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FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
ORIGIN OF THE FAMILY OF VERGENNES.
M. De Chavigni, whose services in the diplomatic line were so conspicuous during the latter part of the reign of Louis XIV, and particularly at Gertrudenberg, being worn out in public business and tired of the world, spent the evening of his life at a retired castle in Burgundy, and there died, at a very advanced age, without leaving any relations that the world knew of.
Chevignar, his steward, a man of talents, who had rendered himself very useful to him, and frequently acted as his amanuensis, leaving the estate to go as it had been willed, determined to avail himself of the facility with which he could counterfeit his late employer's signature, in a way more safe, and of equal importance to his own family. He composed a letter as if dictated and signed by M. de Chavigni, to the king, imploring his protection in favour of an old and faithful servant, now in his last illness, for two youths, who bore his name, and were his only relations: these were the sons of Chevignar himself, who, being properly tutored for the purpose, appeared soon after at court under the name of Chavigni. The letter had been well composed, and calculated to operate upon the sensibility of the monarch, now himself very rapidly approaching his dissolution, and as the youths looked their parts well, they were soon handsomely provided for: one was made a cornet of horse in the gendarmerie, and the other, who had been originally intended for the church, and who was the younger of the two, was gratified with a good abbey: it happened however, unfortunately for the brothers, that a person whose claim to the same abbey had been passed over in favour of the younger Chavigni, being of the same province, and having learnt something of this pretended relationship which had been set up, took pains to inform himself, and discovered and made public the whole affair: as it was impossible that the king should be long ignorant of the imposition which had been put upon him, and as it was known, that he was not very likely to forgive it, the brothers were very expeditious in making their escape out of the kingdom. They fled to Holland, and there the abbe died, and the elder, who had been affected by the tender solicitude of a young woman, a servant maid of the inn, where they lodged, for his sick brother, attached himself to her, and passed some hours of even' day in her company. It so happened, that they were one day conversing and exchanging mutual vows, perhaps in an unfrequented room of an upper story of the inn, when the footsteps of the landlady were heard upon the stairs, and the lover had barely time to get into an empty press, when she entered, followed by two strangers, who requested to be left undisturbed, and having seen the landlady and her maid fairly out of hearing, drew a table into the middle of the room, spread several papers upon it, and proceeded to busines: they were two Frenchmen, it seems, in the interests of the duchess of Maine, who was at that time carrying on a plot to overset the regency of the duke of Orleans, an event on which very important consequences depended; and among others, the succession of the house of Hanover to the throne of England. The affairs treated of by the stranger related entirely to the secret history of that business of which Chavigni, for he still retained the name, lost not a word, nor did he neglect to be ready in his press against the next meeting which the strangers appointed at the same place. They here went on with the business they had discussed before, and communicated to each other, and read aloud the letters which they had received from France; they enabled the listener in short, to become perfectly well acquainted with all their schemes, their hopes, their fears, and their wishes, and had hardly left the house, when he was already on his way with post-horses to Paris.
His first care there was to address himself to the regent by letter, and to solicit an interview in order to disclose a circumstance of the highest importance, which he had learned, he said, by means of certain connexions in foreign courts; but the prince, who relied upon his own means of information, and could with difficulty spare a moment from his pleasures, was not easily prevailed on to grant him an audience; he did so, however, at length, but seemed not disposed to pay the least credit to what was communicated, till Chavigni offered to be immediately confined in the Bastile, there to remain for life, if his information should prove unfounded, and trusting to the prince altogether for his reward, in case it should be verified.
In the space of the three weeks afterwards happened the event which Voltaire has so well related in his Siecle de Louis XIV; the papers of the Spanish ambassador were seized; the duchess of Maine was exiled; and the persons who were considered as having been most in her confidence were shut up in the Bastile whence Chavigni was liberated with honour, to be handsomely rewarded, and employed in a way, which, as the regent supposed, would be most suitable to the genius of one who had proved himself so capable of discovering the most secret intrigues of foreign powers. He was not long after appointed ambassador to Portugal, and being allowed, as is usual, to recommend a proper person as secretary of legation, he reminded him of an obscure youth, a nephew of his whom he sent for, together with another nephew, a younger brother of the first; the one was afterwards minister of France at Constantinople and in Switzerland, and the other became in process of time secretary of state for foreign affairs, under the name of Monsieur de Vergennes, than whom no person perhaps contributed more to the establishment of American Independence.
FOR THE PORT FOI la
Historical and philosophical Papers, left by the late Cadwallader Colden, lieut. governor of New-York, announced in a letter from his grandson Cadwallader 1). Colden Esq. to Dr. Mitchill; dated NewYork, 25th September, 1809.
I am happy to have it in my power to send you the enclosed piece on fevers, written by my grandfather, about which you made some inquiries of me a short time since.
In my search for this paper I have been led to examine the manuscripts left by my grandfather, which are now in my possession, with more attention than I have before done. There are many of them which appear to me to be curious and valuable. I subjoin a description of some of them; and should you think that any of them are worth preserving, I should be happy to find that such were rescued from oblivion by being transferred to the pages of the Medical Repository.
1. Plants? Coldenhamis in Provincia Noveboracenci spontanea crecentes, quas ad methodum Linruei sexulem, anno 1742. Observavit Cadwallader Colden.
2. Observations on Smith's History of New-York, in a series of letters to his son, Alexander Colden.
3. An Introduction to the study of Philosophy.
4. An Inquiry into the principles of Vital Motion.
5. A Translation of the letters of Cicero, with an introduction by Cadwallader Colden.
6. A Correspondence with Doctor Benjamin Franklin from the year 1743 to 1757.
7. Correspondence with Linnaeus—1747 to 1751.
8. Correspondence with Gronovious of Leyden-1743 to 1755.
9. Correspondence with Doctor Alexander Garden of South Carolina—1748 to 1768.
10. Correspondence with Doctor William Douglass of Boston—1720 to 1747.
11. Correspondence with Mr. John Bartram of Pennsylvania—1742 to 1747.
Vol. 111. *
12. Correspondence with Mr. Peter Collinson of London, F. R. S.—1740 to 1769.
13. Sundry letters from Mr. Samuel Pike, Doctor Fothergill, and Doctor Poterfield of London.
14. Correspondence with the Reverend Samuel Johnson of Connecticut—1743 to 1747.
15. Correspondence with Doctor Whytt of Edinburgh— 1758 to 1763.
16. Letters to Doctor John Bard of New-York on the small pox—1747 to 1764.
17. Correspondence with James Alexander, Esquire, of NewYork, on the King's Council—1747 to 1764.
18. Correspondence with the earl of Macklesfield on astronomical subjects.
Almost all the letters of this correspondence are on medical, philosophical, or literary subjects. Besides these there are the manuscripts of the works he has published, and innumerable letters to and from very celebrated persons as well of Europe as America. These carry his correspondence back as far as the year 1710, and bring it down, almost uninterruptedly, till the time of his death, in the year 1776. There are also a great variety of papers on public affairs, which I have not yet examined.
I am, sir, with great respect,
Your obedient humble servant,
Cadwallader D. Colden.
FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
DESTOUCHES, A CELEBRATED DRAMATIC AUTHOR.
Destouches, the author of several plays, two of which are among the most admired of the French stage, was originally intended by his parents for the profession of the law, and had already made, or was supposed to have made some