cutler, who had sold her the knife, she broke impatiently.

“These details are a waste of time. It is I who killed Marat.”

The audience gasped, and rumbled ominously. Montane turned to examine her.

“What was the object of your visit to Paris?” he asks.

“To kill Marat.”

“What motives induced you to this horrible deed?”

“His many crimes.”

“Of what crimes do you accuse him?”

“That he instigated the massacre of September; that he kept alive the fires of civil war, so that he might be elected dictator; that he sought to infringe upon the sovereignty of the People by causing the arrest and imprisonment of the deputies to the Convention on May 31st.”

“What proof have you of this?”

“The future will afford the proof. Marat hid his designs behind a mask of patriotism.”

Montane shifted the ground of his interrogatory.

“Who were your accomplices in this atrocious act?”

“I have none.”

Montane shook his head. “You cannot convince anyone that a person of your age and sex could have conceived such a crime unless instigated by some person or persons whom you are unwilling to name.”

Charlotte almost smiled. “That shows but a poor knowledge of the human heart. It is easier to carry out such a project upon the strength of one’s own hatred than upon that of others.” And then, raising her voice, she proclaimed: “I killed one man to save a hundred thousand; I killed a villain to save innocents; I killed a savage Wild-beast to give repose to France. I was a Republican before the Revolution. I never lacked for energy.”

What more was there to say? Her guilt was completely established. Her fearless self-ossession was not to be ruffled. Yet Fouquier- Tinville, the dread prosecutor, made the attempt. Beholding her so virginal and fair and brave, feeling perhaps that the Tribunal had not had the best of it, he sought with a handful of revolutionary filth to restore the balance. He rose slowly, his ferrety eyes upon her.

“How many children have you had?” he rasped, sardonic, his tone a slur, an insult.

Faintly her cheeks crimsoned. But her voice was composed, disdainful, as she answered coldly:

“Have I not stated that I am not married?”

A leer, a dry laugh, a shrug from Tinville to complete the impression he sought to convey, and he sat down again.

It was the turn of Chauveau de la Garde, the advocate instructed to defend her. But what defence was possible? And Chauveau had been intimidated. He had received a note from the jury ordering him to remain silent, another from the President bidding him declare her mad.

Yet Chauveau took a middle course. His brief speech is admirable; it satisfied his self-respect, without derogating from his client. It uttered the whole truth.

“The prisoner,” he said, “confesses with calm the horrible crime she has committed; she confesses with calm its premeditation; she confesses its most dreadful details; in short, she confesses everything, and does riot seek to justify herself. That, citizens of the jury, is her whole defence. This imperturbable calm, this utter abnegation of self, which displays no remorse even in the very presence of death, are contrary to nature. They can only be explained by the excitement of political fanaticism which armed her hand. It is for you, citizens of the jury, to judge what weight that moral consideration should have in the scales of justice.”

The jury voted her guilty, and Tinville rose to demand the full sentence of the law.

It was the end. She was removed to the Conciergerie, the antechamber of the guillotine. A constitutional priest was sent to her, but she dismissed him with thanks, not requiring his ministrations. She preferred the painter Hauer, who had received the Revolutionary Tribunal’s permission to paint her portrait in accordance with her request. And during the sitting, which lasted half an hour, she conversed with him quietly on ordinary topics, the tranquillity of her spirit unruffled by any fear of the death that was so swiftly approaching.

The door opened, and Sanson, the public executioner, came in. He carried the red smock worn by those convicted of assassination. She showed no dismay; no more, indeed, than a faint surprise that the time spent with Hauer should have gone so quickly. She begged for a few moments in which to write a note, and, the request being granted, acquitted herself briskly of that task, then announcing herself ready, she removed her cap that Sanson might cut her luxuriant hair. Yet first, taking his scissors, she herself cut off a lock and gave it to Hauer for remembrance. When Sanson would have bound her hands, she begged that she might be allowed to wear gloves, as her wrists were bruised and cut by the cord with which she had been pinioned in Marat’s house. He answered that she might do so if she wished, but that it was unnecessary, as he could bind her without causing pain.

“To be sure,” she said, “those others had not your experience,” and she proffered her bare wrists to his cord without further demur. “If this toilet of death is performed by rude hands,” she commented, “at least it leads to immortality.”

She mounted the tumbril awaiting in the prison yard, and, disdaining the chair offered her by Sanson, remained standing, to show herself dauntless to the mob and brave its rage. And fierce was that rage, indeed. So densely thronged were the streets that the tumbril proceeded at a crawl, and the people surging about the cart screamed death and insult at the doomed woman. It took two hours to reach the Place de la Revolution, and meanwhile a terrific summer thunderstorm had broken over Paris, and a torrential rain had descended upon the densely packed streets. Charlotte’s garments were soaked through and through, so that her red smock, becoming glued now to her body and fitting her like a skin, threw into relief its sculptural beauty, whilst a reflection of the vivid crimson of the garment faintly tinged her cheeks, and thus heightened her appearance of complete composure.

And it is now in the Rue St. Honore that at long last we reach the opening of our tragic love-story.

A tall, slim, fair young man, named Adam Lux–sent to Paris by the city of Mayence as Deputy Extraordinary to the National Convention– was standing there in the howling press of spectators. He was an accomplished, learned young gentleman, doctor at once of philosophy and of medicine, although in the latter capacity he had never practiced owing to an extreme sensibility of nature, which rendered anatomical work repugnant to him. He was a man of a rather exalted imagination, unhappily married–the not uncommon fate of such delicate temperaments–and now living apart from his wife. He had heard, as all Paris had heard, every detail of the affair, and of the trial, and he waited there, curious to see this woman, with whose deed he was secretly in sympathy.

The tumbril slowly approached, the groans and execrations swelled up around him, and at last he beheld her–beautiful, serene, full of life, a still smile upon her lips. For a long moment he gazed upon her, standing as if stricken into stone. Then heedless of those about him, he bared his head, and thus silently saluted and paid homage to her. She did not see him. He had not thought that she would. He saluted her as the devout salute the unresponsive image of a saint. The tumbril crawled on. He turned his head, and followed her with his eyes for awhile; then, driving his elbows into the ribs of those about him, he clove himself a passage through the throng, and so followed, bare-headed now, with fixed gaze, a man entranced.

He was at the foot of the scaffold when her head fell. To the last he had seen that noble countenance preserve its immutable calm, and in the hush that followed the sibilant fall of the great knife his voice suddenly rang out.

“She is greater than Brutus!” was his cry; and he added, addressing those who stared at him in stupefaction: “It were beautiful to have died with her!”

He was suffered to depart unmolested. Chiefly, perhaps because at that moment the attention of the crowd was upon the executioner’s attendant, who, in holding up Charlotte’s truncated head, slapped the cheek with his hand. The story runs that the dead face reddened under the blow. Scientists of the day disputed over this, some arguing from it a proof that consciousness does not at once depart the brain upon decapitation.

That night, while Paris slept, its walls were secretly placarded with copies of a eulogy of Charlotte Corday, the martyr of Republicanism, the deliverer of France, in which occurs the comparison with Joan of Arc, that other great heroine of France. This was the work of Adam Lux. He made no secret of it. The vision of her had so wrought upon the imagination of this susceptible dreamer, had fired his spirit with such enthusiasm, that he was utterly reckless in yielding to his emotions, in expressing the phrenetic, immaterial love with which in her last moments of life she had inspired him.

Two days after her execution he issued a long manifesto, in which he urged the purity of her motive as the fullest justification of her act, placed her on the level of Brutus and Cato, and passionately demanded for her the honour and veneration of posterity. It is in this manifesto that he applies euphemistically to her deed the term “tyrannicide.” That document he boldly signed with his own name, realizing that he would pay for that temerity with his life.

He was arrested on the 24th of July–exactly a week from the day on which he had seen her die. He had powerful friends, and they exerted themselves to obtain for him a promise of pardon and release if he would publicly retract what he had written. But he laughed the proposal to scorn, ardently resolved to follow into death the woman who had aroused the hopeless, immaterial love that made his present torment.

Still his friends strove for him. His trial was put off. A doctor named Wetekind was found to testify that Adam Lux was mad, that the sight of Charlotte Corday had turned his head. He wrote a paper on this plea, recommending that clemency be shown to the young doctor on the score of his affliction, and that he should be sent to a hospital or to America. Adam Lux was angry when he heard of this, and protested indignantly against the allegations of Dr. Wetekind. He wrote to the Journal de la Montagne, which published his declaration on the 26th of September, to the effect that he was not mad enough to desire to live, and that his anxiety to meet death half-way was a crowning proof of his sanity.

He languished on in the prison of La Force until the 10th of October, when at last he was brought to trial. He stood it joyously, in a mood of exultation at his approaching deliverance. He assured the court that he did not fear the guillotine, and that all ignominy had been removed from such a death by the pure blood of Charlotte.

They sentenced him to death, and he thanked them for the boon.

“Forgive me, sublime Charlotte,” he exclaimed, “if I should find it impossible to exhibit at the last the courage and gentleness that were yours. I glory in your superiority, for it is right that the adored should be above the adorer.”

Yet his courage did not fail him. Far from it, indeed; if hers had been a mood of gentle calm, his was one of ecstatic exaltation. At five o’clock that same afternoon he stepped from the tumbril under the gaunt shadow of the guillotine. He turned to the people, his eyes bright, a flush on his cheeks.

“At last I am to have the happiness of dying for Charlotte,” he told them, and mounted the scaffold with the eager step of the bridegroom on his way to the nuptial altar.