Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/118

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THE celebrated Tichborne case, now closed in England, has one aspect which is as full of instruction for us as for the people among whom it occurred. The leading facts have been often printed, but, as the proceedings dragged through several years, it may be well to make a brief summary of the main facts involved in it. Roger Charles Tichborne was born in 1829, and was heir to a baronetcy and an immense English estate, yielding a revenue of $100,000 a year. His parents were an ill-assorted couple, of English origin and French connection, habitation, and language. The father is represented as weak, and the mother indolent, selfish, and willful. The family was Roman Catholic, and the boy passed through the hands of priests and tutors in Paris, and afterward attended school at Stonyhurst. He then entered the army, where he remained three years, when, tired of home, he resolved to travel, and, after visiting various ports in South America, disappeared, and is supposed to have been lost by the sinking of a ship at sea in the spring of 1854. His personality was peculiar and marked. Slender in physique, and with the manners of a gentleman, he had a half-French and half-English education, and "his examinations, his regiments, his barracks, his instructions, his drills, his peculiarities on parade, in the mess-room, or in quarters, his favorite novels, his amusements, his French songs, his topics of conversation, his associates, the cut of his clothes, the style of his boots, his whips, his fowling-pieces, his tobacco-pipes, his days of leave, his twitching, and his peculiar rendering of the words of command," were well known, and perfectly remembered by his associates. He was, besides, a copious letter-writer, and when in the New World kept a full journal, often copying it several times, and sending it home in the form of letters to his mother and aunt. "There was no change noticeable in him before leaving home, or any tendency to alteration of person, gait, or expression, nor any symptom that he was becoming less of a gentleman, or inclined to descend to a lower and freer social stratum."

The disappearance and supposed death of Roger placed his proud and willful and half-insane mother in an unpleasant position in regard to the estate, which would go to the child of a detested daughter-in-law. The disappointment became a possession, a frenzy, and she was determined not to endure it. She accordingly advertised in Australia for information regarding the missing heir of the Tichborne estate. It was a promising region in which to find one: as the London Times remarks. "A very large class there are more or less adventurous, taking the license and claiming the immunities of that character. Often changing employment and companionship, and filling up the gaps as they know best, they meet at stations, at diggings, at the bars of hotels, hearing and telling wild, disjointed, strangely-transmuted legends of that old home in the Northern Hemisphere, to them a wonder-land, a romance, and a tradition. It is always the strangest that travels the farthest, and what they do hear of the Old Country is just that which we regard as the least fair sample of it. They are also great novel-readers, and, while they read in shilling volumes numerous stories of patrimonies going a-begging, heirs lost and found, and clever men making their way to the palace from the dunghill,