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painting a portrait of King Michael Korybut Viśniowiecki for the Danish monarch, and then in 1671 he was back again in Denmark executing some remarkable commissions for portraits of the elder children of Frederick the Third, which can now be seen in the Rosenborg Castle collection. By Christian the Fifth he was sent to execute other commissions, is believed to have visited Spain, and thence to have journeyed to Russia, where several examples of his work, all dated 1676, are to be seen in the Hermitage. In the following year he was back again in Denmark, where he died. He is said also to have been a member of the Huguenot persuasion, and to have possessed secrets for the composition of certain brilliant colours in enamel work (especially for a blue) which were not known to his Petitot relations. His work in this country is of great rarity, Lord Dartrey possessing the finest example, but there are two remarkable enamels by him in the Pierpont Morgan collection. There is also one of his enamels at Windsor Castle, and Dr. Propert had two, while several of his beautiful enamel badges for the Order of the Elephant belong to the King of Denmark.

GEORGE C. WILLIAMSON.

1908

THE COMTE DE SAINT-GERMAIN

The lives of notable people do not often baffle biographers by their mystery, yet any attempt hitherto made to arrange the incidents of Saint-Germain's life upon paper has proved to be as futile and unsatisfactory as the effort to piece together a puzzle of which some of the principal parts are missing. Neither contemporary memoir-writers nor private friends have laid bare the real business or ambition of the elegant figure who was admired for so many years of the eighteenth century in Europe as 'der Wundermann.' The things known about him are many, but they are outnumbered by the things that are not known. It is known, for example, that he was employed in the secret service of Louis the Fifteenth ; that he played the violin ; wrote concertos and songs which are still extant; was chemist, linguist, illuminate, and adept; but his name, his nationality, his means of subsistence, his object in travelling and in intercourse with his fellow creatures are not known, and no one yet has made more than plausible suggestions as to the relation his accomplishments and activities bore to the central purpose of his life. He has been called an adventurer, but though discredit is reflected on him by the word it throws no particular light on his career. Scepticism and credulity walked hand in hand in the eighteenth century, as they do to-day, and many persons who had cast off the forms of traditional religion were ready to accord unquestioning reverence to men who claimed or evidenced the possession of supernatural powers, and it is probable that Saint-Germain made use of this state of affairs to prosecute his own designs.

It is interesting to remember that while Voltaire, with his searchlight mind, was illuminating the darker aspects of ecclesiasticism, while Boullanger and Beccaria were engaging their keen intellects in unmasking the whole foundation and structure of superstition, Cagliostro was dazzling the people by magical experiments, Casanova was mystifying audiences, Schroepfer professing, by means of his famous mirror, to evoke spirits, and Cazotte practising the art of prophecy. Though the contrast is curious it is not unnatural, for there must always be many people in the world who are oppressed

of imprisonment, and who are grateful to those enchanters who lift men, however it may be, out of the hard and fast

with the

sense

limitations of this mortal life into a sphere where limitations have no existence and where all things become possible. In this sense of freedom and potentiality lies the charm and interest of those strange lives that have baffled scrutiny.

It is so rare for a human life to embody in action that imaginative quality which attracts us in poetry and art, that suggestiveness which gives the feeling of hidden power and fulness. The struggle to work and the effort to succeed are generally visible; the capacity is nearly always to be gauged ; and the individual may usually be summed up as a bundle of qualities producing certain results. Lives in which imagination seems to rule all action, thought, and speech are almost unknown, and careers in which the boundaries of daily life are no longer felt must appeal to those who either by circumstance or personality are debarred from ever themselves realising the illusion of freedom.

A world of new diversion is created for us by such adventurings as those of Saint-Germain, and though in the future the enigma of his life may be solved by some laborious student, at present it is fraught with all the qualities of romance. Now and again the curtain which shrouds his actions is drawn aside, and we are permitted to see him fiddling in the music room at Versailles, gossiping with Horace Walpole in London, sitting in Frederick the Great's library at Berlin, or conducting illuminist meetings in caverns by the Rhine. But the curtain is often down, and it is only by a process of induction that the isolated scenes can be strung together into an intelligible drama of existence.

The travels of the Comte de Saint-Germain covered a long period of years and a great range of countries. From Persia to France and from Calcutta to Rome he was known and respected. Horace Walpole spoke with him in London in 1745 ; Clive knew him in India in 1756 ; Madame d'Adhémar alleges that she met him in Paris in 1789, five years after his supposed death ; while other persons pretend to have held conversations with him in the early nineteenth century. He was on familiar and intimate terms with the crowned heads of Europe and the honoured friend of many distinguished persons of all nationalities. He is often mentioned in the memoirs and letters of the day, and always as a man of mystery. Frederick the Great, Voltaire, Madame de Pompadour, Rousseau, Chatham, and Walpole, who all knew him personally, rivalled each other in curiosity as to his origin. No one, during the many decades in which he was before the world, succeeded, however, in discovering why he appeared as a Jacobite agent in London, as a conspirator in Petersburg, as an alchemist and connoisseur of pictures in Paris, or as a Russian general at Naples.

People agreed, and this in a day when a high value was set upon manners and evidence of breeding, that Saint-Germain was well born. His grace of bearing and ease in all society were charming. Thiébault says : 'In appearance Saint-Germain was refined and intellectual. He was clearly of gentle birth and had moved in good society ... he was a wise and prudent man who never wilfully offended against the code of honour or did anything that might offend our sense of probity.' When in Paris his portrait was painted for the Marquis d'Urfé, and from this picture was made an engraving on copper by N. Thomas, of Paris (1783). The intelligent and rather whimsical young face set above the delicate shoulders gives the idea that Saint-Germain was but a little man. The portrait is labelled ‘Marquis de S. Germain, der Wundermann.' It was dedicated to the Comte de Milly, and beneath it was inscribed this verse :

Ainsi que Prométhée il déroba le feu

Par qui le monde existe et par qui tout respire ;
La nature à sa voix obéit et se meurt.
S'il n'est pas

Dieu lui-même un Dieu puissant l'inspire. Though men agreed about his grace of manner they disagreed as to theories of his origin, and this may be partly owing to the fact that he chose to live under so many assumed names. In Paris, the Hague, London, and Petersburg he was the Comte de Saint-Germain; in Genoa and Leghorn, Count Soltykoff; in Venice, Count Bellamare or Aymar; in Milan and Leipzig, Chevalier Weldon ; in Schwalbach and Triesdag, Czarogy, which he pointed out was but the anagram for the family from which he really sprang-Ragoczy. He told Prince Charles of Hesse that he was the son of Prince Ragoczy, and that he had assumed the name of Saint-Germain to please himself. He knew a good deal about Italy, and Madame de Pompadour detected an Italian accent in all he said, and so thought him of Italian birth ; but this might be accounted for if he really was educated at the University of Siena. The evidence for this is slight, but there is no suggestion that he was educated elsewhere, and Madame de Genlis says that she heard men talk of him as a student there during a visit paid to that town. Another theory is that he was the son of a cloth merchant in Moscow, and that his father's business accounted for his unfailing supply of gold. The theory of his Russian descent is supported by the fact that he talked Russian fluently; by the secret instructions of Choiseul to Pitt (1760) to have the Count arrested as a Russian spy; as well as by his having been concerned in the Orloff conspiracy to dethrone the Czar Peter and to set up Catherine the

Second in his place.

He is said to have been born in the same year as Louis the Fifteenth (1710), but this is a matter of no moment, as it would not help men to understand Saint-Germain any the better to have his baptismal certificate in their hands, and it is enough to know that he lived and was well known in Europe from 1742 to 1782 as 8 man of young and interesting appearance.

Sweden made

Vol. LXII-No. 371

Queen Christina of a wise observation when she said : There is no other

I

youth but vigour of soul and body ; every one who has this vigour is young, no matter if he be a hundred years old, and every one who has it not is old, no matter if his years number but eighteen.' All who came in contact with Saint-Germain noticed that he possessed this vigour and alertness of body and soul to a remarkable extent. People thought he lived by virtue of some charm, for he was never known to eat in public, to confess to illness or fatigue, or to grow perceptibly older in looks.

From 1737 to 1742 he was in Asia, at the Court of the Shah of Persia for a while, afterwards learning the mysticism and philosophy of the Orient in secluded mountain monasteries. It was said that he became an adept, and there is no doubt that he was in possession of secrets and knowledge with which the majority of men are unacquainted. His study of Oriental languages was profound, his love of the East a passion, and on his return to Europe a rumour circulated that near Aix he had constructed a retreat where, sitting on a golden altar in the attitude of the conventional Buddha, he passed periods of intense contemplation. In 1743 he came to England, and apparently lived in London in a quiet way, writing music, playing the violin, and industri. ously working in Jacobite plots. As an active Freemason he would quite naturally have been employed in this fashion. Legitimists, it will be remembered, had been the means of introducing the English School of Masonry into France, and Saint-Germain had affiliated himself early to one of the first of the Anglo-French lodges. To be both Jacobite and Jacobin was no impossibility, for the one activity grew in many instances out of the other. The Count was often in direct communication with the Pretender, but when arrested on suspicion of being concerned in attempts to restore the Stuart dynasty no incriminating papers were found in his possession, and he was at once released.

Horace Walpole says:

The other day they seized an odd man, the Count Saint-Germain. He has been here these two years and will not tell who he is or whence, but professes . that he does not go by his right name. . . He sings and plays on the violin wonderfully, composes, is mad, and not very sensible. He is called an Italian, a Spaniard, a Pole ; a somebody that married a great fortune in Mexico and ran away with her jewels to Constantinople ; a priest, a fiddler, a vast nobleman. The Prince of Wales has had an unsated curiosity about him, but in vain. However nothing has been made out against him ; he is released ; and what convinces me that he is not a gentleman, stays here, and talks of his being taken up for a spy."

He left a musical record behind him to remind English people of his sojourn in this country. Many of his compositions were published by Walsh, in Catherine Street, Strand, and his earliest English song, Oh, wouldst thou know what sacred charms, came out while he was

· Letter to Horace Mann, Letters of H. Walpole, vol. ii. p. 161.

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