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A letter subsequently received from Lafayette gives him two months' later tidings, extending to the middle of March. "Our revolution pursues its march as happily as is possible, with a nation which, receiving at once all its liberties, is yet subject to confound them with licentiousness. The Assembly has more of hatred against the ancient system, than of experience to organize the new constitutional government; the ministers regret their ancient power, and do not dare to make use of that which they have; in short, as all which existed has been destroyed, and replaced by institutions very incomplete, there is ample matter for critiques and calumnies. Add to this, we are attacked by two sorts of enemies; the aristocrats who aim at a counter-revolution, and the factious who would annihilate all authority, perhaps even attempt the life of the members of the reigning branch. These two parties foment all the troubles.
"After having avowed all this, my dear general, I will tell you, with the same frankness, that we have made an admirable and almost incredible destruction of all the abuses, of all the prejudices; that all which was not useful to the people; all which did not come from them, has been retrenched; that, in considering the situation, topographical, moral, and political of France, we have effected more changes in ten months, than the most presumptuous patriots could have hoped, and that the reports about our anarchy, our internal troubles, are greatly exaggerated."
THE KEY OF THE BASTILLE.
In concluding his letter, he writes: "Permit me, my dear general, to offer you a picture representing the Bastille, such as it was some days after I had given orders for its demolition. I make you homage, also,
of the principal key of this fortress of despotism. It is a tribute which I owe you, as son to my adopted father, as aide-de-camp to my general, as missionary of liberty to its patriarch." *
Thomas Paine was to have been the bearer of the key, but he forwarded it to Washington from London. "I feel myself happy," writes he, "in being the person through whom the Marquis has conveyed this early trophy of the spoils of despotism, and the first ripe fruits of American principles, transplanted into Europe, to his great master and patron. That the principles of America opened the Bastille is not to be doubted, and, therefore, the key comes to the right place."
Washington received the key with reverence, as a token of the victory gained by liberty over despotism;" and it is still preserved at Mount Vernon, as a precious historical relic.
His affectionate solicitude for the well-being of Lafayette, was somewhat relieved by the contents of his letter; but, while his regard for the French nation made him rejoice in the progress of the political reform which he considered essential to its welfare, he felt a generous solicitude for the personal safety of the youthful monarch, who had befriended America in its time of need. Happy am I, my good friend," writes he to the Marquis, "that, amidst all the tremendous tempests which have assailed your political ship, you have had address and fortitude enough to steer her hitherto safely through the quicksands and rocks which threatened instant destruction on every side; and that your young king, in all things, seems so well disposed to conform
* Mem. de Lafayette, T. ii. 446.
to the wishes of the nation. In such an important, such a hazardous voyage, when every thing dear and sacred is embarked, you know full well, my best wishes have never left you for a moment. Yet I will avow, that the accounts we received through the English papers, which were sometimes our only channels of information, caused our fears of failure almost to exceed our expectations of success.
Those fears were not chimerical; for, at the very time he penned this letter, the Jacobin club of Paris had already sent forth ramifications throughout France corresponding clubs were springing up by hundreds in the provinces, and every thing was hurrying forward to a violent catastrophe.
VISIT TO RHODE ISLAND.
Three days after the despatch of the last-cited letter, and two days after the adjournment of Congress, Washington, accompanied by Mr. Jefferson, departed by water on a visit to Rhode Island, which State had recently acceded to the Union. He was cordially welcomed by the inhabitants, and returned to New York, after an absence of ten days, whence he again departed for his beloved Mount Vernon, there to cast off public cares as much as possible, and enjoy the pleasures of the country during the residue of the recess of Congress.
FRONTIER DIFFICULTIES WITH THE INDIANS-GENERAL HARMER'S EXPEDITION AGAINST THEM-AMBUSCADE OF COL. HARDIN'S DETACHMENT -ESCAPE OF CAPT. ARMSTRONG-A SECOND DETACHMENT OF COL HARDIN COMPELLED TO RETREAT-WASHINGTON'S LONG ANXIETY AS TO THE RESULT OF THE ENTERPRISE-FINAL TIDINGS.
FREQUENT depredations had of late been made on our frontier settlements by what Washington termed "certain banditti of Indians" from the north-west side of the Ohio. Some of our people had been massacred and others carried into deplorable captivity.
Strict justice and equity had always formed the basis of Washington's dealings with the Indian tribes, and he had endeavored to convince them that such was the general policy of our government; but his efforts were often thwarted by the conduct of our own people; the encroachments of land speculators and the lawless conduct of our frontiersmen; and jealousies thus excited were fomented by the intrigues of foreign agents.
The Indians of the Wabash and the Miami rivers, who were the present aggressors, were numerous, warlike, and not deficient in discipline. They were well armed also, obtaining weapons and ammunition from the posts which the British still retained within the territories of the United States, contrary to the treaty of peace.
Washington had deprecated a war with these savages, whom he considered acting under delusion; but finding all pacific overtures unavailing, and rather productive of more daring atrocities, he felt compelled to resort to it, alike by motives of policy, humanity, and justice. An act had been provided for emergencies, by which the President was empowered to call out the militia for the protection of the frontier; this act he put in force in the interval of Congress; and under it an expedition was set on foot, which began its march on the 30th of September from Fort Washington (which stood on the site of the present city of Cincinnati). Brigadier General Harmer, a veteran of the revolution, led the expedition, having under him three hundred and twenty regulars, with militia detachments from Pennsylvania and Virginia (or Kentucky), making in all fourteen hundred and fifty-three men. After a march of seventeen days, they approached the principal village of the Miamis. The Indians did not await an attack, but set fire to the village and fled to the woods. The destruction of the place, with that of large quantities of provisions, was completed.
An Indian trail being discovered, Colonel Hardin, a continental officer who commanded the Kentucky militia, was detached to follow it, at the head of one hundred and fifty of his men, and about thirty regulars; under Captain Armstrong and Ensign Hartshorn. They followed the trail for about six miles, and were crossing a plain covered by thickets, when suddenly there were volleys of rifles on each side, from unseen marksmen, accompanied by the horrid war-whoop. The trail had, in fact, decoyed them into an ambush of