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joke, for a moment after their mutual salutations. Others came in, and all were disposed to gull their friends in the same manner.
The most amusing of all the incidents connected with this head, occurred in London, where I had sent it after the peace of 1783, when I had established a bachelor's hall in that city. I placed the figure, in full dress, with the head leaning out of the window, apparently gazing up and down the square. He had formerly been well known in that part of the city, and was at once recognized. Observing a collection of people gathering at another window looking at him, I ordered him down.
The morning papers announced the arrival of Doctor Franklin at an American merchant's in Beliter square, and I found it necessary to contradict the report. In the interval, three Boston gentlemen who were in the city, expressed a wish to pay their respects to the doctor. I desired them to call in the evening, and bring their letters of introduction, which they informed me they bore, expecting to see him at Paris. I concerted measures with a frieud, to carry the harmless deception to the utmost extent on this occasion. Before entering, I apprised them that he was deeply engaged in examining maps and papers, and begged they would not be disturbed at any apparent inattention. Thus prepared, I conducted them into a spacious room. Franklin was seated at the extremity, with the atlas, etc., and my friend at the wires. I advanced in succession with each, half across the room, and introduced them by name. Franklin raised his head, bowed, and resumed his attention to the atlas. I then retired, and seated them at the further side of the room. They spoke to me in whispers :
• What a venerable figure,' exclaims one. •Why don't he speak ?" says another.
'He is doubtless in a reverie,' I remarked, 'and has forgotten the presence of his company; his great age must be his apology. Get your letters, and go up again with me to him.'
When near the table, I said, "Mr. B., sir, from Boston.' The head
A letter,' says B., ' from Doctor Cooper.'
I could go no further. The scene was too ludicrous. As B. held out the letter, I struck the figure smartly, exclaiming :
Why don't you receive the letter like a gentleman ?'
They were all petrified with astonishment, but B. never forgave me the joke."
ADVENTURES OF WATSON.
In the preceding sketch, we have made an extract from the journal of Elkanah Watson, which work is entitled “Men and Times of the American Revolution,” and is full of interesting incidents of adventure, both in Europe and America. A relation of a few of those within his experience while abroad, come well within our scope. Watson was a native of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and, in the latter part of our revolution, when he was twenty-one years of age, went to Europe, where he was for several years engaged in mercantile operations. During this period, he was on intimate terms with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and other of the most eminent of his countrymen.
Watson sailed for France in 1779, in a small, swift-moving packet, con
structed for the purpose of transmitting dispatches, and in twenty-nine days arrived at St. Martin, the port of Rochelle. Everything was new and strange to him-the clattering of wooden shoes along the pavement; the young ladies astride of mules; the appeals of beggars at every corner, and the novelty of the language and customs. His party were alike objects of curiosity. They were followed around the town by the boys, gazed at by the crowd, while the words, “there go the brave Bostonians," continually reached their ears. As the war commenced in Boston, the term Bostonians was popularly given in France to the whigs of the Revolution.
From Rochelle, Mr. Watson proceeded to Paris, and there called upon Dr. Franklin, with his dispatches. It gave him exquisite pleasure to meet this great man, whose name had been so familiar to him from his cradle. "The ensuing day," says Watson, “I returned to Passy, to dine by invitation, with Dr. Franklin. At the hour of dinner, he conducted me across a spacious garden of several acres, to the princely residence of M. Le Ray de Chaumont. This was the first occasion of my dining in a private circle in Europe, and being still in my American style of dress, and ignorant of the French language, and prepared for extreme ceremony, I felt exceedingly embarrassed.
We entered a spacious room, I following the doctor, where several welldressed persons (to my unsophisticated eyes, gentlemen) bowed to us profoundly. These were servants. A folding door opened at our approach, and presented to my view a brilliant assembly, who all greeted the wise old man in the most cordial and affectionate manner. He introduced me as a young American just arrived. One of the young ladies approached him with the familiarity of a daughter, tapped him kindly on the cheek, and called him 'Pa-pa Franklin.'
I was enraptured with the ease and freedom exhibited in the table intercourse in France. Instead of the cold ceremony and formal compliments, to which I had been accustomed on such occasions, here all apa peared at ease, and well sustained. Some were amusing themselves with music, others in singing ; some were waltzing, and others gathered in little groups in conversation. At the table, the ladies and gentlemen were mingled together, and joined in cheerful conversation, each selecting the delicacies of various courses, and drinking of delicious light wines, but with neither toasts nor healths.
The lady of the house, instead of bearing the burden and inconvenience of superintending the duties of the table, here participates alike with others in its enjoyment. No gentlemen, I was told, would be tolerated in France, in monopolizing the conversation of the table, in discussions of politics or religion, as is frequently the case in America. A cup of coffee ordinarily terminates the dinner.”
On visiting the paintings in the Louvre, he was greatly pleased to find the portrait of Franklin honored, and, by the royal orders in being, hung near those of the king and queen. His popularity and influence at court were almost unprecedented, and he was so much venerated by the people, that Watson often saw the people following his carriage just as they had the king's.
“His venerable figure, the ease of his manners, formed in an intercourse of fifty years with the world, his benevolent countenance, and
his fame as a philosopher, all tended to excite love and to command influ. ence and respect.” He was an especial favorite of the queen, and through the strong political influence she held, adroitly directed by him, the government was led to acknowledge our independence, and to aid us in the struggle with fleets and armies.
The winter of 1780–81, Watson spent in Rennes, and being the first of his countrymen ever seen there, the public curiosity in regard to him was very great, for most people had an idea that an American must be an Indi
The French, at that time, were very ignorant about our country and people. The first night Watson arrived at Ancinis, he retired without having first seen the professors. The students, learning that an American had arrived, entered his room in the morning, and thinking he was asleep carefully turned aside the curtain of his bed, with the expectation of seeing an Indian ! Watson's object in passing a winter at Rennes, was to perfect himself in French, the language being spoken there with remarkable purity, and also to rub off a little of his American rust, by contact with the elegant society of that gay city. In the spring he returned to Nantes, where he had established a mercantile house. At that time the notorious Tom Paine arrived at that place, and boarded at the same house with Wat
He came in the capacity of secretary to Colonel Laurens, Minister Extraordinary from Congress. His manners and person were coarse, uncouth and loathsome. He was eternally either talking of himself or reading his own compositions. “ Yet,” says Watson, “I could not repress the deepest emotions of gratitude toward him, as the instrument of Providence in accelerating the Declaration of our Independence. He certainly was a prominent agent in preparing the public sentiment of America for that glorious event. The idea of Independence had not occupied the popular mind, and when guardedly approached on the subject, it shrunk from the conception, as fraught with doubt, with peril, and with suffering.
In 1776, I was present, at Providence, Rhode Island, in a social assembly of the most prominent leaders of the State. I recollect that the subject of Independence was cautiously introduced by an ardent whig, and the thought seemed to excite the abhorrence of the whole circle.
A few weeks later, Paine's Common Sense appeared, and passed through the continent like at electric spark. It everywhere flashed conviction, and aroused a determined spirit, which resulted in the Declaration of Independence, upon the 4th of July ensuing. The name of Paine was precious to every whig heart, and had resounded throughout Europe.
On his arrival being announced, the mayor and some of the most distinguished citizens of Nantes, called upon him to render their homage of cospect. I often officiated as interpreter, although humbled and mortified at his filthy appearance and awkward and unseemly address. Besides, as he had been roasted alive on his arrival at L'Orient, for the and well basted with brimstone, he was absolutely offensive, and perfumed the whole apartment. He was soon rid of his respectable visitors, who left the room with marks of astonishment and disgust. I took the liberty, on his asking for the loan of a clean shirt, of speaking to him frankly of his dirty appearance and brimstone odor, and prevailed upon him to stew for an hour, in a hot bath. This, however, was not done without much
entreaty, and I did not succeed until, receiving a file of English newspapers, I promised, after he was in the bath, he should have the reading of them, and not before. He at once consented, and accompanied me to the bath, where I instructed the keeper in French (which Paine did not understand) to gradually increase the heat of the water, until ‘le Monsieur etait bien bouilli. He became so much absorbed in his reading that he was nearly par-boiled before leaving the bath, much to his improvement and my satisfaction.
One of the most critical and remarkable events of my life occurred at this period. The Marshal de Castries, the Minister of Marine, was passing through Nantes, on his way to Brest, for the purpose of dispatching the Count de Grasse with the fleet, which subsequently acted with so much efficiency against Cornwallis.
Half the population of the city, prompted by their curiosity, poured in a torrent beyond the gates, to meet the marshal and his retinue. I threw myself into this living current. As soon as the 'avant courier ' appeared in the distance, the immense crowd paraded on either side of the road. At the moment the minister and his retinue approached, a little bell tinkled on the opposite side, in directing the passage of the 'Bon Dieu,' inclosed in a silver vase, and held by a Catholic priest, on his way to administer the Sacrament to a dying believer. The bell was held by a small boy, who preceded the sacred procession ; four men supported a canopy over the priests head, and forty or fifty stupid peasants, in wooden shoes, followed. Custom obliged all to kneel, as this venerated 'Bon Dieu' passed by ; but on this occasion, most of the spectators, owing to the deep mud, leaned on their canes, with hats in their hands, in a respectful posture. The couriers checked their horses-the carriages stopped, and all were thrown into confusion by the unfortunate presence of the 'Bon Dieu.' At this moment the priest; as if impelled by the spirit of malice, halted the procession, and stopped the host directly in front of the place where I stood, and to my utter amazement, pointing directly at me with his finger, exclaimed, “aux genoux'-to your knees. I pointed in vain to the mud, and the position of those about me similar to my own. He again repeated, in a voice of thunder, 'aux genoux. My Yankee blood flamed at this wanton attack, I forgot myself, and, with a loud voice, replied in French, no, sir, I will not.' The populace, thunderstruck to see their ‘Bon Dieu' thus insulted, fired with enthusiasm, broke their ranks, and were pressing toward me, with violent imprecations. A German gentleman, an acquaintance, and then at my side, exclaimed, ‘for God's sake, drop in an instant.' Alarmed at my critical situation, I reluctantly settled my knees into a mud-bole. Every one within my hearing who were respectable, Catholics and Protestants, condemned the rash and inexcusable conduct of the priest.
My keenest sensibilities were outraged, and I vowed vengeance upon the audacious priest. The next afternoon, I set off, armed with a good hickory, to trace out his residence, and to effect my determination. I proceeded to the spot where the offense had been committed, entered the hut of a peasant, and inquired the name of the priest who, the day before, had passed with the 'Bon Dieu.' He replied, "Ma foi, oui, ce Monsieur Barage
-yes, faith, it is M. Barage. He pointed to the steeple of the church where he
officiated, near the suburbs of the city. I soon found his house, and pulled a bell-rope. A good-looking, middle-aged woman, the housekeeper, soon appeared. Contrary to her interdiction, I sprung into the court-yard, and proceeded directly to the house, and made my way to his library. The priest soon appeared, demanded my business, exclaiming that I was a murderer or robber,' and ordered me to quit his house. I sprung to the door, locked it, and placing the key in my pocket, approached him in a hostile attitude. I compelled him to admit that he recognized my features. I then poured forth.my detestation of him, and of the tyranny of the French clergy. I told him I was a native of North America, the ally of France; that I was under the protection of Dr. Franklin, and would not leave him until I had received adequate remuneration for the unprovoked insult I had received. In a word, I insisted on his apologizing to me, in the same posture in which I had been placed. In taking my leave, I assured him I should proceed with the American consul, and enter my formal complaint against him to the bishop. This threat alarmed him, and he fervently urged my forbearance. I went, however, immediately to our consul, Col. Williams, and communicated to him these incidents. He apprised me of the extreme danger I should be subjected to from the hostility of the priests, and admonished me, as the safest course, to prosecute the affair no further. By his advice, and that of Tom Paine, I changed my lodgings, and for two or three weeks avoided the streets. No further unpleasant consequence resulted from this occurrence."
While at Nantes, Watson became acquainted with an American, one of those intrepid adventurers of which our country has been so prolific. His history, if it could be fully given, would be a volume of rare attractiveness. This personage was Louis Littlepage, a native of Hanover County, Va. He went to Europe in 1780, under the patronage of Mr. Jay, our Minister at the Court of Spain. He was at the time a mere youth, but made everywhere a strong impression, from his extraordinary genius and acquirements, and from his noble, commanding figure, set off by dark sparkling eyes and a striking physiognomy. He eventually left the service of Mr. Jay, and acted as volunteer aid to the Duke de Ciellon at the siege of Minorca. He was blown up with a floating battery at the attack on Gibraltar, but was saved. Throughout the siege he was conspicuous. Later, he was on the flag-ship of the Spanish admiral, and, in the midst of a hotly-contested battle, deliberately sketched the positions of the vessels of the respective fleets. This sketch, which was a masterly view of the action, he subsequently showed to the Spanish Minister, and he was greeted with great honor at the Spanish Court. He eventually found his way to Poland, and became in effect prime minister to the king. On being sent as the Polish ambassador to St. Petersburg, he evinced signal ability, and won the friendship of the Empress Catharine. When Poland fell, he returned to his native land, and died in Fredericksburg, Va. A severe controversy arose between him and Mr. Jay, in consequence of his refusing to refund money loaned him by that eminent patriot, and he attacked Mr. Jay in a pamphlet that evinced alike the genius and the bitterness of a Junius.
In the fall of 1781, Watson made the tour of Northern France and the Netherlands. On his return, he dined and passed an evening with Franklin