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As examples of Proverbs to be found in many languages, the following may be mentioned :-" No mill no meal;" "A cat in gloves catches no mice;" "One good turn deserves another," which the French have thusA beau jeu beau retour; "Better late than never," the Italian form of which is Meglio tardi che son mai; "All is not gold that glitters ;"New brooms sweep clean;" "Money makes the mare to go;" "Hunting dogs have scratched faces;" "Time and tide wait for no man," and many others.
Many Proverbs are doubtful, others very bad in their morality. Who would like to put faith in such sayings as these?-"As the Psalmist has said, all men are liars ;"" You may know an honest man by the hair growing in the palm of his hand;" "Honesty is the best policy;" a saying that has done a vast deal of mischief by insinuating that honesty is not a duty, but that it is necessary only to advance men's wordly interests; "In for a penny in for a pound;" "As well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb ;" "We inust do in Rome as the Romans do." The niggardly use the Proverb "Charity begins at home," to excuse themselves from giving. "Let the shoemaker stick to his last," is often used as a rebuke to people who meddle with other folk's concerns, but if the shoemaker had always stuck to his lapstone, Christian missions and the name of William Carey would not have Leen united; had the tinker kept to his forge, "The Pilgrim's Progress" would never have been written; had Ben Jonson been content with his bricklayer's trowel, the world would have been a great loser; and had Daniel Defoe contented himself with selling stockings in Cheapside, you, my Charley, and all other boys, would never have possessed your famous "Robinson Crusoe." But Proverbs of a better class teach us to "Do what is right, whatever be the result; ;" remind us that "He that waits for dead men's shoes, goes for a long time bare-foot ;" and tell us that we must "Work or die," for
"Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do."
Look ye! time is swiftly rolling,
The departure of the day.
Rouse thee! rouse thee! use cach muscle :
There is much for us to do
On this stage of mortal bustle,
Wrong to evade, and right pursue.
Plant thy standard, bold and fearless,
Though to-day be sad and cheerless,
There are hearts that thou may'st cherish,
Smitten hopes that may not perish
Neath the glow of friendship's ray.
Is the environs of Paris, at the extremity of the Faubourg du Temple, is a place well known to the French workman, who, on Sundays and holidays, goes there to enjoy the pleasures of the dance and the booth. This place, which to-day, demands but the slightest amount of attention from the police, was during the last century the rendezvous of sharpers, thieves, drunkards, and, in fact, of all the scum of the capital, and at the same time was constantly invaded by the gensd'armes.
In this quarter, which is called La Courtille, Louis Dominique Cartouche first saw the light, at the close of the year 1693. His father, an honest wine-shop keeper, in the place, had amassed during his labours a comfortable independence, the fruit of economy, of hard work, and of very assidous improvement of his time. The worthy tavern-keeper had marked out for his son a glorious future, and with this end had intended to educate him very carefully. He placed him in the college of Louis-le-Grand, where at the time the young Arouet de Voltaire was obtaining the most brilliant success. But Cartouche was not able to settle down to his studies; from the age of twelve years, he began to display an incredible address, an activity of intellect the most mischievous, and an irrestible longing for theft. Already he had committed many acts of petty larceny towards his fellow pupils, though without being discovered, when one of those little peccadilloes was the means of getting him expelled from the college. Having heard that one of his fellow scholars, belonging to a rich and noble family, had lately received the sum of a hundred crowns, he contrived to enter his chamber, obtain the key of the desk, and to make himself master of the precious hoard.
Fearing lest he should be discovered, he fled from the college, never to return, and took refuge in his father's house; but the latter, speedily learning the truth, resolved to shut him up in Saint Lazare. As they were conducting him to this establishment he contrived to escape, and for several days wandered about the suburbs of Paris, without home, without asylum, till one day, a gang of wandering thieves, that travelled from town to town to exercise their misdirected energies, seeing in the lad the proinise of a quick and inventive member of their craft, adopted him.
In a very little time, young Cartouche became their most valuable assistant. He went with them the tour of France, everywhere distinguishing himself by his address and audacity, and at length returned to Paris an accomplished thief. Each day, numerous complaints were addressed to the authorities, on the audacious robberies that were now committed in the capital; the police redoubled their watchfulness, and Cartouche, fearing to be discovered, requested of M. d'Argenson, at that time lieutenant of police, an audience on business of a very particular nature. The official acceded to his request. Cartouche presented himself, and proposed to the official to put him on the traces of all the thieves which infested the capital. This proposition was accepted, and Cartouche entered the police service at the remuneration of a crown per day.
This modest income did not, however, suffice for his debaucheries, and accordingly he combined with his function that of crimp. Till the year 1789 the conscription did not exist in France, and voluntary enlistment going forward but slowly, the army was principally supplied by men paid to entice the young and thoughtless to enlist. These crimps stationed
themselves in every street, and in every tavern, causing poor devils to drink, and while drunk making them sign an engagement they were bound to fulfil under penalty of being shot. These crimps had a fee for each victim, and in order to drive a more rapid trade deputy-crimps were employed, with whom their superiors divided the fees. Such was the honourable profession which Cartouche added to that of police spy. His success in this new line of business was so great that the jealousy of his superior officer was excited, and the latter was resolved to get rid of him. One day, in the tavern, which was the scene of Cartouche's exploits, the superior crimp induced him to drink till he became intoxicated, and while in this condition caused him, in his turn, to sign an enlistment paper. When the fumes of wine had waned off, Cartouche was astonished to find himself a soldier of the king. But knowing by experience the military law, which if broken would sentence him to be disposed of by a round of cartridge, he left Paris to join his regiment.
He served during several years, and with distinction; he displayed great courage, gaining the esteem of his officers, and was promoted to the grade of sergeant. Had the war continued, his destiny would, doubtless, have been entirely different; and instead of a villain, his name would have been inscribed in the military annals of his country. But peace was not suited to his energetic temperament, and immediately after the signing of the peace, he applied for and obtained leave of absence, unfortunately with the intention of returning to Paris.
Once in the metropolis, his old habits of thieving and burglary grew upon him with increased force. The wild financial schemes of Law, recently exploded, had induced a spirit for gambling and a thirst for gold throughout all classes of society, leaving society in a state of demoralisation. Accordingly Cartouche found accomplices in the most elevated circles. They, by position, aided him to commit his numberless depredations, and divided with him the produce of his infamous ingenuity.
His first care was to organize in the capital itself a large and faithful military band. Some soldiers whom he had known while with his regiment, some officers, cashiered for their vile conduct, and who thus found themselves without resources, formed the first members of this gang. Independently of these accomplices, he contrived to press into his services some discharged police officials, former members of the municipal guard, valets, and even the servants of the nobility and court. Afterwards he formed depôts and branch establishments among the provincial towns. He framed a code of laws of the most severe nature, and reserved to himself the right of life and death over the members of this association.
One can easily understand what evil effects such an organized band would produce. Very quickly nothing was heard in Paris but robberies and murders; the public vehicles were stopped, the mansions pillaged, hotels and palaces were broken into. The police were exhausted from their fruitless exertions. The magistrates, not knowing by what means to get Cartouche into their hands, offered a large reward to anyone who should succeed in bringing him to justice; but he escaped prison and pursuers as much by the clever disguises he adopted as by his excessive address.
The prospect of obtaining the large reward had, however, tempted the cupidity of several members of his band. Their leader, however, learnt that they were about to betray him, and resolved to make a terrible example. He assembled his band at midnight in the forest of Bourget. He walked round his companions, addressing them in severe language, then calling upon a young soldier, belonging to the Royal Guard, whom he sus pected of treason, he ordered him to quit the ranks and step forward. Then loading his intended treachery with the most fearful reproaches, he com
manded another member of the gang to advance, and stab him. When this terrible act was performed, Cartouche, withdrawing the blood-stained weapon from the side of the unhappy man, and pointing to him in the flickering light of torches that lit up the scene, cried "Perish thus whoever violates his oath." It was by this energetic behaviour that he maintained in his band the most passive and absolute obedience.
Cartouche was of small stature, but very robust; his countenance was marked by a sweet and attractive expression; and he displayed on every occasion an extraordinary and cool audacity.
Notwithstanding that he was constantly pursued, he visited the theatres and public places, and sometimes, even the most select and retired circles. It more than once happened that his conversation fascinated the people with whom he mixed, although they had not the slightest suspicion who this charming person was. He rendered himself most agreeable to the ladies, whom he studied to please with the most assiduous attention. Very frequently he was recognised by the police and municipal guard, yet they dared not lay hands upon him; often also he forced them to quit their hold, on displaying a couple of pistols which he always carried in his girdle. Once, however, a sergeant and private of the city guard attempted his capture, but their rashness soon produced its result, and, in an instant, they were stretched dead at his feet-the spectators fleeing horror-stricken at the sight.
The renown of Cartouche, and the dismay he inspired, increased daily. In the city or in the country he was the constant theme of conversation. His robberies were so numerous and so audacious, that the parliament became alarmed, and solicited the government to take some steps to secure the terrible depredator. The minister of war, Leblanc, gave secret orders to this effect to all the police and municipal guards of the metropolis and the provinces, and every official in the metropolis was ordered to redouble his activity. At this critical moment Cartouche called his little band together, to lay the state of affairs before them, and take the advice of his council. It was decided, after a long deliberation, that he should leave Paris for some time, with the view of putting the police off the scent. He set out for Burgundy. At Bur-sur-Seine he presented himself, under the name of Charles Bourquignon, to an old lady as her son returned after a long absence in India. The poor old woman really believed that she saw her dear son and received him with open arms, and shortly afterwards introduced him to a rich and worthy circle of acquaintances, in which he was entertained with the greatest hospitality.
There he might have amended his life, and have obliterated the past, while leading a new and entirely strange mode of life; but the force of evil inclinations and bad habits drove him to quit this happy retreat, and to again present himself in Paris.
His first task was to learn from the superior officers of his gang what had been done during his absence, to reward or punish according to desert. This assumption of absolute authority might fairly entitle him to be called a veritable king; indeed, he had his mistresses, his courtiers, riches, and subjects, and, it must be added, traitors also; for a short time after he was denounced by one of his favourite companions, a soldier of the guard, named Duchatelet, who assisted him in his boldest and most terrible expeditions. Cartouche had taken refuge in a tavern of La Courtille, named "The Pistol," and situated near Belleville, when the soldiers of the municipal guard invested the house by night, and surprised him in his bed before he could defend himself.
His capture caused the greatest excitement throughout Paris, every one feeling as if, henceforth, neither murders nor robberies would be committed. They conducted him to the Chatelet prison, and securely lodged him in a
cell. He tried to escape from his gloomy chamber, but all his efforts were fruitless. The parliament met and engaged in an animated discussion as to whose office it was to try the notorious robber. The criminal court of the city claimed the privilege exclusively, and after a long debate he was handed over to it. Once in the hands of the law, Cartouche displayed a coolness, a gaiety, and self-possession the most complete. He would not name any of his accomplices, and when confronted with several of them, who were likewise in prison, he declared he did not know them. At first, in fact, he pretended not to be Dominique Cartouche, but Charles Bourquignon, son of Thomas Bourquignon, originally of Bur-sur-Seine, and while they were cross-examining him on this point, he asked for a bottle of Burgundy and said, with an ironical tone, as he emptied his glass, "My love for that wine proves that I am of the same country as itself, and that I am a patriot."
The public excitement increased each day, and nobody was spoken of but Cartouche. Such extraordinary and fabulous adventures had been related of him that every one was anxious to see and hear him. The fair sex displayed the most intense interest in the judicial proceedings; and notwithstanding the strongest regulations of the judges, contrived by the most ingenious methods to gain admittance to the court house. Several ladies of the court, disguised as officers of the Royal Guard, got an introduction to his cell, escorted by a couple of gaolers. Cartouche, who was indisposed on that day, was greatly honoured by the visits of the young officers. He spoke to them in the most delightful manner, and caused by his charming conversation the greatest astonishment in the young ladies' minds. As they were leaving the prison, profoundly touched by their interview with the robber, they encountered a captain of the Royal Guard, who penetrating their disguise, but waiting to extract some amusement out of the adventure, feigned to take them for subalterns of the Royal Guards. He demanded where they had come from, and why they had broken the prison regulations. On one of the young ladies replying in an embarrassed tone, he ordered them to be conducted before the lieutenant of police. M. D'Argenson, who was a very severe official, hesitated some moments as to what course to take; but recognizing in one of the young officers a maid of honour, he quickly discharged all the frightened ladies. This adventure amused for a time both the court and the city.
On another occasion, the lady of Marshal De Bouflers, having by dint of great influence obtained an order to see Cartouche, betook herself to the prison, where she found the prisoner singing. On seeing the lady he wished to rise, but the weight of his chains having caused him to fall back, the lady could not restrain her feeling of compassion for the charming robber, and uttered a shriek. Cartouche hastened to reassure her with a voice full of emotion; and on bidding him a tender farewell she presented him with two louis to procure some comforts in his prison.
At the commencement of his examination he endeavoured to deny his identity. He wished to pass for a man named John Little, son of a merchant of Barrois; but his mother and younger brother, on being called, swore to him, and he was pronounced guilty of several murders, without counting those that had failed from circumstances over which he had no control.
Finding himself thus condemned, and seeing no way of escape from his prison, he sought to commit suicide by dashing his head against his chains, but was prevented by the gaolers who watched over him, and in order that this attempt should not be repeated, he was secured to the wall so closely that he was scarcely able to take a step in advance.
Some influential persons, who feared lest he might confess, conveyed a quantity of poison to him, which he drank in some wine.