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There exists an appendant office of the law, one of deplorable necessity, so long as death shall be allowed to maintain its fatal action in our criminal jurisprudence, which I notice solely to mark the singular fact of the uninterrupted possession of the place of public executioner, or headsman, by one family in Paris, for no less than two hundred and twenty-seven years, or from 1620 to 1847, when this melancholy heirloom was forfeited by the imprisonment, for debt, of its inheritor. The family, of Italian origin, named Sansoni, accompanied Mary de Medicis, Henry the Fourth's consort, to France, where, retrenching the last vowel, they have been called Sanson. Notwithstanding their horrible office, their general conduct was irreproachable; and Charles Henry Sanson never recovered the deeply afflictive duty imposed on him by the execution of Louis XVI., which he survived but for a short time. It was his son who executed the Queenthe Princess Elizabeth-the Duke of Orleans, with Robespierre, Danton, and other victims, or authors of the reign of terror. This person, whom I well remember, as having unconsciously conversed with him in a casual meeting, had received a good education from a private tutor, after having been, on discovery, removed from two public institutions, where he had been received under an assumed name. He died in 1840, when his son succeeded him, in his now lost situation, which was worth 24,000 francs, or £1,000 a-year, with its various perquisites, I have been assured. Charles Henry, grand-father of the present Sanson, had an expiatory mass celebrated for Louis XVI. daily, so long as he outlived the sacrificed monarch, whose truly christian death he feared not to
attest, in all its interesting particulars, even during the era of terror, confirming our admirable countryman, the Abbé Edgeworth's narrative of it. He was of remarkable stature, so as to attract the eye, wherever he appeared, as mentioned by Mercier, in his "Nouveau Tableau de Paris." But see the " Biographie Universelle," to which I have been so often indebted for this and similar biographical information, independently of my personal reminiscences of acts and individuals, based on a sphere of observation, embracing no narrow compass of time, or barren of interest, in the witnessed events.
The remuneration of theatrical artists, singers, dancers and actors, would not be an incurious subject; but being no direct appendage to my present theme, I must not engage in it, further than to add, that, in various instances, they have been far more largely recompensed than the most distinguished men of talent or genius, in any department of intellectual exertion.
PRINCE ALBERT, AND SAXON FAMILY.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE.
Cork, 1841. MR. URBAN, A misconception of facts connected with one of our noblest families, and some consequent inferences embracing still higher personages, in the Gentleman's Magazine for March last, which had escaped my previous notice, have just now been accidentally urged on it; and as I do not discover any subsequent advertence to the subject, I beg leave to offer a few corrective remarks suggested by its tenor; for, though the main interest of the question should appear to have passed away, the historical circumstances elicited by the discussion may not be unavailable for future reference.
In the review of Mr. Shoberl's "Memoir of Prince Albert," &c., at p. 299, a note is subjoined expressive of a belief that the Countess of Shrewsbury, stated by that writer to have been married in 1834, to Prince Frederick-William of Saxe-Altenberg, (or Hildbourghausen,) could only be Elizabeth, widow of the late Earl. And, doubtless, no other unmarried Countess of Shrewsbury, known in England as such, or whose hand was free during that year, existed, though, as
this lady had been married in 1792, forty-two years antecedently, a fact attested by all our Peerages,— she might have been presumed a little too far advanced to think of espousing a young man, her junior by above thirty years, young enough, in truth, to be her grand-son. He was born in October, 1801; the Countess in the spring of 1770; and I have seen more than one instance of an equal approximation in years of such relatives.*
The subject of parental age recalls to my notice an observation of Dr. Lingard's, on the assertion of the Jesuit Nicholas Sanders, (De Schismate Anglicano, Coloniæ, 1628, 8vo.) that Anne Boleyn was the daughter of Henry VIII., of which the reverend historian considers Cardinal Pole's silence the best refutation; but to me the relative ages of the parties appears a more natural and effective repellent. Henry was born in June 1492, and Anne early in 1507, possibly before; so that not much more than fourteen years separated their births; and, to establish this paternity, the criminating intercourse must have occurred when he was only thirteen, or at the utmost, fourteen years old. The measure of his iniquities already overflowed; and it was quite supererogatory to surcharge with this imputation his guilty conscience, if, indeed, as honest Trim claimed for himself, we can ascribe a conscience, or the sensitive perception of good and evil, to such a character. But that inward monitor is, in truth, altogether of wayward and contradictory working; pungent in its primal impulses or early twitchings, to those still not utterly hardened :
66 quos dira conscia facti
Mens habet attonitos, et surdo verbere cædit,
but of decreasing and impaired sensibility, in proportion as the delinquencies that should arouse it accumulate, and rendered torpid by the guilt that should awaken its terrors and quicken its agitation. The more it is loaded the less the weight is felt; as has been antithetically, or inversely remarked of a chasm or well, that the more we take from, the more we enlarge it, and, by adding to, we lessen it :
"Fit minus adjicias si quid; si dempseris illi,
And again, by an opposition of fact and terms, diminutives, of such effect in most tongues, and peculiarly expressive in Spanish, though hardly less so in Latin, as the Emperor Hadrian's Dying Address to his Soul, so inadequately translated both by Pope and Fontenelle, would show, are formed by lengthening the words.
The source of the error was in Mr. Shoberl's narration, as cited by the reviewer; for the union never took place, and the Countess designated by that title according to the continental usage, because the daughter of a Count, or Earl, by the King of Bavaria, on creating her a Princess, was, in our language of courtesy, the Lady Mary-Alethea Talbot, since become the wife of Prince Pamphili Doria. The contemplated alliance with the Saxon Prince was broken off, after the negotiation had so far proceeded, in anticipation of its accomplishment, as to have procured for the young lady a parallel rank with that of her intended husband. The Bavarian Queen was naturally desirous of securing for her brother, the junior son of a very needy German Prince, the large fortune destined by Lord Shrewsbury for his daughter, not less, I have understood, than £100,000; and this dower was agreed on
"Sur l'argent, c'est tout dire, on est déjà d'accord;
when religious scruples, as I have heard, interposed their dirimant influence, and both sides remaining equally immoveable in their conscientious prepossessions, the expected match failed of effect. had been the impoverished condition of the Saxon duchy, that the Germanic states were obliged to defray the cost of educating the reigning Duke, Frederick, with the younger children of his father, the last Duke, whose finances were inadequate to the expense. An alliance, on the other hand, with a sovereign house, may naturally be supposed an object of aspiration ; though few subjects in Europe transcend in splendor