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The physician walked slowly and solemnly to the gilt guéridons on which the triple-branched candlesticks stood. He took the latter down, went up to the emperor's table, and placed them by the side of the other candlesticks. Twelve burning candles were now close together.
“Where the exhalation comes from ?” Berri said, stretching out his hand; “from your wax candles, your majesty. Do you not see the red fire in the flame?”
At this moment the chamberlain came in.
“ The fire is vivid,” the emperor objected, “but does not seem to me extraordinary.”
“Do you not perceive the fine white mist, which is not found with natural candles ?"
“My eyes are so weak. Do you see it, chamberlain ?"
The gentleman thus appealed to was compelled to answer in the affir. mative.
“ Your eyes,” said Borri, contemptuously, “ are better than your brain, M. Chainberlain.”
The emperor's physician-in-ordinary made his appearance. “You have come at the right moment,” the emperor exclaimed; “ this cavalier asserts that the atmosphere of my room is poisoned. Have you the diagnosis with you ?".
“Here, your majesty; it has been kept since the first day of your illness,” said the physician.
Borri ran through the papers, and found them perfectly correct and careful. The physician, pleased at this acknowledgment of his services, listened to Borri's suspicions.
“Look here, doctor,” Borri exclaimed; “ do you see this fine, quickly. ascending vapour? Now look at the ceiling; do you notice the crust which the vapour has deposited there?”
“I see it all, and bow to your sharpness, cavalier," said the doctor. “ I confess, your majesty, that I have felt suspicious for some days past.”
“Does your majesty burn such candles everywhere ?” Borri asked. “It would be important to know whether they are used in the empress's room."
The chamberlain was ordered to fetch two burning candles from the apartment of the empress, and the flames were compared. The emperor's lights burned with a dark red restless flame; a fine vapour, which enclosed the upper part of the candle like a veil, was rent by repeated sparks, which flashed from the wick, and crepitated like electrical discharges. The candles of the empress burned quietly, like any ordinary wax-candle.
“Here is the poison," Borri exclaimed, triumphantly, as he laid his white bony hand on a candlestick belonging to the imperial cabinet. “Shall I now prove to your majesty that these candles contain a subtle poison?”
“ At once.”
Borri closed the door of the imperial cabinet. He and the physician immediately extinguished the suspected wax-candles. Then both went into a corner, took a silver dish, and began removing the wax from the wick over it. So soon as the latter was laid bare, Borri explained his views to the emperor. Leopold ordered the chamberlain to be called, and commanded that the entire stock of wax-candles should be brought into
his room. They were taken out of a cupboard in the ante-room, and about thirty pounds still remained. Borri at once pointed out a peculiar fact to the emperor. Each candle was marked at top and bottom with a gilt garland, evidently that there might be no mistake. A careful investigation was made, the result of which was that the wicks of the candles used by the emperor were powerfully impregnated with arsenic. A turnspit dog was fetched, shut up in a closet, and a dish of meat was put before it, with which were mixed finely.shredded pieces of the wick.
In the mean while the emperor was removed to other apartments. By the monarch's orders, every body was to observe the deepest silence about the whole affair. Borri and the physician-in-ordinary proceeded to the palace surgery, sent away all the assistants, and prepared an antidote for the emperor with their own hands. Borri then analysed the components of the dipped wick, and obtained from it a copious deposit of arsenic. He had left orders that he should be called so soon as the dog began to grow restless, but the effect of the poison was so rapid that Borri found the animal already dead when he returned to the emperor. Both physicians began the cure of the emperor on the same evening. Borri's medicine consisted chiefly of sudorifics, which he always employed in poisoning
Leopold had scarce changed his room ere he gave orders to have the supplier of the wax-candles arrested. The procurator of the Jesuits was found to be the man, but he was no longer in Vienna. By express orders of the emperor, Borri remained near him, and attended the monarch, who daily grew better. The physician supported the savant to the best of his ability, and by May 19 the emperor was able to drive out again.
He constantly had conversations with Borri, who was obliged to make him an accurate report of his medical treatment. The physician had most strictly followed the effect of the poison and its amount, and even examined the deposit on the ceiling. He kept back two candles as evidence, and the rest were employed in analysis. The weight of the candles was twenty-four pounds, that of the impregnated wicks three pounds and a half, whence Borri concluded that the amount of poison was nearly two pounds and three-quarters. When the emperor heard these results, he exclaimed, “ They would have sent me ad patres in a few months." Borri dined at the imperial table, and was greatly distinguished, to the no slight annoyance of his clerical foes, who, however, were sufficiently well acquainted with the emperor's vacillation to feel sure that their victim would not escape them. The same opinion prevailed among the inhabitants at court. Scotti only looked at his celebrated countryman with glances of compassion, and the physician-in-ordinary declared without hesitation:
“My dear Borri, the behaviour of the emperor has only increased the Dumber of your foes. Anyone who has attracted the hatred of the priests here may be regarded as lost. You will see your destiny fulfilled in Rome.”
“No persecution,” Borri replied, “ will keep down my mind.”
It can scarcely be believed that Leopold really surrendered the saviour of his life to the power of the Holy Office in Rome, were there not, unhappily, too many similar instances in history.
On June 14, 1670, the perfectly-cured Leopold discharged his physician Borri. He thanked him fervently, and with tears in his eyes, and regretted that he could not display the gratitude which he owed the physician from the feelings of his heart. In the matter of religion, however, Borri had so “ gone astray that it was necessary to cure him of his errors.” The Pope would appoint a commission. “ Still,” the emperor continued, “ I have obtained a guarantee from the papal nuncio that in no case shall anything be done against your body and your life. My envoy in Rome will tell you this in the presence of the papal commission. So long as you live, two hundred ducats a year shall be paid you by myself or my heirs as a memorial of what you have done for me. If you come to a better conviction in religious matters, I will see what is to be done. God take you under His protection—that is my wish. Farewell.”
He offered the physician his hand to kiss, which Borri bedewed with his tears—tears of emotion and of compassion. On the following day the savarít was taken to Rome under an escort. The procurator was never heard of again : the black deed, however, was concealed, and the priests and their influence still prevailed as of yore.
As for Borri, he was imprisoned for life in the castle of St. Angelo. At first he was never to leave the castle, but eventually obtained so much liberty that he was allowed to go in and out unimpeded, and practise. This he owed to the energetic interference of the French maréchal, D'Estrées, whom he cured of a dangerous disease at Rome. After this he performed several other remarkable cures, and died in 1681. The Jesuit general, Pater Gonzalez, frequently visited him in St. Angelo in order to obtain from him the arcanum by which he expelled poisons from the human body. Gonzalez even went so far as to give him a certificate of his entire innocence, and promised him his liberty. But Borri ever laughingly declined to reveal the secret, with the words, “ This knowledge is not in accordance with the rules of St. Ignatius of Loyola.” At Vienna the affair was soon forgotten : the execution of the Hungarian rebels destroyed the horror which the dark deed at first aroused.
It is certainly most probable that the attempt was made on Leopold at the instigation of the French party from the motives we have already stated. The pater-procurator was at once got out of the way, and probably received compensation elsewhere; and, according to the principles of the order, it was not responsible for the wicked action of an individual. On September 20, 1713, however, Prince Eugène wrote to Sinzendorf from Philippsburg: “I am satisfied with the selection of Beutenreider as political adjutant, and will take such care of the health of this excellent man that no apprehension about Aqua Tofana shall affect him. A veil must be thrown over many things, as the Emperor Leopold believed when he was convinced by the unfortunate Borri that the poison he had inhaled was derived from the wax-candles burning on his table.”*
* Political Writings of Prince Eugène, vol. vii. p. 45.
BY W. BRODIE.
EZRA CROSS AND THE MARSHAL. We had all re-filled our glasses, and sucked sedulously at the straws for a few minutes, and I was lighting a fresh cigar, when Mr. Ridley broke in :
“Captain, if you'll allow me, I'll tell you of a somewhat similar trick, which I happen to know was played on the marshal in Iowa when I was last there.
* Near Jacksonville, where I was staying for a few days on business, there resides a small farmer named Ezra Cross, a New England man, who, baving passed his early youth as a tin pedlar, was considered to be what in New England phrase is denominated 'a very 'cute trader.' He had purchased the ground he now farmed about two years previously; but being possessed of only a very limited capital, he had been forced to raise a considerable portion of the purchase-money by loans. These loans, as he often stated, pressed on him very heavily, as the persons from whom he had borrowed the money always took the opportunity of demanding payment at the moment they knew from the state of the markets that he could not dispose of his produce except at a loss, and then compelled him to make new arrangements with them of such a nature that, in spite of his labouring hard from morning to night, he could see no prospect of his ever becoming free. In this quandary he had recourse to me. I had known and had dealings with him for a considerable number of years, and although he was excessively difficult at driving a bargain, I had always found him an honest, upright man. When he had fully explained the affair to me, I at once proposed to give him a certain sum down on à mortgage on his farm stock, &c. This I agreed was to be done privately, and at once, so that afterwards, his property being put beyond the reach of his other creditors, he might be able to treat with them on a more equal footing. At the same time I bargained that I myself, instead of paying the money over to him, was to do so to his creditors, for I would not lend myself to anything that had even the semblance of being dishonest, and I felt convinced that the sum I was about to advance was fully equivalent to all their just claims. A not very far distant day was fixed upon for carrying out this plan. And I left the state, agreeing to be back at the appointed time, when he promised to have all the necessary papers, documents, &c., prepared for signature. During my absence the monetary crisis of 1857 swept over the country. The markets were literally at a stand-still. Such a fair chance was not to be let slip by Ezra's creditors. Down they came on him. His farm was in excellent order. His stables and byres well filled, and his barns fully stocked. The propositions they made to him for a delay of a few months were expressly of a nature so onerous, that it rendered them virtually impossible. They saw that by seizing the farm, selling it at once, then buying it in,
and holding on till better times, they would by a fresh sale clear a profit of over a hundred per cent., and they consequently determined to avail themselves of the advantage which the universal tightness of the money market thus gave them. It was in vain that Ezra expostulated; his creditors turned a deaf ear to all his remonstrances, and he now saw the day not very far distant when he should once more have to begin the world again penniless, all the earnings of his hard work during the earlier part of his life swept away, to leave him in his older years to return again to labour, which his increased age rendered him unfit for. It was about this time that he was riding home disconsolately from the market, where he had in vain been endeavouring to dispose of some of his stock, turning over in his mind his unhappy position, and considering that being far away from all his more intimate friends and relations, and his wife being on a visit in New England, he had no one to whom he could confide his property for the time being, and secure it from the rapacity of his creditors, by executing a bill of sale, when a gentleman, well mounted on a high-mettled horse, was riding past him at a hard trot. The road just at the point where he then was takes a sharp turn, then descends down a steep hill, and a mile farther on, about half way up another, but gentler ascent, lies the farm of Ezra Cross. The gentleman having turned the corner was lost to sight, but a slight cry arrested Ezra's attention, so hurrying his horse along with a touch of the spur, he followed, and there he saw the gentleman who had just passed a few yards down the hill getting up from the road, and his horse loose, galloping away. Tying his own horse to a tree, Ezra went up to the gentleman, asked him if he were hurt, and, being informed that he felt a little shaken, offered to take him to his house, which was near at hand, attend to his wants, and send a person to catch his horse. “Do you live near here?' said the gentleman. 'Yes; that is my house you see there buried in the woods about a mile and a half farther on, and if you feel too pained to walk to it, you can take my horse, and I will walk alongside of you.' Oh! thank you,' said the other ; but the truth is, I am going on urgent business, and have not a moment to spare. Do you know a person hereabouts called Ezra Cross ?' 'Yes,' said the farmer,' very well;' and he was just on the point of saying that he was that person himself, when the old prudent business habits of his former life made him hesitate, so he merely added, ' Pray, may I ask, are you acquainted with him, sir ?'Oh no, indeed!' said the gentleman ; and I do not think he would be very desirous of making my acquaintance if he knew who I am.' "They say he is somewhat embarrassed in his money matters,' said Ezra. : Why, yes, and it is precisely on that account that I am hurrying out to his farm. Now, if you can assist me in finding it at once, I shall be most happy to reward you amply for your trouble. Pray in what way can I be of use to you?' said Ezra. • Well,' said the gentleman, 'you see there are some two or three persons from whom Ezra borrowed a portion of the money with which he bought his property. Well, these persons, as he cannot pay them now, have sent me, the marshal, to put an execution in it, and the reason I am so pressed for time is, that a friend of his, a Mr. Ridley, arrived in town this morning, and, hearing that execution was about to be put into Ezra's farm, started off at once for it along with Judge Parsons. "Now, we learned not only this from Judge Parsons's clerk, but that a mortgage deed had been pre