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bassador at London, to assure the English ministry that peace would be preserved, by the observation of the strictest neutrality. The signing of the commercial treaty with the Americans, to which they found means to persuade the king, by exasperating the government of England, provoked them to hostilities; the seizure of several French merchant vessels, and the attack of the Arethusa, an English man of war, upon La Belle Poule, a French frigate, supplied those occasions of war which the ministry needed to satisfy the scrupulous conscience of Louis. On the breaking out of the war between the two nations, Count Segur made another unsuccessful application for permission “to join La Fayette in the camp of Washington." The Viscount de Noailles, one of the three friends who had first conceived the design of engaging in the cause of the Americans, was more fortunate. He received the rank of lieutenant-colonel of the regiment of Sorssonais, at the head of which he embarked with the army of Count de Rochambeau, for the United States.
The story of Voltaire's return to France, in extreme but unbroken old age, from a banishment of many years, his coronation, his interview with the author's mother, and some ecdotes of the last years of his life, are well told in this book, and we should be glad to give some extracts from this part of the work, did our limits permit. Great-men are often the objects of a ridiculous admiration. In a conversation which the Marchioness de Segur had with Voltaire, she complained that her stomach had lost its tone, and that she had great difficulty in finding nourishment that it would bear. Voltaire sympathized with her, and assured her that he had once been, for nearly a year, in the same condition, but had been cured by a very simple regimen. It consisted in taking no other food than the yolk of eggs, beaten up with the flour of potatoes and water. One of the author's neighbours, not particularly remarkable for profundity of intellect, squeezed the arm of the Count, who stood by, and exclaimed in a transport of admiration, 66 What a man ! what a man! not a word without a trait !" The author is mistaken in supposing that the American Revolution owed much to the writings of Voltaire and Rousseau. They were little known, and less read, in America at this period. If they contributed any thing towards the hastening of that great event, they were at least the most inconsiderable among its causes, and the feeblest of its aids. The grounds of the quarrel with Britain were not of recent origin ; they had been discussed before Voltaire and Rousseau wrote; and the reasonings by which the colonists vindicated their rights, owed nothing to the teachings of these philosophers. The spirit of freedom was not a new impulse, infused into the
minds of our citizens by any modern discoveries of the rights of man;
it was the atmosphere they had breathed from their birth. The principles of liberty which they professed were not a sudden sight poured into their minds. They were drawn from earlier sources, they spoke another language, they contemplated a more solid order of things than the speculations of the French philosophers.
In 1780 the Marquis de Segur, the father of the author of these memoirs, was appointed minister of war. He seems to have deserved the praise bestowed upon him by his son.
“ He was destitute, indeed, of two qualities very necessary to the attain. ment of great fortune : he had neither the adroitness of a courtier, nor versatility in his principles. All self interest was lost in his estimation, the moment it seemed opposed to his duiy. His frankness was a little unceremonious; he knew how to serve, but not how to please : in a word, he was a perfectly good man, but a very unskilful courtier.”—p. 171.
Although the Marquis de Segur was placed at the head of the war department, he did not think proper to comply immediately with the solicitations of his son, to be permitted to join the war in America. He made it a point of duty to employ in that service, so honourable and so eagerly sought for, officers of more experience, and juster pretentions. At length, in 1782, the Viscount de Noialles baving obtained, after the cap: ture of Yorktown, the chief command of a regiment which had remained in France, Count de Segur was appointed in his place, and proceeded to America, on board a fleet commanded by the Chevalier de la Touche, conveying a reinforcement to the army of Rochambeau. On their passage, the fleet, delayed by contrary winds, and frequent calms, touched at the Azores. Amidst the green valleys and lemon groves of the island of Tercera, the Count found a convent full of blackeyed nuns, and pretty novices, with whom the good lady Abbess perrnitted the Count and the young officers who were his companions, to amuse themselves, by making love through the grate. As neither party understood the language of the other, the homages were paid on the one side, and favours dispensed on the other, by means of flowers, handkerchiefs, and locks of hair. The venerable Count grows young again in the description of this scene, and we dare say the lady Abbess's speech, on the occasion, has received some involuntary embellishment in passing through his imagination.
“These young people,” said she, “ to whom I permit you to offer your tender homage, will one day, I trust, appear more lovely in the eyes of their husbands, by this lesson in the art of pleasing, while those who may consecrate themselves to a religious life, having exercised the warmth of their imaginations, and the sensibilities of their souls, will become more tenderly attached to the Divinity. On the other side," she
continued, “ this specimen of ancient gallantry, once so honoured, cannot but prove highly useful to young warriors like you. It will inspire you with the spirit of chivalry; it will excite you to merit by noble actions, the heart of those whoin you love, and to do honour to their choice, by covering yourselves with glory”—p. 235.
The account given by the author of his arrival in America, of his introduction to the officers of the American army, and of those incidents of the revolutionary war, which fell under bis observation, is one of the most valuable and interesting parts of the book. He is an enthusiastic admirer of the American character, and of American institutions, and loses no opportunity of showing them in a favourable point of view. The following passage contains the mention of all that he found to reprehend in the manners of our citizens; and as far as our observation permits us to judge, even these peculiarities would be found quite as offensive to an American citizen at the present day, as they were forty-five years since to Count Segur.
“ There were only two things which shocked me more than I can express; one a vile custom, the moment a toast was given, of circulating an iinmense bowl of punch round the table, out of which each guest was successively compelled to drink; and the other was that, after being in bed, it was not unusual to see a fresh traveller walk into your room, and without ceremony, stretch himself by your side, and appropriate a part of your couch.”—Pp. 271, 272.
On the 24th of December, 1782, the French army, under Baron de Viomenil, embarked at Boston, on an expedition against the British possessions in the West-Indies. To prevent the English from suspecting their real design, the fleet was ordered to proceed to Porto Cabello, a commodious port on the South American shore, where they were to wait the arrival of the combined naval force of France and Spain. After having rendezvoused at this port, they were to make a descent upon Jamaica. Obliged to pass considerable time in this climate of continued and excessive heat, and to breathe a pestilential atmosphere, Count Segur, with several other offi. cers, projected an excursion across the mountains to Caraccas. The party accordingly hired mules, and after a days journey through difficult and dangerous paths among the precipices, arrived at the immense and magnificent plain, which extends to the Oronoco. They fouod the city of Valencia, containing twelve thousand inhabitants, provided with a governor, a bishop, and a garrison of five hundred men. It had no trade, its streets were dirty, its housesill built, and its inhabitants poor. Convents and monks, however, were to be seen every where i the churches were splendid, and the priests were rich. “ Wherefore should we labour ?" said the Count's Indian landlord, at a village of the natives, called Guacara, where he ex
pressed his surprise at the few traces of cultivation that were seen in the neighbourhood.
“Wherefore should we labour ?" answered he; “ a hut made of the stumps of trees, and some banana leaves, are sufficient to give us shelter, furniture and beds. The heat renders every kind of dress superfluous ; the earth provides us with abundance of fruit and grain. If we were to cultivate the fields, we could not find purchasers for our produce; and yet the Spanish government would, in that case, impose a tax upon us ; and as we should be unable to pay it, they would condemn us to labour in the mines, or to fish for gold in the streams.' "-pp. 329, 330.
At Maracay, a small neat town, Don Felix, the king's lieutenant, spoke freely and pathetically of the oppressions inflicted on the South American provinces, and declared that the day of a general rising among the people was not far distant. M. Prudon, who filled the same office at Vittoria, treated the subject as gayly, as Don Felix had done gloomily, and seemed greatly exhilarated at the prospect of an approaching revolution. On their arrival at Caraccas, the travellers found the city large, clean, elegant, and well built, with a delicious climate, fertile environs, and a population of twenty thousand inhabitants. Here they experienced a most hospitable, and even flattering reception, from the grave and courteous Dons, and the beautiful and lively ladies. The Governor was affable, humane, and enlightened; but the Inquisition exerted a tremendous power, and the Creoles were oppressed and discontented. Count Segur inquired of one of the reverend inquisitors, who seemed less reserved than his brethren, why the Spanish colonies were suffered to be so far behind those of the English in point of civilization.
6. You have yourself replied to these questions,' said the monk, "by citing the American republics: our provinces give us riches enough, and remain under our dominion ; if we were so simple as to allow their riches and population to increase, our colonies would soon become independent and be lost to us.'”—pp. 344, 345.
So early did the people of South America meditate the revolution which has since wrested from Spain those immense and rich possessions, and such was the blind and mad policy by which the mother country hastened and rendered certain that event.
The expedition against Jamaica was prevented by the peace of 1783, and the author returned to France, having first visited his estates on the island of St. Domingo.
The translation of this work is executed in the usual manner,--that is to say, it is rather done into English than translated. The French words, as they stand on the page of the original, have been carefully altered into English ones, or at least, into words with English terminations, while the French idioms have been religiously preserved.
EOL DAVID MASON.
MEMOIRS OF COL. DA MASON. The following particulars of the life of Col. David Mason are worth preserving. Like the history of every self-taught man, they are not only curious in themselves, but valuable on account of the wholesome and encouraging lesson they inculcate. They also derive an additional interest from the important and eventful period of our national history with which they are connected, and from the light they throw upon the progress
of illumination and knowledge in our country. Col. Mason was born at Boston, Massachusetts, on the 6th of March, 1726. His ancestors were among the earliest settlers of the peninsula of Boston, where they appear for a long time to have possessed large real estates. À wealthy ancestry does not, however, necessarily suppose an opulent posterity, and accordingly we find that Mason inherited from his progenitors little but the memory of a virtuous example. He very early discovered a fondness for study, and had begun to prepare himself for an admission to the University, when his father died. He was then but fourteen years of age, and the eldest of a family of nine children, for whom his mother, with no very ample means, found herself obliged to provide. The plan of giving him a public education was necessarily relinquished; and after receiving as perfect a course of instruction as could be obtained in the English schools of the town, he was apprenticed to a Mr. Gore, of Boston, to learn the art or trade of what was then called fine painting and gilding. At the expiration of his apprenticeship, he placed himself as a pupil with a Mr. Greenough or Greenwood, a portrait painter. Greenwood afterwards settled in England, and frequently wrote to Mason, strongly pressing him to come over, and proposing a connexion in business. This, his attachment to his native country induced him to decline. Col. Mason was twice married, first to a Miss Goldthwait, who died childless about a year afterwards; and secondly to a Miss Symmes, who VOL. I.