A French Volunteer of the War of Independence/Chapter 5
I, and my friend the Chevalier de Capellis at once started for Paris.
We went together to Versailles to see Marshal de Castries, who was then Minister of the Navy; he cross-questioned me closely upon the glorious battle of York Town, an event which has become famous. I noticed that, as we were retiring, the Minister took my friend Capellis on one side, and I heard the marshal tell him, for I listened, to come on a certain day at a certain hour, when he would hear some news that would please him. I was not interested, for the affair seemed no business of mine, but two days later, Capellis came and told me that the marshal intended to send a small expedition to seize the English factories at Senegal, which, he heard, were but poorly defended, and could easily be taken by 150 men: Capellis was appointed to the chief command of the expedition, which was to consist of a frigate and a corvette. He had asked and obtained for me the command of the small body of soldiers which was to take part in this bold adventure.
The expectation of figuring as a conqueror greatly delighted me. It was not much of an affair, I confess, but everything must have a beginning. The expedition occupied all my thoughts. I already pic tured to myself the Marabouts, the local clergy, paying their homage to the conquerors; I shook hands with the King of Dahomey, and replaced Robert D—— in the affections of the little Queen of Cayor—to say nothing of the elephants' teeth and gold which I was sure to find in the English factories when I had taken them.
Whilst I was building these fine castles in the air I wrote off to my father, not doubting for an instant but that he would share the pleasure, I felt at the prospect. I told him I was the happiest man alive, for that I was about to proceed shortly on an expedition in which I should have an opportunity of distinguishing myself and gaining both "glory and profit." My father,—an old man with very positive ideas on certain subjects, and high-minded and chivalric,—was not impressed by the two words "glory" and "profit." He looked at the matter in a different light, and,—to my great surprise, I confess,—wrote me, by return of post, a short, sharp note, in which he said that as soon as he had finished reading my letter he had put it in the fire, in order to destroy all record of sentiments which did me but little honour. The words "glory" and "profit," he added, should never come together, either in the mouth or under the pen of a French officer, and he begged that I would never write him anything of the same kind again. This paternal rebuke, which was not undeserved, was all that I ever got out of the proposed expedition, which came to nothing.
As I had leave of absence, and was not obliged to rejoin my regiment then in garrison at Auch, I went to Auvergne and visited my father, who, now that he had given me a bit of his mind, was no longer angry with me. Finding myself, after an interval of three years, within a hundred miles of my former political residence, the castle of Pierre-en-Cize, of which I was no longer in fear, I one day proposed to our worthy neighbour M. d'Al——, whose friendship had been so useful to me, that we should take a ride over to Lyon. I wanted him to see with his own eyes the scene of the events I had narrated to him, that he might not believe my account on hearsay only.
We arrived at Lyon. It is customary on visiting the castle to give at the gate your name and that of the hotel at which you are staying. The corporal who came out to question us, looked at me, and recogniised me, although I was enveloped in the long cloak of the dragoon uniform.
"Oh, sir," he said laughingly, "there is no need to ask your name; we are not likely to forget it."
The corporal had belonged to the guard on the day when I had my fight with it. He eagerly asked us where we were lodging, and an hour after our arrival we received from M. de Bellecize, the governor of the castle, a pressing invitation to dine with him on the following day.
We accepted, and were warmly welcomed. It was not surprising that in the short interval of three years few changes should have taken place in a stationary garrison like that of Pierre-en-Cize, and that there should still be many amongst them who, like the worthy corporal, had seen me and known me. During dessert, a deputation came from the soldiers to welcome me, and to recite some verses, which they had made up amongst themselves, in my honour. The intention was good, and I took it as such and duly rewarded it, and the honest fellows were as pleased with my gold as I was with their verses.
After dinner, M. de Bellecize ordered the gaoler to show us the room I had occupied, but strictly advised him not to allow a prisoner named De Livry to see me. My name was never out of the head of this unfortunate young man. He was always talking about my exploit, and had made several attempts to escape, and complained bitterly to heaven that one man should always fail where another had succeeded. The governor thought it likely that the prisoner might go out of his mind if he saw the person about whom he talked so much, so we did not meet.On 20th January, 1783, England, by a solemn treaty of peace, recognized, in clear and precise terms, the Independence of the United States.
One of the first acts of the young Republic was to found the Order of Cincinnatus, and make it hereditary. It had a sky blue watered ribbon with a white border, below which was an eagle with outstretched wings in enamelled gold. We in France, did not know what was going on beyond the seas, when suddenly the Marquis de la Fayette was surprised to receive a packet of a dozen eagles to be distributed between him and his companions in arms. I was one of the twelve honoured by this mark of distinction. I have heard that Comte de Rochambeau received thirty-six eagles of Cincinnatus for himself and the principal officers of his forces.
Claims and pretended claims to this honour came from all quarters, indeed there has been quite a mania, in France, for orders, ever since the days of Louis XIV. The French navy also asked, and with just cause, for some of these orders, and I would not swear that, within a year, Beaumarchais himself had not received it;—the slightest connection with America was considered sufficient basis for a claim to this honour. I felt great pleasure in being one of the first to receive the Order of Cincinnatus.
I sincerely believed that that would be all the reward we should receive for our campaign in the New World. I can truly declare that I had never even jotted down the amount of my pay as an officer in the service of Congress. I was wrong in my belief, however, and found out afterwards that I had lost nothing by fighting for honest people.
After several years of an active life a state of peace seemed very irksome to me. I went from Paris to my regiment, and from my regiment to Paris. I thought of resuming the study of mathematics, and found a professor. I shall always remember with pleasure the quiet and modest M. Pinel who taught me mathematics. He had hung up his doctor's hat, and never carried a gold-headed cane when he came to give me my lessons. I was surprised to learn some years afterwards that the cele brated Dr. Pinel and my former professor of mathematics were one and the same person.
Not wishing to make my living by it, I would not study mathematics all my life, and the days were long, especially to one who had vowed, as I have already said, not to gamble. I therefore resolved to learn the violin, and in my case, tastes soon become passions, and the dominant one for the time being drives out all the others. After glory had come mathematics, and after mathematics came the violin. I devoted myself entirely to the instrument, with an ardour which now I find it difficult to understand, and took lessons from all the great professors of the day. I was the pupil of Capron, Jarnowiek, Traversa, and Viotti. I could perform the most difficult concertos, but I question if I could have played a jig or a country dance with half the dash and spirit shown by many a village carpenter.
Thus did I pass my winters at Paris at the house of my respected uncle, President de Salaberry, dividing my time between arts and social intercourse. The six remaining months I spent in garrison, going from the stables to parade, and from parade to the exercise ground. The silken thread of my life was smooth and even, but I felt a longing for adventures, and at one time I really believed there was a chance of my getting some fighting in India.
One of the missionary priests brought to Paris a youth whom he called the pretender to the throne of Cochin-China. This young Tonkinese prince—whose legitimate claim to the throne I never for an instant doubted—had in his suite several mandarins, who were the smallest men I ever saw, and the young prince himself did not give promise of being any taller. In fact it was difficult to look at them without laughing. The report given by the reverend father, and our commercial interests, half induced the Government to help the little prince to regain his throne, all the force that he required to effect this being a couple of frigates, and some 500 soldiers. I was told that Comte de Behague, who commanded at Belle-Isle would be the head of the expedition. I knew him very well, and I hastened to beg him to solicit the Minister to give me a command under the Comte in this expedition. I was in error, there had never been any question of employing Comte de Behague, and I do not know to whom the command was eventually given.
It was a pleasant dream the more; but at all events I had the advantage of seeing the royal present which the little prince had bestowed,—I do not know why,—on the Comtesse la Marck. She was then living in the Tuileries, in the rooms now occupied by the Dauphiness. I saw on thechimney-piece a pair of stag's horns,—a singular present about which a good many sarcastic remarks were made. For my own part, I was more struck by the beauty of the Cochin-Chinese stags than I was by the importance of a kingdom, the sovereign of which could be driven from his throne by five hundred men and a couple of frigates, but, between ourselves, I never said this until after I knew that I should not belong to the expedition.
This dislike to repose, and uneasy longing for war, or rather this undefined need of activity and love of change is characteristic of the French, and I was not the only person to suffer from it. It was a fever which affected, in one way or other, all ranks of society, at this epoch.
Louvois, it is said, declared war against the Palatinate because he had contradicted his master on a question concerning one of the windows at Trianon, when the King was right, and he was wrong. Ever since the American war, the heads of all the youths of the court and the city had been in a state of ferment. Imitation was all the rage, and the English and Americans,—the two most thoughtful, practical, and solid nations in the world,—were held up as models to be imitated by the most witty and frivolous people. To this strange infatuation was joined also that discontented grumbling spirit peculiar to the French. The government should have provided the people with some object,—no matter what it was,—to distract their attention. Were not duels fought about the relative merits of Gluck and Piccini, for want of other motives? A pretext should have been found to take up the quarrel of the Stadtholder and Holland, and defend the United Provinces against Prussia. A war with Prussia would have suited the belligerent instincts of our impulsive and over numerous youths, and would have served to retard the advent of that terrible drama called the French Revolution by at least ten years. More than this even should have been done, and when England was in a dangerous situation owing to her struggle with her revolted colonies, France should have acted as mediator, and not as an auxiliary to the other side. We should have recovered Canada, Spain, and Gibraltar; nor would there have been much difficulty (in mediating), for in the Congress of the thirteen States, six members, including Washington himself, voted against a rupture with the mother country;—but it was decreed on high that it was not to be so.
I am sure that about this time,—either in 1785, or 1786—I forget which year and month,—I read in the Mercure the following prophecy.
Inscription found at Liska, in Hungary, on the tomb of Regio Montanus.
Post mille expletos à partu Virginis annos
Et septigenos rursùs abindè datos,
Octogesimus octavus mirabilis annus
Ingruet et secum tristia fata feret.
Si non hoc anno totus ntalus oecidet orbis,
Si non in nihilum terra fretumque ruent,
Cuncta tamen mundi rursum ibant atque deorsum
Imperia et luctus undique grandis erit.
I am aware that Regio Montanus, or Muller died at Rome in 1476, and was buried in the Pantheon. He was not, I believe, a prophet any more than Nos tradamus was, but, whether there is an error in the place of his burial, or whether the verses are falsely ascribed to him, is beside the question. I saw them and read them in the Mercure, in 1785, 86, or 87, and in 1788 the political atmosphere of France and all Europe was disturbed by violent storms, and the verses were reprinted in all the French and foreign papers. I make no remarks thereon, but content myself with noting the coincidence. To the year 1788 succeeded 1789, when the Revolution burst forth,—a calamity of which no one calculated the extent, and for the results of which we have had to pay dearly.
Amongst the enthusiasts were those infatuated with the novel ideas they had imbibed in the classic ground of America, and joined to them were the young lords of the Court who were associated with some literary men, and thought themselves very clever because they frequented the society of the witty and impertinent Champfort. He laughed at them, and with good reason. He it was who once, on a yacht on the Moerdick, impudently said to the Comte de Narbonne and the Comte de Choiseul, "My dear friends, do you know of anything in the world more idiotic than a French gentleman!"
To these were joined the disciples of that school, the head-quarters of which were the Hotel de la Rochefoucauld, in the Rue de Seine, presided over by Madame d'E——, the members of which comprised philosophers, philanthropists, economists,—all the grumblers; the Vicomte de B——, who wa& nothing at all, except a good dancer; and Le C——, a little monkey of an Abbe, crooked as Scarron, but remarkable for turbulent oratory. The Queen sarcastically called him General Jocko. There was also Heraut-de-Sechelles, a social favourite, who could have attained the highest posts in the magistracy without the trouble of saying or doing anything, for he enjoyed the interest and good-will of everybody, and had some wit, and, it was said, talent. He was related to Madame de Polignac, and openly protected by the Queen of France. So much for the city.
As to the court, it may well be asked what spirit of insanity had seized all the admirers and votaries of constitutional system and revolutionary ideas, and in fact all these reformers à talons rouges to make them so desirous of a new order of things, and so hungry for any change from the existing order of affairs. Some of them were led astray by a false ambition, and each thought himself, no doubt, called upon to play the part of a second Washington. Such, I imagine, was the case of the two L——'s, the nephews of the Marechal de R——, both of them in favour with the Queen, who had bestowed upon each a regiment. These Court revolutionists, anxious to ingratiate themselves with the mob, displayed the blackest ingratitude, and their mountebank endeavours to obtain popularity and pose as philanthropists, made them resemble the dog who dropped the meat for the shadow.
Some of them were credulous enough to imagine that if a Revolution did come, it could be stopped at exactly the right point to suit their personal interests.
The Due d'Orléans and his friends thought that the Revolution would turn out to their advantage by causing a change in the dynasty, but they could not foresee that, if the King came to the scaffold, they also would go there, either before him, with him, or after him.
The Parliaments thought themselves sure of the good opinion of the people because they had refused to support the stamp act and the land tax, and because they had demanded " States General."
The moneyed classes of Paris were in favour of the Revolution ever since M. Vernier had told them that the Nation would take the public debt under its special care;—they were painfully undeceived when the same man said two years later that he would make two-thirds of them bankrupt.
The only persons who were not under a delusion were those who having nothing to lose had everything to gain, and the majority of them were but raised to be dashed down again.
Whatever anyone was bold enough to do he could do with impunity, as far as the monarchy was concerned. Louis XVI, the best natured and most honest man in his kingdom, said to his reader, M. de Septchenes, who had been reading to him the history of the English Revolution in 1641, "If I had been in the place of Charles I, I would never have drawn my sword against my people."That excellent prince should never have said that or even thought it. On 23rd June, 1789, the King, addressing the States General, said, "Gentlemen, I command you to adjourn at once." The King left, and President Bailly remained. Mirabeau replied to M. de Breze, who had repeated the King's order, "Go and tell your Master that we are here by the will of the people, and will not depart till we are driven out by bayonets." From that moment the Revolution was proclaimed.
All the events, crimes, misfortunes, and excesses which rapidly followed were but the inevitable consequences of these first acts, and therefore I will not dwell here upon the 14th July, and all the awful scenes of that terrible day.
Animtis meminisse horret luctuque refugit.
The establishment of the National Guard at Paris to keep the insurrection within bounds, was deemed a sacred duty, but by that very act the Royal power was suspended, and, from that day, France had twelve hundred legislators, of whom the Empress Catharine II said, that "No one would obey them, except the King." It was not the King, it was not the so-called National Assembly, it was the people, who, on 16th July, appointed M. Bailly Mayor of Paris, and M. de la Fayette, Commander of the National Guard.
The same day,—16th July,—the Comte d'Artois, the House of Conde, and Prince de Conti, left France, and the emigration commenced.
M. de la Fayette was then Commander of the Paris Militia, and the General Fairfax of the French Revolution. Many proposals were made to me to join my old comrades in arms, and serve under the orders of this general. My attachment to him was not so great that I felt forced to follow him in any path which it seemed right to him to take, and I refused. It has been wisely said that, in a time of revolution, to do your duty is not so difficult as to know your duty. I knew mine, and I did it; I should have acted the same could I have foreseen future events. The worst of all positions is to be between the hammer and the anvil, which in France, at that time, meant to be between the Revolution and the Monarchy. A choice had to be made. It appeared to me that I could best assist the cause of the Monarchy by emigrating; to many other people,—and I do not blame them,—it appeared that it could best be helped by their staying in France; some of them, indeed, could not do otherwise. I will not discuss the matter; thousands of pages might be written and the question still remain unsolved, or further than ever from a solution. I wish to narrate here only personal events and circumstances—memories teeming with observations that may be useful to others beside myself.
My brother and I emigrated, being both persuaded,—as were all the emigres who formed the Prince's army—that we might inscribe on our banners, "Veni, vidi, vici," and we entered Champagne in 1792 with the King of Prussia.
Verdun was captured 3rd September, and the next day the army could and should have arrived at Chalons, which is only thirty leagues from Paris, where King Louis XVI and his family were then prisoners in the Temple. The French army, inferior to us in numbers, covered an immensely long line, and would not have been able to stop the eighty thousand men commanded by the Duke of Brunswick, from reaching Paris. But not a day should have been lost, and we lost whole weeks.
The war of 1792 was but a war of Cabinet intrigues, fallacious negotiations, false calculations, in which each of the powers was misled, and the cause of the French Princes, the Bourbon Monarchy, and the unfortunate Louis XVI and his family counted for nothing. The Revolutionists alone were the only persons not deceived and misled, and they won the campaign without having to fight.
In this famous campaign of 1792, commanded by the first General in Europe, the celebrated Crown Prince, having under his orders 60,000 Prussians with the King of Prussia, and 20,000 Frenchmen with the King's brothers, both armies might have said that they never saw the enemy. A few skirmishes with outposts or with the advance guard were dignified by the Revolutionists into battles and victories. They were right, for these skirmishes were the only visible result of the war, and in fact all this invincible armament accomplished was the capture of Verdun. The magistrates presented Frederick with the keys of the town, and some confectioners' girls brought some anisette,—an attention for which they paid dearly, for the ferocious Jacobins afterwards sent these unoffending persons to the scaffold. The Duke of Brunswick capitulated, retired, and repassed the frontier, to the indignation of the French princes and the 20,000 armed men who had followed them; to the disgust of all true soldiers,—men like General Clairfait;—and to the astonishment of all France and the Jacobins themselves, for the mob will never learn this eternal truth, that great events spring from the most trivial causes, and even from the lowest and most absurd motives.Proh! pudor! A retreat was ordered in accordance with the capitulations, but the French hussars plundered the baggage of our rear guard. A dull grey sky, continual rain, mud in which horses sank to their bellies, and wagon wheels to the hub, were the sinister omens which accompanied our retrograde march. Add to these also the complaints and consternation of the inhabitants, who had indiscreetly welcomed us on our triumphant entrance, and who now feared to remain exposed to the vengeance of the bloodthirsty ruffians whose fury would know no bounds.
Entire families of Alsatians followed the army in its retreat. Many indeed still remained under the yoke, and after the fatal day which ended the campaign of 1792 by a shameful and inexplicable retreat, it is difficult to say which were the more unfortunate, those French people who left their country or those who remained there. In France nearly every family was devastated by death, which fell upon people of every rank and every age.
From the 10th August, 1792, until 9th Thermidor, 1794, no citizen, though he belonged to the temporarily dominant faction, was sure that he would sleep another night in his bed, and that he would not be led to the prison and the scaffold.
Outside France, after the retreat from Champagne, all the French emigres and their families may be said, generally speaking, to have made shipwreck of their hopes and prospects. Happy were they who found a place of refuge, and a stone on which they could lay their head. Europe did not suffice to accommodate these restless wanderers, as I discovered for myself when my good fortune caused me again to cross the ocean and revisit North America ten years later. That visit was not the least curious of my experiences, but I must not anticipate events.
All the cleverest, coolest, and most thoughtful men in the army which entered France, had calculated that the campaign would be over in a fortnight. Many peasants had emigrated with the gentlemen of their province, or the officers of their regiment. With the exception of the engineers, every branch of the services was well represented, for a great part of the artillery, nearly the whole of the naval, and a large majority of the infantry and cavalry officers, had responded to the appeal of the King's brothers, the Prince de Conde, and Marshals de Broglie and de Castries.
The retreat, which almost resembled a rout, had undeceived even the most confident of us. In France, all emigres were proscribed under pain of death, so everyone who had a family to protect or support sought for a haven of safety and rest. My brother and I reached Switzerland, and Stayed, in turn, on the shores of the Lake of Geneva, at Lausanne, and in the Canton of Vaud.
My brother, who was by nature the most calm, thoughtful and least adventurous man in the world, had so completely shared in the general error as to the certainty of our success, that he had contributed all his available cash, amounting perhaps to 40,000 francs, to the fund, raised at Coblentz by the gentlemen of our province, for the support of the army. He entered on the campaign with fifty pieces of gold in his pocket, and a horse worth eighty louis under him. When we arrived at Basle, we found ourselves in poverty. We had no servant, and carried what property we had about us; we could have appropriately quoted the saying of Bias; so my brother was obliged to sell his horse in order to save its keep, and the Bucepha lus of eighty louis was sold for twenty-five. I should not have noted this incident but for a curious remark that it recalls to my recollection. A long time afterwards my brother was recounting his adventures to some of his Swiss friends, who were listening with interest and attention to the recital of his political and pecuniary difficulties. When he mentioned the sale of a valuable horse at such a low price, a worthy Swiss, thinking only of himself, said with native simplicity, "You should have kept that bargain for me." He was a good honest fellow, for if he had not been, he would not have been capable of making such a very naive remark.
The Revolutionary storm had extended over all France, and covered the entire horizon, but we believed that it was but a storm, and we must put up with what we could not prevent, and whilst the evil days endured, the best thing to be done was to find a shelter for myself and family in some hospitable land.
We did not foresee, or consequently fear, that the Revolutionary party would confiscate and sell the property of all absentees, without distinction of rank, age, or sex. This compelled my sister-in-law and her two sons to join us. She left the Chateau of Pontgibaud, in which she had resided since the rather recent death of our father. He died some months before the Revolution broke out, and was, at least, spared the pain of seeing it. My sister-in-law had left all her furniture in the manor-house, and the keys, so to speak, in the doors, for she thought she was only going to be absent a short time. The utmost that she expected was that the estates would be sequestrated for a short period. She brought with her therefore as little baggage as possible, in order to experience the less difficulty in passing the frontier, but fortunately brought her jewel-case, which in this hour of misfortune, became the means of saving us all.
The family consisted of my brother, his wife, their two sons,—the one a youth, the other a young child,—a lady's maid who had insisted on following her mistress, and a musician, named Monsieur Leriche, a man whose talents were only surpassed by his good qualities.
A consultation was held as to the best means of gaining a livelihood, and the plan agreed upon was strictly followed. Adversity is the touchstone of resolute minds, and men of resolution rarely fail to win in the long run. My brother and his wife afford an instructive and encouraging example of what can be done by a father and a mother having united aims, and trust in God and in their own efforts. To vanquish evil fortune, they called in the aid of resignation, courage, employment, and perseverance, and joined to those qualities, fore-sight, economy, and natural, or acquired, aptitude.
It is with admiration mingled with respect that I think of their continual labour day and night, and its gradually widening results, and that I remember the more or less fortunate attempts, which marked the reconstruction of my brother's fortune. Though he had possessed rich estates, and houses in Paris, he had lost all, and his total resources, in a strange country, did not amount to more than ten thousand francs.
But he and his wife had the patience and perseverance of beavers, which when their huts have been carried away by a flood, immediately set to work to reconstruct them. They began to work for their own living, and that of their family. My brother, who when he was rich had cultivated for his own pleasure his taste for the arts and sciences, now utilized his acquirements as adjuncts to the business he was trying to found. Drawing, mechanics, chemistry, agriculture, mineralogy, and mathematics,—he had studied all; and he found or made opportunities to employ all his knowledge.
I cannot, without emotion, and without feeling faith in that Providence which has said, "Aid yourself and I will aid you," think of this tiny rill of water which became a rolling river of Pactolus, these small efforts which in ten years developed into a thriving industry. To the praise of human nature let it be said, that from the very beginning of his industrial and commercial scheme, his courage, perseverance, imperturbable coolness, honesty, exactitude in fulfilling all his engagements, and his constant schemes, as prudent as they were ingenious, met with that support and good-will which a man who possesses these qualities will always obtain.
My sister-in-law, though but just before she had been accustomed to all the enjoyments and luxuries of life, or rather to the honourable use of wealth, became in twenty-four hours a housekeeper, and worked with her own hands. She could embroider, and her faithful maid was also of use to her in this work. Her husband had become an artist, and invented designs in embroidery which he sold for a crown each, or sometimes the women worked them. When he had again become a millionaire, I have heard my brother,—who was as quiet and unassuming in his manners in his prosperity as he had been in adversity,—when he went, as he often did, to see Comte de C——, who comes from our province, and is our friend and neighbour, always ask to see N——, the Comte's old valet. N—— had formerly been a small tradesman at Lausanne, and had ordered patterns from my brother and paid him a crown each for them, to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. Such is the way of the world. Whilst the women and my brother worked, our fellow boarder, M. Leriche, the musician, would give concerts in the different towns in Switzerland, and bring back the pecuniary results of his tour,—the harmonious sounds of his Stradivarius converted by our Amphion into ducats,—as his contribution to the common fund. He insisted upon paying all the school expenses of my young nephew.
"Did you not give me a pension. Monsieur le Comte, when you were rich?" said the kind-hearted, honest musician when he first joined our little household. "It is bad enough that you have lost your fortune, there is no need you should lose your friend as well. As for the pension, let it go: you can renew it some day, when we have returned to France." My other nephew, being older, was serving in Conde's army. At any rate the manufacture prospered, being further helped by some new work-men, also emigres, being some of the officers of the regiment my brother had commanded, and whom he had sent for and informed that he could find them means to live honourably by the work of their own hands. The calamities and excesses at Lyon brought to L—— a number of merchants, who had managed to save between them a large quantity of merchandise, and, before long, my brother enjoyed their good opinion and confidence.
It was proposed to him he should visit the great fairs of Leipzig and Frankfort, and sell goods on commission. Being quick and clever, as well as scrupulously honest, he was fortunate in all his transactions in every journey. He obtained credit, by the aid of which he was able to do business for himself. He sent embroidery even into Italy, and also took the productions of his own workshops to Frankfort and Leipzig. He even did some business in diamonds, having acquired in earlier days some knowledge of precious stones. Thus he reaped where he had sown, and was able to turn to advantage the varied knowledge he had gained in his youth.
I heard one day that the Americans, who were increasing in prosperity year by year, were now in a condition to pay their back debts, and had decided that all officers who had fought in the War of Independence should upon presentation receive all their pay with interest to date. To me this was a real peculium adventilium, for I had long since given up all hopes of ever seeing any of that money. I was glad to learn that there was a sum at my disposal, and without loss of time started for Hamburg to embark on the first vessel ready to sail for North America.
I found an American three-master of good appearance, for they had, and justly, the reputation of being very good ship builders, but, as there was not at that time any Admiralty supervision in the United States, many vessels were lost at sea through the rashness or carelessness of the sailors. I was mistaken; the ship had been newly painted, and the paint hid the faults, but the first rough weather we experienced showed me that she was worthless. I made a remark to this effect to the captain, and was not much reassured to find he agreed with me. He coolly remarked that he thought she would manage to reach the other side, but in any case it would be her last voyage. Nevertheless we entered the Delaware without meeting with any accident, and the tide being in our favour, I landed at Philadelphia.
- See Note J.
- See Note K.
- A thousand years after the birth of our Lord, and seven hundred years more, the eighty-eighth, a memorable year, will come, and bring sad events. If this year the wicked world is not destroyed,—if the sea and the land are not brought to nothing,—all thrones will be again overturned, and universal mourning shall prevail.
- See Note L.
- The courtiers. It was a mark of nobility to wear shoes with red heels, ed.
- One of the "seven sages" of Greece. When his native town was taken by an enemy, the inhabitants saved all they could, and advised Bias, who bore no burden, to follow their example. "I am doing so," said he, "for I carry all my valuables with me."