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Anything new which throws a little additional
light upon a phase of the troubled life of this
extraordinary man must have some interest for the
readers of " N. & Q." A letter in the autograph
of the great merchant-dramatist, which fell into
my hands some years ago, and which I came upon
the other day in turning over some of my books,
seemed to me to answer this purpose; and I give it
here for the first time in print, with a rough trans-
lation* into English. It is addressed to the dis-

» Paris, April 17, 1783.
My Lord.—Yesterday, trembling with fever, I called
on M. d'Ormesson: I arranged with him that he
ebould write to you this morning, and that, on my
part, I should go to Versailles, bearing to himself your
answer. But my fever has increased to such a degree
that I can scarce see what I am writing, within my bed-

The mortification of finding myself in this extremity,
witbont having yet succeeded in concluding anything
about my wretched claims, and my liabilities now due, have
deprived me of repose. Then, at the last moment, comes
this fever, which completes the work ; and on Saturday
I most pay a ram, which I do not possess and cannot
raise before that day. M. d'Ormesson, though full of
goodwill towards me, wishes for your support before

tinguished diplomat and minister the Comte de
Vergennes, who was, during the last few years of his
life, and therefore at the period at which this letter
was written, President of the Council of Finance.
The M. d'Ormesson who is mentioned in the letter
was Henri-Fran <;ois de Paule Ie Fevre d'Ormes-
son, who, having succeeded his father in the
administration of the Maison de Saint-Cyr, im-
pressed Louis XVI. so favourably by the manner
in which he transacted the business of his post
that the king appointed him to the Controle
GeneVale des Finances. Diffident about accepting
this, on account of his youth, he was encouraged
by the king, who said to him, " I am younger than
you, and yet I fill a greater station than that
which I am giving to you!" D'Ormesson was,
however, incompetent for the duties of the im-

coming to my aid; and now, at the moment when I
have the greatest need to go to you and beg of you this
act of justice, as a special favour, I am nailed to my

You do not wi*h that I should perish. I only ask for
a Bmiill part of n great total, which you would cause to
be paid to me if some enforced delays had not put off
till now my strict payment in full.

In the name of honour and of your benevolence, write,
my Lord, to M. d'Ormesson, and tell him that there is
no objection to giving me the payment on account, with
a statement of which I have furnished him; it is only
the amount which I am myself obliged to pay. And
condescend to add that it is indispensable that be should
cause a prompt examination and payment of my claims
to be made; for one cannot conclude an affair before
beginning it; but five years have now elapsed, and the
consideration of this affair has not yet been commenced.

As I was myself to bo the bearer of your reply, be so
kind as to give it to my postilion. I cannot go to Ver-
sailles; but this afternoon, after the access [of fever], I
will do as [I did] yesterday; I will go to M. d'Ormes-
.=< in'a house on hands and knees, sooner than fail to go,
so desperate has my case become.

I desire to bring you a curioiu paper, relating to the
subject which I bad the honour to mention to you lust
Monday. But I dare not entrust it even to my own
messenger. I will go and show it to you, as soon as I
am able to make a journey of four leagues.

I enclose a copy which I have had made of Voltaire't
letter to the King of Prutria and of the monarch't answer.
I present to the king the homage of the perusal of the
manuscript which 1 have already given you: add to it
this document, proving the truth of the facts, ar.d put it
at the page on which the writertreats of the war of 1743,
which y<m will easily find. If it amuBes the king to read
this, and if his Majesty would like to have, in con-
fidence, some other hitherto unknown portions of the
great portfolio, I Bhall make it my duty and my pleasure,
both for your and for his sake, to extract some other
matters of great interest.

Save my honour for me, I beg of you, by bidding
M. d'Ormesson make this temporary but necessary
settlement of my claims. Never has the Service had to
wait one moment when ray activity has been required.

I beg a million of pardons fortbis informal babble. My
head throbs like a forge, and anxiety redoubles my fever.

I am, with the most unalterable devotion, my Lord,
Your most humble and obedient servant,
Cabon De Beauxa&cb

portant place which he accepted ; the innumerable details of the work confused him, he lost his head, committed blunder after blunder, and, after a few , months, was superseded by M. de Calonne, leaving; a greater deficit than had ever been known before. , About this time, harassed by his creditors on one side, secretly employed by the minister on the other in assisting the Americans in their struggle for independence, his debts and his vast speculations continually agitating his mind with visions of immense wealth or abject poverty, while his fleet with its convoy were able to help a French admiral to inflict a heavy blow on an English squadron, at the cost of many ships and much merchandise to the speculator himself,—Beaumarchais was yet never able to extort from the Government more than a tithe of what was due to him. He received the smiles of the king, but not his coin, even after the great service mentioned above. Not until he had been thirty-six years in his grave did his family receive anything from the wreck of his claims upon the American Government—claims that only needed the sincere support of his own to establish them, clear and incontestable.

M. E. Fournier, in his admirable edition of the works of Beaumarchais (1876), prints a letter, till then unpublished, which he justly calls very important. It is dated the 16 Mars, 1783, and is also addressed to the Comte de Yergennes. In that letter Beaumarchais says that he had seen M. de Fleury, who had promised to occupy himself with his "indispensable liquidation." The writer represented that it was already three months since his accounts had been laid before the king. "Je suis serré," he says, "dans un étau." His engagements would suffer no post

Eonement. The seizure of his two vessels had cost im more than 800,000 fr., and the publicity of his losses had brought his creditors down upon him. Remittances from America had been suspended. The Aigle, on board of which he had 4,000 bales, was taken. Floods at Morlaix had spoiled 100,000 fr. worth of his goods in warehouses. On the eve of his payment, the day before, a broker, by fraudulent bankruptcy, had deprived him of 30,000 fr. "This is the hardest time of my life," he continues; "and you know, M. le Oomte, that I have now had for three years more than 200,000 fr. locked up in the enormous mass of parchment title-deedswhicb M. de Maure pas ordered me to buy up secretly in every direction. I shall perish unless M. de Fleury quickly decides with you to throw to me the sum which I request on account, as one throws a rope to a drowning man."

A month after this strong appeal, nothing appears to have been yet done to relieve poor Beaumarchais. He then writes the following touching letter, which lies now before me :—

Paris ce 17 avril 17S3.

Monsieur Le Comte*

Lier au Soir je me traînai, tremblant la fièvre, chez M. D'Ormesson: Je convins avec lui qu'il vous écrirait ce Matin, et que de mon coté Je me rendrais a Versailles pour lui rapporter a lai mesme votre réponse. Mais ma fièvre a redoublé a tel point que Je vois a peine ce que J'écris dans mes rideaux.

Le chagrin de me voir enfin aux abois, sans avoir rien pu finir encore sur mes tristes réclamations, et mes échéances arrivées, m'ont oté le repos. Fuis au dernier moment, voila la fièvre qui couronne l'œuvre, et Je dois payer samedi une somme que Je n'ai point, ni ne puis faire d'ici la. M. D'Ormesson, plein de bonne volonté, veut pourtant avoir votre attache pour venir a mon secours, et dans le moment ou j'ai le plus grand besoin d'aller vous demander cette justice comme une grace spéciale, je suis cloué a mon grabat.

Vous ne voulez pas que Je périsse. Je demande une légère partie d'un grand tout que vous me feriez payer, si des lenteurs forcées n'avaient pas retardé ma liquidation rigoureuse jusqu'à aujourdui.

Au nom de l'honneur, et de votre bienveillance, ecrivés, Monsieur le Comte, a M. D'Ormesson qu'il est sans inconvénient de me donner l'échelle d'acomptes dont je lui ai remis l'état, c'est celui de mes paiemens forcés. Et daignez lui ajouter qu'il est indispensable de faire faire promptement l'examen et la liquidation de mes demandes; car on ne peut finir une affaire qu'après l'avoir commencée: et depuis 5 ans, celle-ci ne s'entams point. Comme je devais me rendre porteur de votre réponse, daignez la remettre a mon postillon. Je ne puis aller a Versailles; mais cette après midi, après l'accès, Je ferai comme hier; J'irai plutôt a quatre pâtes chez M. D'Ormesson, que d'y manquer, tout mon état est devenu violent.

Je voulais vous porter un papier curieux, relatif a ce que j'ai eu l'honneur de vous dire lundi. Mais Je n'ose le confier, mesme a mon courrier. Je vous irai le montrer, Dès que je pourai faire quatre lieues.

Je joins ici la copie que j'ai fait tirer de la lettre de Voltaire au Roi de Prusse et de la réponse du Monarque; en présentant lhommage de cette lecture du Manuscrit que je vous ai remis, au Roi ; joignez cette pièce justificative de la vérité des faits, en In mettant dans la page ou il traite de la guerre de 1743, que vous retrouvérez facilement.

Si cette lecture amuse le Roi, et que Sa Majesté desire en secret quelques autres parties inconnues du grand portefeuille; Je me ferai un devoir et un plaisir de faire, et pour vous, et pour lui, des choix bien intéressans.

Sauvez moi l'honneur je vous prie, en mandant a AI. D'Ormesson de me donner un provisoire indispensable. Jamais le Service n'a attendu un moment quand mon activité a été invoquée.

Je vous demande un million de Pardons de ce bavardage informe. Ma teste frappe comme une forge, et l'inquiétude augmente ma fièvre. Je suis avec le plus inviolable dévoûment, Monsieur Le Comte, Votre très humble et très obéissant Serviteur

Caron De Beaumarchais.

M. Le C" de Virgennes.

Surrounded and oppressed with the troubles, anxieties, and cares which dictated this request for the payment of a small part of what the State . owed to him, this wonderful man contrived to

* I have transcribed this letter verlatim et literatin-, ! without presuming to correct the writer's orthography, punctuation, or accents.

steal from his numberless occupations, when his head was clear from fever, a few hours, from time to time, which he devoted to a service which repaid him far more generously than did his king —that of the stage. Almost within a year from the date of this letter, his famous play, which alone is said to have brought him in 80,000 fr., the Mariage de Figaro, was produced on Tuesday, April 27, 17S4. He must have conceived, if he had not actually written, a large part of this immortal work at the very moment when he was penning the piteous letter which is here published for the first time. J Ulian Marshall.


I have before now, on the question of the Benediction of the Pasthal Candle {5lh S. xi. 321) cited in the pages of "N. & Q " some features of local Italian ritual which possess an interest for the antiquary as well as for the liturgiologist.

It appears to me that the Epiphany ceremonies formerly practised in the Church of Osimo, in the .Hnii:*, fall distinctly within the above category; and I therefore offer them for what will practically be the Epiphany number of "N. & Q." as well as the first of the new year.

Besides the purely liturgical peculiarities of the Church of Osimo, which, in strictness, seem rather to have been common to the group of dioceses on the Adriatic slope of the Apennines embraced within what used to be known as the Legations, there was a celebration of the festival which the reverend authority whom I follow, the Canonico Fanciulli, in his elaborate and interesting treatise Di Atcuni Riti della CalUdrale di Osimo (Roma, Stamperia Salomoni, s. a., but Imprimatur dated 1805) calls an " Agape." From Canon Fanciulli's statements it would appear to be in their Processionals that we should look for these survivals of old Italian church customs, which lasted in many dioceses for a considerable time after the Roman Missal and Breviary had authoritatively superseded all other formularies.

Accordingly, we find that the usage of the (.'lurch of Osimo, in holding a solemn procession for the benediction of the holy water at the festival of the Epiphany, was one of the ritual practices which survived the general adoption of the Roman rite in Italy. This procession, in which the laky of the city were represented by a richlydressed patrician who headed it as cross-bearer, started from the cathedral after Compline on the eve of the Epiphany. It seems worth noting here that women were excluded from the cathedral at the formation of the procession. And it seems no less worthy of note that the procession, though ritually part of the festival, being held "nella vigil:* dell' Epifania," would appear to have been

treated in the diocese of Osimo as penitential; for the clergy, we are told, were vested in violet. It is possible, of course, if not probable, that here, too, we have a survival of an ancient custom, the reason for which may not now be easy to trace. The holy water, I should add, was carried home by the people after the benediction.

After the procession and benediction came the "Agape," which took place in a room within the cathedral adjoining the sacristy.

The banquet—a very light one, it must be confessed—consisted of various kinds of sweets, described by Canon Fanciulli as "varie confetture e znccherini." Its ecclesiastical character is shown by the fact that the only persons admitted to participate were the clergy and what may be called representative laity; only, in this instance, as in others outside the limits of the iEmilia, it was the laity of high degree who alone were considered to be representative.

Canon Fanciulli considers the application to this banquet of the term "Agape" to be warranted by its analogy with the apostolic and sub-apostolic "Agape" on the following three grounds :—(1) Because, like its prototype, it set forth the brotherhood of Christians; (2) because it was celebrated at eventide; (3) because it formed part of the Sunday offices, in token of the joy which it expressed. Lastly, I would call the attention alike of the antiquary and liturgiologist to the circumstance noted by Canon Fanciulli, that the Epiphany Agape of the Church of Osimo bore tokens of an Eastern derivation, as, indeed, might well be the case with a diocese lying between Ravenna and Bari.

It was celebrated, remarks the Canon, as St. Gregory tells us in his Sacramentary that it was the custom of the Greeks to celebrate the festival of the Epiphany, "omnibus ad fontes convenientibus cum lampadibus et thure ibi multis precibus aqua benedicatur." And, as has been shown above, at Osimo in the ^Emilia, as in the Greek Church, there was a great benediction of water at the feast of the Epiphany, and therewith the faithful were sprinkled, they and their houses and their fields.

Thus were celebrated the solemnities of the Epiphany in the diocese of Osimo down to the beginning of the eighteenth century. It may be that the Agape " of Osimo was' the last survivor in the Latin Church of the Love Feast of the early Christian centuries. C. H. E. Carmichael. New University Club, S.W.

A FRAGMENT OP ENGLISH HISTORY. It is tolerably well known among antiquaries that that ancient body the Honourable Artillery Company of London possesses a very interesting literary relic called the " Vellum Book." This book is a chronological record of the " Gentlemen who have been admitted to the Artillery Garden," commencing in 1611 and running continuously for about three-quarters of a century. The chief interest lies in the opening pages of the book, which are devoted to the autographs of the aforesaid gentlemen, and which are especially rich in the later Stuart period, exhibiting an array of the signatures of almost all the most eminent characters of the reigns of Charles II. and James II. The first two autographs are those of Charles and James when respectively Prince of Wales and Duke of York. Upon following pages are the autographs of the monarchs who succeeded them upon the throne, and of the issue of such monarchs (the latest being that of H.R.H. Albert Edward, Prince of Wales), each name having either a separate page, or a considerable portion of a page, gorgeously illuminated, to itself. After the royal pages come those bearing the signatures of subjects in close order. It is important to note that so exclusive was the appropriation of the royal pages, that even Prince Rupert, first cousin of Charles II., has signed among the multitude.

The autographs of Charles and James appear to have been written on June 1, 1641; and very imposing they look within their gilded illuminated circle, where for thirty-eight years they remained unprofaned by the hand of lowlier mortals; for, although during that period Rupert, Monmouth, Grafton, Albemarle, Buckingham, Shaftesbury, Sunderland, Danby, and other great ones were "admitted to the garden," none dared to sign upon his sovereign's page. The charm was, however, broken at last. At some distance below the royalties, in rather tremulous characters, is the following autograph : " Plymouth," followed by the date, "21 October, 1679." How it came there is the object of this note to suggest.

Charles Fitz-Charles was the illegitimate son of Charles II. by Catherine, daughter of Thomas Pegg, of Yeldersley, in the County of Derby, Esq. Born in 1658, he was raised to the peerage in 1675 by the titles of Baron Dartmouth, Viscount Totness, and Earl of Plymouth. His autograph (for his it is) in the position noted affords an illustration of the history of the period. The Dukes of Monmouth and Grafton, two other of Charles's illegitimate sons, had been content to sign their names in the body of the book, Monmouth signing in 1664—a time when Charles might be expected to have legitimate issue—and Grafton signing towards the end of 1677, when the recent marriage of the Princess Mary to William of Orange appeared to secure the ultimate devolution of the crown in a Protestant line. But the date of Plymouth's signature is October 21, 1679, a time when the country was vehemently anti-papistical, when Shaftesbury, in the zenith of his power and fresh from his Habeas Corpus Act victory, had triumphantly secured the second read

ing, by a large majorit y, in the House of Commons of a Bill to exclude the Duke of York from the succession, and when James was vainly bidding in all quarters for support and popularity. He had that very day gone into the city to dine with the Honourable Artillery Company, had been hooted and met with cries of " No Popery " in the streets, and his presence at table had caused many persons of consequence to absent themselves from the banquet, some of whom, rather maliciously, gave away their dinner tickets to a lot of riff-raff, whose company certainly did not tend to mitigate the general ill success of the day. Plymouth was among those present; he saw all that passed; he was doubtless aware that Charles had ere this been influenced to avoid the presumptive heirship of James by declaring Monmouth his legitimate heir (Buckingham was ready to forge evidence of the mother's marriage to the king); he was Charles's next eldest son after Monmouth; it wasquite possible that a lucky stroke, say an Act to legitimatize the Protestant bastards, might bring him within the line of succession; and thus, with admirable presence of mind, he disdains the leaves upon which many other noble and distinguished persons that day admitted have signed their names, and asserts his royal station by placing his autograph upon that august page below that of the king, his father.

Alas for human ambition! Ere the next year was out he was lying dead in Tangier.

H. D. Ellis.

The Star Of Thk Mack.—It is well known that the idea was started by the famous (but fanciful) Kepler that the star which brought the magi to Jerusalem at the time of our Lord's birth was, in fact, a conjunction or near approach of the planets Jupiter and Saturn, which, in fact, did occur in the year of Rome 747, or B.c. 7, two years before the most probable date of the Nativity. Dr. Ideler, of Berlin, worked out this idea in considerable detail in his Handbuch der Mathematischen und Technischen Chronologie, published in 1825, and concluded from his calculations that the two planets at one time approached each other so closely that for a weak sight ("fur ein schwaches Auge") they would present the appearance of a single star. Prof. Pritchard (now of Oxford) was induced by this expression to re-examine the question and go through the labour of performing the calculation again, the result of which is given in vol. xxv. of the Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society, and the substance of his paper is incorporated in an article (by himself) in Smith's well-known Dictionary of the Bible. It amounts to this, that the planets never approached nearer than a distance of about one degree, equal to very nearly twice the apparent diameter of the moon. Prof. Pritchard makes somewhat merry over the Terr "imperfect eyesight" thus attributed to the magi in not being able to distinguish distinctly two heavenly bodies at such a distance from each other. To me, I must confess, the matter does not seem of any great importance, for if an astrological significance was attributed to the approach of the planets, the exact amount of proximity would not alter it much; whilst as to the notion suggested in some books, such as the earlier editions of Alford's Greek Testnment (before the publication of Prof. Pritchard's investigation), that the superposed planets would look like "one star of surpassing brightness," it is simple nonsense, for if Saturn were centrally behind Jupiter, the latter would appear scarcely, if at all, brighter than usual, and a Tery close npproach of Saturn would (as Prof. Pritchard justly remarks) rather confuse than add to the brilliancy of Jupiter.

Dr. Upham, of New York, has published a small work in which he suggests that the attention of the magi was indeed attracted by the close approach of the planets, but the guiding object was a new star, which may have come into view about the same time. A similar idea has been expressed by Wieseler, of Hamburg, that this was a comet which appears from the Chinese records to have been seen for a considerable time in the year of Rome 750. (Our Lord was, however, in all probability, born in the year 749.) But the objection, which seems to me to be insuperable, to the guiding star beingaheavenlybody,eithera conjunction of planets, a new fixed star, or a comet, is the impossibility of tuch a body appearing to move before a traveller, and then to stop and stand over a house or particular spot. We must go back, then, to the opinion of St. Chrysostom, and believe that it was a strictly miraculous appearance resembling a star : 'On yap ov Ttav iroWQv «is o ao-njp Otjtos ?)v, uaAAov Se ovSk aa-njp, <Ls 1,1'.. • s 8oKti,aXAa ovvafiii Tis aoparos «is ravrqv /i£7ao"x»//iOTio-0fro-o rrjv oifriv. Thisdoes notaffect the question of any significance that may have been, attributed by the magi to the near approach of Jupiter and Saturn in B.C. 7 (year of Rome 748), and of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars in B.C. 6 (year of Rome 749).

Another question on this subject was started many years ago in "N. & Q." by Mr. Henry Walter (21"1 S. iii. 293), as to the place to which the magi repaired to find and worship the infant Christ. This is usually supposed to have been Bethlehem; but most modern commentators think that the flight into Egypt must have been after the presentation in the temple, which could hardly have taken place subsequently to the Massacre of the Innocents. Now, as St. Luke records that aft*r the presentation the holy family returned to Nametb, Mr. Walter suggested that it was there that the visit of the magi took place; and that, although they were directed when at Jeru

salem to proceed to Bethlehem, the reappearance of the star caused them to change their direction and repair to Nazareth instead, taking care not to let the king know where they had gone. Bp. Wordsworth, however, thinks that their visit took place after another journey made by the holy family to Bethlehem on the occasion of one of the great annual feasts at Jerusalem. A flight into Egypt certainly seems more natural from Judoea than from Galilee. W. T. Lynn.


Edmund Halley, The Celebrated AstroNomer.—In 1692 Edmund Halley, the celebrated astronomer, was consulted by a friend as to the acreage of England and Wales. His process was very original. He took the best map of England which he could get, cut out the part which represented the land, weighed it, and compared the weight with that of an inch taken from the middle of the map, the centre of which was a point equidistant from King's Lynn and the mouth of the Severn. He found that the land, with the islands of Wight, Anglesey, and Man, was four times the weight of his circle. His calculation gave him 38,660,000 acres. He then in the same manner cut out and weighed the several counties. He found, after carefully drying the pieces — the humidity of the air was the great difficulty in hia calculation — that 40,000 acres weighed a grain. The above note is a singular illustration of the manner in which, before a proper survey, an able mathematician tried to solve a difficult problem. The actual acreage is, excluding the Isle of Man,. 37,319,221; and Halley pleads that he should be licensed to the extent of a million acres or so, especially as he had to include rivers and roads.

James E. Thorold Rogers.


Bullock Carts.—Mr. Edward B. Tylor, in his Anthropology, p. 200, tells us that in Portugal the old classic bullock cart may still be seen. In these carts the wheels do not revolve on the axle, but the axle turns round with the wheels. It may be well to note that such carts have been used in this part of Lincolnshire within the memory of our grandfathers. My father, who was born in 1793, could not remember ever to have seen one, bnt his father, who was born in 1766, was familiar with them. They were thought to be better for use on very heavy roads than those with fixed axles.

Edward Peacock.

Bottesford Manor, Brigg.

A French Tichborne Case.—I do not know whether any of your correspondents have read a case of disputed identity similar to the famous, or infamous, Tichborne case; but it may be worth while to record here the reference to a French trial in the sixteenth century, bearing, in most of its

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