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- REAL SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE - 5/25 -
created overnight. And it was the Emperor, with his love of theatrical display, of gorgeous ceremonies; with his restless reaching after military glory, the weary, cynical adventurer, that the boy at St. Cyr took as his model.
Royalist as was Harden-Hickey by birth and tradition, and Royalist as he always remained, it was the court at the Tuileries that filled his imagination. The Bourbons, whom he served, hoped some day for a court; at the Tuileries there was a court, glittering before his physical eyes. The Bourbons were pleasant old gentlemen, who later willingly supported him, and for whom always he was equally willing to fight, either with his sword or his pen. But to the last, in his mind, he carried pictures of the Second Empire as he, as a boy, had known it.
Can you not imagine the future James the First, barelegged, in a black-belted smock, halting with his nurse, or his priest, to gaze up in awestruck delight at the great, red-breeched Zouaves lounging on guard at the Tuileries?
"When I grow up," said little James to himself, not knowing that he never would grow up, "I shall have Zouaves for _my_ palace guard."
And twenty years later, when he laid down the laws for his little kingdom, you find that the officers of his court must wear the mustache, "_a la_ Louis Napoleon," and that the Zouave uniform will be worn by the Palace Guards.
In 1883, while he still was at the War College, his father died, and when he graduated, which he did with honors, he found himself his own master. His assets were a small income, a perfect knowledge of the French language, and the reputation of being one of the most expert swordsman in Paris. He chose not to enter the army, and instead became a journalist, novelist, duellist, an _habitue_ of the Latin Quarter and the boulevards.
As a novelist the titles of his books suggest their quality. Among them are: "Un Amour Vendeen," "Lettres d'un Yankee," "Un Amour dans le Monde," "Memoires d'un Gommeux," "Merveilleuses Aventures de Nabuchodonosor, Nosebreaker."
Of the Catholic Church he wrote seriously, apparently with deep conviction, with high enthusiasm. In her service as a defender of the faith he issued essays, pamphlets, "broadsides." The opponents of the Church in Paris he attacked relentlessly.
As a reward for his championship he received the title of baron.
In 1878, while only twenty-four, he married the Countess de Saint-Pery, by whom he had two children, a boy and a girl, and three years later he started _Triboulet_. It was this paper that made him famous to "all Paris."
It was a Royalist sheet, subsidized by the Count de Chambord and published in the interest of the Bourbons. Until 1888 Harden-Hickey was its editor, and even by his enemies it must be said that he served his employers with zeal. During the seven years in which the paper amused Paris and annoyed the republican government, as its editor Harden-Hickey was involved in forty-two lawsuits, for different editorial indiscretions, fined three hundred thousand francs, and was a principal in countless duels.
To his brother editors his standing interrogation was: "Would you prefer to meet me upon the editorial page, or in the Bois de Boulogne?" Among those who met him in the Bois were Aurelien Scholl, H. Lavenbryon, M. Taine, M. de Cyon, Philippe Du Bois, Jean Moreas.
In 1888, either because, his patron the Count de Chambord having died, there was no more money to pay the fines, or because the patience of the government was exhausted, _Triboulet_ ceased to exist, and Harden-Hickey, claiming the paper had been suppressed and he himself exiled, crossed to London.
From there he embarked upon a voyage around the world, which lasted two years, and in the course of which he discovered the island kingdom of which he was to be the first and last king. Previous to his departure, having been divorced from the Countess de Saint-Pery, he placed his boy and girl in the care of a fellow-journalist and very dear friend, the Count de la Boissiere, of whom later we shall hear more.
Harden-Hickey started around the world on the _Astoria_, a British merchant vessel bound for India by way of Cape Horn, Captain Jackson commanding.
When off the coast of Brazil the ship touched at the uninhabited island of Trinidad. Historians of James the First say that it was through stress of weather that the _Astoria_ was driven to seek refuge there, but as, for six months of the year, to make a landing on the island is almost impossible, and as at any time, under stress of weather, Trinidad would be a place to avoid, it is more likely Jackson put in to replenish his water-casks, or to obtain a supply of turtle meat.
Or it may have been that, having told Harden-Hickey of the derelict island, the latter persuaded the captain to allow him to land and explore it. Of this, at least, we are certain, a boat was sent ashore, Harden-Hickey went ashore in it, and before he left the island, as a piece of no man's land, belonging to no country, he claimed it in his own name, and upon the beach raised a flag of his own design.
The island of Trinidad claimed by Harden-Hickey must not be confused with the larger Trinidad belonging to Great Britain and lying off Venezuela.
The English Trinidad is a smiling, peaceful spot of great tropical beauty; it is one of the fairest places in the West Indies. At every hour of the year the harbor of Port of Spain holds open its arms to vessels of every draught. A governor in a pith helmet, a cricket club, a bishop in gaiters, and a botanical garden go to make it a prosperous and contented colony. But the little derelict Trinidad, in latitude 20 degrees 30 minutes south, and longitude 29 degrees 22 minutes west, seven hundred miles from the coast of Brazil, is but a spot upon the ocean. On most maps it is not even a spot. Except by birds, turtles, and hideous land-crabs, it is uninhabited; and against the advances of man its shores are fortified with cruel ridges of coral, jagged limestone rocks, and a tremendous towering surf which, even in a dead calm, beats many feet high against the coast.
In 1698 Dr. Halley visited the island, and says he found nothing living but doves and land-crabs. "Saw many green turtles in sea, but by reason of the great surf, could catch none."
After Halley's visit, in 1700 the island was settled by a few Portuguese from Brazil. The ruins of their stone huts are still in evidence. But Amaro Delano, who called in 1803, makes no mention of the Portuguese; and when, in 1822, Commodore Owen visited Trinidad, he found nothing living there save cormorants, petrels, gannets, man-of-war birds, and "turtles weighing from five hundred to seven hundred pounds."
In 1889 E. F. Knight, who in the Japanese-Russian War represented the London _Morning Post_, visited Trinidad in his yacht in search of buried treasure.
Alexander Dalrymple, in his book entitled "Collection of Voages, chiefly in the Southern Atlantick Ocean, 1775," tells how, in 1700, he "took possession of the island in his Majesty's name as knowing it to be granted by the King's letter patent, leaving a Union Jack flying."
So it appears that before Harden-Hickey seized the island it already had been claimed by Great Britain, and later, on account of the Portuguese settlement, by Brazil. The answer Harden-Hickey made to these claims was that the English never settled in Trinidad, and that the Portuguese abandoned it, and, therefore, their claims lapsed. In his "prospectus" of his island, Harden-Hickey himself describes it thus:
"Trinidad is about five miles long and three miles wide. In spite of its rugged and uninviting appearance, the inland plateaus are rich with luxuriant vegetation.
"Prominent among this is a peculiar species of bean, which is not only edible, but extremely palatable. The surrounding seas swarm with fish, which as yet are wholly unsuspicious of the hook. Dolphins, rock-cod, pigfish, and blackfish may be caught as quickly as they can be hauled out. I look to the sea birds and the turtles to afford our principal source of revenue. Trinidad is the breeding-place of almost the entire feathery population of the South Atlantic Ocean. The exportation of guano alone should make my little country prosperous. Turtles visit the island to deposit eggs, and at certain seasons the beach is literally alive with them. The only drawback to my projected kingdom is the fact that it has no good harbor and can be approached only when the sea is calm."
As a matter of fact sometimes months pass before it is possible to effect a landing.
Another asset of the island held out by the prospectus was its great store of buried treasure. Before Harden-Hickey seized the island, this treasure had made it known. This is the legend. In 1821 a great store of gold and silver plate plundered from Peruvian churches had been concealed on the islands by pirates near Sugar Loaf Hill, on the shore of what is known as the Southwest Bay. Much of this plate came from the cathedral at Lima, having been carried from there during the war of independence when the Spanish residents fled the country. In their eagerness to escape they put to sea in any ship that offered, and these unarmed and unseaworthy vessels fell an easy prey to pirates. One of these pirates on his death-bed, in gratitude to his former captain, told him the secret of the treasure. In 1892 this captain was still living, in Newcastle, England, and although his story bears a family resemblance to every other story of buried treasure, there were added to the tale of the pirate some corroborative details. These, in twelve years, induced five different expeditions to visit the island. The two most important were that of E. F. Knight and one from the Tyne in the bark _Aurea_.
In his "Cruise of the _Alerte_," Knight gives a full description of the island, and of his attempt to find the treasure. In this, a landslide having covered the place where it was buried, he was unsuccessful.
But Knight's book is the only source of accurate information concerning Trinidad, and in writing his prospectus it is evident that
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