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caused an insurrection ; but one half of the Parisians were occupied by their ruin, and the other half by their fancied riches, which were soon to vanish. The president and members of parliament acquiesced in the mandate without a murmur; they even went as if on a party of pleasure, and made every preparation to lead a joyous life in their exile. The musqueteers, who held possession of the vacated parliament-house, a gay corps of fashionable young fellows, amused themselves with making songs and pasquinades, at the expense of the exiled legislators; and at length, to pass away time, formed themselves into a mock parliament; elected their presidents, kings, ministers, and advocates; took their seats in due form ; arraigned a cat at their bar, in place of the Sieur Law, and after giving it a 'fair trial,' condemned it to be hanged. In this manner, public affairs and public institutions were lightly turned to jest.
As to the exiled parliament, it lived gaily and luxuriously at Pontoise, at the public expense ; for the Regent had furnished funds, as usual, with a lavish hand. The first president had the mansion of the Duke de Bouillon put at his disposal, all ready furnished, with a vast and delightful garden on the borders of a river. There he kept open house to all the members of parliament. Several tables were spread every day, all furnished luxuriously and splendidly; the most exquisite wines and liqueurs, the choicest fruits and refreshments, of all kinds, abounded. A number of small chariots for one and two horses were always at hand, for such ladies and old gentlemen as wished to take an airing after dinner, and card and billiard tables for such as chose to amuse themselves in that way until supper. The sister and the daughter of the first president did the honors of his house, and he himself presided there with an air of great ease, hospitality, and magnificence. It became a party of pleasure to drive from Paris to Pontoise, wbich was six leagues distant, and partake of the amusements and festivities of the place. Business was openly slighted; nothing was thought of but amusement. The Regent and his government were laughed at, and made the subjects of continual pleasantries; while the enormous expenses incurred by this idle and lavish course of life, more than doubled the liberal sums provided. This was the way in which the parliament resented their exile.
During all this time, the system was getting more and more involved. The stock exchange had some time previously been removed to the Place Vendome; but the tumult and noise becoming intolerable to the residents of that polite quarter, and especially to the chancellor, whose hotel was there, the Prince and Princess Carignan, both deep gamblers in Mississippi stock, offered the extensive garden of their Hotel de Soissons as a rallying-place for the worshippers of Mammon. The offer was accepted. A number of barracks were immediately erected in the garden, as offices for the stock-brokers, and an order was obtained from the Regent, under pretext of police regulations, that no bargain should be valid, unless concluded in these barracks. The rent of them immediately mounted to a hundred livres a month for each, and the whole yielded these noble proprietors an ignoble revenue of half a million of livres.
The mania for gain, however, was now at an end. A universal panic succeeded. Saxve qui peut !' was the watch-word. Every one
was anxious to exchange falling paper for something of intrinsic and permanent value. Since money was not to be had, jewels, precious stones, plate, porcelain, trinkets of gold and silver, all commanded any price, in paper. Land was bought at fifty years' purchase, and he esteemed himself happy, who could get it even at this price. Monopolies now became the rage among the noble holders of
The Duke de la Force bought up nearly all the tallow, grease, and soap; others the coffee and spices; others hay and oats. Foreign exchanges were almost impracticable. The debts of Dutch and English mer. chants were paid in this fictitious money, all the coin of the realm having disappeared. All the relations of debtor and creditor were confounded." With one thousand crowns, one might pay a debt of eighteen thousand livres !
The Regent's mother, who once exulted in the affluence of bank paper, now wrote in a very different tone: • I have often wished,' said she, in her letters, that these bank-notes were in the depths of the infernal regions. They have given my son more trouble than relief. Nobody in France has a penny. My son was once popular, but since the arrival of this cursed Law, he is hated more and more. Not a week passes, without my receiving letters filled with frightful threats, and speaking of him as a tyrant. I have just received one, threatening him with poison. When I showed it to him, he did nothing but laugh.'
In the mean time, Law was dismayed by the increasing troubles, and terrified at the tempest he had raised. He was not a man of real courage; and fearing for his personal safety, from popular tumult, or the despair of ruined individuals, he again took refuge in the palace of the Regent. The latter, as usual, amused himself with his terrors, and turned every new disaster into a jest ; but he, too, began to think of his own security.
In pursuing the schemes of Law, he had no doubt calculated to carry through his term of government with ease and splendor; and to enrich himself, his connexions, and his favorites ; and had hoped that the catastrophe of the system would not take place until after the expiration of the regency.
He now saw his mistake; that it was impossible much longer to prevent an explosion; and he determined at once to get Law out of the way, and then to charge him with the whole tissue of delusions of this paper alchymy. He accordingly took occasion of the recall of parliament in December, 1720, to suggest to Law the policy of his avoiding an encounter with that hostile and exasperated body. Law needed no urging to the measure. His only desire was to escape from Paris, and its tempestuous populace. Two days before the return of parliament, he took his sudden and secret departure. He travelled in a chaise bearing the arms of the Regent, and was escorted by a kind of safe-guard of servants, in the duke's livery. His first place of refuge was an estate of the Regent's, about six leagues from Paris, from whence he pushed forward to Bruxelles.
As soon as Law was fairly out of the way, the Duke of Orleans summoned a council of the regency, and informed them that they were assembled to deliberate on the state of the finances, and the affairs of the India Company. Accordingly La Houssaye, Comp
trollor General, rendered a perfectly clear statement, by which it appeared that there were bank bills in circulation to the amount of two milliards, seven hundred millions of livres, without any evidence that this enormous sum had been emitted in virtue of any ordinance from the general assembly of the India Company, which alone had the right to authorize such emissions.
The council was astonished at this disclosure, and looked to the Regent for explanation. Pushed to the extreme, the Regent avowed that Law had emitted bills to the amount of twelve hundred millions beyond what had been fixed by ordinances, and in contradiction to express prohibitions ; that the thing being done, he, the Regent, had legalized or rather covered the transaction, by decrees ordering such emissions, which decrees he had antedated.
A stormy scene ensued between the Regent and the Duke de Bourbon, litile to the credit of either, both having been deeply implicated in the cabalistic operations of the system. In fact, the several members of the council had been among the most venal 'beneficiaries' of the scheme, and had interests at stake which they were anxious to secure. From all the circumstances of the case, I am inclined to think that others were more to blame than Law, for the disastrous effects of his financial projects. His bank, had it been confined to its original limits, and left to the control of its own internal regulations, might have gone on prosperously, and been of great benefit to the nation. It was an institution fitted for a free country; but unfortunately, it was subject to the control of a despotic government, that could, at its pleasure, alter the value of the specie within its vaults, and compel the most extravagant expansions of its paper circulation. The vital principle of a bank is security in the regularity of its operations, and the immediate convertibility of its paper into coin; and what confidence could be reposed in an institution, or its paper promises, when the sovereign could at any moment centuple those promises in the market, and seize upon all the money in the bank ? "The compulsory measures used, likewise, to force bank-notes into currency, against the judgment of the public, was fatal to the system ; for credit must be free and uncontrolled as the common air. The Regent was the evil spirit of the system, that forced Law on to an expansion of his paper currency far beyond what he had ever dreamed of. He it was that in a manner compelled the unlucky projector to devise all kinds of collateral companies and monopolies, by which to raise funds to meet the constantly and enormously increasing emissions of shares and notes. Law was but like a poor conjuror in the hands of a potent spirit that he has evoked, and that obliges him to go on, desperately and ruinously, with his conjurations. He only thought at the outset to raise the wind, but the Regent compelled him to raise the whirlwind.
The investigation of the affairs of the Company by the council, resulted in nothing beneficial to the public. The princes and nobles who had enriched themselves by all kinds of juggles and extortions, escaped unpunished, and retained the greater part of their spoils. Many of the suddenly rich,' who had risen from obscurity to a giddy height of imaginary prosperity, and had indulged in all kinds of vulgar and ridiculous excesses, awoke as out of a dream, in their original
poverty, now made more galling and humiliating by their transient elevation.
The weight of the evil, however, fell on more valuable classes of society; honest tradesmen and artizans, who had been seduced away from the safe pursuits of industry, to the specious chances of speculation. Thousands of meritorious families, also, once opulent, had been reduced to indigence, by a too great confidence in government. There was a general derangement in the finances, that long exerted a baneful influence over the national prosperity; but the most disastrous effects of the system were upon the morals and manners of the nation. The faith of engagements, the sanctity of promises in affairs of business, were at an end. Every expedient to grasp present profit, or to evade present difficulty, was tolerated. While such deplorable laxity of principle was generated in the busy classes, the chivalry of France had soiled their pennons; and honor and glory, so long the idols of the Gallic nobility, had been tumbled to the earth, and trampled in the dirt of the stock-market.
As to law, the originator of the system, he appears eventually to have profited but little by his schemes. He was a quack,' says Voltaire, 'to whom the state was given to be cured, but who poisoned it with his drugs, and who poisoned himself.' The effects which he left behind in France, were sold at a low price, and the proceeds dissipated. His landed estates were confiscated. He carried away with him barely enough to maintain himself, his wife, and daughter, with decency. The chief relique of his immense fortune was a great diamond, which he was often obliged to pawn. He was in England in 1721, and was presented to George the First. He returned shortly afterward, to the continent; shifting about from place to place, and died in Venice, in 1729. His wife and daughter, accustomed to live with the prodigality of princesses, could not conform to their altered fortunes, but dissipated the scanty means left to them, and sank into abject poverty. •I saw his wife,' says Voltaire, at Bruxelles, as much humiliated as she had been haughty and triumphant at Paris.' An elder brother of Law remained in France, and was protected by the Duchess of Bourbon. His descendants have acquitted themselves honorably, in various public employments; and one of them is the Marquis Lauriston, some time Lieutenant General and Peer of France.
BALL AT THRAM'S HUDDLE.
A PENCIL SKETCH : BY MRS. MARY CLAVERS, AUTHOR or 'A NEW HOME :
WHO'LL POLLOW ?'
It was on the sultriest of all melting afternoons, when the flies were taking an unanimous siesta, and the bees, baked beyond honey or humming, swung idly on the honey-suckles, that I observed, with half-shut eye, something like activity among the humau butterflies of our most peaceful of villages. If I could have persuaded myself to turn my head, I might doubtless have ascertained to what favored point were directed the steps (hasty, considering all things,) of the Miss Liggits, Miss Pinn, and my pretty friend, Fanny Russell ; but the hour was unpropitious to research, and slumber beguiled the book from my fingers, before the thought. Where can they be going ! had fairly passed through my mind. Fancy had but just transported me to the focus of a circle of glass-blowers, the furnace directly in front, and the glowing fluid all round me, when I was re-called to almost equally overcoming realities, by a light tap at the door. I must have given the usual invitation mechanically, for before I was fairly awake, the pink face of one of my own hand-maidens shone before my drowsy eyes.
If you do n't want me for nothin', I'd like to go down to the store to get some notions for the ball.'
The ball! what! a red-hot ball!' I replied, for the drowsy influence was settling over me again, and I was already on the deck of a frigate, in the midst of a sharply-contested action.
Massy no, marm! this here Independence ball up to Thram's Huddle,' said Jane, with a giggle.'
I was now wide awake with astonishment, 'A dance, Jane, in such weather as this !'
Why law! yes; nothin' makes a body so cool as dancin' and drinkin' hot tea.'
This was beyond argument. Jane departed, and I amused myself with the flittings of gingham sun-bonnets and white aprons up and down the street, in the scorching sun.
It was waxing toward the tea-hour, when that prettiest of Fannies, Fanny Russell, her natural ringlets of shadowy gold, which a duchess might envy, looking all the richer under the melting influence of the time, came tripping into the little porch.
• If you would be so kind as to lend me that large feather fan; I would take such yood care of it! It 's for the ball.?
“Sweet Fanny! one must be churlish indeed, to deny thee a far greater boon!'
Next came that imp, Ring Jones; but he goes slyly round to the kitchen-door, with an air of great importance. Presently, enter Jane.
Ring Jones has brought a kind of a bill, marm, for our Mark ; and Mark ain't to hum, and Ring says he can't go without an answer.'
But I cannot answer Mark's billets, you know, Jane.'