El Dorado

Baroness Emmuska Orczy
by Baroness Orczy

There has of late years crept so much confusion into the mind of the
student as well as of the general reader as to the identity of the Scarlet
Pimpernel with that of the Gascon Royalist plotter known to history as
the Baron de Batz, that the time seems opportune for setting all doubts
on that subject at rest.
The identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel is in no way whatever connected
with that of the Baron de Batz, and even superficial reflection will soon
bring the mind to the conclusion that great fundamental differences
existed in these two men, in their personality, in their character, and,
above all, in their aims.
According to one or two enthusiastic historians, the Baron de Batz was
the chief agent in a vast network of conspiracy, entirely supported by
foreign money--both English and Austrian--and which had for its
object the overthrow of the Republican Government and the restoration
of the monarchy in France.
In order to attain this political goal, it is averred that he set himself the
task of pitting the members of the revolutionary Government one
against the other, and bringing hatred and dissensions amongst them,
until the cry of "Traitor!" resounded from one end of the Assembly of
the Convention to the other, and the Assembly itself became as one
vast den of wild beasts wherein wolves and hyenas devoured one
another and, still unsatiated, licked their streaming jaws hungering for
more prey.

Those same enthusiastic historians, who have a firm belief in the
so-called "Foreign Conspiracy," ascribe every important event of the
Great Revolution--be that event the downfall of the Girondins, the
escape of the Dauphin from the Temple, or the death of Robespierre--to
the intrigues of Baron de Batz. He it was, so they say, who egged the
Jacobins on against the Mountain, Robespierre against Danton, Hebert
against Robespierre. He it was who instigated the massacres of
September, the atrocities of Nantes, the horrors of Thermidor, the
sacrileges, the noyades: all with the view of causing every section of
the National Assembly to vie with the other in excesses and in cruelty,
until the makers of the Revolution, satiated with their own lust, turned
on one another, and Sardanapalus-like buried themselves and their
orgies in the vast hecatomb of a self-consumed anarchy.
Whether the power thus ascribed to Baron de Batz by his historians is
real or imaginary it is not the purpose of this preface to investigate. Its
sole object is to point out the difference between the career of this
plotter and that of the Scarlet Pimpernel.
The Baron de Batz himself was an adventurer without substance, save
that which he derived from abroad. He was one of those men who have
nothing to lose and everything to gain by throwing themselves
headlong in the seething cauldron of internal politics.
Though he made several attempts at rescuing King Louis first, and then
the Queen and Royal Family from prison and from death, he never
succeeded, as we know, in any of these undertakings, and he never
once so much as attempted the rescue of other equally innocent, if not
quite so distinguished, victims of the most bloodthirsty revolution that
has ever shaken the foundations of the civilised world.
Nay more; when on the 29th Prairial those unfortunate men and women
were condemned and executed for alleged complicity in the so-called "
Foreign Conspiracy," de Batz, who is universally admitted to have been
the head and prime-mover of that conspiracy --if, indeed, conspiracy
there was--never made either the slightest attempt to rescue his
confederates from the guillotine, or at least the offer to perish by their
side if he could not succeed in saving them.

And when we remember that the martyrs of the 29th Prairial included
women like Grandmaison, the devoted friend of de Batz, the beautiful
Emilie de St. Amaranthe, little Cecile Renault--a mere child not sixteen
years of age--also men like Michonis and Roussell, faithful servants of
de Batz, the Baron de Lezardiere, and the Comte de St. Maurice, his
friends, we no longer can have the slightest doubt that the Gascon
plotter and the English gentleman are indeed two very different
The latter's aims were absolutely non-political. He never intrigued for
the restoration of the monarchy, or even for the overthrow of that
Republic which lie loathed.
His only concern was the rescue of the innocent, the stretching out of a
saving hand to those unfortunate creatures who had fallen into the nets
spread out for them by their fellow-men; by those who--godless,
lawless, penniless themselves--had sworn to exterminate all those who
clung to their belongings, to their religion, and to their beliefs.
The Scarlet Pimpernel did not take it upon himself to punish the guilty;
his care
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 154
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.