Page:Notes and Queries - Series 12 - Volume 10.djvu/566

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

464 NOTES AND QUERIES. [12 s.x. ^17,1022. published in 1793, a note appended to which asserts that Marat opened a shop of tamboured waistcoats at Oxford under the assumed appellation of Le Maitre de Marat, and displayed the attractions qf a handsome wife to engage the notice of academical customers to whom he offered his services as a teacher of the French language. His house was contiguous to the Ashmolean Museum. The writer then goes on to recount the robbery, trial and sentence as already de- tailed above (2nd ed., pp. 33-4). Had Marat, as some of these quotations suggest, really a wife and children ? At one time there were certainly rumours to that effect current in France (Cabanes, p. 529) ; but little countenance is apparently given to them by his biographers. Of mistresses, of course, we hear of several, although one only succeeded in evoking any definite matrimonial pronouncements. To Simonne Evrard, who had sheltered him in the stormiest years of his career and resigned to him the whole of her modest fortune, he dedicates, on Jan. 1, 1792, the following solemn gage : Madlle. Simonne Evrard's beautiful qualities having captivated my heart, whose homage she has received, I leave her as a pledge of my faith during my forthcoming voyage to London the sacred engagement to give her my hand at once after my return ; if all my tenderness does not suffice her as a warrant of my fidelity may the forgetting of this engagement cover me with infamy. Jean Paul Marat, 1'Ami du Peuple. He did return, but alas, the sacred pledge went unredeemed, evaporating in fine words, a self -admitted "infamy" which his biographers complacently transmute as follows : Do you not recognize the exquisite delicacy of the signatory, who, without doubt, had given his friend no hint of it, because he well knew she would have refused to take his promise ? (Fleisch- mann, ' Behind the Scenes in the Terror,' pp. 279- 80). Why poor Simonne, whose greatest glory w T as to be called " Marat's widow," should refuse to become his wife, they do not explain. Had the offer been communicated to her, she would at least have had that chance, and Jean Paul's memory might to some extent have been cleared. Coming now to the Bristol incidents, the Rev. Turner has told us that Jean Paul Marat, when last heard of in England, had set up as a bookseller in that city, that he failed, was imprisoned there for debt, but was released by a benevolent society, one of whose mem- bers afterwards recognized him in the National Assembly at Paris in 1792. On the

other hand, those of his biographers who refer

I to the point deny this story in toto (Cabanes, i p. 48 ; Morse Stephens, Pall Mall Magazine, I September, 1896, p. 83). Dr. Cabanes, I indeed, tells us specifically, on the authority

of Mr. John Taylor (a former librarian at

| Bristol), that, after an exhaustive search

among the local archives and documents

both printed and in manuscript, he was I unable to discover the slightest foundation ! for the statement. Nevertheless, upon our making still further inquiry, Mr. Norris

Mathews, the present City Librarian, was

j able to refer us to the following entry on i the subject contained in John Latimer's i ' Annals of Bristol,' p. 482 : In December, 1787, the local society for the relief j of poor insolvent debtors secured the release from I Newgate of a Frenchman calling himself F. C. M. G. ! Maratt Aniiatt, who had practised in various i English towns as a teacher and quack doctor, and had finally been incarcerated for petty debts in Bristol. The man forthwith disappeared, and it was not until some years later that he was identified in the person of the fanatical democrat Jean Paul Marat, who was accustomed to howl in the French Convention for the heads of 100,000 | nobles, and whose infamous career was cut short I in 1793 by the knife of Charlotte Corday. j This entry, although it does not mention the occupation followed by Marat while at Bristol, ! furnishes, on other points, important con- I firmation of the Rev. Turner's note. Still ! more valuable corroboration, however, is to i come, for in a communication supplied to I ' N. & Q.' in October, 1862 (3 S. ii. 317), and ! printed over the initials of C. J. P., we read : The following is extracted from a letter of Charles Joseph Harford, Esq., dated Stapleton,

Nov. 26, 1822, to the Rev. Samuel Seyer, author of

the ' Memorials of Bristol ' : ". . . The infamous ! Marat, stabbed by Charlotte Corday, once dis- graced this City (Bristol) and was unfortunately re- leased from Newgate by the Society for the relief i of persons confined for small debts. This I know from the late Mr. James Ireland, of Brislington, who told my father that, being in Paris, I forget what year, he went to the National Assembly and took his servant with him, who, on seeing | Marat rise to speak, assured his master with astonishment the man was the very person to whom he had often taken money and victuals from him when a prisoner in Bristol gaol. I think it will be worth while to look into the books of the I Society to see if a man of the name of Marat, Le ! Maitre, or Le Main, or Farlin de la Jan (? nearly illegible) for by this last he was French tutor at i Warminster was released by them. As I don't

know the year I can give no direction 
but I

remember who Marat was, by my father relating what Mr. Ireland had told him. ... I will add my father saw this villain in 1772 at Warminster. Mr. Bush could remember him there. He after- i wards was a hairdresser at Oxford ; robbed the