Mataura Ensign , Putanga 511, 22 Whiringa-ā-rangi 1898, Page 4
THE ' CHRONICLE'S ' EXPOSURES. Writes the London correspondent of the ' Lyttelton Times ' : — When a deplorably flippant friend asked Sir George Newnes the other afternoon whether " he'd got any Green in his eye," it is understood that the chief backer of De Eougemont lapsed into painfully profane tit-bits. And in truth his position is not altogether enviable. On October 3, M. de Rougemont delivered his first lecture at St. James' Hall, which was fairly filled with an audience that apparently reserved judgment. Sir. George^ Newnes supported his protegee publicly, and to my great surprise Mr Heaton, with Mrs Heaton, was also on the platform. Punctually at eight the lecturer tripped lightly up the stairs. I had not an opera glass, so could not see exactly how he looked, but the ' Daily News ' furnishes ■ an' excellent photograph in a few lines. It says :— ",De Eougemont is a slim, wiry man, with well-balanced head covered with short, irongrey hair. He has aquiline features, even forehead, full eyebrows, rather small eyes, prominent ears, well-grown and thickish dark beard, tinged with grey. In stature M. de Rougement appears to be about sft Sin, and he seems to have, in racing parlance, scarcely an ounce of superfluous flesh about him. He wore a black frock coat, buttoned over his chest, relieved by a while tie in sailor's knot. In tone and pitch of voice he was by no means unsuited for lecturing, bearing himself quite straight. Walking gently to and fro, he gave easy and appropriate gestures arid occasional waving of the hands. While having little or no pretence to cultivated elocution, M. de Eougeinont made use throughout of quite appropriate diction, and was never'at a loss for a plain and suitable word. His enunciation wns sharp and distinct, and his English all but perfect, with just a tinge of foreign accent. In the word 'adventures,' for example, emphasis was laid on the' last syllable. ' liecontre ' and ■en passant ' were spoken as by a Frenchman or a man who has lived in Fiance." Whoever De Rougement is, there can be no doubt he knows the " back blocks " intimately, and has an extensive and peculiar acquaintance with bush slang. Also I should suspect him of some time or other having run a " show." His lecture (all old stuff) was .dull. The critics note that he gave no dates. For example, meeting the criticism " Why did't you tap the telegraph line?" he simply answered " The telegraph line was not then laid." It was the' same in reference to the parts of the Australian Continent where he had lived with the natives. Simply, he pointed to the Cambridge Gulf region,, there and thereabouts. So far, then, as anybody expected a consecutive narrative, with dates and the precise naming of localities, it was not given. M. de Rougement gossiped broadly at his experiences, Hitting easily from one, of these to another. At times he was dull, and invariably rambling, and disconnected. On the other hand his asides were often clever and pat. " There were no widows," he remarked, " among the natives with whom I dwelt. What a pity there should be any windows here." Or, again, "If you left anything anywhere, you could always be sure to find it. ?ou can't be always sure of that in a civilised country." IIE BABES HIS ARMS. The evening finished with a suitable " sensation." As the audience were leaving the hall somebody shouted, " Will," or " Dare M. de Rougemont show his arms ?" There was a hurried consultation on the platform, and a disposition on the part of the lecturer to palaver. Sundry hisses, however, -warned him to be careful, and after a few theatrical remarks, De Eougemont boldly bared two lean, brown arms to the shoulders. The Didymus who had requested this display then ascended the platform, and after closely examining them, expressed himself satisfied. At this there was loud applause. *' If I had been a convict, as has been suggested," declared M. De Rougement, putting on this vest and coat agairn, " I might have done what I have done, but I could never have accepted the invitation I received from the British Association." ■•• ' , "clever sir gheen." Mr Daniel Leno, of the variety stage; had afew months back a notable canticle, in which he rehearsed the marvellous exploits of a certain " Clever Mr Green." We have now come to the conclusion that Louis De Rougemont must have been the hero of that song. For Louis's name turns out to be " Green " too. On Tuesday morning, whilst the De Rougemont clique were congratulating themselves on the lecture finale, the ' Chronicle ' burst a nice little bombshell. This was a letter from Mr F. W. Solomon, manager of a large Swiss firm in Finsbury Square. Mr Solomon says : — " During May last a man called at oar offices introducing himself to be a Mr Grien, a Swiss. I had a long conversation "with him in reference to a wonderful diving apparatus he had invented, but which, unfortunately, had been lost in a shipwreck on its way from Australia to this country, he having come by another vessel. He was now compelled to remain in London until a dunlicate set of papers arrived from Australia, but asked for the address of a firm whom I thought would be able to make a costume of a certain material, which might be used for this particular purpose. I, then took him to a prominent member of our firm, to whom he explained that he was in rather distressing circumstances. Finding repeated applications for assistance on the strength of the diving costume were useless, he then represented himself as an artist, offering to make a large black and white drawing of myself, or any member of my family. He was given a pencil and paper, and asked to make a sketch on the spot, but he cleveily dodged this by various excuses. I may say he showed several letters of recommendation, one being from a clergyman of prominent position in Australia, besides mentioning gentlemen of high social standing in London who were going to assist him. I have not seen him from the end of May last until one night about a fortnight ago I met him accidentally in the Earls Court Exhibition. After having shaken hands and passed the usual compliments, to my utter astonishment and, I may say, disgust, he walked away, and this after having spent several hours at various times with me at the office. The fact of having seen his photograph has brought all this vividly to my mind, and there is not the slightest doubt but what Mr Grien arfd M. de Rougemont are one and the same person." Subsequently both Solomon pcrc et Jilx identified De Eougemont as Grien in St. James Hall. Jill FITZGEIULI) KNEW ALL ABOOT IT. Mr Solomon's disclosure would have staggered most folks, but not the "wide" editor of Sir George Newne's (appropriately) blushcolored monthly. He boldly admitted the identity of Grien and De Rougemont, and inquired impudently, " what of it?" He says: — " The sum total of the ' Exposure ' is that M. de Rougemont, when in quite a destitute state, called upon a Swiss firm in the city, introducing himself to Mr F. W. Solomon, the manager, under the name of Grien, and tried to sell a patent diving apparatus. You speak in your head-lines of ' An earlier appearance ' and ' Another tale.' The ' Earlier appearance ' was the visit to Mr Solomon, in which there was surely nothing criminal, and the other ' tale ' is the patent diving dress. Let me tell you, sir, ihat M. de Rougemont sought my advice on this very subject when he first came into this ofiice. There is is one other point. Mr Solomon states that M. de' Rougemont represented himself as a blackand-white artist, and offered to make large drawings of any member of Mr Solomon's family. Now, the fact was, that he (Eougemont) had arranged with an artist at Willesden, so that he (De Bougement) might go and solicit orders which would be executed by the artist in questioh, De Roußemont himself, as canvasser, receiving a certain commission on the results." WHAT AHE THE FACTS ? This audacity was, however, more than even the ' Chronicle ' could stomach, and in a couple of rasping paragraphs, it lets fly thus : — " What are the facts about De Rougemont ? On his own showing this man conceals his story from the entire Australian world, or, .if he mentions it, fails to impress a single responsible person with its truth. He comes to England under a name which, if he is telling the truth, is not his own. He has previously lived for years in Australia under names which, again on his own showing, are not his own. He does not once use the name to which he affects a title. In England he does not at first tell a word of his adventures. He goes to a city firm, not as a Frenchman born in Paris, but as a Swiss of the Canton Vaud, and he
says nothing of the subject of the articles in the ' Wide World Magazine.' - He interests himself instead in a wonderful diving apparatus, which he does not produce, and of which he does not even furnish drawings, though he describes himself as its inventor. This, therefore, is our '.exposure,' and a significant exposure it is. But let us go a step further. This man volunteers a series of statements as to his birthplace, his parents, his place of baptism, his bringing up, and the rest of it. We are at great pains and expense to verify them. We find that some of them are impossible, and that none of them are verifiable. What does this gentleman do ? If we are wrong, he can, of course, convict us at once. But not a word or answer does he give, not a suggestion which is not at once blown to the winds, not a serious reply to men of undoubted experience, undoubted knowledge, undoubted character. We had an open mind about his adventures. It was nothing to us whether they true or untrue. We judged him by his conduct, by his demeanor, by his evasion of every test that has been applied to him, not by us only, but by travellers and explorers whose counsel we have in no way sought, but who have voluntarily tendered to us their evidence, with a volume and weight to which we have been unable to do justice. The ' Chronicle ' then challenges Mr Grien to produce the duplicate plans of the diving apparatus which he told Mr Solomon he was waiting for. " That was in May. It is now October. Where are the duplicate sets of papers ? When did they arrive ? By whom were they consigned ? What is the previous history of the diving apparatus in question ? By this time Mr Grien could have written to Australia, could have got an answer back, and could have written again. Let him produce the letters, produce the replies to them, and enable Messrs Newnes to trace his life from the day he landed in England to the day on which he first appeared in Sydney." . THE BUBBLE BURSTS. This (Friday) morning the bubble .seems to have finally burst, as the ' Chronicle ' publishes damning cables from the editor of the Sydney ' Telegraph.' " We quoted some days ago a cablegram from Sydney stating that the 'Daily Telegraph,' a well-known and responsible paper, had been publishing a series of articles stating that De Rougemont was not De Rougemont at all, but a- certain Henri Grien ; that he lived in that city many years, and that he had left a wife and family there. We decided to send the. following telegram to the editor of the Sydney ' Telegraph ' : — '"' Kindly wire how long Grien lived Sydney, and age eldest child." The editor of the Sydney 'Telegraph' courteously cabled in reply : — " Seventeen years. Frequently away. Eldest child fourteen." Seventeen years in Sydney, with intervals for disappearances. This of course takes fourteen years out of the "thirty years" spent among savages. (See 'Wide World Magazine ' and lecture before the British Association). In a word, it renders the whole story impossible. We shall in a future issue lift the veil from this historic imposture some way further, and tell a story of singularly romantic interest." There is also an interview with Mr Wm. May of diving renown, who gives particulars of Mr Grien 's firm " McQuillan and Green," and describes the fatal consequences of testing Grien's apparatus in Sydney Harbor.