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further of this incident is related in the follow. America, and which the minister had referred ing letters from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to M. de Chaumont for a report. This was the to M. de Chaumont:
first project for a transatlantic line of packets VERSAILLES, 18 December, 1777.
of which there is any record. M. de Chaumont I thank you, sir, for communicating to me this letter discouraged the scheme, because at that time of M. B. Mayne, and can assure you that your confi- it was necessary to have fast sailers and armed dence shall not compromise your friend. M. de Sar: for the proposed service, and he thought the to you. One might treat them as the scheme of a loyal Government could perform the service with subject rather than as emanating from the ministry. its own ships better and with less expense. Now, however, when circumstances extremely critical
In consequence of the confusion in the dispel illusions, it is highly probable that this second financial relations of Beaumarchais with his position I think it might be well not to decline it, but government growing out of the very mixed to explain that you had never contemplated such a character of his operations and the indefinitedistinguished róle; that you had not much heeded his ness of the line which separated private from first suggestions, which might have been dictated by public functions, French from American liabut, if he persists in regarding you as a proper instru- bilities, diplomatic from commercial services, ment for so important an enterprise, it would be nec- public beneficence from personal ambition, it essary for you to know the dispositions of those who became necessary in 1784 to appoint a comalone can dictate the conditions, in order that you mission to examine his claims against the might have a sure guide for your own language and conduct. You will know how to embroider your canvass French government. M. de Calonne, the Minso as not to bind yourself farther than you wish. I ister of Finance, selected M. de Chaumont as think also, sir, that it is proper to answer through the one of the three commissioners to whom this channel indicated by M. Fullerton. This precaution delicate duty was assigned, as we learn from may increase confidence. Possibly, too, we shall thus learn of the purposes of the British government. It a commission found among De Chaumont's intrigues in so many ways to penetrate our secrets papers. that we are excusable for trying to penetrate theirs. I It appears, however, by a subsequent letter have the honor to be perfectly, sir, your very humble from M. de Calonne, that M. de Chaumont and very obedient servant,
declined this appointment. The reasons are Another letter from the Comte de Vergennes jecture. If there is any truth in the proverb
not assigned, but they are not difficult to conto M. de Chaumont, relating also to the se- that two of a trade can never agree, it is not cret service of the Government, shows that, surprising that M. de Chaumont should have even as early as 1778, it was understood in hesitated from motives of delicacy, if from no Paris that the political sympathies of the great other, to accept the responsibility of passing Frederick were with the new republic which
upon the accounts of Beaumarchais. was germinating on this side of the Atlantic rather than with the government that was try
It is manifest, from the voluminous correing to crush it out of existence. It further spondence that has survived him, that in shows that M. de Vergennes made lighter of organizing and conducting all the maritime the commercial rivalry of Prussia than any re- port of the insurgent American colonies M.
operations of the French government in supcent foreign minister of France has done, or de Chaumont was the active and most effiany future one is likely to do.
cient agent. No vessel seems to have been I thank you for the information you give me of the equipped or commissioned for this service exPrussian officer just from America. I do not doubt cept with his knowledge and coöperation. A that he was an emissary from the king, his master, but most flattering and gratifying success rewarded prays for the independence of America. Be well as his efforts, and his influence near his governsured that all that the English gazettes publish is not ment at the close of our war was only less gospel. It would be very well to entertain this officer than that of a cabinet minister. Unfortunately with talk about the ulterior advantages to commerce for him, in helping to lay the foundations of likely to result from liberty in America. Such a competition, if established, will never be very dangerous to popular government in America he was unanyone. I have the honor to be, etc.,
consciously preparing the way for his own
DE VERGENNES. ruin. The French Revolution was among the VERSAILLES, 18 November, 1778.
first fruits of the revolution in America, and On the 11th of February, 1780, M. de Sar- made swift havoc of the fortunes of all whose tine acknowledges the receipt from M. de estates were at all dependent upon public and Chaumont of a letter dated the 26th of the even private credit ; of M. de Chaumont's preceding month, and thanks him for the de- among the rest. His troubles at home were tails and observations he had furnished in re- aggravated by troubles of a different characlation to a proposition which a M. de Mauleon ter in the United States. had made to the minister for the establishment Because of the different currencies of the sevof a line of packets between France and North eral colonies, and the depreciation of the colonial paper, the accounts of M. de Chaumont home to his father the statement of them; and I the with our Government could not be, or at least rather hope this likewise, that we may thereby be
freed from the imputation of adding ingratitude to were not, adjusted. To stimulate Congress to
injustice. a consideration of these claims, M. de Chau
FRANKLIN TO LE RAY. mont sent his son Le Ray to the United States, either with or immediately after the re
PHILADELPHIA, October 31, 1789. turn of Dr. Franklin, in 1785, to look after
DEAR FRIEND: I was too much indisposed yesterthem. Le Ray, as I shall call him by way have considered the case very attentively and will now
day to write in answer to your affecting letter, but I of distinction from his father, was then only give you the results. In the first place, what you detwenty-five years of age. He bore letters from mand of me is impracticable, the sum I have to draw Dr. Franklin, John Jay, Lafayette, Rocham- upon in France being but little more than half of what beau, Count de Montmorin, and others. He you require; and upon that small sum, though my late
extraordinary expenses have much straitened me in was specially commissioned to claim from furnishing my ordinary expenses, I dare not draw, under Congress the face of the depreciated paper the present circumstances of affairs in that country, lest money held in large quantities by French through the lowness of the funds I should lose perhaps subjects. Barbé Marbois, the French chargé case of public bankruptcy, which I find is apprehended
half my property in selling out to pay the bills, or in l'affaires, was instructed to second his efforts. by many as a possible case, my bill should be returned
The government of the Confederation, how- under a protest, which, besides the damages, would ever, was so weak, and its credit so impaired, ceived, I suffered a loss of fifteen per cent. in the sale
extremely embarrass me. By the last accounts I rethat it was finally deemed impolitic to press of my funds to produce money for the payment of a these claims, and they shared the fate of all bill for ten thousand livres which I sold towards the other claims against the revolutionary gov- end of the last year; and we now
learn from the pubernment; not, however, until Le Ray had lic prints that the new proposed loan of thirty millions exhausted his influence with others and his in bad health, which, together, has occasioned the funds personal resources. Among the letters to to fall much lower. In the next place, it seems to me which these efforts gave rise there are two, that in your present circumstances (excuse my freedom though written nearly four years after Le advisable for you to remain here a few months longer,
in presuming to give you my advice) it would be more Ray's arrival in the country, which may find in order to finish your affair with the Congress. a suitable place in this stage of our narrative. They meet again in the beginning of January, and They were from Dr. Franklin, one to Presi- there is no doubt but the officers through whose hands dent Washington and the other to Le Ray counts having already been examined and passed, I am
such affairs must pass will be present, and your achimself, who appears to have applied to the of your opinion, that they will probably be some of the doctor for a loan or an indorsement. Mean- first paid. Money, I think, will not be wanting, as it is time, De Chaumont the father, yielding to his thought the immense importation of goods lately made embarrassments, had made an assignment to impost expected from the whole of the United States.
into this port must produce at least one-fourth of the his son.
İf you should be absent at the next meeting of Con
gress it may occasion a still further delay of payment, FRANKLIN TO WASHINGTON.
for want of somebody present to solicit the business,
which would be a further prejudice to the creditors. PHILADELPHIA, 3 June, 1789. If you should conclude to stay I would write a letter I have made a rule to myself that your Excellency to your father, which he might show to them, expressshould not be troubled with any solicitations from me ing that your stay was by my counsel, with the reasons, for favors to any even of my nearest connections, but and that as soon as the Congress should meet I would here is a matter of justice in which the honor of our support your application for immediate payment with country is concerned, and therefore I cannot refuse my strongest interest. This delay of two or three giving this line for your information. Mr. Le Ray de months, I should think, cannot make much difference Chaumont, father of the young gentleman who will in your father's affairs, the present disorders of that have the honor of waiting on you with this, was the country being considered; or, if you apprehend, as you first in France who gave us credit, and before the Court have mentioned, that the creditors may suspect your showed us any countenance trusted us with 2000 bar- having an intention of assuming to your own use the rels of gunpowder, and from time to time afterwards property of your father, you may, to prevent such susexerted himself to furnish the Congress with supplies picion, offer the creditors to deliver up to them, or to of various kinds, which, for want of due returns, they any person they shall please to appoint, all the papers being of great amount, has finally much distressed him ascertaining your father's claim upon the Congress; in circumstances. Young Mr. Chaumont has now been thereby enabling them to solicit for and receive the here near four years, soliciting a settlement of the ac- same. I wish I could give you still better counsel; but counts merely, and though the payment of the balance, this is what occurs in my present inability of otherto be sure, would be acceptable, yet proposing to refer wise serving you) to your affectionate friend, that to the time when it shall better suit the conven
(Signed) B. FRANKLIN. ience of our Government.
This settlement, if the father had it to show, would It appears by a letter from M. Luzerne, the tend to quiet his creditors, and might be made use of French ambassador at London, that M. le for that purpose; but his son has not hitherto been Ray had aspirations for the place occupied expense that answered no end. He hopes, however, by M. Marbois as the diplomatic representanow, that your Excellency may prevail to have some tive of the French government in the United settlement made of those accounts, that he may carry States. He was promised the cordial coöperation of M. Luzerne, but if there was at any to Lord Augustin de Caulaincourt, who aftertime a chance of his aspirations being crowned ward sold them to Count Réal, Chief of Powith success, it was swept away by the revo- lice under Napoleon. He also sold to Count lutionary whirlwind which was already threat- de Grouchy, to General Dufernaux, and, as ening France.
appears by the following note from GouverPending these operations Louis Chassanis, neur Morris, to Madame de Staël: a brother-in-law of Le Ray, acting for an as
GOUVERNEUR MORRIS TO MADAME DE STAËL. sociation of gentlemen in Europe, purchased
MORRISANIA, August 23, 1807. several large tracts of land in the northern
I flatter myself then, Madame, that next spring you part of the State of New York. The purchas- will sail for America. For this purpose, about the middle ers formed themselves into a land company of April you can embark for New York. As soon as with a view of disposing of these lands to refu- you arrive, you will come to Morrisania, partake what gees. The scheme of colonization was perfect- ning
of July you shall set out to visit your lands and ed and put forth only a few days before Louis the interior country, and return by the middle to reXVI. was guillotined.* Five commissioners pose after your fatigues, to gather peaches, take walks, were charged with the management of this make verses, romances — in a word, to do whatever you
please. property, two to reside on and three in Paris. The two commissioners sent here, Simon Des- Necker, the father of Madame de Staël, jardiniers and Peter Pharoux, arrived in New also became one of Le Ray's clients and a York in September, 1793. At Albany they fell New York land-holder. in accidentally with a young exiled country- But the most distinguished party to this man whose address and accomplishments im- speculation was Joseph Bonaparte (Count pressed them so favorably that they invited Survilliers), who seems to have fallen a vichim to join them, and made him their captain. tim to his good nature rather than to any He became a shareholder in the company desire of gain. How it was brought about and ultimately the proprietor of five hundred is thus related by Hough in his “ History of acres of land. Later, he and Pharoux were em- Lewis County": ployed to survey a canal that should connect the waters of the Hudson and of Lake Cham- raine in 1815, when he heard of Joseph Bonaparte?
Mr. Le Ray de Chaumont was at his estate in Touplain,-- the first canal ever surveyed in this arrival at Blois. He had known this prince before his country. This young man, then only twenty- great elevation and was his guest at Mortefontaine four years of age, who laid the foundations of when the treaty of September 30, 1800, between the his fame as an engineer in the wilds of northern United States and France was signed there, but he New York, was Mark Isambard Brunel, since that misfortune had assailed the prince, he remembered
had ceased meeting him afterwards. Seeing, however, famous as the founder of the machine shops the man and hastened
to Blois. The prince, having in. of the Royal Navy Yard at Portsmouth in vited Mr. Chaumont to dinner, said suddenly to him: England, the builder of some of the most mag- “Well, I remember you spoke to me formerly of your nificent railway structures in the world, the them still, I should like very much to have some in exengineer of the Thames tunnel, and the father change for a part of that silver I have there in those of Mr. I. K. Brunel, the builder of the steamer wagons, and which may be pillaged any moment. Take Great Eastern.
four or five hundred thousand francs and give the equivThe venture not proving as successful as sible to make a bargain where one party alone knew
alent in land.” Mr. Le Ray objected that it was imposwas expected, the stock of the company was what he was about. "Oh,” said the prince, “I know divided into 680 shares, and Gouverneur Mor- you well, and I rely more on your word than my own ris, on his return from the French mission, was judgment.” Still Mr. Le Ray would not be satisfied by appointed the agent of the company on the which was terminated by the following propositions,
his flattering assurances, and a long discussion followed, 2d of January, 1800. A deed for half the immediately assented to by the prince: Mr. Le Ray tract, or 220,000 acres, was then executed to Chaumont would receive four hundred thousand francs, him, and the following day a deed was given and would give the prince a letter for Mr. Le Ray's for the other half to Le Ray. In 1809 Morris tain designated tract, if, after having visited the country retired from the agency, taking with him a (whither he was then going), the prince confirmed the title to 26,840 acres to cover his expenses and transaction; otherwise, the money to be refunded. commissions. Le Ray, who had become proprietor of 126
As Count Survilliers was an alien, and shares of the stock in his own right, bought in New York, a deed for 150,260 acres of land
therefore could not hold a title to real estate the company out on the 17th of September, 1810, opened an office for the sale of lands, was made out to the learned Peter Duponbuilt roads, mills, docks, ship-yards, and manceau of Philadelphia, in trust, to secure the aged to effect large sales of land, but, unfor
* The original of this scheme is to be seen now in tunately, not to the class of emigrants who the State Library at Albany. build up a new country. He sold 4480 acres + See“ Life of Gouverneur Morris.”
Vol. XXXV.- 103.
repayment of the $120,000 which Le Ray County Agricultural Society, and was its first had taken.
president. He was also one of the earliest It can hardly be necessary to say that the presidents of the New York State Agriculcount was obliged to accept lands instead of tural Society. He returned to France in 1832, money when the loan came due.
and died at Paris on December 31, 1840, in Le Ray had only postponed the disaster the eightieth year of his age. which was inevitable. He became land poor. Le Ray's son, Vincent Le Ray de ChauThe abundance of better land in less rigor- mont, to whom in his troubles he assigned ous climates, and the completion of the Erie his property, and who at the age of eighty and Canal, which opened the States on the Ohio upwards frequented the American colony in River to emigration, operated disastrously Paris as late as 1866, lost no time in winding upon all the large land proprietors in the East up the estate, all of which has long since - providentially, no doubt, for the country. passed entirely out of the De Chaumont family. He was unable to make head against the Charles Le Ray de Chaumont de St. Paul, sea of trouble on which he found himself em- great-grandson of Le Ray, and of course barked, and at last was compelled to apply great-great-grandson of Franklin's host, if still for the benefit of the insolvent laws, and, like alive is now the only representative of the his father before him, surrender his estates family. As he has been many years married in turn to his own son for the benefit of his and is childless, with his death the name will creditors.*
probably become extinct. His landed property in the State of New If the De Chaumonts did not secure the York at the time of making the assignment Golden Fleece in America, they secured in consisted of
the United States what was of far greater 30,759 acres in Franklin Co., valued at
American wives. Le Ray married a
22,500 73,947 " in St. Lawrence Co., valued at. . 106,000 Miss Coxe, and their son married a Miss 143,500 in Jefferson Co., valued at 574,000 Jahel, both of New York. 100,000 in Lewis Co., valued at. 133,000 From a letter which appeared in the “ New 348,206 acres
York Evening Post" on the 19th of November,
1885, dated from Royat, Puy de Dôme, and The winding up of his affairs was so man- devoted to an account of “The Treasures of aged as to satisfy in full all the claims of his French Country Houses," I make the following American creditors; but Count Survilliers extract, which fitly concludes this account of (Joseph Bonaparte), as early as 1820, had a family whom the people of the United States consented to accept 26,840 acres of land, val- can do no less than hold in grateful and honued at that time at $40,260, in discharge of ored remembrance: his claims. To hold this land, the New York legislature passed an enabling act in March, shops, whose attractions are almost å rival to those of
It was in Blois that I first rummaged among these 1825. In June, 1835, the count sold his land the castle, though this is certainly one of the most into John La Farge of New York City for teresting in France. The traveler will remember the $80,000, and thus dropped the curtain upon in the center of the town. Near the foot of this hill
long flight of stone steps which climbs the steep hill the last act of this disastrous enterprise. It there is a well-furnished book-shop; its windows disgave a chill to the spirit of emigration from play old editions and rich bindings, and tempt one to France, from which it never recovered. Had enter and inquire for antiquities. Here I found a quanLe Ray invested in lands on or near any of tity of old notarial documents and diplomas of college
or university, all more or less recently cleared out from our great water-ways, or even in a more con
some town hall, or unearthed from neighboring castles, genial climate, it might now be the descend- and sold by a careless owner, as no longer valuable to ants of the French, rather than of the English, him. This was the case with most of the parchments who would be making the laws of the United I found at Blois ; they had been acquired within a few
years from the castle of Madon, and from a former States.
proprietor of the neighboring castle of Chaumont (the Le Ray seems to have been an amiable calvus mons of medieval time), and most of them perman, and a liberal and popular landlord. The tained to the affairs of the seigneurie de Chaumont. towns of Raysville and Chaumont perpetuate Contracts, executions, sales of vineyards and houses, the remembrance of his name, his rashness, marriage contract of a M. Lubin — these were the
legal decisions, actes de vente, loans on mortgage, the and his misfortunes. He founded the Jefferson chief documents that I found and purchased.
As a justification of his course, Le Ray published a pp. 70, Paris,” in which, says. Hough, he vindicated statement entitled "Acte de transmission par M. Le himself satisfactorily. See “History of Jefferson Co.” Ray de Chaumont à son fils de ses propriétés, 4to, by Franklin B. Hough.
RUSSIAN STATE PRISONERS.
FURTHER DETAILS OF THE PRISON LIFE OF THE REVOLUTIONISTS.
IN considering the life of innocent man for three years in a casemate of
political prisoners in the the Trubetskoi bastion under the conditions fortress of Petropavlovsk, that I have described, and the final release the reader must bear stead- of such a man without reparation or apology, ily in mind the fact that and perhaps without even the formality of a the men and women who judicial hearing, constitute extreme provocathus languish for months tion. Such was the view taken by the eminent
or years in the silent bomb- Russian advocate Gerard when, in the trial proof casemates of the Trubetskoi bastion are of the regicides at St. Petersburg in 1881, he all persons who have not had a trial. Their endeavored to show that his client Kibalchich case is by no means that of condemned crimi- had been changed from a law-abiding citizen nals undergoing just punishment for offenses to a revolutionist by unjust treatment of preof which they have been duly convicted in a cisely this character; and such was evidently court of justice. It is rather that of presum- the view also of the Court, which refused to ably innocent persons, deprived for an unrea- allow Mr. Gerard to finish his statement, and sonable length of time of the right to be heard which, when he persisted, informed him sharply in self-defense, and treated meanwhile as if that the Government's treatment of its subjects their guilt were unquestionable. That a very was “not a matter for his judgment.”* large proportion of the men and women thrown That undeserved imprisonment and cruel into prison in Russia upon political charges treatment before trial were important factors are in fact innocent is not a matter of opin- in the development of the Russian revolutionion, it is a matter of official record. I have ary movement clearly appears from the later shown in a previous paper that out of more history of the 90 prisoners who were acquitthan a thousand persons arrested for alleged ted at the end of the trial of the 193 in Janparticipation in the so-called “revolutionary uary, 1878. According to the judgment of a propaganda” of 1872-75 only 193 were ever court not at all likely to err on the side of brought to trial, and even of this relatively clemency, these 90 young people were wholly small number go were acquitted by a court guiltless of any offense against the laws. They of judges of the Government's own selection. had not even rendered themselves amenable Nine-tenths, therefore, of these prisoners were to the 250th section of the Russian Penal entirely innocent, not only of real crime but Code by manifesting "an intention to bring even of the vague and shadowy offenses set about a change of government. . . at a more forth in Section 250 of the Russian Penal or less remote time in the future," and yet they Code; and yet all of them were subjected all had been punished with three years of the before their release to from six months to strictest solitary confinement in the House of three years of rigorous solitary confinement in Detention or the Petropavlovsk fortress, and the House of Preliminary Detention, or in the had finally been denied even the poor boon damp prison sepulchers of the Trubetskoi bas- of a public trial in an open court, where they tion. That a system which brings about such might at least have made apparent to the results is in the highest degree arbitrary and world the injustice from which they had sufunjust, and that the subjection of presumably fered. The result was that which might have innocent persons to two or three years of such been anticipated. Almost every one of the treatment pending trial is cruel in the extreme, persons thus punished and then found not are propositions that hardly admit of argument. guilty ultimately became a revolutionist, and Whether such wrongs and cruelties are ade- before 1885 more than a third of them were quate to excuse the violent measures of retalia- in Siberia, and two of them - Andre Zheliaboff tion adopted by the terrorists is a question to and Sophia Perofskaya— had perished on the which different answers may be given by dif- scaffold with the blood of Alexander II. upon ferent people; but it will, I think, be gen- their hands. erally admitted that the confinement of an I do not know a more significant illustration
* Official Stenographic Report of the Trial of the Manuscript list of names of political exiles in Siberia, Regicides, p. 217. st. Petersburg, 1881.
now in my possession. Official Stenographic Report of + Sentence of the Court in the case of the 193, p. 8. the Trial of the Regicides, p. 260. St. Petersburg, 1881.