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ANECDOTE OF MONTBERAUT.
limbs broken one after another by blows from an iron bar, and so left to die. A fate even more frightful awaited the wretched soldiers. They were privates of the Swiss regiment of Hallwyl; and according to an ancient traditional barbarous usage extant amongst those troops, having been brought forth upon the esplanade before Fort Condé, they were each nailed down in a tight wooden coffin, and sawed asunder, man, box and all, with a cross-cut saw by two sergeants. These unrelenting and hideous punishments strongly exhibit the terrific and unscrupulous rigor with which military discipline was maintained in those distant regions, as well as the obedient and timid character of a population who could patiently acquiesce in them.
Bossu, a captain of marines, published, in 1771, his Travels in Louisiana, which contain many amusing accounts of his experiences while stationed there in the days of which we are speaking. Upon one occasion, having conducted a detachment to Fort Toulouse, he learned a characteristic incident illustrative of the Jesuits and of their relations to the French military officers. Montberaut, commanding the fort, a gentleman, possessed, like so many others of his nation both of the attainments and manners of a polished and courtly gentleman, and of the seemingly incongruous qualifications which led him into a sort of sworn brotherhood and great influence with the
tribes, despised the Jesuits, who were stationed at the fort, and was always at enmity with them. Father Le Roy, a Jesuit, wrote to the governor, abusing Montberaut without stint, and advising his removal. The messenger showed the letter to the commandant, who quietly pocketed it. Meeting the priest next morning, the reverend gentleman, as Bossu slily says, “ according to the political principles of these good fathers,” was excessively civil; whereupon Montberaut took occasion incidentally to ask him if he had written anything unfavorable to him. The Jesuit swore he had not; whereupon Montberaut called him a cheat and an impostor, and nailed up his letter at the gate of the fort; after which time, according to Bossu, there were no Jesuits to be found among the Creeks and Alabamas.
The country inhabited by those tribes, Bossu found exceedingly lovely and fertile, and thickly peopled by hospitable and happy savages. A. J. Pickett, from whose exceedingly valuable and entertaining History of Alabama we have obtained many of the facts here narrated, referring to the wild beauty of that delicious region, unaffectedly and quaintly thus laments over the so-called “improvements” of late introduced.
“But now the whole scene is changed. The country is no longer half so beautiful; the waters of Alabama begin to be discolored; the forests have
been cut down ; steamers have destroyed the finny
1 race; deer bound not over the plain ; the sluggish bear has ceased to wind through the swamps; the bloody panther does not spring upon his prey ; wolves have ceased to howl upon the hills; birds cannot be seen in the branches of the trees; graceful warriors guide no longer their well-shaped canoes, and beautiful squaws loiter not upon the plain, nor pick the delicious berries. Now, vast fields of cotton, noisy steamers, huge rafts of lumber, towns reared for business, disagreeable corporation laws, harassing courts of justice, mills, factories, and everything else that is calculated to destroy the beauty of a country and rob man of his quiet and native independence, present themselves to our view.”
While Bossu was at the Fort, advices were brought that the Emperor of Coweta—for the early writers distributed imperial and kingly honors on every hand amongst the petty forest patriarchs with wonderous profuseness—was about to honor the French with a visit. Bossu walked forth to meet this mighty
a potentate, and as he took him by the hand, the guard who accompanied him discharged their muskets, and a salute was also fired from the fort, to the excessive gratification of the emperor, who, like many dis
, tinguished men now living, found great glory in a noise and a bad smell. As he alighted from his horse and advanced with deliberate and majestic pace
toward the fort, the Europeans walking behind him, enjoyed an excellent opportunity of observing his costume, which consisted of a heavy plume of black feathers in his topknot, a scarlet uniform coat most gorgeously bedizened with tinsel lace, a white linen shirt modestly flowing from beneath it, and two bare copper-colored legs. They found some difficulty, according to Bossu, in preserving the gravity proper for the occasion; although they might possibly have been puzzled to establish the logical relation between true grandeur and a pair of breeches.
Sitting down to a state feast prepared for him by D'Aubant, the husband of the fugitive princess, and then the successor of Montberaut in command of the post, the young emperor-a youth of eighteen-was much gravelled at the unaccustomed knife and fork, but a wise old chief who accompanied him as a kird of Mentor, cut the knot by coolly dismembering a turkey with his fingers, gravely remarking that “the Master of life made fingers before the making of forks.”
A savage who waited behind the emperor's chair, observing the Frenchmen sedulous in seasoning their boiled beef with mustard, asked Beaudin, an officer who had lived forty years amongst the Creeks, what it was that they relished so much? Beaudin replied that the French were by no means covetous even of the best of their possessions, and to demonstrate the liberality he boasted, he handed the Indian hench
man a generous spoonful of the fiery condiment with ostentatious gravity. The savage unhesitatingly swallowed it; but found himself quite unable, with all his Indian fortitude, to hide the tingling agony. He made divers fearful grimaces, and extraordinary contortions of body, and uttered a number of whoops indicative of his feelings, all to the unbounded merriment of the company. But at last he imagined himself poisoned, and the polite commandant was fain to appease his anger and his pain together, by the unfailing panacea of a good glass of brandy.
On another of Bossu’s expeditions through the woods, having gone quietly to sleep near the river's bank, rolled up in a corner of the tent-cloth, in his bear skin, and with a nice string of fish for breakfast stowed by his side, he was startlingly awakened to find himself rapidly propelled by some invisible power through the darkness, towards the river. He roared lustily for help, but bestirring himself smartly, only managed, before help could come, to free himself and his bear skin, just in season to see his tentcloth and his fish go under water in the jaws of an immense alligator. The horrible monster, smelling the fish, and not very particular what else he took, had carelessly seized the tent-cloth, and was trundling off commander, tent, bed and all, along with his luncheon ; quite unintentionally, but with reprehen: sible carelessness.