LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Chapter XI
Marion Delorme to the Marquis of Cinq-Mars, February 1641

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Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
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Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
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Paris, February, 1641.
“My dear Effiart,

“While you are forgetting me at Narbonne, and giving yourself up to the pleasures of the Court and the delight of thwarting M. le Cardinal de Richelieu, I, according to your express desire, am doing the honours of Paris to your English lord the Marquis of Worcester; and I carry him about, or rather he carries me, from curiosity to curiosity, choosing always the most grave and serious, speaking little, listening with extreme attention, and fixing on those whom he interrogates two large blue eyes, which seem to pierce to the very centre of their thoughts. He is remarkable for never being satisfied with any explanations which are given him, and he never sees things in the light
in which they are shown to him; you may judge of this by a visit we made together to Bicêtre, where he imagined he had discovered a genius in a madman.

“If this madman had not been actually raving, I verily believe your Marquis would have entreated his liberty, and have carried him off to London, in order to hear his extravagances from morning till night, at his ease. We were crossing the court of the madhouse, and I, more dead than alive with fright, kept close to my companion’s side, when a frightful face appeared behind some immense bars, and a hoarse voice exclaimed, ‘I am not mad! I am not mad! I have made a discovery which would enrich the country that adopted it.’ ‘What has he discovered?’ asked our guide. ‘Oh!’ he answered, shrugging his shoulders, ‘something trifling enough: you would never guess it; it is the use of the steam of boiling water.’ I began to laugh. ‘This man,’ continued the keeper, ‘is named Salomon de Caus; he came from Normandy four years ago, to present to the King a statement of the wonderful effects that might be produced from his invention. To listen to him, you would imagine that with steam you could navigate ships, move carriages; in fact, there is no end to the miracles which, he insists upon it, could be performed. The Cardinal sent the madman away without listening to him. Salomon de Caus, far from being discouraged, followed the Cardinal wherever he went with the most determined perseverance, who, tired of finding him for ever in his path, and annoyed at his folly, shut him up in Bicêtre,
where he has now been for three years and a half, and where, as you hear, he calls out to every visitor that he is not mad, but that he has made a valuable discovery. He has even written a book on the subject, which I have here.’*

Lord Worcester, who had listened to this account with much interest, after reflecting a time, asked for the book, of which, after having read several pages, he said, ‘This man is not mad; in my country, instead of shutting him up, he would have been rewarded. Take me to him, for I should like to ask him some questions.’ He was accordingly conducted to his cell; but, after a time, he came back sad and thoughtful. ‘He is indeed mad now,’ said he; ‘misfortune and captivity have alienated his reason; but it is you who have to answer for his madness; when you cast him into that cell, you confined the greatest genius of the age.’ After this we went away, and since that time he has done nothing but talk of Salomon de Caus.”