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The Spaniards discovered the Mississippi. De Soto was buried beneath its waters; and it was down its muddy current that his followers fled from the Eldorado of their dreams, transformed to a wilderness of misery and death. The discovery was never used, and was well-nigh forgotten. On early Spanish maps, the Mississippi is often indistinguishable from other affluents of the Gulf. A century passed after De Soto's journeyings in the South, before a French explorer reached a northern tributary of the great river. Zenobe Membr in Le Clerc, ii. 202.
Stood waiting too, for whom? Lord Chatham."
The Court and the nobles were greatly alarmed, and secretly preparing for war. The nobles had joined the Assembly with the utmost repugnance, and many only on the assurance that the union would not continue. The members of that Order continued to protest against the proceedings of the Assembly, rather than join in its deliberations. The king himself had consented to the union, in the hope that the nobles would be able to put a check on the Tiers tat. King and nobles saw now that all such hopes were vain. And whilst Necker was retained to satisfy the people for the present, and whilst Mounier, Lally Tollendal, and Clermont Tonnerre were consulting with him on establishing a Constitution resembling that of Britain, the Court was preparing to put down the insurrection and the Assembly by force. Marshal Broglie was placed at the head of the troops which surrounded both Paris and Versailles. He judged of both soldiers and citizens by the recollections of the Seven Years' War, and assured the king that a little grape-shot would soon disperse the rioters. Fifteen regiments, chiefly foreign, had been gradually drawn round the capital. The headquarters of Broglie were at Versailles, where he had a brilliant staff and a formidable train of artillery, some of which commanded the very hall in which the Assembly sat. There was a battery at the bridge of Svres, commanding the road to Paris, and in Paris itself there were strong batteries on Montmartre, which overlooked the city, and which, moreover, were carefully entrenched. Besides these preparations, there were French regiments quartered at St. Germain, Charenton, St. Cloud, and other places. Altogether, fifty thousand troops were calculated to be collected. The old noblesse were impatient for the king to give the order to disperse the people both in Paris and Versailles; to surround the Assembly, seize the chief members, put them in prison, and send the rest adrift; to treat the ringleaders of the electors in the same manner; to dissolve formally the States General, and restore the old order of things. Had the reins of government been in the hands of a Bonaparte, the whole plan would have been executed, and would for the time, without doubt, have succeeded. But Louis XVI. was not the man for a coup-d'tat of that rigorous nature. He shuddered at the idea of shedding his subjects' blood; and instead of doing that for which the troops had been assembled, he now listened to Necker, who reminded him that when the people were put down or shot down, and the States General dispersed, the old debts and difficulties would remain, and without States General or Parliament there would be no authority to impose or collect taxes. To Necker's arguments, the more timid and liberal nobles added that the excitement would soon wear itself out; that nothing serious could be done in the presence of such forces, and that the Constitution, once completed, all would right itself, and that he would have to congratulate himself on his bloodless patience in a new and happier reign. This was humane but fatal advice in the circumstances. The soldiers, allowed to remain inactive in the very midst of the hotbed of sedition, were sure to become infected with the spirit of revolution. The debates in the National Assembly were actively distributed in print, and the soldiers read them eagerly.
* Mmoire de 1736 (printed by the Historical Society ofAs Blucher was, as usual, much ahead of the other divisions of the Allies, Buonaparte resolved to attack him before he could form a junction with Schwarzenberg. Blucher, informed of his purpose, concentrated his forces at Brienne, on the Aube, fourteen miles below Bar. Brienne is only a small village, having but two streets, one of them ascending to the chateauoccupied as a military academy, where Napoleon himself received his military educationthe other leading to Arcis-sur-Aube. Blucher had quartered himself in the chateau, and was at dinner with his staff, on the 27th of January, when he was astonished to find that Buonaparte was already upon him. The chateau being surrounded by a woody park, Napoleon had approached under cover of it, and suddenly driven in two thousand Russians posted there, and was rushing on to capture the general and all his staff. A most miserable look-out must have been kept by the Prussian outposts. Blucher and his generals, startled by the terrible uproar, had just time to escape by a postern, and by leading their horses down a flight of steps. Recovered, however, from their surprise, the Russians turned on the French, and were soon supported by the Prussians. The Cossacks galloped forward, and nearly succeeded in capturing Buonaparte at the head of his troops. One man was laying hands on the Man in the Grey Coat, when Gourgaud shot him with a pistol. Buonaparte gained possession of Brienne, but, like Moscow, it was burned over his head, and it was not till eleven o'clock at night that Blucher, who had only twenty thousand men engaged, retired, and took up a position at La Rothire. It could scarcely be styled a victory, yet Napoleon proclaimed it a brilliant one, asserting that he had taken fifteen thousand prisoners and forty pieces of cannon, when he had taken no cannon whatever, and only a hundred prisoners.
Drunkenness was at this time the most destructive vice in the colony. One writer declares that most of the Canadians drink so much brandy in the morning, that they are unfit for work all day. ** Another says that a canoe-man when he is tired will lift a keg of brandy to his lips and drink the raw liquor from the bung-hole, after which, having spoiled his appetite, he goes to bed supperless; and that, what with drink and hardship, he is an old man at forty. Nevertheless the race did not deteriorate. The prevalence of early marriages, and the birth of numerous offspring before the vigor of the father had been wasted, ensured the strength and hardihood which characterized the Canadians. As Denonville describes them so they long remained. The Canadians are tall, well-made, and well set on their legs (bienplants sur leurs jambes), robust, vigorous, and accustomed in time of need to live on little. They have intelligence and vivacity, but are wayward, light-minded, and inclined to debauchery.
S. Jr?me, dont elle toit connue, eut les mains dessches