Page images

af November, and that he could not transport more than four thousand men, comprising the officers and their suite. I proposed to the baron de Viomenil, and his brother, to take charge of the two brigades of infantry, and a part of the artillery, and conduct them to their destination. I left the corps of Lauzun, with the heavy artillery which was still at Baltimore, and I confided to the Duke de Lauzun, the command of that part of the French troops which remained in America, subject to the orders of General Washington.

At the period of the march of the French troops from Crampond, there happened between me and an American captain of militia, whose habitation I occupied as quarters, an affair, pleasantly characteristic of republican freedom. He came to ask from me, on the evening before the departure of the troops, a sum of fifteen thousand francs, (three thousand dollars) for wood which the brigade of Soissonnois had burnt on his property. I found the demand exorbitant, and referred him to the commissary Villemanzy, who was charged with the settlement of all accounts for articles consumed by the army throughout the camp. At the moment of beginning the march, the next day, when the roil had been beaten, and the troops were under arms, a man approached me with a very complaisant air, and told me that he was not ignorant of the services which I had rendered his country, that he respected me greatly, but that he was obliged to do his duty. He then served me with a paper, and afterwards laid his hand gently on my shoulder, telling me at the same time, that I was his prisoner. Well, sir, said I, laughing, take me away if you can. Not so, your excellency, answered the sheriff; but I beg of you, now that I have performed my duty, to let me go off unmolested. I sent the commissary Villemanzy, to the house of the American captain, and he found him in a crowd of his countrymen, who were all upbraiding him in the sharpest terms, for his proceeding. The commissary agreed with him to submit the matter to arbitration; and the result was, that the captain had to pay the costs, and to content himself with two thousnd, instead of fifteen thousand francs.

The army on its march passed through the whole of Connecticut. Governor Trumbull, and his council, issued a proclamation, requesting their fellow-citizens not to raise the price of provisions during our passage, and the inhabitants seconded his views with so much generosity, that every mess of soldiers obtained at a very low price, in addition to their ordinary rations, all kinds of provisions. The army arrived at Providence, where it was detained by some new accident happening to the squadron of M. de Vaudreuil, and remained in barracks during the rest of November.

I have not mentioned the multitude of addresses from all the towns and general assemblies of the states of America, presented to me, containing uniformly, the warmest acknowledgment of their obligations to France. I will cite but one of these addresses. A deputation from the Quakers of Philadelphia, waited on me, in all the simplicity of their costume. “General," said the oldest of them to me, “it is not on account of thy mi“litary qualities that we make thee this visit-those we hold in “ little esteem; but thou art the friend of mankind, and thy army "conducts itself with the utmost order and discipline. It is this " which induces us to tender thee our respects.”

At length, the army embarked at Boston, early in December, with the universal benedictions of our allies throughout the Thirteen States. I may mention as a proof of the wonderful discipline of this army, that during the course of three campaigns, there was not a blow nor a quarrel between a French and an American soldier.

I was obliged to return with the chevalier de Chatelus, M. de Belleville, M. de Choisy, all the staff and our respective aidesde-camp, to meet the frigate which I had selected to convey us to France. It was in the Chesapeake bay, as I had not chosen to deprive M. de Vaudreuil of any of his vessels, in which he was obliged to crowd all that he could embark of the army.

In returning to Virginia, we passed by New Windsor, where General Washington was. It was there that we took an affectionate farewell, and that I received from the American army, as did all the officers who accompanied me, the sincerest assurances of perpetual remembrance.




Translated from the French of SISMONDI;


THE number of Spanish writers is very considerable, and their fertility is astonishing. The Spaniards have alone, for example, more theatrical pieces than all other nations together; and it would not be right to form an opinion of them from specimens selected at hazard; the less so, as the very peculiar taste of this nation augments the dif. ficulty of knowing it well. The literature with which we have been occupied, and that which we reserve for another time, are European; the Spanish is oriental. Its genius, its pomp, and the end which it has in view, belong to another sphere of ideas, to another world. We must enter completely into its spirit before we pretend to judge it; and nothing would be more unjust than to measure by our poetry, which the Spaniards do not know or do not esteem, works composed under a system altogether different from ours.

On the other hand, Spanish literature promises a remuneration proportionate to the labour which it exacts. This brave and chivalric nation, whose pride and dignity have become proverbial, is pourtrayed in its literature; and we shall derive pleasure from finding in it, features which correspond with the part played by the Spaniards in Europe. The same people who set a barrier to the invasion of the Saracens, who maintained during five centuries, their political and religious liberty, who, when they lost both under Charles V. and his successors, seemed desirous of burying Europe and the New World, under the ruins of their constitution, have also manifested in their literature, their strength and richness of imagination, their nobleness and elevation of character. We perceive in their first poetry the heroism of their ancient knights; we recognize the magnificence of the court of Charles V. in the poets of the happiest period of his reign; then the same men who conducted the armies from victory to. victory, held also the first rank in letters. Even in the universal decline, we still remark the Spanish grandeur; the poets of the last age were crushed under the weight of their own riches, and sunk by the efforts they made to surpass all the others and even themselves. *

At the subversion of the West in the reign of Honorius, Spain was invaded, about the year 409, by the Suevi, the Alani, the Vandals, and Visigoths. This country, which, during almost six centuries, had been subjected to the Romans, and which had completely

adopted their language and civilization, experienced from that time, by the mixture of the conquerors with the vanquished, that revolution of morals, opinions, military spirit, and language, which we have already observed in the other provinces of the empire, and which was destined to give birth to the Romanesque nations. Among the conquerors the Visigoths were the most numerous, and this was a happiness for Spain, since, of all the people of the North, the Goths, as well Eastern as Western, were by much the most enlightened, the most just, and those who extended the best protection to the vanquished people, whilst they established the wisest legislation over their conquests. The Alani were brought into subjection by the Visigoths, ten years after their entry into Spain: ten years later, the Vandals passed over to Africa to found there a warlike monarchy destined to revenge Carthage and to sack Rome. In fine, the Suevi who still preserved their independence during a century and a half, were in their turn subjected in 585. The dominion of the Visigoths thus stretched over all Spain, except some maritime cities, which remained in the power of the Greeks of Constantinople, who, from that time, acquired by their commerce great riches, and a large population. The ancient Roman subjects, raised by the Visigoths to a level with their conquerors, formed by a similar education, called to the same employments, and professing the same religion, were soon entirely confounded with them. When, in 710, Spain was in. vaded by the Mussulmen, all the Christians who inhabited it, formed but one people.

The Spaniards do not doubt but that their language was formed during the three hundred years of the dominion of the Visigoths. It is evidently a mixture of the German with the Latin, and of a contraction of the latter. It was, it is true, enriched afterwards by the Arabian with a great number of words, which, in the midst of a Ro. manesque tongue, preserve a character altogether foreign. The Ara. bian without doubt, influenced also the pronunciation, but changed not the genius of the language. Although the Spanish and Italian have a common origin, yet there is a marked difference between them; the syllables lopped off in the contraction of words and those retained are not the same; so that words growing out of the same Latin origin have no longer any resemblance. The Spanish more sonorous, more accentuated, more aspirated, has something more dignified, more firm and more imposing; on the other hand, this language being less improved by philosophers and orators, than the Italian, has less pliancy and less precision; in its grandeur it is not always clear, and its pomp is not exempt from bombast. In spite of these variances, the two languages can be recognized as sisters, and the transit from one to the other is easy.

Civil liberty was as perfect in Spain as any political constitution will admit; the nation seemed to have given itself kings for the purpose of better circumscribing the authority which it was compelled to yield. It was desirous of finding in them, good commanders, judges of the field of honour, and models of a gallant noblesse; but its eyes were ever opened to the extension which these kings might give to their prerogative; and in consequence judges were placed over them in ordinary times;-the legal forms of resistance to the

abuse of power were regulated beforehand, and in the calm of peace; all orders were admitted to an equal representation in the diet, and every Spaniard was imbued with the sentiment of the dignity of the citizen, and of the nobleness of the Visigoth blood. That court, that noblesse and that equality of rank, have maintained in the habits, language, and literature of the Spaniards, an elegance, a tone of good society, a courtly air, an aristocracy of spirit, which the Italians lost very early, because their liberty was altogether vulgar.

A profound sentiment of political liberty cannot admit of religious servitude; thus the Spaniards preserved, until the reign of Charles V. an entire independence on that Roman church, of which they became the most timid slaves, so soon as their political constitution was overturned. This religious independence of the Spaniards has never been remarked, because the writers of the nation would now blush at it, and would rather endeavour to conceal it, whilst those of all other people judge of the whole Spanish history by the epoch when they were in contact with them.

The Spaniards engaged in every walk of literature, epic and lyric poetry, allegory, history, philosophy, and erudition. They advanced by themselves opening a road adapted to their own taste, and without commingling with foreigners; but they advanced slowly, and until the period when Charles V. reunited under his empire the rich provinces of Italy to Castile, they profited but little of the progress of mind in the other parts of Europe. On the other hand, they boasted of what they had accomplished by themselves; they held in the highest estimation, every thing that they considered national, and thus they preserved in their poetry, a stronger and more original colouring. It was thus that dramatic poetry originated with them, previous to their intercourse with other nations, and being formed on the ancient Castilian taste, according to the morals, the habits, even the caprices of the people for whom it was destined,—it was less regular than that of other nations, much less learned, and much less agreeable to the ingenious analysis which the Greek philosophers had made of the poetic art; but it was much more fitted to excite the Spaniards, more in harmony with their opinions and customs, and more intimately connected with their national pride; in fact, neither the salire of other nations, the criticisms of their own literati, the prizes of their academies, nor the favour of their princes, could ever reclaim them to the system which at this day prevails in the rest of Europe.

This same nation which had a long time wasted its strength against itself; which had employed four hundred years of combats, in driving step by step from their homes, its most industrious inhabitants; which had, at the same time, shed torrents of blood in propping by turns, the sovereigns of Castile and of Aragon, of Navarre and of Portugal, or in restraining them within the limits of their preroga. tive, and in raising above the throne, the rights of the grandees and people; this nation, a stranger to Europe, and taking no part in its policy, united herself all at once under a single chief, at the commencement of the sixteenth century. She then turned against fo. reigners the prodigious means which had, until then, been confined within her own bosom;—she shook, and threatened to overturn the liberty of all Europe;- she lost her own without ever remarking it, VOL. II.

2 A

« PreviousContinue »