Abbildungen der Seite

fulness. They resolved, therefore, that on the morning of the thirtieth of April, they would attempt an escape. Mrs. Dustan a little before day, when the savages, worn down by previous toil, were asleep, awoke her nurse, and fellow-prisoner. It was a moment of fear and trembling. Home and its joys were present to her view. The savage, who had murdered her child, was before her, and the scalps of her slaughtered relatives were scattered around the cabin. Seizing each a tomahawk, and calling the God of mercy to their aid, ten of the twelve Indians lay dead at their feet. A squaw was wounded, though not mortally, and a child was spared by design. Taking the gun, the tomahawk, and the scalp of him who had murdered her babe, and a bag of other scalps, as trophies, they departed for home. Following the running brook, as their guide, they soon reached the Merrimack, and finding there a bark canoe, they descended the river, and were received by their friends at Haverhill with transports of joy.—DR. DWIGHT.

Such, in part, were the sorrows of that generation. Cruelty became an art, and honor the reward of those who practiced new tortures. To use the language of a faithful chronicler, “ Neither the milk-white brows of the ancient, nor the mournful cries of the infant," were any protection. The history of the war during that period, is but a catalogue of misery. The brave and patriotic Schuyler, of Albany, in writing to the Marquis de Vau. drieul, governor of Canada, says: “My heart swells with indignation when I think that a war between Christian princes, bound to the exactest laws of honor which their noble ancestors have illustrated by brilliant examples, is degenerating into a savage and boundless butchery. These are not the methods for terminating the war. Would that all the world thought with me on the subject.”

The English or American colonists fought like brave men, contending for their families and their homes ; but when they penetrated the forests in search of their roving enemies, they found nothing but solitude. The Indians vanished when their homes were invaded.



The Mississippi scheme-Illinois a part of its domain-John Law–Born at Edinburgh

in 1671—Loses all his property-Fights a duel-Convicted of murder-EscapesFlies to the Continent-Supports himself by gambling-Returns to Edinburgh in 1700-Issues proposals for a Land Bank-Rejected—Goes again to the ContinentExpelled from Venice and Genoa-Makes propositions to Louis XIV.-Offers his services to the Duke of Savoy-Becomes acquainted with the Duke of Orleans, afterward Regent of France-State of the French finances-Law proposes a remedyBank of France established in 1715, and Law appointed president-Meets with great

-Proposed his famous Mississippi scheme-Letters patent issued in 1717– Its success-Stock rises from 500 livres to 5000 per share--Chancellor of France dismissed, at Law's request—Stock increased–Fortunes made-Law promises a dividend of 40 per cent.-

:--Law's influence irresistible-Fort Chartres built in Ilinois :-Large tracts of land conceded to individuals—Still held under that title-Public frenzy continues—Impetus given to trade and manufactures-Bank stopped payment, May 27th, 1720-Law dies in poverty and disgrace-Many ruined-South Sea bub. ble in England—Illinois ceded to the crown, 1731-Fort Massac built on the Ohio English colonists remonstrate—Their remonstrances disregarded by Sir Robert Wal. pole-French encroachments continue-Fort Massac taken by the Indians, and its garrison massacred-Illinois ceded to England, 1763.

Louis XIV. having by his extravagance, and by frequent expensive and unprofitable wars, created a debt of three thousand millions of livres, and by so doing, laid a foundation broad and deep, for the wide-spread ruin that followed; died at Versailles on the 1st of September, 1715, in the seventy-eighth year of his age, and the seventy-third of his reign. He was succeeded by his grandson, Louis XV., then

child five years old, of a feeble and delicate constitution; and the Duke of Orleans, a nephew of the late king, notwithstanding his dissolute morals, and his proximity to the throne, against the will of the late monarch, became Regent of France.

The valley of the Mississippi, including Illinois, was at that time held and occupied by Crozat, under a grant made by Louis XIV. in 1712, as already stated.* The little barter between the inhabitants of Louisiana and the natives, insignificant as it was, and the petty trade between the French and the other European settlements in their vicinity, was rendered almost profitless by the fatal monopoly of the Parisian merchant. The Indians were too numerous and too powerful to be controlled by his fac. tors. The English had monopolized already a portion of the Indian trade. Every Spanish harbor on the Gulf of Mexico had been closed against his vessels, and every Frenchman in Louisiana was not only hostile to his interests, but was aiding and assisting to foment difficulties in the colony. Crozat's retrocession, therefore, of Louisiana to the crown, in 1717, was the result of necessity, as well as choice.

* See copy of the grant, page 123.

A new theatre, however, was about to open, new actors to appear, and new objects to be attained. Military glory, the pride of Louis XIV., more conspicuous during his reign than any, or perhaps every other object, was now dethroned, and the altar of Plutus erected by acclamation, amid dreams of avarice, on its ruins.

The misfortunes of La Salle, the ill success of Ibberville and Crozat, were still remembered, and the bones of deceased emigrants who had sought the Mississippi as their homes, still whitened its valley ; yet visions of untold wealth existing somewhere on its tributary waters, were again revived; and mines of silver and gold, plantations of indefinite ex. tent and surpassing beauty, towns and cities, commerce and the arts, again invoked to replenish an exhausted treasury, and preserve, if possible, a sinking empire. Hence the Mississippi scheme, above referred to.

The State of Illinois having once been a part of its domain, having also participated in its bounty, and experienced its reverses, and some portions of its territory being at present held under titles from a company, of which the celebrated John Law was the projector and finisher, a short notice of his singular career, and of the famous Mississippi scheme, which rose and fell with its author, cannot be obtrusive.

History, we are told, is the prophet of events; the present generation, therefore, may derive perhaps some profit, as well as pleasure, from its perusal ; and should we in the course of our narrative,

“Give you here a little book,

For you to look upon,
That you may see your father's face
When he is dead and gone ;"

the donation, we hope, being kindly intended, will be kindly received.

John Law, who, during his life, and for several years thereafter, strewed the paths of princes and their subjects, sometimes with flowers and sometimes with thorns; was born at Edinburgh, in Scotland, of humble but respectable parents, in 1671. His early career was one of interest-not to be imitated, but to be shunned ; and though common at the present day, much instruction, both salutary and useful, may be gathered from its recital.

At the age of fourteen he was received into his father's counting-house, in Edinburgh, as a clerk, and for about three years labored assiduously at his desk. His father's occupation was that of a goldsmith and banker. By his death, in 1688, a considerable fortune descended to this his only son, who, at the early age of seventeen, sallied forth without rudder or compass, into a wide, tumultuous, and deceitful world.

Young, vain, good looking, tolerably rich, and unrestrained, he pro. ceeded to London, where he frequented the most fashionable gaminghouses, and pursuing on all occasions a certain plan, based on abstruse calculations, he won considerable money. Gamblers envied his luck, looked on with wonder, and imitated his example.

In gallantry he was equally fortunate, and ladies of exalted rank smiled graciously upon the handsome Scotchman.

Success, however, soon paved the way for reverses, and as the love of play increased in violence, it diminished in prudence. Great losses could only be repaired by greater ventures, and notwithstanding his long expe. rience, at the close of an unlucky day, he lost everything he had. Goods, chattels, credit, money, and character, even the patrimony now his by a father's bounty.

His gallantry, at the same time, led him into serious difficulty, and a love affair, a slight flirtation with a Miss Villars, afterward the Countess of Orkney, exposed him to the resentment of a Mr. Wilson, by whom he was challenged to fight a duel. He accepted the challenge, killed his antagonist on the spot, was arrested the same day, and soon thereafter was indicted for murder, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged. This sentence was afterward commuted for a fine, upon the ground that the offence amounted only to manslaughter. An appeal was entered by a brother of the deceased, and the prisoner detained in jail, from whence, by means yet unexplained, he escaped, and fled to the Continent. The sheriffs were afterward prosecuted, Law was advertised in the Gazette, and a reward offered for his arrest. The advertisement being a caricature, in part, was published, as many supposed, to aid his escape. He was there described as Captain John Law, a Scotchman, twenty-six years old; very tall, black, and lean, well shaped, about six feet high, with large pock-holes in his face, big nose, and speaking broad and loud.

For about three years he traversed the Continent, devoting his mornings to the study of finance and the principles of trade, and his evenings to the gaming house, and returned to Edinburgh in 1700, where he issued proposals for establishing a council of trade—they excited, however, but little attention. He afterward published the project of a land-bank-a sandbank, as it was called by the wits of the day, which would wreck the vessel of state. He proposed that its notes should in no event exceed the value of the entire lands of the kingdom ; that the holder of its bills should receive legal interest upon his notes, with a right to enter upon and take possession of the lands pledged for their payment, at a certain time and upon certain conditions. This project excited for a time considerable discussion in the Scottish Parliament, had numerous friends in that body, and was ultimately rejected, on the ground that to establish any kind of paper credit and make it current by law, would subject the whole coun. try to the mercy of brokers, and was, therefore, inexpedient to the nation.

Having failed in every project he attempted in Scotland, and his efforts to procure a pardon for the murder of Wilson, having proved abortive, he

withdrew to the Continent to resume his occupation as a gambler, and to become the friend and the companion of princes. For fourteen years he roamed about Flanders, Holland, Germany, Hungary, Italy and France, supporting himself by successful play. During that period he studied the European character, became acquainted with the trade and resources of those nations through which he wandered, and was daily more and more convinced, that no country could prosper without a paper currency. At every gambling-house of note, in almost every capital in Europe, he was known and appreciated as a man better skilled in the doctrines of chance than any other. Having been expelled first from France, and afterward from Genoa, by the magistrates, who thought him a dangerous visitor, he repaired to Paris, where he became obnoxious to the police, and was ordered to quit the capital. He had made, however, the acquaintance of the gay Duke of Orleans, who promised to become his patron. Louis XIV. then occupied the throne. Law proposed his scheme of finance to the comptroller of the public funds, who was asked by the king if the projector was a Catholic, and being answered in the negative, Louis XIV. declined his services.

His scheme was next proposed to the reigning Duke of Savoy, who at once told the projector that his dominions were too limited for the execution of so great a project, and that he was too poor a potentate to be ruined. That he had no doubt, however, but the French people, if he knew anything of their character, would be delighted with a plan so new and so plausible, and advised him to go to France.

Louis XIV. being now in his grave, and an infant on the throne, the Duke of Orleans, a friend and patron of Law, assumed the reigns of government, as Regent of France, and a tide of glory at that time setting in, he mounted the topmost wave, and advanced speedily to fortune.

Louis of France, surnamed by courtiers, by flatterers, and by some historians, The Great, was, in truth, the very meanest of kings. He was scarcely entombed, before public hatred, suppressed for years, like a flaming volcano burst forth upon his memory. He was cursed as a tyrant, a bigot, and a plunderer; his statues were pelted and disfigured ; his effigies were torn down ; the glory of his arms was forgotten ; and nothing was remembered but his reverses. His extravagance was condemned, his selfishness reproved, and his cruelty and oppression were themes of every tongue. The elegance of his person, the suavity of his manner, and his patronage of learned men, were, it is true, applauded; but when accomplishments like these are the only recommendations of a prince, (and that Louis had others will not be pretended,) where, it may well be asked, are his pretensions to public gratitude, or to enduring fame? Eclipsed, however, in the career of profligacy, by his succes. sor, his name and character, from that circumstance, were saved for the time being from infamy.

After defraying the expenses of government, about nine millions of livres were all that remained to pay the interest of a debt, originally three

« ZurückWeiter »