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R. N. F. The Great Chevalier D’industrie Of Our Day
by [?]

I was struck the other day by an account of an application made to the Lord Mayor of London by a country clergyman, to give, as a warning to others, publicity to a letter he had just received from the East. The clergyman, it seems, had advertised in the ‘Times’ for pupils, and gave for address a certain letter of the Greek alphabet. To this address there came in due time an answer from a gentleman, dated Constantinople, stating that he was an Anglo-Indian on his way to England, to place his two sons in an educational establishment; but that having, by an excursion to Jerusalem, exhausted his immediate resources, he was obliged to defer the prosecution of his journey till the arrival of some funds he expected from India–certain to arrive in a month or two. Not wishing, however, to delay the execution of his project, and being satisfied with the promises held forth by the advertiser, he purposed placing his sons under his care, and to do so, desired that forty pounds might be remitted him at once, to pay his journey to England, for which convenience he, the writer, would not alone be obliged, but also extend his patronage to the lender, by recommending him to his friend Sir Hugh Rose, who was himself desirous of sending his sons to be educated in England. The address of a banker was given to whom the money should be remitted, and an immediate reply requested, or “application should be made in some other quarter.”

Now, the clergyman did not answer this strange appeal, but he inserted another advertisement, changing, however, the symbol by which he was to be addressed, and appearing in this way to be a different person. To this new address there came another letter, perfectly identical in style and matter: the only change was, that the writer was now at the Hotel de la Reine d’Angleterre at Buda; but all the former pledges of future protection were renewed, as well as the request for a prompt reply, or “application will be made in another quarter.”

The clergyman very properly laid the matter before the Lord Mayor, who, with equal propriety, stamped the attempt as the device of a swindler, against which publicity in the newspapers was the best precaution. The strangest thing of all, however, was, that nobody appeared to know the offender; nor was there in the ‘Times,’ or in the other newspapers where the circumstances were detailed, one single surmise as to the identity of this ingenious individual. It is the more singular, since this man is a specialty–an actual personification of some of the very subtlest rogueries of the age we live in!

If any of my readers can recall a very remarkable exposure the ‘Times’ newspaper made some ten or twelve years ago, of a most shameful fraud practised upon governesses, by which they were induced to deposit a sum equivalent to their travelling expenses from England to some town on the Continent, as a guarantee to the employer, they will have discovered the gentleman with the two sons to be educated–the traveller in Syria, the friend of Sir Hugh Rose, the Anglo-Indian who expects eight hundred pounds in two months, but has a present and pressing necessity for forty.

The governess fraud was ingenious. It was done in this way: An advertisement appeared in the ‘Times,’ setting forth that an English gentleman, travelling with his family abroad, wanted a governess–the conditions liberal, the requirements of a high order. The family in question, who mixed with the very best society on the Continent, required that the governess should be a lady of accomplished manners, and one in every respect qualified for that world of fashion to which she would be introduced as a member of the advertiser’s family. The advertiser, however, found that all the English ladies who had hitherto filled this situation in his family had, through the facilities thus presented them of entrance into life, made very advantageous marriages; and to protect himself against the loss entailed by the frequent call on him for travelling expenses–bringing out new candidates for the hands of princes and grand-dukes–he proposed that the accepted governess should deposit with him a sum–say fifty pounds–equivalent to the charge of the journey; and which, if she married, should be confiscated to the benefit of her employer.