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May 10th

Born: A. R. J. Turgot, illustrious finance minister of France, 1727, Paris.

Died: Mareschal de Marillac, beheaded at Paris, 1632; La Bruyere, author of Caracteres, 1696; Barton Booth, comedian, 1733, Cowley, in Middlesex; Louis XV, King of France, 1774; Caroline Matilda, Queen of Denmark, 1775, Zelle; General De Dampierre, killed at Tamars, 1793.

Feast Day: Saints Gordian and Epimachus, martyrs, 3rd and 4th centuries. St. Comgall, abbot, 601. St. Cataldus, Bishop of Tarentum, 7th century. St. Isidore of Madrid, labourer, patron of Madrid, 1170. St. Antoninus, Archbishop of Florence, 1459.


Louis XV, though his private life was immoral, and his public conduct deficient in firmness and energy, was not without some of those merits which are always so much appreciated when they occur in high places. He has the credit of having been a liberal encourager of the useful arts. In connection with this feature of his character a strange story is told.

A native of Dauphiny, named Dupre, who had passed his life in making experiments in chemistry, professed to have invented a kind of fire, so rapid and so devouring, that it could neither be evaded nor quenched, water only giving it fresh activity. On the canal of Versailles, in presence of the king, in the court of the arsenal of Paris, and in other places, Dupre made experiments, the results of which astonished the beholders. When it fully appeared that a man possessing this secret could burn a fleet or destroy a town in spite of all resistance, Louis forbade that the invention should be made public.

Though he was then embarrassed with a war with the English, whose fleet it was most important that he should destroy, he declined to avail himself of an invention, the suppression of which he deemed to be required in the general interests of humanity. Dupre died some time after, carrying the secret with him to his grave. One naturally listens to all such stories with a certain degree of incredulity; yet it does not seem to be beyond the hopes of science to invent a fire which would, by the very tremendousness of its effects, make war an absurdity, and so force on the great expected day when a general police of nations will prevent any one from entering on. hostilities afflicting to itself and others.


Evelyn enters in his Diary, under May 10, 1654:

'My lady Gerrard treated us at Mulberry Garden, now the only place of refreshment about the town for persons of the best quality to be exceedingly cheated at Cromwell and his partizans having shut up and seized on Spring Garden, which till now had been the usual rendezvous for the ladies and gallants at this season.'

Evelyn presently after adds:

'I now observed how women began to paint themselves, formerly a most ignominious thing, and used only by prostitutes.'


On the 10th of May 1830, there came before a London police magistrate a case involving a peculiar kind of fraud which for many years baffled the law, and consequently acquired a considerable degree of notoriety. Joseph Ady maybe said to have been one of the newspaper celebrities of England during fully twenty years of the first half of the nineteenth century. Every now and then we were regaled with paragraphs headed, 'Joseph Ady again,' giving accounts of some one having been despoiled by him, and who had vainly sought for redress. Strange to say, a true and thorough notoriety ought to have been sufficient to guard the public against his practices; and yet, notorious as he appeared to most people, there must have been vast multitudes who had never heard of him, and who consequently were liable to become his victims.

Ady was a decent-looking elderly man, a Quaker, with the external respectability attached to the condition of a house-holder, and to all appearance considered himself as pursuing a perfectly legitimate course of life. His metier consisted in this. He was accustomed to examine, so far as the means were afforded him, lists of unclaimed dividends, estates or bequests waiting for the proper owners, and unclaimed property generally. Noting the names, he sent letters to individuals bearing the same appellatives, stating that, on their remitting to him his fee of a guinea, they would be informed of 'something to their advantage.'

When any one complied, he duly sent a second letter, acquainting him that in such a list was a sum or an estate due to a person of his name, and on which he might have claims worthy of being investigated. It was undeniable that the information might prove to the advantage of Ady's correspondent. Between this might be and the unconditional promise of something to the advantage of the correspondent, lay the debatable ground on which it might be argued that Ady was practising a dishonest business. It was rather too narrow a margin for legal purposes; and so Joseph went on from year to year, reaping the guineas of the unwary�seldom three months out of a police-court and its reports�till his name became a by-word; and still, out of the multitudes whom he addressed, finding a sufficient number of persons ignorant of his craft, and ready to be imposed upon�and these, still more strange to say, often belonging to the well-educated part of society.

In the case brought under notice on the 10th of May, 1830, Mr. Blamire, a London solicitor, acting for a Mr. Salkeld, had given in charge one Benjamin Ridgeway for defrauding him of a sovereign. Mr. Salkeld, a solicitor in Cumberland, had received one of Ady's letters, had requested Mr. Blamire to inquire into the matter; and a sovereign having consequently been given to Ridgeway, who was Ady's servant, a notice had been returned, stating that the name of Salkeld was in a list of persons having unclaimed money in the funds. Mr. Blamire being of belief that there could be no connection between the two Salkelds, demanded back the sovereign; and, on failing to obtain it, gave Ady's messenger, Ridgeway, into custody. The chief Bow - street police magistrate at that time was Sir Richard Birnie, who often indulged in rather undignified colloquies with the persons brought before him. Joseph Ady came forward to protect or assist his messenger, and then the following conversation occurred:

Sir R. Birnie : Oh! you are the Mr. Ady to whom so many persons, myself amongst the number, have been indebted for such valuable information; are you not?

Ady : I have come forward on behalf of my servant; but, if you have any charge against me, here I am.

Sir R. Birnie : You are charged, in conjunction with your servant, with having swindled Mr Blamire out of a sovereign, under pretence of furnishing a Mr. Salkeld with information which turns out to be false.

Ady : I have lived for upwards of twenty-five years in Houndsditch, and, if I were a swindler, I could not have preserved my character so long.

Sir R. Birnie : Then you admit having empowered your agent to receive the money in your name?

Ady : I do. I have carried on transactions of a similar description for years; and although I have met with persons who were ungrateful enough -to demand back the fee which I require for my trouble, I have always maintained my point, and I mean still to maintain it. If this gentleman has any demand against me, he knows my address, and the law is open to him. 1 insist that this is not the right place to try the question.

Sir R. Birnie : We will see that presently. Let the police constable who took this fellow's servant into custody stand forward, and produce the money he found upon him.

The constable accordingly produced two sovereigns and some halfpence; and, by direction of the magistrate, he handed one of the sovereigns to Mr. Blamire. Ady said that he had not the least objection to his servant stating where and from whom he got the other. Ridgeway, looking significantly at his master, said he had forgotten the name of the gentleman who paid him the sovereign, but that he lived in Suffolk Place. An officer was sent to the address named, with directions that the gentleman should come forward and state the pretence under which Ridgeway had obtained the money. While the officer was gone, the magistrates conferred as to what should be done.

Sir R. Birnie : There is no doubt whatever that a gross system of fraud and imposition has been carried on for years by the defendant Ady. Upwards of fifty letters have been addressed to me upon the subject by persons who have been swindled out of their money.

Ady : I wonder, then, that you, as a magistrate, have not taken earlier notice of me. I am always to be found, and everybody knows there is law enough in England to reach every species of offence. If I had done wrong, I should have been punished long ago.

Sir R. Birnie : You are a clever fellow, and manage to keep within the law; but take care, Mr Ady, for I am determined to have my eye upon you.

Ady : So you may; you cannot say that you ever lost a sovereign by me yet.

Sir R. Birnie : No; but you tried hard for it, by sending me one of your swindling letters.

Ady : If I did, I dare say I could have told you something worth your notice.

Sir R. Birnie : Not you, indeed. And I'll tell you candidly, I never had a relation so rich as I am myself; therefore it would be quite useless to throw away your information upon use.

Ady : If that's the case, Sir Richard, your name shall be scratched from my books whenever I have your permission to go home.

The officer, on his return, whispered the result of his inquiry to Sir Richard, who exclaimed aloud�'What! Mr. Doherty, Solicitor-General for Ireland! Why, you pitch your game high indeed! So you have obtained the other sovereign from the Irish Solicitor-General!'

Ady : I did; and that I think is a sufficient proof that my transactions are fair and above board. I should indeed be a hardy swindler to attempt to impose upon a Solicitor-General.

Sir R. Birnie : I have the honour to be acquainted with Mr. Doherty; and I dare say he will be good enough to tell me upon what pretence he parted with his money. He certainly could have known nothing of your character.

Ady : Perhaps not, Sir Richard.

The conversation ended here. The marked superiority of the cool, calm sense, and self-possession of Ady, over the inconsequential blustering of the magistrate, will enable the reader to understand how this singular man lived so many years upon the simplicity of the public.


Sir William Smith, or Smyth, who on the 10th of May 1661, was created a baronet by Charles II for his services during the civil war, was born at Buckingham about 1616. He was a member of the Middle Temple, and was in 1640 elected a burgess for Winchelsea. For some time he joined the side of the Parliament, but on perceiving its destructive tendencies, he deserted it, and entered the royal army, in which he soon became a colonel. He was governor, or commander of the king's garrison at Hillesden House, near Newport Pagnell, when it was besieged and taken by Cromwell, in 1643.

The garrison, however, had capitulated to march out with their arms, baggage, &c., unmolested. But as soon as they were out of the gate, one of Cromwell's soldiers snatched off Sir William Smyth's hat. He immediately complained to Cromwell of the man's insolence, and breach of the capitulation. 'Sir,' said Cromwell, 'if you can point out the man, or I can discover him, I promise you he shall not go unpunished. In the meantime (taking off a new beaver which he had on his own head) be pleased to accept of this hat instead of your own.'

May 11th