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meddle which has always been charac- royalty, and bore upon its face the king's teristic of French rulers, attempted for image and superscription, was believed cibly to mend the matter. A law was to be certain to retain its value even in passed, making it panishable to exchange the case of a counter-revolution. But à certain quantity of gold or silver for a the necessity of seeking such investments more considerable quantity of assignats ; led naturally to something other than the in other words, all were required, under revival of what we may call legitimate a penalty, to regard the paper franc and commerce; there followed in the train, the metal franc as equal in value; and speculation of the wildest description. when this failed to bring down the price The heart of Paris became the Exchange; of bread by raising the worth of the as- and such gambling in gold and silver, signat, the artificial law of the maximum and other commodities, occurred there, was enacted ; that is to say, commodities as we can find a parallel to nowhere, exwere not allowed to find or make their cept, perhaps, in Wall-street, New-York. own price in the market; the price was The part of Nero fiddling over Rome fixed for them, in each commune, by the in flames is reacted in every age; it was municipal authorities; and the baker or so in France during the revolutionary the butcher who charged more than the era. There, men grew rich on the mislegal sum for his pound of bread or meat, fortunes of their country, and drank was liable to be taken up as an offender, deepest of the cup of pleasure when a deand subjected to fine and imprisonment. feat or some other calamity had filled the These regulations were well meant, but, heart of the nation with grief; and so it as might have been expected, they worse is in America at the present hour. If we than failed to maintain the value of the are to believe the accounts which reach paper-money. It could not but be felt us through the public press, the number that an article which required such ex- of those who, in New-York and Washtraordinary aids to keep it afloat, must ington, have become suddenly rich, has have an inherent and irremediable tend- never been greater, and at no period has ency to sink, and the depreciation went there been in those cities, so much gayety on accordingly.
and display and extravagance as has apUnder these circumstances, a state of peared of late among the contractors and things was brought about which in some speculators who have become millionaires respects strikingly resembled that which through the national distress. we have recently been witnessing in It must not, however, be supposed America. All debtors became naturally that the price of the assignat tended ineager to pay off their incumbrances; and variably downwards; on the contrary, it creditors, forced to accept what was fluctuated just as the price of the greendue to them in greenbacks, got back no back does now; and, indeed, at one time more than perhaps a sixth part of what it recovered itself so remarkably, that for they lent. Then large holders of assig- a very short period it was nearly on a par pats, knowing that such capital was per- with specie. The causes of this extrapetually melting away in their hands, ordinary revival were these: in the first made attempts in every direction to ex- place, a forced loan was decreed, by change them for something of inherent which it was expected so much money or less-varying value, and a fictitious would be realized as to allow the adminbriskness was thus communicated to istration to withdraw as many as a thoutrade. These men would buy anything- sand millions from the paper circulation, pictures, furniture, bills of exchange on and anything that had a tendency to lesforeign countries, or shares in stocks, or sen the mass helped so far to enhance its banks, or companies, which last - men- intrinsic value. But what contributed tioned species of property rose, in con more effectually than this to the end resequence of this demand, to previously ferred to, was the increased stringency unimaginable rates or quotations. They with which the laws relating to hoarding even scrambled for the possession of a were enforced. It was made penal to kind of assignat which was supposed to possess a private store of metals. If any be less subject to sink than its neighbors; one were discovered with a stock of the this was the assignat of the first issue, contraband commodity in his house, the which, because it dated from the days of treasure-trove was seized, and divided
between the government and the in-pend in such extensive investments. former. It thus became positively dan- Still the people felt that they had wheregerous to have gold or silver; and hence withal to meet their obligations, and the a perfect rush was made to get rid of inquiry was often made, impatiently them. They were carried to the frontier, enough, if there was no way in which and paid away for foreign goods; they the public domains could be made availwere taken to the public offices, and ten- able to relieve the general distress. In dered as payment for taxes; they were answer to this inquiry, various schemes even, in some cases, gladly exchanged were suggested. One was, to demonetize for the assignat itself. In these ways, the assignats, or a portion of them; that specie became for the moment actually is, to take from them the faculty of free abundant; and the result was, as we have circulation, and make them literally what said, that paper and coin approximated they were theoretically, mere obligations to each other in value, and were for a lit- upon land. But to this proposal it was tle while almost on a par.
well replied, that to attempt to carry out But this did not last. The extraor- such a regulation in the case, for examdinary demands made on the government ple, of a laboring man, was to insure bis for the public service necessitated the starvation. He wants bread, and you constant issue by it of fresh paper. It give him a piece of earth. His family had twelve hundred thousand men to arm are in rags, but in place of furnishing and pay, a matériel to create, and a navy him, in return for his work, with what to build; and the taxes did not produce will procure clothes, you make him in more than a fifth of the monthly expen- mockery a landed proprietor. As long diture. In these circumstances, their as there was no other circulating medium only resource was the printing of new than the assignat, an expedient like this assignats; and when, in the beginning of i was out of the question ; and the simple 1794, the sum-total of all the previous rumor that it was in contemplation causissues was doubled, the note lost its tem- ed a heavy fall in the price of paper. porary value, and fell back to its former A far more feasible scheme than this depreciated condition. This, however, was to make a virtue of necessity, and might have been borne, if the decline had sell the domains, not for what they were stopped then; but it went on, and that worth, but for what they would bring. with accelerated speed. The greenback They had been valued in 1790, and it became more and more worthless. Those was certainly putting a great temptation who received stated incomes, paid not in in the way of the moneyed public to offer coin but in its nominal value in paper, them, in 1795, for three times their then felt themselves growing more and more estimated value in assignats; and those straitened in their circumstances. The who had anything to spare were not slow distress, in fact, came to be well-nigh to take advantage of the opportunity. universal, and never had the inventive An estate rated at ten thousand in gold, mind of France a more perplexing prob- and worth, therefore, sixty thousand in lem submitted to it than that how the paper, was offered for thirty thousand in obviously approaching financial crash assignats, or for half its real value. Such was to be averted.
a bargain was not likely to present itself Our readers, who remember on what again. Everybody who could scrape a solid basis the assignat issues rested, together a bundle of notes became ambimay feel inclined to ask why that basis tious of attaining to the dignity of a was not turned to more account. How landholder; and if the administration did it happen that the fifteen thousand had gone only through with the scheme, millions at which the national real prop- the country would certainly have expeerty was valued, came in so slowly? rienced a sensible relief. But after launchThe simple answer is, that purchasers ing the scheme, and receiving many could not be found, owing, no doubt, in offers, the authorities became suddenly part to the scruples and suspicions which alive to its supposed extravagance, and were entertained by some as to the pro- quashed all the proceedings which had priety and security of the sales; but owing been taken in connection with it. chiefly, there is no question, to this—that This straightforward plan of meeting few in these times had the means to ex-l the difficulty being abandoned, all sorts
of fanciful proposals were suggested and twenty-four thousand millions. These discussed. "Some argued for lotteries, twenty-four thousand millions, reduced others for a tontine, others still for a great to one thirtieth, represented eight hunland bank; while many urged the adop- dred millions; it was decreed that they tion of a certain article, of real value should be exchanged for eight hundred (such as gold or corn), as a standard, and millions in mandats, which was a liquiletting the assignat be treated as any dation of the assignat at one twentieth other common article of merchandise. of its nominal value.” Nothing effectual, however, was really Such is a short history of the first done, and the evil went on increasing. French greenback. It was based on wbat By the winter of 1795–1796, the issue appeared to be excellent security, but of assignats had extended to the enor- within a very few years it had deteriomous sum of forty-five thousand millions; rated in value so fearfully that in the end but twenty thousand millions furnished, it was able to pay only eightpence in the in actual value, scarcely one hundred pound; and yet, with all that, it served millions, for the assignats were not worth an important purpose. The monarchy more than the two hundredth part of was overturned, the Revolution was actheir nominal value. The public now complished, all Europe was defied, on therefore refused to take them. They such means as it furnished. And one could pay for, and purchase nothing; and can fancy a loyal American saying, while the radical step required to be taken of he sadly studies this story, so full of sig. sweeping them entirely out of the way. nificance for him: “Well, if in the mean. This was done by creating a new species time the sinews of war are but furnished of paper-money, to which was given a in quantities sufficient to restore the different name. It does not appear very Union, I care not although, in the end, clearly how this was to mend matters a paper dollar should be reckoned dear satisfactorily; but here is the account of when offered in exchange for a copper the revolution as it appears on the page
cent." of history:
“A paper was devised, which, by the name of mandats, was to represent a
London Society. fixed value in land. Every domain was
OUR WIDOWED QUEEN. to be delivered, without sale by auction, and upon a mere procès-verbal, for a price in mandats equal to that of 1790. Man They ask me why I weep dats to the amount of two thousand four And sorrow as I do; hundred millions were to be created; They say my grief should sleep and domains to the like amount, accord
And memory slumber too. ing to the estimate of 1790, were to be Who says they sleep not now? immediately appropriated to them. Thus
Doth sleep so death-like seem these mandats could not undergo any That people marvel how other variation than that of the domains A sleeping grief may dream? themselves, since they represented a fixed My sorrow long ago quantity of them. It would not thence In chastened sadness slept; absolutely result that they should be on And mem'ry's flow'rets grow a par with money, for the domains were Where thorns and brambles crept. not worth so much as in 1790, but at any And still the fragrant breath rate they must have the same value as Of roses dead and gone, the domains. It was resolved to employ Reveals that after death part of these mandats to withdraw the Their spirit yet lives on. assignats. The plate of the assignats
In dreams they flower at night, was broken upon the 30th of Pluviose ;
In thoughts they bloom by day; forty-five thousand five hundred millions They have no dread of blight, had been issued. By the different re They're proof against decay. turns, either by means of loans or of ar
I cannot, if I would, rears, the circulating quantity had been
Those thoughts and dreams destroy; reduced to thirty-six thousand millions,
I would not, if I could, and was soon to be further reduced to
Forego their phantom joy
IN MEMORIAM, DECEMBER XIV., M.DCCC.LXI.
That makes my tears to flow,
party as well as by the population in And sadly to recall
general. But he was not allowed to reThe spot where here below
main for any considerable time undisI've laid dead flowers and all.
turbed in his place of retirement. His I plead with those who've known expulsion from the French territory was The bitter hour of grief;
made one of the conditions of the treaty That finds in every groan
of peace in 1748, concluded at Aix-laSome earnest of relief;
Chapelle. Charles Edward positively Who've lived on year by year,
refused to leave the country, and much And learnt the bitter truth
interest in his behalf was made with the That sorrow sometimes here
government, both by the dauphin and Lives on in endless youth.
other members of the royal family, to Oh ye who ask me why
allow him to remain. But the interferI wear so sad a mien,
ence was of no avail; the administration And say that I should try
proved inexorable. The Pretender was To be in grief a queen,
seized in the opera-house on the 11th Alas! there is a power
of December, 1748, conveyed in the first To which e'en mine must bend;
instance to Vincennes, and from thence It rules in that dark hour
was sent out of the country. He wanWhen earth-born life must end dered about the Continent for some
time, and it is supposed that he seFor crowns and sceptres yet Have never held a sway
cretly visited London in the
1750. Could bid the heart forget,
When subsequently allowed to return Or make true love decay.
again to France, Charles Edward was so
dispirited and depressed by his wanderAnd thou, beloved child,
ings and misfortunes, that he fell into Oh! never may thy breast Be racked by anguish wild,
the habit of intemperance, of which That finds no ark of rest :
mention is made in one of the dispatches
of the British ambassador Stanley, who, A written life of years
writing from Paris in 1761, states that Where, marked on every leaf,
the Pretender was given to drinking to Are spots where scalding tears Write chronicles of grief.
such an excess as to be often drunk in
the morning, and carried senseless to his And you, dear people mine,
chamber by his attendants. Bear with me still, I pray,
By the death of his father in 1766 he And let your hearts incline To mourn with me this day.
became titular King of England, but the
elevation to the fictitious dignity did in Upon your loyal love
no wise cure him of his inveterate proI fain would trusting lean,
pensity to intoxication; and the French And pray that God above Will guide your widowed queen.
government, seemingly ashamed of their F. W. B. B.
royal guest, drove him in 1770 once more from their soil. In the following
year, however, it suited the policy of the St. James's Magazine.
French ministry—as a kind of demon
stration or menace against EnglandTHE COUNTESS OF ALBANY.
to recall the Pretender to the capital of WE doubt very much whether the his- France, and he was informed by the tory of the Countess of Albany, or even Duke of Fitzjames, on behalf of the her name, is generally known to the great | French court, that if he would consent mass of the reading public, though she to be married to a wife chosen for him, was so closely connected with the last a pension of 240,000 francs would be scion of the royal House of the Stuarts. settled upon him. Charles Edward made She was the wife of the Pretender, who, no objection to the proposal, and the after his well-known adventures and fail- lady thus chosen was Louise, the daughure in 1745, in the attempted recovery ter of the Prince of Stolberg-Gedern, a of the British crown, took up his resi. member of one of the most ancient and dence in Paris, where he was received distinguished German families, raised to with great distinction, both by the court the princely rank in the person of his
father. Her mother, too, was of a most tendance upon him, an office which she noble family, of the illustrious House of fulfilled with every mark of propriety Horn, maternally allied to the Bruces and attention. of Scotland and to other distinguished It was at this period, in the autumn families, both in France and in the Low of 1777, that the poet Alfieri arrived in Countries.
Florence. It were beside our present The Princess Louise, born September purpose to draw a biographical sketch 20th, 1752, lost her father, a general in of this renowned tragic writer, beyond the Austrian service, when she was in observing that he was a Piedmontese her sixth year. Her widowed_mother by birth, of a noble family, of independreceived a pension from the Empress ent fortune, and of a most impressionMaria Theresa, and she was placed in able temperament. He set out on his the educational establishment for young travels when he was but seventeen years ladies of the highest rank of nobility, of age, and found himself very soon enat Mons, in the Austrian Netherlands. gaged in amatory adventures. In HolHere she remained until her twentieth land he fell in love with a young married year, when she was married to Charles woman, who appeared not altogether Edward, who was then fifty-two years Linsensible to the advances of the youth
ful Italian ; but the suspicions of the The marriage was celebrated at Ma- husband being awakened, and all further cerata, in the private chapel of Cardinal intercourse broken off, the poet became Marefoschi's palace, on the 17th of so very much affected, that it was neApril, 1772, that day being Good Fri- cessary to bleed him; and he was with day -a circumstance which elicited, difficulty restrained from tearing off the some years after, the remark from bandages and wilfully bleeding to death. Louise, the Countess of Albany, that In England a somewhat similar advenher marriage proved what a marriage ture was attended with graver circumon such a day—“a day of Christen- stances. Alfieri had fallen in love with dom's lamentation”—might have been the wife of a peer, who returned his pasexpected to turn out. The newly-mar- sion and admitted him into her house. ried couple arrived, five days after their The intrigue was discovered to the husmarriage, at Rome, where they were re- band, who challenged the poet; they ceived with something like royal hon- fought in the Green Park; Alfieri, being ors, though, on the part of the Papal ignorant of the use of arms, was speedily Court, no formal notice was taken of wounded in the arm. His antagonist, the Pretender's announcement to Cardi- declaring himself satisfied, assured the nal Pallavicini, the Secretary of State, poet that he would no longer stand in of the arrival of the King and Queen of his way of free access to the lady, as he England. The title, however, under intended to be speedily divorced from which the royal pair were better known her. The ardent lover, as may be supwas that of the Count and Countess of posed, made no delay in offering his Albany. The countess is described as hand to the object of his passion. But a woman of most dazzling beauty, of on the third day after the duel, the lady great powers of conversation, and as frankly told him that, previously to their turning everybody's head. Their resi- acquaintance, she had bestowed her favor dence in Rome proving disagreeable, on a groom still in her husband's serowing to their equivocal position, they vice, and that this man, in a fit of jealretired early in the year 1773 to Sienna, ousy, had betrayed both intrigues to her and in October of the following year lord. Alfieri, though at first greatly they took up their abode in Florence. staggered, mortified, and full of resentSoon after his arrival in that city, ment—and the more so as the whole Charles Edward's health gave way, he affair, the duel, the intrigues, appeared was seized with symptoms of dropsy, in the newspapers-was nevertheless so his old habits of intemperance had gained full of infatuation that he clung to his a greater ascendancy, and he was almost paramour, and travelled about with her confined to his apartment. He required for some time. He was made the dethe countess, whether from helplessness fendant in the subsequent proceedings or from jealousy, to be in constant at- for a divorce; and we may here mention
NEW SEBJES - VOL. I., No. 4.