Lamentation of Sir Richard Cantillon

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LAMENTATION OF SIR RICHARD CANTILLON. Irish, Slow Air or Lament (3/4 time). F Major. Standard tuning. AA. Sir Richard Cantillon [1] was an Irish expatriate banker and economist who became a multi-millionaire as the result of his financial manipulations during the Mississippi System of John Law, between 1718-1720. His most famous work was Essai Sur La Nature Du Commerce En Général, a book that has been called 'the first systematic treatise on economics'. Cantillon came from a Kerry family disposed in the Cromwellian era and spent much of his life in France, where he was banker to the Stuart Court in exile. The First Earl of Egmont noted in his diary for Tuesday, the 14th of May, 1734:

I was most disagreeably surprised at my arrival in town to hear that my brother Percival was this morning at four o'clock burnt out of his house and had lost all his furniture, except his plate, some pictures, and some books. The Fire began, as he told me at the next house, lately taken by Mr. Cantillon, the rich banker whom I knew at Paris, who was but lately come to the house, and was burnt in his bed, of which there are varying reports, some saying he came drunk home at twelve at night, and fired his curtains, others that he read himself to sleep and the candle fired his bed, others that his servants murdered him and the fired the house to conceal their crime. He was a debauched man, and his servants of bad reputation so being very rich it is though they were tempted to commit this fact, for which informations were taking when I visited by brother on this great loss, amounting as he tells me to £700. I desired him to go to my house in Pall Mall.

Cantillon was described in the Monthly Intelligencer' (The Gentleman's Magazine) as 'a French Wine-Merchant in Albermarle Street' who was found smothered in his bed, and his head almost burnt or cut off. Apparently, Cantillon kept huge sums of money in his home (£200,000 insists the Intelligencer) which went missing. The servants were arrested and three (Isaac Burridge, Roger Arnold and Elizabeth Pembroke) were tried for the crime but acquitted. Suspicion settled on a French cook who had been let go three weeks before the murder, who had disguised himself and escaped overseas with a seemingly valuable cargo, never to be found.

Source for notated version: "Madden" [Stanford/Petrie].

Printed sources: Stanford/Petrie (Complete Collection), 1905; No. 1025, p. 261.

Recorded sources:

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