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HAVE WE A BOURBON AMONG US?
INTRODUCTORY FRON REV. DR. HAWKS.
you for the
NEW-YORK, Jan, 1, 1858. MY DEAR SIR,—The narrative which accompanies this note was prepared by the Rev. John H. Hanson, a clergyman of worth and ability, and with his permission is forwarded to
of your magazine. Of the accuracy of Mr. Hanson’s statements it is unnecessary to speak to those who know him; but for the sake of others, it may be well to say that his character and standing are such as to justify entire confidence in any thing he relates as coming within his personal knowledge.
To this I may add that I have seen the documents which he states to be in his possession, and know that he has correctly related what he heard from Mr. Williams; for much of it was repeated in my presence; beside which, Mr. Williams has heard read all that is in the narrative, and bas told me that, so far as his statements are given, they are correctly related by Mr. Hanson.
As to Mr. Williams himself, I know him very well. He is a clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal Church whose labors have been, almost entirely, those of a missionary among the Indians. He is in good standing as a clergyman, and is deemed a man of truth among his acquaintance and those with whom he has longest lived. As his character for veracity becomes an all-important question, in considering the very remarkable facts contained in the narrative, Mr. Hanson took great pains in his inquiries on that point; and to that end made a visit to the spot where Mr. Williams had spent many years of his life, and was best known; the result was abundant and satisfactory testimonials, now in Mr. Hanson's possession, that Mr. Williams has always been deemed a worthy and truthful man. I can add to this merely my statement that in all my intercourse with him, I have never found reason to doubt the correctness of his neighbors and acquaintance in their testimony to his character as stated above.
From personal knowledge, I am able to say that there is a remarkable simplicity both of manner and character about Mr. Williams. He possesses an ordinary share of intellectual power; with but little quickness, however, of combination, in grouping facts that bear on
common central point, and without much readiness in deducing conclusions from them ; and is incapable of framing a mass of circumstantial testimony, made up of a combination of many isolated facts. To do this, requires genius, and a high inventive faculty.
Indeed, nothing has struck me more forcibly in my frequent conversations with him on the facts embodied in Mr. Hanson's narrative, than his seemingly entire non-perception of the bearing of many of the facts as testimony, and their coincidence with other events known to him, until these were pointed out to him. And sometimes he could not at first be made even then, to comprehend readily the indicated relations. When, however, he did comprehend the relations, his countenance would light up with a smile, and he would say, “I see it now, but I never saw it before.”
I have found him uniformly amiable, and gentle in manner, and to all appearance a truly pious man.
In short, a knowledge of the man has seemed to me to be an important part of the story he tells; his temperament, disposition, mental operations, &c., all go to establishing one of the facts explanatory of some particulars in the narrative,
Whether the historical problem presented by Mr. Hanson be here solved, is a matter which I will not undertake to decide. The only points of which I would speak with certainty are two:—first, Mr. Williams is not an Indian; and secondly, he is not able to invent a complicated mass of circumstantial evidence to sustain a fabricated story.
No matter, however, what may be the conclusions of your readers, there is interest enough in the narrative to repay the trouble of a perusal.
Yours very truly,
Francis L. HAWKS GEORGE P. Putxam, Esq.
T the moment that the star of the and in the State of New-York? If the
Bonapartes is culminating, there is a following statements, which I am authorsad and solemn interest in looking back at ized by the individual chiefly concerned the dynasty which preceded in the gov to make, seem marvellous, let me remind ernment of France. The House of Bour the reader that the remote and individual bon ascended the throne in the person of consequences of such an event as the the great but unfortunate Henry IV., in French Revolution, can scarcely fail to be the year 1588, but with such undeviating so, and should no more surprise us than accuracy were the warp and woof of des the brilliancy of meteors torn from shattiny woven, that although the last reign tered worlds. ing prince of that line came to the crown I observed, about two years ago, a in virtue of five applications of the Salique paragraph in the papers, stating that facts law, he yet combined in his person all had recently come to light, which rendered claims legal and natural of the Capetine it probable that the Rev. Mr. Williams. race, and was the true lineal heir of Hugh of Green Bay, Wisconsin, was no other Capet, whose reign began A. D. 987, and than Louis XVII.; but as the circumstanthus brought the imperial drama of 800 ces on which the statement was based years, rounded and perfect to its tragical were not mentioned, except that he bore a close.
strong resemblance to the Bourbon famiLouis XVI. espoused Marie Antoinette ly, my curiosity was excited, and I made Josephe Jeane of Austria, a sister of fruitless inquiries in many quarters, findJoseph II., of the Queen of Naples, and of ing no one who could give me the slightest the Duchess of Parma ; daughter of the clue to the mystery. In the summer of Emperor Francis I., by Maria Theresa, 1851, being then a resident at Waddington. Queen of Hungary and Bohemia. This on the banks of the St. Lawrence, in the event occurred in 1770. On the 10th State of New York, I heard that the Rev. May, 1774, Louis ascended the throne. Eleazer Williams had returned from the Marie Therèse Charlotte, the first child West to St. Regis, a well-known Indian of the royal but ill-fated pair, was born village, a few miles distant, but my inDec. 1778; a second child who died early, formant was unacquainted with his hiswas born 1781, and Charles Louis, the tory. I then purposed to pay Mr. Williams Dauphin of revolutionary history, came a visit at St. Regis, but was prevented by into the world March 25th, 1785.
circumstances from doing so, and as I The sad history of this child, his beauty, was about to remove, regretted that I his virtues and his sufferings, are familiar should leave northern New-York without to all. After his separation from his fe obtaining an interview. Accident, howmale relatives, and the death of his mother ever, threw him in my way. Upon enin 1793, he was consigned to the care of tering the cars, on the Ogdensburg railSimon the cobbler. By him, he was treated road, on my way to New-York, in the auin a manner which disgraced humanity; tumn of 1851, I observed a somewhat cold, hunger, filth, sleeplessness, beating, stout old gentleman, talking to two Inabuse, terror, reduced him to a condition dians in their own language, in a very of idiocy. After the fall of Robespierre, animated manner, and was much interestand the execution of Simon, his sufferings ed in watching the varied play of their were alleviated. Under the Convention, countenances while listening to him. He a course of timid treachery succeeded to appeared to be very eloquent, used much the open brutalities of Robespierre and St. gesticulation, and worked his hearers into Just. The existence of Louis XVII. was a state of excitement more remarkable. a sore trial for the republicans, who at when compared with the usual stolid exthe same time could frame no excuse, even pression of the Indian face. A gentleman to themselves, for putting him to death. on the seat before me, who was also watchIn Dec. 1794, a decree was passed in the ing the singular group, said, “He must be Convention, " that the committee of gov a half-breed,” for we were all surprised at ernment should devise the means of send the freedom with which one of evidently ing the son of Louis out of the territories European figure and face, spoke the Indian of the republic.” On the 9th June, 1795, tongue. It then occurred to me that it it was reported to the Convention that he was Williams, and on my saying so, and was dead. Three surgeons testified to his mentioning the mystery connected with death, which was attributed to scrofula. his name, the gentleman who had first The Duchess D'Angoulême, his sister, spoken rose, and asked the conductor, who gives, from report, in her memoirs, the confirmed my supposition. On hearing particulars attending his decease.
this, I introduced myself to Mr. Williams Now, did Louis XVII. really die in as a brother clergyman, apologizing for 1795 as was reported at the time, and not having paid him a visit. I found him generally believed since, or is he still alive friendly and easy of access. He said that
he had been trying to convince his Indian and a good many images of things came friends, who were members of the Roman back, but without any possibility of giving communion, of their errors, and that the them name and place.” He then told me poor fellows were much interested in an incident of startling and dramatic inwhat he had advanced. He was going to terest. A gentleman of distinction, on Burlington, Vermont, and from thence to his recent return from Europe, in an inBoston, and as our route lay down Lake terview with Mr. Williams, threw some Champlain, we took the steamer together lithographs and engravings upon the table. at Rouse's Point. When we were seated at the sight of one of which, and without on the deck, I told him that I had seen a seeing the name, Williams was greatly statement in the newspapers, which had excited, and cried out 'Good God! I excited my curiosity, and should feel know that face. It has haunted me obliged, if it was not intrusive, by being through life,' or words to that effect. On informed if he believed the story of his examination, it proved to be the portrait royal origin, and upon what evidence the of Simon, the jailer of the Dauphin. extraordinary claim was based. He replied that the subject was painful to him, nor could he speak of it unmoved, but that he would with pleasure, give me the required information. "There seems to me." I then said, “one simple and decisive test of the truth of your claim, I mean, your memory of your childhood. If you have always lived among the Indians, you cannot forget it, and if you are the lost Dauphin, it seems scarcely credible that, being at the time of your mother's death more than eight years of age, you could have passed through the fearful scenes of the revolution, without a strong impression of the horrors attendant on your early years. Have you any memory of what happened in Paris, or of your voyage to this But to proceed with the conversation country ?"
on the steamboat. “When then and how," " Therein,” he replied, “lies the mys I continued, "did you come to entertain tery of my life. I know nothing about the idea which you now do, concerning my infancy. Every thing that occurred
What is there to confirin to me is blotted out, entirely erased, irre
it ?" coverably gone. My mind is a blank until “I was always under the impression,” he thirteen or fourteen years of age. You replied, “ that was at least partly of Indian must imagine a child who, as far as he extraction, until the time that the Prince knows any thing, was an idiot, destitute de Joinville came to this country. One of even of consciousness that can be remem the first questions that he asked on his bered until that period. He was bathing arrival in New-York was, whether there on Lake George, among a group of Indian was such a person known as Eleazer Wilboys. He clambered with the fearlessness liams, among the Indians in the northern of idiocy to the top of a high rock. He part of the State ; and after some inquiplunged down head foremost into the ries, in different quarters, he was told that water, He was taken up insensible, and there was such a person, who was at laid in an Indian hut. He was brought to that time a Missionary of the Protestant life. There was the blue sky, there were Episcopal Church, at Green Bay, Wisconthe mountains, there were the waters. sin, and he was advised to apply for further That was the first I knew of life.”
information to some prominent members of As it is important to compare the state the church, in the city. He accordingly ments of personal feelings, given to dif applied to Mr. Thomas Ludlow Ogden, ferent persons by Mr. Williams, I may who, at the Prince's request, wrote to me. mention here, that. a gentleman of the stating that the Prince was then in the bar, of high standing, whose opinions I country, and before his return to France. shall frequently refer to, recently said to would be happy to have an interview with me—“I must do him the justice of say me. I replied to Mr. Ogden, that I should ing, that he never pretended to know any be exceedingly happy to see the Prince at thing personally of what occurred in his any time. I was much surprised with childhood; but he said, however, that his communication ; but supposed howevafter the plunge in Lake George, his mind er, that as I had resided a long time in seemed to recover its tone and soundness, the West, and had been chaplain to Gen.
Taylor, he might desire some local infor at Caughnawaga examined, and the priest mation, which I could give him as readily was made to certify to it, and though the as most men. Some time elapsed, and I names of all the rest of her children are heard nothing more on the subject, which recorded there, together with the dates of was beginning to fade from my mind, their birth and baptism, mine does not when one day, while on board a steamer occur there; and the births of the children on Lake Michigan, I had an interview with follow so closely upon each other at reguthe Prince, who shortly after, at Green lar intervals, of two years between each, Bay, revealed the secret of my birth.” that it does not seem naturally possible I
Mr. Williams then proceeded to give could have been her child, unless I was me many of the incidents connected with twin to some other child whose birth and this memorable interview ; but, as I have baptism are recorded while mine are notwithin a few days past, drawn from him an a thing which, when we take into consideaccount, in every way more circumstantial, ration the exactness and fidelity with of all that occurred, I will postpone fur which such things are transacted in the ther particulars until the subject recurs church of Rome, does not seem probable, in the order of events.
and scarcely possible. The silence of the To return again to our conversation. Baptismal register may therefore be “ Is your reputed mother," I inquired, deemed conclusive proof that this Indian "living, -the Indian woman who brought woman is not my mother. you up? Is it not easy to ascertain from “And then comes in,” continued Wilher, whether or not you are her child ? liams, "evidence of a different description. What does she say upon the subject ?” A French gentleman died at New Orleans,
“My reputed mother," he said, " is still in 1848, named Belanger, who confessed living at a very advanced age. She is on his death-bed that he was the person now at Caughnawaga. I ought, as soon as who brought the Dauphin to this country, the Prince told me the secret of my birth, and placed him among the Indians, in the to have returned to the East and seen her. northern part of the State of New-York. But I unfortunately neglected to do so for It seems that Belanger had taken a some time, and when I did come, I found solemn oath of secresy, alike for the prethat the Romish Priests had been tamper- servation of the Dauphin, and the safety ing with her, and that her mouth was of those who were instrumental in effecthermetically sealed. Since I have been ing his escape, but the near approach of at St. Regis, I have learned from the In death, and the altered circumstances of dians, that the priests said to her · Sup the times, induced him to break silence pose that this man should prove to be heir before his departure from the world. He to a throne on the other side of the Great died in January 1848. Now the person Salt Lake, what injury may he not do to who had charge of the Dauphin after the the church. He has been brought up a death of Simon, stabbed a man in a politiProtestant, and if he obtained sovereign cal quarrel in France, and fled for safety. power it would be the ruin of many souls. He it was I suppose who, with the assistYou must therefore say nothing one way ance and connivance of others, carried or the other, but keep entirely silent.' the youth with him to the Low Countries, And so all my efforts to extract any thing and thence to England. He must have from her were unavailing. Her immov changed his own name for greater security, able Indian obstinacy has hitherto been crossed the Atlantic, and after depositing proof against every effort I could make. him with the Indians, gone to Louisiana But I have not given up hope yet, and and there lived and died. will try her again. When asked the direct “ The next link in the evidence is yet question, Is Eleazer Williams your son ? more singular. A French gentleman she will neither answer yes nor no—but hearing my story, brought a printed ackeeps her mouth shut, and seems indif count of the captivity of the Dauphin, ferent to what is said. When hard and read me a note in which it was stated, pressed indeed on one occasion, she has that Simon the jailer having become inbeen known to say, 'Do you think that censed with the Prince for some childish Eleazer is a bastard ?' but that was all. offence, took a towel which was hanging If however the question is put to her in on a nail, and in snatching it hastily drew an indirect form, she will begin in the out the nail with it, and inflicted two monotonous manner in which ignorant blows upon his face, one over the left eye, people repeat a story in which they have and the other on the right side of the nose. been drilled by others, and have told for And now, said he, let me look at your years in one way, to give a list of her face. When he did so, and saw the scars children, and the dates of their birth, on the spots indicated in the memoirs he bringing in my name at a particular place. exclaimed, · Mon Dieu—what proof do But we have had the Baptismal register
I want more ?
• But that is not all,” he continued. speaks correctly and even eloquently as " In the same memoirs it is said, that the far as style is concerned, but pronounces Dauphin died of scrofula, and that the imperfectly; his manner of talking reminds disease was on his knees. My knees are you of an Indian, and he has the habit of eaten up with scrofula, and there are no shrugging his shoulders and gesticulating other scrofulous marks on my body. like one; but he has the port and presSuch are the main points of evidence on ence of an European gentleman of high which iny claim rests, and you may judge rank; a nameless something which I never of their strength-and further I can only saw but in persons accustomed to comrefer you to the alleged resemblance be mand; a countenance bronzed by expotween me and Louis XVIII. and the sure below the eyebrows; a fair, high, Bourbon family in general. I remember ample, intellectual but receding forehead ; a gentleman put his hand over the name a slightly aquiline but rather small nose; attached to a picture of Louis XVIII., and a long Austrian lip, the expression of asked a friend whose portrait it was, which is of exceeding sweetness when in • That of Mr. Williams,' was the reply. repose; full fleshy cheeks but not high I have somewhat of a curiosity in my va
cheekbones ; dark, bright, merry eyes lise, and will show it you if you would of hazel hue; graceful, well-formed neck; like to see it. It is a dress of Marie An strong muscular limbs, indicating health toinette. It was given me by a person and great activity ; small hands and feet, who bought it in France, and who hearing and dark hair, sprinkled with gray, as my story, and considering me the rightful fine in texture as silk. I should never owner, made me a present of it."
have taken him for an Indian. Some He then went forward, opened his va persons who saw him several years ago lise and returned with a small bundle tell me that their impression is that he under his arm, which he carried into the looked partially like one, but admit that upper saloon for the sake of privacy. It their opinion may have been influenced is of course impossible to say whether by their having been previously told that the dress which he showed me is what it he was of Indian extraction. I will here is asserted to be, but from its appearance insert a description of him by another it certainly may be so. It was a magni- hand, furnished me by Mr. Williams. ficent but somewhat faded brocade silk. “His complexion is rather dark, like that It had been taken to pieces, and consisted of one who had become bronzed by living of a skirt, back piece, stomacher, and train much in the open air, and he passes for a ten or twelve feet in length. The waist half-breed. But his features are decidedly was very slender. There is pleasure in European, rather heavily moulded, and believing in the truth of memorials of the strongly characterized by the full, protupast, and I cannot envy the critical cold berant Austrian lips. I'his the experiness of one who would ridicule me for enced observer is well aware is never surrendering myself, under the influence found in the aboriginal, and very rarely of the scene, to the belief, that the strange among the Americans themselves. His old gentleman before me, whose very
head is well formed, and sits proudly on aspect is a problem, was son to the fair his shoulders. His eyes are dark but not being whose queenly form that faded black. His hair may be called black, is dress had once contained, as she moved rich and glossy and interspersed with noblest and loveliest in the Halls of Ver gray. His eyebrows are full
, and of the sailles ; and that in childish beauty and same color-upon the left is a scar. His innocence, the heir of crowns, and the beard is heavy and nose aquiline. The hope of kingdoms, the observed of all ob nostril is large and finely cut. His temservers, he had rested fondly against its perament is genial with a dash of vivacity silken folds when the living loveliness of in his manners, he is fond of good living, Marie Antoinette was within it. Hower and inclines to embonpoint, which is the er I am not writing Romance, but a mat-' characteristic of his (the Bourbon) family.” ter-of-fact account of an adventure on a While refolding the dress of the poor steamboat.
queen, I asked him if he could account I now proceeded to scrutinize more for the conduct of the Prince de Joinville closely the form, features and general in disclosing so important a secret as that appearance of Mr. Williams, and to re of his royal birth, and requesting him to examine the scars on his face. He is an give up rights previously unknown to intelligent, noble-looking old man, with no him, and which without information detrace, however slight, of the Indian about rived from the Prince he would have had him except what may be fairly accounted no means of ascertaining. He replied in for by his long residence among Indians. substance that it might indeed seem Being far more familiar with their lan strange. The only satisfactory explanaguage than with English, which latter he tion which he would suggest was that al