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Title: A Residence in France During the Years 1792, 1793, 1794 and 1795, Complete
       Described in a Series of Letters from an English Lady: With General
              and Incidental Remarks on the French Character and Manners


Author: An English Lady

Release Date: October 28, 2006 [EBook #11996]
Last Updated: July 2, 2012

Language: English

Character set encoding: us-ascii

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A RESIDENCE IN FRANCE,

DURING THE YEARS

1792, 1793, 1794, and 1795



DESCRIBED IN A SERIES OF LETTERS
FROM AN ENGLISH LADY;
With General And Incidental Remarks
On The French Character And Manners.



Prepared for the Press
By John Gifford, Esq.


TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: The original 1797 volumes used the long-S which is difficult for us to read. In this html file the long-S has been retained. The main html file with the long-S converted to a normal small-s may be viewed by clicking on this line.


Second Edition.



Plus je vis l'Etranger plus j'aimai ma Patrie.
--Du Belloy.

London: Printed for T. N. Longman, Paternoster Row. 1797.





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CONTENTS


PRELIMINARY REMARKS BY THE EDITOR.

DEDICATION

PREFACE

A RESIDENCE IN FRANCE.

May 10, 1792.

May, 1792.

June 10, 1792.

June 24, 1792.

July 24, 1792.

August 4, 1792.

August 15.

August 22, 1792.

Hesdin.

Arras, August, 1792.

Lisle, August, 1792.

Lisle.

Lisle, Saturday.

Arras, September 1, 1792.

Arras, September.

Arras.

Arras.

September 2, 1792.

September 4.

Arras, September, 1792.

Arras, September 14, 1792.

St. Omer, September, 1792.

September, 1792.

Amiens, 1792.

Abbeville, September, 1792.

October, 1792.

Amiens, October, 1792.

Amiens, November, 1792.

December, 1792.

Amiens, January, 1793.

Amiens, 1793.

Amiens, January 1793.

Amiens, February 15, 1793.

Amiens, Feb. 25, 1793.

Amiens, 1793.

March 23, 1793.

Rouen, March 31, 1793.

Amiens, April 7, 1793.

April 20, 1793.

May 18, 1793.

June 3, 1793.

June 20, 1793.

June 30, 1793.

Amiens, July 5, 1793.

July 14, 1793.

July 23, 1793.

Peronne, July 29, 1793.

August 1, 1793.

Soissons, August 4, 1793.

Peronne, August, 1793.

Peronne, August 24, 1793.

Peronne, August 29, 1793.

Peronne, Sept. 7, 1793.

Maison d'Arret, Arras, Oct. 15, 1793.

Maison d'Arret, Arras, Oct. 17, 1793.

Oct. 18.

Oct. 19.

Oct. 20.

Arras, 1793.

Oct. 21.

Oct. 22.

Oct. 25.

Oct. 27.

Oct. 30.

Bicetre at Amiens, Nov. 18, 1793.

November 19, 1793.

Nov. 20.

December.

Amiens, Providence, Dec. 10, 1793.

[Beginning of Volume II. Of The Printed Books]

Providence, Dec. 20, 1793.

January 6, 1794.

January, 1794.

Providence, Jan. 29.

February 2, 1794.

February 12, 1794.

[No date given.]

March 1, 1794.

March, 1794.

March 5, 1794.

March 17, 1794.

Providence, April 15, 1794.

April 22, 1794.

April 30, 1794.

June 3, 1794.

June 11, 1794.

Providence, Aug. 11, 1794.

August 12.

Providence, Aug. 13, 1794.

Providence, Aug. 14, 1794.

Providence, Aug. 15, 1794.

August, 1794.

[No Date Given]

Amiens, Sept. 30, 1794.

Amiens, October 4, 1794.

October 6, 1794.

[No Date or Place Given.]

Amiens, Oct. 24, 1794.

Amiens, Nov. 2, 1794.

Basse-ville, Arras, Nov. 6, 1794.

Amiens, Nov. 26, 1794.

Amiens, Nov. 29, 1794.

Amiens. [No date given.]

Amiens, Dec. 10, 1794.

Amiens, Dec. 16, 1794.

December 24, 1794.

December 27, 1794.

Amiens, Jan. 23, 1795.

Amiens, Jan. 30, 1795.

Beauvais, March 13, 1795.

Amiens, May 9, 1795.

Amiens, May 26, 1795.

Paris, June 3, 1795.

Paris, June 6, 1795.

Paris, June 8, 1795.

Paris, June 15, 1795.

Amiens, June 18, 1795.

Havre, June 22, 1795.






 

 

 

 

PRELIMINARY REMARKS BY THE EDITOR.

The following Letters were ſubmitted to my inſpection and judgement by the Author, of whoſe principles and abilities I had reaſon to entertain a very high opinion. How far my judgement has been exerciſed to advantage in enforcing the propriety of introducing them to the public, that public muſt decide. To me, I confeſs, it appeared, that a ſeries of important facts, tending to throw a ſtrong light on the internal ſtate of France, during the moſt important period of the Revolution, could neither prove unintereſting to the general reader, nor indifferent to the future hiſtorian of that momentous epoch; and I conceived, that the oppoſite and judicious reflections of a well-formed and well-cultivated mind, naturally ariſing out of events within the immediate ſcope of its own obſervation, could not in the ſmalleſt degree diminiſh the intereſt which, in my apprehenſion, they are calculated to excite. My advice upon this occaſion was farther influenced by another conſideration. Having traced, with minute attention, the progreſs of the revolution, and the conduct of its advocates, I had remarked the extreme affiduity employed (as well by tranſlations of the moſt violent productions of the Gallic preſs, as by original compoſitions,) to introduce and propagate, in foreign countries, thoſe pernicious principles which have already ſapped the foundation of ſocial order, deſtroyed the happineſs of millions, and ſpread deſolation and ruin over the fineſt country in Europe. I had particularly obſerved the incredible efforts exerted in England, and, I am ſorry to ſay, with too much ſucceſs, for the baſe purpoſe of giving a falſe colour to every action of the perſons exerciſing the powers of government in France; and I had marked, with indignation, the atrociouſ attempt to ſtrip vice of its deformity, to dreſs crime in the garb of virtue, to decorate ſlavery with the ſymbols of freedom, and give to folly the attributes of wiſdom. I had ſeen, with extreme concern, men, whom the lenity, miſtaken lenity, I muſt call it, of our government had reſcued from puniſhment, if not from ruin, buſily engaged in thiſ ſcandalous traffic, and, availing themſelves of their extenſive connections to diffuſe, by an infinite variety of channels, the poiſon of democracy over their native land. In ſhort, I had ſeen the Britiſh preſs, the grand palladium of Britiſh liberty, devoted to the cauſe of Gallic licentiouſneſs, that mortal enemy of all freedom, and even the pure ſtream of Britiſh criticiſm diverted from its natural courſe, and polluted by the peſtilential vapours of Gallic republicaniſm. I therefore deemed it eſſential, by an exhibition of well-authenticated facts, to correct, as far as might be, the evil effects of miſrepreſentation and error, and to defend the empire of truth, which had been aſſailed by a hoſt of foes.

My opinion of the principles on which the preſent ſyſtem of government in France was founded, and the war to which thoſe principles gave riſe, have been long ſince ſubmitted to the public. Subſequent events, far from invalidating, have ſtrongly confirmed it. In all the public declarationſ of the Directory, in their domeſtic polity, in their conduct to foreign powers, I plainly trace the prevalence of the ſame principles, the ſame contempt for the rights and happineſs of the people, the ſame ſpirit of aggreſſion and aggrandizement, the ſame eagerneſs to overturn the exiſting inſtitutions of neighbouring ſtates, and the ſame deſire to promote "the univerſal revolution of Europe," which marked the conduct of BRISSOT, LE BRUN, DESMOULINS, ROBESPIERRE, and their diſciples. Indeed, what ſtronger inſtance need be adduced of the continued prevalence of theſe principles, than the promotion to the ſupreme rank in the ſtate, of two men who took an active part in the moſt atrocious proceedings of the Convention at the cloſe of 1792, and at the commencement of the following year?

In all the various conſtitutions which have been ſucceſſively adopted in that devoted country, the welfare of the people has been wholly diſregarded, and while they have been amuſed with the ſhadow of liberty, they have been cruelly deſpoiled of the ſubſtance. Even on the eſtabliſhment of the preſent conſtitution, the one which bore the neareſt reſemblance to a rational ſyſtem, the freedom of election, which had been frequently proclaimed as the very corner-ſtone of liberty, was ſhamefully violated by the legiſlative body, who, in their eagerneſs to perpetuate their own power, did not ſcruple to deſtroy the principle on which it waſ founded. Nor is this the only violation of their own principles. A French writer has aptly obſerved, that "En revolution comme en morale, ce n'eſt que le premier pas qui coute:" thus the executive, in imitation of the legiſlative body, ſeem diſpoſed to render their power perpetual. For though it be expreſſly declared by the 137th article of the 6th title of their preſent conſtitutional code, that the "Directory ſhall be partially renewed by the election of a new member every year," no ſtep towards ſuch election has been taken, although the time preſcribed by the law iſ elapſed.—In a private letter from Paris now before me, written within theſe few days, is the following obſervation on this very circumſtance: "The conſtitution has received another blow. The month of Vendemiaire iſ paſt, and our Directors ſtill remain the ſame. Hence we begin to drop the appalation of Directory, and ſubſtitute that of the Cinqvir, who are more to be dreaded for their power, and more to be deteſted for their crimes, than the Decemvir of ancient Rome." The ſame letter alſo contains a brief abſtract of the ſtate of the metropolis of the French republic, which is wonderfully characteriſtic of the attention of the government to the welfare and happineſs of its inhabitantſ!

"The reign of miſery and of crime ſeems to be perpetuated in thiſ diſtracted capital: ſuicides, pillage, and aſſaſſinations, are daily committed, and are ſtill ſuffered to paſs unnoticed. But what renderſ our ſituation ſtill more deplorable, is the exiſtence of an innumerable band of ſpies, who infeſt all public places, and all private ſocieties. More than a hundred thouſand of theſe men are regiſtered on the books of the modern SARTINE; and as the population of Paris, at moſt, does not exceed ſix hundred thouſand ſouls, we are ſure to find in ſix individualſ one ſpy. This conſideration makes me ſhudder, and, accordingly, all confidence, and all the ſweets of ſocial intercourſe, are baniſhed from among us. People ſalute each other, look at each other, betray mutual ſuſpicions, obſerve a profound ſilence, and part. This, in few words, iſ an exact deſcription of our modern republican parties. It is ſaid, that poverty has compelled many reſpectable perſons, and even ſtate-creditors, to enliſt under the ſtandard of COCHON, (the Police Miniſter,) becauſe ſuch is the honourable conduct of our ſovereigns, that they pay their ſpies in ſpecie—and their ſoldiers, and the creditors of the ſtate, in paper.—Such is the morality, ſuch the juſtice, ſuch are the republican virtues, ſo loudly vaunted by our good and deareſt friends, our penſionerſ—the Gazetteers of England and Germany!"

There is not a ſingle abuſe, which the modern reformers reprobated ſo loudly under the ancient ſyſtem, that is not magnified, in an infinite degree, under the preſent eſtabliſhment. For one Lettre de Cachet iſſued during the mild reign of LOUIS the Sixteenth, a thouſand Mandats d'Arret have been granted by the tyrannical demagogues of the revolution; for one Baſtile which exiſted under the Monarchy, a thouſand Maiſons de Detention have been eſtabliſhed by the Republic. In ſhort, crimes of every denomination, and acts of tyranny and injuſtice, of every kind, have multiplied, ſince the abolition of royalty, in a proportion which ſetſ all the powers of calculation at defiance.

It is ſcarcely poſſible to notice the preſent ſituation of France, without adverting to the circumſtances of the WAR, and to the attempt now making, through the medium of negotiation, to bring it to a ſpeedy concluſion. Since the publication of my Letter to a Noble Earl, now deſtined to chew the cud of diſappointment in the vale of obſcurity, I have been aſtoniſhed to hear the ſame aſſertions advance, by the memberſ and advocates of that party whoſe merit is ſaid to conſiſt in the violence of their oppoſition to the meaſures of government, on the origin of the war, which had experienced the moſt ample confutation, without the aſſiſtance of any additional reaſon, and without the ſmalleſt attempt to expoſe the invalidity of thoſe proofs which, in my conception, amounted nearly to mathematical demonſtration, and which I had dared them, in terms the moſt pointed, to invalidate. The queſtion of aggreſſion before ſtood on ſuch high ground, that I had not the preſumption to ſuppoſe it could derive an acceſſion of ſtrength from any arguments which I could ſupply; but I was confident, that the authentic documents which I offered to the public would remove every intervening object that tended to obſtruct the fight of inattentive obſervers, and reflect on it ſuch an additional light as would flaſh inſtant conviction on the minds of all. It ſeems, I have been deceived; but I muſt be permitted to ſuggeſt, that men who perſiſt in the renewal of aſſertions, without a ſingle effort to controvert the proofs which have been adduced to demonſtrate their fallacy, cannot have for their object the eſtabliſhment of truth—which ought, excluſively, to influence the conduct of public characters, whether writers or orators.

With regard to the negotiation, I can derive not the ſmalleſt hopes of ſucceſs from a contemplation of the paſt conduct, or of the preſent principles, of the government of France. When I compare the projects of aggrandizement openly avowed by the French rulers, previous to the declaration of war againſt this country, with the exorbitant pretenſionſ advanced in the arrogant reply of the Executive Directory to the note preſented by the Britiſh Envoy at Baſil in the month of February, 1796, and with the more recent obſervations contained in their official note of the 19th of September laſt, I cannot think it probable that they will accede to any terms of peace that are compatible with the intereſt and ſafety of the Allies. Their object is not ſo much the eſtabliſhment aſ the extenſion of their republic.

As to the danger to be incurred by a treaty of peace with the republic of France, though it has been conſiderably diminiſhed by the events of the war, it is ſtill unqueſtionably great. This danger principally ariſeſ from a pertinacious adherence, on the part of the Directory, to thoſe very principles which were adopted by the original promoters of the abolition of Monarchy in France. No greater proof of ſuch adherence need be required than their refuſal to repeal thoſe obnoxious decrees (paſſed in the months of November and December, 1792,) which created ſo general and ſo juſt an alarm throughout Europe, and which excited the reprobation even of that party in England, which was willing to admit the equivocal interpretation given to them by the Executive Council of the day. I proved, in the Letter to a Noble Earl before alluded to, from the very teſtimony of the members of that Council themſelves, as exhibited in their official inſtructions to one of their confidential agents, that the interpretation which they had aſſigned to thoſe decrees, in their communications with the Britiſh Miniſtry, was a baſe interpretation, and that they really intended to enforce the decrees, to the utmoſt extent of their poſſible operation, and, by a literal conſtruction thereof, to encourage rebellion in every ſtate, within the reach of their arms or their principles. Nor have the preſent government merely forborne to repeal thoſe deſtructive lawſ—they have imitated the conduct of their predeceſſors, have actually put them in execution wherever they had the ability to do ſo, and have, in all reſpects, as far as related to thoſe decrees, adopted the preciſe ſpirit and principles of the faction which declared war againſt England. Let any man read the inſtructions of the Executive Council to PUBLICOLA CHAUSSARD, their Commiſſary in the Netherlands, in 1792 and 1793, and an account of the proceedings in the Low Countries conſequent thereon, and then examine the conduct of the republican General, BOUNAPARTE, in Italy—who muſt neceſſarily act from the inſtructions of the Executive Directory——and he will be compelled to acknowledge the juſtice of my remark, and to admit that the latter actuated by the ſame pernicious deſire to overturn the ſettled order of ſociety, which invariably marked the conduct of the former.

"It is an acknowledged fact, that every revolution requires a proviſional power to regulate its diſorganizing movements, and to direct the methodical demolition of every part of the ancient ſocial conſtitution.— Such ought to be the revolutionary power.

"To whom can ſuch power belong, but to the French, in thoſe countrieſ into which they may carry their arms? Can they with ſafety ſuffer it to be exerciſed by any other perſons? It becomes the French republic, then, to aſſume this kind of guardianſhip over the people whom ſhe awakens to Liberty!*"

* Conſiderations Generales fur l'Eſprit et les Principes du Decret du 15 Decembre.

Such were the Lacedaemonian principles avowed by the French government in 1792, and ſuch is the Lacedaimonian policy* purſued by the French government in 1796! It cannot then, I conceive, be contended, that a treaty with a government ſtill profeſſing principles which have been repeatedly proved to be ſubverſive of all ſocial order, which have been acknowledged by their parents to have for their object the methodical demolition of exiſting conſtitutions, can be concluded without danger or riſk. That danger, I admit, is greatly diminiſhed, becauſe the power which was deſtined to carry into execution thoſe gigantic projects which conſtituted its object, has, by the operations of the war, been conſiderably curtailed. They well may exiſt in equal force, but the ability is no longer the ſame.

MACHIAVEL juſtly obſerves, that it was the narrow policy of the Lacedaemonians always to deſtroy the ancient conſtitution, and eſtabliſh their own form of government, in the counties and cities which they ſubdued.

But though I maintain the exiſtence of danger in a Treaty with the Republic of France, unleſs ſhe previouſly repeal the decrees to which I have adverted, and abrogate the acts to which they have given birth, I by no means contend that it exiſts in ſuch a degree as to juſtify a determination, on the part of the Britiſh government, to make its removal the ſine qua non of negotiation, or peace. Greatly as I admire the brilliant endowments of Mr. BURKE, and highly as I reſpect and eſteem him for the manly and deciſive part which he has taken, in oppoſition to the deſtructive anarchy of republican France, and in defence of the conſtitutional freedom of Britain; I cannot either agree with him on thiſ point, or concur with him in the idea that the reſtoration of the Monarchy of France was ever the object of the war. That the Britiſh Miniſters ardently deſired that event, and were earneſt in their endeavours to promote it, is certain; not becauſe it was the object of the war, but becauſe they conſidered it as the beſt means of promoting the object of the war, which was, and is, the eſtabliſhment of the ſafety and tranquillity of Europe, on a ſolid and permanent baſis. If that object can be attained, and the republic exiſt, there is nothing in the paſt conduct and profeſſions of the Britiſh Miniſters, that can interpoſe an obſtacle to the concluſion of peace. Indeed, in my apprehenſion, it would be highly impolitic in any Miniſter, at the commencement of a war, to advance any ſpecific object, that attainment of which ſhould be declared to be the ſine qua non of peace. If mortals could arrogate to themſelves the attributes of the Deity, if they could direct the courſe of events, and controul the chances of war, ſuch conduct would be juſtifiable; but on no other principle, I think, can its defence be undertaken. It is, I grant, much to be lamented, that the protection offered to the friends of monarchy in France, by the declaration of the 29th of October, 1793, could not be rendered effectual: as far as the offer went it was certainly obligatory on the party who made it; but it was merely conditional—reſtricted, as all ſimilar offers neceſſarily muſt be, by the ability to fulfil the obligation incurred.

In paying this tribute to truth, it is not my intention to retract, in the ſmalleſt degree, the opinion I have ever profeſſed, that the reſtoration of the ancient monarchy of France would be the beſt poſſible means not only of ſecuring the different ſtates of Europe from the dangers of republican anarchy, but of promoting the real intereſts, welfare, and happineſs of the French people themſelves. The reaſons on which this opinion is founded I have long ſince explained; and the intelligence which I have ſince received from France, at different times, has convinced me that a very great proportion of her inhabitants concur in the ſentiment.

The miſeries reſulting from the eſtabliſhment of a republican ſyſtem of government have been ſeverely felt, and deeply deplored; and I am fully perſuaded, that the ſubjects and tributaries of France will cordially ſubſcribe to the following obſervation on republican freedom, advanced by a writer who had deeply ſtudied the genius of republics: "Di tutte le fervitu dure, quella e duriſſima, che ti ſottomette ad una republica; l'una, perche e la piu durabile, e manco ſi puo ſperarne d'ufare: L'altra perche il fine della republica e enervare ed indebolire, debolire, per accreſcere il corpo ſuo, tutti gli altri corpi.*"

JOHN GIFFORD. London, Nov. 12, 1796.

* Diſcorſi di Nicoli Machiavelli, Lib. ii. p. 88.

P.S. Since I wrote the preceding remarks, I have been given to underſtand, that by a decree, ſubſequent to the completion of the conſtitutional code, the firſt partial renewal of the Executive Directory was deferred till the month of March, 1979; and that, therefore, in thiſ inſtance, the preſent Directory cannot be accuſed of having violated the conſtitution. But the guilt is only to be tranſferred from the Directory to the Convention, who paſſed that decree, as well as ſome others, in contradiction to a poſitive conſtitutional law.——-Indeed, the Directory themſelves betrayed no greater delicacy with regard to the obſervance of the conſtitution, or M. BARRAS would never have taken his ſeat among them; for the conſtitution expreſſly ſays, (and this poſitive proviſion was not even modified by any ſubſequent mandate of the Convention,) that no man ſhall be elected a member of the Directory who has not completed his fortieth year—whereas it is notorious that Barras had not thiſ requiſite qualification, having been born in the year 1758!


I avail myſelf of the opportunity afforded me by the publication of a Second Edition to notice ſome inſinuations which have been thrown out, tending to queſtion the authenticity of the work. The motives which have induced the author to withhold from theſe Letters the ſanction of her name, relate not to herſelf, but to ſome friends ſtill remaining in France, whoſe ſafety ſhe juſtly conceives might be affected by the diſcloſure. Acceding to the force and propriety of theſe motives, yet aware of the ſuſpicions to which a recital of important facts, by an anonymous writer, would naturally be expoſed, and ſenſible, alſo, that a certain deſcription of critics would gladly avail themſelves of any opportunity for diſcouraging the circulation of a work which contained principles hoſtile to their own; I determined to prefix my name to the publication. By ſo doing, I conceived that I ſtood pledged for itſ authenticity; and the matter has certainly been put in a proper light by an able and reſpectable critic, who has obſerved that "Mr. GIFFORD ſtandſ between the writer and the public," and that "his name and character are the guarantees for the authenticity of the Letters."

This is preciſely the ſituation in which I meant to place myſelf— preciſely the pledge which I meant to give. The Letters are exactly what they profeſs to be; the production of a Lady's pen, and written in the very ſituations which they deſcribe.—The public can have no grounds for ſuſpecting my veracity on a point in which I can have no poſſible intereſt in deceiving them; and thoſe who know me will do me the juſtice to acknowledge, that I have a mind ſuperior to the arts of deception, and that I am incapable of ſanctioning an impoſition, for any purpoſe, or from any motives whatever. Thus much I deemed it neceſſary to ſay, aſ well from a regard for my own character, and from a due attention to the public, as from a wiſh to prevent the circulation of the work from being ſubjected to the impediments ariſing from the prevalence of a groundleſſ ſuſpicion.

I naturally expected, that ſome of the preceding remarks would excite the reſentment and draw down the vengeance of thoſe perſons to whom they evidently applied. The contents of every publication are certainly a fair ſubject for criticiſm; and to the fair comments of real critics, however repugnant to the ſentiments I entertain, or the doctrine I ſeek to inculcate, I ſhall ever ſubmit without murmur or reproach. But, when men, aſſuming that reſpectable office, openly violate all the dutieſ attached to it, and, ſinking the critic in the partizan, make a wanton attack on my veracity, it becomes proper to repel the injuriouſ imputation; and the ſame ſpirit which dictates ſubmiſſion to the candid award of an impartial judge, preſcribes indignation and ſcorn at the cowardly attacks of a ſecret aſſaſſin.

April 14, 1797.

 

 

 

 

RESIDENCE IN FRANCE

 

 

 

 

DEDICATION

To The RIGHT HON. EDMUND BURKE.

SIR,

It is with extreme diffidence that I offer the following pages to Your notice; yet as they deſcribe circumſtances which more than juſtify Your own prophetic reflections, and are ſubmitted to the public eye from no other motive than a love of truth and my country, I may, perhaps, be excuſed for preſuming them to be not altogether unworthy of ſuch a diſtinction.

While Your puny opponents, if opponents they may be called, are either ſunk into oblivion, or remembered only as aſſociated with the degrading cauſe they attempted to ſupport, every true friend of mankind, anticipating the judgement of poſterity, views with eſteem and veneration the unvarying Moraliſt, the profound Politician, the indefatigable Servant of the Public, and the warm Promoter of his country's happineſs.

To this univerſal teſtimony of the great and good, permit me, Sir, to join my humble tribute; being, with the utmoſt reſpect,

SIR,

Your obedient Servant, THE AUTHOR. Sept. 12, 1796.

 

 

 

 

PREFACE

After having, more than once, in the following Letters, expreſſed opinions decidedly unfavourable to female authorſhip, when not juſtified by ſuperior talents, I may, by now producing them to the public, ſubject myſelf to the imputation either of vanity or inconſiſtency; and I acknowledge that a great ſhare of candour and indulgence muſt be poſſeſſed by readers who attend to the apologies uſually made on ſuch occaſions: yet I may with the ſtricteſt truth alledge, that I ſhould never have ventured to offer any production of mine to the world, had I not conceived it poſſible that information and reflections collected and made on the ſpot, during a period when France exhibited a ſtate, of which there is no example in the annals of mankind, might gratify curioſity without the aid of literary embelliſhment; and an adherence to truth, I flattered myſelf, might, on a ſubject of this nature, be more acceptable than brilliancy of thought, or elegance of language. The eruption of a volcano may be more ſcientifically deſcribed and accounted for by the philoſopher; but the relation of the illiterate peaſant who beheld it, and ſuffered from its effects, may not be leſs intereſting to the common hearer.

Above all, I was actuated by the deſire of conveying to my countrymen a juſt idea of that revolution which they have been incited to imitate, and of that government by which it has been propoſed to model our own.

Since theſe pages were written, the Convention has nominally been diſſolved, and a new conſtitution and government have ſucceeded, but no real change of principle or actors has taken place; and the ſyſtem, of which I have endeavoured to trace the progreſs, muſt ſtill be conſidered as exiſting, with no other variations than ſuch as have been neceſſarily produced by the difference of time and circumſtances. The people grew tired of maſſacres en maſſe, and executions en detail: even the national fickleneſs operated in favour of humanity; and it was alſo diſcovered, that however a ſpirit of royaliſm might be ſubdued to temporary inaction, it was not to be eradicated, and that the ſufferings of its martyrs only tended to propagate and confirm it. Hence the ſcaffolds flow leſſ frequently with blood, and the barbarous prudence of CAMILLE DESMOULINS' guillotine economique has been adopted. But exaction and oppreſſion are ſtill practiſed in every ſhape, and juſtice is not leſs violated, nor iſ property more ſecure, than when the former was adminiſtered by revolutionary tribunals, and the latter was at the diſpoſition of revolutionary armies.

The error of ſuppoſing that the various parties which have uſurped the government of France have differed eſſentially from each other is pretty general; and it is common enough to hear the revolutionary tyranny excluſively aſſociated with the perſon of ROBESPIERRE, and the thirty-firſt of May, 1793, conſidered as the epoch of its introduction. Yet whoever examines attentively the ſituation and politics of France, from the ſubverſion of the Monarchy, will be convinced that all the principles of this monſtrous government were eſtabliſhed during the adminiſtration of the Briſſotins, and that the factions which ſucceeded, from Danton and Robeſpierre to Sieyes and Barras, have only developed them, and reduced them to practice. The revolution of the thirty-firſt of May, 1793, was not a conteſt for ſyſtem but for power—that of July the twenty-eighth, 1794, (9th Thermidor,) was merely a ſtruggle which of two parties ſhould ſacrifice the other—that of October the fifth, 1795, (13th Vendemiaire,) a war of the government againſt the people. But in all theſe convulſions, the primitive doctrines of tyranny and injuſtice were watched like the ſacred fire, and have never for a moment been ſuffered to languiſh.

It may appear incredible to thoſe who have not perſonally witneſſed thiſ phoenomenon, that a government deteſted and deſpiſed by an immenſe majority of the nation, ſhould have been able not only to reſiſt the efforts of ſo many powers combined againſt it, but even to proceed from defence to conqueſt, and to mingle ſurprize and terror with thoſe ſentiments of contempt and abhorrence which it originally excited.

That wiſdom or talents are not the ſources of this ſucceſs, may be deduced from the ſituation of France itſelf. The armies of the republic have, indeed, invaded the territories of its enemies, but the deſolation of their own country ſeems to increaſe with every triumph—the genius of the French government appears powerful only in deſtruction, and inventive only in oppreſſion—and, while it is endowed with the faculty of ſpreading univerſal ruin, it is incapable of promoting the happineſs of the ſmalleſt diſtrict under its protection. The unreſtrained pillage of the conquered countries has not ſaved France from multiplied bankruptcies, nor her ſtate-creditors from dying through want; and the French, in the midſt of their external proſperity, are often diſtinguiſhed from the people whom their armies have been ſubjugated, only by a ſuperior degree of wretchedneſs, and a more irregular deſpotiſm.

With a power exceſſive and unlimited, and ſurpaſſing what has hitherto been poſſeſſed by any Sovereign, it would be difficult to prove that theſe democratic deſpots have effected any thing either uſeful or beneficent. Whatever has the appearance of being ſo will be found, on examination, to have for its object ſome purpoſe of individual intereſt or perſonal vanity. They manage the armies, they embelliſh Paris, they purchaſe the friendſhip of ſome ſtates and the neutrality of others; but if there be any real patriots in France, how little do they appreciate theſe uſeleſs triumphs, theſe pilfered muſeums, and theſe fallaciouſ negotiations, when they behold the population of their country diminiſhed, its commerce annihilated, its wealth diſſipated, its moralſ corrupted, and its liberty deſtroyed—

          "Thus, on deceitful Aetna's Flow'ry ſide
          Unfading verdure glads the roving eye,
          While ſecret flames with unextinguiſh'd rage
          Inſatiate on her wafted entrails prey,
          And melt her treach'rous beauties into ruin."

Thoſe efforts which the partizans of republicaniſm admire, and which even well-diſpoſed perſons regard as prodigies, are the ſimple and natural reſult of an unprincipled deſpotiſm, acting upon, and diſpoſing of, all the reſources of a rich, populous, and enſlaved nation. "Il devient aiſe d'etre habile lorſqu'on ſ'eſt delivre des ſcrupules et des loix, de tout honneur et de toute juſtice, des droits de ſes ſemblables, et des devoirſ de l'autorite—a ce degre d'independence la plupart des obſtacles qui modifient l'activite humaine diſparaiſſent; l'on parait avoir du talent lorſqu'on n'a que de l'impudence, et l'abus de la force paſſe pour energie.*"

* "Exertions of ability become eaſy, when men have releaſed themſelves from the ſcruples of conſcience, the reſtraints of law, the ties of honour, the bonds of juſtice, the claims of their fellow creatures, and obedience to their ſuperiors:—at this point of independence, moſt of the obſtacles which modify human activity diſappear; impudence is miſtaken for talents; and the abuſe of power paſſes for energy."

The operations of all other governments muſt, in a great meaſure, be reſtrained by the will of the people, and by eſtabliſhed laws; with them, phyſical and political force are neceſſarily ſeparate conſiderations: they have not only to calculate what can be borne, but what will be ſubmitted to; and perhaps France is the firſt country that has been compelled to an exertion of its whole ſtrength, without regard to any obſtacle, natural, moral, or divine. It is for want of ſufficiently inveſtigating and allowing for this moral and political latitudinarianiſm of our enemies, that we are apt to be too precipitate in cenſuring the conduct of the war; and, in our eſtimation of what has been done, we pay too little regard to the principles by which we have been directed. An honeſt man could ſcarcely imagine the means we have had to oppoſe, and an Engliſhman ſtill leſs conceive that they would have been ſubmitted to: for the ſame reaſon that the Romans had no law againſt parricide, till experience had evinced the poſſibility of the crime.

In a war like the preſent, advantage is not altogether to be appreciated by military ſuperiority. If, as there is juſt ground for believing, our external hoſtilities have averted an internal revolution, what we have eſcaped is of infinitely more importance to us than what we could acquire. Commerce and conqueſt, compared to this, are ſecondary objects; and the preſervation of our liberties and our conſtitution is a more ſolid bleſſing than the commerce of both the Indies, or the conqueſt of nations.

Should the following pages contribute to impreſs this ſalutary truth on my countrymen, my utmoſt ambition will be gratified; perſuaded, that a ſenſe of the miſeries they have avoided, and of the happineſs they enjoy, will be their beſt incentive, whether they may have to oppoſe the arms of the enemy in a continuance of the war, or their more dangerouſ machinations on the reſtoration of peace.

I cannot conclude without noticing my obligations to the Gentleman whoſe name is prefixed to theſe volumes; and I think it at the ſame time incumbent on me to avow, that, in having aſſiſted the author, he muſt not be conſidered as ſanctioning the literary imperfections of the work. When the ſubject was firſt mentioned to him, he did me the juſtice of ſuppoſing, that I was not likely to have written any thing, the general tendency of which he might diſapprove; and when, on peruſing the manuſcript, he found it contain ſentiments diſſimilar to his own, he waſ too liberal to require a ſacrifice of them as the condition of hiſ ſervices.—I confeſs that previous to my arrival in France in 1792, I entertained opinions ſomewhat more favourable to the principle of the revolution than thoſe which I was led to adopt at a ſubſequent period. Accuſtomed to regard with great juſtice the Britiſh conſtitution as the ſtandard of known political excellence, I hardly conceived it poſſible that freedom or happineſs could exiſt under any other: and I am not ſingular in having ſuffered this prepoſſeſſion to invalidate even the evidence of my ſenſes. I was, therefore, naturally partial to whatever profeſſed to approach the object of my veneration. I forgot that governments are not to be founded on imitations or theories, and that they are perfect only as adapted to the genius, manners, and diſpoſition of the people who are ſubject to them. Experience and maturer judgement have corrected my error, and I am perfectly convinced, that the old monarchical conſtitution of France, with very ſlight meliorations, waſ every way better calculated for the national character than a more popular form of government.

A critic, though not very ſevere, will diſcover many faults of ſtyle, even where the matter may not be exceptionable. Beſides my other deficiencies, the habit of writing is not eaſily ſupplied, and, as I deſpaired of attaining excellence, and was not ſolicitous about degreeſ of mediocrity, I determined on conveying to the public ſuch information as I was poſſeſſed of, without alteration or ornament. Moſt of theſe Letters were written exactly in the ſituation they deſcribe, and remain in their original ſtate; the reſt were arranged according aſ opportunities were favourable, from notes and diaries kept when "the times were hot and feveriſh," and when it would have been dangerous to attempt more method. I forbear to deſcribe how they were concealed either in France or at my departure, becauſe I might give riſe to the perſecution and oppreſſion of others. But, that I may not attribute to myſelf courage which I do not poſſeſs, nor create doubts of my veracity, I muſt obſerve, that I ſeldom ventured to write till I was aſſured of ſome certain means of conveying my papers to a perſon who could ſafely diſpoſe of them.

As a conſiderable period has elapſed ſince my return, it may not be improper to add, that I took ſome ſteps for the publication of theſe Letters ſo early as July, 1795. Certain difficulties, however, ariſing, of which I was not aware, I relinquiſhed my deſign, and ſhould not have been tempted to reſume it, but for the kindneſs of the Gentleman whoſe name appears as the Editor.

Sept. 12, 1796.

 

 

 

 

A RESIDENCE IN FRANCE.

 

 

 

 

May 10, 1792.

I am every day more confirmed in the opinion I communicated to you on my arrival, that the firſt ardour of the revolution is abated.—The bridal days are indeed paſt, and I think I perceive ſomething like indifference approaching. Perhaps the French themſelves are not ſenſible of thiſ change; but I who have been abſent two years, and have made as it were a ſudden tranſition from enthuſiaſm to coldneſs, without paſſing through the intermediate gradations, am forcibly ſtruck with it. When I was here in 1790, parties could be ſcarcely ſaid to exiſt—the popular triumph waſ too complete and too recent for intolerance and perſecution, and the Nobleſſe and Clergy either ſubmitted in ſilence, or appeared to rejoice in their own defeat. In fact, it was the confuſion of a deciſive conqueſt—the victors and the vanquiſhed were mingled together; and the one had not leiſure to exerciſe cruelty, nor the other to meditate revenge. Politics had not yet divided ſociety; nor the weakneſs and pride of the great, with the malice and inſolence of the little, thinned the public places. The politics of the women went no farther than a few couplets in praiſe of liberty, and the patriotiſm of the men was confined to an habit de garde nationale, the device of a button, or a nocturnal revel, which they called mounting guard.—Money was yet plenty, at leaſt ſilver, (for the gold had already begun to diſappear,) commerce in itſ uſual train, and, in ſhort, to one who obſerves no deeper than myſelf, every thing ſeemed gay and flouriſhing—the people were perſuaded they were happier; and, amidſt ſuch an appearance of content, one muſt have been a cold politician to have examined too ſtrictly into the future. But all this, my good brother, is in a great meaſure ſubſided; and the diſparity is ſo evident, that I almoſt imagine myſelf one of the ſeven ſleeperſ—and, like them too, the coin I offer is become rare, and regarded more as medals than money. The playful diſtinctions of Ariſtocrate and Democrate are degenerated into the opprobium and bitterneſs of Party—political diſſenſions pervade and chill the common intercourſe of life—the people are become groſs and arbitrary, and the higher claſſes (from a pride which thoſe who conſider the frailty of human nature will allow for) deſert the public amuſements, where they cannot appear but at the riſk of being the marked objects of inſult.—The politics of the women are no longer innoxiouſ—their political principleſ form the leading trait of their characters; and as you know we are often apt to ſupply by zeal what we want in power, the ladies are far from being the moſt tolerant partizans on either ſide.—The national uniform, which contributed ſo much to the ſucceſs of the revolution, and ſtimulated the patriotiſm of the young men, is become general; and the taſk of mounting guard, to which it ſubjects the wearer, is now a ſeriouſ and troubleſome duty.—To finiſh my obſervations, and my contraſt, no Specie whatever is to be ſeen; and the people, if they ſtill idolize their new form of government, do it at preſent with great ſobriety—the Vive la nation! ſeems now rather the effect of habit than of feeling; and one ſeldom hears any thing like the ſpontaneous and enthuſiaſtic ſounds I formerly remarked.

I have not yet been here long enough to diſcover the cauſes of thiſ change; perhaps they may lie too deep for ſuch an obſerver as myſelf: but if (as the cauſes of important effects ſometimes do) they lie on the ſurface, they will be leſs liable to eſcape me, than an obſerver of more pretentions. Whatever my remarks are, I will not fail to communicate them—the employment will at leaſt be agreeable to me, though the reſult ſhould not be ſatiſfactory to you; and as I ſhall never venture on any reflection, without relating the occurrence that gave riſe to it, your own judgement will enable you to correct the errors of mine.

I was preſent yeſterday at a funeral ſervice, performed in honour of General Dillon. This kind of ſervice is common in Catholic countries, and conſiſts in erecting a cenotaph, ornamented with numerous lights, flowers, croſſes, &c. The church is hung with black, and the maſs iſ performed the ſame as if the body were preſent. On account of General Dillon's profeſſion, the maſs yeſterday was a military one. It muſt always, I imagine, ſound ſtrange to the ears of a Proteſtant, to hear nothing but theatrical muſic on theſe occaſions, and indeed I could never reconcile myſelf to it; for if we allow any effect to muſic at all, the train of thought which ſhould inſpire us with reſpect for the dead, and reflections on mortality, is not likely to be produced by the ſtrains in which Dido bewails Eneas, or in which Armida aſſails the virtue of Rinaldo.—I fear, that in general the air of an opera reminds the belle of the Theatre where ſhe heard it—and, by a natural tranſition, of the beau who attended her, and the dreſs of herſelf and her neighbours. I confeſs, this was nearly my own caſe yeſterday, on hearing an air from "Sargines;" and had not the funeral oration reminded me, I ſhould have forgotten the unfortunate event we were celebrating, and which, for ſome days before, when undiſtracted by this pious ceremony, I had dwelt on with pity and horror.*—

* At the firſt ſkirmiſh between the French and Auſtrians near Liſle, a general panic ſeized the former, and they retreated in diſorder to Liſle, crying _"Sauve qui peut, & nous fomnes (ſic) trahis."_--"Let every one ſhift for himſelf—we are betrayed." The General, after in vain endeavouring to rally them, was maſſacred at his return on the great ſquare.—My pen faulters, and refuſes to deſcribe the barbarities committed on the lifeleſs hero. Let it ſuffice, perhapſ more than ſuffice, to ſay, that his mutilated remains were thrown on a fire, which theſe ſavages danced round, with yells expreſſive of their execrable feſtivity. A young Engliſhman, who was ſo unfortunate as to be near the ſpot, was compelled to join in thiſ outrage to humanity.—The ſame day a gentleman, the intimate friend of our acquaintance, Mad. _____, was walking (unconſcious what had happened) without the gate which leads to Douay, and was met by the flying ruffians on their return; immediately on ſeeing him they ſhouted, "Voila encore un Ariſtocrate!" and maſſacred him on the ſpot.

—Independent of any regret for the fate of Dillon, who is ſaid to have been a brave and good officer, I am ſorry that the firſt event of thiſ war ſhould be marked by cruelty and licentiouſneſs.—Military diſcipline has been much relaxed ſince the revolution, and from the length of time ſince the French have been engaged in a land war, many of the troops muſt be without that kind of courage which is the effect of habit. The danger, therefore, of ſuffering them to alledge that they are betrayed, whenever they do not chooſe to fight, and to excuſe their own cowardice by aſcribing treachery to their leaders, is incalculable.—Above all, every infraction of the laws in a country juſt ſuppoſing itſelf become free, cannot be too ſeverely repreſſed. The National Aſſembly have done all that humanity could ſuggeſt—they have ordered the puniſhment of the aſſaſſins, and have penſioned and adopted the General's children. The orator expatiated both on the horror of the act and its conſequences, aſ I ſhould have thought, with ſome ingenuity, had I not been aſſured by a brother orator that the whole was "execrable." But I frequently remark, that though a Frenchman may ſuppoſe the merit of his countrymen to be collectively ſuperior to that of the whole world, he ſeldom allows any individual of them to have ſo large a portion as himſelf.—Adieu: I have already written enough to convince you I have neither acquired the Gallomania, nor forgotten my friends in England; and I conclude with a wiſh a propoſ to my ſubject—that they may long enjoy the rational liberty they poſſeſs and ſo well deſerve.—Yours.

 

 

 

 

May, 1792.

You, my dear _____, who live in a land of pounds, ſhillings, and pence, can ſcarcely form an idea of our embarraſſments through the want of them. 'Tis true, theſe are petty evils; but when you conſider that they happen every day, and every hour, and that, if they are not very ſerious, they are very frequent, you will rejoice in the ſplendour of your national credit, which procures you all the accommodation of paper currency, without diminiſhing the circulation of ſpecie. Our only currency here conſiſts of aſſignats of 5 livres, 50, 100, 200, and upwards: therefore in making purchaſes, you muſt accommodate your wants to the value of your aſſignat, or you muſt owe the ſhopkeeper, or the ſhopkeeper muſt owe you; and, in ſhort, as an old woman aſſured me to-day, "C'eſt de quoi faire perdre la tete," and, if it laſted long, it would be the death of her. Within theſe few days, however, the municipalities have attempted to remedy the inconvenience, by creating ſmall paper of five, ten, fifteen, and twenty ſols, which they give in exchange for aſſignats of five livres; but the number they are allowed to iſſue is limited, and the demand for them ſo great, that the accommodation is inadequate to the difficulty of procuring it. On the days on which this paper (which iſ called billets de confiance) is iſſued, the Hotel de Ville is beſieged by a hoſt of women collected from all parts of the diſtrict—Peaſants, ſmall ſhopkeepers, fervant maids, and though laſt, not leaſt formidable— fiſhwomen. They uſually take their ſtand two or three hours before the time of delivery, and the interval is employed in diſcuſſing the news, and execrating paper money. But when once the door is opened, a ſcene takes place which bids defiance to language, and calls for the pencil of a Hogarth. Babel was, I dare ſay, comparatively to this, a place of retreat and ſilence. Clamours, revilings, contentions, tearing of hair, and breaking of heads, generally conclude the buſineſs; and, after the loſs of half a day's time, ſome part of their clothes, and the expence of a few bruiſes, the combatants retire with ſmall bills to the value of five, or perhaps ten livres, as the whole reſource to carry on their little commerce for the enſuing week. I doubt not but the paper may have had ſome ſhare in alienating the minds of the people from the revolution. Whenever I want to purchaſe any thing, the vender uſually anſwers my queſtion by another, and with a rueful kind of tone inquires, "En papier, madame?"—and the bargain concludes with a melancholy reflection on the hardneſs of the times.

The decrees relative to the prieſts have likewiſe occaſioned much diſſenſion; and it ſeems to me impolitic thus to have made religion the ſtandard of party. The high maſs, which is celebrated by a prieſt who has taken the oaths, is frequented by a numerous, but, it muſt be confeſſed, an ill-dreſt and ill-ſcented congregation; while the low maſs, which is later, and which is allowed the nonjuring clergy, has a gayer audience, but is much leſs crouded.—By the way, I believe many who formerly did not much diſturb themſelves about religious tenets, have become rigid Papiſts ſince an adherence to the holy ſee has become a criterion of political opinion. But if theſe ſeparatiſts are bigoted and obſtinate, the conventionaliſts on their ſide are ignorant and intolerant.

I enquired my way to-day to the Rue de l'Hopital. The woman I ſpoke to aſked me, in a menacing tone, what I wanted there. I replied, which waſ true, that I merely wanted to paſs through the ſtreet as my neareſt way home; upon which ſhe lowered her voice, and conducted me very civilly.—I mentioned the circumſtance on my return, and found that the nuns of the hoſpital had their maſs performed by a prieſt who had not taken the oaths, and that thoſe who were ſuſpected of going to attend it were inſulted, and ſometimes ill treated. A poor woman, ſome little time ago, who conceived perhaps that her ſalvation might depend on exerciſing her religion in the way ſhe had been accuſtomed to, perſiſted in going, and was uſed by the populace with ſuch a mixture of barbarity and indecency, that her life was deſpaired of. Yet this is the age and the country of Philoſophers.—Perhaps you will begin to think Swift's ſages, who only amuſed themſelves with endeavouring to propagate ſheep without wool, not ſo contemptible. I am almoſt convinced myſelf, that when a man once piques himſelf on being a philoſopher, if he does no miſchief you ought to be ſatiſfied with him.

We paſſed laſt Sunday with Mr. de ____'s tenants in the country. Nothing can equal the avidity of theſe people for news. We ſat down after dinner under ſome trees in the village, and Mr. de _____ began reading the Gazette to the farmers who were about us. In a few minutes every thing that could hear (for I leave underſtanding the pedantry of a French newſpaper out of the queſtion) were his auditors. A party at quoits in one field, and a dancing party in another, quitted their amuſements, and liſtened with undivided attention. I believe in general the farmers are the people moſt contented with the revolution, and indeed they have reaſon to be ſo; for at preſent they refuſe to ſell their corn unleſs for money, while they pay their rent in aſſignats; and farms being for the moſt part on leaſes, the objections of the landlord to this kind of payment are of no avail. Great encouragement is likewiſe held out to them to purchaſe national property, which I am informed they do to an extent that may for ſome time be injurious to agriculture; for in their eagerneſs to acquire land, the deprive themſelves of cultivating it. They do not, like our cruſading anceſtors, "ſell the paſture to buy the horſe," but the horſe to buy the paſture; ſo that we may expect to ſee in many places large farms in the hands of thoſe who are obliged to neglect them.

A great change has happened within the laſt year, with regard to landed property—ſo much has been ſold, that many farmers have had the opportunity of becoming proprietors. The rage of emigration, which the approach of war, pride, timidity, and vanity are daily increaſing, haſ occaſioned many of the Nobleſſe to ſell their eſtates, which, with thoſe of the Crown and the Clergy, form a large maſs of property, thrown as it were into general circulation. This may in future be beneficial to the country, but the preſent generation will perhaps have to purchaſe (and not cheaply) advantages they cannot enjoy. A philanthropiſt may not think of this with regret; and yet I know not why one race is preferable to another, or why an evil ſhould be endured by thoſe who exiſt now, in order that thoſe who ſucceed may be free from it.—I would willingly plant a million of acorns, that another age might be ſupplied with oaks; but I confeſs, I do not think it quite ſo pleaſant for us to want bread, in order that our deſcendants may have a ſuperfluity.

I am half aſhamed of theſe ſelfiſh arguments; but really I have been led to them through mere apprehenſion of what I fear the people may have yet to endure, in conſequence of the revolution.

I have frequently obſerved how little taſte the French have for the country, and I believe all my companions, except Mr. de _____, who took (as one always does) an intereſt in ſurveying his property, were heartily ennuyes with our little excurſion.—Mad. De _____, on her arrival, took her poſt by the farmer's fire-ſide, and was out of humour the whole day, inaſmuch as our fare was homely, and there was nothing but ruſtics to ſee or be ſeen by. That a plain dinner ſhould be a ſerious affair, you may not wonder; but the laſt cauſe of diſtreſs, perhaps you will not conclude quite ſo natural at her years. All that can be ſaid about it is, that ſhe is a French woman, who rouges, and wears lilac ribbons, at ſeventy-four. I hope, in my zeal to obey you, my reflections will not be too voluminous.—For the preſent I will be warned by my conſcience, and add only, that I am, Yours.

 

 

 

 

June 10, 1792.

You obſerve, with ſome ſurprize, that I make no mention of the Jacobinſ— the fact is, that until now I have heard very little about them. Your Engliſh partizans of the revolution have, by publiſhing their correſpondence with theſe ſocieties, attributed a conſequence to them infinitely beyond what they have had pretenſions to:—a prophet, it iſ ſaid, is not honoured in his own country—I am ſure a Jacobin is not. In provincial towns theſe clubs are generally compoſed of a few of the loweſt tradeſmen, who have ſo diſintereſted a patriotiſm, as to beſtow more attention on the ſtate than on their own ſhops; and as a man may be an excellent patriot without the ariſtocratic talents of reading and writing, they uſually provide a ſecretary or preſident, who can ſupply theſe deficiencieſ—a country attorney, a Pere de l'oratoire, or a diſbanded capuchin, is in moſt places the candidate for this office. The clubs often aſſemble only to read the newſpapers; but where they are ſufficiently in force, they make motions for "fetes," cenſure the municipalities, and endeavour to influence the elections of the memberſ who compoſe them.—That of Paris is ſuppoſed to conſiſt of about ſix thouſand members; but I am told their number and influence are daily increaſing, and that the National Aſſembly is more ſubſervient to them than it is willing to acknowledge—yet, I believe, the people at large are equally adverſe to the Jacobins, who are ſaid to entertain the chimerical project of forming a republic, and to the Ariſtocrates, who wiſh to reſtore the ancient government. The party in oppoſition to both theſe, who are called the Feuillans,* have the real voice of the people with them, and knowing this, they employ leſs art than their opponents, have no point of union, and perhaps may finally be undermined by intrigue, or even ſubdued by violence.

*They derive this appellation, as the Jacobins do theirs, from the convent at which they hold their meetings.

You ſeem not to comprehend why I include vanity among the cauſes of emigration, and yet I aſſure you it has had no ſmall ſhare in many of them. The gentry of the provinces, by thus imitating the higher nobleſſe, imagine they have formed a kind of a common cauſe, which may hereafter tend to equalize the difference of ranks, and aſſociate them with thoſe they have been accuſtomed to look up to as their ſuperiors. It is a kind of ton among the women, particularly to talk of their emigrated relations, with an accent more expreſſive of pride than regret, and which ſeems to lay claim to diſtinction rather than pity.

I muſt now leave you to contemplate the boaſted miſfortunes of theſe belles, that I may join the card party which forms their alleviation.— Adieu.

 

 

 

 

June 24, 1792.

You have doubtleſs learned from the public papers the late outrage of the Jacobins, in order to force the King to conſent to the formation of an army at Paris, and to ſign the decree for baniſhing the nonjuring Clergy. The newſpapers will deſcribe to you the proceſſion of the Sans-Culottes, the indecency of their banners, and the diſorders which were the reſult— but it is impoſſible for either them or me to convey an idea of the general indignation excited by theſe atrocities. Every well-meaning perſon is grieved for the preſent, and apprehenſive for the future: and I am not without hope, that this open avowal of the deſigns of the Jacobins, will unite the Conſtitutionaliſts and Ariſtocrates, and that they will join their efforts in defence of the Crown, as the only meanſ of ſaving both from being overwhelmed by a faction, who are now become too daring to be deſpiſed. Many of the municipalities and departmentſ are preparing to addreſs they King, on the fortitude he diſplayed in thiſ hour of inſult and peril.—I know not why, but the people have been taught to entertain a mean opinion of his perſonal courage; and the late violence will at leaſt have the good effect of undeceiving them. It iſ certain, that he behaved on this occaſion with the utmoſt coolneſs; and the Garde Nationale, whoſe hand he placed on his heart, atteſted that it had no unuſual palpitation.

That the King ſhould be unwilling to ſanction the raiſing an army under the immediate auſpice of the avowed enemies of himſelf, and of the conſtitution he has ſworn to protect, cannot be much wondered at; and thoſe who know the Catholic religion, and conſider that this Prince iſ devout, and that he has reaſon to ſuſpect the fidelity of all who approach him, will wonder ſtill leſs that he refuſes to baniſh a claſs of men, whoſe influence is extenſive, and whoſe intereſt it is to preſerve their attachment to him.

Theſe events have thrown a gloom over private ſocieties; and public amuſements, as I obſerved in a former letter, are little frequented; ſo that, on the whole, time paſſes heavily with a people who, generally ſpeaking, have few reſources in themſelves. Before the revolution, France was at this ſeaſon a ſcene of much gaiety. Every village had alternately a ſort of Fete, which nearly anſwers to our Wake—but with this difference, that it was numerouſly attended by all ranks, and the amuſement was dancing, inſtead of wreſtling and drinking. Several ſmall fields, or different parts of a large one, were provided with muſic, diſtinguiſhed by flags, and appropriated to the ſeveral claſſes of dancerſ—one for the peaſants, another for the bourgeois, and a third for the higher orders. The young people danced beneath the ardour of a July ſun, while the old looked on and regaled themſelves with beer, cyder, and gingerbread. I was always much pleaſed with this village feſtivity: it gratified my mind more than ſelect and expenſive amuſements, becauſe it was general, and within the power of all who choſe to partake of it; and the little diſtinction of rank which was preſerved, far from diminiſhing the pleaſure of any, added, I am certain, to the freedom of all. By mixing with thoſe only of her own claſs, the Payſanne* was ſpared the temptation of envying the pink ribbons of the Bourgeoiſe, who in her turn was not diſturbed by an immediate rivalſhip with the ſaſh and plumes of the provincial belle. But this cuſtom is now much on the decline. The young women avoid occaſions where an inebriated ſoldier may offer himſelf as her partner in the dance, and her refuſal be attended with inſult to herſelf, and danger to thoſe who protect her; and as this licence iſ nearly as offenſive to the decent Bourgeoiſe as to the female of higher condition, this ſort of fete will moſt probably be entirely abandoned.

*The head-dreſs of the French Payſanne is uniformly a ſmall cap, without ribbon or ornament of any kind, except in that part of Normandy which is called the Pays de Caux, where the Payſanneſ wear a particular kind of head dreſs, ornamented with ſilver.

The people here all dance much better than thoſe of the ſame rank in England; but this national accompliſhment is not inſtinctive: for though few of the laborious claſs have been taught to read, there are ſcarcely any ſo poor as not to beſtow three livres for a quarter's inſtruction from a dancing maſter; and with this three monthſ' noviciate they become qualified to dance through the reſt of their lives.

The rage for emigration, and the approach of the Auſtrians, have occaſioned many reſtrictions on travelling, eſpecially near the ſeacoaſt of frontiers. No perſon can paſs through a town without a paſſport from the municipality he reſides in, ſpecifying his age, the place of hiſ birth, his deſtination, the height of his perſon, and the features of hiſ face. The Marquis de C____ entered the town yeſterday, and at the gate preſented his paſſport as uſual; the guard looked at the paſſport, and in a high tone demanded his name, whence he came, and where he was going. M. de C____ referred him to the paſſport, and ſuſpecting the man could not read, perſiſted in refuſing to give a verbal account of himſelf, but with much civility preſſed the peruſal of the paſſport; adding, that if it was informal, Monſieur might write to the municipality that granted it. The man, however, did not approve of the jeſt, and took the Marquiſ before the municipality, who ſentenced him to a month's impriſonment for his pleaſantry.

The French are becoming very grave, and a bon-mot will not now, aſ formerly, ſave a man's life.—I do not remember to have ſeen in any Engliſh print an anecdote on this ſubject, which at once marks the levity of the Pariſians, and the wit and preſence of mind of the Abbe Maury.—At the beginning of the revolution, when the people were very much incenſed againſt the Abbe, he was one day, on quitting the Aſſembly, ſurrounded by an enraged mob, who ſeized on him, and were hurrying him away to execution, amidſt the univerſal cry of a la lanterne! a la lanterne! The Abbe, with much coolneſs and good humour, turned to thoſe neareſt him, "Eh bien mes amis et quand je ſerois a la lanterne, en verriez vous pluſ clair?" Thoſe who held him were diſarmed, the bon-mot flew through the croud, and the Abbe eſcaped while they were applauding it.—I have nothing to offer after this trait which is worthy of ſucceeding it, but will add that I am always Yours.

 

 

 

 

July 24, 1792.

Our revolution aera has paſſed tranquilly in the provinces, and with leſſ turbulence at Paris than was expected. I conſign to the Gazette-writerſ thoſe long deſcriptions that deſcribe nothing, and leave the mind aſ unſatiſfied as the eye. I content myſelf with obſerving only, that the ceremony here was gay, impreſſive, and animating. I indeed have often remarked, that the works of nature are better deſcribed than thoſe of art. The ſcenes of nature, though varied, are uniform; while the productions of art are ſubject to the caprices of whim, and the viciſſitudes of taſte. A rock, a wood, or a valley, however the ſcenery may be diverſified, always conveys a perfect and diſtinct image to the mind; but a temple, an altar, a palace, or a pavilion, requires a detail, minute even to tediouſneſs, and which, after all, gives but an imperfect notion of the object. I have as often read deſcriptions of the Vatican, as of the Bay of Naples; yet I recollect little of the former, while the latter ſeems almoſt familiar to me.—Many are ſtrongly impreſſed with the ſcenery of Milton's Paradiſe, who have but confuſed ideas of the ſplendour of Pandemonium. The deſcriptions, however, are equally minute, and the poetry of both is beautiful.

But to return to this country, which is not abſolutely a Paradiſe, and I hope will not become a Pandemonium—the ceremony I have been alluding to, though really intereſting, is by no means to be conſidered as a proof that the ardour for liberty increaſes: on the contrary, in proportion aſ theſe fetes become more frequent, the enthuſiaſm which they excite ſeemſ to diminiſh. "For ever mark, Lucilius, when Love begins to ſicken and decline, it uſeth an enforced ceremony." When there were no foederations, the people were more united. The planting trees of liberty ſeems to have damped the ſpirit of freedom; and ſince there has been a decree for wearing the national colours, they are more the marks of obedience than proofs of affection.—I cannot pretend to decide whether the leaders of the people find their followers leſs warm than they were, and think it neceſſary to ſtimulate them by theſe ſhows, or whether the ſhows themſelves, by too frequent repetition, have rendered the people indifferent about the objects of them.—Perhaps both theſe ſuppoſitionſ are true. The French are volatile and material; they are not very capable of attachment to principles. External objects are requiſite for them, even in a ſlight degree; and the momentary enthuſiaſm that iſ obtained by affecting their ſenſes ſubſides with the concluſion of a favourite air, or the end of a gaudy proceſſion.

The Jacobin party are daily gaining ground; and ſince they have forced a miniſtry of their own on the King, their triumph has become ſtill more inſolent and deciſive.—A ſtorm is ſaid to be hovering over us, which I think of with dread, and cannot communicate with ſafety—"Heaven ſquare the trial of thoſe who are implicated, to their proportioned ſtrength!"— Adieu.

 

 

 

 

Auguſt 4, 1792.

I muſt repeat to you, that I have no talent for deſcription; and, having ſeldom been able to profit by the deſcriptions of others, I am modeſt enough not willingly to attempt one myſelf. But, as you obſerve, the ceremony of a foederation, though familiar to me, is not ſo to my Engliſh friends; I therefore obey your commands, though certain of not ſucceeding ſo as to gratify your curioſity in the manner you too partially expect.

The temple where the ceremony was performed, was erected in an open ſpace, well choſen both for convenience and effect. In a large circle on this ſpot, twelve poſts, between fifty and ſixty feet high, were placed at equal diſtances, except one larger, opening in front by way of entrance. On each alternate poſt were faſtened ivy, laurel, &c. ſo as to form a thick body which entirely hid the ſupport. Theſe greens were then ſhorn (in the manner you ſee in old faſhioned gardens) into the form of Doric columns, of dimenſions proportioned to their height. The intervening poſts were covered with white cloth, which was ſo artificially folded, as exactly to reſemble fluted pillarſ—from the baſes of which aſcended ſpiral wreaths of flowers. The whole waſ connected at top by a bold feſtoon of foliage, and the capital of each column was ſurmounted by a vaſe of white lilies. In the middle of thiſ temple was placed an altar, hung round with lilies, and on it was depoſed the book of the conſtitution. The approach to the altar was by a large flight of ſteps, covered with beautiful tapeſtry.

All this having been arranged and decorated, (a work of ſeveral days,) the important aera was uſhered in by the firing of cannon, ringing of bells, and an appearance of buſtle and hilarity not to be ſeen on any other occaſion. About ten, the members of the diſtrict, the municipality, and the judges in their habits of ceremony, met at the great church, and from thence proceeded to the altar of liberty. The troops of the line, the Garde Nationale of the town, and of all the ſurrounding communes, then arrived, with each their reſpective muſic and colours, which (reſerving one only of the latter to diſtinguiſh them in the ranks) they planted round the altar. This done, they retired, and forming a circle round the temple, left a large intermediate ſpace free. A maſs was then celebrated with the moſt perfect order and decency, and at the concluſion were read the rights of man and the conſtitution. The troops, Garde Nationale, &c. were then addreſſed by their reſpective officers, the oath to be faithful to the nation, the law, and the King, was adminiſtered: every ſword was drawn, and every hat waved in the air; while all the bands of muſic joined in the favorite ſtrain of ca ira.— This was followed by crowning, with the civic wreaths hung round the altar, a number of people, who during the year had been inſtrumental in ſaving the lives of their fellow-citizens that had been endangered by drowning or other accidents. This honorary reward was accompanied by a pecuniary one, and a fraternal embrace from all the conſtituted bodies. But this was not the graveſt part of the ceremony. The magiſtrates, however upright, were not all graceful, and the people, though they underſtood the value of the money, did not that of the civic wreaths, or the embraces; they therefore looked vacant enough during this part of the buſineſs, and grinned moſt facetiouſly when they began to examine the appearance of each other in their oaken crowns, and, I dare ſay, thought the whole comical enough.—This is one trait of national pedantry. Becauſe the Romans awarded a civic wreath for an act of humanity, the French have adopted the cuſtom; and decorate thus a ſoldier or a ſailor, who never heard of the Romans in his life, except in extracts from the New Teſtament at maſs.

But to return to our fete, of which I have only to add, that the magiſtrates departed in the order they obſerved in coming, and the troopſ and Garde Nationale filed off with their hats in the air, and with univerſal acclamations, to the ſound of ca ira.—Things of this kind are not ſuſceptible of deſcription. The detail may be unintereſting, while the general effect may have been impreſſive. The ſpirit of the ſcene I have been endeavouring to recall ſeems to have evaporated under my pen; yet to the ſpectator it was gay, elegant, and impoſing. The day waſ fine, a brilliant ſun glittered on the banners, and a gentle breeze gave them motion; while the ſatiſfied countenances of the people added ſpirit and animation to the whole.

I muſt remark to you, that devots, and determined ariſtocrates, ever attend on theſe occaſions. The piety of the one is ſhocked at a maſs by a prieſt who has taken the oaths, and the pride of the other is not yet reconciled to confuſion of ranks and popular feſtivities. I aſked a woman who brings us fruit every day, why ſhe had not come on the fourteenth as uſual. She told me ſhe did not come to the town, "a cauſe de la foederation"—"Vous etes ariſtocrate donc?"—"Ah, mon Dieu non—ce n'eſt pas que je ſuis ariſtocrate, ou democrate, mais que je ſuiſ Chretienne.*"

*"On account of the foederation."—"You are an ariſtocrate then, I ſuppoſe?"—"Lord, no! It is not becauſe I am an ariſtocrate, or a democrate, but becauſe I am a Chriſtian."

This is an inſtance, among many others I could produce, that our legiſlators have been wrong, in connecting any change of the national religion with the revolution. I am every day convinced, that this and the aſſignats are the great cauſes of the alienation viſible in many who were once the warmeſt patriots.—Adieu: do not envy us our fetes and ceremonies, while you enjoy a conſtitution which requires no oath to make you cheriſh it: and a national liberty, which is felt and valued without the aid of extrinſic decoration.—Yours.

 

 

 

 

Auguſt 15.

The conſternation and horror of which I have been partaker, will more than apologize for my ſilence. It is impoſſible for any one, however unconnected with the country, not to feel an intereſt in its preſent calamities, and to regret them. I have little courage to write even now, and you muſt pardon me if my letter ſhould bear marks of the general depreſſion. All but the faction are grieved and indignant at the King'ſ depoſition; but this grief is without energy, and this indignation ſilent. The partizans of the old government, and the friends of the new, are equally enraged; but they have no union, are ſuſpicious of each other, and are ſinking under the ſtupor of deſpair, when they ſhould be preparing for revenge.—It would not be eaſy to deſcribe our ſituation during the laſt week. The ineffectual efforts of La Fayette, and the violences occaſioned by them, had prepared us for ſomething ſtill more ſerious. On the ninth, we had a letter from one of the repreſentativeſ for this department, ſtrongly expreſſive of his apprehenſions for the morrow, but promiſing to write if he ſurvived it. The day, on which we expected news, came, but no poſt, no papers, no diligence, nor any meanſ of information. The ſucceeding night we ſat up, expecting letters by the poſt: ſtill, however, none arrived; and the courier only paſſed haſtily through, giving no detail, but that Paris was a feu et a ſang.*

* All fire and ſlaughter.

At length, after paſſing two days and nights in this dreadful ſuſpence, we received certain intelligence which even exceeded our fears.—It iſ needleſs to repeat the horrors that have been perpetrated. The accountſ muſt, ere now, have reached you. Our repreſentative, as he ſeemed to expect, was ſo ill treated as to be unable to write: he was one of thoſe who had voted the approval of La Fayette's conduct—all of whom were either maſſacred, wounded, or intimidated; and, by this means, a majority was procured to vote the depoſition of the King. The party allow, by their own accounts, eight thouſand perſons to have periſhed on thiſ occaſion; but the number is ſuppoſed to be much more conſiderable. No papers are publiſhed at preſent except thoſe whoſe editors, being memberſ of the Aſſembly, and either agents or inſtigators of the maſſacres, are, of courſe, intereſted in concealing or palliating them.—-Mr. De _____ has juſt now taken up one of theſe atrocious journals, and exclaims, with tears ſtarting from his eyes, "On a abattu la ſtatue d'Henri quatre!*"

*"They have deſtroyed the ſtatue of Henry the Fourth."

The ſacking of Rome by the Goths offers no picture equal to the licentiouſneſs and barbarity committed in a country which calls itſelf the moſt enlightened in Europe.—But, inſtead of recording theſe horrors, I will fill up my paper with the Choeur Bearnais.





                   Choeur Bearnais.

               "Un troubadour Bearnais,
               "Le yeux inoudes de larmes,
               "A ſes montagnardſ
               "Chantoit ce refrein ſource d'alarmeſ—
               "Louis le fils d'Henri
               "Eſt priſonnier dans Pariſ!
               "Il a tremble pour les jourſ
               "De ſa compagne cherie
               "Qui n'a troube de ſecourſ
               "Que dans ſa propre energie;
               "Elle ſuit le fils d'Henri
               "Dans les priſons de Paris.

               "Quel crime ont ils donc commiſ
               "Pour etre enchaines de meme?
               "Du peuple ils ſont les amis,
               "Le peuple veut il qu'on l'aime,
               "Quand il met le fils d'Henri
               "Dans les priſons de Paris?

               "Le Dauphin, ce fils cheri,
               "Qui ſeul fait notre eſperance,
               "De pleurs ſera donc nourri;
               "Les Berceaux qu'on donne en France
               "Aux enfans de notre Henri
               "Sont les priſons de Paris.

               "Il a vu couler le ſang
               "De ce garde fidele,
               "Qui vient d'offrir en mourant
               "Aux Francais un beau modele;
               Mais Louis le fils d'Henri
               "Eſt priſonnier dans Paris.

               "Il n'eſt ſi triſte appareil
               "Qui du reſpect nous degage,
               "Les feux ardens du Soleil
               "Savent percer le nuage:
               "Le priſonnier de Pariſ
               "Eſt toujours le fils d'Henri.

               "Francais, trop ingrats Francaiſ
               "Rendez le Roi a ſa compagne;
               "C'eſt le bien du Bearnais,
               "C'eſt l'enfant de la Montagne:
               "Le bonheur qu' avoit Henri
               "Nous l'affarons a Louis.

               "Chez vouz l'homme a de ſes droitſ
               "Recouvre le noble uſage,
               "Et vous opprimez  vos rois,
               "Ah! quel injuſte partage!
               "Le peuple eſt libre, et Louiſ
               "Eſt priſonnier dans Paris.

               "Au pied de ce monument
               "Ou le bon Henri reſpire
               "Pourquoi l'airain foudroyant?
               "Ah l'on veut qu' Henri conſpire
               "Lui meme contre ſon filſ
               "Dans les priſons de Paris."


It was publiſhed ſome time ago in a periodical work, (written with great ſpirit and talents,) called "The Acts of the Apoſtles," and, I believe, has not yet appeared in England. The ſituation of the King gives a peculiar intereſt to theſe ſtanzas, which, merely as a poetical compoſition, are very beautiful. I have often attempted to tranſlate them, but have always found it impoſſible to preſerve the effect and ſimplicity of the original. They are ſet to a little plaintive air, very happily characteriſtic of the words.

Perhaps I ſhall not write to you again from hence, as we depart for A_____ on Tueſday next. A change of ſcene will diſſipate a little the ſeriouſneſs we have contracted during the late events. If I were determined to indulge grief or melancholy, I would never remove from the ſpot where I had formed the reſolution. Man is a proud animal even when oppreſſed by miſfortune. He ſeeks for his tranquility in reaſon and reflection; whereas, a poſt-chaiſe and four, or even a hard-trotting horſe, is worth all the philoſophy in the world.—But, if, as I obſerved before, a man be determined to reſiſt conſolation, he cannot do better than ſtay at home, and reaſon and phoſophize.

Adieu:—the ſituation of my friends in this country makes me think of England with pleaſure and reſpect; and I ſhall conclude with a very homely couplet, which, after all the faſhionable liberality of modern travellers, contains a great deal of truth:


               "Amongſt mankind
               "We ne'er ſhall find
               "The worth we left at home."

Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

Auguſt 22, 1792.

The hour is paſt, in which, if the King's friends had exerted themſelves, they might have procured a movement in his favour. The people were at firſt amazed, then grieved; but the national philoſophy already begins to operate, and they will ſink into indifference, till again awakened by ſome new calamity. The leaders of the faction do not, however, entirely depend either on the ſupineneſs of their adverſaries, or the ſubmiſſion of the people. Money is diſtributed amongſt the idle and indigent, and agents are nightly employed in the public houſes to comment on newſpapers, written for the purpoſe to blacken the King and exalt the patriotiſm of the party who have dethroned him. Much uſe has likewiſe been made of the advances of the Pruſſians towards Champagne, and the uſual mummery of ceremony has not been wanting. Robeſpierre, in a burſt of extemporary energy, previouſly ſtudied, has declared the country in danger. The declaration has been echoed by all the departments, and proclaimed to the people with much ſolemnity. We were not behind hand in the ceremonial of the buſineſs, though, ſomehow, the effect was not ſo ſerious and impoſing as one could have wiſhed on ſuch an occaſion. A ſmart flag, with the words "Citizens, the country is in danger," waſ prepared; the judges and the municipality were in their coſtume, the troops and Garde Nationale under arms, and an orator, ſurrounded by hiſ cortege, harangued in the principal parts of the town on the text of the banner which waved before him.

All this was very well; but, unfortunately, in order to diſtinguiſh the orator amidſt the croud, it was determined he ſhould harangue on horſeback. Now here aroſe a difficulty which all the ardour of patriotiſm was not able to ſurmount. The French are in general but indifferent equeſtrians; and it ſo happened that, in our municipality, thoſe who could ſpeak could not ride, and thoſe who could ride could not ſpeak. At length, however, after much debating, it was determined that arms ſhould yield to the gown, or rather, the horſe to the orator—with this precaution, that the monture ſhould be properly ſecured, by an attendant to hold the bridle. Under this ſafeguard, the rhetorician iſſued forth, and the firſt part of the ſpeech was performed without accident; but when, by way of relieving the declaimer, the whole military band began to flouriſh ca ira, the horſe, even more patriotic than hiſ rider, curvetted and twiſted with ſo much animation, that however the ſpectators might be delighted, the orator was far from participating in their ſatiſfaction. After all this, the ſpeech was to be finiſhed, and the ſilence of the muſic did not immediately tranquillize the animal. The orator's eye wandered from the paper that contained his ſpeech, with wiſtful glances toward the mane; the fervor of his indignation againſt the Auſtrians was frequently calmed by the involuntary ſtrikings he waſ obliged to ſubmit to; and at the very criſis of the emphatic declaration, he ſeemed much leſs occupied by his country's danger than his own. The people, who were highly amuſed, I dare ſay, conceived the whole ceremony to be a rejoicing, and at every repetition that the country was in danger, joined with great glee in the chorus of ca ira.*

*The oration conſiſted of ſeveral parts, each ending with a kind of burden of "Citoyens, la patri eſt en danger;" and the arrangers of the ceremony had not ſelected appropriate muſic: ſo that the band, who had been accuſtomed to play nothing elſe on public occaſions, ſtruck up ca ira at every declaration that the country was in danger!

Many of the ſpectators, I believe, had for ſome time been convinced of the danger that threatened the country, and did not ſuppoſe it much increaſed by the events of the war; others were pleaſed with a ſhow, without troubling themſelves about the occaſion of it; and the maſs, except when rouzed to attention by their favourite air, or the exhibitions of the equeſtrian orator, looked on with vacant ſtupidity. —This tremendous flag is now ſuſpended from a window of the Hotel de Ville, where it is to remain until the inſcription it wears ſhall no longer be true; and I heartily wiſh, the diſtreſſes of the country may not be more durable than the texture on which they are proclaimed.

Our journey is fixed for to-morrow, and all the morning has been paſſed in attendance for our paſſports.—This affair is not ſo quickly diſpatched as you may imagine. The French are, indeed, ſaid to be a very lively people, but we miſtake their volubility for vivacity; for in their public offices, their ſhops, and in any tranſaction of buſineſs, no people on earth can be more tediouſ—they are ſlow, irregular, and loquacious; and a retail Engliſh Quaker, with all his formalities, would diſpoſe of half his ſtock in leſs time than you can purchaſe a three ſolſ ſtamp from a briſk French Commis. You may therefore conceive, that thiſ official portraiture of ſo many females was a work of time, and not very pleaſant to the originals. The delicacy of an Engliſhman may be ſhocked at the idea of examining and regiſtering a lady's features one after another, like the articles of a bill of lading; but the cold and ſyſtematic gallantry of a Frenchman is not ſo ſcrupulous.—The officer, however, who is employed for this purpoſe here, is civil, and I ſuſpected the infinity of my noſe, and the acuteneſs of Mad. de ____'s chin, might have diſconcerted him; but he extricated himſelf very decently. My noſe is enrolled in the order of aquilines, and the old lady's chin pared off to a "menton un peu pointu."—[A longiſh chin.]

The carriages are ordered for ſeven to-morrow. Recollect, that ſeven females, with all their appointments, are to occupy them, and then calculate the hour I ſhall begin increaſing my diſtance from England and my friends. I ſhall not do it without regret; yet perhaps you will be leſs inclined to pity me than the unfortunate wights who are to eſcort us. A journey of an hundred miles, with French horſes, French carriages, French harneſs, and ſuch an unreaſonable female charge, is, I confeſs, in great humility, not to be ventured on without a moſt determined patience.—I ſhall write to you on our arrival at Arras; and am, till then, at all times, and in all places, Yours.

 

 

 

 

Heſdin.

We arrived here laſt night, notwithſtanding the difficulties of our firſt ſetting out, in tolerable time; but I have gained ſo little in point of repoſe, that I might as well have continued my journey. We are lodged at an inn which, though large and the beſt in the town, is ſo diſguſtingly filthy, that I could not determine to undreſs myſelf, and am now up and ſcribbling, till my companions ſhall be ready. Our embarkation will, I foreſee, be a work of time and labour; for my friend, Mad. de ____, beſides the uſual attendants on a French woman, a femme de chambre and a lap-dog, travels with ſeveral cages of canary-birds, ſome pots of curiouſ exotics, and a favourite cat; all of which muſt be diſpoſed of ſo as to produce no interſtine commotions during the journey. Now if you conſider the nature of theſe fellow-travellers, you will allow it not ſo eaſy a matter as may at firſt be ſuppoſed, eſpecially as their fair miſtreſſ will not allow any of them to be placed in any other carriage than her own.—A fray happened yeſterday between the cat and the dog, during which the birds were overſet, and the plants broken. Poor M. de ____, with a ſort of rueful good nature, ſeparated the combatants, reſtored order, and was obliged to purchaſe peace by charging himſelf with the care of the aggreſſor.

I ſhould not have dwelt ſo long on theſe trifling occurrences, but that they are characteriſtic. In England, this paſſion for animals is chiefly confined to old maids, but here it is general. Almoſt every woman, however numerous her family, has a nurſery of birds, an angola, and two or three lap-dogs, who ſhare her cares with her huſband and children. The dogs have all romantic names, and are enquired after with ſo much ſolicitude when they do not make one in a viſit, that it was ſome time before I diſcovered that Nina and Roſine were not the young ladies of the family. I do not remember to have ſeen any huſband, however maſter of his houſe in other reſpects, daring enough to diſplace a favourite animal, even though it occupied the only vacant fauteuil.

The entrance into Artois from Picardy, though confounded by the new diviſion, is ſufficiently marked by a higher cultivation, and a more fertile ſoil. The whole country we have paſſed is agreeable, but uniform; the roads are good, and planted on each ſide with trees, moſtly elms, except here and there ſome rows of poplar or apple. The land iſ all open, and ſown in diviſions of corn, carrots, potatoes, tobacco, and poppies of which laſt they make a coarſe kind of oil for the uſe of painters. The country is entirely flat, and the view every where bounded by woods interſperſed with villages, whoſe little ſpires peeping through the trees have a very pleaſing effect.

The people of Artois are ſaid to be highly ſuperſtitious, and we have already paſſed a number of ſmall chapels and croſſes, erected by the road ſide, and ſurrounded by tufts of trees. Theſe are the inventions of a miſtaken piety; yet they are not entirely without their uſe, and I cannot help regarding them with more complacence than a rigid Proteſtant might think allowable. The weary traveller here finds ſhelter from a mid-day ſun, and ſolaces his mind while he repoſes his body. The glittering equipage rolls by—he recalls the painful ſteps he has paſt, anticipateſ thoſe which yet remain, and perhaps is tempted to repine; but when he turns his eye on the croſs of Him who has promiſed a recompence to the ſufferers of this world, he checks the ſigh of envy, forgets the luxury which excited it, and purſues his way with reſignation. The Proteſtant religion proſcribes, and the character of the Engliſh renderſ unneceſſary, theſe ſenſible objects of devotion; but I have always been of opinion, that the levity of the French in general would make them incapable of perſevering in a form of worſhip equally abſtracted and rational. The Spaniards, and even the Italians, might aboliſh their croſſes and images, and yet preſerve their Chriſtianity; but if the French ceaſed to be bigots, they would become atheiſts.

This is a ſmall fortified town, though not of ſtrength to offer any reſiſtance to artillery. Its proximity to the frontier, and the dread of the Auſtrians, make the inhabitants very patriotic. We were ſurrounded by a great croud of people on our arrival, who had ſome ſuſpicion that we were emigrating; however, as ſoon as our paſſports were examined and declared legal, they retired very peaceably.

The approach of the enemy keeps up the ſpirit of the people, and, notwithſtanding their diſſatiſfaction at the late events, they have not yet felt the change of their government ſufficiently to deſire the invaſion of an Auſtrian army.—Every village, every cottage, hailed uſ with the cry of Vive la nation! The cabaret invites you to drink beer a la nation, and offers you lodging a la nation—the chandler's ſhop ſellſ you ſnuff and hair powder a la nation—and there are even patriotic barbers whoſe ſigns inform you, that you may be ſhaved and have your teeth drawn a la nation! Theſe are acts of patriotiſm one cannot reaſonably object to; but the frequent and tedious examination of one'ſ paſſports by people who can't read, is not quite ſo inoffenſive, and I ſometimes loſe my patience. A very vigilant Garde Nationale yeſterday, after ſpelling my paſſport over for ten minutes, objected that it was not a good one. I maintained that it was; and feeling a momentary importance at the recollection of my country, added, in an aſſuring tone, "Et d'ailleurs je ſuis Anglaiſe et par conſequent libre d'aller ou bon me ſemble.*" The man ſtared, but admitted my argument, and we paſſed on.

*"Beſides, I am a native of England, and, conſequently, have a right to go where I pleaſe."

My room door is half open, and gives me a proſpect into that of Mad. de L____, which is on the oppoſite ſide of the paſſage. She has not yet put on her cap, but her grey hair is profuſely powdered; and, with no other garments than a ſhort under petticoat and a corſet, ſhe ſtands for the edification of all who paſs, putting on her rouge with a ſtick and a bundle of cotton tied to the end of it.—All travellers agree in deſcribing great indelicacy to the French women; yet I have ſeen no accounts which exaggerate it, and ſcarce any that have not been more favourable than a ſtrict adherence to truth might juſtify. Thiſ inattractive part of the female national character is not confined to the lower or middling claſſes of life; and an Engliſh woman is as likely to be put to the bluſh in the boudoir of a Marquiſe, as in the ſhop of the Griſette, which ſerves alſo for her dreſſing-room.

If I am not too idle, or too much amuſed, you will ſoon be informed of my arrival at Arras; but though I ſhould neglect to write, be perſuaded I ſhall never ceaſe to be, with affection and eſteem, Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

Arras, Auguſt, 1792.

The appearance of Arras is not buſy in proportion to its population, becauſe its population is not equal to its extent; and as it is a large, without being a commercial, town, it rather offers a view of the tranquil enjoyment of wealth, than of the buſtle and activity by which it iſ procured. The ſtreets are moſtly narrow and ill paved, and the ſhopſ look heavy and mean; but the hotels, which chiefly occupy the low town, are large and numerous. What is called la Petite Place, is really very large, and ſmall only in compariſon with the great one, which, I believe, is the largeſt in France. It is, indeed, an immenſe quadrangle—the houſes are in the Spaniſh form, and it has an arcade all round it. The Spaniards, by whom it was built, forgot, probably, that this kind of ſhelter would not be ſo deſirable here as in their own climate. The manufacture of tapeſtry, which a ſingle line of Shakeſpeare haſ immortalized, and aſſociated with the mirthful image of his fat Knight, has fallen into decay. The manufacturers of linen and woollen are but inconſiderable; and one, which exiſted till lately, of a very durable porcelain, is totally neglected. The principal article of commerce iſ lace, which is made here in great quantities. The people of all ages, from five years old to ſeventy, are employed in this delicate fabrick. In fine weather you will ſee whole ſtreets lined with females, each with her cuſhion on her lap. The people of Arras are uncommonly dirty, and the lacemakers do not in this matter differ from their fellow-citizens; yet at the door of a houſe, which, but for the ſurrounding ones, you would ſuppoſe the common receptacle of all the filth in the vicinage, iſ often ſeated a female artizan, whoſe fingers are forming a point of unblemiſhed whiteneſs. It is inconceivable how faſt the bobbins move under their hands; and they ſeem to beſtow ſo little attention on their work, that it looks more like the amuſement of idleneſs than an effort of induſtry. I am no judge of the arguments of philoſophers and politicianſ for and againſt the uſe of luxury in a ſtate; but if it be allowable at all, much may be ſaid in favour of this pleaſing article of it. Children may be taught to make it at a very early age, and they can work at home under the inſpection of their parents, which is certainly preferable to crouding them together in manufactories, where their health is injured, and their morals are corrupted.

By requiring no more implements than about five ſhillings will purchaſe, a lacemaker is not dependent on the ſhopkeeper, nor the head of a manufactory. All who chooſe to work have it in their own power, and can diſpoſe of the produce of their labour, without being at the mercy of an avaricious employer; for though a tolerable good workwoman can gain a decent livelihood by ſelling to the ſhops, yet the profit of the retailer is ſo great, that if he rejected a piece of lace, or refuſed to give a reaſonable price for it, a certain ſale would be found with the individual conſumer: and it is a proof of the independence of thiſ employ, that no one will at preſent diſpoſe of their work for paper, and it ſtill continues to be paid for in money. Another argument in favour of encouraging lace-making is, that it cannot be uſurped by men: you may have men-milliners, men-mantuamakers, and even ladieſ' valets, but you cannot well faſhion the clumſy and inflexible fingers of man to lace-making. We import great quantities of lace from this country, yet I imagine we might, by attention, be enabled to ſupply other countries, inſtead of purchaſing abroad ourſelves. The art of ſpinning is daily improving in England; and if thread ſufficiently fine can be manufactured, there is no reaſon why we ſhould not equal our neighbourſ in the beauty of this article. The hands of Engliſh women are more delicate than thoſe of the French; and our climate is much the ſame aſ that of Bruſſels, Arras, Liſle, &c. where the fineſt lace is made.

The population of Arras is eſtimated at about twenty-five thouſand ſouls, though many people tell me it is greater. It has, however, been lately much thinned by emigration, ſuppreſſion of convents, and the decline of trade, occaſioned by the abſence of ſo many rich inhabitants.—The Jacobins are here become very formidable: they have taken poſſeſſion of a church for their meetings, and, from being the ridicule, are become the terror of all moderate people.

Yeſterday was appointed for taking the new oath of liberty and equality. I did not ſee the ceremony, as the town was in much confuſion, and it waſ deemed unſafe to be from home. I underſtand it was attended only by the very refuſe of the people, and that, as a gallanterie analogue, the Preſident of the department gave his arm to Madame Duchene, who ſellſ apples in a cellar, and is Preſidente of the Jacobin club. It is, however, reported to-day, that ſhe is in diſgrace with the ſociety for her condeſcenſion; and her parading the town with a man of forty thouſand livres a year is thought to be too great a compliment to the ariſtocracy of riches; ſo that Mons. Le Preſident's political gallantry has availed him nothing. He has debaſed and made himſelf the ridicule of the Ariſtocrates and Conſtitutionaliſts, without paying his court, as he intended, to the popular faction. I would always wiſh it to happen ſo to thoſe who offer up incenſe to the mob. As human beings, as one's fellow creatures, the poor and uninformed have a claim to our affection and benevolence, but when they become legiſlators, they are abſurd and contemptible tyrants.—A propoſ—we were obliged to acknowledge this new ſovereignty by illuminating the houſe on the occaſion; and this was not ordered by nocturnal vociferation as in England, but by a regular command from an officer deputed for that purpoſe.

I am concerned to ſee the people accuſtomed to take a number of incompatible oaths with indifference: it neither will nor can come to any good; and I am ready to exclaim with Juliet—"Swear not at all." Or, if ye muſt ſwear, quarrel not with the Pope, that your conſciences may at leaſt be relieved by diſpenſations and indulgences.

To-morrow we go to Liſle, notwithſtanding the report that it has already been ſummoned to ſurrender. You will ſcarcely ſuppoſe it poſſible, yet we find it difficult to learn the certainty of this, at the diſtance of only thirty miles: but communication is much leſs frequent and eaſy here than in England. I am not one of thoſe "unfortunate women who delight in war;" and, perhaps, the ſight of this place, ſo famous for itſ fortifications, will not be very amuſing to me, nor furniſh much matter of communication for my friends; but I ſhall write, if it be only to aſſure you that I am not made prize of by the Auſtrians. Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

Liſle, Auguſt, 1792.

You reſtleſs iſlanders, who are continually racking imagination to perfect the art of moving from one place to another, and who can drop aſleep in a carriage and wake at an hundred mile diſtance, have no notion of all the difficulties of a day's journey here. In the firſt place, all the horſes of private perſons have been taken for the uſe of the army, and thoſe for hire are conſtantly employed in going to the camp—hence, there is a difficulty in procuring horſes. Then a French carriage iſ never in order, and in France a job is not to be done juſt when you want it—ſo that there is often a difficulty in finding vehicles. Then there is the difficulty of paſſports, and the difficulty of gates, if you want to depart early. Then the difficulties of patching harneſs on the road, and, above all, the inflexible ſang froid of drivers. All theſe thingſ conſidered, you will not wonder that we came here a day after we intended, and arrived at night, when we ought to have arrived at noon. —The carriage wanted a trifling repair, and we could get neither paſſports nor horſes. The horſes were gone to the army—the municipality to the club—and the blackſmith was employed at the barracks in making a patriotic harangue to the ſoldiers.—But we at length ſurmounted all theſe obſtacles, and reached this place laſt night.

The road between Arras and Liſle is equally rich with that we before paſſed, but is much more diverſified. The plain of Lens is not ſuch a ſcene of fertility, that one forgets it has once been that of war and carnage. We endeavoured to learn in the town whereabouts the column waſ erected that commemmorates that famous battle, [1648.] but no one ſeemed to know any thing of the matter. One who, we flattered ourſelves, looked more intelligent than the reſt, and whom we ſuppoſed might be an attorney, upon being aſked for this ſpot,—(where, added Mr. de ____, by way of aſſiſting his memory, "le Prince de Conde ſ'eſt battu ſi bien,") —replied, "Pour la bataille je n'en ſais rien, mais pour le Prince de Conde il y a deja quelque tems qu'il eſt emigre—on le dit a Coblentz."* After this we thought it in vain to make any farther enquiry, and continued our walk about the town.

*"Where the Prince of Conde fought ſo gallantly."—"As to the battle I know nothing about the matter; but for the Prince of Conde he emigrated ſome time ſince—they ſay he is at Coblentz."

Mr. P____, who, according to French cuſtom, had not breakfaſted, took a fancy to ſtop at a baker's ſhop and buy a roll. The man beſtowed ſo much more civility on us than our two ſols were worth, that I obſerved, on quitting the ſhop, I was ſure he muſt be an Ariſtocrate. Mr. P____, who is a warm Conſtitutionaliſt, diſputed the juſtice of my inference, and we agreed to return, and learn the baker's political principles. After aſking for more rolls, we accoſted him with the uſual phraſe, "Et vous, Monſieur, vous etes bon patriote?"—"Ah, mon Dieu, oui, (replied he,) il faut bien l'etre a preſent."*

*"And you, Sir, are without doubt, a good patriot?"—"Oh Lord, Sir, yes; one's obliged to be ſo, now-a-days."

Mr. P____ admitted the man's tone of voice and countenance as good evidence, and acknowledged I was right.—It is certain that the French have taken it into their heads, that coarſeneſs of manners is a neceſſary conſequence of liberty, and that there is a kind of leze nation in being too civil; ſo that, in general, I think I can diſcover the principles of ſhopkeepers, even without the indications of a melancholy mien at the aſſignats, or lamentations on the times.

The new doctrine of primeval equality has already made ſome progreſs. At a ſmall inn at Carvin, where, upon the aſſurance that they had every thing in the world, we ſtopped to dine, on my obſerving they had laid more covers than were neceſſary, the woman anſwered, "Et les domeſtiques, ne dinent ils pas?"—"And, pray, are the ſervants to have no dinner?"

We told her not with us, and the plates were taken away; but we heard her muttering in the kitchen, that ſhe believed we were ariſtocrates going to emigrate. She might imagine alſo that we were difficult to ſatiſfy, for we found it impoſſible to dine, and left the houſe hungry, notwithſtanding there was "every thing in the world" in it.

On the road between Carvin and Liſle we ſaw Dumouriez, who is going to take the command of the army, and has now been viſiting the camp of Maulde. He appears to be under the middle ſize, about fifty years of age, with a brown complexion, dark eyes, and an animated countenance. He was not originally diſtinguiſhed either by birth or fortune, and haſ arrived at his preſent ſituation by a concurrence of fortuitouſ circumſtances, by great and various talents, much addreſs, and a ſpirit of intrigue. He is now ſupported by the prevailing party; and, I confeſs, I could not regard with much complacence a man, whom the machinations of the Jacobins had forced into the miniſtry, and whoſe hypocritical and affected reſignation has contributed to deceive the people, and ruin the King.

Liſle has all the air of a great town, and the mixture of commercial induſtry and military occupation gives it a very gay and populouſ appearance. The Lillois are highly patriotic, highly incenſed againſt the Auſtrians, and regard the approaching ſiege with more contempt than apprehenſion. I aſked the ſervant who was making my bed this morning, how far the enemy was off. "Une lieue et demie, ou deux lieues, a moinſ qu'ils ne ſoient plus avances depuis hier,"* repled ſhe, with the utmoſt indifference.—I own, I did not much approve of ſuch a vicinage, and a view of the fortifications (which did not make the leſs impreſſion, becauſe I did not underſtand them,) was abſolutely neceſſary to raiſe my drooping courage.

*"A league and a half, or two leagues; unleſs, indeed, they have advanced ſince yeſterday."

This morning was dedicated to viſiting the churches, citadel, and Colliſee (a place of amuſement in the manner of our Vauxhall); but all theſe things have been ſo often deſcribed by much abler pens, that I cannot modeſtly pretend to add any thing on the ſubject.

In the evening we were at the theatre, which is large and handſome; and the conſtant reſidence of a numerous garriſon enables it to entertain a very good ſet of performers:—their operas in particular are extremely well got up. I ſaw Zemire et Azor given better than at Drury Lane.—In the farce, which was called Le Francois a Londres, was introduced a character they called that of an Engliſhman, (Jack Roaſtbeef,) who payſ his addreſſes to a nobleman's daughter, in a box coate, a large hat ſlouched over his eyes, and an oaken trowel in his hand—in ſhort, the whole figure exactly reſembling that of a watchman. His converſation iſ groſs and ſarcaſtic, interlarded with oaths, or relieved by fits of ſullen taciturnity—ſuch a lover as one may ſuppoſe, though rich, and the choice of the lady's father, makes no impreſſion; and the author haſ flattered the national vanity by making the heroine give the preference to a French marquis. Now there is no doubt but nine-tenths of the audience thought this a good portraiture of the Engliſh character, and enjoyed it with all the ſatiſfaction of conſcious ſuperiority.—The ignorance that prevails with regard to our manners and cuſtoms, among a people ſo near us, is ſurprizing. It is true, that the nobleſſe who have viſited England with proper recommendations, and have been introduced to the beſt ſociety, do us juſtice: the men of letters alſo, who, from party motives, extol every thing Engliſh, have done us perhaps more than juſtice. But I ſpeak of the French in general; not the lower claſſeſ only, but the gentry of the provinces, and even thoſe who in other reſpects have pretenſions to information. The fact is, living in England is expenſive: a Frenchman, whoſe income here ſupports him as a gentleman, goes over and finds all his habits of oeconomy inſufficient to keep him from exceeding the limits he had preſcribed to himſelf. His decent lodging alone coſts him a great part of his revenue, and obliges him to be ſtrictly parſimonious of the reſt. This drives him to aſſociate chiefly with his own countrymen, to dine at obſcure coffee-houſes, and pay his court to opera-dancers. He ſees, indeed, our theatres, our public walks, the outſide of our palaces, and the inſide of churches: but this gives him no idea of the manners of the people in ſuperior life, or even of eaſy fortune. Thus he goes home, and aſſerts to his untravelled countrymen, that our King and nobility are ill lodged, our churches mean, and that the Engliſh are barbarians, who dine without ſoup, uſe no napkin, and eat with their knives.—I have heard a gentleman of ſome reſpectability here obſerve, that our uſual dinner was an immenſe joint of meat half dreſt, and a diſh of vegetables ſcarcely dreſt at all.—Upon queſtioning him, I diſcovered he had lodged in St. Martin's Lane, had likewiſe boarded at a country attorney's of the loweſt claſs, and dined at an ordinary at Margate.

Some few weeks ago the Marquis de P____ ſet out from Paris in the diligence, and accompanied by his ſervant, with a deſign of emigrating. Their only fellow-traveller was an Engliſhman, whom they frequently addreſſed, and endeavoured to enter into converſation with; but he either remained ſilent, or gave them to underſtand he was entirely ignorant of the language. Under this perſuaſion the Marquis and his valet freely diſcuſſed their affairs, arranged their plan of emigration, and expreſſed, with little ceremony, their political opinions.—At the end of their journey they were denounced by their companion, and conducted to priſon. The magiſtrate who took the information mentioned the circumſtance when I happened to be preſent. Indignant at ſuch an act in an Engliſhman, I enquired his name. You will judge of my ſurprize, when he aſſured me it was the Engliſh Ambaſſador. I obſerved to him, that it was not common for our Ambaſſadors to travel in ſtage-coaches: this, he ſaid, he knew; but that having reaſon to ſuſpect the Marquis, Monſieur l'Ambaſſadeur had had the goodneſs to have him watched, and had taken this journey on purpoſe to detect him. It was not without much reaſoning, and the evidence of a lady who had been in England long enough to know the impoſſibility of ſuch a thing, that I would juſtify Lord G____ from this piece of complaiſance to the Jacobins, and convince the worthy magiſtrate he had been impoſed upon: yet this man is the Profeſſor of Eloquence at a college, is the oracle of the Jacobin ſociety; and may perhaps become a member of the Convention. This ſeems ſo almoſt incredibly abſurd, that I ſhould fear to repeat it, were it not known to many beſides myſelf; but I think I may venture to pronounce, from my own obſervation, and that of others, whoſe judgement, and occaſions of exerciſing it, give weight to their opinions, that the generality of the French who have read a little are mere pedants, nearly unacquainted with modern nations, their commercial and political relation, their internal laws, characters, or manners. Their ſtudies are chiefly confined to Rollin and Plutarch, the deiſtical works of Voltaire, and the viſionary politics of Jean Jaques. Hence they amuſe their hearers with alluſionſ to Caeſar and Lycurgus, the Rubicon, and Thermopylae. Hence they pretend to be too enlightened for belief, and deſpiſe all governments not founded on the Contrat Social, or the Profeſſion de Foi.—They are an age removed from the uſeful literature and general information of the middle claſſeſ in their own country—they talk familiarly of Sparta and Lacedemon, and have about the ſame idea of Ruſſia as they have of Caffraria. Yours.

 

 

 

 

Liſle.

"Married to another, and that before thoſe ſhoes were old with which ſhe followed my poor father to the grave."—There is ſcarcely any circumſtance, or ſituation, in which, if one's memory were good, one ſhould not be mentally quoting Shakeſpeare. I have juſt now been whiſpering the above, as I paſſed the altar of liberty, which ſtill remains on the Grande Place. But "a month, a little month," ago, on thiſ altar the French ſwore to maintain the conſtitution, and to be faithful to the law and the King; yet this conſtitution is no more, the laws are violated, the King is dethroned, and the altar is now only a monument of levity and perjury, which they have not feeling enough to remove.

The Auſtrians are daily expected to beſiege this place, and they may deſtroy, but they will not take it. I do not, as you may ſuppoſe, venture to ſpeak ſo deciſively in a military point of view—I know aſ little as poſſible of the excellencies of Vauban, or the adequacy of the garriſon; but I draw my inference from the ſpirit of enthuſiaſm which prevails among the inhabitants of every claſſ—every individual ſeems to partake of it: the ſtreets reſound with patriotic acclamations, patriotic ſongs, war, and defiance.—Nothing can be more animating than the theatre. Every alluſion to the Auſtrians, every ſong or ſentence, expreſſive of determined reſiſtance, is followed by burſts of aſſent, eaſily diſtinguiſhable not to be the effort of party, but the ſentiment of the people in general. There are, doubtleſs, here, as in all other places, party diſſenſions; but the threatened ſiege ſeems at leaſt to have united all for their common defence: they know that a bomb makes no diſtinction between Feuillans, Jacobins, or Ariſtocrates, and neither are ſo anxious to deſtroy the other, when it is only to be done at ſuch a riſk to themſelves. I am even willing to hope that ſomething better than mere ſelfiſhneſs has a ſhare in their uniting to preſerve one of the fineſt, and, in every ſenſe, one of the moſt intereſting, towns in France.

 

 

 

 

Liſle, Saturday.

We are juſt on our departure for Arras, where, I fear, we ſhall ſcarcely arrive before the gates are ſhut. We have been detained here much beyond our time, by a circumſtance infinitely ſhocking, though, in fact, not properly a ſubject of regret. One of the aſſaſſins of General Dillon waſ this morning guillotined before the hotel where we are lodged.—I did not, as you will conclude, ſee the operation; but the mere circumſtance of knowing the moment it was performed, and being ſo near it, has much unhinged me. The man, however, deſerved his fate, and ſuch an example was particularly neceſſary at this time, when we are without a government, and the laws are relaxed. The mere privation of life is, perhaps, more quickly effected by this inſtrument than by any other means; but when we recollect that the preparation for, and apprehenſion of, death, conſtitute its greateſt terrors; that a human hand muſt give motion to the Guillotine as well as to the axe; and that either accuſtomſ a people, already ſanguinary, to the ſight of blood, I think little iſ gained by the invention. It was imagined by a Mons. Guillotin, a phyſician of Paris, and member of the Conſtituent Aſſembly. The original deſign ſeems not ſo much to ſpare pain to the criminal, as obloquy to the executioner. I, however, perceive little difference between a man'ſ directing a Guillotine, or tying a rope; and I believe the people are of the ſame opinion. They will never ſee any thing but a bourreau [executioner] in the man whoſe province it is to execute the ſentence of the laws, whatever name he may be called by, or whatever inſtrument he may make uſe of.—I have concluded this letter with a very unpleaſant ſubject, but my pen is guided by circumſtances, and I do not invent, but communicate.—Adieu. Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

Arras, September 1, 1792.

Had I been accompanied by an antiquary this morning, his ſenſibility would have been ſeverely exerciſed; for even I, whoſe reſpect for antiquity is not ſcientific, could not help lamenting the modern rage for devaſtation which has ſeized the French. They are removing all "the time-honoured figureſ" of the cathedral, and painting its maſſive ſupporters in the ſtyle of a ball-room. The elaborate uncouthneſs of ancient ſculpture is not, indeed, very beautiful; yet I have often fancied there was ſomething more ſimply pathetic in the aukward effigy of an hero kneeling amidſt his trophies, or a regal pair with their ſupplicating hands and ſurrounding offſpring, than in the graceful figures and poetic allegories of the modern artiſt. The humble intreaty to the reader to "praye for the ſoule of the departed," is not very elegant—yet it is better calculated to recall the wanderings of morality, than the flattering epitaph, a Fame hovering in the air, or the ſuſpended wreath of the remunerating angel.—But I moralize in vain—the rage of theſe new Goths is inexorable: they ſeem ſolicitous to deſtroy every veſtige of civilization, leſt the people ſhould remember they have not always been barbarians.

After obtaining an order from the municipality, we went to ſee the gardens and palace of the Biſhop, who has emigrated. The garden haſ nothing very remarkable, but is large and well laid out, according to the old ſtyle. It forms a very agreeable walk, and, when the Biſhop poſſeſt it, was open for the enjoyment of the inhabitants, but it is now ſhut up and in diſorder. The houſe is plain, and ſubſtantially furniſhed, and exhibits no appearance of unbecoming luxury. The whole is now the property of the nation, and will ſoon be diſpoſed of.—I could not help feeling a ſenſation of melancholy as we walked over the apartments. Every thing is marked in an inventory, juſt as left; and an air of arrangement and reſidence leads one to reflect, that the owner did not imagine at his departure he was quitting it perhaps for ever. I am not partial to the original emigrants, yet much may be ſaid for the Biſhop of Arras. He was purſued by ingratitude, and marked for perſecution. The Robeſpierres were young men whom he had taken from a mean ſtate, had educated, and patronized. The revolution gave them an opportunity of diſplaying their talents, and their talents procured them popularity. They became enemies to the clergy, becauſe their patron was a Biſhop; and endeavoured to render their benefactor odious, becauſe the world could not forget, nor they forgive, how much they were indebted to him.—Vice is not often paſſive; nor is there often a medium between gratitude for benefits, and hatred to the author of them. A little mind is hurt by the remembrance of obligation—begins by forgetting, and, not uncommonly, ends by perſecuting.

We dined and paſſed the afternoon from home to-day. After dinner our hoſteſs, as uſual, propoſed cards; and, as uſual in French ſocieties, every one aſſented: we waited, however, ſome time, and no cards came— till, at length, converſation-parties were formed, and they were no longer thought of. I have ſince learned, from one of the young women of the houſe, that the butler and two footmen had all betaken themſelves to clubs and Guinguettes,* and the cards, counters, &c. could not be obtained.

* Small public houſes in the vicinity of large towns, where the common people go on Sundays and feſtivals to dance and make merry.

This is another evil ariſing from the circumſtances of the times. All people of property have begun to bury their money and plate, and as the ſervants are often unavoidably privy to it, they are become idle and impertinent—they make a kind of commutation of diligence for fidelity, and imagine that the obſervance of the one exempts them from the neceſſity of the other. The clubs are a conſtant receptacle for idleneſs; and ſervants who think proper to frequent them do it with very little ceremony, knowing that few whom they ſerve would be imprudent enough to diſcharge them for their patriotiſm in attending a Jacobin ſociety. Even ſervants who are not converts to the new principle cannot reſiſt the temptation of abuſing a little the power which they acquire from a knowledge of family affairs. Perhaps the effect of the revolution has not, on the whole, been favourable to the morals of the lower claſſ of people; but this ſhall be the ſubject of diſcuſſion at ſome future period, when I ſhall have had farther opportunities of judging.

We yeſterday viſited the Oratoire, a ſeminary for education, which is now ſuppreſſed. The building is immenſe, and admirably calculated for the purpoſe, but is already in a ſtate of dilapidation; ſo that, I fear, by the time the legiſlature has determined what ſyſtem of inſtruction ſhall be ſubſtituted for that which has been aboliſhed, the children (as the French are fond of examples from the ancients) will take their leſſons, like the Greeks, in the open air; and, in the mean while, become expert in lying and thieving, like the Spartans.

The Superior of the houſe is an immoderate revolutioniſt, ſpeaks Engliſh very well, and is a great admirer of our party writers. In his room I obſerved a vaſt quantity of Engliſh books, and on his chimney ſtood what he called a patriotic clock, the dial of which was placed between two pyramids, on which were inſcribed the names of republican authors, and on the top of one was that of our countryman, Mr. Thomas Paine—whom, by the way, I underſtand you intended to exhibit in a much more conſpicuous and leſs tranquil ſituation. I aſſure you, though you are ungrateful on your ſide of the water, he is in high repute here—his works are tranſlated— all the Jacobins who can read quote, and all who can't, admire him; and poſſibly, at the very moment you are ſentencing him to an inſtallment in the pillory, we may be awarding him a triumph.—Perhaps we are both right. He deſerves the pillory, from you for having endeavoured to deſtroy a good conſtitution—and the French may with equal reaſon grant him a triumph, as their conſtitution is likely to be ſo bad, that even Mr. Thomas Paine's writings may make it better!

Our houſe is ſituated within view of a very pleaſant public walk, where I am daily amuſed with a ſight of the recruits at their exerciſe. This iſ not quite ſo regular a buſineſs as the drill in the Park. The exerciſe is often interrupted by diſputes between the officer and his eleveſ—ſome are for turning to the right, others to the left, and the matter is not unfrequently adjuſted by each going the way that ſeemeth beſt unto himſelf. The author of the "Actes des Apotreſ" [The Acts of the Apoſtles] cites a Colonel who reprimanded one of his corps for walking ill—"Eh Dicentre, (replied the man,) comment veux tu que je marche bien quand tu as fait mes ſouliers trop etroits."* but this is no longer a pleaſantry—ſuch circumſtances are very common. A Colonel may often be tailor to his own regiment, and a Captain operated on the heads of hiſ whole company, in his civil capacity, before he commands them in hiſ military one.

*"And how the deuce can you expect me to march well, when you have made my ſhoes too tight?"

The walks I have juſt mentioned have been extremely beautiful, but a great part of the trees have been cut down, and the ornamental partſ deſtroyed, ſince the revolution—I know not why, as they were open to the poor as well as the rich, and were a great embelliſhment to the low town. You may think it ſtrange that I ſhould be continually dating ſome deſtruction from the aera of the revolution—that I ſpeak of every thing demoliſhed, and of nothing replaced. But it is not my fault—"If freedom grows deſtructive, I muſt paint it:" though I ſhould tell you, that in many ſtreets where convents have been ſold, houſes are building with the materials on the ſame ſite.—This is, however, not a work of the nation, but of individuals, who have made their purchaſes cheap, and are haſtening to change the form of their property, leſt ſome new revolution ſhould deprive them of it.—Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

Arras, September.

Nothing more powerfully excites the attention of a ſtranger on his firſt arrival, than the number and wretchedneſs of the poor at Arras. In all places poverty claims compulſion, but here compaſſion is accompanied by horror—one dares not contemplate the object one commiſerates, and charity relieves with an averted eye. Perhaps with Him, who regardſ equally the forlorn beggar ſtretched on the threſhold, conſumed by filth and diſeaſe, and the blooming beauty who avoids while ſhe ſuccours him, the offering of humanity ſcarcely expiates the involuntary diſguſt; yet ſuch is the weakneſs of our nature, that there exiſts a degree of miſery againſt which one's ſenſes are not proof, and benevolence itſelf revoltſ at the appearance of the poor of Arras.—Theſe are not the cold and faſtidious reflections of an unfeeling mind—they are not made without pain: nor have I often felt the want of riches and conſequence ſo much aſ in my incapacity to promote ſome means of permanent and ſubſtantial remedy for the evils I have been deſcribing. I have frequently enquired the cauſe of this ſingular miſery, but can only learn that it always haſ been ſo. I fear it is, that the poor are without energy, and the rich without generoſity. The decay of manufactures ſince the laſt century muſt have reduced many families to indigence. Theſe have been able to ſubſiſt on the refuſe of luxury, but, too ſupine for exertion, they have ſought for nothing more; while the great, diſcharging their conſcienceſ with the ſuperfluity of what adminiſtered to their pride, foſtered the evil, inſtead of endeavouring to remedy it. But the benevolence of the French is not often active, nor extenſive; it is more frequently a religious duty than a ſentiment. They content themſelves with affording a mere exiſtence to wretchedneſs; and are almoſt ſtrangers to thoſe enlightened and generous efforts which act beyond the moment, and ſeek not only to relieve poverty, but to baniſh it. Thus, through the frigid and indolent charity of the rich, the miſery which was at firſt accidental is perpetuated, beggary and idleneſs become habitual, and are tranſmitted, like more fortunate inheritances, from one generation to another.—This is not a mere conjecture—I have liſtened to the hiſtorieſ of many of theſe unhappy outcaſts, who were more than thirty years old, and they have all told me, they were born in the ſtate in which I beheld them, and that they did not remember to have heard that their parentſ were in any other. The National Aſſembly profeſs to effectuate an entire regeneration of the country, and to eradicate all evils, moral, phyſical, and political. I heartily wiſh the numerous and miſerable poor, with which Arras abounds, may become one of the firſt objects of reform; and that a nation which boaſts itſelf the moſt poliſhed, the moſt powerful, and the moſt philoſophic in the world, may not offer to the view ſo many objects ſhocking to humanity.

The citadel of Arras is very ſtrong, and, as I am told, the chef d'oeuvre of Vauban; but placed with ſo little judgement, that the military call it la belle inutile [the uſeleſs beauty]. It is now uninhabited, and wears an appearance of deſolation—the commandant and all the officers of the ancient government having been forced to abandon it; their houſeſ alſo are much damaged, and the gardens entirely deſtroyed.—I never heard that this popular commotion had any other motive than the general war of the new doctrines on the old.

I am ſorry to ſee that moſt of the volunteers who go to join the army are either old men or boys, tempted by extraordinary pay and ſcarcity of employ. A cobler who has been uſed to rear canary-birds for Mad. de ____, brought us this morning all the birds he was poſſeſſed of, and told us he was going to-morrow to the frontiers. We aſked him why, at hiſ age, he ſhould think of joining the army. He ſaid, he had already ſerved, and that there were a few months unexpired of the time that would entitle him to his penſion.—"Yes; but in the mean while you may get killed; and then of what ſervice will your claim to a penſion be?"— "N'ayez pas peur, Madame—Je me menagerai bien—on ne ſe bat pas pour ceſ gueux la comme pour ſon Roi."*

* "No fear of that, Madam—I'll take good care of myſelf: a man doeſ not fight for ſuch beggarly raſcals as theſe as he would for hiſ King."

M. de ____ is juſt returned from the camp of Maulde, where he has been to ſee his ſon. He ſays, there is great diſorder and want of diſcipline, and that by ſome means or other the common ſoldiers abound more in money, and game higher, than their officers. There are two young women, inhabitants of the town of St. Amand, who go conſtantly out on all ſkirmiſhing parties, exerciſe daily with the men, and have killed ſeveral of the enemy. They are both pretty—one only ſixteen, the other a year or two older. Mr. de ____ ſaw them as they were juſt returning from a reconnoitring party. Perhaps I ought to have been aſhamed after thiſ recital to decline an invitation from Mr. de R___'s ſon to dine with him at the camp; but I cannot but feel that I am an extreme coward, and that I ſhould eat with no appetite in ſight of an Auſtrian army. The very idea of theſe modern Camillas terrifies me—their creation ſeems an error of nature.*

* Their name was Fernig; they were natives of St. Amand, and of no remarkable origin. They followed Dumouriez into Flanders, where they ſignalized themſelves greatly, and became Aides-de-Camp to that General. At the time of his defection, one of them was ſhot by a ſoldier, whoſe regiment ſhe was endeavouring to gain over. Their houſe having been razed by the Auſtrians at the beginning of the war, was rebuilt at the expence of the nation; but, upon their participation in Dumouriez' treachery, a ſecond decree of the Aſſembly again levelled it with the ground.

Our hoſt, whoſe politeneſs is indefatigable, accompanied us a few dayſ ago to St. Eloy, a large and magnificent abbey, about ſix miles from Arras. It is built on a terrace, which commands the ſurrounding country as far as Douay; and I think I counted an hundred and fifty ſteps from the houſe to the bottom of the garden, which is on a level with the road. The cloiſters are paved with marble, and the church neat and beautiful beyond deſcription. The iron work of the choir imitates flowers and foliage with ſo much taſte and delicacy, that (but for the colour) one would rather ſuppoſe it to be ſoil, than any durable material.—The monkſ ſtill remain, and although the decree has paſſed for their ſuppreſſion, they cannot ſuppoſe it will take place. They are moſtly old men, and, though I am no friend to theſe inſtitutions, they were ſo polite and hoſpitable that I could not help wiſhing they were permitted, according to the deſign of the firſt Aſſembly, to die in their habitationſ— eſpecially as the ſituation of St. Eloy renders the building uſeleſs for any other purpoſe.—A friend of Mr. de ____ has a charming country-houſe near the abbey, which he has been obliged to deny himſelf the enjoyment of, during the greateſt part of the ſummer; for whenever the family return to Arras, their perſons and their carriage are ſearched at the gate, as ſtrictly as though they were ſmugglers juſt arrived from the coaſt, under the pretence that they may aſſiſt the religious of St. Eloy in ſecuring ſome of their property, previous to the final ſeizure.

I obſerve, in walking the ſtreets here, that the common people ſtill retain much of the Spaniſh caſt of features: the women are remarkably plain, and appear ſtill more ſo by wearing faals. The faal is about two ells of black ſilk or ſtuff, which is hung, without taſte or form, on the head, and is extremely unbecoming: but it is worn only by the lower claſs, or by the aged and devotees.

I am a very voluminous correſpondent, but if I tire you, it is a proper puniſhment for your inſincerity in deſiring me to continue ſo. I have heard of a governor of one of our Weſt India iſlands who was univerſally deteſted by its inhabitants, but who, on going to England, found no difficulty in procuring addreſſes expreſſive of approbation and eſteem. The conſequence was, he came back and continued governor for life.—Do you make the application of my anecdote, and I ſhall perſevere in ſcribbling.—Every Yours.

 

 

 

 

Arras.

It is not faſhionable at preſent to frequent any public place; but as we are ſtrangers, and of no party, we often paſs our evenings at the theatre. I am fond of it—not ſo much on account of the repreſentation, as of the opportunity which it affords for obſerving the diſpoſitions of the people, and the bias intended to be given them. The ſtage is now become a kind of political ſchool, where the people are taught hatred to Kings, Nobility, and Clergy, according as the perſecution of the moment requires; and, I think, one may often judge from new pieces the meditated ſacrifice. A year ago, all the ſad catalogue of human errors were perſonified in Counts and Marquiſſes; they were not repreſented aſ individuals whom wealth and power had made ſomething too proud, and much too luxurious, but as an order of monſters, whoſe exiſtence, independently of their characters, was a crime, and whoſe hereditary poſſeſſions alone implied a guilt, not to be expiated but by the forfeiture of them. This, you will ſay, was not very judicious; and that by eſtabliſhing a ſort of incompatibility of virtue with titular diſtinctions, the odium was tranſferred from the living to the dead—from thoſe who poſſeſſed theſe diſtinctions to thoſe who inſtituted them. But, unfortunately, the French were diſpoſed to find their nobleſſe culpable, and to reject every thing which tended to excuſe or favour them. The hauteur of the nobleſſe acted as a fatal equivalent to every other crime; and many, who did not credit other imputations, rejoiced in the humiliation of their pride. The people, the rich merchants, and even the leſſer gentry, all eagerly concurred in the deſtruction of an order that had diſdained or excluded them; and, perhaps, of all the innovationſ which have taken place, the abolition of rank has excited the leaſt intereſt.

It is now leſs neceſſary to blacken the nobleſſe, and the compoſitions of the day are directed againſt the Throne, the Clergy, and Monaſtic Orders. All the tyrants of paſt ages are brought from the ſhelves of faction and pedantry, and aſſimilated to the mild and circumſcribed monarchs of modern Europe. The doctrine of popular ſovereignty is artfully inſtilled, and the people are ſtimulated to exert a power which they muſt implicitly delegate to thoſe who have duped and miſled them. The frenzy of a mob is repreſented as the ſublimeſt effort of patriotiſm; and ambition and revenge, uſurping the title of national juſtice, immolate their victims with applauſe. The tendency of ſuch pieces is too obvious; and they may, perhaps, ſucceed in familiarizing the minds of the people to events which, a few months ago, would have filled them with horror. There are alſo numerous theatrical exhibitions, preparatory to the removal of the nuns from their convents, and to the baniſhment of the prieſts. Ancient prejudices are not yet obliterated, and I believe ſome pains have been taken to juſtify theſe perſecutions by calumny. The hiſtory of our diſſolution of the monaſteries has been ranſacked for ſcandal, and the bigotry and biaſes of all countries are reduced into abſtracts, and expoſed on the ſtage. The moſt implacable revenge, the moſt refined malice, the extremes of avarice and cruelty, are wrought into tragedies, and diſplayed as acting under the maſk of religion and the impunity of a cloiſter; while operas and farces, with ridicule ſtill more ſucceſſful, exhibit convents as the abode of licentiouſneſs, intrigue, and ſuperſtition.

Theſe efforts have been ſufficiently ſucceſſful—not from the merit of the pieces, but from the novelty of the ſubject. The people in general were ſtrangers to the interior of convents: they beheld them with that kind of reſpect which is uſually produced in uninformed minds by myſtery and prohibition. Even the monaſtic habit was ſacred from dramatic uſes; ſo that a repreſentation of cloiſters, monks, and nuns, their coſtumeſ and manners, never fails to attract the multitude.—But the ſame cauſe which renders them curious, makes them credulous. Thoſe who have ſeen no farther than the Grille, and thoſe who have been educated in convents, are equally unqualified to judge of the lives of the religious; and their minds, having no internal conviction or knowledge of the truth, eaſily become the converts of ſlander and falſehood.

I cannot help thinking, that there is ſomething mean and cruel in thiſ procedure. If policy demand the ſacrifice, it does not require that the victims ſhould be rendered odious; and if it be neceſſary to diſpoſſeſſ them of their habitations, they ought not, at the moment they are thrown upon the world, to be painted as monſters unworthy of its pity or protection. It is the cowardice of the aſſaſſin, who murders before he dares to rob.

This cuſtom of making public amuſements ſubſervient to party, has, I doubt not, much contributed to the deſtruction of all againſt whom it haſ been employed; and theatrical calumny ſeems to be always the harbinger of approaching ruin to its object; yet this is not the greateſt evil which may ariſe from theſe inſidious politicſ—they are equally unfavourable both to the morals and taſte of the people; the firſt are injured beyond calculation, and the latter corrupted beyond amendment. The orders of ſociety, which formerly inſpired reſpect or veneration, are now debaſed and exploded; and mankind, once taught to ſee nothing but vice and hypocriſy in thoſe whom they had been accuſtomed to regard as models of virtue, are eaſily led to doubt the very exiſtence of virtue itſelf: they know not where to turn for either inſtruction or example; no proſpect iſ offered to them but the dreary and uncomfortable view of general depravity; and the individual is no longer encouraged to ſtruggle with vicious propenſities, when he concludes them irreſiſtibly inherent in hiſ nature. Perhaps it was not poſſible to imagine principles at once ſo ſeductive and ruinous as thoſe now diſſeminated. How are the morals of the people to reſiſt a doctrine which teaches them that the rich only can be criminal, and that poverty is a ſubſtitute for virtue—that wealth iſ holden by the ſufferance of thoſe who do not poſſeſs it—and that he who is the frequenter of a club, or the applauder of a party, is exempt from the duties of his ſtation, and has a right to inſult and oppreſs hiſ fellow citizens? All the weakneſſes of humanity are flattered and called to the aid of this pernicious ſyſtem of revolutionary ethics; and if France yet continue in a ſtate of civilization, it is becauſe Providence has not yet abandoned her to the influence of ſuch a ſyſtem.

Taſte is, I repeat it, as little a gainer by the revolution as morals. The pieces which were beſt calculated to form and refine the minds of the people, all abound with maxims of loyalty, with reſpect for religion, and the ſubordinations of civil ſociety. Theſe are all prohibited; and are replaced by fuſtian declamations, tending to promote anarchy and diſcord —by vulgar and immoral farces, and inſidious and flattering panegyricſ on the vices of low life. No drama can ſucceed that is not ſupported by the faction; and this ſupport is to be procured only by vilifying the Throne, the Clergy, and Nobleſſe. This is a ſuccedaneum for literary merit, and thoſe who diſapprove are menaced into ſilence; while the multitude, who do not judge but imitate, applaud with their leaderſ—and thus all their ideas become vitiated, and imbibe the corruption of their favourite amuſement.

I have dwelt on this ſubject longer than I intended; but as I would not be ſuppoſed prejudiced nor precipitate in my aſſertions, I will, by the firſt occaſion, ſend you ſome of the moſt popular farces and tragedies: you may then decide yourſelf upon the tendency; and, by comparing the diſpoſitions of the French before, and within, the laſt two years, you may alſo determine whether or not my concluſions are warranted by fact. Adieu.—Yours.

 

 

 

 

Arras.

Our countrymen who viſit France for the firſt time—their imaginationſ filled with the epithets which the vanity of one nation has appropriated, and the indulgence of the other ſanctioned—are aſtoniſhed to find thiſ "land of elegance," this refined people, extremely inferior to the Engliſh in all the arts that miniſter to the comfort and accommodation of life. They are ſurprized to feel themſelves ſtarved by the intruſion of all the winds of heaven, or ſmothered by volumes of ſmoke—that no lock will either open or ſhut—that the drawers are all immoveable—and that neither chairs nor tables can be preſerved in equilibrium. In vain do they inquire for a thouſand conveniences which to them ſeem indiſpenſible; they are not to be procured, or even their uſe is unknown: till at length, after a reſidence in a ſcore of houſes, in all of which they obſerve the ſame deficiencies, they begin to grow ſceptical, to doubt the pretended ſuperiority of France, and, perhaps for the firſt time, do juſtice to their own unaſſuming country. It muſt however, be confeſſed, that if the chimnies ſmoke, they are uſually ſurrounded by marble—that the unſtable chair is often covered with ſilk—and that if a room be cold, it is plentifully decked with gilding, pictures, and glaſſes.—In ſhort, a French houſe is generally more ſhowy than convenient, and ſeldom conveys that idea of domeſtic comfort which conſtitutes the luxury of an Engliſhman.

I obſerve, that the moſt prevailing ornaments here are family portraits: almoſt every dwelling, even among the lower kind of tradeſmen, is peopled with theſe enſigns of vanity; and the painters employed on theſe occaſions, however deficient in other requiſites of their art, ſeem to have an unfortunate knack at preſerving likeneſſes. Heads powdered even whiter than the originals, laced waiſtcoats, enormous lappets, and countenances all ingeniouſly diſpoſed ſo as to ſmile at each other, encumber the wainſcot, and diſtreſs the unlucky viſitor, who is obliged to bear teſtimony to the reſemblance. When one ſees whole rooms filled with theſe figures, one cannot help reflecting on the goodneſs of Providence, which thus diſtributes ſelf-love, in proportion as it denieſ thoſe gifts that excite the admiration of others.

You muſt not underſtand what I have ſaid on the furniture of French houſes as applying to thoſe of the nobility or people of extraordinary fortunes, becauſe they are enabled to add the conveniences of other countries to the luxuries of their own. Yet even theſe, in my opinion, have not the uniform elegance of an Engliſh habitation: there is alwayſ ſome diſparity between the workmanſhip and the materialſ—ſome mixture of ſplendour and clumſineſs, and a want of what the painters call keeping; but the houſes of the gentry, the leſſer nobleſſe, and merchants, are, for the moſt part, as I have deſcribed—-abounding in ſilk, marble, glaſſes, and pictures; but ill finiſhed, dirty, and deficient in articleſ of real uſe.—I ſhould, however, notice, that genteel people are cleaner here than in the interior parts of the kingdom. The floors are in general of oak, or ſometimes of brick; but they are always rubbed bright, and have not that filthy appearance which ſo often diſguſts one in French houſes.

The heads of the lower claſſes of people are much diſturbed by theſe new principles of univerſal equality. We enquired of a man we ſaw near a coach this morning if it was hired. "Monſieur—(quoth he—then checking himſelf ſuddenly,)—no, I forgot, I ought not to ſay Monſieur, for they tell me I am equal to any body in the world: yet, after all, I know not well if this may be true; and as I have drunk out all I am worth, I believe I had better go home and begin work again to-morrow." This new diſciple of equality had, indeed, all the appearance of having ſacrificed to the ſucceſs of the cauſe, and was then recovering from a dream of greatneſs which he told us had laſted two days.

Since the day of taking the new oath we have met many equally elevated, though leſs civil. Some are undoubtedly paid, but others will diſtreſſ their families for weeks by this celebration of their new diſcoveries, and muſt, after all, like our intoxicated philoſopher, be obliged to return "to work again to-morrow."

I muſt now bid you adieu—and, in doing ſo, naturally turn my thoughts to that country where the rights of the people conſiſt not of ſterile and metaphyſic declarations, but of real defence and protection. May they for ever remain uninterrupted by the devaſtating chimeras of their neighbours; and if they ſeek reform, may it be moderate and permanent, acceded to reaſon, and not extorted by violence!—Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

September 2, 1792.

We were ſo much alarmed at the theatre on Thurſday, that I believe we ſhall not venture again to amuſe ourſelves at the riſk of a ſimilar occurrence. About the middle of the piece, a violent outcry began from all parts of the houſe, and ſeemed to be directed againſt our box; and I perceived Madame Duchene, the Preſidente of the Jacobins, heading the legions of Paradiſe with peculiar animation. You may imagine we were not a little terrified. I anxiouſly examined the dreſs of myſelf and my companions, and obſerving nothing that could offend the affected ſimplicity of the times, prepared to quit the houſe. A friendly voice, however, exerting itſelf above the clamour, informed us that the offenſive objects were a cloak and a ſhawl which hung over the front of the box.—You will ſcarcely ſuppoſe ſuch groſſneſs poſſible among a civilized people; but the fact is, our friends are of the proſcribed claſs, and we were inſulted becauſe in their ſociety.—I have before noticed, that the guards which were ſtationed in the theatre before the revolution are now removed, and a municipal officer, made conſpicuous by his ſcarf, is placed in the middle front box, and, in caſe of any tumult, is empowered to call in the military to his aſſiſtance.

We have this morning been viſiting two objects, which exhibit thiſ country in very different points of view—as the ſeat of wealth, and the abode of poverty. The firſt is the abbey of St. Vaaſt, a moſt ſuperb pile, now inhabited by monks of various orders, but who are preparing to quit it, in obedience to the late decrees. Nothing impreſſes one with a ſtronger idea of the influence of the Clergy, than theſe ſplendid edifices. We ſee them reared amidſt the ſolitude of deſerts, and in the gaiety and miſery of cities; and while they cheer the one and embelliſh the other, they exhibit, in both, monuments of indefatigable labour and immenſe wealth.—The facade of St. Vaaſt is ſimple and ſtriking, and the cloiſters and every other part of the building are extremely handſome. The library is ſuppoſed to be the fineſt in France, except the King's, but is now under the ſeal of the nation. A young monk, who was our Cicerone, told us he was ſorry it was not in his power to ſhow it. "Et nous, Monſieur, nous ſommes faches auſſi."—["And we are not leſs ſorry than yourſelf, Sir."]

Thus, with the aid of ſignificant looks, and geſtures of diſapprobation, an exchange of ſentiments took place, without a ſingle expreſſion of treaſonable import: both parties underſtood perfectly well, that in regretting that the library was inacceſſible, each included all the circumſtances which attended it.—A new church was building in a ſtyle worthy of the convent—I think, near four hundred feet long; but it waſ diſcontinued at the ſuppreſſion of the religious orders, and will now, of courſe, never be finiſhed.

From this abode of learned caſe and pious indolence Mr. de ____ conducted us to the Mont de Piete, a national inſtitution for lending money to the poor on pledges, (at a moderate intereſt,) which, if not redeemed within a year, are ſold by auction, and the overplus, if there remain any, after deducting the intereſt, is given to the owner of the pledge. Thouſandſ of ſmall packets are depoſited here, which, to the eye of affluence, might ſeem the very refuſe of beggary itſelf.—I could not reflect without an heart-ache, on the diſtreſs of the individual, thus driven to relinquiſh his laſt covering, braving cold to ſatiſfy hunger, and accumulating wretchedneſs by momentary relief. I ſaw, in a lower room, groupes of unfortunate beings, depriving themſelves of different parts of their apparel, and watching with ſolicitude the arbitrary valuations; others exchanging ſome article of neceſſity for one of a ſtill greater— ſome in a ſtate of intoxication, uttering execrations of deſpair; and all exhibiting a picture of human nature depraved and miſerable.—While I waſ viewing this ſcene, I recalled the magnificent building we had juſt left, and my firſt emotions were thoſe of regret and cenſure. When we only feel, and have not leiſure to reflect, we are indignant that vaſt ſumſ ſhould be expended on ſumptuous edifices, and that the poor ſhould live in vice and want; yet the erection of St. Vaaſt muſt have maintained great numbers of induſtrious hands; and perhaps the revenues of the abbey may not, under its new poſſeſſors, be ſo well employed. When the offerings and the tributes to religion are the ſupport of the induſtriouſ poor, it is their beſt appropriation; and he who gives labour for a day, is a more uſeful benefactor than he who maintains in idleneſs for two. —I could not help wiſhing that the poor might no longer be tempted by the facility of a reſource, which perhaps, in moſt inſtances, only increaſes their diſtreſs.—It is an injudicious expedient to palliate an evil, which great national works, and the encouragement of induſtry and manufactures, might eradicate.*

* In times of public commotion people frequently ſend their valuable effects to the Mont de Piete, not only as being ſecure by itſ ſtrength, but as it is reſpected by the people, who are intereſted in its preſervation.

—With theſe reflections I concluded mental peace with the monks of St. Vaaſt, and would, had it depended upon me, have readily comprized the finiſhing their great church in the treaty.

The Primary Aſſemblies have already taken place in this department. We happened to enter a church while the young Robeſpierre was haranguing to an audience, very little reſpectable either in numbers or appearance. They were, however, ſufficiently unanimous, and made up in noiſy applauſe what they wanted in other reſpects. If the electors and elected of other departments be of the ſame complexion with thoſe of Arras, the new Aſſembly will not, in any reſpect, be preferable to the old one. I have reproached many of the people of this place, who, from their education and property, have a right to take an intereſt in the public affairs, with thus ſuffering themſelves to be repreſented by the moſt deſperate and worthleſs individuals of the town. Their defence is, that they are inſulted and overpowered if they attend the popular meetings, and by electing "les gueux et les ſcelerats pour deputes,"* they ſend them to Paris, and ſecure their own local tranquillity.

* The ſcrubs and ſcoundrels for deputies.

—The firſt of theſe aſſertions is but too true, yet I cannot but think the ſecond a very dangerous experiment. They remove theſe turbulent and needy adventurers from the direction of a club to that of government, and procure a partial relief by contributing to the general ruin.

Paris is ſaid to be in extreme fermentation, and we are in ſome anxiety for our friend M. P____, who was to go there from Montmorency laſt week. I ſhall not cloſe my letter till I have heard from him.

 

 

 

 

September 4.

I reſume my pen after a ſleepleſs night, and with an oppreſſion of mind not to be deſcribed. Paris is the ſcene of proſcription and maſſacres. The priſoners, the clergy, the nobleſſe, all that are ſuppoſed inimical to public faction, or the objects of private revenge, are ſacrificed without mercy. We are here in the utmoſt terror and conſternation—we know not the end nor the extent of theſe horrors, and every one iſ anxious for himſelf or his friends. Our ſociety conſiſts moſtly of females, and we do not venture out, but hover together like the fowls of heaven, when warned by a vague yet inſtinctive dread of the approaching ſtorm. We tremble at the ſound of voices in the ſtreet, and cry, with the agitation of Macbeth, "there's knocking at the gate." I do not indeed envy, but I moſt ſincerely regret, the peace and ſafety of England.—I have no courage to add more, but will encloſe a haſty tranſlation of the letter we received from M. P____, by laſt night'ſ poſt. Humanity cannot comment upon it without ſhuddering.—Ever Yours, &c.

"Rue St. Honore, Sept. 2, 1792.

"In a moment like this, I ſhould be eaſily excuſed a breach of promiſe in not writing; yet when I recollect the apprehenſion which the kindneſs of my amiable friends will feel on my account, I determine, even amidſt the danger and deſolation that ſurround me, to relieve them.—Would to Heaven I had nothing more alarming to communicate than my own ſituation! I may indeed ſuffer by accident; but thouſands of wretched victims are at thiſ moment marked for ſacrifice, and are maſſacred with an execrable imitation of rule and order: a ferocious and cruel multitude, headed by choſen aſſaſſins, are attacking the priſons, forcing the houſes of the nobleſſe and prieſts, and, after a horrid mockery of judicial condemnation, execute them on the ſpot. The tocſin is rung, alarm gunſ are fired, the ſtreets reſound with fearful ſhrieks, and an undefinable ſenſation of terror ſeizes on one's heart. I feel that I have committed an imprudence in venturing to Paris; but the barriers are now ſhut, and I muſt abide the event. I know not to what theſe proſcriptions tend, or if all who are not their advocates are to be their victims; but an ungovernable rage animates the people: many of them have papers in their hands that ſeem to direct them to their objects, to whom they hurry in crouds with an eager and ſavage fury.—I have juſt been obliged to quit my pen. A cart had ſtopped near my lodgings, and my ears were aſſailed by the groans of anguiſh, and the ſhouts of frantic exultation. Uncertain whether to deſcend or remain, I, after a moment's deliberation, concluded it would be better to have ſhown myſelf than to have appeared to avoid it, in caſe the people ſhould enter the houſe, and therefore went down with the beſt ſhow of courage I could aſſume.—I will draw a veil over the ſcene that preſented itſelf—nature revolts, and my fair friends would ſhudder at the detail. Suffice it to ſay, that I ſaw cars, loaded with the dead and dying, and driven by their yet enſanguined murderers; one of whom, in a tone of exultation, cried, 'Here is a glorious day for France!' I endeavoured to aſſent, though with a faultering voice, and, as ſoon as they were paſſed eſcaped to my room. You may imagine I ſhall not eaſily recover the ſhock I received.—At thiſ moment they ſay, the enemy are retreating from Verdun. At any other time this would have been deſirable, but at preſent one knows not what to wiſh for. Moſt probably, the report is only ſpread with the humane hope of appeaſing the mob. They have already twice attacked the Temple; and I tremble leſt this aſylum of fallen majeſty ſhould ere morning, be violated.

"Adieu—I know not if the courier will be permitted to depart; but, as I believe the ſtreets are not more unſafe than the houſes, I ſhall make an attempt to ſend this. I will write again in a few days. If to-morrow ſhould prove calm, I ſhall be engaged in enquiring after the fate of my friends.—I beg my reſpects to Mons. And Mad. de ____; and entreat you all to be as tranquil as ſuch circumſtances will permit.—You may be certain of hearing any news that can give you pleaſure immediately. I have the honour to be," &c. &c.

 

 

 

 

Arras, September, 1792.

You will in future, I believe, find me but a dull correſpondent. The natural timidity of my diſpoſition, added to the dread which a native of England has of any violation of domeſtic ſecurity, renders me unfit for the ſcenes I am engaged in. I am become ſtupid and melancholy, and my letters will partake of the oppreſſion of my mind.

At Paris, the maſſacres at the priſons are now over, but thoſe in the ſtreets and in private houſes ſtill continue. Scarcely a poſt arriveſ that does not inform M. de ____ of ſome friend or acquaintance being ſacrificed. Heaven knows where this is to end!

We had, for two days, notice that, purſuant to a decree of the Aſſembly, commiſſioners were expected here at night, and that the tocſin would be rung for every body to deliver up their arms. We did not dare go to bed on either of theſe nights, but merely lay down in our robes de chambre, without attempting to ſleep. This dreaded buſineſs is, however, paſt. Parties of the Jacobins paraded the ſtreets yeſterday morning, and diſarmed all they thought proper. I obſerved they had liſts in their hands, and only went to ſuch houſes as have an external appearance of property. Mr. de ____, who has been in the ſervice thirty years, delivered his arms to a boy, who behaved to him with the utmoſt inſolence, whilſt we ſat trembling and almoſt ſenſeleſs with fear the whole time they remained in the houſe; and could I give you an idea of their appearance, you would think my terror very juſtifiable. It is, indeed, ſtrange and alarming, that all who have property ſhould be deprived of the means of defending either that or their lives, at a moment when Paris is giving an example of tumult and aſſaſſination to every other part of the kingdom. Knowing no good reaſon for ſuch procedure, it is very natural to ſuſpect a bad one.—I think, on many accounts, we are more expoſed here than at ____, and as ſoon as we can procure horſes we ſhall depart.—The following is the tranſlation of our laſt letter from Mr. P____.


"I promiſed my kind friends to write as ſoon as I ſhould have any thing ſatiſfactory to communicate: but, alaſ! I have no hope of being the harbinger of any thing but circumſtances of a very different tendency. I can only give you details of the horrors I have already generally deſcribed. Carnage has not yet ceaſed; and is only become more cool and more diſcriminating. All the mild characteriſtics annihilated; and a frantic cruelty, which is dignified with the name of patriotiſm, haſ uſurped ever faculty, and baniſhed both reaſon and mercy.

"Mons. ____, whom I have hitherto known by reputation, as an upright, and even humane man, had a brother ſhut up, with a number of other prieſts, at the Carmes; and, by his ſituation and connections, he has ſuch influence as might, if exerted, have preſerved the latter. The unfortunate brother knowing this, found means, while hourly expecting hiſ fate, to convey a note to Mr. ____, begging he would immediately releaſe, and procure him an aſylum. The meſſenger returned with an anſwer, that Mons. ____ had no relations in the enemies of his country!

"A few hours after, the maſſacres at the Carmes took place.—One Panis,* who is in the Comite de Surveillance, had, a few days previous to theſe dreadful events, become, I know not on what occaſion, the depoſitary of a large ſum of money belonging to a gentleman of his ſection.

* Panis has ſince figured on various occaſions. He is a member of the Convention, and was openly accuſed of having been an accomplice in the robbery of the Garde Meuble.

"A ſecret and frivolous denunciation was made the pretext for throwing the owner of the money into priſon, where he remained till September, when his friends, recollecting his danger, flew to the Committee and applied for his diſcharge. Unfortunately, the only member of the Committee preſent was Panis. He promiſed to take meaſures for an immediate releaſe.—Perhaps he kept his word, but the releaſe was cruel and final—the priſon was attacked, and the victim heard of no more.—You will not be ſurprized at ſuch occurrences when I tell you that G____,* whom you muſt remember to have heard of as a Jacobin at ____, iſ Preſident of the Committee above mentioned—yes, an aſſaſſin is now the protector of the public ſafety, and the commune of Paris the patron of a criminal who has merited the gibbet.

* G____ was afterwards elected (doubtleſs by a recommendation of the Jacobins) Deputy for the department of Finiſterre, to which he waſ ſent Commiſſioner by the Convention. On account of ſome unwarrantable proceedings, and of ſome words that eſcaped him, which gave riſe to a ſuſpicion that he was privy to the robbery of the Garde Meuble, he was arreſted by the municipality of Quimper Corentin, of which place he is a native. The Jacobins applied for his diſcharge, and for the puniſhment of the municipality; but the Convention, who at that time rarely took any deciſive meaſures, ordered G____ to be liberated, but evaded the other part of the petition which tended to revenge him. The affair of the Garde Meuble, was, however, again brought forward; but, moſt probably, many of the members had reaſons for not diſcuſſing too nearly the accuſation againſt G____; and thoſe who were not intereſted in ſuppreſſing it, were too weak or too timid to purſue it farther.

"—I know not if we are yet arrived at the climax of woe and iniquity, but Briſſot, Condorcet, Rolland, &c. and all thoſe whoſe principles you have reprobated as violent and dangerous, will now form the moderate ſide of the Aſſembly. Perhaps even thoſe who are now the party moſt dreaded, may one day give place to yet more deſperate leaders, and become in their turn our beſt alternative. What will then be the ſituation of France? Who can reflect without trembling at the proſpect?—It is not yet ſafe to walk the ſtreets decently dreſſed; and I have been obliged to ſupply myſelf with trowſers, a jacket, coloured neckcloths, and coarſe linen, which I take care to ſoil before I venture out.

"The Agrarian law is now the moral of Paris, and I had nearly loſt my life yeſterday by tearing a placard written in ſupport of it. I did it imprudently, not ſuppoſing I was obſerved; and had not ſome people, known as Jacobins, come up and interfered in my behalf, the conſequence might have been fatal.—It would be difficult, and even impoſſible, to attempt a deſcription of the manners of the people of Paris at this moment: the licentiouſneſs common to great cities is decency compared with what prevails in this; it has features of a peculiar and ſtriking deſcription, and the general expreſſion is that of a monſtrous union of oppoſite vices. Alternately diſſolute and cruel, gay and vindictive, the Pariſian vaunts amidſt debauchery the triumph of aſſaſſination, and enlivens hiſ midnight orgies by recounting the ſufferings of the maſſacred ariſtocrates: women, whoſe profeſſion it is to pleaſe, aſſume the bonnet rouge [red cap], and affect, as a means of ſeduction, an intrepid and ferocious courage.—I cannot yet learn if Mons. S____'s ſiſter be alive; her ſituation about the Queen makes it too doubtful; but endeavour to give him hope—many may have eſcaped whoſe fears ſtill detain them in concealment. People of the firſt rank now inhabit garrets and cellars, and thoſe who appear are diſguiſed beyond recollection; ſo that I do not deſpair of the ſafety of ſome, who are now thought to have periſhed.— I am, as you may ſuppoſe, in haſte to leave this place, and I hope to return to Montmorency tomorrow; but every body is ſoliciting paſſports. The Hotel de Ville is beſieged, and I have already attended two dayſ without ſucceſs.—I beg my reſpectful homage to Monſieur and Madame de ____; and I have the honour to be, with eſteem, the affectionate ſervant of my friends in general.

"L____."

You will read M. L____'s letter with all the grief and indignation we have already felt, and I will make no comment on it, but to give you a ſlight ſketch of the hiſtory of Guermeur, whom he mentions as being Preſident of the Committee of Surveillance.—In the abſence of a man, whom he called his friend, he ſeduced his wife, and eloped with her: the huſband overtook them, and fell in the diſpute which inſued; when Guermeur, to avoid being taken by the officers of juſtice, abandoned hiſ companion to her fate, and eſcaped alone. After a variety of adventures, he at length enliſted himſelf as a grenadier in the regiment of Dillon. With much aſſurance, and talents cultivated above the ſituation in which he appeared, he became popular amongſt his fellow-ſoldiers, and the military impunity, which is one effect of the revolution, caſt a veil over his former guilt, or rather indeed enabled him to defy the puniſhment annexed to it. When the regiment was quartered at ____, he frequented and harangued at the Jacobin club, perverted the minds of the ſoldiers by ſeditious addreſſes, till at length he was deemed qualified to quit the character of a ſubordinate incendiary, and figure amongſt the aſſaſſins at Paris. He had hitherto, I believe, acted without pay, for he was deeply in debt, and without money or clothes; but a few dayſ previous to the tenth of Auguſt, a leader of the Jacobins ſupplied him with both, paid his debts, procured his diſcharge, and ſent him to Paris. What intermediate gradations he may have paſſed through, I know not; but it is not difficult to imagine the ſervices that have advanced him to hiſ preſent ſituation.—It would be unſafe to riſk this letter by the poſt, and I cloſe it haſtily to avail myſelf of a preſent conveyance.—I remain, Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

Arras, September 14, 1792.

The camp of Maulde is broken up, and we deferred our journey, that we might paſs a day at Douay with M. de ____'s ſon. The road within ſome miles of that place is covered with corn and forage, the immediate environs are begun to be inundated, and every thing wears the appearance of impending hoſtility. The town is ſo full of troops, that without the intereſt of our military friends we ſhould ſcarcely have procured a lodging. All was buſtle and confuſion, the enemy are very near, and the French are preparing to form a camp under the walls. Amidſt all this, we found it difficult to ſatiſfy our curioſity in viewing the churches and pictures: ſome of the former are ſhut, and the latter concealed; we therefore contented ourſelves with ſeeing the principal ones.

The town-houſe is a very handſome building, where the Parliament waſ holden previous to the revolution, and where all the buſineſs of the department of the North is now tranſacted.—In the council-chamber, which is very elegantly carved, was alſo a picture of the preſent King. They were, at the very moment of our entrance, in the act of diſplacing it. We aſked the reaſon, and were told it was to be cut in pieces, and portions ſent to the different popular ſocieties.—I know not if our features betrayed the indignation we feared to expreſs, but the man who ſeemed to have directed this diſpoſal of the portrait, told us we were not Engliſh if we ſaw it with regret. I was not much delighted with ſuch a compliment to our country, and was glad to eſcape without farther comment.

The manners of the people ſeem every where much changed, and are becoming groſs and inhuman. While we were walking on the ramparts, I happened to have occaſion to take down an addreſs, and with the paper and pencil in my hand turned out of the direct path to obſerve a chapel on one ſide of it. In a moment I was alarmed by the cries of my companions, and beheld the muſquet of the centinel pointed at me, and M. de ____ expoſtulating with him. I am not certain if he ſuppoſed I was taking a plan of the fortifications, and meant really more than a threat; but I waſ ſufficiently frightened, and ſhall not again approach a town wall with pencils and paper.

M. de ____ is one of the only ſix officers of his regiment who have not emigrated. With an indignation heated by the works of modern philoſophers into an enthuſiaſtic love of republican governments, and irritated by the contempt and oppoſition he has met with from thoſe of this own claſs who entertain different principles, he is now become almoſt a fanatic. What at firſt was only a political opinion is now a religious tenet; and the moderate ſectary has acquired the obſtinacy of a martyr, and, perhaps, the ſpirit of perſecution. At the beginning of the revolution, the neceſſity of deciding, a youthful ardour for liberty, and the deſire of preſerving his fortune, probably determined him to become a patriot; and pride and reſentment have given ſtability to notions which might otherwiſe have fluctuated with circumſtances, or yielded to time. This is but too general the caſe: the friends of rational reform, and the ſupporters of the ancient monarchy, have too deeply offended each other for pardon or confidence; and the country perhaps will be ſacrificed by the mutual deſertions of thoſe moſt concerned in its preſervation. Actuated only by ſelfiſhneſs and revenge, each party willingly conſentſ to the ruin of its opponents. The Clergy, already divided among themſelves, are abandoned by the Nobleſſe—the Nobleſſe are perſecuted by the commercial intereſt—and, in ſhort, the only union is amongſt the Jacobins; that is, amongſt a few weak perſons who are deceived, and a banditti who betray and profit by their "patriotiſm."

I was led to theſe reflections by my converſation with Mr. de L____ and his companions. I believe they do not approve of the preſent extremes, yet they expreſſed themſelves with the utmoſt virulence againſt the ariſtocrates, and would hear neither of reconcilement nor palliation. On the other hand, theſe diſpoſitions were not altogether unprovoked—the young men had been perſecuted by their relations, and baniſhed the ſociety of their acquaintance; and their political opinions had acted aſ an univerſal proſcription. There were even ſome againſt whom the doorſ of the parental habitation were ſhut.—Theſe party violences are terrible; and I was happy to perceive that the reciprocal claims of duty and affection were not diminiſhed by them, either in M. de ____, or hiſ ſon. He, however, at firſt refuſed to come to A____, becauſe he ſuſpected the patriotiſm of our ſociety. I pleaded, as an inducement, the beauty of Mad. G____, but he told me ſhe was an ariſtocrate. It waſ at length, however, determined, that he ſhould dine with us laſt Sunday, and that all viſitors ſhould be excluded. He was prevented coming by being ordered out with a party the day we left him; and he has written to us in high ſpirits, to ſay, that, beſides fulfilling his object, he had returned with fifty priſoners.

We had a very narrow eſcape in coming home—the Hulans were at the village of ____, an hour after we paſſed through it, and treated the poor inhabitants, as they uſually do, with great inhumanity.—Nothing haſ alienated the minds of the people ſo much as the cruelties of theſe troopſ—they plunder and ill treat all they encounter; and their avarice is even leſs inſatiable than their barbarity. How hard is it, that the ambition of the Chiefs, and the wickedneſs of faction, ſhould thus fall upon the innocent cottager, who perhaps is equally a ſtranger to the names of the one, and the principles of the other!

The public papers will now inform you, that the French are at liberty to obtain a divorce on almoſt any pretext, or even on no pretext at all, except what many may think a very good one—mutual agreement. A lady of our acquaintance here is become a republican in conſequence of the decree, and probably will very ſoon avail herſelf of it; but thiſ conduct, I conceive, will not be very general.

Much has been ſaid of the gallantry of the French ladies, and not entirely without reaſon; yet, though ſometimes inconſtant wives, they are, for the moſt part, faithful friendſ—they ſacrifice the huſband without forſaking him, and their common intereſt is always promoted with as much zeal as the moſt inviolable attachment could inſpire. Mad. de C____, whom we often meet in company, is the wife of an emigrant, and iſ ſaid not to be abſolutely diſconſolate at his abſence; yet ſhe iſ indefatigable in her efforts to ſupply him with money: ſhe even riſks her ſafety by her ſolicitude, and has juſt now prevailed on her favourite admirer to haſten his departure for the frontiers, in order to convey a ſum ſhe has with much difficulty been raiſing. Such inſtances are, I believe, not very rare; and as a Frenchman uſually prefers his intereſt to every thing elſe, and is not quite ſo unaccommodating as an Engliſhman, an amicable arrangement takes place, and one ſeldom hears of a ſeparation.

The inhabitants of Arras, with all their patriotiſm, are extremely averſe from the aſſignats; and it is with great reluctance that they conſent to receive them at two-thirds of their nominal value. This diſcredit of the paper money has been now two months at a ſtand, and its riſe or fall will be determined by the ſucceſs of the campaign.—I bid you adieu for the laſt time from hence. We have already exceeded the propoſed length of our viſit, and ſhall ſet out for St. Omer to-morrow.—Yours.

 

 

 

 

St. Omer, September, 1792.

I am confined to my room by a ſlight indiſpoſition, and, inſtead of accompanying my friends, have taken up my pen to inform you that we are thus far ſafe on our journey.—Do not, becauſe you are ſurrounded by a protecting element, ſmile at the idea of travelling forty or fifty mileſ in ſafety. The light troops of the Auſtrian army penetrate ſo far, that none of the roads on the frontier are entirely free from danger. My female companions were alarmed the whole day—the young for their baggage, and the old for themſelves.

The country between this and Arras has the appearance of a garden cultivated for the common uſe of its inhabitants, and has all the fertility and beauty of which a flat ſurface is ſuſceptible. Bethune and Aire I ſhould ſuppoſe ſtrongly fortified. I did not fail, in paſſing through the former, to recollect with veneration the faithful miniſter of Henry the Fourth. The miſfortunes of the deſcendant of Henry, whom Sully* loved, and the ſtate of the kingdom he ſo much cheriſhed, made a ſtronger impreſſion on me than uſual, and I mingled with the tribute of reſpect a ſentiment of indignation.

* Maximilien de Bethune, Duc de Sully.

What perverſe and malignant influence can have excited the people either to incur or to ſuffer their preſent ſituation? Were we not well acquainted with the arts of factions, the activity of bad men, and the effect of their union, I ſhould be almoſt tempted to believe this change in the French ſupernatural. Leſs than three years ago, the name of Henri Quatre was not uttered without enthuſiaſm. The piece that tranſmitted the ſlighteſt anecdotes of his life was certain of ſucceſſ—the air that celebrated him was liſtened to with delight—and the decorations of beauty, when aſſociated with the idea of this gallant Monarch, became more irreſiſtible.*

* At this time it was the prevailing faſhion to call any new inventions of female dreſs after his name, and to decorate the ornamental parts of furniture with his reſemblance.

Yet Henry the Fourth is now a tyrant—his pictures and ſtatues are deſtroyed, and his memory is execrated!—Thoſe who have reduced the French to this are, doubtleſs, baſe and deſigning intriguers; yet I cannot acquit the people, who are thus wrought on, of unfeelingneſs and levity.—England has had its revolutions; but the names of Henry the Fifth and Elizabeth were ſtill revered: and the regal monuments, which ſtill exiſt, after all the viciſſitudes of our political principles, atteſt the mildneſs of the Engliſh republicans.

The laſt days of our ſtay at Arras were embittered by the diſtreſs of our neighbour and acquaintance, Madame de B____. She has loſt two ſons under circumſtances ſo affecting, that I think you will be intereſted in the relation.—The two young men were in the army, and quartered at Perpignan, at a time when ſome effort of counter-revolution was ſaid to be intended. One of them was arreſted as being concerned, and the other ſurrendered himſelf priſoner to accompany his brother.—When the High Court at Orleans was inſtituted for trying ſtate-priſoners, thoſe of Perpignan were ordered to be conducted there, and the two B____'s, chained together, were taken with the reſt. On their arrival at Orleans, their gaoler had miſlaid the key that unlocked their fetters, and, not finding it immediately, the young men produced one, which anſwered the purpoſe, and releaſed themſelves. The gaoler looked at them with ſurprize, and aſked why, with ſuch a means in their power, they had not eſcaped in the night, or on the road. They replied, becauſe they were not culpable, and had no reaſon for avoiding a trial that would manifeſt their innocence. Their heroiſm was fatal. They were brought, by a decree of the Convention, from Orleans to Verſailles, (on their way to Paris,) where they were met by the mob, and maſſacred.

Their unfortunate mother is yet ignorant of their fate; but we left her in a ſtate little preferable to that which will be the effect of certainty. She ſaw the decree for tranſporting the priſoners from Orleans, and all accounts of the reſult have been carefully concealed from her; yet her anxious and enquiring looks at all who approach her, indicate but too well her ſuſpicion of the truth.—Mons. de ____'ſ ſituation is indeſcribable. Informed of the death of his ſons, he is yet obliged to conceal his ſufferings, and wear an appearance of tranquillity in the preſence of his wife. Sometimes he eſcapes, when unable to contain his emotions any longer, and remains at M. de ____'s till he recovers himſelf. He takes no notice of the ſubject of his grief, and we reſpect it too much to attempt to conſole him. The laſt time I aſked him after Madame de ____, he told me her ſpirits were ſomething better, and, added he, in a voice almoſt ſuffocated, "She is amuſing herſelf with working neckcloths for her ſonſ!"—When you reflect that the maſſacres at Paris took place on the ſecond and third of September, and that the decree was paſſed to bring the priſoners from Orleans (where they were in ſafety) on the tenth, I can ſay nothing that will add to the horror of this tranſaction, or to your deteſtation of its cauſe. Sixty-two, moſtly people of high rank, fell victims to this barbarous policy: they were brought in a fort of covered waggons, and were murdered in heaps without being taken out.*

* Perhaps the reader will be pleaſed at a diſcovery, which it would have been unſafe to mention when made, or in the courſe of thiſ correſpondence. The two young men here alluded to arrived at Verſailles, chained together, with their fellow-priſoners. Surprize, perhaps admiration, had diverted the gaoler's attention from demanding the key that opened their padlock, and it was ſtill in their poſſeſſion. On entering Verſailles, and obſerving the crowd preparing to attack them, they diveſted themſelves of their fetters, and of every other incumbrance. In a few moments their carriages were ſurrounded, their companions at one end were already murdered, and themſelves ſlightly wounded; but the confuſion increaſing, they darted amidſt the croud, and were in a moment undiſtinguiſhable. They were afterwards taken under the protection of an humane magiſtrate, who concealed them for ſome time, and they are now in perfect ſecurity. They were the only two of the whole number that eſcaped.

 

 

 

 

September, 1792.

We paſſed a country ſo barren and unintereſting yeſterday, that even a profeſſional traveller could not have made a ſingle page of it. It was, in every thing, a perfect contraſt to the rich plains of Artoiſ— unfertile, neglected vallies and hills, miſerable farms, ſtill more miſerable cottages, and ſcarcely any appearance of population. The only place where we could refreſh the horſes was a ſmall houſe, over the door of which was the pompous deſignation of Hotel d'Angleterre. I know not if this be intended as a ridicule on our country, or as an attraction to our countrymen, but I, however, found ſomething beſides the appellation which reminded me of England, and which one does not often find in houſeſ of a better outſide; for though the rooms were ſmall, and only two in number, they were very clean, and the hoſteſs was neat and civil. The Hotel d'Angleterre, indeed, was not luxuriouſly ſupplied, and the whole of our repaſt was eggs and tea, which we had brought with us.—In the next room to that we occupied were two priſoners chained, whom the officers were conveying to Arras, for the purpoſe of better ſecurity. The ſecret hiſtory of this buſineſs is worth relating, as it marks the character of the moment, and the aſcendancy which the Jacobins are daily acquiring.

Theſe men were apprehended as ſmugglers, under circumſtances of peculiar atrocity, and committed to the gaol at ____. A few days after, a young girl, of bad character, who has much influence at the club, made a motion, that the people, in a body, ſhould demand the releaſe of the priſoners. The motion was carried, and the Hotel de Ville aſſailed by a formidable troop of ſailors, fiſh-women, &c.—The municipality refuſed to comply, the Garde Nationale was called out, and, on the mob perſiſting, fired over their heads, wounded a few, and the reſt diſperſed of themſelves.—Now you muſt underſtand, the latent motive of all this waſ two thouſand livres promiſed to one of the Jacobin leaders, if he ſucceeded in procuring the men their liberty.—I do not advance thiſ merely on conjecture. The fact is well known to the municipality; and the decent part of it would willingly have expelled this man, who is one of their members, but that they found themſelves too weak to engage in a ſerious quarrel with the Jacobins.—One cannot reflect, without apprehenſion, that any ſociety ſhould exiſt which can oppoſe the execution of the laws with impunity, or that a people, who are little ſenſible of realities, ſhould be thus abuſed by names. They ſuffer, with unfeeling patience, a thouſand enormitieſ—yet blindly riſk their liberties and lives to promote the deſigns of an adventurer, becauſe he harangues at a club, and calls himſelf a patriot.—I have juſt received advice that my friends have left Lauſanne, and are on their way to Paris. Our firſt plan of paſſing the winter there will be imprudent, if not impracticable, and we have concluded to take a houſe for the winter ſix months at Amiens, Chantilly, or ſome place which has the reputation of being quiet. I have already ordered enquiries to be made, and ſhall ſet out with Mrs. ____ in a day or two for Amiens. I may, perhaps, not write till our return; but ſhall not ceaſe to be, with great truth.—Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

Amiens, 1792.

The departement de la Somme has the reputation of being a little ariſtocratic. I know not how far this be merited, but the people are certainly not enthuſiaſts. The villages we paſſed on our road hither were very different from thoſe on the frontierſ—we were hailed by no popular ſounds, no cries of Vive la nation! except from here and there ſome ragged boy in a red cap, who, from habit, aſſociated this ſalutation with the appearance of a carriage. In every place where there are half a dozen houſes is planted an unthriving tree of liberty, which ſeems to wither under the baneful influence of the bonnet rouge. [The red cap.] This Jacobin attribute is made of materials to reſiſt the weather, and may laſt ſome time; but the trees of liberty, being planted unſeaſonably, are already dead. I hope this will not prove emblematic, and that the power of the Jacobins may not outlive the freedom of the people.

The Convention begin their labours under diſagreeable auſpices. A general terror ſeems to have ſeized on the Pariſians, the roads are covered with carriages, and the inns filled with travellers. A new regulation has juſt taken place, apparently intended to check thiſ reſtleſs ſpirit. At Abbeville, though we arrived late and were fatigued, we were taken to the municipality, our paſſports collated with our perſons, and at the inn we were obliged to inſert in a book our names, the place of our birth, from whence we came, and where we were going. This, you will ſay, has more the features of a mature Inquiſition, than a new-born Republic; but the French have different notions of liberty from yours, and take theſe things very quietly.—At Flixecourt we eat out of pewter ſpoons, and the people told us, with much inquietude, that they had ſold their plate, in expectation of a decree of the Convention to take it from them. This decree, however, has not paſſed, but the alarm is univerſal, and does not imply any great confidence in the new government.

I have had much difficulty in executing my commiſſion, and have at laſt fixed upon a houſe, of which I fear my friends will not approve; but the panic which depopulates Paris, the bombardment of Liſle, and the tranquillity which has hitherto prevailed here, has filled the town, and rendered every kind of habitation ſcarce, and extravagantly dear: for you muſt remark, that though the Amienois are all ariſtocrates, yet when an intimidated ſufferer of the ſame party flies from Paris, and ſeeks an aſylum amongſt them, they calculate with much exactitude what they ſuppoſe neceſſity may compel him to give, and will not take a livre leſs.—The rent of houſes and lodgings, like the national funds, riſeſ and falls with the public diſtreſſes, and, like them, is an object of ſpeculation: ſeveral perſons to whom we were addreſſed were extremely indifferent about letting their houſes, alledging as a reaſon, that if the diſorders of Paris ſhould increaſe, they had no doubt of letting them to much greater advantage.

We were at the theatre laſt night—it was opened for the firſt time ſince France has been declared a republic, and the Jacobins vociferated loudly to have the fleur de lys, ad other regal emblems, effaced. Obedience waſ no ſooner promiſed to this command, than it was ſucceeded by another not quite ſo eaſily complied with—they inſiſted on having the Marſelloiſ Hymn ſung. In vain did the manager, with a ludicrous ſort of terror, declare, that there were none of his company who had any voice, or who knew either the words of the muſic of the hymn in queſtion. "C'eſt egal, il faut chanter," ["No matter for that, they muſt ſing."] reſounded from all the patriots in the houſe. At laſt, finding the thing impoſſible, they agreed to a compromiſe; and one of the actors promiſed to ſing it on the morrow, as well as the trifling impediment of having no voice would permit him.—You think your galleries deſpotic when they call for an epilogue that is forgotten, and the actreſs who ſhould ſpeak it iſ undreſt; or when they inſiſt upon enlivening the laſt acts of Jane Shore with Roaſt Beef! What would you think if they would not diſpenſe with a hornpipe on the tight-rope by Mrs. Webb? Yet, bating the danger, I aſſure you, the audience of Amiens was equally unreaſonable. But liberty at preſent ſeems to be in an undefined ſtate; and until our rulers ſhall have determined what it is, the matter will continue to be ſettled as it is now—by each man uſurping as large a portion of tyranny as hiſ ſituation will admit of. He who ſubmits without repining to hiſ diſtrict, to his municipality, or even to the club, domineers at the theatre, or exerciſes in the ſtreet a manual cenſure on ariſtocratic apparel.*

*It was common at this time to inſult women in the ſtreets if dreſſed too well, or in colours the people choſe to call ariſtocratic. I was myſelf nearly thrown down for having on a ſtraw bonnet with green ribbons.

Our embarraſſment for ſmall change is renewed: many of the communes who had iſſued bills of five, ten, and fifteen ſols, repayable in aſſignats, are become bankrupts, which circumſtance has thrown ſuch a diſcredit on all this kind of nominal money, that the bills of one town will not paſſ at another. The original creation of theſe bills was ſo limited, that no town had half the number requiſite for the circulation of itſ neighbourhood; and this decreaſe, with the diſtruſt that ariſes from the occaſion of it, greatly adds to the general inconvenience.

The retreat of the Pruſſian army excites more ſurprize than intereſt, and the people talk of it with as much indifference as they would of an event that had happened beyond the Ganges. The ſiege of Liſle takes off all attention from the relief of Thionville—not on account of itſ importance, but on account of its novelty.—I remain, Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

Abbeville, September, 1792.

We left Amiens early yeſterday morning, but were ſo much delayed by the number of volunteers on the road, that it was late before we reached Abbeville. I was at firſt ſomewhat alarmed at finding ourſelveſ ſurrounded by ſo formidable a cortege; they however only exacted a declaration of our political principles, and we purchaſed our ſafety by a few ſmiles, and exclamations of vive la nation! There were ſome hundredſ of theſe recruits much under twenty; but the poor fellows, exhilarated by their new uniform and large pay, were going gaily to decide their fate by that hazard which puts youth and age on a level, and ſcatters with indiſcriminating hand the cypreſs and the laurel.

At Abbeville all the former precautions were renewed—we underwent another ſolemn identification of our perſons at the Hotel de Ville, and an abſtract of our hiſtory was again enregiſtered at the inn. One would really ſuppoſe that the town was under apprehenſions of a ſiege, or, at leaſt, of the plague. My "paper face" was examined as ſuſpiciouſly aſ though I had had the appearance of a traveſtied Achilles; and M____'s, which has as little expreſſion as a Chineſe painting, was elaborately ſcrutinized by a Dogberry in ſpectacles, who, perhaps, fancied ſhe had the features of a female Machiavel. All this was done with an air of importance ſufficiently ludicrous, when contraſted with the object; but we met with no incivility, and had nothing to complain of but a little additional fatigue, and the delay of our dinner.

We ſtopped to change horſes at Bernay, and I ſoon perceived our landlady was a very ardent patriot. In a room, to which we waded at great riſk of our clothes, was a repreſentation of the ſiege of the Baſtille, and prints of half a dozen American Generals, headed by Mr. Thomas Paine. On deſcending, we found out hoſteſs exhibiting a ſtill more forcible picture of curioſity than Shakſpeare's blackſmith. The half-demoliſhed repaſt was cooling on the table, whilſt our poſtilion retailed the Gazette, and the pigs and ducks were amicably grazing together on whatever the kitchen produced. The affairs of the Pruſſians and Auſtrians were diſcuſſed with entire unanimity, but when theſe politicians, as is often the caſe, came to adjuſt their own particular account, the conference was much leſſ harmonious. The poſtilion offered a ten ſols billet, which the landlady refuſed: one perſiſted in its validity, the other in rejecting it—till, at laſt, the patriotiſm of neither could endure this proof, and peace waſ concluded by a joint execration of thoſe who invented this fichu papier— "Sorry paper."

At ____ we met our friend, Mad. de ____, with part of her family and an immenſe quantity of baggage. I was both ſurprized and alarmed at ſuch an apparition, and found, on enquiry, that they thought themſelves unſafe at Arras, and were going to reſide near M. de ____'s eſtate, where they were better known. I really began to doubt the prudence of our eſtabliſhing ourſelves here for the winter. Every one who has it in his power endeavours to emigrate, even thoſe who till now have been zealouſ ſupporters of the revolution.—Diſtruſt and apprehenſion ſeem to have taken poſſeſſion of every mind. Thoſe who are in towns fly to the country, while the inhabitant of the iſolated chateau takes refuge in the neighbouring town. Flocks of both ariſtocrates and patriots are trembling and fluttering at the foreboding ſtorm, yet prefer to abide itſ fury, rather than ſeek ſhelter and defence together. I, however, flatter myſelf, that the new government will not juſtify this fear; and as I am certain my friends will not return to England at this ſeaſon, I ſhall not endeavour to intimidate or diſcourage them from their preſent arrangement. We ſhall, at leaſt, be enabled to form ſome idea of a republican conſtitution, and I do not, on reflection, conceive that any poſſible harm can happen to us.

 

 

 

 

October, 1792.

I ſhall not date from this place again, intending to quit it as ſoon aſ poſſible. It is diſturbed by the crouds from the camps, which are broken up, and the ſoldiers are extremely brutal and inſolent. So much are the people already familiarized with the unnatural depravity of manners that begins to prevail, that the wife of the Colonel of a battalion now here walks the ſtreets in a red cap, with piſtols at her girdle, boaſting of the numbers ſhe has deſtroyed at the maſſacres in Auguſt and September.

The Convention talk of the King's trial as a decided meaſure; yet no one ſeems to admit even the poſſibility that ſuch an act can be ever intended. A few believe him culpable, many think him miſled, and many acquit him totally: but all agree, that any violation of his perſon would be an atrocity diſgraceful to the nation at large.—The fate of Princeſ is often diſaſtrous in proportion to their virtues. The vanity, ſelfiſhneſs, and bigotry of Louis the Fourteenth were flattered while he lived, and procured him the appellation of Great after his death. The greateſt military talents that France has given birth to ſeemed created to earn laurels, not for themſelves, but for the brow of that vain-glorious Monarch. Induſtry and Science toiled but for hiſ gratification, and Genius, forgetting its dignity, willingly received from his award the ſame it has ſince beſtowed.

Louis the Fifteenth, who corrupted the people by his example, and ruined them by his expence, knew no diminution of the loyalty, whatever he might of the affection, of his people, and ended his days in the practice of the ſame vices, and ſurrounded by the ſame luxury, in which he had paſſed them.

Louis the Sixteenth, to whom ſcarcely his enemies aſcribe any vices, for its outrages againſt whom faction finds no excuſe but in the facility of his nature—whoſe devotion is at once exemplary and tolerant—who, in an age of licentiouſneſs, is remarkable for the ſimplicity of his mannerſ— whoſe amuſements were liberal or inoffenſive—and whoſe conceſſions to his people form a ſtriking contraſt with the exactions of hiſ predeceſſors.—Yes, the Monarch I have been deſcribing, and, I think, not partially, has been overwhelmed with ſorrow and indignitieſ—his perſon has been degraded, that he might be deſpoiled of his crown, and perhapſ the ſacrifice of his crown may be followed by that of his life. When we thus ſee the puniſhment of guilt accumulated on the head of him who haſ not participated in it, and vice triumph in the ſecurity that ſhould ſeem the lot of innocence, we can only adduce new motives to fortify ourſelveſ in this great truth of our religion—that the chaſtiſement of the one, and reward of the other, muſt be looked for beyond the inflictions or enjoyments of our preſent exiſtence.

I do not often moralize on paper, but there are moments when one deriveſ one's beſt conſolation from ſo moralizing; and this eaſy and ſimple juſtification of Providence, which refers all that appears inconſiſtent here to the retribution of a future ſtate, is pointed out leſs as the duty than the happineſs of mankind. This ſingle argument of religion ſolves every difficulty, and leaves the mind in fortitude and peace; whilſt the pride of ſceptical philoſophy traces whole volumes, only to eſtabliſh the doubts, and nouriſh the deſpair, of its diſciples.

Adieu. I cannot conclude better than with theſe reflections, at a time when diſbelief is ſomething too faſhionable even amongſt our countrymen.—Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

Amiens, October, 1792.

I arrived here the day on which a ball was given to celebrate the return of the volunteers who had gone to the aſſiſtance of Liſle.*

*The bombardment of Liſle commenced on the twenty-ninth of September, at three o'clock in the afternoon, and continued, almoſt without interruption, until the ſixth of October. Many of the public buildings, and whole quarters of the town, were ſo much damaged or deſtroyed, that the ſituation of the ſtreets were ſcarcely diſtinguiſhable. The houſes which the fire obliged their inhabitants to abandon, were pillaged by barbarians, more mercileſſ than the Auſtrians themſelves. Yet, amidſt theſe accumulated horrors, the Lillois not only preſerved their courage, but their preſence of mind: the rich incited and encouraged the poor; thoſe who were unable to aſſiſt with their labour, rewarded with their wealth: the men were employed in endeavouring to extinguiſh the fire of the buildings, or in preſerving their effects; while women and children ſnatched the opportunity of extinguiſhing the fuzes of the bombs as ſoon as they fell, at which they became very daring and dexterous. During the whole of this dreadful period, not one murmur, not one propoſition to ſurrender, was heard from any party. —The Convention decreed, amidſt the wildeſt enthuſiaſm of applauſe, that Liſle had deſerved well of the country. —Forty-two thouſand five hundred balls were fired, and the damageſ were eſtimated at forty millions of livres.

The French, indeed, never refuſe to rejoice when they are ordered; but aſ theſe feſtivities are not ſpontaneous effuſions, but official ordinances, and regulated with the ſame method as a tax or recruitment, they are of courſe languid and unintereſting. The whole of their hilarity ſeems to conſiſt in the movement of the dance, in which they are by not meanſ animated; and I have ſeen, even among the common people, a cotillion performed as gravely and as mechanically as the ceremonies of a Chineſe court.—I have always thought, with Sterne, that we were miſtaken in ſuppoſing the French a gay nation. It is true, they laugh much, have great geſticulation, and are extravagantly fond of dancing: but the laugh is the effect of habit, and not of a riſible ſenſation; the geſture iſ not the agitation of the mind operating upon the body, but conſtitutional volatility; and their love of dancing is merely the effect of a happy climate, (which, though mild, does not enervate,) and that love of action which uſually accompanies mental vacancy, when it is not counteracted by heat, or other phyſical cauſes.

I know ſuch an opinion, if publicly avowed, would be combated as falſe and ſingular; yet I appeal to thoſe who have at all ſtudied the French character, not as travellers, but by a reſidence amongſt them, for the ſupport of my opinion. Every one who underſtands the language, and haſ mixed much in ſociety, muſt have made the ſame obſervations.—See two Frenchmen at a diſtance, and the vehemence of their action, and the expreſſion of their features, ſhall make you conclude they are diſcuſſing ſome ſubject, which not only intereſts, but delights them. Enquire, and you will find they were talking of the weather, or the price of a waiſtcoat!—In England you would be tempted to call in a peace-officer at the loud tone and menacing attitudes with which two people here very amicably adjuſt a bargain for five livres.—In ſhort, we miſtake that for a mental quality which, in fact, is but a corporeal one; and, though the French may have many good and agreeable points of character, I do not include gaiety among the number.

I doubt very much of my friends will approve of their habitation. I confeſs I am by no means ſatiſfied with it myſelf; and, with regard to pecuniary conſideration, my engagement is not an advantageous one. —Madame Dorval, of whom I have taken the houſe, is a character very common in France, and over which I was little calculated to have the aſcendant. Officiouſly polite in her manners, and inflexibly attentive to her intereſt, ſhe ſeemingly acquieſces in every thing you propoſe. You would even fancy ſhe was ſolicitous to ſerve you; yet, after a thouſand gracious ſentiments, and as many implied eulogiums on her liberality and generoſity, you find her return, with unrelenting perſeverance, to ſome paltry propoſition, by which ſhe is to gain a few livres; and all this ſo civilly, ſo ſentimentally, and ſo determinedly, that you find yourſelf obliged to yield, and are duped without being deceived.

The lower claſs have here, as well as on your ſide of the water, the cuſtom of attributing to Miniſters and Governments ſome connection with, or controul over, the operations of nature. I remarked to a woman who brings me fruit, that the grapes were bad and dear this year—"Ah! mon Dieu, oui, ils ne murriſſent pas. Il me ſemble que tout va mal depuiſ qu'on a invente la nation." ["Ah! Lord, they don't ripen now.—For my part, I think nothing has gone well ſince the nation was firſt invented."]

I cannot, like the imitators of Sterne, tranſlate a chapter of ſentiment from every incident that occurs, or from every phyſiognomy I encounter; yet, in circumſtances like the preſent, the mind, not uſually obſerving, is tempted to comment.—I was in a milliner's ſhop to-day, and took notice on my entering, that its miſtreſs was, whilſt at her work, learning the Marſeilloiſ Hymn. [A patriotic air, at this time highly popular.] Before I had concluded my purchaſe, an officer came in to prepare her for the reception of four volunteers, whom ſhe was to lodge the two enſuing nights. She aſſented, indeed, very graciouſly, (for a French woman never loſes the command of her features,) but a moment after, the Marſeillois, which lay on the counter, was thrown aſide in a pet, and I dare ſay ſhe will not reſume her patriotic taſte, nor be reconciled to the revolution, until ſome days after the volunteers ſhall have changed their quarters.

This quartering of troops in private houſes appears to me the moſt grievous and impolitic of all taxes; it adds embarraſſment to expence, invades domeſtic comfort, and conveys ſuch an idea of military ſubjection, that I wonder any people ever ſubmits to it, or any government ever ventures to impoſe it.

I know not if the Engliſh are conſcious of their own importance at thiſ moment, but it is certain they are the centre of the hopes and fears of all parties, I might ſay of all Europe. The ariſtocrates wait with anxiety and ſolicitude a declaration of war, whilſt their opponentſ regard ſuch an event as pregnant with diſtreſs, and even as the ſignal of their ruin. The body of the people of both parties are averſe from increaſing the number of their enemies; but as the Convention may be directed by other motives than the public wiſh, it is impoſſible to form any concluſion on the ſubject. I am, of courſe, deſirous of peace, and ſhould be ſo from ſelfiſhneſs, if I were not from philanthropy, as a ceſſation of it at this time would diſconcert all our plans, and oblige us to ſeek refuge at ____, which has juſt all that is neceſſary for our happineſs, except what is moſt deſirable—a mild and dry atmoſphere.— Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

Amiens, November, 1792.

The arrival of my friends has occaſioned a ſhort ſuſpenſion of my correſpondence: but though I have been negligent, I aſſure you, my dear brother, I have not been forgetful; and this temporary preference of the ties of friendſhip to thoſe of nature, will be excuſed, when you conſider our long ſeparation.

My intimacy with Mrs. D____ began when I firſt came to this country, and at every ſubſequent viſit to the continent it has been renewed and increaſed into that rational kind of attachment, which your ſex ſeldom allow in ours, though you yourſelves do not abound in examples of it. Mrs. D____ is one of thoſe characters which are oftener loved than admired—more agreeable than handſome—good-natured, humane, and unaſſuming—and with no mental pretenſions beyond common ſenſe tolerably well cultivated. The ſhades of this portraiture are an extreme of delicacy, bordering on faſtidiouſneſſ—a trifle of hauteur, not in manners, but diſpoſition—and, perhaps, a tincture of affectation. Theſe foibles are, however, in a great degree, conſtitutional: ſhe is more an invalid than myſelf; and ill health naturally increaſes irritability, and renders the mind leſs diſpoſed to bear with inconveniencies; we avoid company at firſt, through a ſenſe of our infirmities, till this timidity becomes habitual, and ſettles almoſt into averſion.—The valetudinarian, who is obliged to fly the world, in time fancies herſelf above it, and ends by ſuppoſing there is ſome ſuperiority in differing from other people. Mr. D____ is one of the beſt men exiſting—well bred and well informed; yet, without its appearing to the common obſerver, he is of a very ſingular and original turn of mind. He is moſt exceedingly nervous, and this effect of his phyſical conſtruction has rendered him ſo ſuſceptible, that he is continually agitated and hurt by circumſtanceſ which others paſs by unnoticed. In other reſpects he is a great lover of exerciſe, fond of domeſtic life, reads much, and has an averſion from buſtle of all kind.

The baniſhment of the Prieſts, which in many inſtances was attended with circumſtances of peculiar atrocity, has not yet produced thoſe effectſ which were expected from it, and which the promoters of the meaſure employed as a pretext for its adoption. There are indeed now no maſſeſ ſaid but by the Conſtitutional Clergy; but as the people are uſually aſ ingenious in evading laws as legiſlators are in forming them, many perſons, inſtead of attending the churches, which they think profaned by prieſts who have taken the oaths, flock to church-yards, chapels, or other places, once appropriated to religious worſhip, but in diſuſe ſince the revolution, and of courſe not violated by conſtitutional maſſes. The cemetery of St. Denis, at Amiens, though large, is on Sundays and holidays ſo crouded, that it is almoſt difficult to enter it. Here the devotees flock in all weathers, ſay their maſs, and return with the double ſatiſfaction of having preſerved their allegiance to the Pope, and riſked perſecution in a cauſe they deem meritorious. To ſay truth, it iſ not very ſurprizing that numbers ſhould be prejudiced againſt the conſtitutional clergy. Many of them are, I doubt not, liberal and well-meaning men, who have preferred peace and ſubmiſſion to theological warfare, and who might not think themſelves juſtified in oppoſing their opinion to a national deciſion: yet are there alſo many of profligate lives, who were never educated for the profeſſion, and whom the circumſtances of the times have tempted to embrace it as a trade, which offered ſubſiſtence without labour, and influence without wealth, and which at once ſupplied a veil for licentiouſneſs, and the means of practiſing it. Such paſtors, it muſt be confeſſed, have little claim to the confidence or reſpect of the people; and that there are ſuch, I do not aſſert, but on the moſt credible information. I will only cite two inſtances out of many within my own knowledge.

P____n, biſhop of St. Omer, was originally a prieſt of Arras, of viciouſ character, and many of his ordinations have been ſuch as might be expected from ſuch a patron.—A man of Arras, who was only known for hiſ vicious purſuits, and who had the reputation of having accelerated the death of his wife by ill treatment, applied to P____n to marry him a ſecond time. The good Biſhop, preferring the intereſt of his friend to the ſalvation of his flock, adviſed him to relinquiſh the project of taking a wife, and offered to give him a cure. The propoſal was accepted on the ſpot, and this pious aſſociate of the Reverend P____n waſ immediately inveſted with the direction of the conſciences, and the care of the morals, of an extenſive pariſh.

Acts of this nature, it is to be imagined, were purſued by cenſure and ridicule; but the latter was not often more ſucceſſful than on the following occaſion:—Two young men, whoſe perſons were unknown to the biſhop, one day procured an audience, and requeſted he would recommend them to ſome employment that would procure them the means of ſubſiſtence. This was juſt a time when the numerous vacancies that had taken place were not yet ſupplied, and many livings were unfilled for want of candidates. The Biſhop, who was unwilling that the nonjuring prieſtſ ſhould have the triumph of ſeeing their benefices remain vacant, fell into the ſnare, and propoſed their taking orders. The young men expreſſed their joy at the offer; but, after looking confuſedly on each other, with ſome difficulty and diffidence, confeſſed their lives had been ſuch as to preclude them from the profeſſion, which, but for thiſ impediment, would have ſatiſfied them beyond their hopes. The Biſhop very complaiſantly endeavoured to obviate theſſe objections, while they continued to accuſe themſelves of all the ſins in the decalogue; but the Prelate at length obſerving he had ordained many worſe, the young men ſmiled contemptuouſly, and, turning on their heels, replied, that if prieſts were made of worſe men than they had deſcribed themſelves to be, they begged to be excuſed from aſſociating with ſuch company.

Dumouriez, Cuſtine, Biron, Dillon, &c. are doing wonders, in ſpite of the ſeaſon; but the laurel is an ever-green, and theſe heroes gather it equally among the ſnows of the Alps, and the fogs of Belgium. If we may credit the French papers too, what they call the cauſe of liberty is not leſs ſucceſſfully propagated by the pen than the ſword. England is ſaid to be on the eve of a revolution, and all its inhabitants, except the King and Mr. Pitt, become Jacobins. If I did not believe "the wiſh waſ father to the thought," I ſhould read theſe aſſertions with much inquietude, as I have not yet diſcovered the excellencies of a republican form of government ſufficiently to make me wiſh it ſubſtituted for our own.—It ſhould ſeem that the Temple of Liberty, as well as the Temple of Virtue, is placed on an aſcent, and that as many inflexions and retrogradations occur in endeavouring to attain it. In the ardour of reaching theſe difficult acclivities, a fall ſometimes leaves us lower than the ſituation we firſt ſet out from; or, to ſpeak without a figure, ſo much power is exerciſed by our leaders, and ſo much ſubmiſſion exacted from the people, that the French are in danger of becoming habituated to a deſpotiſm which almoſt ſanctifies the errors of their ancient monarchy, while they ſuppoſe themſelves in the purſuit of a degree of freedom more ſublime and more abſolute than has been enjoyed by any other nation.— Attempts at political as well as moral perfection, when carried beyond the limits compatible with a ſocial ſtate, or the weakneſs of our natures, are likely to end in a depravity which moderate governments and rational ethics would have prevented.

The debates of the Convention are violent and acrimonious. Robeſpierre has been accuſed of aſpiring to the Dictatorſhip, and his defence was by no means calculated to exonerate him from the charge. All the chiefſ reproach each other with being the authors of the late maſſacres, and each ſucceeds better in fixing the imputation on his neighbour, than in removing it from himſelf. General reprobation, perſonal invectives, and long ſpeeches, are not wanting; but every thing which tends to examination and enquiry is treated with much more delicacy and compoſure: ſo that I fear theſe firſt legiſlators of the republic muſt, for the preſent, be content with the reputation they have aſſigned each other, and rank amongſt thoſe who have all the guilt, but want the courage, of aſſaſſins.

I ſubjoin an extract from a newſpaper, which has lately appeared.*

*Extract from The Courier de l'Egalite, November, 1792: "There are diſcontented people who ſtill venture to obtrude their ſentiments on the public. One of them, in a public print, thuſ expreſſes himſelf— 'I aſſert, that the newſpapers are ſold and devoted to falſehood. At this price they purchaſe the liberty of appearing; and the excluſive privilege they enjoy, as well as the contradictory and lying aſſertions they all contain, prove the truth of what I advance. They are all preachers of liberty, yet never was liberty ſo ſhamefully outraged—of reſpect for property, and property was at no time ſo little held ſacred—of perſonal ſecurity, yet when were there committed ſo many maſſacres? and, at the very moment I am writing, new ones are premeditated. They call vehemently for ſubmiſſion, and obedience to the laws, but the laws had never leſſ influence; and while our compliance with ſuch as we are even ignorant of is exacted, it is accounted a crime to execute thoſe in force. Every municipality has its own arbitrary code—every battalion, every private ſoldier, exerciſes a ſovereignty, a moſt abſolute deſpotiſm; and yet the Gazettes do not ceaſe to boaſt the excellence of ſuch a government. They have, one and all, attributed the maſſacres of the tenth of Auguſt and the ſecond of September, and the days following each, to a popular fermentation. The monſterſ! they have been careful not to tell us, that each of theſe horrid ſcenes (at the priſons, at La Force, at the Abbaye, &c. &c.) was preſided by municipal officers in their ſcarfs, who pointed out the victims, and gave the ſignal for the aſſaſſination. It waſ (continue the Journals) the error of an irritated people—and yet their magiſtrates were at the head of it: it was a momentary error; yet this error of a moment continued during ſix whole days of the cooleſt reflection—it was only at the cloſe of the ſeventh that Petion made his appearance, and affected to perſuade the people to deſiſt. The aſſaſſins left off only from fatigue, and at thiſ moment they are preparing to begin again. The Journals do not tell us that the chief of theſe Sceleratſ [We have no term in the Engliſh language that conveys an adequate meaning for this word—it ſeems to expreſs the extreme of human wickedneſs and atrocity.] employed ſubordinate aſſaſſins, whom they cauſed to be clandeſtinely murdered in their turn, as though they hoped to deſtroy the proof of their crime, and eſcape the vengeance that awaits them. But the people themſelves were accomplices in the deed, for the Garde Nationale gave their aſſiſtance,'" &c. &c.

In ſpite of the murder of ſo many journaliſts, and the deſtruction of the printing-offices, it treats the September buſineſs ſo freely, that the editor will doubtleſs ſoon be ſilenced. Admitting theſe accuſations to be unfounded, what ideas muſt the people have of their magiſtrates, when they are credited? It is the prepoſſeſſion of the hearer that giveſ authenticity to fiction; and ſuch atrocities would neither be imputed to, nor believed of, men not already bad.—Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

December, 1792.

Dear Brother,

All the public prints ſtill continue ſtrongly to inſinuate, that England is prepared for an inſurrection, and Scotland already in actual rebellion: but I know the character of our countrymen too well to be perſuaded that they have adopted new principles as eaſily as they would adopt a new mode, or that the viſionary anarchiſts of the French government can have made many proſelytes among an humane and rational people. For many years we were content to let France remain the arbitreſs of the lighter departments of taſte: lately ſhe has ceded thiſ province to us, and England has dictated with unconteſted ſuperiority. This I cannot think very ſtrange; for the eye in time becomes fatigued by elaborate finery, and requires only the introduction of ſimple elegance to be attracted by it. But if, while we export faſhions to this country, we ſhould receive in exchange her republican ſyſtems, it would be a ſtrange revolution indeed; and I think, in ſuch a commerce, we ſhould be far from finding the balance in our favour. I have, in fact, little ſolicitude about theſe diurnal falſehoods, though I am not altogether free from alarm as to their tendency. I cannot help ſuſpecting it is to influence the people to a belief that ſuch diſpoſitions exiſt in England as preclude the danger of a war, in caſe it ſhould be thought neceſſary to ſacrifice the King.

I am more confirmed in this opinion, from the recent diſcovery, with the circumſtances attending it, of a ſecret iron cheſt at the Tuilleries. The man who had been employed to conſtruct this receſs, informs the miniſter, Rolland; who, inſtead of communicating the matter to the Convention, as it was very natural he ſhould do on an occaſion of ſo much importance, and requiring it to be opened in the preſence of proper witneſſes, goes privately himſelf, takes the papers found into his own poſſeſſion, and then makes an application for a committee to examine them. Under theſe ſuſpicious and myſterious appearances, we are told that many letters, &c. are found, which inculpate the King; and perhapſ the fate of this unfortunate Monarch is to be decided by evidence not admiſſible with juſtice in the caſe of the obſcureſt malefactor. Yet Rolland is the hero of a party who call him, par excellence, the virtuouſ Rolland! Perhaps you will think, with me, that this epithet iſ miſapplied to a man who has riſen, from an obſcure ſituation to that of firſt Miniſter, without being poſſeſſed of talents of that brilliant or prominent claſs which ſometimes force themſelves into notice, without the aid of wealth or the ſupport of patronage.

Rolland was inſpector of manufactories in this place, and afterwards at Lyons; and I do not go too far in advancing, that a man of very rigid virtue could not, from ſuch a ſtation, have attained ſo ſuddenly the one he now poſſeſſes. Virtue is of an unvarying and inflexible nature: it diſdains as much to be the flatterer of mobs, as the adulator of Princes: yet how often muſt he, who riſes ſo far above his equals, have ſtooped below them? How often muſt he have ſacrificed both his reaſon and hiſ principles? How often have yielded to the little, and oppoſed the great, not from conviction, but intereſt? For in this the meaneſt of mankind reſemble the moſt exalted; he beſtows not his confidence on him who reſiſts his will, nor ſubſcribes to the advancement of one whom he doeſ not hope to influence.—I may almoſt venture to add, that more diſſimulation, meaner conceſſions, and more tortuous policy, are requiſite to become the idol of the people, than are practiſed to acquire and preſerve the favour of the moſt potent Monarch in Europe. The French, however, do not argue in this manner, and Rolland is at preſent very popular, and his popularity is ſaid to be greatly ſupported by the literary talents of his wife.

I know not if you rightly underſtand theſe party diſtinctions among a ſet of men whom you muſt regard as united in the common cauſe of eſtabliſhing a republic in France, but you have ſometimes had occaſion to remark in England, that many may amicably concur in the accompliſhment of a work, who differ extremely about the participation of its advantages; and thiſ is already the caſe with the Convention. Thoſe who at preſent poſſeſſ all the power, and are infinitely the ſtrongeſt, are wits, moraliſts, and philoſophers by profeſſion, having Briſſot, Rolland, Petion, Concorcet, &c. at their head; their opponents are adventurers of a more deſperate caſt, who make up by violence what they want in numbers, and are led by Robeſpierre, Danton, Chabot, &c. &c. The only diſtinction of theſe parties is, I believe, that the firſt are vain and ſyſtematical hypocrites, who have originally corrupted the minds of the people by viſionary and inſidious doctrines, and now maintain their ſuperiority by artifice and intrigue: their opponents, equally wicked, and more daring, juſtify that turpitude which the others ſeek to diſguiſe, and appear almoſt as bad as they are. The credulous people are duped by both; while the cunning of the one, and the vehemence of the other, alternately prevail.—But ſomething too much of politics, as my deſign is in general rather to mark their effect on the people, than to enter on more immediate diſcuſſions.

Having been at the Criminal Tribunal to-day, I now recollect that I have never yet deſcribed to you the coſtume of the French Judges.—Perhapſ when I have before had occaſion to ſpeak of it, your imagination may have glided to Weſtminſter Hall, and depicted to you the ſcarlet robes and voluminous wigs of its reſpectable magiſtrates: but if you would form an idea of a magiſtrate here, you muſt bring your mind to the abſtraction of Crambo, and figure to yourſelf a Judge without either gown, wig, or any of thoſe venerable appendages. Nothing indeed can be more becoming or gallant, than this judicial accoutrement—it is black, with a ſilk cloak of the ſame colour, in the Spaniſh form, and a round hat, turned up before, with a large plume of black feathers. This, when the magiſtrate happens to be young, has a very theatrical and romantic appearance; but when it is worn by a figure a little Eſopian, or with a large buſhy perriwig, as I have ſometimes ſeen it, the effect is ſtill leſs awful; and a ſtranger, on ſeeing ſuch an apparition in the ſtreet, is tempted to ſuppoſe it a period of jubilee, and that the inhabitants are in maſquerade.

It is now the cuſtom for all people to addreſs each other by the appellation of Citizen; and whether you are a citizen or not—whether you inhabit Paris, or are a native of Peru—ſtill it is an indication of ariſtocracy, either to exact, or to uſe, any other title. This is all congruous with the ſyſtem of the day: the abuſes are real, the reform iſ imaginary. The people are flattered with ſounds, while they are loſing in eſſentials. And the permiſſion to apply the appellation of Citizen to its members, is but a poor compenſation for the deſpotiſm of a department or a municipality.

In vain are the people flattered with a chimerical equality—it cannot exiſt in a civilized ſtate, and if it could exiſt any where, it would not be in France. The French are habituated to ſubordination—they naturally look up to ſomething ſuperior—and when one claſs is degraded, it is only to give place to another.

—The pride of the nobleſſe is ſucceeded by the pride of the merchant— the influence of wealth is again realized by cheap purchaſes of the national domainſ—the abandoned abbey becomes the delight of the opulent trader, and replaces the demoliſhed chateau of the feudal inſtitution. Full of the importance which the commercial intereſt is to acquire under a republic, the wealthy man of buſineſs is eaſily reconciled to the oppreſſion of the ſuperior claſſes, and enjoys, with great dignity, hiſ new elevation. The counting-houſe of a manufacturer of woollen cloth iſ as inacceſſible as the boudoir of a Marquis; while the flowered brocade gown and well-powdered curls of the former offer a much more impoſing exterior than the chintz robe de chambre and diſhevelled locks of the more affable man of faſhion.

I have read, in ſome French author, a maxim to this effect:—"Act with your friends as though they ſhould one day be your enemies;" and the exiſting government ſeems amply to have profited by the admonition of their country-man: for notwithſtanding they affirm, that all France ſupports, and all England admires them, this does not prevent their exerciſing a moſt vigilant inquiſition over the inhabitants of both countries.—It is already ſagaciouſly hinted, that Mr. Thomas Paine may be a ſpy, and every houſeholder who receives a lodger or viſitor, and every proprietor who lets a houſe, is obliged to regiſter the names of thoſe he entertains, or who are his tenants, and to become reſponſible for their conduct. This is done at the municipality, and all who thuſ venture to change their reſidence, of whatever age, ſex, or condition, muſt preſent themſelves, and ſubmit to an examination. The power of the municipalities is indeed very great; and as they are chiefly ſelected from the lower claſs of ſhop-keepers, you may conclude that their authority is not exerciſed with much politeneſs or moderation.

The timid or indolent inhabitant of London, whoſe head has been filled with the Baſtilles and police of the ancient government, and who would aſ ſoon have ventured to Conſtantinople as to Paris, reads, in the debateſ of the Convention, that France is now the freeeſt country in the world, and that ſtrangers from all corners of it flock to offer their adorationſ in this new Temple of Liberty. Allured by theſe deſcriptions, he reſolves on the journey, willing, for once in his life, to enjoy a taſte of the bleſſing in ſublimate, which he now learns has hitherto been allowed him only in the groſs element.—He experiences a thouſand impoſitions on landing with his baggage at Calais, but he ſubmits to them without murmuring, becauſe his countrymen at Dover had, on hiſ embarkation, already kindly initiated him into this ſcience of taxing the inquiſitive ſpirit of travellers. After inſcribing his name, and rewarding the cuſtom-houſe officers for rummaging his portmanteau, he determines to amuſe himſelf with a walk about the town. The firſt centinel he encounters ſtops him, becauſe he has no cockade: he purchaſeſ one at the next ſhop, (paying according to the exigency of the caſe,) and is ſuffered to paſs on. When he has ſettled his bill at the Auberge "a l'Angloiſe," and emagines he has nothing to do but to purſue his journey, he finds he has yet to procure himſelf a paſſport. He waits an hour and an half for an officer, who at length appears, and with a rule in one hand, and a pen in the other, begins to meaſure the height, and take an inventory of the features of the aſtoniſhed ſtranger. By the time thiſ ceremony is finiſhed, the gates are ſhut, and he can proceed no farther, till the morrow. He departs early, and is awakened twice on the road to Boulogne to produce his paſſport: ſtill, however, he keeps his temper, concluding, that the new light has not yet made its way to the frontiers, and that theſe troubleſome precautions may be neceſſary near a port. He continues his route, and, by degrees, becomes habituated to this regimen of liberty; till, perhaps, on the ſecond day, the validity of hiſ paſſport is diſputed, the municipality who granted it have the reputation of ariſtocracy, or the whole is informal, and he muſt be content to wait while a meſſenger is diſpatched to have it rectified, and the officerſ eſtabliſh the ſeverity of their patriotiſm at the expence of the ſtranger.

Our traveller, at length, permitted to depart, feels his patience wonderfully diminiſhed, execrates the regulations of the coaſt, and the ignorance of ſmall towns, and determines to ſtop a few days and obſerve the progreſs of freedom at Ameins. Being a large commercial place, he here expects to behold all the happy effects of the new conſtitution; he congratulates himſelf on travelling at a period when he can procure information, and diſcuſs his political opinions, unannoyed by fears of ſtate priſons, and ſpies of the police. His landlord, however, acquaintſ him, that his appearance at the Town Houſe cannot be diſpenſed with—he attends three or four different hours of appointment, and is each time ſent away, (after waiting half an hour with the valets de ville in the antichamber,) and told that the municipal officers are engaged. As an Engliſhman, he has little reliſh for theſe ſubordinate ſovereigns, and difficult audienceſ—he hints at the next coffee-houſe that he had imagined a ſtranger might have reſted two days in a free country, without being meaſured, and queſtioned, and without detailing his hiſtory, aſ though he were ſuſpected of deſertion; and ventures on ſome implied compariſon between the ancient "Monſieur le Commandant," and the modern "Citoyen Maire."—To his utter aſtoniſhment he finds, that though there are no longer emiſſaries of the police, there are Jacobin informers; hiſ diſcourſe is reported to the municipality, his buſineſs in the town becomes the ſubject of conjecture, he is concluded to be "un homme ſanſ aveu," [One that can't give a good account of himſelf.] and arreſted aſ "ſuſpect;" and it is not without the interference of the people to whom he may have been recommended at Paris, that he is releaſed, and enabled to continue his journey.

At Paris he lives in perpetual alarm. One night he is diſturbed by a viſite domiciliaire, another by a riot—one day the people are in inſurrection for bread, and the next murdering each other at a public feſtival; and our country-man, even after making every allowance for the confuſion of a recent change, thinks himſelf very fortunate if he reacheſ England in ſafety, and will, for the reſt of his life, be ſatiſfied with ſuch a degree of liberty as is ſecured to him by the conſtitution of hiſ own country.

You ſee I have no deſign of tempting you to pay us a viſit; and, to ſpeak the truth, I think thoſe who are in England will ſhow their wiſdom by remaining there. Nothing but the ſtate of Mrs. D____'s health, and her dread of the ſea at this time of the year, detains us; for every day ſubtracts from my courage, and adds to my apprehenſions.

—Yours, &c.








A RESIDENCE IN FRANCE,

DURING THE YEARS

1792, 1793, 1794, and 1795



DESCRIBED IN A SERIES OF LETTERS
FROM AN ENGLISH LADY;
With General And Incidental Remarkſ
On The French Character And Manners.



Prepared for the Preſſ
By John Gifford, Eſq.

Second Edition.

_Plus je vis l'Etranger plus j'aimai ma Patrie._
--Du Belloy.

London: Printed for T. N. Longman, Paternoſter Row. 1797.




1793


Contentſ

Amiens, January, 1793.

Amiens, 1793.

Amiens, January 1793.

Amiens, February 15, 1793.

Amiens, Feb. 25, 1793.

Amiens, 1793.

March 23, 1793.

Rouen, March 31, 1793.

Amiens, April 7, 1793.

April 20, 1793.

May 18, 1793.

June 3, 1793.

June 20, 1793.

June 30, 1793.

Amiens, July 5, 1793.

July 14, 1793.

July 23, 1793.

Peronne, July 29, 1793.

Auguſt 1, 1793.

Soiſſons, Auguſt 4, 1793.

Peronne, Auguſt, 1793.

Peronne, Auguſt 24, 1793.

Peronne, Auguſt 29, 1793.

Peronne, Sept. 7, 1793.

Maiſon d'Arret, Arras, Oct. 15, 1793.

Maiſon d'Arret, Arras, Oct. 17, 1793.

Oct. 18.

Oct. 19.

Oct. 20.

Arras, 1793.

Oct. 21.

Oct. 22.

Oct. 25.

Oct. 27.

Oct. 30.

Bicetre at Amiens, Nov. 18, 1793.

November 19, 1793.

Nov. 20.

December.

Amiens, Providence, Dec. 10, 1793.

[Beginning of Volume II. Of The Printed Books]

Providence, Dec. 20, 1793.


 

 

 

 

Amiens, January, 1793.

Vanity, I believe, my dear brother, is not ſo innoxious a quality as we are deſirous of ſuppoſing. As it is the moſt general of all human failings, ſo is it regarded with the moſt indulgence: a latent conſciouſneſs averts the cenſure of the weak; and the wiſe, who flatter themſelves with being exempt from it, plead in its favour, by ranking it as a foible too light for ſerious condemnation, or too inoffenſive for puniſhment. Yet, if vanity be not an actual vice, it is certainly a potential one—it often leads us to ſeek reputation rather than virtue, to ſubſtitute appearances for realities, and to prefer the eulogiums of the world to the approbation of our own minds. When it takes poſſeſſion of an uninformed or an ill-conſtituted mind, it becomes the ſource of a thouſand errors, and a thouſand abſurdities. Hence, youth ſeeks a preeminence in vice, and age in folly; hence, many boaſt of errors they would not commit, or claim diſtinction by inveſting themſelves with an imputation of exceſs in ſome popular abſurdity—duels are courted by the daring, and vaunted by the coward—he who trembles at the idea of death and a future ſtate when alone, proclaims himſelf an atheiſt or a free-thinker in public—the water-drinker, who ſuffers the penitence of a week for a ſupernumerary glaſs, recounts the wonders of hiſ intemperance—and he who does not mount the gentleſt animal without trepidation, plumes himſelf on breaking down horſes, and his perils in the chace. In ſhort, whatever order of mankind we contemplate, we ſhall perceive that the portion of vanity allotted us by nature, when it iſ not corrected by a ſound judgement, and rendered ſubſervient to uſeful purpoſes, is ſure either to degrade or miſlead us.

I was led into this train of reflection by the conduct of our Anglo-Gallican legiſlator, Mr. Thomas Paine. He has lately compoſed a ſpeech, which was tranſlated and read in his preſence, (doubtleſs to hiſ great ſatiſfaction,) in which he inſiſts with much vehemence on the neceſſity of trying the King; and he even, with little credit to hiſ humanity, gives intimations of preſumed guilt. Yet I do not ſuſpect Mr. Paine to be of a cruel or unmerciful nature; and, moſt probably, vanity alone has inſtigated him to a proceeding which, one would wiſh to believe, his heart diſapproves. Tired of the part he was playing, and which, it muſt be confeſſed, was not calculated to flatter the cenſurer of Kings and the reformer of conſtitutions, he determined to ſit no longer for whole hours in colloquy with his interpreter, or in mute contemplation, like the Chancellor in the Critic; and the ſpeech to which I have alluded was compoſed. Knowing that lenient opinions would meet no applauſe from the tribunes, he inliſts himſelf on the ſide of ſeverity, accuſes all the Princes in the world as the accomplices of Louis the Sixteenth, expreſſes his deſire for an univerſal revolution, and, after previouſly aſſuring the Convention the King is guilty, recommends that they may inſtantly proceed to his trial. But, after all this tremendous eloquence, perhaps Mr. Paine had no malice in his heart: he may only be ſolicitous to preſerve his reputation from decay, and to indulge his ſelf-importance by aſſiſting at the trial of a Monarch whom he may not wiſh to ſuffer.—I think, therefore, I am not wrong in aſſerting, that Vanity is a very miſchievous counſellor.

The little diſtreſſes I formerly complained of, as ariſing from the paper currency, are nearly removed by a plentiful emiſſion of ſmall aſſignats, and we have now pompous aſſignments on the national domains for ten ſols: we have, likewiſe, pieces coined from the church bells in circulation, but moſt of theſe diſappear as ſoon as iſſued. You would ſcarcely imagine that this copper is deemed worthy to be hoarded; yet ſuch is the people's averſion from the paper, and ſuch their miſtruſt of the government, that not an houſewife will part with one of theſe pieceſ while ſhe has an aſſignat in her poſſeſſion; and thoſe who are rich enough to keep a few livres by them, amaſs and bury this copper treaſure with the utmoſt ſolicitude and ſecreſy.

A tolerably accurate ſcale of the national confidence might be made, by marking the progreſs of theſe ſuſpicious interments. Under the firſt Aſſembly, people began to hide their gold; during the reign of the ſecond they took the ſame affectionate care of their ſilver; and, ſince the meeting of the Convention, they ſeem equally anxious to hide any metal they can get. If one were to deſcribe the preſent age, one might, as far as regards France, call it, both literally and metaphorically, the Iron Age; for it is certain, the character of the times would juſtify the metaphoric application, and the diſappearance of every other metal the literal one. As the French are fond of claſſic examples, I ſhall not be ſurprized to ſee an iron coinage, in imitation of Sparta, though they ſeem in the way of having one reaſon leſs for ſuch a meaſure than the Spartans had, for they are already in a ſtate to defy corruption; and if they were not, I think a war with England would ſecure the purity of their morals from being endangered by too much commercial intercourſe.

I cannot be diſpleaſed with the civil things you ſay of my letters, nor at your valuing them ſo much as to preſerve them; though, I aſſure you, this fraternal gallantry is not neceſſary, on the account you intimate, nor will our countrymen ſuffer, in my opinion, by any compariſons I can make here. Your ideas of French gallantry are, indeed, very erroneouſ— it may differ in the manner from that practiſed in England, but is far from having any claim to ſuperiority. Perhaps I cannot define the pretenſions of the two nations in this reſpect better than by ſaying, that the gallantry of an Engliſhman is a ſentiment—that of a Frenchman a ſyſtem. The firſt, if a lady happen to be old or plain, or indifferent to him, is apt to limit his attentions to reſpect, or utility—now the latter never troubles himſelf with theſe diſtinctions: he is repulſed by no extremity of years, nor deformity of feature; he adores, with equal ardour, both young and old, nor is either often ſhocked by his viſible preference of the other. I have ſeen a youthful beau kiſs, with perfect devotion, a ball of cotton dropped from the hand of a lady who waſ knitting ſtockings for her grand-children. Another pays his court to a belle in her climacteric, by bringing gimbletteſ [A ſort of gingerbread.] to the favourite lap-dog, or attending, with great aſſiduity, the egreſſes and regreſſes of her angola, who paces ſlowly out of the room ten times in an hour, while the door is held open by the complaiſant Frenchman with a moſt reſpectful gravity.

Thus, you ſee, France is to the old what a maſquerade is to the ugly —the one confounds the diſparity of age as the other does that of perſon; but indiſcriminate adoration is no compliment to youth, nor is a maſk any privilege to beauty. We may therefore conclude, that though France may be the Elyſium of old women, England is that of the young. When I firſt came into this country, it reminded me of an iſland I had read of in the Arabian Tales, where the ladies were not deemed in their bloom till they verged towards ſeventy; and I conceived the project of inviting all the belles, who had been half a century out of faſhion in England, to croſs the Channel, and begin a new career of admiration!— Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

Amiens, 1793.

Dear Brother,

I have thought it hitherto a ſelf evident propoſition—that of all the principles which can be inculcated in the human mind, that of liberty iſ leaſt ſuſceptible of propagation by force. Yet a Council of Philoſopherſ (diſciples of Rouſſeau and Voltaire) have ſent forth Dumouriez, at the head of an hundred thouſand men, to inſtruct the people of Flanders in the doctrine of freedom. Such a miſſionary is indeed invincible, and the defenceleſs towns of the Low Countries have been converted and pillaged [By the civil agents of the executive power.] by a benevolent cruſade of the philanthropic aſſertors of the rights of man. Theſe warlike Propagandiſtes, however, do not always convince without experiencing reſiſtance, and ignorance ſometimes oppoſes, with great obſtinacy, the progreſs of truth. The logic of Dumouriez did not enforce conviction at Gemappe, but at the expence of fifteen thouſand of his own army, and, doubtleſs, a proportionate number of the unconverted.

Here let me forbear every expreſſion tending to levity: the heart recoilſ at ſuch a ſlaughter of human victims; and, if a momentary ſmile be excited by theſe Quixotiſms, it is checked by horror at their conſequenceſ!—Humanity will lament ſuch deſtruction; but it will likewiſe be indignant to learn, that, in the official account of thiſ battle, the killed were eſtimated at three hundred, and the wounded at ſix!—But, if the people be ſacrificed, they are not deceived. The diſabled ſufferers, who are returning to their homes in different partſ of the republic, betray the turpitude of the government, and expoſe the fallacy of theſe bloodleſs victories of the gazettes. The pedants of the Convention are not unlearned in the hiſtory of the Praetorian Bands and the omnipotence of armies; and an offenſive war is undertaken to give occupation to the ſoldiers, whoſe inactivity might produce reflection, or whoſe diſcontent might prove fatal to the new order of things.—Attemptſ are made to divert the public mind from the real miſery experienced at home, by relations of uſeleſs conqueſts abroad; the ſubſtantial loſſes, which are the price of theſe imaginary benefits, are palliated or concealed; and the circumſtances of an engagement is known but by individual communication, and when ſubſequent events have nearly effaced the remembrance of it.—By theſe artifices, and from motives at leaſt not better, and, perhaps, worſe than thoſe I have mentioned, will population be diminiſhed, and agriculture impeded: France will be involved in preſent diſtreſs, and conſigned to future want; and the deluded people be puniſhed in the miſeries of their own country, becauſe their unprincipled rulers have judged it expedient to carry war and devaſtation into another.

One of the diſtinguiſhing features in the French character is ſang froid —ſcarcely a day paſſes that it does not force itſelf on one'ſ obſervation. It is not confined to the thinking part of the people, who know that paſſion and irritability avail nothing; nor to thoſe who, not thinking at all, are, of courſe, not moved by any thing: but is equally poſſeſſed by every rank and condition, whether you claſs them by their mental endowments, or their temporal poſſeſſions. They not only (as, it muſt be confeſſed, is too commonly the caſe in all countries,) bear the calamities of their friends with great philoſophy, but are nearly aſ reaſonable under the preſſure of their own. The grief of a Frenchman, at leaſt, partakes of his imputed national complaiſance, and, far from intruding itſelf on ſociety, is always ready to accept of conſolation, and join in amuſement. If you ſay your wife or relations are dead, they replay coldly, "Il faut ſe conſoler:" or if they viſit you in an illneſs, "Il faut prendre patience." Or tell them you are ruined, and their features then become ſomething more attenuated, the ſhoulderſ ſomething more elevated, and a more commiſerating tone confeſſes, "C'eſt bien mal beureux—Mai enfin que voulez vous?" ["It's unlucky, but what can be ſaid in ſuch caſes?"] and in the ſame inſtant they ill recount ſome good fortune at a card party, or expatiate on the excellence of a ragout.—Yet, to do them juſtice, they only offer for your comfort the ſame arguments they would have found efficacious in promoting their own.

This diſpoſition, which preſerves the tranquillity of the rich, indurateſ the ſenſe of wretchedneſs in the poor; it ſupplies the place of fortitude in the one, and that of patience in the other; and, while it enables both to endure their own particular diſtreſſes, it makes them ſubmit quietly to a weight and exceſs of public evils, which any nation but their own would ſink under, or reſiſt. Amongſt ſhopkeepers, ſervants, &c. without incurring perſonal odium, it has the effect of what would be deemed in England impenetrable aſſurance. It forces pertinaceouſly an article not wanted, and preſerves the inflexibility of the features at a detected impoſition: it inſpires ſervants with arguments in defence of every miſdemeanour in the whole domeſtic catalogue; it renders them inſenſible either of their negligences or the conſequences of them; and endows them with a happy facility of contradicting with the moſt obſequiouſ politeneſs.

A gentleman of our acquaintances dined at a table d'Hote, where the company were annoyed by a very uncommon and offenſive ſmell. On cutting up a fowl, they diſcovered the ſmell to have been occaſioned by its being dreſſed with out any other preparation than that of depluming. They immediately ſent for the hoſt, and told him, that the fowl had been dreſſed without having been drawn: but, far from appearing diſconcerted, as one might expect, he only replied, "Cela ſe pourroit bien, Monſieur." ["'Tis very poſſible, Sir."] Now an Engliſh Boniface, even though he had already made his fortune, would have been mortified at ſuch an incident, and all his eloquence would ſcarcely have produced an unfaultering apology.

Whether this national indifference originate in a phyſical or a moral cauſe, from an obtuſeneſs in their corporeal formation or a perfection in their intellectual one, I do not pretend to decide; but whatever be the cauſe, the effect is enjoyed with great modeſty. So little do the French pique themſelves on this valuable ſtoiciſm, that they acknowledge being more ſubject to that human weakneſs called feeling, than any other people in the world. All their writers abound in pathetic exclamations, ſentimental phraſes, and alluſions to "la ſenſibilite Francaiſe," aſ though they imagined it proverbial. You can ſcarcely hold a converſation with a Frenchman without hearing him detail, with an expreſſion of feature not always analogous, many very affecting ſentences. He iſ deſole, deſeſpere, or afflige—he has le coeur trop ſenſible, le coeur ſerre, or le coeur navre; [Afflicted—in deſpair—too feeling a heart— his heart is wrung or wounded.] and the well-placing of theſe dolorouſ aſſertions depends rather upon the judgement and eloquence of the ſpeaker, than the ſeriouſneſs of the caſe which gives riſe to them. For inſtance, the deſpair and deſolation of him who has loſt his money, and of him whoſe head is ill dreſt, are of different degrees, but the expreſſions are uſually the ſame. The debates of the Convention, the debates of the Jacobins, and all the public prints, are fraught with proofs of this appropriated ſuſceptibility, and it is often attributed to perſons and occaſions where we ſhould not much expect to find it. A quarrel between the legiſlators as to who was moſt concerned in promoting the maſſacres of September, is reconciled with a "ſweet and enthuſiaſtic exceſs of fraternal tenderneſs." When the clubs diſpute on the expediency of an inſurrection, or the neceſſity of a more frequent employment of the guillotine, the debate terminates by overflowing of ſenſibility from all the members who have engaged in it!

At the aſſaſſinations in one of the priſons, when all the other miſerable victims had periſhed, the mob diſcovered one Jonneau, a member of the Aſſembly, who had been confined for kicking another member named Grangeneuve.* As the maſſacrers probably had no orders on the ſubject, he was brought forth, from amidſt heaps of murdered companions, and a meſſenger diſpatched to the Aſſembly, (which during theſe ſcenes met aſ uſual,) to enquire if they acknowledged Jonneau as a member. A decree was paſſed in the affirmative, and Jonneau brought by the aſſaſſins, with the decree faſtened on his breaſt, in triumph to his colleagues, who, we are told, at this inſtance of reſpect for themſelves, ſhed tears of tenderneſs and admiration at the conduct of monſters, the ſight of whom ſhould ſeem revolting to human nature.

* When the maſſacres began, the wife and friends of Jonneau petitioned Grangeneuve on their knees to conſent to his enlargement; but Grangeneuve was implacable, and Jonneau continued in priſon till releaſed by the means above mentioned. It is obſervable, that at this dreadful moment the utmoſt ſtrictneſs was obſerved, and every form literally enforced in granting the diſcharge of a priſoner. A ſuſpenſion of all laws, human and divine, was allowed to the aſſaſſins, while thoſe only that ſecured them their victims were rigidly adhered to.

Perhaps the real ſang froid I have before noticed, and theſe pretenſionſ to ſenſibility, are a natural conſequence one or the other. It is the hiſtory of the beaſt's confeſſion—we have only to be particularly deficient in any quality, to make us ſolicitous for the reputation of it; and after a long habit of deceiving others we finiſh by deceiving ourſelves. He who feels no compaſſion for the diſtreſſes of hiſ neighbour, knows that ſuch indifference is not very eſtimable; he therefore ſtudies to diſguiſe the coldneſs of his heart by the exaggeration of his language, and ſupplies, by an affected exceſs of ſentiment, the total abſence of it.—The gods have not (as you know) made me poetical, nor do I often tax your patience with a ſimile, but I think this French ſenſibility is to genuine feeling, what their paſte is to the diamond—it gratifies the vanity of the wearer, and deceives the eye of the ſuperficial obſerver, but is of little uſe or value, and when tried by the fire of adverſity quickly diſappears.

You are not much obliged to me for this long letter, as I own I have ſcribbled rather for my own amuſement than with a view to yours.— Contrary to our expectation, the trial of the King has begun; and, though I cannot properly be ſaid to have any real intereſt in the affairs of this country, I take a very ſincere one in the fate of its unfortunate Monarch—indeed our whole houſe has worn an appearance of dejection ſince the commencement of the buſineſs. Moſt people ſeem to expect it will terminate favourably, and, I believe, there are few who do not wiſh it. Even the Convention ſeem at preſent diſpoſed to be merciful; and as they judge now, ſo may they be judged hereafter!

—Yours.

 

 

 

 

Amiens, January 1793.

I do all poſſible juſtice to the liberality of my countrymen, who are become ſuch paſſionate admirers of the French; and I cannot but lament their having been ſo unfortunate in the choice of the aera from whence they date this new friendſhip. It is, however, a proof, that their regards are not much the effect of that kind of vanity which eſteemſ objects in proportion as they are eſteemed by the reſt of the world; and the ſincerity of an attachment cannot be better evinced than by itſ ſurviving irretrievable diſgrace and univerſal abhorrence. Many will ſwell the triumph of a hero, or add a trophy to his tomb; but he who exhibits himſelf with a culprit at the gallows, or decorates the gibbet with a wreath, is a friend indeed.

If ever the character of a people were repugnant to amity, or inimical to connection, it is that of the French for the laſt three years.—*

* The editor of the Courier de l'Egalite, a moſt decided patriot, thus expreſſes himſelf on the injuries and inſults received by the King from the Pariſians, and their municipality, previous to hiſ trial: "I know that Louis is guilty—but are we to double his puniſhment before it is pronounced by the law? Indeed one is tempted to ſay that, inſtead of being guided by the humanity and philoſophy which dictated the revolution, we have taken leſſons of barbarity from the moſt ferocious ſavageſ! Let us be virtuous if we would be republicans; if we go on as we do, we never ſhall, and muſt have recourſe to a deſpot: for of two evils it is better to chooſe the leaſt."

The editor, whoſe opinion of the preſent politics is thus expreſſed, iſ ſo truly a revolutioniſt, and ſo confidential a patriot, that, in Auguſt laſt, when almoſt all the journaliſts were murdered, his paper was the only one that, for ſome time, was allowed to reach the departments.

In this ſhort ſpace they have formed a compendium of all the vices which have marked as many preceding ages:—the cruelty and treachery of the league—the ſedition, levity, and intrigue of the Fronde [A name given to the party in oppoſition to the court during Cardinal Mazarin'ſ miniſtry.—See the origin of it in the Memoirs of that period.] with the licentiouſneſs and political corruption of more modern epochs. Whether you examine the conduct of the nation at large, or that of its chiefs and leaders, your feelings revolt at the one, and your integrity deſpiſes the other. You ſee the idols erected by Folly, degraded by Caprice;—the authority obtained by Intrigue, bartered by Profligacy;—and the perfidy and corruption of one ſide ſo balanced by the barbarity and levity of the other, that the mind, unable to decide on the preference of contending vices, is obliged to find repoſe, though with regret and diſguſt, in acknowledging the general depravity.

La Fayette, without very extraordinary pretenſions, became the hero of the revolution. He dictated laws in the Aſſembly, and preſcribed oathſ to the Garde Nationale—and, more than once, inſulted, by the triumph of oſtentatious popularity, the humiliation and diſtreſs of a perſecuted Sovereign. Yet when La Fayette made an effort to maintain the conſtitution to which he owed his fame and influence, he was abandoned with the ſame levity with which he had been adopted, and ſunk, in an inſtant, from a dictator to a fugitive!

Neckar was an idol of another deſcription. He had already departed for his own country, when he was hurried back precipitately, amidſt univerſal acclamations. All were full of projects either of honour or recompence— one was for decreeing him a ſtatue, another propoſed him a penſion, and a third hailed him the father of the country. But Mr. Neckar knew the French character, and very wiſely declined theſe pompous offers; for before he could have received the firſt quarter of his penſion, or the ſtatue could have been modelled, he was glad to eſcape, probably not without ſome apprehenſions for his head!

The reign of Mirabeau was ſomething longer. He lived with popularity, was fortunate enough to die before his reputation was exhauſted, waſ depoſited in the Pantheon, apotheoſiſed in form, and his buſt placed as a companion to that of Brutus, the tutelary genius of the Aſſembly.—Here, one might have expected, he would have been quit for this world at leaſt; but the fame of a patriot is not ſecured by his death, nor can the godſ of the French be called immortal: the deification of Mirabeau iſ ſuſpended, his memory put in ſequeſtration, and a committee appointed to enquire, whether a profligate, expenſive, and neceſſitous character waſ likely to be corruptible. The Convention, too, ſeem highly indignant that a man, remarkable only for vice and atrocity, ſhould make no conſcience of betraying thoſe who were as bad as himſelf; and that, after having proſtituted his talents from the moment he was conſcious of them, he ſhould not, when aſſociated with ſuch immaculate colleagues, become pure and diſintereſted. It is very probable that Mirabeau, whoſe only aim was power, might rather be willing to ſhare it with the King, aſ Miniſter, than with ſo many competitors, and only as Prime Speechmaker to the Aſſembly: and as he had no reaſon for ſuſpecting the patriotiſm of others to be more inflexible than his own, he might think it not impolitic to anticipate a little the common courſe of things, and betray his companions, before they had time to ſtipulate for felling him. He might, too, think himſelf more juſtified in diſpoſing of them in the groſs, becauſe he did not thereby deprive them of their right of bargaining for themſelves, and for each other in detail.—*

* La Porte, Steward of the Houſehold, in a letter to Duqueſnoy, [Not the brutal Duſquenoy hereafter mentioned.] dated February, 1791, informs him that Barrere, Chairman of the Committee of Domains, iſ in the beſt diſpoſition poſſible.—A letter of Talon, (then miniſter,) with remarks in the margin by the King, ſays, that "Sixteen of the moſt violent members on the patriotic ſide may be brought over to the court, and that the expence will not exceed two millions of livres: that fifteen thouſand will be ſufficient for the firſt payment; and only a Yes or No from his Majeſty will fix theſe members in his intereſt, and direct their future conduct."—It likewiſe obſerves, that theſe two millions will coſt the King nothing, as the affair is already arranged with the Liquidator-General.

Extract of a letter from Chambonas to the King, dated June 18, 1792:

"Sire, "I inform your Majeſty, that my agents are now in motion. I have juſt been converting an evil ſpirit. I cannot hope that I have made him good, but I believe I have neutralized him.—To-night we ſhall make a ſtrong effort to gain Santerre, (Commandant of the Garde Nationale,) and I have ordered myſelf to be awakened to hear the reſult. I ſhall take care to humour the different intereſts as well as I can.—The Secretary of the Cordeliers club is now ſecured.—All theſe people are to be bought, but not one of them can be hired.—I have had with me one Mollet a phyſician. Perhaps your Majeſty may have heard of him. He is an outrageous Jacobin, and very difficult, for he will receive nothing. He inſiſts, previous to coming to any definitive treaty, on being named Phyſician to the Army. I have promiſed him, on condition that Paris is kept quiet for fifteen days. He is now gone to exert himſelf in our favour. He has great credit at the Caffe de Procope, where all the journaliſts and 'enragiſ' of the Fauxbourg St. Germain aſſemble. I hope he will keep his word.—The orator of the people, the noted Le Maire, a clerk at the Poſt-office, has promiſed tranquility for a week, and he is to be rewarded. "A new Gladiator has appeared lately on the ſcene, one Ronedie Breton, arrived from England. He has already been exciting the whole quarter of the Poiſonnerie in favour of the Jacobins, but I ſhall have him laid ſiege to.—Petion is to come to-morrow for fifteen thouſand livres, [This ſum was probably only to propitiate the Mayor; and if Chambonas, as he propoſed, refuſed farther payment, we may account for Petion's ſubſequent conduct.] on account of thirty thouſand per month which he received under the adminiſtration of Dumouriez, for the ſecret ſervice of the police.— I know not in virtue of what law this was done, and it will be the laſt he ſhall receive from me. Your Majeſty will, I doubt not, underſtand me, and approve of what I ſuggeſt. (Signed) "Chambonas." Extract from the Papers found at the Thuilleries. It is impoſſible to warrant the authenticity of theſe Papers; on their credibility, however, reſts the whole proof of the moſt weighty charges brought againſt the King. So that it muſt be admitted, that either all the firſt patriots of the revolution, and many of thoſe ſtill in repute, are corrupt, or that the King waſ condemned on forged evidence.

The King might alſo be ſolicitous to purchaſe ſafety and peace at any rate; and it is unfortunate for himſelf and the country that he had not recourſe to the only effectual means till it was too late. But all thiſ reſts on no better evidence than the papers found at the Thuilleries; and as ſomething of this kind was neceſſary to nouriſh the exhauſted fury of the populace, I can eaſily conceive that it was thought more prudent to ſacrifice the dead, than the living; and the fame of Mirabeau being leſſ valuable than the ſafety of thoſe who ſurvived him, there would be no great harm in attributing to him what he was very likely to have done.— The corruption of a notorious courtier would have made no impreſſion: the King had already been overwhelmed with ſuch accuſations, and they had loſt their effect: but to have ſeduced the virtuous Mirabeau, the very Confucius of the revolution, was a kind of profanation of the holy fire, well calculated to revive the languid rage, and extinguiſh the ſmall remains of humanity yet left among the people.

It is ſufficiently remarkable, that notwithſtanding the court muſt have ſeen the neceſſity of gaining over the party now in power, no veſtige of any attempt of this kind has been diſcovered; and every criminating negotiation is aſcribed to the dead, the abſent, or the inſignificant. I do not, however, preſume to decide in a caſe ſo very delicate; their panegyriſts in England may adjuſt the claims of Mirabeau's integrity, and that of his accuſers, at their leiſure.

Another patriot of "diſtinguiſhed note," and more peculiarly intereſting to our countrymen, becauſe he has laboured much for their converſion, iſ Talleyrand, Biſhop of Autun.—He was in England ſome time aſ Plenipotentiary from the Jacobins, charged with eſtabliſhing treatieſ between the clubs, publiſhing ſeditious manifeſtoes, contracting friendly alliances with diſcontented ſcribblers, and gaining over neutral or hoſtile newſpapers.—But, beſides his political and eccleſiaſtical occupations, and that of writing letters to the Conſtitutional Society, it ſeems this induſtrious Prelate had likewiſe a correſpondence with the Agents of the Court, which, though he was too modeſt to ſurcharge hiſ fame by publiſhing it, was, nevertheleſs, very profitable.

I am ſorry his friends in England are moſtly averſe from epiſcopacy, otherwiſe they might have provided for him, as I imagine he will have no objection to relinquiſh his claims on the ſee of Autun. He is not under accuſation, and, were he to return, he would not find the laws quite ſo ceremonious here as in England. After labouring with impunity for monthſ together to promote an inſurrection with you, a ſmall private barter of his talents would here coſt him his head; and I appeal to the Biſhop'ſ friends in England, whether there can be a proper degree of freedom in a country where a man is refuſed the privilege of diſpoſing of himſelf to the beſt advantage.

To the eternal obloquy of France, I muſt conclude, in the liſt of thoſe once popular, the ci-devant Duke of Orleans. But it was an unnatural popularity, unaided by a ſingle talent, or a ſingle virtue, ſupported only by the venal efforts of thoſe who were almoſt his equals in vice, though not in wealth, and who found a grateful exerciſe for their abilities in at once profiting by the weak ambition of a bad man, and corrupting the public morals in his favour. The unrighteous compact iſ now diſſolved; thoſe whom he ruined himſelf to bribe have already forſaken him, and perhaps may endeavour to palliate the diſgrace of having been called his friends, by becoming his perſecutors.—Thus, many of the primitive patriots are dead, or fugitives, or abandoned, or treacherous; and I am not without fear leſt the new race ſhould prove aſ evaneſcent as the old.

The virtuous Rolland,* whoſe firſt reſignation was ſo inſtrumental in dethroning the King, has now been obliged to reſign a ſecond time, charged with want of capacity, and ſuſpected of malverſation; and thiſ virtue, which was ſo irreproachable, which it would have been ſo dangerous to diſpute while it ſerved the purpoſes of party, is become hypocriſy, and Rolland will be fortunate if he return to obſcurity with only the loſs of his gains and his reputation.

* In the beginning of December, the Council-General of the municipality of Paris opened a regiſter, and appointed a Committee to receive all accuſations and complaints whatever againſt Rolland, who, in return, ſummoned them to deliver in their accounts to him aſ Miniſter of the interior, and accuſed them, at the ſame time, of the moſt ſcandalous peculations.

The credit of Briſſot and the Philoſophers is declining faſt—the clubſ are unpropitious, and no party long ſurvives this formidable omen; ſo that, like Macbeth, they will have waded from one crime to another, only to obtain a ſhort-lived dominion, at the expence of eternal infamy, and an unlamented fall.

Dumouriez is ſtill a ſucceſſful General, but he is denounced by one faction, inſulted by another, inſidiouſly praiſed by a third, and, if he ſhould perſevere in ſerving them, he has more diſintereſted rectitude than I ſuſpect him of, or than they merit. This is another of that Jacobin miniſtry which proved ſo fatal to the King; and it is evident that, had he been permitted to entertain the ſame opinion of all theſe people as they now profeſs to have of each other, he would have been ſtill living, and ſecure on his throne.

After ſo many mutual infidelities, it might be expected that one party would grow indifferent, and the other ſuſpicious; but the French never deſpair: new hordes of patriots prepare to poſſeſs themſelves of the places they are forcing the old ones to abandon, and the people, eager for change, are ready to receive them with the momentary and fallaciouſ enthuſiaſm which ever precedes diſgrace; while thoſe who are thuſ intriguing for power and influence, are, perhaps, ſecretly deviſing how it may be made moſt ſubſervient to their perſonal advantage.

Yet, perhaps, theſe amiable levities may not be diſpleaſing to the Conſtitutional Society and the revolutioniſts of England; and, as the very faults of our friends are often endearing to us, they may extend their indulgence to the "humane" and "liberal" precepts of the Jacobins, and the maſſacres of September.—To confeſs the truth, I am not a little aſhamed for my country when I ſee addreſſes from England to a Convention, the members of which have juſt been accuſing each other of aſſaſſination and robbery, or, in the ardour of a debate, threatening, cuffing, and knocking each other down. Excluſive of their moral character, conſidered only as it appears from their reciprocal criminations, they have ſo little pretenſion to dignity, or even decency, that it ſeems a mockery to addreſs them as the political repreſentatives of a powerful nation deliberating upon important affairs.

If a bearer of one of theſe congratulatory compliments were not apprized of the forms of the Houſe, he would be rather aſtoniſhed, at hiſ introduction, to ſee one member in a menacing attitude, and another denying his veracity in terms perfectly explicit, though not very civil. Perhaps, in two minutes, the partizans of each opponent all riſe and clamour, as if preparing for a combat—the Preſident puts on his hat aſ the ſignal of a ſtorm—the ſubordinate diſputants are appeaſed—and the revilings of the principal ones renewed; till, after torrents of indecent language, the quarrel is terminated by a fraternal embrace.*—I think, after ſuch a ſcene, an addreſſer muſt feel a little humiliated, and would return without finding his pride greatly increaſed by his miſſion.

* I do not make any aſſertions of this nature from conjecture or partial evidence. The journals of the time atteſt that the ſcenes I deſcribe occur almoſt in every debate.—As a proof, I ſubjoin ſome extracts taken nearly at hazard: "January 7th, Convention Nationale, Preſidence de Treilhard.—The debate was opened by an addreſs from the department of Finiſterre, expreſſing their wiſhes, and adding, that theſe were likewiſe the wiſhes of the nation at large—that Marat, Robeſpierre, Bazire, Chabot, Merlin, Danton, and their accomplices, might be expelled the Convention as caballers and intriguers paid by the tyrants at war with France." The account of this debate is thus continued—"The almoſt daily troubles which ariſe in the Convention were on the point of being renewed, when a member, a friend to order, ſpoke as follows, and, it is remarked, was quietly liſtened to: "'Citizens, "'If three months of uninterrupted ſilence has given me any claim to your attention, I now aſk it in the name of our afflicted country. Were I to continue ſilent any longer, I ſhould render myſelf aſ culpable as thoſe who never hold their tongues. I ſee we are all ſenſible of the painfulneſs of our ſituation. Every day diſſatiſfied with ourſelves, we come to the debate with the intention of doing ſomething, and every day we return without having done any thing. The people expect from us wiſe laws, and not ſtormſ and tumults. How are we to make theſe wiſe laws, and keep twenty-five millions of people quiet, when we, who are only ſeven hundred and fifty individuals, give an example of perpetual riot and diſorder? What ſignifies our preaching the unity and indiviſibility of the republic, when we cannot maintain peace and union amongſt ourſelves? What good can we expect to do amidſt ſuch ſcandalouſ diſturbances, and while we ſpend our time in attending to informations, accuſations, and inculpations, for the moſt part utterly unfounded? For my part, I ſee but one means of attaining any thing like dignity and tranquillity, and that is, by ſubmitting ourſelves to coercive regulations.'" Here follow ſome propoſals, tending to eſtabliſh a little decency in their proceedings for the future; but the account from whence thiſ extract is taken proceeds to remark, that this invitation to peace was no ſooner finiſhed, than a new ſcene of diſturbance took place, to the great loſs of their time, and the ſcandal of all good citizens. One ſhould imagine, that if ever the Convention could think it neceſſary to aſſume an appearance of dignity, or at leaſt of ſeriouſneſs and order, it would be in giving their judgement relative to the King. Yet, in determining how a ſeries of queſtionſ ſhould be diſcuſſed, on the arrangement of which his fate ſeems much to have depended, the ſolemnity of the occaſion appears to have had no weight. It was propoſed to begin by that of the appeal to the people. This was ſo violently combated, that the Convention would hear neither party, and were a long time without debating at all. Petion mounted the tribune, and attempted to reſtore order; but the noiſe was too great for him to be heard. He at length, however, obtained ſilence enough to make a motion. Again the murmurſ recommenced. Rabaud de St. Etienne made another attempt, but waſ equally unſucceſſful. Thoſe that were of an oppoſite opinion refuſed to hear him, and both parties roſe up and ruſhed together to the middle of the Hall. The moſt dreadful tumult took place, and the Preſident, with great difficulty, procured a calm. Again the ſtorm began, and a member told them, that if they voted in the affirmative, thoſe on the left ſide (Robeſpierre, &c.) would not wait the reſult, but have the King aſſaſſinated. "Yeſ! Yeſ! (reſounded from all parts) the Scelerats of Paris will murder him!" —Another violent diſorder enſuing, it was thought no decree could be paſſed, and, at length, amidſt this ſcene of riot and confuſion, the order of queſtions was arranged, and in ſuch a manner as to decide the fate of the King.—It was determined, that the queſtion of his guilt ſhould precede that of the appeal to the people. Had the order of the queſtions been changed, the King might have been ſaved, for many would have voted for the appeal in the firſt inſtance who did not dare do it when they found the majority reſolved to pronounce him guilty.

It is very remarkable, that, on the ſame day on which the friends of liberty and equality of Mancheſter ſignalized themſelves by a moſt patriotic compliment to the Convention, beginning with "Francais, vouſ etes libres," ["Frenchmen, you are free."] they were, at that very moment, employed in diſcuſſing a petition from numbers of Pariſians who had been thrown into priſon without knowing either their crime or their accuſers, and were ſtill detained under the ſame arbitrary circumſtances.—The law of the conſtitution is, that every perſon arreſted ſhall be interrogated within twenty-four hours; but as theſe impriſonments were the work of the republican Miniſters, the Convention ſeemed to think it indelicate to interpoſe, and theſe citizens of a country whoſe freedom is ſo much envied by the Mancheſter Society, will moſt likely remain in durance as long as their confinement ſhall be convenient to thoſe who have placed them there.—A ſhort time after, Villette, who is a news-writer and deputy, was cited to appear before the municipality of Paris, under the charge of having inſerted in his paper "equivocal phraſes and anti-civic expreſſions, tending to diminiſh the confidence due to the municipality."—Villette, as being a member of the Convention, obtained redreſs; but had he been only a journaliſt, the liberty of the preſs would not have reſcued him.—On the ſame day, complaint was made in the Aſſembly, that one man had been arreſted inſtead of another, and confined for ſome weeks, and it was agreed unanimouſly, (a thing that does not often occur,) that the powerſ exerciſed by the Committee of Inſpection [Surveillance.—See Debates, December.] were incompatible with liberty.

The patriots of Belfaſt were not more fortunate in the adaption of their civilitieſ—they addreſſed the Convention, in a ſtrain of great piety, to congratulate them on the ſucceſs of their arms in the "cauſe of civil and religious liberty."*

* At this time the municipalities were empowered to ſearch all houſes by night or day; but their viſites domiciliaires, as they are called, being made chiefly in the night, a decree has ſince ordained that they ſhall take place only during the day. Perhaps an Engliſhman may think the latter quite ſufficient, conſidering that France is the freeeſt country in the world, and, above all, a republic.

The harangue was interrupted by the mal-a-propoſ entrance of two deputies, who complained of having been beaten, almoſt hanged, and half drowned, by the people of Chartres, for belonging, as they were told, to an aſſembly of atheiſtical perſecutors of religion; and this Convention, whom the Society of Belfaſt admire for propagating "religious liberty" in other countries, were in a few days humbly petitioned, from variouſ departments, not to deſtroy it in their own. I cannot, indeed, ſuppoſe they have really ſuch a deſign; but the contempt with which they treat religion has occaſioned an alarm, and given the French an idea of their piety very different from that ſo kindly conceived by the patriots of Belfaſt.

I entruſt this to our friend Mrs. ____, who is leaving France in a few days; and as we are now on the eve of a war, it will be the laſt letter you will receive, except a few lines occaſionally on our private affairs, or to inform you of my health. As we cannot, in the ſtate Mrs. D____ iſ in, think of returning to England at preſent, we muſt truſt ourſelves to the hoſpitality of the French for at leaſt a few weeks, and I certainly will not abuſe it, by ſending any remarks on their political affairs out of the country. But as I know you intereſt yourſelf much in the ſubject, and read with partiality my attempts to amuſe you, I will continue to throw my obſervations on paper as regularly as I have been accuſtomed to do, and I hope, ere long, to be the bearer of the packets myſelf. I here alſo renew my injunction, that no part of my correſpondence that relateſ to French politics be communicated to any one, not even my mother. What I have written has been merely to gratify your own curioſity, and I ſhould be extremely mortified if my opinions were repeated even in the little circle of our private acquaintance. I deem myſelf perfectly juſtifiable in imparting my reflections to you, but I have a ſort of delicacy that revolts at the thought of being, in the remoteſt degree, acceſſary to conveying intelligence from a country in which I reſide, and which is ſo peculiarly ſituated as France is at this moment. My feelings, my humanity, are averſe from thoſe who govern, but I ſhould regret to be the means of injuring them. You cannot miſtake my intentions, and I conclude by ſeriouſly reminding you of the promiſe I exacted previous to any political diſcuſſion.—Adieu.

 

 

 

 

Amiens, February 15, 1793.

I did not, as I promiſed, write immediately on my return from Chantilly; the perſon by whom I intended to ſend my letter having already ſet out for England, and the rule I have obſerved for the laſt three months of entruſting nothing to the poſt but what relates to our family affairs, is now more than ever neceſſary. I have before requeſted, and I muſt now inſiſt, that you make no alluſion to any political matter whatever, nor even mention the name of any political perſon. Do not imagine that you are qualified to judge of what is prudent, or what may be written with ſafety—I repeat, no one in England can form an idea of the ſuſpicion that pervades every part of the French government.

I cannot venture to anſwer deciſively your queſtion reſpecting the King— indeed the ſubject is ſo painful to me, that I have hitherto avoided reverting to it. There certainly was, as you obſerve, ſome ſudden alteration in the diſpoſitions of the Aſſembly between the end of the trial and the final judgement. The cauſes were moſt probably various, and muſt be ſought for in the worſt vices of our nature—cruelty, avarice, and cowardice. Many, I doubt not, were guided only by the natural malignity of their hearts; many acted from fear, and expected to purchaſe impunity for former compliances with the court by this popular expiation; a large number are alſo ſuppoſed to have been paid by the Duke of Orleanſ—whether for the gratification of malice or ambition, time muſt develope.—But, whatever were the motives, the reſult was an iniquitous combination of the worſt of a ſet of men, before ſelected from all that was bad in the nation, to profane the name of juſtice—to ſacrifice an unfortunate, but not a guilty Prince—and to fix an indelible ſtain on the country.

Among thoſe who gave their opinion at large, you will obſerve Paine: and, as I intimated in a former letter, it ſeems he was at that time rather allured by the vanity of making a ſpeech that ſhould be applauded, than by any real deſire of injuring the King. Such vanity, however, is not pardonable: a man has a right to ruin himſelf, or to make himſelf ridiculous; but when his vanity becomes baneful to others, as it has all the effect, ſo does it merit the puniſhment, of vice.

Of all the reſt, Condorcet has moſt powerfully diſguſted me. The avowed wickedneſs of Thuriot or Marat inſpires one with horror; but this cold philoſophic hypocrite excites contempt as well as deteſtation. He ſeemſ to have wavered between a deſire to preſerve the reputation of humanity, which he has affected, and that of gratifying the real depravity of hiſ mind. Would one have expected, that a ſpeech full of benevolent ſyſtems, mild ſentiments, and averſion from the effuſion of human blood, was to end in a vote for, and recommendation of, the immediate execution of hiſ ſovereign?—But ſuch a conduct is worthy of him, who has repaid the benefits of his patron and friend [The Duke de la Rochefaucault.] by a perſecution which ended in his murder.

You will have ſeen, that the King made ſome trifling requeſts to be granted after his deceaſe, and that the Convention ordered him to be told, that the nation, "always great, always juſt," accorded them in part. Yet this juſt and magnanimous people refuſed him a preparation of only three days, and allowed him but a few hourſ—ſuffered his remains to be treated with the moſt ſcandalous indecency—and debated ſeriouſly, whether or no the Queen ſhould receive ſome little tokens of affection he had left for her.

The King's enemies had ſo far ſucceeded in depreciating his perſonal courage, that even his friends were apprehenſive he might not ſuſtain hiſ laſt moments with dignity. The event proves how much injuſtice has been done him in this reſpect, as well as in many others. His behaviour waſ that of a man who derived his fortitude from religion—it was that of pious reſignation, not oſtentatious courage; it was marked by none of thoſe inſtances of levity and indifference which, at ſuch a time, are rather ſymptoms of diſtraction than reſolution; he exhibited the compoſure of an innocent mind, and the ſeriouſneſs that became the occaſion; he ſeemed to be occupied in preparing for death, but not to fear it.—I doubt not but the time will come, when thoſe who have ſacrificed him may envy the laſt moments of Louis the Sixteenth!

That the King was not guilty of the principal charges brought againſt him, has been proved indubitably—not altogether by the aſſertions of thoſe who favour him, but by the confeſſion of his enemies. He was, for example, accuſed of planning the inſurrection of the tenth of Auguſt; yet not a day paſſes that both parties in the Convention are not diſputing the priority of their efforts to dethrone him, and to erect a republic; and they date their machinations long before the period on which they attribute the firſt aggreſſion to the King.—Mr. Sourdat, and ſeveral other writers, have very ably demonſtrated the falſehood of theſe charges; but the circulation of ſuch pamphlets was dangerouſ—of courſe, ſecret and limited; while thoſe which tended to deceive and prejudice the people were diſperſed with profuſion, at the expence of the government.*

* Poſtſcript of the Courier de l'Egalite, Sept. 29: "The preſent miniſter (Rolland) takes every poſſible means in hiſ power to enlighten and inform the people in whatever concerns their real intereſts. For this purpoſe he has cauſed to be printed and diſtributed, in abundance, the accounts and papers relative to the events of the tenth of Auguſt. We have yet at our office a ſmall number of theſe publications, which we have diſtributed to our ſubſcribers, and we ſtill give them to any of our fellow-citizenſ who have opportunities of circulating them."

I have ſeen one of theſe written in coarſe language, and replete with vulgar abuſe, purpoſely calculated for the lower claſſes in the country, who are more open to groſs impoſitions than thoſe of the ſame rank in towns; yet I have no doubt, in my own mind, that all theſe artificeſ would have proved unavailing, had the deciſion been left to the nation at large: but they were intimidated, if not convinced; and the mandate of the Convention, which forbids this ſovereign people to exerciſe their judgement, was obeyed with as much ſubmiſſion, and perhaps more reluctance, than an edict of Louis the fourteenth.*

* The King appealed, by his counſel, to the People; but the convention, by a decree, declared his appeal of no validity, and forbade all perſons to pay attention to it, under the ſevereſt penalties.

The French ſeem to have no energy but to deſtroy, and to reſiſt nothing but gentleneſs or infancy. They bend under a firm or oppreſſive adminiſtration, but become reſtleſs and turbulent under a mild Prince or a minority.

The fate of this unfortunate Monarch has made me reflect, with great ſeriouſneſs, on the conduct of our oppoſition-writers in England. The literary banditti who now govern France began their operations by ridiculing the King's private character—from ridicule they proceeded to calumny, and from calumny to treaſon; and perhaps the firſt libel that degraded him in the eyes of his ſubjects opened the path from the palace to the ſcaffold.—I do not mean to attribute the ſame perniciouſ intentions to the authors on your ſide the Channel, as I believe them, for the moſt part, to be only mercenary, and that they would write panegyrics as ſoon as ſatires, were they equally profitable. I know too, that there is no danger of their producing revolutions in England—we do not ſuffer our principles to be corrupted by a man becauſe he has the art of rhyming nothings into conſequence, nor ſuffer another to overturn the government becauſe he is an orator. Yet, though theſe men may not be very miſchievous, they are very reprehenſible; and, in a moment like the preſent, contempt and neglect ſhould ſupply the place of that puniſhment againſt which our liberty of the preſs ſecures them.

It is not for a perſon no better informed than myſelf to pronounce on ſyſtems of government—ſtill leſs do I affect to have more enlarged notions than the generality of mankind; but I may, without riſking thoſe imputations, venture to ſay, I have no childiſh or irrational deference for the perſons of Kings. I know they are not, by nature, better than other men, and a neglected or vicious education may often render them worſe. This does not, however, make me leſs reſpect the office. I reſpect it as the means choſen by the people to preſerve internal peace and order—to baniſh corruption and petty tyrants ["And fly from petty tyrants to the throne."—Goldſmith]—and give vigour to the execution of the laws.

Regarded in this point of view, I cannot but lament the mode which haſ lately prevailed of endeavouring to alienate the conſideration due to our King's public character, by perſonal ridicule. If an individual were attacked in this manner, his houſe beſet with ſpies, his converſation with his family liſtened to, and the moſt trifling actions of his life recorded, it would be deemed unfair and illiberal, and he who ſhould practice ſuch meanneſs would be thought worthy of no puniſhment more reſpectful than what might be inflicted by an oaken cenſor, or an admonitory heel.—But it will be ſaid, a King is not an individual, and that ſuch a habit, or ſuch an amuſement, is beneath the dignity of hiſ character. Yet would it be but conſiſtent in thoſe who labour to prove, by the public acts of Kings, that they are leſs than men, not to exact, that, in their private lives, they ſhould be more.—The great prototype of modern ſatyriſts, Junius, does not allow that any credit ſhould be given a Monarch for his domeſtic virtues; is he then to be reduced to an individual, only to ſcrutinize his foibles, and is his ſtation to ſerve only as the medium of their publicity? Are theſe literary miners to penetrate the receſſes of private life, only to bring to light the droſs? Do they analyſe only to diſcover poiſons? Such employments may be congenial to their natures, but have little claim to public remuneration. The merit of a detractor is not much ſuperior to that of a flatterer; nor is a Prince more likely to be amended by imputed follies, than by undeſerved panegyrics. If any man wiſhed to repreſent his King advantageouſly, it could not be done better than by remarking, that, after all the watchings of aſſiduous neceſſity, and the laboriouſ reſearches of intereſted curioſity, it appears, that his private life affords no other ſubjects of ridicule than, that he is temperate, domeſtic, and oeconomical, and, as is natural to an active mind, wiſheſ to be informed of whatever happens not to be familiar to him. It were to be deſired that ſome of theſe accuſations were applicable to thoſe who are ſo much ſcandalized at them: but they are not littleneſſeſ—the littleneſs is in him who condeſcends to report them; and I have often wondered that men of genius ſhould make a traffic of gleaning from the refuſe of anti-chambers, and retailing the anecdotes of pages and footmen!

You will perceive the kind of publications I allude to; and I hope the ſituation of France, and the fate of its Monarch, may ſuggeſt to the authors a more worthy employ of their talents, than that of degrading the executive power in the eyes of the people.

 

 

 

 

Amiens, Feb. 25, 1793.

I told you, I believe, in a former letter, that the people of Amiens were all ariſtocrates: they have, nevertheleſs, two extremely popular qualificationſ—I mean filth and incivility. I am, however, far from imputing either of them to the revolution. This groſſneſs of behavior has long exiſted under the palliating deſcription of "la franchiſe Picarde," ["Picardy frankneſs."] and the floors and ſtairs of many houſes will atteſt their preeminence in filth to be of a date much anterior to the revolution.—If you purchaſe to the amount of an hundred livres, there are many ſhopkeepers who will not ſend your purchaſes home; and if the articles they ſhow you do not anſwer your purpoſe, they are moſtly ſullen, and often rude. No appearance of fatigue or infirmity ſuggeſts to them the idea of offering you a ſeat; they contradict you with impertinence, addreſs you with freedom, and conclude with cheating you if they can. It was certainly on this account that Sterne would not agree to die at the inn at Amiens. He might, with equal juſtice, have objected to any other houſe; and I am ſure if he thought them an unpleaſant people to die amongſt, he would have found them ſtill worſe to live with.—My obſervation as to the civility of ariſtocrates does not hold good here—indeed I only meant that thoſe who ever had any, and were ariſtocrates, ſtill preſerved it.

Amiens has always been a commercial town, inhabited by very few of the higher nobleſſe; and the mere gentry of a French province are not very much calculated to give a tone of ſoftneſs and reſpect to thoſe who imitate them. You may, perhaps, be ſurprized that I ſhould expreſſ myſelf with little conſideration for a claſs which, in England, is ſo highly reſpectable: there gentlemen of merely independent circumſtanceſ are not often diſtinguiſhable in their manners from thoſe of ſuperior fortune or rank. But, in France, it is different: the inferior nobleſſe are ſtiff, ceremonious, and oſtentatious; while the higher ranks were always polite to ſtrangers, and affable to their dependents. When you viſit ſome of the former, you go through as many ceremonies as though you were to be inveſted with an order, and riſe up and ſit down ſo many times, that you return more fatigued than you would from a cricket match; while with the latter you are juſt as much at your eaſe as is conſiſtent with good breeding and propriety, and a whole circle is never put in commotion at the entrance and exit of every individual who makes part of it. Any one not prepared for theſe formalities, and who, for the firſt time, ſaw an aſſembly of twenty people all riſing from their ſeats at the entrance of a ſingle beau, would ſuppoſe they were preparing for a dance, and that the new comer was a muſician. For my part I always find it an oeconomy of ſtrength (when the locality makes it practicable) to take poſſeſſion of a window, and continue ſtanding in readineſs until the hour of viſiting is over, and calm is eſtabliſhed by the arrangement of the card tables.—The revolution has not annihilated the difference of rank; though it has effected the abolition of titles; and I counſel all who have remains of the gout or inflexible joints, not to frequent the houſeſ of ladies whoſe huſbands have been ennobled only by their offices, of thoſe whoſe genealogies are modern, or of the collaterals of ancient families, whoſe claims are ſo far removed as to be doubtful. The ſociety of all theſe is very exigent, and to be avoided by the infirm or indolent.

I ſend you with this a little collection of airs which I think you will find very agreeable. The French muſic has not, perhaps, all the reputation it is entitled to. Rouſſeau has declared it to be nothing but doleful pſalmodies; Gray calls a French concert "Une tintamarre de diable:" and the prejudices inſpired by theſe great names are not eaſily obliterated. We ſubmit our judgement to theirs, even when our taſte iſ refractory.—The French compoſers ſeem to excel in marches, in lively airs that abound in ſtriking paſſages calculated for the popular taſte, and yet more particularly in thoſe ſimple melodies they call romances: they are often in a very charming and ſingular ſtyle, without being either ſo delicate or affecting as the Italian. They have an expreſſion of plaintive tenderneſs, which makes one tranquil rather than melancholy; and which, though it be more ſoothing than intereſting, is very delightful.—Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

Amiens, 1793.

I have been to-day to take a laſt view of the convents: they are now advertiſed for ſale, and will probably ſoon be demoliſhed. You know my opinion is not, on the whole, favourable to theſe inſtitutions, and that I thought the decree which extinguiſhes them, but which ſecured to the religious already profeſt the undiſturbed poſſeſſion of their habitationſ during life, was both politic and humane. Yet I could not ſee the preſent ſtate of theſe buildings without pain—they are now inhabited by volunteers, who are paſſing a novitiate of intemperance and idleneſs, previous to their reception in the army; and thoſe who recollect the peace and order that once reigned within the walls of a monaſtery, cannot but be ſtricken with the contraſt. I felt both for the expelled and preſent poſſeſſors, and, perhaps, gave a mental preference to the ſuperſtition which founded ſuch eſtabliſhments, over the perſecution that deſtroys them.

The reſigned and pious votaries, who once ſuppoſed themſelves ſecure from all the viciſſitudes of fortune, and whoſe union ſeemed diſſoluble only by the common lot of mortality, are now many of them diſperſed, wandering, friendleſs, and miſerable. The religion which they cheriſhed as a comfort, and practiſed as a duty, is now purſued as a crime; and it is not yet certain that they will not have to chooſe between an abjuration of their principles, and the relinquiſhment of the means of exiſtence.—The military occupiers offered nothing very alleviating to ſuch unpleaſant reflections; and I beheld with as much regret the collection of theſe ſcattered individuals, as the ſeparation of thoſe whoſe habitations they fill. They are moſt of them extremely young, taken from villages and the ſervice of agriculture, and are going to riſk their lives in a cauſe deteſted perhaps by more than three parts of the nation, and only to ſecure impunity to its oppreſſors.

It has uſually been a maxim in all civilized ſtates, that when the general welfare neceſſitates ſome act of partial injuſtice, it ſhall be done with the utmoſt conſideration for the ſufferer, and that the required ſacrifice of moral to political expediency ſhall be palliated, as much as the circumſtances will admit, by the manner of carrying it into execution. But the French legiſlators, in this reſpect, as in moſt others, truly original, diſdain all imitation, and are rarely guided by ſuch confined motives. With them, private rights are frequently violated, only to facilitate the means of public oppreſſionſ—and cruel and iniquitous decrees are rendered ſtill more ſo by the mode of enforcing them.

I have met with no perſon who could conceive the neceſſity of expelling the female religious from their convents. It was, however, done, and that with a mixture of meanneſs and barbarity which at once exciteſ contempt and deteſtation. The oſtenſible, reaſons were, that theſe communities afforded an aſylum to the ſuperſtitious, and that by their entire ſuppreſſion, a ſale of the houſes would enable the nation to afford the religious a more liberal ſupport than had been aſſigned them by the Conſtituent Aſſembly. But they are ſhallow politicians who expect to deſtroy ſuperſtition by perſecuting thoſe who practiſe it: and ſo far from adding, as the decree inſinuates, to the penſions of the nuns, they have now ſubjected them to an oath which, to thoſe at leaſt whoſe conſciences are timid, will act as a prohibition to their receiving what they were before entitled to.

The real intention of the legiſlature in thus entirely diſperſing the female religious, beſides the general hatred of every thing connected with religion, is, to poſſeſs itſelf of an additional reſource in the buildings and effects, and, as is imagined by ſome, to procure numerouſ and convenient ſtate priſons. But, I believe, the latter is only an ariſtocratic apprehenſion, ſuggeſted by the appropriation of the conventſ to this uſe in a few places, where the ancient priſons are full.— Whatever purpoſe it is intended to anſwer, it has been effected in a way diſgraceful to any national body, except ſuch a body as the Convention; and, though it be eaſy to perceive the cruelty of ſuch a meaſure, yet as, perhaps, its injuſtice may not ſtrike you ſo forcibly as if you had had the ſame opportunities of inveſtigating it as I have, I will endeavour to explain, as well as I can, the circumſtances that render it ſo peculiarly aggravated.

I need not remind you, that no order is of very modern foundation, nor that the preſent century has, in a great degree, exploded the faſhion of compounding for ſins by endowing religious inſtitutions. Thus, neceſſarily, by the great change which has taken place in the expence of living, many eſtabliſhments that were poorly endowed muſt have become unable to ſupport themſelves, but for the efforts of thoſe who were attached to them. It is true, that the rent of land has increaſed as itſ produce became more valuable; but every one knows that the landſ dependent on religious houſes have always been let on ſuch moderate terms, as by no means to bear a proportion to the neceſſities they were intended to ſupply; and as the monaſtic vows have long ceaſed to be the frequent choice of the rich, little increaſe has been made to the original ſtock by the acceſſion of new votaries:—yet, under all theſe diſadvantages, many ſocieties have been able to rebuild their houſes, embelliſh their churches, purchaſe plate, &c. &c. The love of their order, that ſpirit of oeconomy for which they are remarkable, and a perſevering induſtry, had their uſual effects, and not only baniſhed poverty, but became a ſource of wealth. An indefatigable labour at ſuch works as could be profitably diſpoſed of, the education of children, and the admiſſion of boarders, were the means of enriching a number of convents, whoſe proper revenues would not have afforded them even a ſubſiſtence.

But the fruits of active toil or voluntary privation, have been confounded with thoſe of expiatory bequeſt and miſtaken devotion, and have alike become the prey of a rapacious and unfeeling government. Many communities are driven from habitations built abſolutely with the produce of their own labour. In ſome places they were refuſed even their bedſ and linen; and the ſtock of wood, corn, &c. provided out of the ſavingſ of their penſions, (underſtood to be at their own diſpoſal,) have been ſeized, and ſold, without making them the ſmalleſt compenſation.

Thus deprived of every thing, they are ſent into the world with a prohibition either to live ſeveral of them together, wear their habits,* or practiſe their religion; yet their penſionſ** are too ſmall for them to live upon, except in ſociety, or to pay the uſual expence of boarding: many of them have no other means of procuring ſecular dreſſes, and ſtill more will imagine themſelves criminal in abſtaining from the mode of worſhip they have been taught to think ſalutary.

* Two religious, who boarded with a lady I had occaſion to ſee ſometimes, told me, that they had been ſtrictly enjoined not to dreſs like each other in any way. ** The penſions are from about ſeventeen to twenty-five poundſ ſterling per annum.—At the time I am writing, the neceſſaries of life are increaſed in price nearly two-fifths of what they bore formerly, and are daily becoming dearer. The Convention are not always inſenſible to thiſ—the pay of the foot ſoldier is more than doubled.

It is alſo to be remembered, that women of ſmall fortune in France often embraced the monaſtic life as a frugal retirement, and, by ſinking the whole they were poſſeſſed of in this way, they expected to ſecure a certain proviſion, and to place themſelves beyond the reach of future viciſſitudes: yet, though the ſums paid on theſe occaſions can be eaſily aſcertained, no indemnity has been made; and many will be obliged to violate their principles, in order to receive a trifling penſion, perhapſ much leſs than the intereſt of their money would have produced without loſs of the principal.

But the views of theſe legiſlating philoſophers are too ſublimely extenſive to take in the wrongs or ſufferings of contemporary individuals; and not being able to diſguiſe, even to themſelves, that they create much miſery at preſent, they promiſe incalculable advantageſ to thoſe who ſhall happen to be alive ſome centuries hence! Moſt of theſe poor nuns are, however, of an age to preclude them from the hope of enjoying this Millennium; and they would have been content en attendant theſe glorious times, not to be deprived of the neceſſaries of life, or marked out as objects of perſecution.

The private diſtreſſes occaſioned by the diſſolution of the convents are not the only conſequences to be regretted—for a time, at leaſt, the loſſ muſt certainly be a public one. There will now be no means of inſtruction for females, nor any refuge for thoſe who are without friendſ or relations: thouſands of orphans muſt be thrown unprotected on the world, and guardians, or ſingle men, left with the care of children, have no way to diſpoſe of them properly. I do not contend that the education of a convent is the beſt poſſible: yet are there many advantageſ attending it; and I believe it will readily be granted, that an education not quite perfect is better than no education at all. It would not be very difficult to prove, that the ſyſtems of education, both in England and France, are extremely defective; and if the characters of women are generally better formed in one than the other, it is not owing to the ſuperiority of boarding-ſchools over convents, but to the difference of our national manners, which tend to produce qualities not neceſſary, or not valued, in France.

The moſt diſtinguiſhed female excellencies in England are an attachment to domeſtic life, an attention to its oeconomies, and a cultivated underſtanding. Here, any thing like houſe-wifery is not expected but from the lower claſſes, and reading or information is confined chiefly to profeſſed wits. Yet the qualities ſo much eſteemed in England are not the effect of education: few domeſtic accompliſhments, and little uſeful knowledge, are acquired at a boarding-ſchool; but finally the national character aſſerts its empire, and the female who has gone through a courſe of frivolities from ſix to ſixteen, who has been taught that the firſt "human principle" ſhould be to give an elegant tournure to her perſon, after a few yearſ' diſſipation, becomes a good wife and mother, and a rational companion.

In France, young women are kept in great ſecluſion: religion and oeconomy form a principal part of conventual acquirements, and the natural vanity of the ſex is left to develope itſelf without the aid of authority, or inſtillation by precept—yet, when releaſed from this ſober tuition, manners take the aſcendant here as in England, and a woman commences at her marriage the aera of coquetry, idleneſs, freedom, and rouge.—We may therefore, I think, venture to conclude, that the education of a boarding-ſchool is better calculated for the rich, that of a convent for the middle claſſes and the poor; and, conſequently, that the ſuppreſſion of this laſt in France will principally affect thoſe to whom it was moſt beneficial, and to whom the want of it will be moſt dangerous.

A committee of wiſe men are now forming a plan of public inſtruction, which is to excel every thing ever adopted in any age or country; and we may therefore hope that the defects which have hitherto prevailed, both in theirs and our own, will be remedied. All we have to apprehend is, that, amidſt ſo many wiſe heads, more than one wiſe plan may be produced, and a difficulty of choice keep the riſing generation in a ſort of abeyance, ſo that they muſt remain ſterile, or may become vitiated, while it is determining in what manner they ſhall be cultivated.

It is almoſt a phraſe to ſay, the reſources of France are wonderful, and this is no leſs true than generally admitted. Whatever be the want or loſs, it is no ſooner known than ſupplied, and the imagination of the legiſlature ſeems to become fertile in proportion to the exigence of the moment.—I was in ſome pain at the diſgrace of Mirabeau, leſt this new kind of retroſpective judgement ſhould depopulate the Pantheon of the few divinities that remained; more eſpecially when I conſidered that Voltaire, notwithſtanding his merits as an enemy to revelation, had been already accuſed of ariſtocracy, and even Rouſſeau himſelf might not be found impeccable. His Contrat Social might not, perhaps, in the eyes of a committee of philoſophical Rhadmanthuſ's, atone for his occaſional admiration of chriſtianity: and thus ſome crime, either of church or ſtate, diſfranchiſe the whole race of immortals, and their fame ſcarcely outlaſt the diſpute about their earthly remains.*

* Alluding to the diſputes between the Convention and the perſon who claimed the excluſive right to the remains of Rouſſeau.

My concern, on this account, was the more juſtifiable, becauſe the great fallibility which prevailed among the patriots, and the very delicate ſtate of the reputation of thoſe who retained their political exiſtence, afforded no hope that they could ever fill the vacancies in the Pantheon.—But my fears were very ſuperfluouſ—France will never want ſubjects for an apotheoſis, and if one divinity be dethroned, "another and another ſtill ſucceeds," all equally worthy as long as they continue in faſhion.—The phrenzy of deſpair has ſupplied a ſucceſſor to Mirabeau, in Le Pelletier. [De St. Fargeau.] The latter had hitherto been little heard of, but his death offered an occaſion for exciting the people too favourable to be neglected: his patriotiſm and his virtues immediately increaſed in a ratio to the uſe which might be made of them;* a dying ſpeech proper for the purpoſe was compoſed, and it was decreed unanimouſly, that he ſhould be inſtalled in all the rights, privileges, and immortalities of the degraded Riquetti.—

* At the firſt intelligence of his death, a member of the Convention, who was with him, and had not yet had time to ſtudy a ſpeech, confeſſed his laſt words to have been, "Jai froid."—"I am cold." This, however, would nave made no figure on the banners of a funeral proceſſion; and Le Pelletier was made to die, like the hero of a tragedy, uttering blank verſe.

The funeral that preceded theſe divine awards was a farce, which tended more to provoke a maſſacre of the living, than to honour the dead; and the Convention, who vowed to ſacrifice their animoſities on his tomb, do ſo little credit to the conciliating influence of St. Fargeau's virtues, that they now diſpute with more acrimony than ever.

The departments, who begin to be extremely ſubmiſſive to Paris, thought it incumbent on them to imitate this ceremony; but as it was rather an act of fear than of patriotiſm, it was performed here with ſo much oeconomy, and ſo little inclination, that the whole was cold and paltry. —An altar was erected on the great market-place, and ſo little were the people affected by the cataſtrophe of a patriot whom they were informed had ſacrificed* his life in their cauſe, that the only part of the buſineſs which ſeemed to intereſt them was the extravagant geſtures of a woman in a dirty white dreſs, hired to act the part of a "pleureuſe," or mourner, and whoſe ſorrow appeared to divert them infinitely.—

* There is every reaſon to believe that Le Pelletier was not ſingled out for his patriotiſm.—It is ſaid, and with much appearance of probability, that he had promiſed PARIS, with whom he had been intimate, not to vote for the death of the King; and, on hiſ breaking his word, PARIS, who ſeems to have not been perfectly in his ſenſes, aſſaſſinated him.—PARIS had been in the Garde du Corps, and, like moſt of his brethren, was ſtrongly attached to the King'ſ perſon. Rage and deſpair prompted him to the commiſſion of an act, which can never be excuſed, however the perpetrator may imagine himſelf the mere inſtrument of Divine vengeance.—Notwithſtanding the moſt vigilant reſearch, he eſcaped for ſome time, and wandered as far as Forges d'Eaux, a little town in Normandy. At the inn where he lodged, the extravagance of his manner giving ſuſpicionſ that he was inſane, the municipality were applied to, to ſecure him. An officer entered his room while he was in bed, and intimated the purpoſe he was come for. PARIS affected to comply, and, turning, drew a piſtol from under the clothes, and ſhot himſelf.—Among the papers found upon him were ſome affecting lines, expreſſive of hiſ contempt for life, and adding, that the influence of his example waſ not to be dreaded, ſince he left none behind him that deſerved the name of Frenchmen!—"Qu'on n'inquiete perſonne! perſonne n'a ete mon complice dans la mort heureuſe de Scelerat St. Fargeau. Si Je ne l'euſſe pas rencontre ſous ma main, Je purgeois la France du regicide, du parricide, du patricide D'Orleans. Qu'on n'inquiete perſonne. Tous les Francois ſont des laches auxquelles Je diſ— "Peuple, dont les forfaits jettent partout l'effroi, "Avec calme et plaiſir J'abandonne la vie "Ce n'eſt que par la mort qu'on peut fuir l'infamie, "Qu'imprime ſur nos fronts le ſang de notre Roi." "Let no man be moleſted on my account: I had no accomplice in the fortunate death of the miſcreant St. Fargeau. If he had not fallen in my way, I ſhould have purged France of the regicide, parricide, patricide D'Orleans. Let no man be moleſted. All the French are cowards, to whom I ſay—'People, whoſe crimes inſpire univerſal horror, I quit life with tranquility and pleaſure. By death alone can we fly from that infamy which the blood of our King has marked upon our foreheadſ!'"—This paper was entitled "My Brevet of Honour."

It will ever be ſo where the people are not left to conſult their own feelings. The mandate that orders them to aſſemble may be obeyed, but "that which paſſeth ſhow" is not to be enforced. It is a limit preſcribed by Nature herſelf to authority, and ſuch is the averſion of the human mind from dictature and reſtraint, that here an official rejoicing is often more ſerious than theſe political exactions of regret levied in favour of the dead.—Yours, &c. &c.

 

 

 

 

March 23, 1793.

The partizans of the French in England alledge, that the revolution, by giving them a government founded on principles of moderation and rectitude, will be advantageous to all Europe, and more eſpecially to Great Britain, which has ſo often ſuffered by wars, the fruit of their intrigues.—This reaſoning would be unanſwerable could the character of the people be changed with the form of their government: but, I believe, whoever examines its adminiſtration, whether as it relates to foreign powers or internal policy, will find that the ſame ſpirit of intrigue, fraud, deception, and want of faith, which dictated in the cabinet of Mazarine or Louvois, has been tranſfuſed, with the addition of meanneſſ and ignorance,* into a Conſtitutional Miniſtry, or the Republican Executive Council.

* The Executive Council is compoſed of men who, if ever they were well-intentioned, muſt be totally unfit for the government of an extenſive republic. Monge, the Miniſter of the Marine, is a profeſſor of geometry; Garat, Miniſter of Juſtice, a gazette writer; Le Brun, Miniſter of Foreign Affairs, ditto; and Pache, Miniſter of the Interior, a private tutor.—Whoever reads the debates of the Convention will find few indications of real talents, and much pedantry and ignorance. For example, Anacharſis Cloots, who is a member of the Committee of Public Inſtruction, and who one ſhould, of courſe, expect not to be more ignorant than his colleagues, haſ lately adviſed them to diſtreſs the enemy by invading Scotland, which he calls the granary of England.

France had not yet determined on the articles of her future political creed, when agents were diſpatched to make proſelytes in England, and, in proportion as ſhe aſſumed a more popular form of government, all the qualities which have ever marked her as the diſturber of mankind ſeem to have acquired new force. Every where the ambaſſadors of the republic are accuſed of attempts to excite revolt and diſcontent, and England* is now forced into a war becauſe ſhe could not be perſuaded to an inſurrection.

* For ſome time previous to the war, all the French prints and even members of the Convention, in their debates, announced England to be on the point of an inſurrection. The intrigues of Chauvelin, their ambaſſador, to verify this prediction, are well known. Briſſot, Le Brun, &c. who have ſince been executed, were particularly charged by the adverſe party with provoking the war with England. Robeſpierre, and thoſe who ſucceeded, were not ſo deſirous of involving us in a foreign war, and their humane efforts were directed merely to excite a civil one.—The third article of accuſation againſt Rolland is, having ſent twelve millions of livres to England, to aſſiſt in procuring a declaration of war.

Perhaps it may be ſaid, that the French have taken this part only for their own ſecurity, and to procure adherents to the common cauſe; but this is all I contend for—that the politics of the old government actuate the new, and that they have not, in aboliſhing courts and royalty, aboliſhed the perfidious ſyſtem of endeavouring to benefit themſelves, by creating diſtreſs and diſſention among their neighbours.— Louvois ſupplied the Proteſtants in the Low Countries with money, while he perſecuted them in France. The agents of the republic, more oeconomical, yet directed by the ſame motives, eke out corruption by precepts of ſedition, and arm the leaders of revolt with the rights of man; but, forgetting the maxim that charity ſhould begin at home, in their zeal for the freedom of other countries, they leave no portion of it for their own!

Louis the Fourteenth over-ran Holland and the Palatinate to plant the white flag, and lay the inhabitants under contribution—the republic ſend an army to plant the tree of liberty, levy a don patriotique, [Patriotic gift.] and place garriſons in the towns, in order to preſerve their freedom.—Kings have violated treaties from the deſire of conqueſt —theſe virtuous republicans do it from the deſire of plunder; and, previous to opening the Scheldt, the invaſion of Holland, was propoſed aſ a means of paying the expences of the war. I have never heard that even the moſt ambitious Potentates ever pretended to extend their ſubjugation beyond the perſons and property of the conquered; but theſe militant dogmatiſts claim an empire even over opinions, and inſiſt that no people can be free or happy unleſs they regulate their ideas of freedom and happineſs by the variable ſtandard of the Jacobin club. Far from being of Hudibraſ's philoſophy,* they ſeem to think the mind as tangible as the body, and that, with the aſſiſtance of an army, they may as ſoon lay one "by the heelſ" as the other.


             * "Quoth he, one half of man, his mind,
               "Is, ſui juris, unconfin'd,
               "And ne'er can be laid by the heels,
               "Whate'er the other moiety feels."

                Hudibras.

Now this I conceive to be the worſt of all tyrannies, nor have I ſeen it exceeded on the French theatre, though, within the laſt year, the imagination of their poets has been peculiarly ingenious and inventive on this ſubject.—It is abſurd to ſuppoſe this vain and overbearing diſpoſition will ceaſe when the French government is ſettled. The intrigues of the popular party began in England the very moment they attained power, and long before there was any reaſon to ſuſpect that the Engliſh would deviate from their plan of neutrality. If, then, the French cannot reſtrain this miſchievous ſpirit while their own affairſ are ſufficient to occupy their utmoſt attention, it is natural to conclude, that, ſhould they once become eſtabliſhed, leiſure and peace will make them dangerous to the tranquillity of all Europe. Other governments may be improved by time, but republics always degenerate; and if that which is in its original ſtate of perfection exhibit already the maturity of vice, one cannot, without being more credulous than reaſonable, hope any thing better for the future than what we have experienced from the paſt.—It is, indeed, unneceſſary to detain you longer on this ſubject. You muſt, ere now, be perfectly convinced how far the revolutionary ſyſtems of France are favourable to the peace and happineſs of other countries. I will only add a few details which may aſſiſt you in judging of what advantage they have been to the French themſelves, and whether, in changing the form of their government, they have amended its principles; or if, in "conquering liberty," (as they expreſs it,) they have really become free.

The ſituation of France has altered much within the laſt two months: the ſeat of power is leſs fluctuating and the exerciſe of it more abſolute— arbitrary meaſures are no longer incidental, but ſyſtematic—and a regular connection of dependent tyranny is eſtabliſhed, beginning with the Jacobin clubs, and ending with the committees of the ſections. A ſimple decree for inſtance, has put all the men in the republic, (unmarried and without children,) from eighteen to forty-five at the requiſition of the Miniſter of War. A levy of three hundred thouſand iſ to take place immediately: each department is reſponſible for the whole of a certain number to the Convention, the diſtricts are anſwerable for their quota to the departments, the municipalities to the diſtrict, and the diligence of the whole is animated by itinerant members of the legiſlature, entruſted with the diſpoſal of an armed force. The latter circumſtance may ſeem to you incredible; yet is it nevertheleſs true, that moſt of the departments are under the juriſdiction of theſe ſovereigns, whoſe authority is nearly unlimited. We have, at thiſ moment, two Deputies in the town, who arreſt and impriſon at their pleaſure. One-and-twenty inhabitants of Amiens were ſeized a few nightſ ago, without any ſpecific charge having been exhibited againſt them, and are ſtill in confinement. The gates of the town are ſhut, and no one iſ permitted to paſs or repaſs without an order from the municipality; and the obſervance of this is exacted even of thoſe who reſide in the ſuburbs. Farmers and country people, who are on horſeback, are obliged to have the features and complexion of their horſes minuted on the paſſport with their own. Every perſon whom it is found convenient to call ſuſpicious, is deprived of his arms; and private houſes are diſturbed during the night, (in oppoſition to a poſitive law,) under pretext of ſearching for refractory prieſts.—Theſe regulations are not peculiar to this department, and you muſt underſtand them as conveying a general idea of what paſſes in every part of France.—I have yet to add, that letters are opened with impunity—that immenſe ſums of aſſignats are created at the will of the Convention—that no one is excuſed mounting guard in perſon—and that all houſekeepers, and even lodgers, are burthened with the quartering of troops, ſometimes as many as eight or ten, for weeks together.

You may now, I think, form a tolerable idea of the liberty that haſ accrued to the French from the revolution, the dethronement of the King, and the eſtabliſhment of a republic. But, though the French ſuffer thiſ deſpotiſm without daring to murmur openly, many a ſignificant ſhrug and doleful whiſper paſs in ſecret, and this political diſcontent has even its appropriate language, which, though not very explicit, is perfectly underſtood.—Thus when you hear one man ſay to another, "Ah, mon Dieu, on eſt bien malheureux dans ce moment ici;" or, "Nous ſommes dans une poſition tres critique—Je voudrois bien voir la fin de tout cela;" ["God knows, we are very miſerable at preſent—we are in a very critical ſituation—I ſhould like to ſee an end of all this."] you may be ſure he languiſhes for the reſtoration of the monarchy, and hopes with equal fervor, that he may live to ſee the Convention hanged. In theſe ſort of conferences, however, evaporates all their courage. They own their country is undone, that they are governed by a ſet of brigands, go home and hide any ſet of valuables they have not already ſecreted, and receive with obſequious complaiſance the next viſite domiciliaire.

The maſs of the people, with as little energy, have more obſtinacy, and are, of courſe, not quite ſo tractable. But, though they grumble and procraſtinate, they do not reſiſt; and their delays and demurs uſually terminate in implicit ſubmiſſion.

The Deputy-commiſſioners, whom I have mentioned above, have been at Amiens ſome time, in order to promote the levying of recruits. On Sundays and holidays they ſummoned the inhabitants to attend at the cathedral, where they harangued them on the ſubject, called for vengeance on the coaleſced deſpots, expatiated on the love of glory, and inſiſted on the pleaſure of dying for one's country: while the people liſtened with vacant attention, amuſed themſelves with the paintings, or adjourned in ſmall committees to diſcuſs the hardſhip of being obliged to fight without inclination.—Thus time elapſed, the military orations produced no effect, and no troops were raiſed: no one would enliſt voluntarily, and all refuſed to ſettle it by lot, becauſe, as they wiſely obſerved, the lot muſt fall on ſomebody. Yet, notwithſtanding the objection, the matter was at length decided by this laſt method. The deciſion had no ſooner taken place, than another difficulty enſued—thoſe who eſcaped acknowledged it was the beſt way that could be deviſed; but thoſe who were deſtined to the frontiers refuſed to go. Various altercations, and excuſes, and references, were the conſequence; yet, after all thiſ murmuring and evaſion, the preſence of the Commiſſioners and a few dragoons have arranged the buſineſs very pacifically; many are already gone, and the reſt will (if the dragoons continue here) ſoon follow.

This, I aſſure you, is a juſt ſtatement of the account between the Convention and the People: every thing is effected by fear—nothing by attachment; and the one is obeyed only becauſe the other want courage to reſiſt.—Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

Rouen, March 31, 1793.

Rouen, like moſt of the great towns in France, is what is called decidedly ariſtocratic; that is, the rich are diſcontented becauſe they are without ſecurity, and the poor becauſe they want bread. But theſe complaints are not peculiar to large places; the cauſes of them equally exiſt in the ſmalleſt village, and the only difference which fixes the imputation of ariſtocracy on one more than the other, is, daring to murmur, or ſubmitting in ſilence.

I muſt here remark to you, that the term ariſtocrate has much varied from its former ſignification. A year ago, ariſtocrate implied one who was an advocate for the privileges of the nobility, and a partizan of the ancient government—at preſent a man is an ariſtocrate for entertaining exactly the ſame principles which at that time conſtituted a patriot; and, I believe, the computation is moderate, when I ſay, that more than three parts of the nation are ariſtocrates. The rich, who apprehend a violation of their property, are ariſtocrateſ—the merchants, who regret the ſtagnation of commerce, and diſtruſt the credit of the aſſignats, are ariſtocrateſ—the ſmall retailers, who are pillaged for not ſelling cheaper than they buy, and who find theſe outrages rather encouraged than repreſſed, are ariſtocrateſ—and even the poor, who murmur at the price of bread, and the numerous levies for the army, are, occaſionally, ariſtocrates.

Beſides all theſe, there are likewiſe various claſſes of moral ariſtocrateſ—ſuch as the humane, who are averſe from maſſacres and oppreſſion—thoſe who regret the loſs of civil liberty—the devout, who tremble at the contempt for religion—the vain, who are mortified at the national degradation—and authors, who ſigh for the freedom of the preſs.—When you conſider this multiplicity of ſymptomatic indications, you will not be ſurprized that ſuch numbers are pronounced in a ſtate of diſeaſe; but our republican phyſicians will ſoon generalize theſe variouſ ſpecies of ariſtocracy under the ſingle deſcription of all who have any thing to loſe, and every one will be deemed plethoric who is not in a conſumption. The people themſelves who obſerve, though they do not reaſon, begin to have an idea that property expoſes the ſafety of the owner and that the legiſlature is leſs inexorable when guilt iſ unproductive, than when the conviction of a criminal comprehends the forfeiture of an eſtate.—A poor tradeſman was lamenting to me yeſterday, that he had neglected an offer of going to live in England; and when I told him I thought he was very fortunate in having done ſo, as he would have been declared an emigrant, he replied, laughing, "Moi emigre qui n'ai pas un ſol:" ["I am emigrant, who am not worth a halfpenny!"]—No, no; they don't make emigrants of thoſe who are worth nothing. And thiſ was not ſaid with any intended irreverence to the Convention, but with the ſimplicity which really conceived the wealth of the emigrants to be the cauſe of the ſeverity exerciſed againſt them.

The commercial and political evils attending a vaſt circulation of aſſignats have been often diſcuſſed, but I have never yet known the matter conſidered in what is, perhaps, its moſt ſerious point of view—I mean its influence on the habits and morals of the people. Wherever I go, eſpecially in large towns like this, the miſchief is evident, and, I fear, irremediable. That oeconomy, which was one of the moſt valuable characteriſtics of the French, is now comparatively diſregarded. The people who receive what they earn in a currency they hold in contempt, are more anxious to ſpend than to ſave; and thoſe who formerly hoarded ſix liards or twelve ſols pieces with great care, would think it folly to hoard an aſſignat, whatever its nominal value. Hence the lower claſs of females diſſipate their wages on uſeleſs finery; men frequent public-houſes, and game for larger ſums than before; little ſhopkeepers, inſtead of amaſſing their profits, become more luxurious in their table: public places are always full; and thoſe who uſed, in a dreſs becoming their ſtation, to occupy the "parquet" or "parterre," now, decorated with paſte, pins, gauze, and galloon, fill the boxes:—and all thiſ deſtructive prodigality is excuſed to others and themſelves "par ce que ce n'eſt que du papier." [Becauſe it is only paper.]—It is vain to perſuade them to oeconomize what they think a few weeks may render valueleſs; and ſuch is the evil of a circulation ſo totally diſcredited, that profuſion aſſumes the merit of precaution, extravagance the plea of neceſſity, and thoſe who were not laviſh by habit become ſo through their eagerneſs to part with their paper. The buried gold and ſilver will again be brought forth, and the merchant and the politician forget the miſchief of the aſſignats. But what can compenſate for the injury done to the people? What is to reſtore their ancient frugality, or baniſh their acquired wants? It is not to be expected that the return of ſpecie will diminiſh the inclination for luxury, or that the human mind can be regulated by the national finance; on the contrary, it iſ rather to be feared, that habits of expence which owe their introduction to the paper will remain when the paper is annihilated; that, though money may become more ſcarce, the propenſities of which it ſupplies the indulgence will not be leſs forcible, and that thoſe who have no other reſources for their accuſtomed gratifications will but too often find one in the ſacrifice of their integrity.—Thus, the corruption of manners will be ſucceeded by the corruption of morals, and the diſhoneſty of one ſex, with the licentiouſneſs of the other, produce conſequences much worſe than any imagined by the abſtracted calculationſ of the politician, or the ſelfiſh ones of the merchant. Age will be often without ſolace, ſickneſs without alleviation, and infancy without ſupport; becauſe ſome would not amaſs for themſelves, nor others for their children, the profits of their labour in a repreſentative ſign of uncertain value.

I do not pretend to aſſert that theſe are the natural effects of a paper circulation—doubtleſs, when ſupported by high credit, and an extenſive commerce, it muſt have many advantages; but this was not the caſe in France—the meaſure was adopted in a moment of revolution, and when the credit of the country, never very conſiderable, was precarious and degraded—It did not flow from the exuberance of commerce, but the artifices of party—it never preſumed, for a moment, on the confidence of the people—its reception was forced, and its emiſſion too profuſe not to be alarming.—I know it may be anſwered, that the aſſignats do not depend upon an imaginary appreciation, but really repreſent a large maſs of national wealth, particularly in the domains of the clergy: yet, perhaps, it is this very circumſtance which has tended moſt to diſcredit them. Had their credit reſted only on the ſolvency of the nation, though they had not been greatly coveted, ſtill they would have been leſſ diſtributed; people would not have apprehended their abolition on a change of government, nor that the ſyſtems adopted by one party might be reverſed by another. Indeed we may add, that an experiment of this kind does not begin auſpiciouſly when grounded on confiſcation and ſeizures, which it is probable more than half the French conſidered as ſacrilege and robbery; nor could they be very anxious to poſſeſs a ſpecies of wealth which they made it a motive of conſcience to hope would never be of any value.—But if the original creation of aſſignats were objectionable, the ſubſequent creations cannot but augment the evil. I have already deſcribed to you the effects viſible at preſent, and thoſe to be apprehended in future—others may reſult from the new inundation, [1200 millionſ—50 millions ſterling.] which it is not poſſible to conjecture; but if the miſchiefs ſhould be real, in proportion as a part of the wealth which this paper is ſaid to repreſent is imaginary, their extent cannot eaſily be exaggerated. Perhaps you will be of thiſ opinion, when you recollect that one of the funds which form the ſecurity of this vaſt ſum is the gratitude of the Flemings for their liberty; and if this reimburſement be to be made according to the ſpecimen the French army have experienced in their retreat, I doubt much of the convention will be diſpoſed to advance any farther claims on it; for, it ſeems, the inhabitants of the Low Countries have been ſo little ſenſible of the benefits beſtowed on them, that even the peaſants ſeize on any weaponſ neareſt hand, and drub and purſue the retrograding armies as they would wild beaſts; and though, as Dumouriez obſerves in one of his diſpatches, our revolution is intended to favour the country people, "c'eſt cependant les gens de campagne qui ſ'arment contre nous, et le tocſin ſonne de toutes parts;" ["It is, however, the country people who take up arms againſt us, and the alarm is ſounded from all quarters."] ſo that the French will, in fact, have created a public debt of ſo ſingular a nature, that every one will avoid as much as poſſible making any demand of the capital.

I have already been more diffuſe than I intended on the ſubject of finance; but I beg you to obſerve, that I do not affect to calculate, or ſpeculate, and that I reaſon only from facts which are daily within my notice, and which, as tending to operate on the morals of the people, are naturally included in the plan I propoſed to myſelf.

I have been here but a few days, and intend returning to-morrow. I left Mrs. D____ very little better, and the diſaffection of Dumouriez, which I juſt now learn, may oblige us to remove to ſome place not on the route to Paris.—Every one looks alert and important, and a phyſiognomiſt may perceive that regret is not the prevailing ſentiment—

"We now begin to ſpeak in tropes,
"And, by our fears, expreſs our hopes."

The Jacobins are ſaid to be apprehenſive, which augurs well; for, certainly, next to the happineſs of good people, one deſires the puniſhment of the bad.

 

 

 

 

Amiens, April 7, 1793.

If the ſentiments of the people towards their preſent government had been problematical before, the viſible effect of Dumouriez' conduct would afford an ample ſolution of the problem. That indifference about public affairs which the proſpect of an eſtabliſhed deſpotiſm had begun to create has vaniſhed—all is hope and expectation—the doors of thoſe who retail the newſpapers are aſſailed by people too impatient to read them— each with his gazette in his hand liſtens eagerly to the verbal circulation, and then holds a ſecret conference with his neighbour, and calculates how long it may be before Dumouriez can reach Paris. A fortnight ago the name of Dumouriez was not uttered but in a tone of harſhneſs and contempt, and, if ever it excited any thing like complacency, it was when he announced defeats and loſſes. Now he iſ ſpoken of with a ſignificant modulation of voice, it is diſcovered that he has great talents, and his popularity with the army is deſcanted upon with a myſterious air of ſuppreſſed ſatiſfaction.—Thoſe who were extremely apprehenſive leſt part of the General's troops ſhould be driven this way by the ſucceſſes of the enemy, ſeem to talk with perfect compoſure of their taking the ſame route to attack the capital; while others, who would have been unwilling to receive either Dumouriez or hiſ army as peaceful fugitives, will be "nothing loath" to admit them aſ conquerors. From all I can learn, theſe diſpoſitions are very general, and, indeed, the actual tyranny is ſo great, and the perſpective ſo alarming, that any means of deliverance muſt be acceptable. But whatever may be the event, though I cannot be perſonally intereſted, if I thought Dumouriez really propoſed to eſtabliſh a good government, humanity would render one anxious for his ſucceſs; for it is not to be diſguiſed, that France is at this moment (as the General himſelf expreſſed it) under the joint dominion of "imbecilleſ" and "brigands." [Ideots and robbers.]

It is poſſible, that at this moment the whole army is diſaffected, and that the fortified towns are prepared to ſurrender. It is alſo certain, that Brittany is in revolt, and that many other departments are little ſhort of it; yet you will not very eaſily conceive what may have occupied the Convention during part of this important criſiſ—nothing leſs than inventing a dreſs for their Commiſſionerſ! But, as Sterne ſays, "it iſ the ſpirit of the nation;" and I recollect no circumſtance during the whole progreſs of the revolution (however ſerious) that has not been mixed with frivolities of this kind.

I know not what effect this new coſtume may produce on the rebels or the enemy, but I confeſs it appears to me more ludicrous than formidable, eſpecially when a repreſentative happens to be of the ſhape and featureſ of the one we have here. Saladin, Deputy for this department, and an advocate of the town of Amiens, has already inveſted himſelf with thiſ armour of inviolability; "ſtrange figure in ſuch ſtrange habiliments," that one is tempted to forget that Baratraria and the government of Sancho are the creation of fancy. Imagine to yourſelf a ſhort fat man, of ſallow complexion and ſmall eyes, with a ſaſh of white, red, and blue round his waiſt, a black belt with a ſword ſuſpended acroſs hiſ ſhoulders, and a round hat turned up before, with three feathers of the national colours: "even ſuch a man" is our repreſentative, and exerciſeſ a more deſpotic authority than moſt Princes in Europe.—He is accompanied by another Deputy, who was what is called Pere de la Oratoire before the revolution—that is, in a ſtation nearly approaching to that of an under-maſter at our public ſchools; only that the ſeminaries to which theſe were attached being very numerous, thoſe employed in them were little conſidered. They wore the habit, and were ſubject to the ſame reſtrictions, as the Clergy, but were at liberty to quit the profeſſion and marry, if they choſe.—I have been more particular in deſcribing this claſs of men, becauſe they have every where taken an active and ſucceſſful part in perverting and miſleading the people: they are in the clubs, or the municipalities, in the Convention, and in all elective adminiſtrations, and have been in moſt places remarkable for their ſedition and violence.

Several reaſons may be aſſigned for the influence and conduct of men whoſe ſituation and habits, on a firſt view, ſeem to oppoſe both. In the firſt ardour of reform it was determined, that all the ancient modes of education ſhould be aboliſhed; ſmall temporary penſions were allotted to the Profeſſors of Colleges, and their admiſſion to the exerciſe of ſimilar functions in the intended new ſyſtem was left to future deciſion. From this time the diſbanded oratorians, who knew it would be vain to reſiſt popular authority, endeavoured to ſhare in it; or, at leaſt, by becoming zealous partizans of the revolution, to eſtabliſh their claimſ to any offices or emoluments which might be ſubſtituted for thoſe they had been deprived of. They enrolled themſelves with the Jacobins, courted the populace, and, by the talent of pronouncing Roman names with emphaſis, and the ſtudy of rhetorical attitudes, they became important to aſſociates who were ignorant, or neceſſary to thoſe who were deſigning.

The little information generally poſſeſſed by the middle claſſes of life in France, is alſo another cauſe of the comparative importance of thoſe whoſe profeſſions had, in this reſpect, raiſed them ſomething above the common level. People of condition, liberally educated, have unfortunately abandoned public affairs for ſome time; ſo that the incapacity of ſome, and the pride or deſpondency of others, have, in a manner, left the nation to the guidance of pedants, incendiaries, and adventurers. Perhaps alſo the animoſity with which the deſcription of men I allude to purſued every thing attached to the ancient government, may, in ſome degree, have proceeded from a deſire of revenge and retaliation. They were not, it muſt be confeſſed, treated formerly with the regard due to perſons whoſe profeſſion was in itſelf uſeful and reſpectable; and the wounds of vanity are not eaſily cured, nor the vindictiveneſs of little minds eaſily ſatiſfied.

From the conduct and popular influence of theſe Peres de l'Oratoire, ſome truths may be deduced not altogether uſeleſs even to a country not liable to ſuch violent reforms. It affords an example of the danger ariſing from thoſe ſudden and arbitrary innovations, which, by depriving any part of the community of their uſual means of living, and ſubſtituting no other, tempt them to indemnify themſelves by preying, in different ways, on their fellow-citizens.—The daring and ignorant often become depredators of private property; while thoſe who have more talents, and leſs courage, endeavour to ſucceed by the artifices which conciliate public favour. I am not certain whether the latter are not to be moſt dreaded of the two, for thoſe who make a trade of the confidence of the people ſeldom fail to corrupt them—they find it more profitable to flatter their paſſions than to enlighten their underſtandings; and a demagogue of this kind, who obtains an office by exciting one popular inſurrection, will make no ſcruple of maintaining himſelf in it by another. An inferrence may likewiſe be drawn of the great neceſſity of cultivating ſuch a degree of uſeful knowledge in the middle order of ſociety, as may not only prevent their being deceived by intereſted adventurers themſelves, but enable them to inſtruct the people in their true intereſts, and reſcue them from becoming the inſtruments, and finally the victims, of fraud and impoſture.—The inſult and oppreſſion which the nobility frequently experience from thoſe who have been promoted by the revolution, will, I truſt, be a uſeful leſſon in future to the great, who may be inclined to arrogate too much from adventitiouſ diſtinctions, to forget that the earth we tread upon may one day overwhelm us, and that the meaneſt of mankind may do us an injury which it is not in the power even of the moſt exalted to ſhield us from.

The inquiſition begins to grow ſo ſtrict, that I have thought it neceſſary to-day to bury a tranſlation of Burke.—In times of ignorance and barbarity, it was criminal to read the bible, and our Engliſh author is prohibited for a ſimilar reaſon—that is, to conceal from the people the errors of thoſe who direct them: and, indeed, Mr. Burke has written ſome truths, which it is of much more importance for the Convention to conceal, than it could be to the Catholic prieſts to monopolize the divine writings.—As far as it was poſſible, Mr. Burke has ſhown himſelf a prophet: if he has not been completely ſo, it was becauſe he had a benevolent heart, and is the native of a free country. By the one, he was prevented from imagining the cruelties which the French have committed; by the other, the extreme deſpotiſm which they endure.

 

 

 

 

April 20, 1793.

Before theſe halcyon days of freedom, the ſupremacy of Paris was little felt in the provinces, except in dictating a new faſhion in dreſs, an improvement in the art of cookery, or the invention of a minuet. At preſent our imitations of the capital are ſomething more ſerious; and if our obedience be not quite ſo voluntary, it is much more implicit. Inſtead of receiving faſhions from the Court, we take them now from the dames des balles, [Market-women.] and the municipality; and it muſt be allowed, that the imaginations of our new ſovereigns much exceed thoſe of the old in force and originality.

The mode of pillaging the ſhops, for inſtance, was firſt deviſed by the Pariſian ladies, and has lately been adopted with great ſucceſs in the departments; the viſite domiciliaire, alſo, which I look upon as a moſt ingenious effort of fancy, is an emanation from the commune of Paris, and has had an univerſal run.—But it would be vain to attempt enumerating all the obligations of this kind which we owe to the indulgence of that virtuous city: our laſt importation, however, is of ſo ſingular a nature, that, were we not daily aſſured all the liberty in the world centers in Paris, I ſhould be doubtful as to its tendency. It has lately been decreed, that every houſe in the republic ſhall have fixed on the outſide of the door, in legible characters, the name, age, birth-place, and profeſſion of its inhabitants. Not the pooreſt cottager, nor thoſe who are too old or too young for action, nor even unmarried ladies, are exempt from thus proclaiming the abſtract of their hiſtory to paſſers-by. —The reigning party judge very wiſely, that all thoſe who are not already their enemies may become ſo, and that thoſe who are unable to take a part themſelves may excite others: but, whatever may be the intention of this meaſure, it is impoſſible to conceive any thing which could better ſerve the purpoſes of an arbitrary government; it placeſ every individual in the republic within the immediate reach of informerſ and ſpieſ—it points out thoſe who are of an age to ſerve in the army— thoſe who have ſought refuge in one department from the perſecutions of another—and, in ſhort, whether a victim is purſued by the denunciation of private malice, or political ſuſpicion, it renders eſcape almoſt impracticable.

We have had two domiciliary viſits within the laſt fortnight—one to ſearch for arms, the other under pretext of aſcertaining the number of troops each houſe is capable of lodging. But this was only the pretext, becauſe the municipalities always quarter troops as they think proper, without conſidering whether you have room or not; and the real object of this inquiſition was to obſerve if the inhabitants anſwered to the liſtſ placed on the doors.—Mrs. D____ was ill in bed, but you muſt not imagine ſuch a circumſtance deterred theſe gallant republicans from entering her room with an armed force, to calculate how many ſoldiers might be lodged in the bedchamber of a ſick female! The French, indeed, had never, in my remembrance, any pretenſions to delicacy, or even decency, and they are certainly not improved in theſe reſpects by the revolution.

It is curious in walking the ſtreets, to obſerve the devices of the ſeveral claſſes of ariſtocracy; for it is not to be diſguiſed, that ſince the hope from Dumouriez has vaniſhed, though the diſguſt of the people may be increaſed, their terror is alſo greater than ever, and the departments near Paris have no reſource but ſilent ſubmiſſion. Every one, therefore, obeys the letter of the decrees with the diligence of fear, while they elude the ſpirit of them with all the ingenuity of hatred. The rich, for example, who cannot entirely diveſt themſelves of their remaining hauteur, exhibit a ſullen compliance on a ſmall piece of paper, written in a ſmall hand, and placed at the very extreme of the height allowed by the law. Some fix their bills ſo as to be half covered by a ſhutter; others faſten them only with wafers, ſo that the wind detaching one or two corners, makes it impoſſible to read the reſt.*

* This contrivance became ſo common, that an article was obliged to be added to the decree, importing, that whenever the papers were damaged or effaced by the weather, or deranged by the wind, the inhabitants ſhould replace them, under a penalty.

Many who have courts or paſſages to their houſes, put their names on the half of a gate which they leave open, ſo that the writing is not perceptible but to thoſe who enter. But thoſe who are moſt afraid, or moſt decidedly ariſtocrates, ſubjoin to their regiſters, "All good republicans:" or, "Vive la republique, une et indiviſible." ["The republic, one and indiviſible for ever!"] Some likewiſe, who are in public offices, or ſhopkeepers who are very timid, and afraid of pillage, or are ripe for a counter-revolution, have a ſheet half the ſize of the door, decorated with red caps, tri-coloured ribbons, and flaming ſentences ending in "Death or Liberty!"

If, however, the French government confined itſelf to theſe petty acts of deſpotiſm, I would endeavour to be reconciled to it; but I really begin to have ſerious apprehenſions, not ſo much for our ſafety as our tranquillity, and if I conſidered only myſelf, I ſhould not heſitate to return to England. Mrs. D____ is too ill to travel far at preſent, and her dread of croſſing the ſea makes her leſs diſpoſed to think our ſituation here hazardous or ineligible. Mr. D____, too, who, without being a republican or a partizan of the preſent ſyſtem, has always been a friend to the firſt revolution, is unwilling to believe the Convention ſo bad as there is every reaſon to ſuppoſe it. I therefore let my judgement yield to my friendſhip, and, as I cannot prevail on them to depart, the danger which may attend our remaining is an additional reaſon for my not quitting them.

The national perfidy which has always diſtinguiſhed France among the other countries of Europe, ſeems now not to be more a diplomatic principle, than a rule of domeſtic government. It is ſo extended and generalized, that an individual is as much liable to be deceived and betrayed by confiding in a decree, as a foreign power would be by relying on the faith of a treaty.—An hundred and twenty prieſts, above ſixty years of age, who had not taken the oaths, but who were allowed to remain by the ſame law that baniſhed thoſe who were younger, have been lately arreſted, and are confined together in a houſe which was once a college. The people did not behold this act of cruelty with indifference, but, awed by an armed force, and the preſence of the Commiſſioners of the Convention, they could only follow the prieſts to their priſon with ſilent regret and internal horror. They, however, venture even now to mark their attachment, by taking all opportunities of ſeeing them, and ſupplying them with neceſſaries, which it is not very difficult to do, aſ they are guarded by the Bourgeois, who are generally inclined to favour them. I aſked a woman to-day if ſhe ſtill contrived to have acceſs to the prieſts, and ſhe replied, "Ah, oui, il y a encore de la facilite, par ce que l'on ne trouve pas des gardes ici qui ne ſont pas pour eux."*

* "Yes, yes, we ſtill contive it, becauſe there are no guards to be found here who don't befriend them."

Thus, even the moſt minute and beſt organized tyranny may be eluded; and, indeed, if all the agents of this government acted in the ſpirit of itſ decrees, it would be inſupportable even to a native of Turkey or Japan. But if ſome have ſtill a remnant of humanity left, there are a ſufficient number who execute the laws as unfeelingly as they are conceived.

When theſe poor prieſts were to be removed from their ſeveral houſes, it was found neceſſary to diſlodge the Biſhop of Amiens, who had for ſome time occupied the place fixed on for their reception. The Biſhop had notice given him at twelve o'clock in the day to relinquiſh his lodging before evening; yet the Biſhop of Amiens is a conſtitutional Prelate, and had, before the revolution, the cure of a large pariſh at Paris; nor waſ it without much perſuaſion that he accepted the ſee of Amiens. In the ſevere winter of 1789 he diſpoſed of his plate and library, (the latter of which was ſaid to be one of the beſt private collections in Paris,) to purchaſe bread for the poor. "But Time hath a wallet on his back, wherein he puts alms for oblivion;" and the charities of the Biſhop could not ſhield him from the contempt and inſult which purſue his profeſſion.

I have been much diſtreſſed within the laſt few days on account of my friend Madame de B____. I ſubjoining a tranſlation of a letter I have juſt received from her, as it will convey to you hereafter a tolerable ſpecimen of French liberty.

"Maiſon de Arret, at ____. "I did not write to you, my dear friend, at the time I promiſed, and you will perceive, by the date of this, that I have had too good an excuſe for my negligence. I have been here almoſt a week, and my ſpirits are ſtill ſo much diſordered, that I can with difficulty recollect myſelf enough to relate the circumſtances of our unfortunate ſituation; but as it is poſſible you might become acquainted with them by ſome other means, I rather determined to ſend you a few lines, than ſuffer you to be alarmed by falſe or exaggerated reports. "About two o'clock on Monday morning laſt our ſervants were called up, and, on their opening the door, the houſe was immediately filled with armed men, ſome of whom began ſearching the rooms, while otherſ came to our bedchamber, and informed us we were arreſted by order of the department, and that we muſt riſe and accompany them to priſon. It is not eaſy to deſcribe the effect of ſuch a mandate on people who, having nothing to reproach themſelves with, could not be prepared for it.—As ſoon as we were a little recovered from our firſt terrors, we endeavoured to obey, and begged they would indulge us by retiring a few moments till I had put my clothes on; but neither my embarraſſment, nor the ſcreams of the child—neither decency nor humanity, could prevail. They would not even permit my maid to enter the room; and, amidſt this ſcene of diſorder, I waſ obliged to dreſs myſelf and the terrified infant. When thiſ unpleaſant taſk was finiſhed, a general examination of our houſe and papers took place, and laſted until ſix in the evening: nothing, however, tending in the remoteſt degree to criminate us was found, but we were nevertheleſs conducted to priſon, and God knows how long we are likely to remain here. The denunciation againſt us being ſecret, and not being able to learn either our crime or our accuſers, it is difficult for us to take any meaſures for our enlargement. We cannot defend ourſelves againſt a charge of which we are ignorant, nor combat the validity of a witneſs, who is not only allowed to remain ſecret, but is paid perhaps for hiſ information.* * At this time informers were paid from fifty to an hundred livres for each accuſation. "We moſt probably owe our miſfortune to ſome diſcarded ſervant or perſonal enemy, for I believe you are convinced we have not merited it either by our diſcourſe or our actions: if we had, the charge would have been ſpecific; but we have reaſon to imagine it iſ nothing more than the indeterminate and general charge of being ariſtocrates. I did not ſee my mother or ſiſter all the day we were arreſted, nor till the evening of the next: the one was engaged perhaps with "Roſine and the Angola", who were indiſpoſed, and the other would not forego her uſual card-party. Many of our friendſ likewiſe have forborne to approach us, leſt their apparent intereſt in our fate ſhould involve themſelves; and really the alarm is ſo general, that I can, without much effort, forgive them. "You will be pleaſed to learn, that the greateſt civilities I have received in this unpleaſant ſituation, have been from ſome of your countrymen, who are our fellow-priſoners: they are only poor ſailors, but they are truly kind and attentive, and do us variouſ little ſervices that render us more comfortable than we otherwiſe ſhould be; for we have no ſervants here, having deemed it prudent to leave them to take care of our property. The ſecond night we were here, theſe good creatures, who lodge in the next room, were rather merry, and awoke the child; but as they found, by its cries, that their gaiety had occaſioned me ſome trouble, I have obſerved ever ſince that they walk ſoftly, and avoid making the leaſt noiſe, after the little priſoner is gone to reſt. I believe they are pleaſed with me becauſe I ſpeak their language, and they are ſtill more delighted with your young favourite, who is ſo well amuſed, that he begins to forget the gloom of the place, which at firſt terrified him extremely. "One of our companions is a nonjuring prieſt, who has been impriſoned under circumſtances which make me almoſt aſhamed of my country.—After having eſcaped from a neighbouring department, he procured himſelf a lodging in this town, and for ſome time lived very peaceably, till a woman, who ſuſpected his profeſſion, became extremely importunate with him to confeſs her. The poor man, for ſeveral days, refuſed, telling her, that he did not conſider himſelf as a prieſt, nor wiſhed to be known as ſuch, nor to infringe the law which excluded him. The woman, however, ſtill continued to perſecute him, alledging, that her conſcience was diſtreſſed, and that her peace depended on her being able to confeſs "in the right way." At length he ſuffered himſelf to be prevailed upon—the woman received an hundred livres for informing againſt him, and, perhaps, the prieſt will be condemned to the Guillotine.* * He was executed ſome time after. "I will make no reflection on this act, nor on the ſyſtem of paying informerſ—your heart will already have anticipated all I could ſay. I will only add, that if you determine to remain in France, you muſt obſerve a degree of circumſpection which you may not hitherto have thought neceſſary. Do not depend on your innocence, nor even truſt to common precautionſ—every day furniſhes examples that both are unavailing.—Adieu.—My huſband offers you his reſpects, and your little friend embraces you ſincerely. As ſoon as any change in our favour takes place, I will communicate it to you; but you had better not venture to write—I entruſt this to Louiſon's mother, who iſ going through Amiens, as it would be unſafe to ſend it by the poſt. —Again adieu.—Yours, "Adelaide de ____." Amiens, 1793.

It is obſervable, that we examine leſs ſcrupulouſly the pretenſions of a nation to any particular excellence, than we do thoſe of an individual. The reaſon of this is, probably, that our ſelf-love is as much gratified by admitting the one, as in rejecting the other. When we allow the claims of a whole people, we are flattered with the idea of being above narrow prejudices, and of poſſeſſing an enlarged and liberal mind; but if a ſingle individual arrogate to himſelf any excluſive ſuperiority, our own pride immediately becomes oppoſed to his, and we ſeem but to vindicate our judgement in degrading ſuch preſumption.

I can conceive no other cauſes for our having ſo long acquieſced in the claims of the French to pre-eminent good breeding, in an age when, I believe, no perſon acquainted with both nations can diſcover any thing to juſtify them. If indeed politeneſs conſiſted in the repetition of a certain routine of phraſes, unconnected with the mind or action, I might be obliged to decide againſt our country; but while decency makes a part of good manners, or feeling is preferable to a mechanical jargon, I am inclined to think the Engliſh have a merit more than they have hitherto aſcribed to themſelves. Do not ſuppoſe, however, that I am going to deſcant on the old imputations of "French flattery," and "French inſincerity;" for I am far from concluding that civil behaviour gives one a right to expect kind offices, or that a man is falſe becauſe he pays a compliment, and refuſes a ſervice: I only wiſh to infer, that an impertinence is not leſs an impertinence becauſe it is accompanied by a certain ſet of words, and that a people, who are indelicate to exceſs, cannot properly be denominated "a polite people."

A French man or woman, with no other apology than "permettez moi," ["Give me leave."] will take a book out of your hand, look over any thing you are reading, and aſk you a thouſand queſtions relative to your moſt private concernſ—they will enter your room, even your bedchamber, without knocking, place themſelves between you and the fire, or take hold of your clothes to gueſs what they coſt; and they deem theſe acts of rudeneſs ſufficiently qualified by "Je demande bien de pardons." ["I aſk you a thouſand pardons."]—They are fully convinced that the Engliſh all eat with their knives, and I have often heard this diſcuſſed with much ſelf-complacence by thoſe who uſually ſhared the labours of the repaſt between a fork and their fingers. Our cuſtom alſo of uſing water-glaſſes after dinner is an object of particular cenſure; yet whoever dines at a French table muſt frequently obſerve, that many of the gueſtſ might benefit by ſuch ablutions, and their napkins always teſtify that ſome previous application would be by no means ſuperfluous. Nothing iſ more common than to hear phyſical derangements, diſorders, and their remedies, expatiated upon by the parties concerned amidſt a room full of people, and that with ſo much minuteneſs of deſcription, that a foreigner, without being very faſtidious, is on ſome occaſions apt to feel very unpleaſant ſympathies. There are ſcarcely any of the ceremonies of a lady's toilette more a myſtery to one ſex than the other, and men and their wives, who ſcarcely eat at the ſame table, are in thiſ reſpect groſſly familiar. The converſation in moſt ſocieties partakes of this indecency, and the manners of an Engliſh female are in danger of becoming contaminated, while ſhe is only endeavouring to ſuffer without pain the cuſtoms of thoſe ſhe has been taught to conſider as models of politeneſs.

Whether you examine the French in their houſes or in public, you are every where ſtricken with the ſame want of delicacy, propriety, and cleanlineſs. The ſtreets are moſtly ſo filthy, that it is perilous to approach the walls. The inſides of the churches are often diſguſting, in ſpite of the advertiſements that are placed in them to requeſt the forbearance of phthifical perſons: the ſervice does not prevent thoſe who attend from going to and fro with the ſame irreverence as if the church were empty; and, in the moſt ſolemn part of the maſs, a woman is ſuffered to importune you for a liard, as the price of the chair you ſit on. At the theatres an actor or actreſs frequently coughs and expectorates on the ſtage, in a manner one ſhould think highly unpardonable before one'ſ moſt intimate friends in England, though this habit is very common to all the French. The inns abound with filth of every kind, and though the owners of them are generally civil enough, their notions of what iſ decent are ſo very different from ours, that an Engliſh traveller is not ſoon reconciled to them. In ſhort, it would be impoſſible to enumerate all that in my opinion excludes the French from the character of a well-bred people.—Swift, who ſeems to have been gratified by the contemplation of phyſical impurity, might have done the ſubject juſtice; but I confeſs I am not diſpleaſed to feel that, after my long and frequent reſidences in France, I am ſtill unqualified. So little are theſe people ſuſceptible of delicacy, propriety, and decency, that they do not even uſe the words in the ſenſe we do, nor have they any otherſ expreſſive of the ſame meaning.

But if they be deficient in the external forms of politeneſs, they are infinitely more ſo in that politeneſs which may be called mental. The ſimple and unerring rule of never preferring one's ſelf, is to them more difficult of comprehenſion than the moſt difficult problem in Euclid: in ſmall things as well as great, their own intereſt, their own gratification, is their leading principle; and the cold flexibility which enables them to clothe this ſelfiſh ſyſtem in "fair forms," is what they call politeneſs.

My ideas on this ſubject are not recent, but they occurred to me with additional force on the peruſal of Mad. de B____'s letter. The behaviour of ſome of the pooreſt and leaſt informed claſs of our countrymen forms a ſtriking contraſt with that of the people who arreſted her, and even her own friends: the unaffected attention of the one, and the brutality and neglect of the other, are, perhaps, more juſt examples of Engliſh and French manners than you may have hitherto imagined. I do not, however, pretend to ſay that the latter are all groſs and brutal, but I am myſelf convinced that, generally ſpeaking, they are an unfeeling people.

I beg you to remember, that when I ſpeak of the diſpoſitions and character of the French, my opinions are the reſult of general obſervation, and are applicable to all ranks; but when my remarks are on habits and manners, they deſcribe only thoſe claſſes which are properly called the nation. The higher nobleſſe, and thoſe attached to courts, ſo nearly reſemble each other in all countries, that they are neceſſarily excepted in theſe delineations, which are intended to mark the diſtinguiſhing features of a people at large: for, aſſuredly, when the French aſſert, and their neighbours repeat, that they are a polite nation, it is not meant that thoſe who have important offices or dignified appellations are polite: they found their claims on their ſuperiority as a people, and it is in this light I conſider them. My examples are chiefly drawn, not from the very inferior, nor from the moſt eminent ranks; neither from the retailer of a ſhop, nor the claimant of a tabouret,* or les grandes ou petites entrees; but from the gentry, thoſe of eaſy fortunes, merchants, &c.—in fact, from people of that degree which it would be fair to cite as what may be called genteel ſociety in England.

* The tabouret was a ſtool allowed to the Ladies of the Court particularly diſtinguiſhed by rank or favour, when in preſence of the Royal Family.—"Les entreeſ" gave a familiar acceſs to the King and Queen.

This ceſſation of intercourſe with our country diſpirits me, and, as it will probably continue ſome time, I ſhall amuſe myſelf by noting more particularly the little occurrences which may not reach your public prints, but which tend more than great events to mark both the ſpirit of the government and that of the people.—Perhaps you may be ignorant that the prohibition of the Engliſh mails was not the conſequence of a decree of the Convention, but a ſimple order of its commiſſioners; and I have ſome reaſon to think that even they acted at the inſtigation of an individual who harbours a mean and pitiful diſlike to England and itſ inhabitants.—Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

May 18, 1793.

Near ſix weeks ago a decree was paſſed by the Convention, obliging all ſtrangers, who had not purchaſed national property, or who did not exerciſe ſome profeſſion, to give ſecurity to the amount of half their ſuppoſed fortune, and under theſe conditions they were to receive a certificate, allowing them to reſide, and were promiſed the protection of the laws. The adminiſtrators of the departments, who perceive that they become odious by executing the decrees of the Convention, begin to relax much of their diligence, and it is not till long after a law iſ promulgated, and their perſonal fear operates as a ſtimulant, that they ſeriouſly enforce obedience to theſe mandates. This morning, however, we were ſummoned by the Committee of our ſection (or ward) in order to comply with the terms of the decree, and had I been directed only by my own judgement, I ſhould have given the preference to an immediate return to England; but Mrs. D____ is yet ill, and Mr. D____ is diſpoſed to continue. In vain have I quoted "how fickle France was branded 'midſt the nations of the earth for perfidy and breach of public faith;" in vain have I reaſoned upon the injuſtice of a government that firſt allured ſtrangers to remain by inſidious offers of protection, and now ſubjectſ them to conditions which many may find it difficult to ſubſcribe to: Mr. D____ wiſhes to ſee our ſituation in the moſt favourable point of view: he argues upon the moral impoſſibility of our being liable to any inconvenience, and perſiſts in believing that one government may act with treachery towards another, yet, diſtinguiſhing between falſehood and meanneſs, maintain its faith with individualſ—in ſhort, we have concluded a ſort of treaty, by which we are bound, under the forfeiture of a large ſum, to behave peaceably and ſubmit to the laws. The government, in return, empowers us to reſide, and promiſes protection and hoſpitality.

It is to be obſerved, that the ſpirit of this regulation depends upon thoſe it affects producing ſix witneſſes of their "civiſme;"* yet ſo little intereſt do the people take on theſe occaſions, that our witneſſeſ were neighbours we had ſcarcely ever ſeen, and even one was a man who happened to be caſually paſſing by.

* Though the meaning of this word is obvious, we have no one that iſ exactly ſynonymous to it. The Convention intend by it an attachment to their government: but the people do not trouble themſelves about the meaning of wordſ—they meaſure their unwilling obedience by the letter.

Theſe Committees, which form the laſt link of a chain of deſpotiſm, are compoſed of low tradeſmen and day-labourers, with an attorney, or ſome perſon that can read and write, at their head, as Preſident. Prieſts and nobles, with all that are related, or anywiſe attached, to them, are excluded by the law; and it is underſtood that true ſans-culottes only ſhould be admitted.

With all theſe precautions, the indifference and hatred of the people to their government are ſo general, that, perhaps, there are few placeſ where this regulation is executed ſo as to anſwer the purpoſes of the jealous tyranny that conceived it. The members of theſe Committees ſeem to exact no farther compliances than ſuch as are abſolutely neceſſary to the mere form of the proceeding, and to ſecure themſelves from the imputation of diſobedience; and are very little concerned whether the real deſign of the legiſlature be accompliſhed or not. This negligence, or ill-will, which prevails in various inſtances, tempers, in ſome degree, the effect of that reſtleſs ſuſpicion which is the uſual concomitant of an uncertain, but arbitrary, power. The affections or prejudices that ſurround a throne, by enſuring the ſafety of the Monarch, engage him to clemency, and the laws of a mild government are, for the moſt part, enforced with exactneſs; but a new and precarious authority, which neither impoſes on the underſtanding nor intereſts the heart, which is ſupported only by a palpable and unadorned tyranny, is in its nature ſevere, and it becomes the common cauſe of the people to counteract the meaſures of a deſpotiſm which they are unable to reſiſt.—This (as I have before had occaſion to obſerve) renders the condition of the French leſſ inſupportable, but it is by no means ſufficient to baniſh the fears of a ſtranger who has been accuſtomed to look for ſecurity, not from a relaxation or diſregard of the laws, but from their efficacy; not from the characters of thoſe who execute them, but from the rectitude with which they are formed.—What would you think in England, if you were obliged to contemplate with dread the three branches of your legiſlature, and depend for the protection of your perſon and property on ſoldiers and conſtables? Yet ſuch is nearly the ſtate we are in; and indeed a ſyſtem of injuſtice and barbariſm gains ground ſo faſt, that almoſt any apprehenſion is juſtified.—The Tribunal Revolutionnaire has already condemned a ſervant maid for her political opinions; and one of the Judges of this tribunal lately introduced a man to the Jacobins, with high panegyrics, becauſe, as he alledged, he had greatly contributed to the condemnation of a criminal. The ſame Judge likewiſe apologized for having as yet ſent but a ſmall number to the Guillotine, and promiſes, that, on the firſt appearance of a "Briſſotin" before him, he will ſhow him no mercy.

When the miniſter of public juſtice thus avows himſelf the agent of a party, a government, however recent its formation, muſt be far advanced in depravity; and the corruption of thoſe who are the interpreters of the law has uſually been the laſt effort of expiring power.

My friends, Mons. And Mad. de B____, are releaſed from their confinement; not as you might expect, by proving their innocence, but by the effortſ of an individual, who had more weight than their accuſer: and, far from obtaining ſatiſfaction for the injury they have received, they are obliged to accept as a favour the liberty they were deprived of by malice and injuſtice. They will, moſt probably, never be acquainted with the nature of the charges brought againſt them; and their accuſer will eſcape with impunity, and, perhaps, meet with reward.

All the French papers are filled with deſcriptions of the enthuſiaſm with which the young men "ſtart to armſ" [Offian.] at the voice of their country; yet it is very certain, that this enthuſiaſm is of ſo ſubtle and aerial a form as to be perceivable only to thoſe who are intereſted in diſcovering it. In ſome places theſe enthuſiaſtic warriors continue to hide themſelveſ—from others they are eſcorted to the place of their deſtination by nearly an equal number of dragoons; and no one, I believe, who can procure money to pay a ſubſtitute, is diſpoſed to go himſelf. This is ſufficiently proved by the ſums demanded by thoſe who engage aſ ſubſtitutes: laſt year from three to five hundred livres was given; at preſent no one will take leſs than eight hundred or a thouſand, beſideſ being furniſhed with clothes, &c. The only real volunteers are the ſonſ of ariſtocrates, and the relations of emigrants, who, ſacrificing their principles to their fears, hope, by enliſting in the army, to protect their eſtates and families: thoſe likewiſe who have lucrative employments, and are afraid of loſing them, affect great zeal, and expect to purchaſe impunity for civil peculation at home, by the military ſervices of their children abroad.

This, I aſſure you, is the real ſtate of that enthuſiaſm which occaſionſ ſuch an expence of eloquence to our gazette-writers; but theſe fallaciouſ accounts are not like the ephemeral deceits of your party prints in England, the effect of which is deſtroyed in a few hours by an oppoſite aſſertion. None here are bold enough to contradict what their ſovereignſ would have believed; and a town or diſtrict, driven almoſt to revolt by the preſent ſyſtem of recruiting, conſents very willingly to be deſcribed as marching to the frontiers with martial ardour, and burning to combat les eſclaves des tyranſ! By theſe artifices, one department is miſled with regard to the diſpoſitions of another, and if they do not excite to emulation, they, at leaſt, repreſs by fear; and, probably, many are reduced to ſubmiſſion, who would reſiſt, were they not doubtful of the ſupport and union of their neighbours. Every poſſible precaution iſ taken to prevent any connections between the different departmentſ— people who are not known cannot obtain paſſports without the recommendation of two houſekeeperſ—you muſt give an account of the buſineſs you go upon, of the carriage you mean to travel in, whether it has two wheels or four: all of which muſt be ſpecified in your paſſport: and you cannot ſend your baggage from one town to another without the riſk of having it ſearched. All theſe things are ſo diſguſting and troubleſome, that I begin to be quite of a different opinion from Brutus, and ſhould certainly prefer being a ſlave among a free people, than thuſ be tormented with the recollection that I am a native of England in a land of ſlavery. Whatever liberty the French might have acquired by their firſt revolution, it is now much like Sir John Cutler's worſted ſtockings, ſo torn, and worn, and diſguiſed by patchings and mendings, that the original texture is not diſcoverable.—Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

June 3, 1793.

We have been three days without receiving newſpapers; but we learn from the reports of the courier, that the Briſſotins are overthrown, that many of them have been arreſted, and ſeveral eſcaped to raiſe adherents in the departments. I, however, doubt much if their ſucceſs will be very general: the people have little preference between Briſſot and Marat, Condorcet and Robeſpierre, and are not greatly ſolicitous about the nameſ or even principles of thoſe who govern them—they are not yet accuſtomed to take that lively intereſt in public events which is the effect of a popular conſtitution. In England every thing is a ſubject of debate and conteſt, but here they wait in ſilence the reſult of any political meaſure or party diſpute; and, without entering into the merits of the cauſe, adopt whatever is ſucceſſful. While the King was yet alive, the news of Paris was eagerly ſought after, and every diſorder of the metropolis created much alarm: but one would almoſt ſuppoſe that even curioſity had ceaſed at his death, for I have obſerved no ſubſequent event (except the defection of Dumouriez) make any very ſeriouſ impreſſion. We hear, therefore, with great compoſure, the preſent triumph of the more violent republicans, and ſuffer without impatience this interregnum of news, which is to continue until the Convention ſhall have determined in what manner the intelligence of their proceedingſ ſhall be related to the departments.

The great ſolicitude of the people is now rather about their phyſical exiſtence than their political one—proviſions are become enormouſly dear, and bread very ſcarce: our ſervants often wait two hours at the baker's, and then return without bread for breakfaſt. I hope, however, the ſcarcity is rather artificial than real. It is generally ſuppoſed to be occaſioned by the unwillingneſs of the farmers to ſell their corn for paper. Some meaſures have been adopted with an intention of remedying this evil, though the origin of it is beyond the reach of decree. It originates in that diſtruſt of government which reconciles one part of the community to ſtarving the other, under the idea of ſelf-preſervation. While every individual perſiſts in eſtabliſhing it as a maxim, that any thing is better than aſſignats, we muſt expect that all things will be difficult to procure, and will, of courſe, bear a high price. I fear, all the empyriciſm of the legiſlature cannot produce a noſtrum for thiſ want of faith. Dragoons and penal laws only "linger, and linger it out;" the diſeaſe is incurable.

My friends, Mons. and Mad. de B____, by way of conſolation for their impriſonment, now find themſelves on the liſt of emigrants, though they have never been a ſingle day abſent from their own province, or from places of reſidence where they are well known. But that they may not murmur at this injuſtice, the municipality have accompanied their nameſ with thoſe of others who have not even been abſent from the town, and of one gentleman in particular, who I believe may have been ſeen on the ramparts every day for theſe ſeven years.—This may appear to you only very abſurd, and you may imagine the conſequences eaſily obviated; yet theſe miſtakes are the effect of private malice, and ſubject the perſonſ affected by them to an infinity of expence and trouble. They are obliged, in order to avert the confiſcation of their property, to appear, in every part of the republic where they have poſſeſſions, with atteſtations of their conſtant reſidence in France, and perhaps ſuffer a thouſand mortifications from the official ignorance and brutality of the perſons to whom they apply. No remedy lies againſt the authors of theſe vexations, and the ſufferer who is prudent fears even to complain.

I have, in a former letter, noticed the great number of beggars that ſwarm at Arras: they are not leſs numerous at Amiens, though of a different deſcription—they are neither ſo diſguſting, nor ſo wretched, but are much more importunate and inſolent—they plead neither ſickneſſ nor infirmity, and are, for the moſt part, able and healthy. How ſo many people ſhould beg by profeſſion in a large manufacturing town, it iſ difficult to conceive; but, whatever may be the cauſe, I am tempted to believe the effect has ſome influence on the manners of the inhabitantſ of Amiens. I have ſeen no town in France ſo remarkable for a rude and unfeeling behaviour, and it is not fanciful to conjecture that the multitude of poor may tend in part to occaſion it. The conſtant view of a ſort of miſery that excites little compaſſion, of an intruſive neceſſity which one is more deſirous to repulſe than to relieve, cannot but render the heart callous, and the manners harſh. The avarice of commerce, which is here unaccompanied by its liberality, is glad to confound real diſtreſs with voluntary and idle indigence, till, in time, an abſence of feeling becomes part of the character; and the conſtant habit of petulant refuſals, or of acceding more from fatigue than benevolence, has perhaps a ſimilar effect on the voice, geſture, and external.

This place has been ſo often viſited by thoſe who deſcribe better than myſelf, that I have thought it unneceſſary to mention public buildings, or any thing equally obvious to the traveller or the reſident. The beauty and elegance of the cathedral have been celebrated for ages, and I only remind you of it to indulge my national vanity in the reflection that one of the moſt ſplendid monuments of Gothic architecture in France is the work of our Engliſh anceſtors. The edifice is in perfect preſervation, and the hand of power has not yet ventured to appropriate the plate or ornaments; but this forbearance will moſt probably give way to temptation and impunity. The Convention will reſpect ancient prejudices no longer than they ſuppoſe the people have courage to defend them, and the latter ſeem ſo entirely ſubdued, that, however they may murmur, I do not think any ſerious reſiſtance is to be expected from them, even in behalf of the relics of St. Firmin. [St. Firmin, the patron of Amiens, where he is, in many of the ſtreets, repreſented with his head in his hand.]—The buſt of Henry the Fourth, which was a preſent from the Monarch himſelf, is baniſhed the town-houſe, where it was formerly placed, though, I hope, ſome royaliſt has taken poſſeſſion of it, and depoſited it in ſafety till better times. This once popular Prince iſ now aſſociated with Nero and Caligula, and it is "leze nation" to ſpeak of him to a thorough republican.—I know not if the French had before the revolution reached the acme of perfection, but they have certainly been retrograding very faſt ſince. Every thing that uſed to create fondneſſ and veneration is deſpiſed, and things are eſteemed only in proportion aſ they are worthleſs. Perhaps the buſt of Robeſpierre may one day replace that of Henry the Fourth, and, to ſpeak in the ſtyle of an eaſtern epiſtle, "what can I ſay more?"

Should you ever travel this way with Gray in your hand, you will look for the Urſuline convent, and regret the paintings he mentions: but you may recollect, for your conſolation, that they are merely pretty, and remarkable only for being the work of one of the nuns.—Gray, who ſeemſ to have had that enthuſiaſtic reſpect for religious orders common to young minds, admired them on this account; and numbers of Engliſh travellers have, I dare ſay, prepoſſeſſed by ſuch an authority, experienced the ſame diſappointment I myſelf felt on viſiting the Urſuline church. Many of the chapels belonging to theſe communities were very ſhowy and much decorated with gilding and ſculpture: ſome of them are ſold for a mere trifle, but the greateſt part are filled with corn and forage, and on the door is inſcribed "Magazin des armees." The change is almoſt incredible to thoſe who remember, that leſs than four years ago the Catholic religion was ſtrictly practiſed, and the violation of theſe ſanctuaries deemed ſacrilegious. Our great hiſtorian [Gibbon] might well ſay "the influence of ſuperſtition is fluctuating and precarious;" though, in the preſent inſtance, it has rather been reſtrained than ſubdued; and the people, who have not been convinced, but intimidated, ſecretly lament theſe innovations, and perhaps reproach themſelves conſcientiouſly with their ſubmiſſion.—Yours.

 

 

 

 

June 20, 1793.

Mercier, in his Tableau de Paris, notices, on ſeveral occaſions, the little public ſpirit exiſting among his countrymen—it is alſo obſervable, that many of the laws and cuſtoms preſume on this deficiency, and the name of republicans has by no means altered that cautiouſ diſpoſition which makes the French conſider either miſfortunes or benefits only as their perſonal intereſt is affected by them.—I am juſt returned from a viſit to Abbeville, where we were much alarmed on Sunday by a fire at the Paraclete convent. The tocſin rang great part of the day, and the principal ſtreet of the town was in danger of being deſtroyed. In ſuch circumſtances, you will ſuppoſe, that people of all ranks eagerly crouded to offer their ſervice, and endeavour to ſtop the progreſs of ſo terrible a calamity. By no meanſ—the gates of the town were ſhut to prevent its entire evacuation, many hid themſelves in garrets and cellars, and dragoons patrolled the ſtreets, and even entered the houſes, to force the inhabitants to aſſiſt in procuring water; while the conſternation, uſually the effect of ſuch accidents, was only owing to the fear of being obliged to aid the ſufferers.—This employment of military coercion for what humanity alone ſhould dictate, is not aſcribeable to the principles of the preſent government—it was the ſame before the revolution, (except that the agents of the ancient ſyſtem were not ſo brutal and deſpotic as the ſoldiers of the republic,) and compulſion was always deemed neceſſary where there was no ſtimulant but the general intereſt.

In England, at any alarm of the fort, all diſtinction of ranks iſ forgotten, and every one is ſolicitous to contribute as much as he iſ able to the ſafety of his fellow-citizens; and, ſo far from an armed force being requiſite to procure aſſiſtance, the greateſt difficulty iſ to repreſs the too-officious zeal of the croud.—I do not pretend to account for this national diſparity, but I fear what a French gentleman once ſaid to me of the Pariſians is applicable to the general character, "Ils ſont tous egoiſtes," ["They are all ſelfiſh!"] and they would not do a benevolent action at the riſk of ſoiling a coat or tearing a ruffle.

Diſtruſt of the aſſignats, and ſcarcity of bread, have occaſioned a law to oblige the farmers, in every part of the republic, to ſell their corn at a certain price, infinitely lower than what they have exacted for ſome months paſt. The conſequence of this was, that, on the ſucceeding market days, no corn came to market, and detachments of dragoons are obliged to ſcour the country to preſerve us from a famine. If it did not convey an idea both of the deſpotiſm and want with which the nation is afflicted, one ſhould be amuſed by the ludicrous figures of the farmers, who enter the town preceded by ſoldiers, and repoſing with doleful viſages on their ſacks of wheat. Sometimes you ſee a couple of dragoons leading in triumph an old woman and an aſs, who follow with lingering ſteps their military conductors; and the very aſs ſeems to ſympathize with hiſ miſtreſs on the diſaſter of ſelling her corn at a reduced price, and for paper, when ſhe had hoped to hoard it till a counter-revolution ſhould bring back gold and ſilver.

The farmers are now, perhaps, the greateſt ariſtocrates in the country; but as both their patriotiſm and their ariſtocracy have been a mere calculation of intereſt, the ſeverity exerciſed on their avarice is not much to be regretted. The original fault is, however, in an uſurped government, which inſpires no confidence, and which, to ſupply an adminiſtration laviſh beyond all example, has been obliged to iſſue ſuch an immenſe quantity of paper as nearly deſtroys its credit. In political, as in moral, vices, the firſt always neceſſitates a ſecond, and theſe muſt ſtill be ſuſtained by others; until, at length, the very ſenſe of right and wrong becomes impaired, and the latter is not only preferred from habit, but from choice.

Thus the arbitrary emiſſion of paper has been neceſſarily followed by ſtill more arbitrary decrees to ſupport it. For inſtance—the people have been obliged to ſell their corn at a ſtated price, which has again been the ſource of various and general vexations. The farmers, irritated by this meaſure, concealed their grain, or ſold it privately, rather than bring it to market.—Hence, ſome were ſupplied with bread, and otherſ abſolutely in want of it. This was remedied by the interference of the military, and a general ſearch for corn has taken place in all houſeſ without exception, in order to diſcover if any was ſecreted; even our bedchambers were examined on this occaſion: but we begin to be ſo accuſtomed to the viſite domiciliaire, that we find ourſelves ſuddenly ſurrounded by the Garde Nationale, without being greatly alarmed.—I know not how your Engliſh patriots, who are ſo enamoured of French liberty, yet thunder with the whole force of their eloquence againſt the ingreſſ of an exciſeman to a tobacco warehouſe, would reconcile this domeſtic inquiſition; for the municipalities here violate your tranquillity in this manner under any pretext they chooſe, and that too with an armed cortege ſufficient to undertake the ſiege of your houſe in form.

About fifteen departments are in inſurrection, oſtenſibly in behalf of the expelled Deputies; but I believe I am authorized in ſaying, it is by no means the deſire of the people at large to interfere. All who are capable of reflection conſider the diſpute merely as a family quarrel, and are not partial enough to either party to adopt its cauſe. The tropps they have already raiſed have been collected by the perſonal intereſt of the members who contrived to eſcape, or by an attempt of a few of the royaliſts to make one half of the faction ſubſervient to the deſtruction of the other. If you judge of the principles of the nation by the ſucceſs of the Foederaliſts,* and the ſuperiority of the Convention, you will be extremely deceived; for it is demonſtrable, that neither the moſt zealous partizans of the ancient ſyſtem, nor thoſe of the aboliſhed conſtitution, have taken any ſhare in the diſpute; and the departments moſt notoriouſly ariſtocratic have all ſignified their adherence to the proceedings of the Aſſembly.

* On the 31ſt of May and 2d of June, the Convention, who had been for ſome months ſtruggling with the Jacobins and the municipality of Paris, was ſurrounded by an armed force: the moſt moderate of the Deputies (thoſe diſtinguiſhed by the name of Briſſotins,) were either menaced into a compliance with the meaſures of the oppoſite faction, or arreſted; others took flight, and, by repreſenting the violence and ſlavery in which the majority of the Convention waſ holden, excited ſome of the departments to take arms in their favour.—This conteſt, during its ſhort exiſtence, was called the war of the Foederaliſts.—The reſult is well known.

Thoſe who would gladly take an active part in endeavouring to eſtabliſh a good government, are averſe from riſking their lives and properties in the cauſe of Briſſot or Condorcet.—At Amiens, where almoſt every individual is an ariſtocrate, the fugitive Deputies could not procure the leaſt encouragement, but the town would have received Dumouriez, and proclaimed the King without oppoſition. But this ſchiſm in the legiſlature is conſidered as a mere conteſt of banditti, about the diviſion of ſpoil, not calculated to excite an intereſt in thoſe they have plundered and oppreſſed.

The royaliſts who have been ſo miſtaken as to make any effort on thiſ occaſion, will, I fear, fall a ſacrifice, having acted for the moſt part without union or concert; and their junction with the Deputies renderſ them ſuſpicious, if not odious, to their own party. The extreme difficulty, likewiſe, of communication between the departments, and the ſtrict watch obſerved over all travellers, form another obſtacle to the ſucceſs of any attempt at preſent; and, on the whole, the only hope of deliverance for the French ſeems to reſt upon the allied armies and the inſurgents of La Vendee.

When I ſay this, I do not aſſert from prejudices, which often deceive, nor from conjecture, that is always fallible; but from unexceptionable information—from an intercourſe with various ranks of people, and a minute obſervance of all. I have ſcarcely met with a ſingle perſon who does not relate the progreſs of the inſurgents in La Vendee with an air of ſatiſfaction, or who does not appear to expect with impatience the ſurrender of Conde: and even their language, perhaps unconſciouſly, betrays their ſentiments, for I remark, they do not, when they ſpeak of any victory gained by the arms of the republic, ſay, Nous, or Notre armee, but, Les Francais, and, Les troupes de la republique;—and that always in a tone as though they were ſpeaking of an enemy.—Adieu.

 

 

 

 

June 30, 1793.

Our modern travellers are moſtly either ſentimental or philoſophical, or courtly or political; and I do not remember to have read any who deſcribe the manner of living among the gentry and middle ranks of life in France. I will, therefore, relieve your attention for a moment from our actual diſtreſſes, and give you the picture of a day as uſually paſſed by thoſe who have eaſy fortunes and no particular employment.—The ſocial aſſemblage of a whole family in the morning, as in England, is not very common, for the French do not generally breakfaſt: when they do, it iſ without form, and on fruit, bread, wine, and water, or ſometimes coffee; but tea is ſcarcely ever uſed, except by the ſick. The morning iſ therefore paſſed with little intercourſe, and in extreme diſhabille. The men loiter, fiddle, work tapeſtry, and ſometimes read, in a robe de chambre, or a jacket and "pantalons;" [Trowſers.] while the ladies, equipped only in a ſhort manteau and petticoat, viſit their birds, knit, or, more frequently, idle away the forenoon without doing any thing. It is not cuſtomary to walk or make viſits before dinner, and if by chance any one calls, he is received in the bedchamber. At half paſt one or two they dine, but without altering the negligence of their apparel, and the buſineſs of the toilette does not begin till immediately after the repaſt. About four, viſits of ceremony begin, and may be made till ſix or ſeven according to the ſeaſon; but thoſe who intend paſſing an evening at any particular houſe, go before ſix, and the card parties generally finiſh between eight and nine. People then adjourn to their ſupper engagements, which are more common than thoſe for dinner, and are, for the moſt part, in different places, and conſidered as a ſeparate thing from the earlier amuſements of the evening. They keep better hours than the Engliſh, moſt families being in bed by half paſt ten. The theatreſ are alſo regulated by theſe ſober habits, and the dramatic repreſentations are uſually over by nine.

A day paſſed in this manner is, as you may imagine, ſuſceptible of much ennui, and the French are accordingly more ſubject to it than to any other complaint, and hold it in greateſt dread than either ſickneſs or miſfortune. They have no conception how one can remain two hours alone without being ennuye a la mort; and but few, comparatively ſpeaking, read for amuſement: you may enter ten houſes without ſeeing a book; and it is not to be wondered at that people, who make a point of ſtaying at home all the morning, yet do not read, are embarraſſed with the diſpoſition of ſo much time.—It is this that occaſions ſuch a general fondneſs for domeſtic animals, and ſo many barbarous muſicians, and male-workers of tapeſtry and tambour.

I cannot but attribute this littleneſs and diſlike of morning exerciſe to the quantity of animal food the French eat at night, and to going to reſt immediately after it, in conſequence of which their activity is checked by indigeſtions, and they feel heavy and uncomfortable for half the ſucceeding day.—The French pique themſelves on being a gayer nation than the Engliſh; but they certainly muſt exclude their mornings from the account, for the forlorn and neglected figure of a Frenchman till dinner is a very antidote to chearfulneſs, eſpecially if contraſted with the animation of our countrymen, whoſe forenoon is paſſed in riding or walking, and who make themſelves at leaſt decent before they appear even in their own families.

The great difficulty the French have in finding amuſement makes them averſe from long reſidences in the country, and it is very uncommon for thoſe who can afford only one houſe not to prefer a town; but thoſe whoſe fortune will admit of it, live about three months of the year in the country, and the reſt in the neighbouring town. This, indeed, as they manage it, is no very conſiderable expence, for the ſame furniture often ſerves for both habitations, and the one they quit being left empty, requires no perſon to take charge of it, eſpecially as houſe-breaking iſ very uncommon in France; at leaſt it was ſo before the revolution, when the police was more ſtrict, and the laws againſt robbers were more ſevere.

You will ſay, I often deſcribe the habits and manners of a nation ſo frequently viſited, as though I were writing from Kamſchatka or Japan; yet it is certain, as I have remarked above, that thoſe who are merely itinerant have not opportunities of obſerving the modes of familiar life ſo well as one who is ſtationary, and travellers are in general too much occupied by more important obſervations to enter into the minute and trifling details which are the ſubject of my communications to you. But if your attention be ſometimes fatigued by occurrences or relations too well known, or of too little conſequence to be intereſting, I claim ſome merit in never having once deſcribed the proportions of a building, nor given you the hiſtory of a town; and I might have contrived as well to tax your patience by an erudite deſcription, as a ſuperficial reflection, or a female remark. The truth is, my pen is generally guided by circumſtances as they riſe, and my ideas have ſeldom any deeper origin than the ſcene before me. I have no books here, and I am apt to think if profeſſed travellers were deprived of this reſource, many learned etymologies and much profound compilation would be loſt to the modern reader.

The inſurgents of La Vendee continue to have frequent and decided ſucceſſes, but the inſurrections in the other departments languiſh. The avowed object of liberating the Convention is not calculated to draw adherents, and if any better purpoſe be intended, while a faction are the promoters of it, it will be regarded with too much ſuſpicion to procure any effectual movement. Yet, however partial and unconnected this revolt may be, it is an object of great jealouſy and inquietude: all the addreſſes or petitions brought in favour of it are received with diſapprobation, and ſuppreſſed in the official bulletin of the legiſlature; but thoſe which expreſs contrary ſentiments are ordered to be inſerted with the uſual terms of "applaudi, adopte, et mention honorable."—In this manner the army and the people, who derive their intelligence from theſe accounts (which are paſted up in the ſtreets,) are kept in ignorance of the real ſtate of diſtant provinces, and, what is ſtill more important for the Convention, the communication of examples, which they know ſo many are diſpoſed to imitate, is retarded.

The people here are nearly in the ſame ſtate they have been in for ſome time—murmuring in ſecret, and ſubmitting in public; expecting every thing from that energy in others which they have not themſelves, and accumulating the diſcontents they are obliged to ſuppreſs. The Convention call them the brave republicans of Amiens; but if their bravery were as unequivocal as their ariſtocracy, they would ſoon be at the gates of Paris. Even the firſt levies are not all departed for the frontiers, and ſome who were prevailed on to go are already returned.— All the neceſſaries of life are augmenting in price—the people complain, pillage the ſhops and the markets one day, and want the next. Many of the departments have oppoſed the recruiting much more decidedly than they have ventured to do here; and it was not without inſpiring terror by numerous arreſts, that the levies which were immediately neceſſary were procured.—France offers no proſpect but that of ſcarcity, diſorder, and oppreſſion; and my friends begin to perceive that we have committed an imprudence in remaining ſo long. No paſſports can now be obtained, and we muſt, as well as ſeveral very reſpectable families ſtill here, abide the event of the war.

Some weeks have elapſed ſince I had letters from England, and thoſe we receive from the interior come open, or ſealed with the ſeal of the diſtrict. This is not peculiar to our letters, as being foreigners, but the ſame unceremonious inſpection is practiſed with the correſpondence of the French themſelves. Thus, in this land of liberty, all epiſtolary intercourſe has ceaſed, except for mere matters of buſineſs; and though in the declaration of the rights of man it be aſſerted, that every one iſ entitled to write or print his thoughts, yet it is certain no perſon can entruſt a letter to the poſt, but at the riſk of having it opened; nor could Mr. Thomas Paine himſelf venture to expreſs the ſlighteſt diſapprobation of the meaſures of government, without hazarding hiſ freedom, and, in the end, perhaps, his life. Even theſe papers, which I reſerve only for your amuſement, which contain only the opinions of an individual, and which never have been communicated, I am obliged to conceal with the utmoſt circumſpection; for ſhould they happen to fall into the hands of our domiciliary inquiſitors, I ſhould not, like your Engliſh liberties, eſcape with the gentle correction of impriſonment, or the pillory.—A man, who had murdered his wife, was lately condemned to twenty years impriſonment only; but people are guillotined every day for a ſimple diſcourſe, or an inadvertent expreſſion.—Yours.

 

 

 

 

Amiens, July 5, 1793.

It will be ſome conſolation to the French, if, from the wreck of their civil liberty, they be able to preſerve the mode of adminiſtering juſtice as eſtabliſhed by the conſtitution of 1789. Were I not warranted by the beſt information, I ſhould not venture an opinion on the ſubject without much diffidence, but chance has afforded me opportunities that do not often occur to a ſtranger, and the new code appears to me, in many parts, ſingularly excellent, both as to principle and practice.—Juſtice is here gratuitouſ—thoſe who adminiſter it are elected by the people—they depend only on their ſalaries, and have no fees whatever. Reaſonable allowances are made to witneſſes both for time and expences at the public charge—a loſs is not doubled by the coſts of a proſecution to recover it. In caſes of robbery, where property found is detained for the ſake of proof, it does not become the prey of official rapacity, but an abſolute reſtitution takes place.—The legiſlature has, in many reſpects, copied the laws of England, but it has ſimplified the forms, and rectified thoſe abuſes which make our proceedings in ſome caſes almoſt aſ formidable to the proſecutor as to the culprit. Having to compoſe an entire new ſyſtem, and being unſhackled by profeſſional reverence for precedents, they were at liberty to benefit by example, to reject thoſe errors which have been long ſanctioned by their antiquity, and are ſtill permitted to exiſt, through our dread of innovation. The French, however, made an attempt to improve on the trial by jury, which I think only evinces that the inſtitution as adopted in England is not to be excelled. The deciſion is here given by ballot—unanimity is not required—and three white balls are ſufficient to acquit the priſoner. This deviation from our mode ſeems to give the rich an advantage over the poor. I fear, that, in the number of twelve men taken from any country, it may ſometimes happen that three may be found corruptible: now the wealthy delinquent can avail himſelf of this human failing; but, "through tatter'd robes ſmall vices do appear," and the indigent ſinner has leſſ chance of eſcaping than another.

It is to be ſuppoſed, that, at this time, the vigour of the criminal lawſ is much relaxed, and their execution difficult. The army offers refuge and impunity to guilt of all kinds, and the magiſtrates themſelves would be apprehenſive of purſuing an offender who was protected by the mob, or, which is the ſame thing, by the Jacobins.

The groundwork of much of the French civil juriſprudence is arbitration, particularly in thoſe trifling proceſſes which originate in a ſpirit of litigation; and it is not eaſy for a man here, however well diſpoſed, to ſpend twenty pounds in a conteſt about as many pence, or to ruin himſelf in order to ſecure the poſſeſſion of half an acre of land. In general, redreſs is eaſily obtained without unneceſſary procraſtination, and with little or no coſt. Perhaps moſt legal codes may be ſimple and efficacious at their firſt inſtitution, and the circumſtance of their being encumbered with forms which render them complex and expenſive, may be the natural conſequence of length of time and change of manners. Littleton might require no commentary in the reign of Henry II. and the myſterious fictions that conſtitute the ſcience of modern judicature were perhaps familiar, and even neceſſary, to our anceſtors. It is to be regretted that we cannot adapt our laws to the age in which we live, and aſſimilate them to our cuſtoms; but the tendency of our nature to extremes perpetuates evils, and makes both the wiſe and the timid enemieſ to reform. We fear, like John Calvin, to tear the habit while we are ſtripping off the ſuperfluous decoration; and the example of this country will probably long act as a diſcouragement to all change, either judicial or political. The very name of France will repreſs the deſire of innovation—we ſhall cling to abuſes as though they were our ſupport, and every attempt to remedy them will become an objection of ſuſpicion and terror.—Such are the advantages which mankind will derive from the French revolution.

The Jacobin conſtitution is now finiſhed, and, as far as I am able to judge, it is what might be expected from ſuch an origin: calculated to flatter the people with an imaginary ſovereignty—to place the whole power of election in the claſs moſt eaſily miſled—to exclude from the repreſentation thoſe who have a natural intereſt in the welfare of the country, and to eſtabliſh the reign of anarchy and intrigue.—Yet, however averſe the greater number of the French may be from ſuch a conſtitution, no town or diſtrict has dared to reject it; and I remark, that amongſt thoſe who have been foremoſt in offering their acceptation, are many of the places moſt notoriouſly ariſtocratic. I have enquired of ſome of the inhabitants of theſe very zealous towns on what principle they acted ſo much in oppoſition to their known ſentiments: the reply iſ always, that they fear the vengeance of the Jacobins, and that they are awed by military force. This reaſoning is, of courſe, unanſwerable; and we learn, from the debates of the Convention, that the people have received the new conſtitution "avec la plus vive reconnoiſſance," ["With the moſt lively gratitude."] and that they have all ſworn to die in its defence.—Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

July 14, 1793.

The return of this day cannot but ſuggeſt very melancholy reflections to all who are witneſſes of the changes which a ſingle year has produced. In twelve months only the government of France has been overturned, her commerce deſtroyed, the country depopulated to raiſe armies, and the people deprived of bread to ſupport them. A deſpotiſm more abſolute than that of Turkey is eſtabliſhed, the manners of the nation are corrupted, and its moral character is diſgraced in the eyes of all Europe. A barbarous rage has laid waſte the faireſt monuments of art—whatever could embelliſh ſociety, or contribute to ſoften exiſtence, haſ diſappeared under the reign of theſe modern Gothſ—even the neceſſarieſ of life are becoming rare and inadequate to the conſumption—the rich are plundered and perſecuted, yet the poor are in want—the national credit is in the laſt ſtage of debaſement, yet an immenſe debt is created, and daily accumulating; and apprehenſion, diſtruſt, and miſery, are almoſt univerſal.—All this is the work of a ſet of adventurers who are now divided among themſelveſ—who are accuſing each other of thoſe crimeſ which the world imputes to them all—and who, conſcious they can no longer deceive the nation, now govern with the fear and ſuſpicion of tyrants. Every thing is ſacrificed to the army and Paris, and the people are robbed of their ſubſiſtence to ſupply an iniquitous metropolis, and a military force that awes and oppreſſes them.

The new conſtitution has been received here officially, but no one ſeemſ to take the leaſt intereſt in it: it is regarded in juſt the ſame light as a new tax, or any other miniſterial mandate, not ſent to be diſcuſſed but obeyed. The mode of proclaiming it conveyed a very juſt idea of itſ origin and tendency. It was placed on a cuſhion, ſupported by Jacobinſ in their red caps, and ſurrounded by dragoons. It ſeemed the image of Anarchy, guarded by Deſpotiſm.—In this manner they paraded the town, and the "ſacred volume" was then depoſed on an altar erected on the Grande Place.—The Garde Nationale, who were ordered to be under arms, attended, and the conſtitution was read. A few of the ſoldiers cried "Vive la republique!" and every one returned home with countenances in which delight was by no means the prevailing expreſſion.

A trifling incident which I noticed on this occaſion, will ſerve, among others of the ſame kind that I could enumerate, to prove that even the very lower claſs of the people begin to ridicule and deſpiſe their legiſlators. While a municipal officer was very gravely reading the conſtitution, an aſs forced his way acroſs the ſquare, and placed himſelf near the ſpot where the ceremony was performing: a boy, who was under our window, on obſerving it, cried out, "Why don't they give him the accolade fraternelle!"*

* Fraternal embrace.—This is the reception given by the Preſident to any one whom the Convention wiſh particularly to diſtinguiſh. On an occaſion of the ſort, the fraternal embrace was given to an old Negreſs.—The honours of the fitting are alſo daily accorded to deputations of fiſh-women, chimney-ſweepers, children, and all whoſe miſſions are flattering. There is no homage ſo mean as not to gratify the pride of thoſe to whom dominion is new; and theſe expreſſions are ſo often and ſo ſtrangely applied, that it is not ſurprizing they are become the cant phraſes of the mob.

—"Yes, (rejoined another,) and admit him aux honneurs de la feance." [To the honours of the fitting.] This diſpoſition to jeſt with their miſfortunes is, however, not ſo common as it was formerly. A bon mot may alleviate the loſs of a battle, and a lampoon on the court ſolace under the burthen of a new impoſt; but the moſt thoughtleſs or improvident can find nothing very facetious in the proſpect of abſolute want—and thoſe who have been uſed to laugh under a circumſcription of their political liberty, feel very ſeriouſly the evil of a government which endows itſ members with unlimited power, and enables a Deputy, often the meaneſt and moſt profligate character of his department, to impriſon all who, from caprice, intereſt, or vengeance, may have become the objects of hiſ perſecution.

I know this will appear ſo monſtrous to an Engliſhman, that, had I an opportunity of communicating ſuch a circumſtance before it were publicly authenticated, you would ſuppoſe it impoſſible, and imagine I had been miſtaken, or had written only from report; it is nevertheleſs true, that every part of France is infeſted by theſe Commiſſioners, who diſpoſe, without appeal, of the freedom and property of the whole department to which they are ſent. It frequently happens, that men are delegated to places where they have reſided, and thus have an opportunity of gratifying their perſonal malice on all who are ſo unfortunate as to be obnoxious to them. Imagine, for a moment, a village-attorney acting with uncontrouled authority over the country where he formerly exerciſed hiſ profeſſion, and you will have ſome idea of what paſſes here, except that I hope no claſs of men in England are ſo bad as thoſe which compoſe the major part of the National Convention.—Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

July 23, 1793.

The events of Paris which are any way remarkable are ſo generally circulated, that I do not often mention them, unleſs to mark their effect on the provinces; but you will be ſo much miſled by the public paperſ with regard to the death of Marat, that I think it neceſſary to notice the ſubject while it is yet recent in my memory. Were the clubs, the Convention, or the ſections of Paris to be regarded as expreſſing the ſenſe of the people, the aſſaſſination of this turbulent journaliſt muſt be conſidered being the caſe, that the departments are for the moſt part, if not rejoiced, indifferent—and many of thoſe who impute to him the honour of martyrdom, or aſſiſt at his apotheoſis, are much better ſatiſfied both with his chriſtian and heathen glories, than they were while he was living to propagate anarchy and pillage. The reverence of the Convention itſelf is a mere political pantomime. Within the laſt twelve months nearly all the individuals who compoſe it have treated Marat with contempt; and I perfectly remember even Danton, one of the members of the Committee of Salut Publique, accuſing him of being a contre revolutionnaire.

But the people, to uſe a popular expreſſion here, require to be electrified.—St. Fargeau is almoſt forgotten, and Marat is to ſerve the ſame purpoſes when dead, to which he contributed while living.—An extreme groſſneſs and want of feeling form the characteriſtic feature of the Pariſians; they are ignorant, credulous, and material, and the Convention do not fail on all occaſions to avail themſelves of theſe qualities. The corpſe of Marat decently encloſed in a coffin would have made little impreſſion, and it was not pity, but revenge, which was to be excited. The diſguſting object of a dead leper was therefore expoſed to the eyes of a metropolis calling itſelf the moſt refined and enlightened of all Europe—


              "And what t'oblivion better were conſign'd,
               Is hung on high to poiſon half mankind."

I know not whether theſe lines are moſt applicable to the diſplay of Marat's body, or the conſecration of his fame, but both will be a laſting ſtigma on the manners and morals of Paris.

If the departments, however, take no intereſt in the loſs of Marat, the young woman who aſſaſſinated him has created a very lively one. The ſlighteſt anecdotes concerning her are collected with avidity, and repeated with admiration; and this is a ſtill farther proof of what you have heard me advance, that neither patriotiſm nor humanity has an abundant growth in this country. The French applaud an act in itſelf horrid and unjuſtifiable, while they have ſcarcely any conception of the motive, and ſuch a ſacrifice ſeems to them ſomething ſupernatural.—The Jacobins aſſert, that Charlotte Corday was an emiſſary of the allied powers, or, rather, of Mr. Pitt; and the Pariſians have the complaiſance to believe, that a young woman could devote herſelf to certain deſtruction at the inſtigation of another, as though the ſame principleſ which would lead a perſon to undertake a diplomatic commiſſion, would induce her to meet death.

I wrote ſome days ago to a lady of my acquaintance at Caen, to beg ſhe would procure me ſome information relative to this extraordinary female, and I ſubjoin an extract of her anſwer, which I have juſt received:

"Miſs Corday was a native of this department, and had, from her earlieſt years, been very carefully educated by an aunt who lives at Caen. Before ſhe was twenty ſhe had decided on taking the veil, and her noviciate waſ juſt expired when the Conſtituent Aſſembly interdicted all religious vowſ for the future: ſhe then left the convent, and reſided entirely with her aunt. The beauty of her perſon, and particularly her mental acquiſitions, which were ſuperior to that of French women in general, rendered an object of much admiration. She ſpoke uncommonly well, and her diſcourſe often turned on the ancients, and on ſuch ſubjects aſ indicated that maſculine turn of mind which has ſince proved ſo fatal to her. Perhaps her converſation was a little tinctured with that pedantry not unjuſtly attributed to our ſex when they have a little more knowledge than uſual, but, at the ſame time, not in ſuch a degree as to render it unpleaſant. She ſeldom gave any opinion on the revolution, but frequently attended the municipalities to ſolicit the penſions of the expelled religious, or on any other occaſion where ſhe could be uſeful to her friends. On the arrival of Petion, Barbaroux, and others of the Briſſotin faction, ſhe began to frequent the clubs, and to take a more lively intereſt in political affairs. Petion, and Barbaroux eſpecially, ſeemed to be much reſpected by her. It was even ſaid, ſhe had a tender partiality for the latter; but this I believe is untrue.—I dined with her at her aunt's on the Sunday previous to her departure for Paris. Nothing very remarkable appeared in her behaviour, except that ſhe waſ much affected by a muſter of the recruits who were to march againſt Paris, and ſeemed to think many lives might be loſt on the occaſion, without obtaining any relief for the country.—On the Tueſday following ſhe left Caen, under pretext of viſiting her father, who lives at Sens. Her aunt accompanied her to the gate of the town, and the ſeparation waſ extremely ſorrowful on both ſides. The ſubſequent events are too well known to need recital."

On her trial, and at her execution, Miſs Corday was firm and modeſt; and I have been told, that in her laſt moments her whole figure waſ intereſting beyond deſcription. She was tall, well formed, and beautiful—her eyes, eſpecially, were fine and expreſſive—even her dreſſ was not neglected, and a ſimple white diſhabille added to the charms of this ſelf-devoted victim. On the whole, it is not poſſible to aſcertain preciſely the motives which determined her to aſſaſſinate Marat. Her letter to Barbaroux expreſſes nothing but republican ſentiments; yet it is difficult to conceive that a young woman, who had voluntarily embraced the life of a cloiſter, could be really of this way of thinking.—I cannot but ſuppoſe her connection with the Deputies aroſe merely from an idea that they might be the inſtruments of reſtoring the aboliſhed government, and her profeſſion of republican principles after ſhe waſ arreſted might probably be with a view of ſaving Duperret, and others of the party, who were ſtill in the power of the Convention.—Her ſelection of Marat ſtill remains to be accounted for. He was, indeed, the moſt violent of the Jacobins, but not the moſt dangerous, and the death of ſeveral others might have been more ſerviceable to the cauſe. Marat was, however, the avowed perſecutor of prieſts and religion, and if we attribute any influence to Miſs Corday's former habits, we may ſuppoſe them to have had ſome ſhare in the choice of her victim. Her refuſal of the miniſtry of a conſtitutional prieſt at the ſcaffold ſtrengthens thiſ opinion. We pay a kind of involuntary tribute of admiration to ſuch firmneſs of mind in a young and beautiful woman; and I do not recollect that hiſtory has tranſmitted any thing parallel to the heroiſm of Charlotte Corday. Love, revenge, and ambition, have often ſacrificed their victims, and ſuſtained the courage of their voluntaries under puniſhment; but a female, animated by no perſonal motives, ſenſible only to the miſfortunes of her country, patriotic both from feeling and reflection, and ſacrificing herſelf from principle, is ſingular in the annals of human nature.—Yet, after doing juſtice to ſuch an inſtance of fortitude and philanthropic devotion, I cannot but ſincerely lament the act to which it has given riſe. At a time when ſo many ſpirits are irritated by deſpair and oppreſſion, the example may be highly pernicious, and a cauſe, however good, muſt always be injured by the uſe of ſuch means in its ſupport.—Nothing can ſanctify an aſſaſſination; and were not the French more vindictive than humane, the crimes of the republican party would find a momentary refuge in this injudicious effort to puniſh them.

My friend La Marquiſe de ____ has left Paris, and is now at Peronne, where ſhe has engaged me to paſs a few weeks with her; ſo that my next will moſt probably be dated from thence.—Mr. D____ is endeavouring to get a paſſport for England. He begins to regret having remained here. His temper, naturally impatient of reſtraint, accords but ill with the portion of liberty enjoyed by our republicans. Corporal privations and mental interdictions multiply ſo faſt, that irritable people like himſelf, and valetudinarians like Mrs. C____ and me, could not chooſe a worſe reſidence; and, as we are now unanimous on the ſubject, I hope ſoon to leave the country.—There is, as you obſerve in your laſt, ſomething of indolence as well as friendſhip in my having ſo long remained here; but if actions were always analyzed ſo ſtrictly, and we were not allowed to derive a little credit from our weakneſſes, how many great characterſ would be reduced to the common level. Voltaire introduced a ſort of rage for anecdotes, and for tracing all events to trifling cauſes, which haſ done much more towards exploding the old-faſhioned ſyſtem or the dignity of human nature than the dry maxims of Rochefaucault, the ſophiſms of Mandeville, or even the malicious wit of Swift. This is alſo another effect of the progreſs of philoſophy; and this ſort of moral Quixotiſm, continually in ſearch of evil, and more gratified in diſcovering it than pained by its exiſtence, may be very philoſophical; but it is at leaſt gloomy and diſcouraging; and we may be permitted to doubt whether mankind become wiſer or better by learning, that thoſe who have been moſt remarkable either for wiſdom or virtue were occaſionally under the influence of the ſame follies and paſſions as other people.—Your uncharitable diſcernment, you ſee, has led me into a digreſſion, and I have, without intending it, connected the motives of my ſtay with reflections on Voltaire's General Hiſtory, Barillon's Letters, and all the ſecret biography of our modern libraries. This, you will ſay, iſ only a chapter of a "man's importance to himſelf;" but public affairs are now ſo confuſed and diſguſting, that we are glad to encourage any train of ideas not aſſociated with them.

The Commiſſioners I gave you ſome account of in a former letter are departed, and we have lately had Chabot, an Ex-capuchin, and a patriot of ſpecial note in the Convention, and one Dumont, an attorney of a neighbouring village. They are, like all the reſt of theſe miſſionaries, entruſted with unlimited powers, and inſpire apprehenſion and diſmay wherever they approach.

The Garde Nationale of Amiens are not yet entirely ſubdued to the times, and Chabot gave ſome hints of a project to diſarm them, and actually attempted to arreſt ſome of their officers; but, apprized of his deſign, they remained two nights under arms, and the Capuchin, who is not martially inclined, was ſo alarmed at this indication of reſiſtance, that he has left the town with more haſte than ceremony.—He had, in an harangue at the cathedral, inculcated ſome very edifying doctrines on the diviſion of property and the right of pillage; and it is not improbable, had he not withdrawn, but the Amienois would have ventured, on thiſ pretext, to arreſt him. Some of them contrived, in ſpite of the centinel placed at the lodging of theſe great men, to paſte up on the door two figures, with the names of Chabot and Dumont; in the "fatal poſition of the unfortunate brave;" and though certain events in the lives of theſe Deputies may have rendered this perſpective of their laſt moments not abſolutely a novelty, yet I do not recollect that Akenſide, or any other author, has enumerated a gibbet amongſt the objects, which, though not agreeable in themſelves, may be reconciled to the mind by familiarity. I wiſh, therefore, our repreſentatives may not, in return for thiſ admonitory portrait of their latter end, draw down ſome vengeance on the town, not eaſily to be appeaſed. I am no aſtrologer, but in our ſublunary world the conjunction of an attorney and a renegade monk cannot preſent a fortunate aſpect; and I am truly anxious to find myſelf once again under the more benign influence of your Engliſh hemiſphere.—Yours.

 

 

 

 

Peronne, July 29, 1793.

Every attempt to obtain paſſports has been fruitleſs, and, with that ſort of diſcontented reſignation which is the effect of neceſſity, I now look upon myſelf as fixed here till the peace. I left Mr. and Mrs. D____ yeſterday morning, the diſappointment operating upon them in full force. The former takes longer walks than uſual, breaks out in philippicſ againſt tyrannies of all kinds, and ſwears ten times a day that the French are the moſt noiſy people upon earth—the latter is vexed, and, for that reaſon, fancies ſhe is ill, and calculates, with great ingenuity, all the hazard and inconvenience we may be liable to by remaining here. I hope, on my return, to find them more reconciled.

At Villars de Bretonne, on my road hither, ſome people told me, with great gaiety, that the Engliſh had made a deſcent on the coaſt of Picardy. Such a report (for I did not ſuppoſe it poſſible) during the laſt war would have made me tremble, but I heard this without alarm, having, in no inſtance, ſeen the people take that kind of intereſt in public events which formerly made a reſidence in France unpleaſant to an individual of an hoſtile nation. It is not that they are become more liberal, or better informed—no change of this kind has been diſcovered even by the warmeſt advocates of the revolution; but they are more indifferent, and thoſe who are not decidedly the enemies of the preſent government, for the moſt part concern themſelves as little about the events of the war, as though it were carried on in the South Sea.

I fear I ſhould riſk an imputation on my veracity, were I to deſcribe the extreme ignorance and inattention of the French with reſpect to public men and meaſures. They draw no concluſions from the paſt, form no conjectures for the future, and, after exclaiming "Il ne peut pas durer comme cela," they, with a reſignation which is certainly neither piouſ nor philoſophic, leave the reſt to the agency of Providence.—Even thoſe who are more informed ſo bewilder themſelves in the politics of Greece and Rome, that they do not perceive how little theſe are applicable to their own country. Indeed, it ſhould ſeem that no modern age or people is worthy the knowledge of a Frenchman.—I have often remarked, in the courſe of our correſpondence, how little they are acquainted with what regards England or the Engliſh; and ſcarcely a day paſſes that I have not occaſion to make the ſame obſervation.

My conductor hither, who is a friend of Mad. de T____, and eſteemed "bien inſtruit," was much ſurprized when I told him that the population and ſize of London exceeded that of Pariſ—that we had good fruit, and better vegetables than were to be found in many parts of France. I ſaw that he ſuſpected my veracity, and there is always on theſe occaſions ſuch a decided and impenetrable incredulity in a Frenchman as precludes all hopes of convincing him. He liſtens with a ſort of ſelf-ſufficient complacence which tells you he does not conſider your aſſertions as any thing more than the exaggerations of national vanity, but that hiſ politeneſs does not allow him to contradict you. I know nothing more diſguſtingly impertinent than his ignorance, which intrenches itſelf behind the forms of civility, and, affecting to decline controverſy, aſſumes the merit of forbearance and moderation: yet this muſt have been often obſerved by every one who has lived much in French ſociety: for the firſt emotion of a Frenchman, on hearing any thing which tends to place another country on an equality with France, is doubt—this doubt iſ inſtantly reinforced by vanity—and, in a few ſeconds, he is perfectly ſatiſfied that the thing is impoſſible.

One muſt be captious indeed to object to this, did it ariſe from that patriotic feeling ſo common in the Engliſh; but here it is all vanity, downright vanity: a Frenchman muſt have his country and his miſtreſſ admired, though he does not often care much for either one or the other. I have been in various parts of France in the moſt critical periods of the revolution—I have converſed with people of all parties and of all rankſ—and I aſſert, that I have never yet met but with one man who had a grain of real patriotiſm. If the Athenian law were adopted which doomed all to death who ſhould be indifferent to the public welfare in a time of danger, I fear there would be a woeful depopulation here, even among the loudeſt champions of democracy.

It is not thirty miles from Amiens to Peronne, yet a journey of thirty miles is not now to be undertaken inconſiderately; the horſes are ſo much worked, and ſo ill fed, that few perform ſuch a diſtance without reſt and management. If you wiſh to take others, and continue your route, you cannot, or if you wait while your own horſes are refreſhed, as a reward for your humanity you get ſtarved yourſelf. Bread being very ſcarce, no family can get more than ſufficient for its own conſumption, and thoſe who travel without firſt ſupplying themſelves, do it at the riſk of finding none on the road.

Peronne is chiefly remarkable in hiſtory for never having been taken, and for a tower where Louis XI. was confined for a ſhort time, after being outwitted in a manner ſomewhat ſurprizing for a Monarch who piqued himſelf on his talents for intrigue, by Charles le Temeraire, Duke of Burgundy. It modern reputation, ariſes from its election of the Abbe Maury for its repreſentative, and for entertaining political principleſ every way analogous to ſuch a choice.

I found the Marquiſe much altered in her perſon, and her health much impaired, by the frequent alarms and continual apprehenſions ſhe had been ſubject to at Paris. Fortunately ſhe has no imputation againſt her but her rank and fortune, for ſhe is utterly guiltleſs of all political opinions; ſo that I hope ſhe will be ſuffered to knit ſtockings, tend her birds and dogs, and read romances in peace.—Yours, &c. &c.

 

 

 

 

Auguſt 1, 1793.

When the creation of aſſignats was firſt propoſed, much ingenuity waſ employed in conjecturing, and much eloquence diſplayed in expatiating upon, the various evils that might reſult from them; yet the genius of party, however uſually ſucceſſful in gloomy perſpective, did not at that time imagine half the inconvenience this meaſure was fraught with. It was eaſy, indeed, to foreſee, that an immenſe circulation of paper, like any other currency, muſt augment the price of every thing; but the exceſſive diſcredit of the aſſignats, operating acceſſarily to their quantity, has produced a train of collateral effects of greater magnitude than even thoſe that were originally apprehended. Within the laſt twelve months the whole country are become monopolizerſ—the deſire of realizing has ſo poſſeſſed all degrees of people, that there is ſcarcely an article of conſumption which is not bought up and ſecreted. One would really ſuppoſe that nothing was periſhable but the national credit—the nobleman, the merchant, the ſhopkeeper, all who have aſſignats, engage in theſe ſpeculations, and the neceſſities of our diſſipated heirs do not drive them to reſources for obtaining money more whimſical than the commerce now practiſed here to get rid of it. I know a beau who haſ converted his hypotheque [Mortgage.] on the national domains into train oil, and a General who has given theſe "airy nothingſ" the ſubſtance and form of hemp and leather!*

* In the late rage for monopolies in France, a perſon who had obſerved the vaſt daily conſumption of onions, garlic, and eſchalots, conceived the project of making the whole diſtrict of Amiens tributary for this indiſpenſible article. In conſequence, he attended ſeveral market-days, and purchaſed all that came in hiſ way. The country people finding a ready ſale for their onions, poured in from all quarters, and our projector found that, in proportion as he bought, the market became more profuſely ſupplied, and that the commodity he had hoped to monopolize was inexhauſtible.

Goods purchaſed from ſuch motives are not as you may conceive ſold till the temptation of an exorbitant profit ſeduces the proprietor to riſk a momentary poſſeſſion of aſſignats, which are again diſpoſed of in a ſimilar way. Thus many neceſſaries of life are withdrawn from circulation, and when a real ſcarcity enſues, they are produced to the people, charged with all the accumulated gains of theſe intermediate barters.

This illiberal and pernicious commerce, which avarice and fear have for ſome time kept in great activity, has at length attracted the notice of the Convention, and very ſevere laws are now enacted againſt monopolieſ of all kinds. The holder of any quantity of merchandize beyond what he may be ſuppoſed to conſume is obliged to declare it to his municipality, and to expoſe the articles he deals in in writing over his door. Theſe clauſes, as well as every other part of the decree, ſeem very wiſe and equitable; but I doubt if the ſeverity of the puniſhment annexed to any tranſgreſſion of it will not operate ſo as to defeat the purpoſeſ intended to be produced. A falſe declaration is puniſhable by ſix yearſ impriſonment, and an abſolute non-compliance with death.—Blackſtone remarks, that it is the certainty, not the ſeverity, of puniſhment, which makes laws efficacious; and this muſt ever be the caſe amongſt an humane people.—An inordinate deſire of gain is not often conſidered by mankind as very criminal, and thoſe who would willingly ſubject it to itſ adequate puniſhment of fine and confiſcation, will heſitate to become the means of inflicting death on the offender, or of depriving him of hiſ liberty. The Poets have, from time immemorial, claimed a kind of excluſive juriſdiction over the ſin of avarice: but, unfortunately, mindſ once ſteeled by this vice are not often ſenſible to the attacks of ridicule; and I have never heard that any poet, from Plautus to Moliere, has reformed a ſingle miſer. I am not, therefore, ſorry that our legiſlature has encroached on this branch of the poetical prerogative, and only wiſh that the mild regimen of the Muſes had been ſucceeded by ſomething leſs rigid than the priſon or the guillotine. It is true, that, in the preſent inſtance, it is not the ordinary and habitual practice of avarice that has called forth the ſeverity of the laws, but a ſpecies ſo deſtructive and extenſive in its conſequences, that much may be ſaid in defence of any penalty ſhort of death; and ſuch is the general diſtruſt of the paper-money, that I really believe, had not ſome meaſure of the kind been adopted, no article ſuſceptible of monopoly would have been left for conſumption. There are, however, thoſe who retort on the government, and aſſert, that the origin of the evil is in the waſte and peculation of its agents, which alſo make the immenſe emiſſion of paper more neceſſary; and they are right in the fact, though not in their deduction, for as the evil does exiſt whatever may be the cauſe, it iſ certainly wiſe to endeavour to remedy it.

The poſition of Valenciennes, which is ſuppoſed to be on the eve of a ſurrender—the progreſs of the inſurgents in La Vendee—the diſcontentſ in the South—and the charge of treachery againſt ſo many of the Generals, and particularly Cuſtine—all together ſeem to have agitated the public extremely: yet it is rather the agitation of uncertainty than that occaſioned by any deep impreſſion of hope or fear. The people wiſh to be relieved from their preſent ſituation, yet are without any determinate views for the future; and, indeed, in this part of the country, where they have neither leaders nor union, it would be very difficult for them to take a more active part.

The party of the foederaliſts languiſh, merely becauſe it is nothing more than a party, and a party of which the heads excite neither intereſt nor eſteem. I conclude you learn from the papers all the more important events, and I confine myſelf, as uſual, to ſuch details as I think leſſ likely to reach you. The humanity of the Engliſh muſt often baniſh their political animoſities when they read what paſſes here; and thouſands of my countrymen muſt at this moment lament with me the ſituation to which France is reduced by projects in which common ſenſe can diſtinguiſh no medium between wickedneſs and folly.

All apparent attachment to royaliſm is now cautiouſly avoided, but the royaliſts do not diminiſh by perſecution, and the induſtry with which they propagate their opinions is nearly a match for all the force armee of the republicans.—It is not eaſy to print pamphlets or newſpapers, but there are certain ſhops which one would think were diſcovered by inſtinct, where are ſold a variety of myſterious emblems of royalty, ſuch as fans that have no viſible ornaments except landſcapes, &c. but when opened by the initiated, preſent tolerable likeneſſes of the Royal Family; ſnuff-boxes with ſecret lids, containing miniature buſts of the late King; and muſic ſo ingeniouſly printed, that what to the common eye offers only ſome popular air, when folded ſo as to join the heads and tails of the notes together, forms ſentences of very treaſonable import, and by no means flattering to the exiſting government—I have known theſe interdicted trifles purchaſed at extravagant prices by the beſt-reputed patriots, and by officers who in public breathe nothing but unconquerable democracy, and deteſtation of Kings. Yet, though theſe things are circulated with extreme caution, every body has ſomething of the ſort, and, as Charles Surface ſays, "for my part, I don't ſee who is out of the ſecret."

The belief in religious miracles is exploded, and it is only in political ones that the faith of the people is allowed to exerciſe itſelf.—We have lately ſeen exhibited at the fairs and markets a calf, produced into the world with the tri-coloured cockade on its head; and on the painted cloth that announces the phoenomenon is the portrait of this natural revolutioniſt, with a mayor and municipality in their official ſcarfs, addreſſing the four-footed patriot with great ceremony.

We ſet out early to-morrow-morning for Soiſſons, which is about twenty leagues from hence. Travelling is not very deſirable in the preſent circumſtances, but Mad. de F____ has ſome affairs to ſettle there which cannot well be entruſted to a third perſon. The times, however, have a very hoſtile appearance, and we intend, if poſſible, to be abſent but three days.—Yours.

 

 

 

 

Soiſſons, Auguſt 4, 1793.

"And you may go by Beauvais if you will, for which reaſon many go by Beauvais;" and the ſtranger who turns out of his road to go by Soiſſons, muſt uſe the ſame reaſoning, for the conſciouſneſs of having exerciſed his free agency will be all his reward for viſiting Soiſſons. This, by the way; for my journey hither not being one of curioſity, I have no right to complain; yet ſomehow or other, by aſſociating the idea of the famous Vaſe, the ancient reſidence of the firſt French Kings, and other circumſtances as little connected as theſe I ſuppoſe with modern hiſtory, I had ranked Soiſſons in my imagination as one of the places I ſhould ſee with intereſt. I find it, however, only a dull, decent-looking town, tolerably large, but not very populous. In the new diviſion of France it is the capital of the department De l'Aiſne, and is of courſe the ſeat of the adminiſtration.

We left Peronne early, and, being ſo fortunate as to encounter no accidental delays, we arrived within a league of Soiſſons early in the afternoon. Mad. de F____, recollecting an acquaintance who has a chateau not far out of our road, determined to ſtop an hour or two; for, as ſhe ſaid, her friend was ſo "fond of the country," ſhe ſhould be ſure to find him there. We did, indeed, find this Monſieur, who is ſo "fond of the country," at home, extremely well powdered, dreſſed in a ſtriped ſilk coat, and engaged with a card party, on a warm afternoon on the third of Auguſt.—The chateau was ſituated as a French chateau uſually is, ſo aſ to be benefited by all the noiſes and odours of the village—built with a large ſingle front, and a number of windows ſo judiciouſly placed, that it muſt be impoſſible either to be cool in ſummer or warm in winter.

We walked out after taking ſome coffee, and I learned that this lover of the country did not keep a ſingle acre of land in his own hands, but that the part immediately contiguous to the houſe was cultivated for a certain ſhare of the profit by a farmer who lives in a miſerable looking place adjoining, and where I ſaw the operations of the dairy-maid carried on amidſt pigs, ducks, and turkeys, who ſeemed to have eſtabliſhed a very familiar acceſs.

Previous to our arrival at Soiſſons, the Marquiſe (who, though ſhe doeſ not conſider me as an ariſtocrate, knows I am by no means a republican,) begged me to be cautious in expreſſing my ſentiments, as the Comte de ____, where we were going, had embraced the principles of the revolution very warmly, and had been much blamed by his family on this account. Mad. de F____ added, that ſhe had not ſeen him for above a year, but that ſhe believed him ſtill to be "extremement patriote."

We reached Mons. de ____'s juſt as the family were ſet down to a very moderate ſupper, and I obſerved that their plate had been replaced by pewter. After the firſt ſalutations were over, it was ſoon viſible that the political notions of the count were much changed. He is a ſenſible reflecting man, and ſeems really to wiſh the good of his country. He thinks, with many others, that all the good effects which might have been obtained by the revolution will be loſt through the contempt and hatred which the republican government has drawn upon it.

Mons. de ____ has two ſons who have diſtinguiſhed themſelves very honourably in the army, and he has himſelf made great pecuniary ſacrifices; but this has not ſecured him from numerous domiciliary viſitſ and vexations of all kinds. The whole family are at intervals a little penſive, and Mons. de ____ told us, at a moment when the ladies were abſent, that the taking of Valenciennes had occaſioned a violent fermentation at Paris, and that he had ſerious apprehenſions for thoſe who have the miſfortune to be diſtinguiſhed by their rank, or obnoxiouſ from their ſuppoſed principleſ—that he himſelf, and all who were preſumed to have an attachment to the conſtitution of eighty-nine, were much more feared, and of courſe more ſuſpected, than the original ariſtocrateſ—and "enfin" that he had made up his mind a la Francaiſe to the worſt that could happen.

I have juſt run over the papers of the day, and I perceive that the debates of the Convention are filled with invectives againſt the Engliſh. A letter has been very opportunely found on the ramparts of Liſle, which is intended to perſuade the people that the Britiſh government haſ diſtributed money and phoſphoric matches in every town in France—the one to provoke inſurrection, the other to ſet fire to the corn.* You will conclude this letter to be a fabrication, and it is imagined and executed with ſo little ingenuity, that I doubt whether it will impoſe on the moſt ignorant of the people for a moment.

* "The National Convention, in the name of violated humanity, denounces to all the world, and to the people of England in particular, the baſe, perfidious, and wicked conduct of the Britiſh government, which does not heſitate to employ fire, poiſon, aſſaſſination, and every other crime, to procure the triumph of tyranny, and the deſtruction of the rights of man." (Decree, 1ſt Auguſt, 1793.)

The Queen has been tranſferred to the Conciergerie, or common priſon, and a decree is paſſed for trying her; but perhaps at this moment (whatever may be the reſult hereafter) they only hope her ſituation may operate aſ a check upon the enemy; at leaſt I have heard it doubted by many whether they intend to proceed ſeriouſly on this trial ſo long threatened.— Perhaps I may have before noticed to you that the convention never ſeemed capable of any thing great or uniform, and that all their proceedingſ took a tinge from that frivolity and meanneſs which I am almoſt tempted to believe inherent in the French character. They have juſt now, amidſt a long ſtring of decrees, the objects of which are of the firſt conſequence, inſerted one for the deſtruction of all the royal tombſ before the tenth of Auguſt, and another for reducing the expences of the King's children, particularly their food, to bare neceſſaries. Had our Engliſh revolutioniſts thus employed themſelves, they might have expelled the ſculptured Monarchs from the Abbey, and waged a very ſucceſſful war on the admirers of Gothic antiquity; but neither the Stuarts, nor the Catholic religion, would have had much to fear from them.

We have been wandering about the town all day, and I have not remarked that the ſucceſſes of the enemy have occaſioned any regret. When I waſ in France three years ago, you may recollect that my letters uſually contained ſome relation of our embarraſſment and delays, owing to the fear and ignorance of the people. At one place they apprehended the introduction of foreign troopſ—at another, that the Comte d'Artois waſ to burn all the corn. In ſhort, the whole country teemed with plots and counterplots, every one of which was more abſurd and inexplicable than thoſe of Oates, with his whole tribe of Jeſuits. At preſent, when a powerful army is invading the frontiers, and people have not in many places bread to eat, they ſeem to be very little ſolicitous about the former, and as little diſpoſed to blame the ariſtocrates for the latter.

It is really extraordinary, after all the pains that have been taken to excite hatred and reſentment againſt the Engliſh, that I have not heard of a ſingle inſtance of their having been inſulted or moleſted. Whatever inconveniencies they may have been ſubjected to, were acts of the government, not of the people; and perhaps this is the firſt war between the two nations in which the reverſe has not been the caſe.

I accompanied Mad. de ____ this afternoon to the houſe of a rich merchant, where ſhe had buſineſs, and who, ſhe told me, had been a furious patriot, but his ardour is now conſiderably abated. He had juſt returned from the department, [Here uſed for the place where the public buſineſs is tranſacted.] where his affairs had led him; and he aſſureſ us, that in general the agents of the republic were more inacceſſible, more inſolent, corrupt, and ignorant, than any employed under the old government. He demurred to paying Mad. de ____ a ſum of money all in aſſignats a face;* and this famous patriot would readily have given me an hundred livres for a pound ſterling.

* Aſſignats a face—that is, with the King's effigy; at this time greatly preferred to thoſe iſſued after his death.

We ſhall return to Peronne to-morrow, and I have availed myſelf of the hour between cards and ſupper, which is uſually employed by the French in undreſſing, to ſcribble my remarks. In ſome families, I ſuppoſe, ſupping in diſhabille is an arrangement of oeconomy, in others of eaſe; but I always think it has the air of preparation for a very ſolid meal; and, in effect, ſupping is not a mere ceremony with either ſex in this country.

I learnt in converſation with M. de ____, whoſe ſons were at Famars when the camp was forced, that the carnage was terrible, and that the loſs of the French on this occaſion amounted to ſeveral thouſands. You will be informed of this much more accurately in England, but you will ſcarcely imagine that no official account was ever publiſhed here, and that in general the people are ignorant of the circumſtance, and all the diſaſters attending it. In England, you have oppoſition papers that amply ſupply the omiſſions of the miniſterial gazettes, and often dwell with much complacence on the loſſes and defeats of their country; here none will venture to publiſh the leaſt event which they ſuppoſe the government wiſh to keep concealed. I am told, a leading feature of republican governments is to be extremely jealous of the liberty of the preſs, and that of France is, in this reſpect, truly republican.—Adieu.

 

 

 

 

Peronne, Auguſt, 1793.

I have often regretted, my dear brother, that my letters have for ſome time been rather intended to ſatiſfy your curioſity than your affection. At this moment I feel differently, and I rejoice that the inquietude and danger of my ſituation will, probably, not come to your knowledge till I ſhall be no longer ſubject to them. I have been for ſeveral days unwell, and yet my body, valetudinarian as I am at beſt, is now the better part of me; for my mind has been ſo deranged by ſuſpenſe and terror, that I expect to recover my health long before I ſhall be able to tranquillize my ſpirits.

On our return from Soiſſons I found, by the public prints, that a decree had paſſed for arreſting all natives of the countries with which France is at war, and who had not conſtantly reſided there ſince 1789.—Thiſ intelligence, as you will conceive, ſufficiently alarmed me, and I loſt no time in conſulting Mad. de ____'s friends on the ſubject, who were generally of opinion that the decree was merely a menace, and that it waſ too unjuſt to be put in execution. As ſome days elapſed and no ſtepſ were taken in conſequence, I began to think they were right, and my ſpirits were ſomewhat revived; when one evening, as I was preparing to go to bed, my maid ſuddenly entered the room, and, before ſhe could give me any previous explanation, the apartment was filled with armed men. Aſ ſoon as I was collected enough to enquire the object of this unſeaſonable viſit, I learned that all this military apparel was to put the ſeals on my papers, and convey my perſon to the Hotel de Ville!—I knew it would be vain to remonſtrated, and therefore made an effort to recover my ſpirits and ſubmit. The buſineſs, however, was not yet terminated, my papers were to be ſealed—and though they were not very voluminous, the proceſs was more difficult than you would imagine, none of the company having been employed on affairs of the kind before. A debate enſued on the manner in which it ſhould be done, and, after a very tumultuouſ diſcuſſion, it was ſagaciouſly concluded to ſeal up the doors and windowſ of all the apartments appropriated to my uſe. They then diſcovered that they had no ſeal fit for the purpoſe, and a new conſultation was holden on the propriety of affixing a cypher which was offered them by one of the Garde Nationale.

This weighty matter being at length decided, the doors of my bedchamber, dreſſing-room, and of the apartments with which they communicated, were carefully faſtened up, though not without an obſervation on my part that I was only a gueſt at Mad. de ____'s, and that an order to ſeize my papers or perſon was not a mandate for rendering a part of her home uſeleſs. But there was no reaſoning with ignorance and a ſcore of bayonets, nor could I obtain permiſſion even to take ſome linen out of my drawers. On going down ſtairs, I found the court and avenues to the garden amply guarded, and with this numerous eſcort, and accompanied by Mad. de ____, I was conducted to the Hotel de Ville. I know not what reſiſtance they might expect from a ſingle female, but, to judge by their precautions, they muſt have deemed the adventure a very perilous one. When we arrived at the Hotel de Ville, it was near eleven o'clock: the hall was crouded, and a young man, in a dirty linen jacket and trowſerſ and dirty linen, with the air of a Poliſſon and the countenance of an aſſaſſin, was haranguing with great vehemence againſt the Engliſh, who, he aſſerted, were all agents of Pitt, (eſpecially the women,) and were to ſet fire to the corn, and corrupt the garriſons of the fortified towns.— The people liſtened to theſe terrible projects with a ſtupid ſort of ſurprize, and, for the moſt part, ſeemed either very careleſs or very incredulous. As ſoon as this inflammatory piece of eloquence waſ finiſhed, I was preſented to the ill-looking orator, who, I learned, waſ a repreſentant du peuple. It was very eaſy to perceive that my ſpiritſ were quite overpowered, and that I could with difficulty ſupport myſelf; but this did not prevent the repreſentant du peuple from treating me with that inconſiderable brutality which is commonly the effect of a ſudden acceſſion of power on narrow and vulgar minds. After a variety of impertinent queſtions, menaces of a priſon for myſelf, and exclamationſ of hatred and vengeance againſt my country, on producing ſome friends of Mad. de ____, who were to be anſwerable for me, I was releaſed, and returned home more dead than alive.

You muſt not infer, from what I have related, that I was particularly diſtinguiſhed on this occaſion, for though I have no acquaintance with the Engliſh here, I underſtand they had all been treated much in the ſame manner.—As ſoon as the repreſentant had left the town, by dint of ſolicitation we prevailed on the municipality to take the ſeal off the rooms, and content themſelves with ſelecting and ſecuring my papers, which was done yeſterday by a commiſſion, formally appointed for the purpoſe. I know not the quality of the good citizens to whom thiſ important charge was entruſted, but I concluded from their coſtume that they had been more uſefully employed the preceding part of the day at the anvil and laſt. It is certain, however, they had undertaken a buſineſſ greatly beyond their powers. They indeed turned over all my trunks and drawers, and dived to the bottom of water-jugs and flower-jars with great zeal, but neglected to ſearch a large portfolio that lay on the table, probably from not knowing the uſe of it; and my ſervant conveyed away ſome letters, while I amuſed them with the ſight of a blue-bottle fly through a microſcope. They were at firſt much puzzled to know whether books and muſic were included under the article of papers, and were very deſirous of burning a hiſtory of France, becauſe they diſcovered, by the title-plate, that it was "about Kings;" but the moſt difficult part of this momentous tranſaction was taking an account of it in writing. However, as only one of the company could write, there was no diſputing as to the ſcribe, though there was much about the manner of execution. I did not ſee the compoſition, but I could hear that it ſtated "comme quoi," they had found the ſeals unbroken, "comme quoi," they had taken them off, and divers "as howſ" of the ſame kind. The whole being concluded, and my papers depoſited in a box, I was at length freed from my gueſts, and left in poſſeſſion of my apartments.

It is impoſſible to account for this treatment of the Engliſh by any mode of reaſoning that does not exclude both juſtice and policy; and viewing it only as a ſymptom of that deſperate wickedneſs which commits evil, not as a means, but an end, I am extremely alarmed for our ſituation. At this moment the whole of French politics ſeems to center in an endeavour to render the Engliſh odious both as a nation and as individuals. The Convention, the clubs, and the ſtreets of Paris, reſound with low abuſe of this tendency; and a motion was made in the former, by one Garnier, to procure the aſſaſſination of Mr. Pitt. Couthon, a member of the Comite de Salut Publique, has propoſed and carried a decree to declare him the enemy of mankind; and the citizens of Paris are ſtunned by the hawkers of Mr. Pitt's plots with the Queen to "ſtarve all France," and "maſſacre all the patriots."—Amidſt ſo many effortſ* to provoke the deſtruction of the Engliſh, it is wonderful, when we conſider the ſanguinary character which the French people have lately evinced, that we are yet ſafe, and it is in effect only to be accounted for by their diſinclination to take any part in the animoſities of their government.

* When our repreſentative appeared at Abbeville with an intention of arreſting the Engliſh and other foreigners, the people, to whom theſe miſſionaries with unlimited powers were yet new, took the alarm, and became very apprehenſive that he was come likewiſe to diſarm their Garde Nationale. The ſtreets were crouded, the town houſe was beſet, and Citizen Dumout found it neceſſary to quiet the town's people by the following proclamation. One part of hiſ purpoſe, that of inſuring his perſonal ſafety, was anſwered by it; but that of exciting the people againſt the Engliſh, failed— inſomuch, that I was told even the loweſt claſſes, ſo far from giving credit to the malignant calumnies propagated againſt the Engliſh, openly regretted their arreſtation. "Citizens, "On my arrival amongſt you, I little thought that malevolence would be ſo far ſucceſſful as to alarm you on the motives of my viſit. Could the ariſtocrates, then, flatter themſelves with the hope of making you believe I had the intention of diſarming you? Be deaf, I beſeech you, to ſo abſurd a calumny, and ſeize on thoſe who propagate it. I came here to fraternize with you, and to aſſiſt you in getting rid of thoſe malcontents and foreigners, who are ſtriving to deſtroy the republic by the moſt infernal manoeuvres.—An horrible plot has been conceived. Our harveſts are to be fired by means of phoſphoric matches, and all the patriots aſſaſſinated. Women, prieſts, and foreigners, are the inſtruments employed by the coaleſced deſpots, and by England above all, to accompliſh theſe criminal deſigns.—A law of the firſt of this month orders the arreſt of all foreigners born in the countries with which the republic is at war, and not ſettled in France before the month of July, 1789. In execution of this law I have required domiciliary viſits to be made. I have urged the preſervation of the public tranquillity. I have therefore done my duty, and only what all good citizens muſt approve."

I have juſt received a few lines from Mrs. D____, written in French, and put in the poſt without ſealing. I perceive, by the contents, though ſhe enters into no details, that circumſtances ſimilar to thoſe I have deſcribed have likewiſe taken place at Amiens. In addition to my other anxieties, I have the proſpect of a long ſeparation from my friends; for though I am not in confinement, I cannot, while the decree which arreſted me remains in force, quit the town of Peronne. I have not often looked forward with ſo little hope, or ſo little certainty, and though a firſt-rate philoſopher might make up his mind to a particular event, yet to be prepared for any thing, and all things, is a more difficult matter.

The hiſtories of Greece and Rome have long conſtituted the grand reſources of French eloquence, and it is not till within a few days that an orator has diſcovered all this good learning to be of no uſe—not, aſ you might imagine, becauſe the moral character and political ſituation of the French differ from thoſe of the Greeks and Romans, but becauſe they are ſuperior to all the people who ever exiſted, and ought to be cited aſ models, inſtead of deſcending to become copyiſts. "Therefore, continueſ this Jacobin ſage, (whoſe name is Henriot, and who is highly popular,) let us burn all the libraries and all the antiquities, and have no guide but ourſelveſ—let us cut off the heads of all the Deputies who have not voted according to our principles, baniſh or impriſon all the gentry and the clergy, and guillotine the Queen and General Cuſtine!"

Theſe are the uſual ſubjects of diſcuſſion at the clubs, and the Convention itſelf is not much more decent. I tremble when I recollect that I am in a country where a member of the legiſlature propoſes rewardſ for aſſaſſination, and the leader of a ſociety, that pretends to inform and inſtruct the people, argues in favour of burning all the books. The French are on the eve of exhibiting the ſingular ſpectacle of a nation enlightened by ſcience, accuſtomed to the benefit of laws and the enjoyment of arts, ſuddenly becoming barbarous by ſyſtem, and ſinking into ignorance from choice.—When the Goths ſhared the moſt curiouſ antiques by weight, were they not more civilized than the Pariſian of 1793, who diſturbs the aſhes of Henry the Fourth, or deſtroys the monument of Turenne, by a decree?—I have myſelf been forced to an act very much in the ſpirit of the times, but I could not, without riſking my own ſafety, do otherwiſe; and I ſat up late laſt night for the purpoſe of burning Burke, which I had brought with me, but had fortunately ſo well concealed, that it eſcaped the late inquiſition. I indeed made thiſ ſacrifice to prudence with great unwillingneſſ—every day, by confirming Mr. Burke's aſſertions, or fulfilling his predictions, had ſo increaſed my reverence for the work, that I regarded it as a kind of political oracle. I did not, however, deſtroy it without an apologetic apoſtrophe to the author's benevolence, which I am ſure would ſuffer, were he to be the occaſion, though involuntarily, of conducting a female to a priſon or the Guillotine.

"How chances mock, and changes fill the cup of alteration up with diverſ liquors."—On the ſame hearth, and in a mingled flame, was conſumed the very conſtitution of 1789, on which Mr. Burke's book was a cenſure, and which would now expoſe me to equal danger were it to be found in my poſſeſſion. In collecting the aſhes of theſe two compoſitions, the tendency of which is ſo different, (for ſuch is the complexion of the moment, that I would not have even the ſervant ſuſpect I had been burning a quantity of papers,) I could not but moralize on the mutability of popular opinion. Mr. Burke's Gallic adverſaries are now moſt of them proſcribed and anathematized more than himſelf. Perhaps another year may ſee his buſt erected on the piedeſtal which now ſupports that of Brutuſ or Le Pelletier.

The letters I have written to you ſince the communication waſ interrupted, with ſome other papers that I am ſolicitous to preſerve, I have hitherto always carried about me, and I know not if any danger, merely probable, will induce me to part with them. You will not, I think, ſuſpect me of attaching any conſequence to my ſcribblings from vanity; and if I run ſome perſonal riſk in keeping them, it is becauſe the ſituation of this country is ſo ſingular, and the events which occur almoſt daily ſo important, that the remarks of any one who is unlucky enough to be a ſpectator, may intereſt, without the advantage of literary talents.—Yours.

 

 

 

 

Peronne, Auguſt 24, 1793.

I have been out to-day for the firſt time ſince the arreſt of the Engliſh, and, though I have few acquaintances here, my adventure at the Hotel de Ville has gained me a ſort of popularity. I was ſaluted by many people I did not know, and overwhelmed with expreſſions of regret for what had happened, or congratulations on my having eſcaped ſo well.

The French are not commonly very much alive to the ſufferings of others, and it is ſome mortification to my vanity that I cannot, but at the expence of a reproaching conſcience, aſcribe the civilities I have experienced on this occaſion to my perſonal merit. It would doubtleſſ have been highly flattering to me to relate the tender and general intereſt I had excited even among this cold-hearted people, who ſcarcely feel for themſelves: but the truth is, they are diſpoſed to take the part of any one whom they think perſecuted by their government; and their repreſentative, Dumont, is ſo much deſpiſed in his private character, and deteſted in his public one, that it ſuffices to have been ill treated by him, to enſure one a conſiderable portion of the public good will.

This diſpoſition is not a little conſolatory, at a time when the whole rage of an oligarchical tyranny, though impotent againſt the Engliſh as a nation, meanly exhauſts itſelf on the few helpleſs individuals within itſ power. Embarraſſments accumulate and if Mr. Pitt's agents did not moſt obligingly write letters, and theſe letters happen to be intercepted juſt when they are moſt neceſſary, the Comite de Salut Publique would be at a loſs how to account for them.

Aſſignats have fallen into a diſcredit beyond example, an hundred and thirty livres having been given for one Louis-d'or; and, as if this were not the natural reſult of circumſtances like the preſent, a correſpondence between two Engliſhmen informs us, that it is the work of Mr. Pitt, who, with an unparalleled ingenuity, has contrived to ſend couriers to every town in France, to concert meaſures with the bankerſ for this purpoſe. But if we may believe Barrere, one of the members of the Committee, this atrocious policy of Mr. Pitt will not be unrevenged, for another intercepted letter contains aſſurances that an hundred thouſand men have taken up arms in England, and are preparing to march againſt the iniquitous metropolis that gives this obnoxious Miniſter ſhelter.

My ſituation is ſtill the ſame—I have no hope of returning to Amiens, and have juſt reaſon to be apprehenſive for my tranquillity here. I had a long converſation this morning with two people whom Dumont has left here to keep the town in order during his abſence. The ſubject was to prevail on them to give me a permiſſion to leave Peronne, but I could not ſucceed. They were not, I believe, indiſpoſed to gratify me, but were afraid of involving themſelves. One of them expreſſed much partiality for the Engliſh, but was very vehement in his diſapprobation of their form of government, which he ſaid was "deteſtable." My cowardice did not permit me to argue much in its behalf, (for I look upon theſe people aſ more dangerous than the ſpies of the old police,) and I only ventured to obſerve, with great diffidence, that though the Engliſh government waſ monarchical, yet the power of the Crown was very much limited; and that as the chief ſubjects of our complaints at preſent were not our inſtitutions, but certain practical errors, they might be remedied without any violent or radical changes; and that our nobility were neither numerous nor privileged, and by no means obnoxious to the majority of the people.—"Ah, vous avez donc de la nobleſſe bleſſe en Angleterre, ce ſont peut-etre les milords," ["What, you have nobility in England then? The milords, I ſuppoſe."] exclaimed our republican, and it operated on my whole ſyſtem of defence like my uncle Toby's ſmoke-jack, for there was certainly no diſcuſſing the Engliſh conſtitution with a political critic, who I found was ignorant even of the exiſtence of a third branch of it; yet this reformer of governments and abhorrer of Kings has power delegated to him more extenſive than thoſe of an Engliſh Sovereign, though I doubt if he can write his own language; and his moral reputation is ſtill leſs in his favour than his ignorance—for, previouſ to the revolution, he was known only as a kind of ſwindler, and has more than once been nearly convicted of forgery.—This is, however, the deſcription of people now chiefly employed, for no honeſt man would accept of ſuch commiſſions, nor perform the ſervices annexed to them.

Bread continues very ſcarce, and the populace of Paris are, as uſual, very turbulent; ſo that the neighbouring departments are deprived of their ſubſiſtence to ſatiſfy the wants of a metropolis that has no claim to an exemption from the general diſtreſs, but that which ariſes from the fears of the Convention. As far as I have opportunity of learning or obſerving, this part of France is in that ſtate of tranquillity which iſ not the effect of content but ſupineneſs; the people do not love their government, but they ſubmit to it, and their utmoſt exertions amount only to a little occaſional obſtinacy, which a few dragoons always reduce to compliance. We are ſometimes alarmed by reports that parties of the enemy are approaching the town, when the gates are ſhut, and the great bell is toll'd; but I do not perceive that the people are violently apprehenſive about the matter. Their fears are, I believe, for the moſt part, rather perſonal than political—they do not dread ſubmiſſion to the Auſtrians, but military licentiouſneſs.

I have been reading this afternoon Lord Orrery's definition of the male Ceciſbeo, and it reminds me that I have not yet noticed to you a very important claſs of females in France, who may not improperly be denominated female Ceciſbeos. Under the old ſyſtem, when the rank of a woman of faſhion had enabled her to preſerve a degree of reputation and influence, in ſpite of the gallantries of her youth and the decline of her charms, ſhe adopted the equivocal character I here allude to, and, relinquiſhing the adorations claimed by beauty, and the reſpect due to age, charitably devoted herſelf to the inſtruction and advancement of ſome young man of perſonal qualifications and uncertain fortune. She preſented him to the world, panegyrized him into faſhion, and inſured hiſ conſequence with one ſet of females, by hinting his ſucceſſes with another. By her exertions he was promoted in the army or diſtinguiſhed at the levee, and a career begun under ſuch auſpices often terminated in a brilliant eſtabliſhment.—In the leſs elevated circle, a female Ceciſbeo is uſually of a certain age, of an active diſpoſition, and great volubility, and her functions are more numerous and leſs dignified. Here the grand objects are not to beſiege Miniſters, nor give a "ton" to the protege at a faſhionable ruelle, but to obtain for him the ſolid advantages of what ſhe calls "un bon parti." [A good match.] To thiſ end ſhe frequents the houſes of widows and heireſſes, vaunts the docility of his temper, and the greatneſs of his expectations, enlarges on the ſolitude of widowhood, or the dependence and inſignificance of a ſpinſter; and theſe prefatory encomiums uſually end in the concerted introduction of the Platonic "ami."

But beſides theſe principal and important cares, a female Ceciſbeo of the middle rank has various ſubordinate oneſ—ſuch as buying linen, chooſing the colour of a coat, or the pattern of a waiſtcoat, with all the minutiae of the favourite's dreſs, in which ſhe is always conſulted at leaſt, if ſhe has not the whole direction.

It is not only in the firſt or intermediate claſſes that theſe uſeful females abound, they are equally common in more humble ſituations, and only differ in their employments, not in their principles. A woman in France, whatever be her condition, cannot be perſuaded to reſign her influence with her youth; and the bourgeoiſe who has no pretenſions to court favour or the diſpoſal of wealthy heireſſes, attaches her eleve by knitting him ſtockings, forcing him with bons morceaux till he has an indigeſtion, and frequent regales of coffee and liqueur.

You muſt not conclude from all this that there is any gallantry implied, or any ſcandal excited—the return for all theſe ſervices is only a little flattery, a philoſophic endurance of the card-table, and ſome ſkill in the diſorders of lap-dogs. I know there are in England, as well as in France, many notable females of a certain age, who delight in what they call managing, and who are zealous in promoting, matches among the young people of their acquaintance; but for one that you meet with in England there are fifty here.

I doubt much if, upon the whole, the morals of the Engliſh women are not ſuperior to thoſe of the French; but however the queſtion may be decided as to morals, I believe their ſuperiority in decency of manners iſ indiſputable—and this ſuperiority is, perhaps, more conſpicuous in women of a certain age, than in the younger part of the ſex. We have a ſort of national regard for propriety, which deters a female from lingering on the confines of gallantry, when age has warned her to withdraw; and an old woman that ſhould take a paſſionate and excluſive intereſt about a young man not related to her, would become at leaſt an object of ridicule, if not of cenſure:—yet in France nothing is more common; every old woman appropriates ſome youthful dangler, and, what is extraordinary, his attentions are not diſtinguiſhable from thoſe he would pay to a younger object.—I ſhould remark, however, as ſome apology for theſe juvenile gallants, that there are very few of what we call Tabbies in France; that is, females of ſevere principles and contracted features, in whoſe apparel every pin has its deſtination with mathematical exactneſs, who are the very watch-towers of a neighbourhood, and who give the alarm on the firſt appearance of incipient frailty. Here, antique dowagers and faded ſpinſters are all gay, laughing, rouged, and indulgent—ſo that 'bating the ſubtraction of teeth and addition of wrinkles, the diſparity between one ſcore and four is not ſo great:


               "Gay rainbow ſilks their mellow charms enfold,
                Nought of theſe beauties but themſelves is old."

I know if I venture to add a word in defence of Tabbyhood, I ſhall be engaged in a war with yourſelf and all our young acquaintance; yet in this age, which ſo liberally "ſoftens, and blends, and weakens, and diluteſ" away all diſtinctions, I own I am not without ſome partiality for ſtrong lines of demarcation; and, perhaps, when fifty retrogradeſ into fifteen, it makes a worſe confuſion in ſociety than the toe of the peaſant treading on the heel of the courtier.—But, adieu: I am not gay, though I trifle. I have learnt ſomething by my reſidence in France, and can be, as you ſee, frivolous under circumſtances that ought to make me grave.—Yours.

 

 

 

 

Peronne, Auguſt 29, 1793.

The political horizon of France threatens nothing but tempeſts. If we are ſtill tranquil here, it is only becauſe the ſtorm is retarded, and, far from deeming ourſelves ſecure from its violence, we ſuffer in apprehenſion almoſt as much as at other places is ſuffered in reality. An hundred and fifty people have been arreſted at Amiens in one night, and numbers of the gentry in the neighbouring towns have ſhared the ſame fate. This meaſure, which I underſtand is general throughout the republic, has occaſioned great alarms, and is beheld by the maſs of the people themſelves with regret. In ſome towns, the Bourgeois have petitions to the Repreſentatives on miſſion in behalf of their gentry thus impriſoned: but, far from ſucceeding, all who have ſigned ſuch petitions are menaced and intimidated, and the terror is ſo much increaſed, that I doubt if even this ſlight effort will be repeated any where.

The levee en maſſe, or riſing in a body, which has been for ſome time decreed, has not yet taken place. There are very few, I believe, that comprehend it, and fewer who are diſpoſed to comply. Many conſultationſ have been holden, many plans propoſed; but as the reſult of all theſe conſultations and plans is to ſend a certain number to the frontiers, the ſuffrages have never been unanimous except in giving their negative.— Like Falſtaff's troops, every one has ſome good cauſe of exemption; and if you were to attend a meeting where this affair is diſcuſſed, you would conclude the French to be more phyſically miſerable than any people on the glove. Youths, in apparent good health, have internal diſorders, or concealed infirmitieſ—ſome are near-ſighted—others epileptic—one iſ nervous, and cannot preſent a muſquet—another is rheumatic, and cannot carry it. In ſhort, according to their account, they are a collection of the lame, the halt, and the blind, and fitter to ſend to the hoſpital, than to take the field. But, in ſpite of all theſe diſorders and incapacities, a conſiderable levy muſt be made, and the dragoons will, I dare ſay, operate very wonderful cures.

The ſurrender of Dunkirk to the Engliſh is regarded as inevitable. I am not politician enough to foreſee the conſequences of ſuch an event, but the hopes and anxieties of all parties ſeem directed thither, as if the fate of the war depended on it. As for my own wiſhes on the ſubject, they are not national, and if I ſecretly invoke the God of Armies for the ſucceſs of my countrymen, it is becauſe I think all that tends to deſtroy the preſent French government may be beneficial to mankind. Indeed, the ſucceſſes of war can at no time gratify a thinking mind farther than aſ they tend to the eſtabliſhment of peace.

After ſeveral days of a mockery which was called a trial, though the witneſſes were afraid to appear, or the Counſel to plead in his favour, Cuſtine has ſuffered at the Guillotine. I can be no judge of hiſ military conduct, and Heaven alone can judge of his intentions. None of the charges were, however, ſubſtantiated, and many of them were abſurd or frivolous. Moſt likely, he has been ſacrificed to a cabal, and hiſ deſtruction makes a part of that ſyſtem of policy, which, by agitating the minds of the people with ſuſpicions of univerſal treaſon and unfathomable plots, leaves them no reſource but implicit ſubmiſſion to their popular leaders.

The death of Cuſtine ſeems rather to have ſtimulated than appeaſed the barbarity of the Pariſian mob. At every defeat of their armies they call for executions, and ſeveral of thoſe on whom the lot has fallen to march againſt the enemy have ſtipulated, at the tribune of the Jacobins, for the heads they exact as a condition of their departure,* or as the reward for their labours. The laurel has no attraction for heroes like theſe, who inveſt themſelves with the baneful yew and inauſpicious cypreſs, and go to the field of honour with the dagger of the aſſaſſin yet enſanguined.

* Many inſiſted they would not depart until after the death of the Queen—ſome claimed the death of one General, ſome that of another, and all, the lives or baniſhment of the gentry and clergy.

"Fair ſteeds, gay ſhields, bright arms," [Spencer.] the fancy-created deity, the wreath of fame, and all that poets have imagined to decorate the horrors of war, are not neceſſary to tempt the groſs barbarity of the Pariſian: he ſeeks not glory, but carnage—his incentive is the groans of defenceleſs victimſ—he inliſts under the ſtandard of the Guillotine, and acknowledges the executioner for his tutelary Mars.

In remarking the difficulties that have occurred in carrying into execution the levee en maſſe, I neglected to inform you that the prime mover of all theſe machinations is your omnipotent Mr. Pitt—it is he who has fomented the perverſeneſs of the towns, and alarmed the timidity of the villageſ—he has perſuaded ſome that it is not pleaſant to leave their ſhops and families, and inſinuated into the minds of others that death or wounds are not very deſirable—he has, in fine, ſo effectually achieved his purpoſe, that the Convention iſſues decree after decree, the members harangue to little purpoſe, and the few recruits already levied, like thoſe raiſed in the ſpring, go from many places ſtrongly eſcorted to the army.—I wiſh I had more peaceful and more agreeable ſubjects for your amuſement, but they do not preſent themſelves, and "you muſt blame the times, not me." I would wiſh to tell you that the legiſlature iſ honeſt, that the Jacobins are humane, and the people patriots; but you know I have no talent for fiction, and if I had, my ſituation is not favourable to any effort of fancy.—Yours.

 

 

 

 

Peronne, Sept. 7, 1793.

The ſucceſſes of the enemy on all ſides, the rebellion at Lyons and Marſeilles, with the increaſing force of the inſurgents in La Vendee, have revived our eagerneſs for news, and if the indifference of the French character exempt them from more patriotic ſenſations, it does not baniſh curioſity; yet an eventful criſis, which in England would draw people together, here keeps them apart. When an important piece of intelligence arrives, our provincial politicians ſhut themſelves up with their gazettes, ſhun ſociety, and endeavour to avoid giving an opinion until they are certain of the ſtrength of a party, or the ſucceſs of an attempt. In the preſent ſtate of public affairs, you may therefore conceive we have very little communication—we expreſs our ſentimentſ more by looks and geſtures than words, and Lavater (admitting his ſyſtem) would be of more uſe to a ſtranger than Boyer or Chambaud. If the Engliſh take Dunkirk, perhaps we may be a little more ſocial and more decided.

Mad. de ____ has a moſt extenſive acquaintance, and, as we are ſituated on one of the roads from Paris to the northern army, notwithſtanding the cautious policy of the moment, we are tolerably well informed of what paſſes in moſt parts of France; and I cannot but be aſtoniſhed, when I combine all I hear, that the government is able to ſuſtain itſelf. Want, diſcord, and rebellion, aſſail it within—defeats and loſſes from without. Perhaps the ſolution of this political problem can only be found in the ſelfiſhneſs of the French character, and the want of connection between the different departments. Thus one part of the country is ſubdued by means of another: the inhabitants of the South take up arms in defence of their freedom and their commerce, while thoſe of the North refuſe to countenance or aſſiſt them, and wait in ſelfiſh tranquillity till the ſame oppreſſion is extended to themſelves. The majority of the people have no point of union nor mode of communication, while the Jacobins, whoſe numbers are comparatively inſignificant, are ſtrong, by means of their general correſpondence, their common center at Paris, and the excluſive direction of all the public prints. But, whatever are the cauſes, it is certain that the government is at once powerful and deteſted—almoſt without apparent ſupport, yet difficult to overthrow; and the ſubmiſſion of Rome to a dotard and a boy can no longer excite the wonder of any one who reflects on what paſſes in France.

After various decrees to effect the levee en maſſe, the Convention have diſcovered that this ſublime and undefined project was not calculated for the preſent exhauſted ſtate of martial ardour. They therefore no longer preſume on any movement of enthuſiaſm, but have made a poſitive and ſpecific requiſition of all the male inhabitants of France between eighteen and twenty-five years of age. This, as might be expected, haſ been more effectual, becauſe it intereſts thoſe that are exempt to force the compliance of thoſe who are not. Our young men here were like children with a medicine—they propoſed firſt one form of taking thiſ military potion, then another, and finding them all equally unpalatable, would not, but for a little ſalutary force, have decided at all.

A new law has been paſſed for arreſting all the Engliſh who cannot produce two witneſſes of their civiſme, and thoſe whoſe conduct is thuſ guaranteed are to receive tickets of hoſpitality, which they are to wear as a protection. This decree has not yet been carried into effect at Peronne, nor am I much diſturbed about it. Few of our countrymen will find the matter very difficult to arrange, and I believe they have all a better protection in the diſpoſition of the people towards them, than any that can be aſſured them by decrees of the Convention.

Sept. 11. The news of Lord Hood's taking poſſeſſion of Toulon, which the government affected to diſcredit for ſome days, is now aſcertained; and the Convention, in a paroxiſm of rage, at once cowardly and unprincipled, has decreed that all the Engliſh not reſident in France before 1789, ſhall be impriſoned as hoſtages, and be anſwerable with their lives for the conduct of their countrymen and of the Touloneſe towards Bayle and Beauvais, two Deputies, ſaid to be detained in the town at the time of its ſurrender. My firſt emotions of terror and indignation have ſubſided, and I have, by packing up my clothes, diſpoſing of my papers, and providing myſelf with money, prepared for the worſt. My friends, indeed, perſuade me, (as on a former occaſion,) that the decree is too atrocious to be put in execution; but my apprehenſions are founded on a principle not likely to deceive me—namely, that thoſe who have poſſeſſed themſelves of the French government are capable of any thing. I live in conſtant fear, watching all day and liſtening all night, and never go to bed but with the expectation of being awakened, nor riſe without a preſentiment of miſfortune.—I have not ſpirits nor compoſure to write, and ſhall diſcontinue my letters until I am relieved from ſuſpenſe, if nor from uneaſineſs. I riſk much by preſerving theſe papers, and, perhaps, may never be able to add to them; but whatever I may be reſerved for, while I have a hope they may reach you they ſhall not be deſtroyed. —I bid you adieu in a ſtate of mind which the circumſtances I am under will deſcribe better than words.—Yours.

 

 

 

 

Maiſon d'Arret, Arras, Oct. 15, 1793.

Dear Brother,

The fears of a timid mind uſually magnify expected evil, and anticipated ſuffering often diminiſhes the effect of an apprehended blow; yet my imagination had ſuggeſted leſs than I have experienced, nor do I find that a preparatory ſtate of anxiety has rendered affliction more ſupportable. The laſt month of my life has been a compendium of miſery; and my recollection, which on every other ſubject ſeems to fail me, is, on this, but too faithful, and will enable me to relate events which will intereſt you not only as they perſonally concern me, but as they preſent a picture of the barbarity and deſpotiſm to which this whole country iſ ſubject, and to which many thouſands beſides myſelf were at the ſame inſtant victims.

A few evenings after I concluded my laſt, the firing of cannon and ringing the great bell announced the arrival of Dumont (ſtill Repreſentative en miſſion in our department). The town was immediately in alarm, all the gates were ſhut, and the avenues leading to the ramparts guarded by dragoons. Our houſe being in a diſtant and unfrequented ſtreet, before we could learn the cauſe of all thiſ confuſion, a party of the national guard, with a municipal officer at their head, arrived, to eſcort Mad. de ___ and myſelf to a church, where the Repreſentant was then examining the priſoners brought before him. Almoſt as much aſtoniſhed as terrified, we endeavoured to procure ſome information of our conductors, as to what was to be the reſult of thiſ meaſure; but they knew nothing, and it was eaſy to perceive they thought the office they were executing an unpleaſant one. The ſtreets we paſſed were crouded with people, whoſe ſilent conſternation and diſmayed countenances increaſed our forebodings, and depreſſed the little courage we had yet preſerved. The church at our arrival was nearly empty, and Dumont preparing to depart, when the municipal officer introduced us to him. As ſoon as he learned that Mad. de ____ was the ſiſter of an emigrant, and myſelf a native of England, he told us we were to paſs the night in a church appointed for the purpoſe, and that on the morrow we ſhould be conveyed to Arras. For a moment all my faculties became ſuſpended, and it was only by an effort almoſt convulſive that I was able to aſk how long it was probable we ſhould be deprived of our liberty. He ſaid he did not know—"but that the raiſing of the ſiege of Dunkirk, and the loſs of ſix thouſand troops which the French had taken priſoners, would doubtleſs produce an inſurrection in England, par conſequent a peace, and our releaſe from captivity!"

You may be aſſured I felt no deſire of freedom on ſuch terms, and ſhould have heard this ignorant and malicious ſuggeſtion only with contempt, had not the implication it conveyed that our detention would not terminate but with the war overwhelmed every other idea. Mad. de ____ then petitioned that we might, on account of our health, (for we were both really unwell,) be permitted to go home for the night, accompanied by guards if it were thought neceſſary. But the Repreſentant waſ inexorable, and in a brutal and deſpotic tone ordered us away.—When we reached the church, which was to be our priſon till morning, we found about an hundred and fifty people, chiefly old men, women, and children, diſperſed in melancholy groupes, lamenting their ſituation, and imparting their fears to each other. The gloom of the building was increaſed by the darkneſs of the night; and the noiſe of the guard, may of whom were intoxicated, the odour of tobacco, and the heat of the place, rendered our ſituation almoſt inſupportable. We ſoon diſcovered ſeveral of our acquaintance, but this aſſociation in diſtreſs was far from conſolatory, and we paſſed the time in wandering about together, and conſulting upon what would be of moſt uſe to us in our confinement. We had, indeed, little to hope for from the morrow, yet the hours dragged on heavily, and I know not if ever I beheld the return of light with more pleaſure. I was not without apprehenſion for our perſonal ſafety. I recollected the maſſacres in churches at Paris, and the frequent propoſitions that had been made to exterminate the gentry and clergy. Mad. de ____ has ſince confeſſed, that ſhe had the ſame ideas.

Morning at length came, and our ſervants were permitted to enter with breakfaſt. They appeared ſorrowful and terror-ſtricken, but offered with great willingneſs to accompany us whitherſoever we ſhould be ſent. After a melancholy ſort of diſcuſſion, it was decided that we ſhould take our femmes de chambres, and that the others ſhould remain for the ſafety of the houſe, and to ſend us what we might have occaſion for. This ſettled, they returned with ſuch directions as we were able to give them, (God knows, not very coherent ones,) to prepare for our journey: and as our orders, however confuſed, were not very voluminous, they were ſoon executed, and before noon every thing was in readineſs for our departure. The people employed by our companions were equally diligent, and we might very well have ſet out by one o'clock, had our caſe been at all conſidered; but, I know not why, inſtead of ſo providing that we might reach our deſtination in the courſe of the day, it ſeemed to have been purpoſely contrived that we ſhould be all night on the road, though we had already paſſed one night without reſt, and were exhauſted by watching and fatigue.

In this uncertain and unpleaſant ſtate we waited till near ſix o'clock; a number of ſmall covered waggons were then brought, accompanied by a detachment of dragoons, who were to be our eſcort. Some time elapſed, aſ you may ſuppoſe, before we could be all ſettled in the carriages and ſuch a cavalcade put in motion; but the concourſe of people that filled the ſtreets, the appearance of the troops, and the tumult occaſioned by ſo many horſes and carriages, overpowered my ſpirits, and I remember little of what paſſed till I found we were on the road to Arras. Mad. de ____'ſ maid now informed us, that Dumont had arrived the evening before in extreme ill humour, ſummoned the municipality in haſte, enquired how many people they had arreſted, and what denunciations they had yet to make. The whole body corporate trembled, they had arreſted no one, and, ſtill worſe, they had no one to accuſe; and could only alledge in their behalf, that the town was in the utmoſt tranquillity, and the people were ſo well diſpoſed, that all violence was unneceſſary. The Repreſentant became furious, vociferated tout groſſierement a la Francaiſe, [In the vulgar French manner.] that he knew there were five thouſand ariſtocrates in Peronne, and that if he had not at leaſt five hundred brought him before morning, he would declare the town in a ſtate of rebellion.

Alarmed by this menace, they began to arreſt with all poſſible ſpeed, and were more ſolicitous to procure their number than to make diſcriminations. Their diligence, however, was inadequate to appeaſe the choleric legiſlator, and the Mayor, municipal officers, and all the adminiſtrators of the diſtrict, were in the morning ſent to the Caſtle, whence they are to be conveyed, with ſome of their own priſoners, to Amiens.

Beſides this intelligence, we learned that before our ſervants had finiſhed packing up our trunks, ſome Commiſſioners of the ſection arrived to put the ſeals on every thing belonging to us, and it was not without much altercation that they conſented to our being furniſhed with neceſſarieſ—that they had not only ſealed up all the houſe, but had placed guards there, each of whom Mad. de ____ is to pay, at the rate of two ſhillings a day.

We were too large a body to travel faſt, and by the time we reached Bapaume (though only fifteen miles) it was after twelve; it rained dreadfully, the night was extremely dark, the roads were bad, and the horſes tired; ſo that the officer who conducted us thought it would be difficult to proceed before morning. We were therefore once more crouded into a church, in our wet clothes, (for the covering of the waggon waſ not thick enough to exclude the rain,) a few bundles of damp ſtraw were diſtributed, and we were then ſhut up to repoſe as well as we could. All my melancholy apprehenſions of the preceding night returned with accumulated force, eſpecially as we were now in a place where we were unknown, and were guarded by ſome of the newly-raiſed dragoons, of whom we all entertained very unfavourable ſuſpicions.

We did not, as you may well imagine, attempt to ſleep—a bed of wet ſtraw laid on the pavement of a church, filthy, as moſt French churches are, and the fear of being aſſaſſinated, reſiſted every effort of nature herſelf, and we were very glad when at the break of day we were ſummoned to continue our journey. About eleven we entered Arras: the ſtreets were filled by idle people, apprized of our arrival; but no one offered us any inſult, except ſome ſoldiers, (I believe, by their uniform, refugees from the Netherlands,) who cried, "a la Guillotine!—a la Guillotine!"

The place to which we were ordered had been the houſe of an emigrant, now converted into an houſe of detention, and which, though large, waſ exceſſively full. The keeper, on our being delivered to him, declared he had no room for us, and we remained with our baggage in the court-yard ſome hours before he had, by diſlodging and compreſſing the other inhabitants, contrived to place us. At laſt, when we were half dead with cold and fatigue, we were ſhown to our quarters. Thoſe allotted for my friend, myſelf, and our ſervants, was the corner of a garret without a cieling, cold enough in itſelf, but rendered much warmer than waſ deſirable by the effluvia of a ſcore of living bodies, who did not ſeem to think the unpleaſantneſs of their ſituation at all increaſed by dirt and offenſive ſmells. Weary as we were, it was impoſſible to attempt repoſing until a purification had been effected: we therefore ſet ourſelves to ſprinkling vinegar and burning perfumes; and it was curiouſ to obſerve that the people, (all gens comme il faut [People of faſhion.]) whom we found inhaling the atmoſphere of a Caffrarian hut, declared their nerves were incommoded by the eſſence of roſes and vinaigre des quatre voleurs.

As a part of the room was occupied by men, our next buſineſs was to ſeparate our corner by a curtain, which we had fortunately brought with our bedding; and this done, we ſpread our mattreſſes and lay down, while the ſervants were employed in getting us tea. As ſoon as we were a little refreſhed, and the room was quiet for the night, we made up our beds as well as we could, and endeavoured to ſleep. Mad. de ____ and the two maids ſoon forgot their cares; but, though worn out by fatigue, the agitation of my mind conquered the diſpoſition of my body. I ſeemed to have loſt the very faculty of ſleeping, and paſſed this night with almoſt as little repoſe as the two preceding ones. Before morning I diſcovered that remaining ſo long in damp clothes, and the other circumſtances of our journey, had given me cold, and that I had all the ſymptoms of a violent fever.

I leave you to conjecture, for it would be impoſſible to detail, all the miſery of illneſs in ſuch a ſituation; and I will only add, that by the care of Mad. de ____, whoſe health was happily leſs affected, and the attention of my maid, I was able to leave the room in about three weeks. —I muſt now ſecrete this for ſome days, but will hereafter reſume my little narrative, and explain how I have ventured to write ſo much even in the very neighbourhood of the Guillotine.—Adieu.

 

 

 

 

Maiſon d'Arret, Arras, Oct. 17, 1793.

On the night I concluded my laſt, a report that Commiſſioners were to viſit the houſe on the morrow obliged me to diſpoſe of my papers beyond the poſſibility of their being found. The alarm is now over, and I proceed.—After ſomething more than three weeks indiſpoſition, I began to walk in the yard, and make acquaintance with our fellow-priſoners. Mad. de ____ had already diſcovered ſeveral that were known to her, and I now found, with much regret, that many of my Arras friends were here alſo. Having been arreſted ſome days before us, they were rather more conveniently lodged, and taking the wretchedneſs of our garret into conſideration, it was agreed that Mad. de ____ ſhould move to a room leſſ crouded than our own, and a dark cloſet that would juſt contain my mattreſſes was reſigned to me. It is indeed a very ſorry apartment, but as it promiſes me a refuge where I may ſometimes read or write in peace, I have taken poſſeſſion of it very thankfully. A lock on the door is not the leaſt of its recommendations, and by way of ſecuring myſelf againſt all ſurprize, I have contrived an additional faſtening by means of a large nail and the chain of a portmanteau—I have likewiſe, under pretext of keeping out the wind, papered over the cracks of the door, and provided myſelf with a ſand-bag, ſo that no one can perceive when I have a light later than uſual.—With theſe precautions, I can amuſe myſelf by putting on paper any little occurrences that I think worth preſerving, without much danger, and perhaps the details of a ſituation ſo new and ſo ſtrange may not be unintereſting to you.

We are now about three hundred in number of both ſexes, and of all ageſ and conditionſ—ci-devant nobleſſe, parents, wives, ſiſters, and other relations of emigrantſ—prieſts who have not taken the oaths, merchantſ and ſhopkeepers accuſed of monopoly, nuns, farmers that are ſaid to have concealed their corn, miſerable women, with ſcarcely clothes to cover them, for not going to the conſtitutional maſs, and many only becauſe they happened to be at an inn, or on a viſit from their own town, when a general arreſt took place of all who are what is called etrangers, that is to ſay, not foreigners only, but not inhabitants of the town where they are found.—There are, beſides, various deſcriptions of people ſent here on ſecret informations, and who do not themſelves know the preciſe reaſon of their confinement. I imagine we are ſubject to nearly the ſame rules as the common priſons: no one is permitted to enter or ſpeak to a "detenu" but at the gate, and in preſence of the guard; and all letters, parcels, baſkets, &c. are examined previous to their being either conveyed from hence or received. This, however, depends much on the political principles of thoſe who happen to be on guard: an ariſtocrate or a conſtitutionaliſt will read a letter with his eyes half ſhut, and inſpect bedding and trunks in a very ſummary way; while a thorough-paced republican ſpells every ſyllable of the longeſt epiſtle, and opens all the roaſted pigs or duck-pies before he allows their ingreſs.—None of the ſervants are ſuffered to go out, ſo that thoſe who have not friendſ in the town to procure them neceſſaries are obliged to depend entirely on the keeper, and, of courſe, pay extravagantly dear for every thing; but we are ſo much in the power of theſe people, that it is prudent to ſubmit to ſuch impoſitions without murmuring.

I did not, during my illneſs, read the papers, and have to-day been amuſing myſelf with a large packet. General Houchard, I find, iſ arreſted, for not having, as they ſay he might have done, driven all the Engliſh army into the ſea, after raiſing the ſiege of Dunkirk; yet a few weeks ago their utmoſt hopes ſcarcely amounted to the relief of the town: but their fears having ſubſided, they have now leiſure to be jealous; and I know no ſituation ſo little to be envied under the preſent government as that of a ſucceſſful General.—Among all their important avocations, the Convention have found time to paſs a decree for obliging women to wear the national cockade, under pain of impriſonment; and the municipality of the ſuperb Paris have ordered that the King's family ſhall, in future, uſe pewter ſpoons and eat brown bread!

 

 

 

 

Oct. 18.

I begin to be very uneaſy about Mr. and Mrs. D____. I have written ſeveral times, and ſtill receive no anſwer. I fear they are in a confinement more ſevere than my own, or that our letters miſcarry. A ſervant of Mad. de ____'s was here this morning, and no letters had come to Peronne, unleſs, as my friend endeavours to perſuade me, the man would not venture to give them in preſence of the guard, who par excellence happened to be a furious Jacobin.—We had the mortification of hearing that a very elegant carriage of Mad. de ____'s has been put in requiſition, and taken to convey a tinman and two farriers who were going to Paris on a miſſion—that two of her farmer's beſt horſes had been killed by hard work in taking proviſions to the army, and that they are now cutting down the young wood on her eſtate to make pikes.—The ſealſ are ſtill on our effects, and the guard remains in poſſeſſion, which haſ put us to the expence of buying a variety of articles we could not well diſpenſe with: for, on examining the baggage after our arrival, we found it very much diminſhed; and this has happened to almoſt all the people who have been arreſted. Our ſuſpicions naturally fall on the dragoons, and it is not very ſurprizing that they ſhould attempt to ſteal from thoſe whom they are certain would not dare to make any complaint.

Many of our fellow-priſoners are embarraſſed by their ſervants having quitted them.—One Collot d'Herbois, a member of the Commite de Salut Public, has propoſed to the Convention to collect all the gentry, prieſts, and ſuſpected people, into different buildings, which ſhould be previouſly mined for the purpoſe, and, on the leaſt appearance of inſurrection, to blow them up all together.—You may perhaps conclude, that ſuch a project was received with horror, and the adviſer of it treated as a monſter. Our humane legiſlature, however, very coolly ſent it to the committee to be diſcuſſed, without any regard to the terror and apprehenſion which the bare idea of a ſimilar propoſal muſt inſpire in thoſe who are the deſtined victims. I cannot myſelf believe that thiſ abominable ſcheme is intended for execution, but it has nevertheleſſ created much alarm in timid minds, and has occaſioned in part the defection of the ſervants I have juſt mentioned. Thoſe who were ſufficiently attached to their maſters and miſtreſſes to endure the confinement and privations of a Maiſon d'Arret, tremble at the thoughtſ of being involved in the common ruin of a gunpowder exploſion; and the men ſeem to have leſs courage than the women, at leaſt more of the latter have conſented to remain here.—It was atrocious to publiſh ſuch a conception, though nothing perhaps was intended by it, as it may deprive many people of faithful attendants at a time when they are moſt neceſſary.

We have a tribunal revolutionnaire here, with its uſual attendant the Guillotine, and executions are now become very frequent. I know not who are the ſufferers, and avoid enquiring through fear of hearing the name of ſome acquaintance. As far as I can learn, the trials are but too ſummary, and little other evidence is required than the fortune, rank, and connections of the accuſed. The Deputy who is Commiſſioner for thiſ department is one Le Bon, formerly a prieſt—and, I underſtand, of an immoral and ſanguinary character, and that it is he who chiefly directſ the verdicts of the juries according to his perſonal hatred or hiſ perſonal intereſt.—We have lately had a very melancholy inſtance of the terror created by this tribunal, as well as of the notions that prevail of its juſtice. A gentleman of Calais, who had an employ under the government, was accuſed of ſome irregularity in his accounts, and, in conſequence, put under arreſt. The affair became ſerious, and he waſ ordered to priſon, as a preliminary to his trial. When the officerſ entered his apartment to take him, regarding the judicial procedure as a mere form, and concluding it was determined to ſacrifice him, he in a frenzy of deſpair ſeized the dogs in the chimney, threw them at the people, and, while they eſcaped to call for aſſiſtance, deſtroyed himſelf by cutting his arteries.—It has appeared, ſince the death of thiſ unfortunate man, that the charge againſt him was groundleſs, and that he only wanted time to arrange his papers, in order to exonerate himſelf entirely.

 

 

 

 

Oct. 19.

We are diſturbed almoſt nightly by the arrival of freſh priſoners, and my firſt queſtion of a morning is always "N'eſt il pas du monde entre la nuit?"—Angelique's uſual reply is a groan, and "Ah, mon Dieu, oui;" "Une dixaine de pretres;" or, "Une trentaine de nobles:" ["Did not ſome people arrive in the night?"]—"Yes, God help uſ—half a ſcore prieſts, or twenty or thirty gentry." And I obſerve the depth of the groan is nearly in proportion to the quality of the perſon ſhe commiſerates. Thus, a groan for a Comte, a Marquiſe, or a Prieſt, is much more audible than one for a ſimple gentlewoman or a merchant; and the arrival of a Biſhop (eſpecially if not one of the conſtitutional clergy) is announced in a more ſorrowful key than either.

While I was walking in the yard this morning, I was accoſted by a female whom I immediately recollected to be Victoire, a very pretty couturiere, [Sempſtreſs.] who uſed to work for me when I was at Panthemont, and who made your laſt holland ſhirts. I was not a little ſurprized to ſee her in ſuch a ſituation, and took her aſide to enquire her hiſtory. I found that her mother was dead, and that her brother having ſet up a little ſhop at St. Omer, had engaged her to go and live with him. Being under five-and-twenty, the laſt requiſition obliged him to depart for the army, and leave her to carry on the buſineſs alone. Three weeks after, ſhe was arreſted at midnight, put into a cart, and brought hither. She had no time to take any precautions, and their little commerce, which was in haberdaſhery, as well as ſome work ſhe had in hand, is abandoned to the mercy of the people that arreſted her. She has reaſon to ſuppoſe that her crime conſiſts in not having frequented the conſtitutional maſs; and that her accuſer is a member of one of the town committees, who, ſince her brother's abſence, has perſecuted her with diſhonourable propoſals, and, having been repulſed, has taken thiſ method of revenging himſelf. Her conjecture is moſt probably right, as, ſince her impriſonment, this man has been endeavouring to make a ſort of barter with her for her releaſe.

I am really concerned for this poor creature, who is at preſent a very good girl, but if ſhe remain here ſhe will not only be deprived of her means of living, but perhaps her morals may be irremediably corrupted. She is now lodged in a room with ten or dozen men, and the houſe is ſo crouded that I doubt whether I have intereſt enough to procure her a more decent apartment.

What can this ſtrange policy tend to, that thus expoſes to ruin and want a girl of one-and-twenty—not for any open violation of the law, but merely for her religious opinions; and this, too, in a country which profeſſes toleration as the baſis of its government?

My friend, Mad. de ____ ſ'ennui terribly; ſhe is not incapable of amuſing herſelf, but is here deprived of the means. We have no corner we can call our own to ſit in, and no retreat when we wiſh to be out of a croud except my cloſet, where we can only ſee by candle-light. Beſides, ſhe regrets her employments, and projects for the winter. She had begun painting a St. Thereſa, and tranſlating an Italian romance, and had nearly completed the education of a dozen canary birds, who would in a month's time have accompanied the harp ſo delightfully, as to overpower the ſound of the inſtrument. I believe if we had a few more ſquare inches of room, ſhe would be tempted, if not to bring the whole chorus, at leaſt to conſole herſelf with two particular favourites, diſtinguiſhed by curious topknots, and rings about their necks.

With all theſe feminine propenſities, ſhe is very amiable, and her caſe is indeed ſingularly cruel and unjuſt.—Left, at an early age, under the care of her brother, ſhe was placed by him at Panthemont (where I firſt became acquainted with her) with an intention of having her perſuaded to take the veil; but finding her averſe from a cloiſter, ſhe remained as a penſioner only, till a very advantageous marriage with the Marquis de ____, who was old enough to be her father, procured her releaſe. About two years ago he died, and left her a very conſiderable fortune, which the revolution has reduced to nearly one-third of its former value. The Comte de ____, her brother, was one of the original patriots, and embraced with great warmth the cauſe of the people; but having very narrowly eſcaped the maſſacres of September, 1792, he immediately after emigrated.

Thus, my poor friend, immured by her brother till the age of twenty-two in a convent, then ſacrificed three years to a huſband of a diſagreeable temper and unſuitable age, is now deprived of the firſt liberty ſhe ever enjoyed, and is made anſwerable for the conduct of a man over whom ſhe has no ſort of influence. It is not, therefore, extraordinary that ſhe cannot reconcile herſelf to her preſent ſituation, and I am really often more concerned on her account than my own. Cut off from her uſual reſources, ſhe has no amuſement but wandering about the houſe; and if her other cauſes of uneaſineſs be not augmented, they are at leaſt rendered more intolerable by her inability to fill up her time.—This does not ariſe from a deficiency of underſtanding, but from never having been accuſtomed to think. Her mind reſembles a body that is weak, not by nature, but from want of exerciſe; and the number of years ſhe has paſſed in a convent has given her that mixture of childiſhneſs and romance, which, my making frivolities neceſſary, renders the mind incapable of exertion or ſelf-ſupport.

 

 

 

 

Oct. 20.

The unfortunate Queen, after a trial of ſome days, during which ſhe ſeemſ to have behaved with great dignity and fortitude, is no longer ſenſible of the regrets of her friends or the malice of her enemies. It iſ ſingular, that I have not yet heard her death mentioned in the priſon —every one looks grave and affects ſilence. I believe her death has not occaſioned an effect ſo univerſal as that of the King, and whatever people's opinions may be, they are afraid of expreſſing them: for it iſ ſaid, though I know not with what truth, that we are ſurrounded by ſpies, and ſeveral who have the appearance of being priſoners like ourſelveſ have been pointed out to me as the objects of this ſuſpicion.

I do not pretend to undertake the defence of the Queen's imputed faultſ— yet I think there are ſome at leaſt which one may be very fairly permitted to doubt. Compaſſion ſhould not make me an advocate for guilt —but I may, without ſacrificing morals to pity, venture to obſerve, that the many ſcandalous hiſtories circulated to her prejudice took their riſe at the birth of the Dauphin,* which formed ſo inſurmountable a bar to the views of the Duke of Orleans.—

* Nearly at the ſame time, and on the ſame occaſion, there were literary partizans of the Duke of Orleans, who endeavoured to perſuade the people that the man with the iron maſk, who had ſo long excited curioſity and eluded conjecture, was the real ſon of Louiſ XIII.—and Louis XIV. in conſequence, ſuppoſititious, and only the illegitimate offſpring of Cardinal Mazarin and Anne of Auſtria—that the ſpirit of ambition and intrigue which characterized thiſ Miniſter had ſuggeſted this ſubſtitution to the lawful heir, and that the fears of the Queen and confuſion of the times had obliged her to acquieſce: "Cette opinion ridicule, et dont les dates connues de l'hiſtoire demontrent l'abſurdite, avoit eu des partiſans en France—elle tendoit a avilir la maiſon regnante, et a perſuader au peuple que le trone n'appartient pas aux deſcendans de Louis XIV. prince furtivement ſutſtitue, mais a la poſterite du ſecond fils de Louiſ XIII. qui eſt la tige de la branche d'Orleans, et qui eſt reconnue comme deſcendant legitimement, et ſans objection, du Roi Louiſ XIII." —Nouvelles Conſiderations ſur la Maſque de Fer, Memoirs de Richelieu. "This ridiculous opinion, the abſurdity of which is demonſtrated by hiſtorical dates, had not been without its partizans in France.—It tended to degrade the reigning family, and to make the people believe that the throne did not of right belong to the deſcendantſ of Louis XIV. (a prince ſurreptitiouſly intruded) but to the poſterity of the ſecond ſon of Louis XIII. from whom is derived the branch of Orleans, and who was, without diſpute, the legitimate and unobjectionable offſpring of Louis XIII." —New Conſiderations on the Iron Maſk.—Memoirs of the Duc de Richelieu.

The author of the above Memoirs adds, that after the taking of the Baſtille, new attempts were made to propagate this opinion, and that he himſelf had refuted it to many people, by producing original letters and papers, ſufficiently demonſtrative of its abſurdity.

—He might hope, by popularity, to ſuperſede the children of the Count d'Artois, who was hated; but an immediate heir to the Crown could be removed only by throwing ſuſpicions on his legitimacy. Theſe pretenſions, it is true, were ſo abſurd, and even incredible, that had they been urged at the time, no inference in the Queen's favour would have been admitted from them; but as the exiſtence of ſuch projects, however abſurd and iniquitous, has ſince been demonſtrated, one may now, with great appearance of reaſon, allow them ſome weight in her juſtification.

The affair of the necklace was of infinite diſſervice to the Queen'ſ reputation; yet it is remarkable, that the moſt furious of the Jacobinſ are ſilent on this head as far as it regarded her, and always mention the Cardinal de Rohan in terms that ſuppoſe him to be the culpable party: but, "whatever her faults, her woes deſerve compaſſion;" and perhaps the moraliſt, who is not too ſevere, may find ſome excuſe for a Princeſs, who, at the age of ſixteen, poſſibly without one real friend or diſintereſted adviſer, became the unreſtrained idol of the moſt licentious Court in Europe. Even her enemies do not pretend that her fate was ſo much a merited puniſhment as a political meaſure: they alledge, that while her life was yet ſpared, the valour of their troopſ was checked by the poſſibility of negotiation; and that being no more, neither the people nor armies expecting any thing but execration or revenge, they will be more ready to proceed to the moſt deſperate extremities.—This you will think a barbarous ſort of policy, and conſidering it as national, it appears no leſs abſurd than barbarous; but for the Convention, whoſe views perhaps extend little farther than to ſaving their heads, peculating, and receiving their eighteen livres a day, ſuch meaſures, and ſuch a principle of action, are neither unwiſe nor unaccountable: "for the wiſdom of civilized nations is not their wiſdom, nor the ways of civilized people their ways."*—

* I have been informed, by a gentleman who ſaw the Queen paſs in her way to execution, that the ſhort white bed gown and the cap which ſhe wore were diſcoloured by ſmoke, and that her whole appearance ſeemed to have been intended, if poſſible, to degrade her in the eyes of the multitude. The benevolent mind will recollect with pleaſure, that even the Queen's enemies allow her a fortitude and energy of character which muſt have counteracted this paltry malice, and rendered it incapable of producing any emotion but contempt. On her firſt being removed to the Conciergerie, ſhe applied for ſome neceſſaries; but the humane municipality of Paris refuſed them, under pretext that the demand was contrary to the ſyſtem of la ſainte elagite—"holy equality."

—It was reported that the Queen was offered her life, and the liberty to retire to St. Cloud, her favourite reſidence, if ſhe would engage the enemy to raiſe the ſiege of Maubeuge and withdraw; but that ſhe refuſed to interfere.

 

 

 

 

Arras, 1793.

For ſome days previous to the battle by which Maubeuge was relieved, we had very gloomy apprehenſions, and had the French army been unſucceſſful and forced to fall back, it is not improbable but the lives of thoſe detained in the Maiſon d'Arret [Houſe of detention.] might have been ſacrificed under pretext of appeaſing the people, and to give ſome credit to the ſuſpicions ſo induſtriouſly inculcated that all their defeats are occaſioned by internal enemies. My firſt care, as ſoon as I was able to go down ſtairs, was to examine if the houſe offered any means of eſcape in caſe of danger, and I believe, if we could preſerve our recollection, it might be practicable; but I can ſo little depend on my ſtrength and ſpirits, ſhould ſuch a neceſſity occur, that perhaps the conſolation of knowing I have a reſource is the only benefit I ſhould ever derive from it.

 

 

 

 

Oct. 21.

I have this day made a diſcovery of a very unpleaſant nature, which Mad. de ____ had hitherto cautiouſly concealed from me. All the Engliſh, and other foreigners placed under ſimilar circumſtances, are now, without exception, arreſted, and the confiſcation of their property is decreed. It is uncertain if the law is to extend to wearing apparel, but I find that on this ground the Committee of Peronne perſiſt in refuſing to take the ſeals off my effects, or to permit my being ſupplied with any neceſſaries whatſoever. In other places they have put two, four, and, I am told, even to the number of ſix guards, in houſes belonging to the Engliſh; and theſe guards, excluſive of being paid each two ſhillings per day, burn the wood, regale on the wine, and pillage in detail all they can find, while the unfortunate owner is ſtarving in a Maiſon d'Arret, and cannot obtain permiſſion to withdraw a ſingle article for his own uſe.—The plea for this paltry meaſure is, that, according to the report of a deſerter eſcaped from Toulon, Lord Hood has hanged one Beauvais, a member of the Convention. I have no doubt but the report is falſe, and, moſt likely, fabricated by the Comite de Salut Public, in order to palliate an act of injuſtice previouſly meditated.

It is needleſs to expatiate on the atrocity of making individuals, living here under the faith of the nation, reſponſible for the events of the war, and it is whiſpered that even the people are a little aſhamed of it; yet the government are not ſatiſfied with making us accountable for what really does happen, but they attribute acts of cruelty to our countrymen, in order to excuſe thoſe they commit themſelves, and retaliate imagined injuries by ſubſtantial vengeance.—Legendre, a member of the Convention, has propoſed, with a moſt benevolent ingenuity, that the manes of the aforeſaid Beauvais ſhould be appeaſed by exhibiting Mr. Luttrell in an iron cage for a convenient time, and then hanging him.

A gentleman from Amiens, lately arreſted while happening to be here on buſineſs, informs me, that Mr. Luttrell is now in the common gaol of that place, lodged with three other perſons in a miſerable apartment, ſo ſmall, that there is not room to paſs between their beds. I underſtand he was adviſed to petition Dumont for his removal to a Maiſon d'Arret, where he would have more external convenience; but he rejected thiſ counſel, no doubt from a diſdain which did him honour, and preferred to ſuffer all that the mean malice of theſe wretches would inflict, rather than aſk any accommodation as a favour.—The diſtinguiſhing Mr. Luttrell from any other Engliſh gentleman is as much a proof of ignorance as of baſeneſs; but in this, as in every thing elſe, the preſent French government is ſtill more wicked than abſurd, and our ridicule iſ ſuppreſſed by our deteſtation.

 

 

 

 

Oct. 22.

Mad. de ____'s _homme d'affaireſ_ [Agent] has been here to-day, but no news from Amiens. I know not what to conjecture. My patience is almoſt exhauſted, and my ſpirits are fatigued. Were I not juſt now relieved by a diſtant proſpect of ſome change for the better, my ſituation would be inſupportable.—"Oh world! oh world! but that thy ſtrange mutations make us wait thee, life would not yield to age." We ſhould die before our time, even of moral diſeaſes, unaided by phyſical ones; but the uncertainty of human events, which is the "worm i'the bud" of happineſs, is to the miſerable a cheering and conſolatory reflection. Thus have I dragged on for ſome weeks, poſtponing, as it were, my exiſtence, without any reſource, ſave the homely philoſophy of "nous verrons demain." ["We ſhall ſee to-morrow."]

At length our hopes and expectations are become leſs general, and if we do not obtain our liberty, we may be able at leaſt to procure a more eligible priſon. I confeſs, the ſource of our hopes, and the protector we have found, are not of a dignity to be uſhered to your notice by citations of blank verſe, or ſcraps of ſentiment; for though the top of the ladder is not quite ſo high, the firſt rounds are as low as that of Ben Bowling's.

Mad. de ____'s confidential ſervant, who came here to-day, has learned, by accident, that a man, who formerly worked with the Marquiſ's tailor, having (in conſequence, I ſuppoſe of a political vocation,) quitted the ſelling of old clothes, in which he had acquired ſome eminence, haſ become a leading patriot, and is one of Le Bon's, the Repreſentative's, privy counſellors. Fleury has renewed his acquaintance with this man, has conſulted him upon our ſituation, and obtained a promiſe that he will uſe his intereſt with Le Bon in our behalf. Under this ſplendid patronage, it is not unlikely but we may get an order to be tranſferred to Amiens, or, perhaps, procure our entire liberation. We have already written to Le Bon on the ſubject, and Fleury is to have a conference with our friend the tailor in a few days to learn the ſucceſs of hiſ mediation; ſo that, I truſt, the buſineſs will not be long in ſuſpenſe.

We have had a moſt indulgent guard to-day, who, by ſuffering the ſervant to enter a few paces within the gate, afforded us an opportunity of hearing this agreeable intelligence; as alſo, by way of epiſode, that boots being wanted for the cavalry, all the boots in the town were laſt night put in requiſition, and as Fleury was unluckily gone to bed before the ſearch was made at his inn, he found himſelf this morning very unceremoniouſly left bootleſs. He was once a famous patriot, and the oracle of Mad. de ____'s houſehold; but our confinement had already ſhaken his principles, and this ſeizure of his "ſuperb Engliſh bootſ" has, I believe, completed his defection.

 

 

 

 

Oct. 25.

I have diſcontinued my journal for three days to attend my friend, Mad. de ____, who has been ill. Uneaſineſs, and want of air and exerciſe, had brought on a little fever, which, by the uſual mode of treatment in thiſ country, has been conſiderably increaſed. Her diſorder did not indeed much alarm me, but I cannot ſay as much of her medical aſſiſtants, and it ſeems to me to be almoſt ſupernatural that ſhe has eſcaped the jeopardy of their preſcriptions. In my own illneſs I had truſted to nature, and my recollection of what had been ordered me on ſimilar occaſions; but for Mad. de ____ I was leſs confident, and deſirous of having better advice, begged a phyſician might be immediately ſent for. Had her diſorder been an apoplexy, ſhe muſt infallibly have died, for as no perſon, not even the faculty, can enter, without an order from the municipal Divan, half a day elapſed before this order could be procured. At length the phyſician and ſurgeon arrived, and I know not why the learned profeſſions ſhould impoſe on us more by one exterior than another; but I own, when I ſaw the phyſician appear in a white camblet coat, lined with roſe colour, and the ſurgeon with dirty linen, and a gold button and loop to his hat, I began to tremble for my friend. My feminine prejudices did not, however, in this inſtance, deceive me. After the uſual queſtions, the patient waſ declared in a fever, and condemned to cathartics, bleeding, and "bon bouillons;" that is to ſay, greaſy beef ſoup, in which there is never an oeconomy of onions.—When they were departed, I could not help expreſſing my ſurprize that people's lives ſhould be entruſted to ſuch hands, obſerving, at the ſame time, to the Baron de L____, (who is lodged in the ſame apartment with Mad. de ____,) that the French muſt never expect men, whoſe education fitted them for the profeſſion, would become phyſicians, while they continued to be paid at the rate of twenty-pence per viſit.— Yet, replied the Baron, if they make twenty viſits a day, they gain forty livreſ—"et c'eſt de quoi vivre." [It is a living.] It is undeniably de quoi vivre, but as long as a mere ſubſiſtence is the only proſpect of a phyſician, the French muſt be content to have their fevers cured by "draſtics, phlebotomy, and beef ſoup."

They tell me we have now more than five hundred detenus in this ſingle houſe. How ſo many have been wedged in I can ſcarcely conceive, but it ſeems our keeper has the art of calculating with great nicety the ſpace requiſite for a given number of bodies, and their being able to reſpire freely is not his affair. Thoſe who can afford it have their dinners, with all the appurtenances, brought from the inns or traiteurs; and the poor cook, ſleep, and eat, by ſcores, in the ſame room. I have perſuaded my friend to ſup as I do, upon tea; but our aſſociates, for the moſt part, finding it inconvenient to have ſuppers brought at night, and being unwilling to ſubmit to the ſame privations, regale themſelves with the remains of their dinner, re-cooked in their apartments, and thus go to ſleep, amidſt the fumes of perdrix a l'onion, oeufs a la tripe, [Partridge a l'onion—eggs a la tripe.] and all the produce of a French kitchen.

It is not, as you may imagine, the Bourgeois, and leſs diſtinguiſhed priſoners only, who indulge in theſe highly-ſeaſoned repaſts, at the expence of inhaling the ſavoury atmoſphere they leave behind them: the beaux and petites miſtreſſes, among the ci-devant, have not leſs exigent appetites, nor more delicate nerves; and the ragout is produced at night, in ſpite of the odours and diſorder that remain till the morrow.

I conclude, notwithſtanding your Engliſh prejudices, that there iſ nothing unwholeſome in filth, for if it were otherwiſe, I cannot account for our being alive. Five hundred bodies, in a ſtate of coacervation, without even a preference for cleanlineſs, "think of that Maſter Brook." All the forenoon the court is a receptacle for cabbage leaves, fiſh ſcales, leeks, &c. &c.—and as a French chambermaid uſually prefers the direct road to circumambulation, the refuſe of the kitchen is then waſhed away by plentiful inundations from the dreſſing-room—the paſſages are blockaded by foul plates, fragments, and bones; to which if you add the ſmell exhaling from hoarded apples and gruyere cheeſe, you may form ſome notion of the ſufferings of thoſe whoſe olfactory nerves are not robuſt. Yet this is not all—nearly every female in the houſe, except myſelf, iſ accompanied even here by her lap-dog, who ſleeps in her room, and, not unfrequently, on her bed; and theſe Leſbias and Lindamiras increaſe the inſalubrity of the air, and colonize one's ſtockings by ſending forth daily emigrations of fleas. For my own part, a few cloſe November dayſ will make me as captious and ſplenetic as Matthew Bramble himſelf. Nothing keeps me in tolerable good humour at preſent, but a clear froſty morning, or a high wind.

 

 

 

 

Oct. 27.

I thought, when I wrote the above, that the houſe was really ſo full aſ to be incapable of containing more; but I did not do juſtice to the talents of our keeper. The laſt two nights have brought us an addition of ſeveral waggon loads of nuns, farmers, ſhopkeepers, &c. from the neighbouring towns, which he has ſtill contrived to lodge, though much in the way that he would pack goods in bales. Should another convoy arrive, it is certain that we muſt ſleep perpendicularly, for even now, when the beds are all arranged and occupied for the night, no one can make a diagonal movement without diſturbing his neighbour.—This very ſociable manner of ſleeping is very far, I aſſure you, from promoting the harmony of the day; and I am frequently witneſs to the reproaches and recriminations occaſioned by nocturnal miſdemeanours. Sometimes the lap-dog of one dowager is accuſed of hoſtilities againſt that of another, and thereby producing a general chorus of the reſt—then a four-footed favourite ſtrays from the bed of his miſtreſs, and takeſ poſſeſſion of a General's uniform—and there are female ſomnambules, who alarm the modeſty of a pair of Biſhops, and ſuſpended officers, that, like Richard, warring in their dreams, cry "to arms," to the great annoyance of thoſe who are more inclined to ſleep in peace. But, I underſtand, the great diſturbers of the room where Mad. de ____ ſleepſ are two chanoines, whoſe noſes are ſo ſonorous and ſo untuneable as to produce a ſort of duet abſolutely incompatible with ſleep; and one of the company is often deputed to interrupt the ſerenade by manual application mais tout en badinant et avec politeſſe [But all in pleaſantry, and with politeneſs.] to the offending parties.

All this, my dear brother, is only ludicrous in the relation; yet for ſo many people to be thus huddled together without diſtinction of age, ſex, or condition, is truly miſerable.—Mad. De ____ is ſtill indiſpoſed, and while ſhe is thus ſuffocated by bad air, and diſtracted by the variouſ noiſes of the houſe, I ſee no proſpect of her recovery.

Arras is the common priſon of the department, and, beſides, there are a number of other houſes and convents in the town appropriated to the ſame uſe, and all equally full. God knows when theſe iniquities are to terminate! So far from having any hopes at preſent, the rage for arreſting ſeems, I think, rather to increaſe than ſubſide. It iſ ſuppoſed there are now more than three hundred thouſand people in France confined under the ſimple imputation of being what is called "genſ ſuſpect:" but as this generic term is new to you, I will, by way of explanation, particularize the ſeveral ſpecies as claſſed by the Convention, and then deſcribed by Chaumette, ſolicitor for the City of Paris;*—

* Decree concerning ſuſpected people: "Art. I. Immediately after the promulgation of the preſent decree, all ſuſpected perſons that are found on the territory of the republic, and who are ſtill at large, ſhall be put under arreſt. "II. Thoſe are deemed ſuſpicious, who by their connections, their converſation, or their writings, declare themſelves partizans of tyranny or foederation, and enemies to liberty—Thoſe who have not demonſtrated their means of living or the performance of their civic duties, in the manner preſcribed by the law of March laſt—Thoſe who, having been ſuſpended from public employments by the Convention or its Commiſſioners, are not reinſtated therein—Thoſe of the ci-devant nobleſſe, who have not invariably manifeſted their attachment to the revolution, and, in general, all the fathers, mothers, ſons, daughters, brothers, ſiſters, and agents of emigrantſ—All who have emigrated between the 1ſt of July, 1789, and 8th of April, 1792. "III. The execution of the decree is confided to the Committee of Inſpection. The individuals arreſted ſhall be taken to the houſeſ of confinement appointed for their reception. They are allowed to take with them ſuch only of their effects as are ſtrictly neceſſary, the guards ſet upon them ſhall be paid at their expence, and they ſhall be kept in confinement until the peace.—The Committees of Inſpection ſhall, without delay, tranſmit to the Committee of General Safety an account of the perſons arreſted, with the motiveſ of their arreſt. [If this were obſerved (which I doubt much) it waſ but a mockery, few perſons ever knew the preciſe reaſon of their confinement.]—The civil and criminal tribunals are empowered, when they deem it neceſſary, to detain and impriſon, as ſuſpected perſons, thoſe who being accuſed of crimes have nevertheleſs had no bill found againſt them, (lieu a accuſation,) or who have even been tried and acquitted."

Indications that may ſerve to diſtinguiſh ſuſpicious perſons, and thoſe to whom it will be proper to refuſe certificates of civiſm:

"I. Thoſe who in popular aſſemblies check the ardour of the people by artful ſpeeches, by violent exclamations or threats. "II. Thoſe who with more caution ſpeak in a myſterious way of the public miſfortunes, who appear to pity the lot of the people, and are ever ready to ſpread bad news with an affectation of concern. "III. Thoſe who adapt their conduct and language to the circumſtances of the moment—who, in order to be taken for republicans, put on a ſtudied auſterity of manners, and exclaim with vehemence againſt the moſt trifling error in a patriot, but mollify when the crimes of an Ariſtocrate or a Moderee are the ſubject of complaint. [Theſe trifling events were, being concerned in the maſſacres of September, 1792—public peculationſ—occaſional, and even habitual robbery, forgeries, &c. &c. &c.—The ſecond, fourth, fifth, ſixth, and ſeventh claſſes, were particularly numerous, inſomuch that I doubt whether they would not have included nineteen-twentieths of all the people in France who were honeſt or at all capable of reflection.] "IV. Thoſe who pity avaricious farmers and ſhopkeepers, againſt whom the laws have been neceſſarily directed. "V. Thoſe who with the words liberty, country, republic, &c. conſtantly in their mouths, hold intercourſe with ci-devant Nobles, Contre-revolutionnaires, Prieſts, Ariſtocrates, Feuillans, &c. and take an intereſt in their concerns. "VI. Thoſe who not having borne an active part in the revolution, endeavour to excuſe themſelves by urging the regular payment of their taxes, their patriotic gifts, and their ſervice in the Garde National by ſubſtitute or otherwiſe. "VII. Thoſe who received the republican conſtitution with coolneſs, or who intimated their pretended apprehenſions for its eſtabliſhment and duration. "VIII. Thoſe who, having done nothing againſt liberty, have done aſ little for it. "IX. Thoſe who do not frequent the aſſembly of their ſection, and offer, for excuſe, that they are no orators, or have no time to ſpare from their own buſineſs. "X. Thoſe who ſpeak with contempt of the conſtituted authorities, of the rigour of the laws, of the popular ſocieties, and the defenders of liberty. "XI. Thoſe who have ſigned anti-revolutionary petitions, or any time frequented unpatriotic clubs, or were known as partizans of La Fayette, and accomplices in the affair of the Champ de Mars."

—and it muſt be allowed by all who reſide in France at this moment, and are capable of obſerving the various forms under which hatred for the government ſhelters itſelf, that the latter is a chef d'oeuvre in itſ kind.

Now, excluſive of the above legal and moral indications of people to be ſuſpected, there are alſo outward and viſible ſigns which we are told from the tribune of the Convention, and the Jacobins, are not much leſſ infallible—ſuch as Gens a bas de ſoie rayes moucheteſ—a chapeau rond— habit carre—culotte pincee etroite—a bottes cireeſ—les muſcadinſ— Freloquetſ—Robinets, &c. [People that wear ſpotted or ſtriped ſilk ſtockingſ—round hatſ—ſmall coatſ—tight breecheſ—blacked bootſ— perfumeſ—coxcombſ—ſprigs of the law, &c.] The conſequence of making the cut of a man's coat, or the ſhape of his hat, a teſt of his political opinions, has been the tranſformation of the whole country into republicans, at leaſt as far as depends on the coſtume; and where, as iſ natural, there exiſts a conſciouſneſs of inveterate ariſtocracy, the external is more elaborately "a la Jacobin." The equipment, indeed, of a French patriot of the lateſt date is as ſingular as his manners, and in both he is highly diſtinguiſhable from the inhabitants of any other country: from thoſe of civilized nations, becauſe he is groſs and ferociouſ—from thoſe of barbarous ones, becauſe his groſſneſs is often affected, and his ferocity a matter of principle and preference.

A man who would not be reckoned ſuſpect now arrays himſelf in a jacket and trowſers (a Carmagnole) of ſtriped cotton or coarſe cloth, a neckcloth of gaudy cotton, wadded like a horſe-collar, and projecting conſiderably beyond his chin, a cap of red and blue cloth, embroidered in front and made much in the form of that worn by the Pierrot of a pantomime, with one, or ſometimes a pair, of ear-rings, about the ſize of a large curtain-ring! Finally, he crops his hair, and carefully encourages the growth of an enormous pair of whiſkers, which he does not fail to perfume with volumes of tobacco ſmoke. He, however, who iſ ambitious of ſtill greater eminence, diſdains theſe fopperies, and affects an appearance of filth and rags, which he dignifies with the appellation of ſtern republicaniſm and virtuous poverty; and thus, by means of a thread-bare coat out at elbows, wooden ſhoes, and a red woollen cap, the rich hope to ſecure their wealth, and the covetous and intriguing to acquire lucrative employment.—Rolland, I think, was the founder of theſe modern Franciſcans, and with this miſerable affectation he machinated the death of the King, and, during ſome months, procured for himſelf the excluſive direction of the government.

All theſe patriots by preſcription and ſyſtem have likewiſe a peculiar and appropriated dialect—they addreſs every one by the title of Citizen, thee and thou indiſtinctly, and talk of nothing but the agents of Pitt and Cobourg, the coaleſced tyrants, royal ogres, ſatellites of the deſpots, automaton ſlaves, and anthropophagi; and if they revert to their own proſperous ſtate, and this very happy country, it is, un peuple libre, en peuple heureux, and par excellence la terre de la liberte. ["A free people—a happy people—and, above all others, the land of liberty."]—It is to be obſerved, that thoſe with whom theſe pompouſ expreſſions are moſt familiar, are officers employed in the war-like ſervice of mutilating the wooden ſaints in churches, and arreſting old women whom they encounter without national cockades; or members of the municipalities, now reduced to execute the offices of conſtables, and whoſe chief functions are to hunt out ſuſpected people, or make domiciliary viſits in queſt of concealed eggs and butter. But, above all, this democratic oratory is uſed by tailors, ſhoemakers, &c.* of the Committees of Inſpection, to whom the Repreſentatives on miſſion have delegated their unlimited powers, who arreſt much on the principle of Jack Cade, and with whom it is a crime to read and write, or to appear decently dreſſed.

* For ſome months the departments were infeſted by people of thiſ deſcription—corrupt, ignorant, and inſolent. Their motives of arreſt were uſually the hope of plunder, or the deſire of diſtreſſing thoſe whom they had been uſed to look upon as their ſuperiors.—At Arras it ſufficed even to have diſobliged the wiveſ of theſe miſcreants to become the object of perſecution. In ſome places they arreſted with the moſt barbarous caprice, even without the ſhadow of a reaſon. At Heſden, a ſmall town in Artois, Dumont left the Mayor carte blanche, and in one night two hundred people were thrown into priſon. Every where theſe low and obſcure dominators reigned without controul, and ſo much were the people intimidated, that inſtead of daring to complain, they treated their new tyrants with the moſt ſervile adulation.—I have ſeen a ci-devant Comteſſe coquetting with all her might a Jacobin tailor, and the richeſt merchants of a town ſoliciting very humbly the good offices of a dealer in old clothes.

Theſe ridiculous accoutrements, and this magnificent phraſeology, are in themſelves very harmleſs; but the aſcendancy which ſuch a claſs of people are taking has become a ſubject of juſt alarm.—The whole adminiſtration of the country is now in the hands of uninformed and neceſſitouſ profligates, ſwindlers, men already condemned by the laws, and who, if the revolution had not given them "place and office," would have been at the galleys, or in priſon.*

* One of the adminiſtrators of the department de la Somme (which, however, was more decently compoſed than many others,) was, before the revolution, convicted of houſe-breaking, and another of forgery; and it has ſince been proved on various occaſions, particularly on the trial of the ninety-four Nantais, that the revolutionary Committees were, for the moſt part, compoſed of the very refuſe of ſociety—adventurers, thieves, and even aſſaſſins; and it would be difficult to imagine a crime that did not there find reward and protection.—In vain were the privileges of the nobility aboliſhed, and religion proſcribed. A new privileged order aroſe in the Jacobins, and guilt of every kind, without the ſemblance of penitence, found an aſylum in theſe Committees, and an inviolability more ſacred than that afforded by the demoliſhed altars.

To theſe may be added a few men of weak character, and unſteady principles, who remain in office becauſe they fear to reſign; with a few, and but very few, ignorant fanatics, who really imagine they are free becauſe they can moleſt and deſtroy with impunity all they have hitherto been taught to reſpect, and drink treble the quantity they did formerly.

 

 

 

 

Oct. 30.

For ſome days the guards have been ſo untractable, and the croud at the door has been ſo great, that Fleury was obliged to make various effortſ before he could communicate the reſult of his negotiation. He has at length found means to inform us, that his friend the tailor had exerted all his intereſt in our favour, but that Dumont and Le Bon (as often happens between neighbouring potentates) are at war, and their enmity being in ſome degree ſubject to their mutual fears, neither will venture to liberate any priſoner arreſted by the other, leſt ſuch a diſpoſition to clemency ſhould be ſeized on by his rival as a ground of accuſation.*

* But if they did not free the enemies of each other, they revenged themſelves by throwing into priſon all their mutual friendſ—for the temper of the times was ſuch, that, though theſe Repreſentativeſ were expreſſly inveſted with unlimited powers, they did not venture to ſet any one at liberty without a multitude of forms and a long attendance: on the contrary, they arreſted without any form at all, and allowed their myrmidons to harraſs and confine the perſons and ſequeſter the property of all whom they judged proper.—It ſeemed to have been an elementary principle with thoſe employed by the government at this time, that they riſked nothing in doing all the miſchief they could, and that they erred only in not doing enough.

—All, therefore, that can be obtained is, a promiſe to have us removed to Amiens in a ſhort time; and I underſtand the detenus are there treated with conſideration, and that no tribunal revolutionnaire has yet been eſtabliſhed.

My mind will be conſiderably more at eaſe if this removal can be effected. Perhaps we may not be in more real danger here than at any other place, but it is not realities that conſtitute the miſery of life; and ſituated as we are, that imagination muſt be phlegmatic indeed, which does not create and exaggerate enough to prevent the poſſibility of eaſe.—We are, as I before obſerved, placed as it were within the juriſdiction of the guillotine; and I have learned "a ſecret of our priſon-houſe" to-day which Mad. de ____ had hitherto concealed from me, and which has rendered me ſtill more anxious to quit it. Several of our fellow priſoners, whom I ſuppoſed only tranſferred to other houſes, have been taken away to undergo the ceremony of a trial, and from thence to the ſcaffold. Theſe judicial maſſacres are now become common, and the repetition of them has deſtroyed at once the feeling of humanity and the ſenſe of juſtice. Familiarized to executions, the thoughtleſs and ſanguinary people behold with equal indifference the guilty or innocent victim; and the Guillotine has not only ceaſed to be an object of horror, but is become almoſt a ſource of amuſement.

* At Arras this horrid inſtrument of death was what they called en permanence, (ſtationary,) and ſo little regard was paid to the morals of the people, (I ſay the morals, becauſe every thing which tends to deſtroy their humanity renders them vicious,) that it waſ often left from one execution to another with the enſanguined traceſ of the laſt victim but too evident.—Children were taught to amuſe themſelves by making models of the Guillotine, with which they deſtroyed flies, and even animals. On the Pontneuf, at Paris, a ſort of puppet-ſhow was exhibited daily, whoſe boaſt it was to give a very exact imitation of a guillotinage; and the burthen of a popular ſong current for ſome months was "Danſons la Guillotine." —On the 21ſt of January, 1794, the anniverſary of the King's death, the Convention were invited to celebrate it on the "Place de la Revolution," where, during the ceremony, and in preſence of the whole legiſlative body, ſeveral people were executed. It is true, Bourdon, one of the Deputies, complained of this indecency; but not ſo much on account of the circumſtance itſelf, as becauſe it gave ſome of the people an opportunity of telling him, in a ſort of way he might probably deem prophetic, that one of the victims was a Repreſentative of the People. The Convention pretended to order that ſome enquiry ſhould be made why at ſuch a moment ſuch a place was choſen; but the enquiry came to nothing, and I have no doubt but the executions were purpoſely intended as analogous to the ceremony.—It was proved that Le Bon, on an occaſion when he choſe to be a ſpectator of ſome executions he had been the cauſe of, ſuſpended the operation while he read the newſpaper aloud, in order, as he ſaid, that the ariſtocrates might go out of the world with the additional mortification of learning the ſucceſs of the republican arms in their laſt moments. The People of Breſt were ſuffered to behold, I had almoſt ſaid to be amuſed with (for if thoſe who order ſuch ſpectacles are deteſtable, the people that permit them are not free from blame,) the ſight of twenty-five heads ranged in a line, and ſtill convulſed with the agonies of death.—The cant word for the Guillotine was "our holy mother;" and verdicts of condemnation were called prizes in the Sainte Lotterie—"holy lottery."

The dark and ferocious character of Le Bon developes itſelf hourly: the whole department trembles before him; and thoſe who have leaſt merited perſecution are, with reaſon, the moſt apprehenſive. The moſt cautiouſ prudence of conduct, the moſt undeviating rectitude in thoſe who are by their fortune or rank obnoxious to the tyrant, far from contributing to their ſecurity, only mark them out for a more early ſacrifice. What iſ ſtill worſe, theſe horrors are not likely to terminate, becauſe he iſ allowed to pay out of the treaſury of the department the mob that are employed to popularize and applaud them.—I hope, in a few days, we ſhall receive our permiſſion to depart. My impatience is a malady, and, for nearly the firſt time in my life, I am ſenſible of ennui; not the ennui occaſioned by want of amuſement, but that which is the effect of unquiet expectation, and which makes both the mind and body reſtleſs and incapable of attending to any thing. I am inceſſantly haunted by the idea that the companion of to-day may to-morrow expire under the Guillotine, that the common acts of ſocial intercourſe may be explained into intimacy, intimacy into the participation of imputed treaſons, and the fate of thoſe with whom we are aſſociated become our own. It appearſ both uſeleſs and cruel to have brought us here, nor do I yet know any reaſon why we were not all removed to Amiens, except it was to avoid expoſing to the eyes of the people in the places through which we muſt paſs too large a number of victims at once.—The cauſe of our being removed from Peronne is indeed avowed, as it is at preſent a rule not to confine people at the place of their reſidence, leſt they ſhould have too much facility or communication with, or aſſiſtance from, their friends.*

* In ſome departments the nobles and prieſts arreſted were removed from ten to twenty leagues diſtant from their homes; and if they happened to have relations living at the places where they were confined, theſe laſt were forbidden to reſide there, or even to travel that way.

We ſhould doubtleſs have remained at Arras until ſome change in public affairs had procured our releaſe, but for the fortunate diſcovery of the man I have mentioned; and the trifling favour of removal from one priſon to another has been obtained only by certain arrangements which Fleury has made with this ſubordinate agent of tyranny, and in which juſtice or conſideration for us had no ſhare. Alaſ! are we not miſerable? is not the country miſerable, when our only reſource is in the vices of thoſe who govern?—It is uncertain when we ſhall be ordered from hence—it may happen when we leaſt expect it, even in the night, ſo that I ſhall not attempt to write again till we have changed our ſituation. The riſk iſ at preſent too ſerious, and you muſt allow my deſire of amuſing you to give way to my ſolicitude for my own preſervation.

 

 

 

 

Bicetre at Amiens, Nov. 18, 1793.

Nous voila donc encore, logees a la nation; that is to ſay, the common priſon of the department, amidſt the thieves, vagabonds, maniacs, &c. confined by the old police, and the gens ſuſpects recently arreſted by the new.—I write from the end of a ſort of elevated barn, ſixty or ſeventy feet long, where the interſtices of the tiles admit the wind from all quarters, and ſcarcely exclude the rain, and where an old ſcreen and ſome curtains only ſeparate Mad. de ____, myſelf, and our ſervants, from ſixty prieſts, moſt of them old, ſick, and as wretched as men can be, who are pious and reſigned. Yet even here I feel comparatively at eaſe, and an eſcape from the juriſdiction of Le Bon and his mercileſs tribunal ſeems cheaply purchaſed by the ſacrifice of our perſonal convenience. I do not pretend to philoſophize or ſtoicize, or to any thing elſe which implies a contempt of life—I have, on the contrary, a moſt unheroic ſolicitude about my exiſtence, and conſider my removal to a place where I think we are ſafe, as a very fortunate aera of our captivity.

After many delays and diſappointments, Fleury at length procured an order, ſigned by the Repreſentative, for our being tranſferred to Amiens, under the care of two Gardes Nationalaux, and, of courſe, at our expence.—Every thing in this country wears the aſpect of deſpotiſm. At twelve o'clock at night we were awakened by the officer on guard, and informed we were to depart on the morrow; and, notwithſtanding the difficulty of procuring horſes and carriages, it was ſpecified, that if we did not go on the day appointed, we were not to go at all. It was, or courſe, late before we could ſurmount the various obſtacles to our journey, and procure two crazy cabriolets, and a cart for the guards, ourſelves, and baggage. The days being ſhort, we were obliged to ſleep at Dourlens; and, on our arrival at the caſtle, which is now, as it always has been, a ſtate-priſon, we were told it was ſo full, that it waſ abſolutely impoſſible to lodge us, and that we had better apply to the Governor, for permiſſion to ſleep at an inn. We then drove to the Governor'ſ* houſe, who received us very civilly, and with very little perſuaſion agreed to our requeſt. At the beſt of the miſerable inns in the town we were informed they had no room, and that they could not accommodate us in any way whatever, except a ſick officer then in the houſe would permit us to occupy one of two beds in his apartment.

* The Commandant had been originally a private ſoldier in the regiment of Dillon.—I know not how he had obtained his advancement, but, however obtained, it proved fatal to him: he was, a very ſhort time after I ſaw him, guillotined at Arras, for having borrowed money of a priſoner. His real crime was, probably, treating the priſoners in general with too much conſideration and indulgence; and at this period every ſuſpicion of the kind was fatal.

In England it would not be very decent to make ſuch a requeſt, or to accept ſuch an accommodation. In France, neither the one nor the other is unuſual, and we had ſuffered lately ſo many embarraſſments of the kind, that we were, if not reconciled, at leaſt inured to them. Before, however, we could determine, the gentleman had been informed of our ſituation, and came to offer his ſervices. You may judge of our ſurprize when we found in the ſtranger, who had his head bound up and his arm in a ſling, General ____, a relation of Mad. de ____. We had now, therefore, leſs ſcruple in ſharing his room, though we agreed, notwithſtanding, only to repoſe a few hours in our clothes.

After taking ſome tea, the remainder of the evening was dedicated to reciprocal converſation of all kinds; and our guards having acquaintance in the town, and knowing it was impoſſible for us to eſcape, even were we ſo inclined, very civilly left us to ourſelves. We found the General had been wounded at Maubeuge, and was now abſent on conge for the recovery of his health. He talked of the preſent ſtate of public affairs like a military man who is attached to his profeſſion, and who thinks it hiſ duty to fight at all events, whatever the rights or merits of thoſe that employ him. He confeſſed, indeed, that they were repulſing their external enemies, only to confirm the power of thoſe who were infinitely more to be dreaded at home, and that the condition of a General was more to be commiſerated at this time than any other: if he miſcarry, diſgrace and the Guillotine await him—if he be ſucceſſful, he gains little honour, becomes an object of jealouſy, and aſſiſts in rivetting the chains of his country. He ſaid, the armies were for the moſt part licentious and inſubordinate, but that the political diſcipline waſ terrible—the ſoldiers are allowed to drink, pillage, and inſult their officers with impunity, but all combinations are rigorouſly ſuppreſſed, the ſlighteſt murmur againſt the Repreſentative on miſſion is treaſon, and to diſapprove of a decree of the convention, death—that every man of any note in the army is beſet with ſpies, and if they leave the camp on any occaſion, it is more neceſſary to be on their guard againſt theſe wretches than againſt an ambuſcade of the enemy; and he related a circumſtance which happened to himſelf, as an example of what he mentioned, and which will give you a tolerable idea of the preſent ſyſtem of government.—After the relief of Dunkirk, being quartered in the neighbourhood of St. Omer, he occaſionally went to the town on hiſ private concerns. One day, while he was waiting at the inn where he intended to dine, two young men accoſted him, and after engaging him in a general converſation for ſome time, began to talk with great freedom, though with an affected caution of public men and meaſures, of the banditti who governed, the tyranny that was exerciſed, and the ſupineneſſ of the people: in ſhort, of all thoſe too poignant truths which conſtitute the leze nation of the day. Mons. de ____ was not at firſt very attentive, but finding their diſcourſe become ſtill more liberal, it excited his ſuſpicions, and caſting his eyes on a glaſs oppoſite to where they were converſing, he perceived a ſort of intelligence between them, which immediately ſuggeſted to him the profeſſion of his companions; and calling to a couple of dragoons who had attended him, ordered them to arreſt the two gentlemen as artiſtocrates, and convey them without ceremony to priſon. They ſubmitted, ſeemingly more ſurprized than alarmed, and in two hours the General received a note from a higher power, deſiring him to ſet them at liberty, as they were agents of the republic.

Duqueſnoy, one of the Repreſentatives now with the Northern army, iſ ignorant and brutal in the extreme. He has made his brother (who, aſ well as himſelf, uſed to retail hops in the ſtreets of St. Pol,) a General; and in order to deliver him from rivals and critics, he breaks, ſuſpends, arreſts, and ſends to the Guillotine every officer of any merit that comes in his way. After the battle of Maubeuge, he arreſted a General Bardell, [The Generals Bardell and D'Aveſnes, and ſeveral others, were afterwards guillotined at Paris.] for accommodating a wounded priſoner of diſtinction (I think a relation of the Prince of Cobourg) with a bed, and tore with his own hands the epaulette from the ſhoulderſ of thoſe Generals whoſe diviſions had not ſuſtained the combat ſo well aſ the others. His temper, naturally ſavage and choleric, is irritated to fury by the habit of drinking large quantities of ſtrong liquors; and Mad. de ___'s relation aſſured us, that he had himſelf ſeen him take the Mayor of Aveſnes (a venerable old man, who was preſenting ſome petition to him that regarded the town,) by the hair and throw him on the ground, with the geſtures of an enraged cannibal. He alſo confined one of hiſ own fellow deputies in the tower of Guiſe, upon a very frivolous pretext, and merely on his own authority. In fact, I ſcarcely remember half the horrors told us of this man; and I ſhall only remind you, that he has an unlimited controul over the civil conſtitution of the Northern army, and over the whole department of the North.

You, I ſuppoſe, will be better informed of military events than we are, and I mention our friend's conjecture, that (beſides an enormous number of killed) the wounded at Maubeuge amounted to twelve or fourteen thouſand, only to remark the deception which is ſtill practiſed on the people; for no publiſhed account ever allowed the number to be more than a few hundreds.—Beſides theſe profeſſional details, the General gave uſ ſome very unpleaſant family ones. On returning to his father's chateau, where he hoped to be taken care of while his wounds were curing, he found every room in it under ſeals, three guards in poſſeſſion, his two ſiſterſ arreſted at St. Omer, where they happened to be on a viſit, and hiſ father and mother confined in ſeparate houſes of detention at Arras. After viſiting them, and making ſome ineffectual applications for their relief, he came to the neighbourhood of Dourlens, expecting to find an aſylum with an uncle, who had hitherto eſcaped the general perſecution of the gentry. Here again his diſappointment and chagrin were renewed: hiſ uncle had been carried off to Amiens the morning of his arrival, and the houſe rendered inacceſſible, by the uſual affixture of ſeals, and an attendant pair of myrmidons to guard them from infraction. Thus excluded from all his family habitations, he had taken up his reſidence for a day or two at the inn where we met him, his intention being to return to Arras.

In the morning we made our adieus and purſued our journey; but, tenaciouſ of this comparative liberty and the enjoyment of pure air, we prevailed on our conductors to let us dine on the road, ſo that we lingered with the unwillingneſs of truant children, and did not reach Amiens until dark. When we arrived at the Hotel de Ville, one of the guards enquired how we were to be diſpoſed of. Unfortunately for us, Dumont happened to be there himſelf, and on hearing we were ſent from Arras by order of Le Bon, declared moſt furiouſly (for our Repreſentative is ſubject to choler ſince his acceſſion to greatneſs) that he would have no priſonerſ received from Arras, and that we ſhould ſleep at the Conciergerie, and be conveyed back again on the morrow. Terrified at this menace, we perſuaded the guard to repreſent to Dumont that we had been ſent to Amiens at our own inſtance, and that we had been originally arreſted by himſelf, and were therefore deſirous of returning to the department where he was on miſſion, and where we had more reaſon to expect juſtice than at Arras. Mollified, perhaps, by this implied preference of his authority, he conſented that we ſhould remain for the preſent at Amiens, and ordered us to be taken to the Bicetre. Whoever has been uſed to connect with the word Bicetre the idea of the priſon ſo named at Paris, muſt recoil with horror upon hearing they are deſtined to ſuch a abode. Mad. de ___, yet weak from the remains of her illneſs, laid hold of me in a tranſport of grief; but, far from being able to calm or conſole her, my thoughts were ſo bewildered that I did not, till we alighted at the gate, begin to be really ſenſible of our ſituation. The night was dark and dreary, and our firſt entrance was into a kitchen, ſuch as my imagination had pictured the ſubterraneous one of the robbers in Gil Blas. Here we underwent the ceremony of having our pocket-books ſearched for papers and letters, and our trunks rummaged for knives and fire-arms. This done, we were ſhown to the lodging I have deſcribed, and the poor prieſts, already inſufferably crouded, were obliged almoſt to join their beds in order to make room for us.—I will not pain you by a recital of all the embarraſſments and diſtreſſes we had to ſurmount before we could even reſt ourſelves. We were in want of every thing, and the rules of the priſon ſuch, that it was nearly impoſſible, for ſome time, to procure any thing: but the human mind is more flexible than we are often diſpoſed to imagine it; and in two days we were able to ſee our ſituation in thiſ beſt point of view, (that is, as an eſcape from Arras,) and the affair of ſubmitting our bodies to our minds muſt be atchieved by time.—We have now been here a week. We have ſounded the very depth of humiliation, taken our daily allowance of bread with the reſt of the priſoners, and contracted a moſt friendly intimacy with the gaoler.

I have diſcovered ſince our arrival, that the order for tranſferring uſ hither deſcribed me as a native of the Low Countries. I know not how this happened, but my friend has inſiſted on my not rectifying the miſtake, for as the French talk continually of re-conquering Brabant, ſhe perſuades herſelf ſuch an event would procure me my liberty. I neither deſire the one nor expect the other; but, to indulge her, I ſpeak no Engliſh, and avoid two or three of my countrymen who I am told are here. There have been alſo ſome Engliſh families who were lately removed, but the French pronounce our names ſo ſtrangely, that I have not been able to learn who they were.

 

 

 

 

November 19, 1793.

The Engliſh in general, eſpecially of late years, have been taught to entertain very formidable notions of the Baſtille and other ſtate priſonſ of the ancient government, and they were, no doubt, horrid enough; yet I have not hitherto been able to diſcover that thoſe of the new republic are any way preferable. The only difference is, that the great number of priſoners which, for want of room, are obliged to be heaped together, makes it impoſſible to exclude them as formerly from communication, and, inſtead of being maintained at the public expence, they now, with great difficulty, are able to procure wherewithal to eat at their own. Our preſent habitation is an immenſe building, about a quarter of a mile from the town, intended originally for the common gaol of the province. The ſituation is damp and unwholeſome, and the water ſo bad, that I ſhould ſuppoſe a long continuance here of ſuch a number of priſoners muſt be productive of endemical diſorders. Every avenue to the houſe is guarded, and no one is permitted to ſtop and look up at the windows, under pain of becoming a reſident. We are ſtrictly prohibited from all external intercourſe, except by writing; and every ſcrap of paper, though but an order for a dinner, paſſes the inquiſition of three different people before it reaches its deſtination, and, of courſe, many letters and noteſ are miſlaid, and never ſent at all.—There is no court or garden in which the priſoners are allowed to walk, and the only exerciſe they can take iſ in damp paſſages, or a ſmall yard, (perhaps thirty feet ſquare,) which often ſmells ſo deteſtably, that the atmoſphere of the houſe itſelf iſ leſs mephitic.

Our fellow-captives are a motley collection of the victims of nature, of juſtice, and of tyranny—of lunatics who are inſenſible of their ſituation, of thieves who deſerve it, and of political criminals whoſe guilt is the accident of birth, the imputation of wealth, or the profeſſion of a clergyman. Among the latter is the Biſhop of Amiens, whom I recollect to have mentioned in a former letter. You will wonder why a conſtitutional Biſhop, once popular with the democratic party, ſhould be thus treated. The real motive was, probably, to degrade in hiſ perſon a miniſter of religion—the oſtenſible one, a diſpute with Dumont at the Jacobin club. As the times grew alarming, the Biſhop, perhaps, thought it politic to appear at the club, and the Repreſentative meeting him there one evening, began to interrogate him very rudely with regard to his opinion of the marriage of prieſts. M. Dubois replied, that when it was officially incumbent on him to explain himſelf, he would do ſo, but that he did not think the club a place for ſuch diſcuſſions, or ſomething to this purpoſe. "Tu prevariques donc!—Je t'arrete ſur le champ:" ["What, you prevaricate!—I arreſt you inſtantly."] the Biſhop was accordingly arreſted at the inſtant, and conducted to the Bicetre, without even being ſuffered to go home and furniſh himſelf with neceſſaries; and the ſeals being immediately put on his effects, he haſ never been able to obtain a change of linen and clothes, or any thing elſe—this too at a time when the penſions of the clergy are ill paid, and every article of clothing ſo dear as to be almoſt unpurchaſeable by moderate fortunes, and when thoſe who might otherwiſe be diſpoſed to aid or accommodate their friends, abandon them through fear of being implicated in their miſfortunes.

But the Biſhop, yet in the vigour of life, is better capable of enduring theſe hardſhips than moſt of the poor prieſts with whom he is aſſociated: the greater number of them are very old men, with venerable grey lockſ— and their tattered clerical habits, ſcanty meals, and wretched beds, give me many an heart-ache. God ſend the conſtant ſight of ſo much miſery may not render me callouſ!—It is certain, there are people here, who, whatever their feelings might have been on this occaſion at firſt, ſeem now little affected by it. Thoſe who are too much familiarized with ſcenes of wretchedneſs, as well as thoſe to whom they are unknown, are not often very ſuſceptible; and I am ſometimes diſpoſed to cavil with our natures, that the ſufferings which ought to excite our benevolence, and the proſperity that enables us to relieve them, ſhould ever have a contrary effect. Yet this is ſo true, that I have ſcarcely ever obſerved even the poor conſiderate towards each other—and the rich, if they are frequently charitable, are not always compaſſionate.*

* Our ſituation at the Bicetre, though terrible for people unuſed to hardſhips or confinement, and in fact, wretched as perſonal inconvenience could make it, was yet Elyſium, compared to the priſons of other departments. At St. Omer, the priſoners were frequently diſturbed at midnight by the entrance of men into their apartments, who, with the deteſtable enſign of their order, (red caps,) and pipes in their mouths, came by way of frolic to ſearch their pockets, trunks, &c.—At Montreuil, the Maiſons d'Arret were under the direction of a Commiſſary, whoſe behaviour to the female priſoners was too atrocious for recital—two young women, in particular, who refuſed to purchaſe milder treatment, were locked up in a room for ſeventeen days.—Soon after I left Arras, every priſon became a den of horror. The miſerable inhabitants were ſubject to the agents of Le Bon, whoſe avarice, cruelty, and licentiouſneſs, were beyond any thing a humane mind can imagine. Sometimes the houſes were ſuddenly ſurrounded by an armed force, the priſonerſ turned out in the depth of winter for ſeveral hours into an open court, during the operation of robbing them of their pocket-books, buckles, ear-rings, or whatever article of value they had about them. At other times they were viſited by the ſame military array, and deprived of their linen and clothes. Their wine and proviſionſ were likewiſe taken from them in the ſame manner—wives were ſeparated from their huſbands, parents from their children, old men treated with the moſt ſavage barbarity, and young women with an indecency ſtill more abominable. All communication, either by writing or otherwiſe, was often prohibited for many days together, and an order was once given to prevent even the entry of proviſions, which was not revoked till the priſoners became abſolutely diſtreſſed. At the Hotel Dieu they were forbidden to draw more than a ſingle jug of water in twenty-four hours. At the Providence, the well was left three days without a cord, and when the unfortunate females confined there procured people to beg water of the neighbours, they were refuſed, "becauſe it was for priſoners, and if Le Bon heard of it he might be diſpleaſed!" Windows were blocked up, not to prevent eſcape, but to exclude air; and when the general ſcarcity rendered it impoſſible for the priſoners to procure ſufficient food for their ſupport, their ſmall portions were diminiſhed at the gate, under pretext of ſearching for letters, &c. —People, reſpectable both for their rank and character, were employed to clean the priſons and privies, while their low and inſolent tyrants looked on and inſulted them. On an occaſion when one of the Maiſons d'Arrets was on fire, guards were planted round, with orders to fire upon thoſe that ſhould attempt to eſcape.—My memory has but too faithfully recorded theſe and ſtill greater horrors; but curioſity would be gratified but too dearly by the relation. I added the above note ſome months after writing the letter to which it is annexed.

 

 

 

 

Nov. 20.

Beſides the gentry and clergy of this department, we have likewiſe for companions a number of inhabitants of Liſle, arreſted under circumſtanceſ ſingularly atrocious, even where atrocity is the characteriſtic of almoſt every proceeding.—In the month of Auguſt a decree was paſſed to oblige all the nobility, clergy, and their ſervants, as well as all thoſe perſons who had been in the ſervice of emigrants, to depart from Liſle in eight-and-forty hours, and prohibiting their reſidence within twenty leagues from the frontiers. Thus baniſhed from their own habitations, they took refuge in different towns, at the preſcribed diſtance; but, almoſt as ſoon as they were arrived, and had been at the expence of ſettling themſelves, they were arreſted as ſtrangers,* and conducted to priſon.

* I have before, I believe, noticed that the term eſtranger at thiſ time did not excluſively apply to foreigners, but to ſuch as had come from one town to another, who were at inns or on a viſit to their friends.

It will not be improper to notice here the conduct of the government towards the towns that have been beſieged. Thionville,* to whoſe gallant defence in 1792 France owed the retreat of the Pruſſians and the ſafety of Paris, was afterwards continually reproached with ariſtocracy; and when the inhabitants ſent a deputation to ſolicit an indemnity for the damage the town had ſuſtained during the bombardment a member of the Convention threatened them from the tribune with "indemnities a coup de baton!" that is, in our vernacular tongue, with a good thraſhing.

* Wimpſen, who commanded there, and whoſe conduct at the time waſ enthuſiaſtically admired, was driven, moſt probably by the ingratitude and ill treatment of the Convention, to head a party of the Foederaliſts.—Theſe legiſlators perpetually boaſt of imitating and ſurpaſſing the Romans, and it is certain, that their ingratitude has made more than one Coriolanus. The difference is, that they are not jealous for the liberty of the country, but for their own perſonal ſafety.

The inhabitants of Liſle, who had been equally ſerviceable in ſtopping the progreſs of the Auſtrians, for a long time petitioned without effect to obtain the ſums already voted for their relief. The nobleſſe, and others from thence who have been arreſted, as ſoon as it was known that they were Lillois, were treated with peculiar rigour;* and an armee revolutionnaire,** with the Guillotine for a ſtandard, has lately harraſſed the town and environs of Liſle, as though it were a conquered country.

* The Commandant of Liſle, on his arrival at the Bicetre, waſ ſtripped of a conſiderable ſum of money, and a quantity of plate he had unluckily brought with him by way of ſecurity. Out of this he is to be ſupplied with fifty livres at a time in paper, which, according to the exchange and the price of every thing, is, I ſuppoſe, about half a guinea. ** The armee revolutionnaire was firſt raiſed by order of the Jacobins, for the purpoſe of ſearching the countries for proviſions, and conducting them to Paris. Under this pretext, a levy was made of all the moſt deſperate ruffians that could be collected together. They were divided into companies, each with its attendant Guillotine, and then diſtributed in the different departments: they had extraordinary pay, and ſeem to have been ſubject to no diſcipline. Many of them were diſtinguiſhed by the repreſentation of a Guillotine in miniature, and a head juſt ſevered, on their cartouch-boxes. It would be impoſſible to deſcribe half the enormities committed by theſe banditti: wherever they went they were regarded as a ſcourge, and every heart ſhrunk at their approach. Lecointre, of Verſailles, a member of the Convention, complained that a band of theſe wretches entered the houſe of a farmer, one of his tenants, by night, and, after binding the family hand and foot, and helping themſelves to whatever they could find, they placed the farmer with his bare feet on the chaffing-diſh of hot aſhes, by way of forcing him to diſcover where he had ſecreted his plate and money, which having ſecured, they ſet all the veſſels of liquor running, and then retired.

You are not to ſuppoſe this a robbery, and the actors common thieves; all was in the uſual form—"au nom de la loi," and for the ſervice of the republic; and I do not mention this inſtance as remarkable, otherwiſe than as having been noticed in the Convention. A thouſand events of thiſ kind, even ſtill more atrocious, have happened; but the ſufferers who had not the means of defence as well as of complaint, were obliged, through policy, to be ſilent.

—The garriſon and national guard, indignant at the horrors they committed, obliged them to decamp. Even the people of Dunkirk, whoſe reſiſtance to the Engliſh, while the French army was collecting together for their relief, was perhaps of more conſequence than ten victories, have been ſince intimidated with Commiſſioners, and Tribunals, and Guillotines, as much as if they had been convicted of ſelling the town. In ſhort, under this philanthropic republic, perſecution ſeems to be very exactly proportioned to the ſervices rendered. A jealous and ſuſpiciouſ government does not forget, that the ſame energy of character which haſ enabled a people to defend themſelves againſt an external enemy, may alſo make them leſs ſubmiſſive to domeſtic oppreſſion; and, far from repaying them with the gratitude to which they have a claim, it treats them, on all occaſions, as opponents, whom it both fears and hates.

Nov. 22. We have been walking in the yard to-day with General Laveneur, who, for an act which in any other country would have gained him credit, is in this ſuſpended from his command.—When Cuſtine, a few weeks before his death, left the army to viſit ſome of the neighbouring towns, the command devolved on Laveneur, who received, along with other official papers, a liſt of counterſigns, which, having probably been made ſome time, and not altered conformably to the changes of the day, contained, among others, the words Condorcet—Conſtitution; and theſe were in their turn given out. On Cuſtine's trial, this was made a part of hiſ accuſation. Laveneur, recollecting that the circumſtance had happened in the abſence of Cuſtine, thought it incumbent on him to take the blame, if there were any, on himſelf, and wrote to Paris to explain the matter aſ it really ſtood; but his candour, without availing Cuſtine, drew perſecution on himſelf, and the only notice taken of his letter was an order to arreſt him. After being dragged from one town to another, like a criminal, and often lodged in dungeons and common priſons, he was at length depoſited here.

I know not if the General's principles are republican, but he has a very democratic pair of whiſkers, which he occaſionally ſtrokes, and ſeems to cheriſh with much affection. He is, however, a gentleman-like man, and expreſſes ſuch anxiety for the fate of his wife and children, who are now at Paris, that one cannot but be intereſted in his favour.—As the agentſ of the republic never err on the ſide of omiſſion, they arreſted Mons. Laveneur's aid-de-camp with him; and another officer of his acquaintance, who was ſuſpended, and living at Amiens, has ſhared the ſame fate, only for endeavouring to procure him a trifling accommodation. This gentleman called on Dumont, to beg that General Laveneur's ſervant might be permitted to go in and out of the priſon on his maſter's errands. After breakfaſting together, and converſing on very civil terms, Dumont told him, that as he concerned himſelf ſo much in behalf of his friend, he would ſend him to keep the latter company, and at the concluſion of hiſ viſit he was ſent priſoner to the Bicetre.

Perhaps the greater part of between three and four hundred thouſand people, now impriſoned on ſuſpicion, have been arreſted for reaſons aſ little ſubſtantial.

—I begin to fear my health will not reſiſt the hardſhip of a long continuance here. We have no fire-place, and are ſometimes ſtarved with partial winds from the doors and roof; at others faint and heartſick with the unhealthy air produced by ſo many living bodies. The water we drink is not preferable to the air we breathe; the bread (which is now every where ſcarce and bad) contains ſuch a mixture of barley, rye, damaged wheat, and traſh of all kinds, that, far from being nouriſhed by it, I loſe both my ſtrength and appetite daily.—Yet theſe are not the worſt of our ſufferings. Shut out from all ſociety, victims of a deſpotic and unprincipled government capable of every thing, and ignorant of the fate which may await us, we are occaſionally oppreſſed by a thouſand melancholy apprehenſions. I might, indeed, have boaſted of my fortitude, and have made myſelf an heroine on paper at as ſmall an expence of words as it has coſt me to record my cowardice: but I am of an unlucky conformation, and think either too much or too little (I know not which) for a female philoſopher; beſides, philoſophy is getting into ſuch ill repute, that not poſſeſſing the reality, the name of it is not worth aſſuming.

A poor old prieſt told me juſt now, (while Angelique was mending hiſ black coat with white thread,) that they had left at the place where they were laſt confined a large quantity of linen, and other neceſſaries; but, by the expreſs orders of Dumont, they were not allowed to bring a ſingle article away with them. The keeper, too, it ſeems, was threatened with diſmiſſion, for ſupplying one of them with a ſhirt.—In England, where, I believe, you ally political expediency as much as you can with juſtice and humanity, theſe cruelties, at once little and refined, will appear incredible; and the French themſelves, who are at leaſt aſhamed of, if they are not pained by, them, are obliged to ſeek refuge in the fancied palliative of a "ſtate of revolution."—Yet, admitting the neceſſity of confining the perſons of theſe old men, there can be none for heaping them together in filth and miſery, and adding to the ſufferings of yearſ and infirmity by thoſe of cold and want. If, indeed, a ſtate of revolution require ſuch deeds, and imply an apology for them, I cannot but wiſh the French had remained as they were, for I know of no political changes that can compenſate for turning a civilized nation into a people of ſavages. It is not ſurely the eating acorns or ragouts, a well-powdered head, or one decorated with red feathers, that conſtituteſ the difference between barbariſm and civilization; and, I fear, if the French proceed as they have begun, the advantage of morals will be conſiderably on the ſide of the unrefined ſavages.

The converſation of the priſon has been much engaged by the fate of an Engliſh gentleman, who lately deſtroyed himſelf in a Maiſon d'Arret at Amiens. His confinement had at firſt deeply affected his ſpirits, and his melancholy increaſing at the proſpect of a long detention, terminated in deranging his mind, and occaſioned this laſt act of deſpair.—I never hear of ſuicide without a compaſſion mingled with terror, for, perhaps, ſimple pity is too light an emotion to be excited by an event which reminds us, that we are ſuſceptible of a degree of miſery too great to be borne—too ſtrong for the efforts of inſtinct, reflection, and religion. —I could moralize on the neceſſity of habitual patience, and the benefit of preparing the mind for great evils by a philoſophic endurance of little ones; but I am at the Bicetre—the winds whiſtle round me—I am beſet by petty diſtreſſes, and we do not expatiate to advantage on endurance while we have any thing to endure.—Seneca's contempt for the things of this world was doubtleſs ſuggeſted in the palace of Nero. He would not have treated the ſubject ſo well in diſgrace and poverty. Do not ſuppoſe I am affecting to be pleaſant, for I write in the ſober ſadneſs of conviction, that human fortitude is often no better than a pompous theory, founded on ſelf-love and ſelf-deception.

I was ſurprized at meeting among our fellow-priſoners a number of Dutch officers. I find they had been ſome time in the town on their parole, and were ſent here by Dumont, for refuſing to permit their men to work on the fortifications.—The French government and its agents deſpiſe the laws of war hitherto obſerved; they conſider them as a ſort of ariſtocratie militaire, and they pretend, on the ſame principle, to be enfranchiſed from the law of nations.—An orator of the convention lately boaſted, that he felt himſelf infinitely ſuperior to the prejudices of Grotius, Puffendorff, and Vatel, which he calls "l'ariſtocratie diplomatique."—Such ſublime ſpirits think, becauſe they differ from the reſt of mankind, that they ſurpaſs them. Like Icarus, they attempt to fly, and are perpetually ſtruggling in the mire.—Plain common ſenſe haſ long pointed out a rule of action, from which all deviation is fatal, both to nations and individuals. England, as well as France, haſ furniſhed its examples; and the annals of genius in all countries are replete with the miſeries of eccentricity.—Whoever has followed the courſe of the French revolution, will, I believe, be convinced, that the greateſt evils attending on it have been occaſioned by an affected contempt for received maxims. A common banditti, acting only from the deſire of plunder, or men, erring only through ignorance, could not have ſubjugated an whole people, had they not been aſſiſted by narrow-minded philoſophers, who were eager to ſacrifice their country to the vanity of making experiments, and were little ſolicitous whether their ſyſtems were good or bad, provided they were celebrated as the authors of them. Yet, where are they now? Wandering, proſcribed, and trembling at the fate of their followers and accomplices.—The Briſſotins, ſacrificed by a party even worſe than themſelves, have died without exciting either pity or admiration. Their fall was conſidered as the natural conſequence of their exaltation, and the courage with which they met death obtained no tribute but a cold and ſimple comment, undiſtinguiſhed from the news of the day, and ending with it.

 

 

 

 

December.

Laſt night, after we had been aſleep about an hour, (for habit, that "lulls the wet ſea-boy on the high and giddy maſt," has reconciled us to ſleep even here,) we were alarmed by the trampling of feet, and ſudden unlocking of our door. Our apprehenſions gave us no time for conjecture —in a moment an ill-looking fellow entered the room with a lantern, two ſoldiers holding drawn ſwords, and a large dog! The whole company walked as it were proceſſionally to the end of the apartment, and, after obſerving in ſilence the beds on each ſide, left us. It would not be eaſy to deſcribe what we ſuffered at this moment: for my own part, I thought only of the maſſacres of September, and the frequent propoſals at the Jacobins and the Convention for diſpatching the "gens ſuſpect," and really concluded I was going to terminate my exiſtence "revolutionnairement." I do not now know the purport of theſe viſits, but I find they are not unuſual, and moſt probably intended to alarm the priſoners.

After many enquiries and meſſages, I have had the mortification of hearing that Mr. and Mrs. D____ were taken to Arras, and were there even before I left it. The letters ſent to and from the different priſons are read by ſo many people, and paſs through ſo many hands, that it is not ſurprizing we have not heard from each other. As far as I can learn, they had obtained leave, after their firſt arreſt, to remove to a houſe in the vicinity of Dourlens for a few days, on account of Mrs. D____'ſ health, which had ſuffered by paſſing the ſummer in the town, and that at the taking of Toulon they were again arreſted while on a viſit, and conveyed to a Maiſon d'Arret at Arras. I am the more anxious for them, as it ſeems they were unprepared for ſuch an event; and as the ſeals were put upon their effects, I fear they muſt be in want of every thing. I might, perhaps, have ſucceeded in getting them removed here, but Fleury'ſ Arras friend, it ſeems, did not think, when the Convention had aboliſhed every other part of Chriſtianity, that they intended ſtill to exact a partial obſervance of the eighth article of the decalogue; and having, in the ſenſe of Antient Piſtol, "conveyed" a little too notoriouſly, Le Bon has, by way of ſecuring him from notice or purſuit, ſent him to the frontiers in the capacity of Commiſſary.

The priſon, conſidering how many French inhabitants it contains, iſ tolerably quiet—to ſay the truth, we are not very ſociable, and ſtill leſs gay. Common intereſt eſtabliſhes a ſort of intimacy between thoſe of the ſame apartment; but the reſt of the houſe paſs each other, without farther intercourſe than ſilent though ſignificant civility. Sometimeſ you ſee a pair of unfortunate ariſtocrates talking politics at the end of a paſſage, or on a landing-place; and here and there a bevy of females, en deſhabille, recounting altogether the ſubject of their arreſt. One'ſ ear occaſionally catches a few half-ſuppreſſed notes of a proſcribed aire, but the unhallowed ſounds of the Carmagnole and Marſeillois are never heard, and would be thought more diſſonant here than the war-whoop. In fact, the only appearance of gaiety is among the ideots and lunatics. —"Je m'ennuye furieuſement," is the general exclamation.—An Engliſhman confined at the Bicetre would expreſs himſelf more forcibly, but, it iſ certain, the want of knowing how to employ themſelves does not form a ſmall part of the diſtreſſes of our fellow-priſoners; and when they tell us they are "ennuyes," they ſay, perhaps, nearly as much as they feel— for, as far as I can obſerve, the loſs of liberty has not the ſame effect on a Frenchman as an Engliſhman. Whether this ariſes from political cauſes, or the natural indifference of the French character, I am not qualified to determine; probably from both: yet when I obſerve thiſ facility of mind general, and by no means peculiar to the higher claſſes, I cannot myſelf but be of opinion, that it is more an effect of their original diſpoſition than of their form of government; for though in England we were accuſtomed from our childhood to conſider every man in France as liable to wake and find himſelf in the Baſtille, or at Mont St. Michel, this formidable deſpotiſm exiſted more in theory than in practice; and if courtiers and men of letters were intimidated by it, the maſs of the people troubled themſelves very little about Lettres de Cachet. The revenge or ſuſpicion of Miniſters might ſometimes purſue thoſe who aimed at their power, or aſſailed their reputation; but the leſſer gentry, the merchants, or the ſhopkeepers, were very ſeldom victims of arbitrary impriſonment—and I believe, amongſt the evils which it was the object of the revolution to redreſs, this (except on the principle) was far from being of the firſt magnitude. I am not likely, under my preſent circumſtances, to be an advocate for the deſpotiſm of any form of government; and I only give it as a matter of opinion, that the civil liberty of the French was not ſo often and generally violated,* as to influence their character in ſuch a degree as to render them inſenſible of its loſs. At any rate, we muſt rank it among the bizarrerieſ [Unaccountable whimſical events.] of this world, that the French ſhould have been prepared, by the theory of oppreſſion under their old ſyſtem, for enduring the practice of it under the new one; and that what during the monarchy was only poſſible to a few, is, under the republic, almoſt certain to all.

* I remember in 1789, after the deſtruction of the Baſtille, our compaſſionate countrymen were taught to believe that this tremendouſ priſon was peopled with victims, and that even the dungeons were inhabited; yet the truth is, though it would not have told ſo pathetically, or have produced ſo much theatrical effect, there were only ſeven perſons confined in the whole building, and certainly not one in the dungeons.

 

 

 

 

Amiens, Providence, Dec. 10, 1793.

We have again, as you will perceive, changed our abode, and that too without expecting, and almoſt without deſiring it. In my moments of ſullenneſs and deſpondency, I was not very ſolicitous about the modifications of our confinement, and little diſpoſed to be better ſatiſfied with one priſon than another: but, heroics apart, external comforts are of ſome importance, and we have, in many reſpects, gained by our removal.

Our preſent habitation is a ſpacious building, lately a convent, and though now crouded with more priſoners by two or three hundred than it will hold conveniently, yet we are better lodged than at the Bicetre, and we have alſo a large garden, good water, and, what above all iſ deſirable, the liberty of delivering our letters or meſſages ourſelveſ (in preſence of the guard) to any one who will venture to approach us. Mad. de ____ and myſelf have a ſmall cell, where we have juſt room to place our beds, but we have no fire-place, and the maids are obliged to ſleep in an adjoining paſſage.

A few evenings ago, while we were at the Bicetre, we were ſuddenly informed by the keeper that Dumont had ſent ſome ſoldiers with an order to convey us that night to the Providence. We were at firſt rather ſurprized than pleaſed, and reluctantly gathered our baggage together with as much expedition as we could, while the men who were to eſcort uſ were exclaiming "a la Francaiſe" at the trifling delay this occaſioned. When we had paſſed the gate, we found Fleury, with ſome porters, ready to receive our beds, and overjoyed at having procured us a more decent priſon, for, it ſeems, he could by no means reconcile himſelf to the name of Bicetre. We had about half a mile to walk, and on the road he contrived to acquaint us with the means by which he had ſolicited thiſ favour of Dumont. After adviſing with all Mad. de ____'s friends who were yet at liberty, and finding no one willing to make an effort in her behalf, for fear of involving themſelves, he diſcovered an old acquaintance in the "femme de chambre" of one of Fleury's miſtreſſes.— This, for one of Fleury's ſagacity, was a ſpring to have ſet the whole Convention in a ferment; and in a few days he profited ſo well by thiſ female patronage, as to obtain an order for tranſferring us hither. On our arrival, we were informed, as uſual, that the houſe was already full, and that there was no poſſibility of admitting us. We however, ſet up all night in the keeper's room with ſome other people newly arrived like ourſelves, and in the morning, after a little diſputing and a pretty general derangement of the more ancient inhabitants, we were "nichees," as I have deſcribed to you.

We have not yet quitted our room much, but I obſerve that every one appears more chearful, and more ſtudied in their toilette, than at the Bicetre, and I am willing to infer from thence that confinement here iſ leſs inſupportable.—I have been employed two days in enlarging the noteſ I had made in our laſt priſon, and in making them more legible, for I ventured no farther than juſt to ſcribble with a pencil in a kind of ſhort-hand of my own invention, and not even that without a variety of precautions. I ſhall be here leſs liable either to ſurprize or obſervation, and as ſoon as I have ſecured what I have already noted, (which I intend to do to-night,) I ſhall continue my remarks in the uſual form. You will find even more than my cuſtomary incorrectneſs and want of method ſince we left Peronne; but I ſhall not allow your competency aſ a critic, until you have been a priſoner in the hands of French republicans.

It will not be improper to notice to you a very ingenious decree of Gaſton, (a member of the Convention,) who lately propoſed to embark all the Engliſh now in France at Breſt, and then to ſink the ſhips.—Perhapſ the Committee of Public Welfare are now in a ſort of benevolent indeciſion, whether this, or Collot d'Herboiſ' gunpowder ſcheme, ſhall have the preference. Legendre's iron cage and ſimple hanging will, doubtleſs, be rejected, as too ſlow and formal. The mode of the day iſ "les grandes meſures." If I be not ſeriouſly alarmed at theſe propoſitions, it is not that life is indifferent to me, or that I think the government too humane to adopt them. My tranquillity ariſes from reflecting that ſuch meaſures would be of no political uſe, and that we ſhall moſt likely be ſoon forgotten in the multitude of more important concerns. Thoſe, however, whom I endeavour to conſole by this reaſoning, tell me it is nothing leſs than infallible, that the inutility of a crime is here no ſecurity againſt its perpetration, and that any project which tends to evil will ſooner be remembered than one of humanity or juſtice.

[End of Vol. I. The Printed Books]

 

 

 

 

[Beginning of Volume II. Of The Printed Books]

 

 

 

 

Providence, Dec. 20, 1793.

"All places that are viſited by the eye of Heaven, are to the wiſe man happy havens." If Shakſpeare's philoſophy be orthodox, the French have, it muſt be confeſſed, many claims to the reputation of a wiſe people; and though you know I always diſputed their pretenſions to general gaiety, yet I acknowledge that miſfortune does not deprive them of the ſhare they poſſeſs, and, if one may judge by appearances, they have at leaſt the habit, more than any other nation, of finding content under ſituationſ with which it ſhould ſeem incompatible. We are here between ſix and ſeven hundred, of all ages and of all ranks, taken from our homes, and from all that uſually makes the comfort of life, and crowded together under many of the inflictions that conſtitute its miſery; yet, in the midſt of all this, we fiddle, dreſs, rhyme, and viſit as ceremoniouſly aſ though we had nothing to diſturb us. Our beaux, after being correctly frizz'd and powdered behind ſome door, compliment the belle juſt eſcaped from a toilet, performed amidſt the apparatus of the kitchen; three or four beds are piled one upon another to make room for as many card-tables; and the wits of the priſon, who are all the morning employed in writing doleful placets to obtain their liberty, in the evening celebrate the loſs of it in bout-rimees and acroſtics.

I ſaw an aſs at the Corps de Garde this morning laden with violins and muſic, and a female priſoner ſeldom arrives without her complement of bandboxes.—Embarraſſed, ſtifled as we are by our numbers, it does not prevent a daily importation of lap-dogs, who form as conſequential a part of the community in a priſon, as in the moſt ſuperb hotel. The faithful valet, who has followed the fortunes of his maſter, does not ſo much ſhare his diſtreſſes as contribute to his pleaſure by adorning hiſ perſon, or, rather, his head, for, excepting the article of hair-dreſſing, the beaux here are not elaborate. In ſhort, there is an indifference, a frivolity, in the French character, which, in circumſtances like the preſent, appears unaccountable. But man is not always conſiſtent with himſelf, and there are occaſions in which the French are nothing leſs than philoſophers. Under all theſe externals of levity, they are a very prudent people, and though they ſeem to bear with infinite fortitude many of the evils of life, there are ſome in which their ſenſibility is not to be queſtioned. At the death of a relation, or the loſs of liberty, I have obſerved that a few hourſ ſuffice, pour prendre ſon parti; [To make up his mind.] but on any occaſion where his fortune has ſuffered, the livelieſt Frenchman is au deſeſpoir for whole days. Whenever any thing is to be loſt or gained, all his characteriſtic indifference vaniſhes, and his attention becomeſ mentally concentrated, without diſſipating the habitual ſmile of hiſ countenance. He may ſometimes be deceived through deficiency of judgment, but I believe not often by unguardedneſs; and, in a matter of intereſt, a petit maitre of five-and-twenty might tout en badinage [All in the way of pleaſantry.] maintain his ground againſt a whole ſynagogue.—This diſpoſition is not remarkable only in affairs that may be ſuppoſed to require it, but extends to the minuteſt objects; and the ſame oeconomy which watches over the maſs of a Frenchman's eſtate, guards with equal ſolicitude the menu property of a log of wood, or a hen's neſt.

There is at this moment a general ſcarcity of proviſions, and we who are confined are, of courſe, particularly inconvenienced by it; we do not even get bread that is eatable, and it is curious to obſerve with what circumſpection every one talks of his reſources. The poſſeſſor of a few eggs takes care not to expoſe them to the eye of his neighbour; and a ſlice of white bread is a donation of ſo much conſequence, that thoſe who procure any for themſelves do not often put their friends to the pain either of accepting or refuſing it.

Mad. de ____ has been unwell for ſome days, and I could not help giving a hint to a relation of her's whom we found here, and who has frequent ſupplies of bread from the country, that the bread we eat was peculiarly inimical to her; but I gained only a look of repulſive apprehenſion, and a cold remark that it was very difficult to get good bread—"et que c'etoit bien malheureux." [And that it certainly was very unfortunate.] I own this kind of ſelfiſhneſs is increaſed by a ſituation where our wants are numerous, and our enjoyments few; and the great diſtinctions of meum and tuum, which at all times have occaſioned ſo much bad fellowſhip in the world, are here perhaps more rigidly obſerved than any where elſe; yet, in my opinion, a cloſe-hearted conſideration has always formed an eſſential and a predominant quality in the French character.

People here do not ruin themſelves, as with us, by hoſpitality; and examples of that thoughtleſs profuſion which we cenſure and regret, without being able entirely to condemn, are very rare indeed. In France it is not uncommon to ſee a man apparently diſſipated in his conduct, and licentious in his morals, yet regular, even to parſimony, in hiſ pecuniary concerns.—He oeconomizes with his vices, and indulges in all the exceſſes of faſhionable life, with the ſame ſyſtem of order that accumulates the fortune of a Dutch miſer. Lord Cheſterfield waſ doubtleſs ſatiſfied, that while his ſon remained in France, his preceptſ would have all the benefit of living illuſtration; yet it is not certain that this cautious and reflecting licentiouſneſs has any merit over the more imprudent irregularity of an Engliſh ſpendthrift: the one is, however, likely to be more durable than the other; and, in fact, the character of an old libertine is more frequent in France than in England.

If oeconomy preſide even over the vices of the rich and faſhionable, you may conclude that the habits of the middling ranks of people of ſmall fortunes are ſtill more ſcrupulouſly ſubjected to its influence. A French menage [Houſehold.] is a practical treatiſe on the art of ſaving—a ſpirit of oeconomy pervades and directs every part of it, and that ſo uniformly, ſo generally, and ſo conſiſtently, as not to make the ſame impreſſion on a ſtranger as would a ſingle inſtance where the whole was not conducted on the ſame principle. A traveller is not ſo forcibly ſtricken by this part of the French character, becauſe it is more real than apparent, and does not ſeem the effect of reaſoning or effort, which is never conſequential, but rather that of inclination and the natural courſe of things.

A degree of parſimony, which an Engliſhman, who does not affect the reputation of a Codrus, could not acquire without many ſelf-combats, appears in a Frenchman a matter of preference and convenience, and till one has lived long and familiarly in the country, one is apt to miſtake principles for cuſtoms, and character for manners, and to attribute many things to local which have their real ſource in moral cauſes.—The traveller who ſees nothing but gay furniture, and gay clothes, and partakes on invitation of ſplendid repaſts, returns to England the enamoured panegyriſt of French hoſpitality.—On a longer reſidence and more domeſtic intercourſe, all this is diſcoverable to be merely the ſacrifice of parſimony to vanity—the ſolid comforts of life are unknown, and hoſpitality ſeldom extends beyond an occaſional and oſtentatiouſ reception. The gilding, painting, glaſſes, and ſilk hangings of a French apartment, are only a gay diſguiſe; and a houſe, which to the eye may be attractive even to ſplendour, often has not one room that an Engliſhman would find tolerably convenient. Every thing intended for uſe rather than ſhew is ſcanty and ſordid—all is beau, magnifique, gentil, or ſuperb, [Fine magnificent, genteel, or ſuperb.] and nothing comfortable. The French have not the word, or its ſynonime, in their language.

In France, clothes are almoſt as durable as furniture, and the gaiety which twenty or thirty years ago we were complaiſant enough to admire iſ far from being expenſive. People are not more than five or ſix hours a day in their gala habits, and the whole of this period is judiciouſly choſen between the hours of repaſt, ſo that no riſk in incurred by accidents at table. Then the caprices of faſhion, which in England are ſo various and deſpotic, have here a more limited influence: the form of a dreſs changes as long as the material is convertible, and when it haſ outlaſted the poſſibility of adaptation to a reigning mode, it is not on that account rejected, but is generally worn in ſome way or other till baniſhed by the more rational motive of its decay. All the expences of tea-viſits, breakfaſt-loungings, and chance-dinners, are avoided—an evening viſit is paſſed entirely at cards, a breakfaſt in form even for the family is unuſual, and there are very few houſes where you could dine without being previouſly engaged. I am, indeed, certain, that (unleſs in large eſtabliſhments) the calculation for diurnal ſupply is ſo exact, that the intruſion of a ſtranger would be felt by the whole family. I muſt, however, do them the juſtice to ſay, that on ſuch occaſions, and where they find the thing to be inevitable, they put the beſt face poſſible on it, and the gueſt is entertained, if not plentifully, and with a very ſincere welcome, at leaſt with ſmiles and compliments. The French, indeed, allow, that they live leſs hoſpitably than the Engliſh: but then they ſay they are not ſo rich; and it is true, property is not ſo general, nor ſo much diffuſed, as with us. This is, however, only relative, and you will not ſuſpect me of being ſo uncandid as to make compariſons without allowing for every difference which is the effect of neceſſity. All my remarks of this kind are made after an unprejudiced compariſon of the people of the ſame rank or fortune in the two countries;—yet even the moſt liberal examination muſt end by concluding, that the oeconomy of the French too nearly approaches to meanneſs, and that their civility is oſtentatious, perhaps often either intereſted, or even verbal.

You already exclaim, why, in the year 1793, you are characterizing a nation in the ſtyle of Salmon! and implying a panegyric on the moral of the School for Scandal! I plead to the firſt part of the charge, and ſhall hereafter defend my opinion againſt the more poliſhed writers who have ſucceeded Salmon. For the moral of the School for Scandal, I have always conſidered it as the ſeal of humanity on a comedy which would otherwiſe be perfection.

It is not the oeconomy of the French that I am cenſuring, but their vanity, which, engroſſing all their means of expence, prefers ſhow to accommodation, and the parade of a ſumptuous repaſt three or four times a year to a plainer but more frequent hoſpitality.—I am far from being the advocate of extravagance, or the enemy of domeſtic order; and the liberality which is circumſcribed only by prudence ſhall not find in me a cenſurer.

My ideas on the French character and manner of living may not be unuſeful to ſuch of my countrymen as come to France with the project of retrieving their affairs; for it is very neceſſary they ſhould be informed, that it is not ſo much the difference in the price of things, which makes a reſidence here oeconomical, as a conformity to the habits of the country; and if they were not deterred by a falſe ſhame from a temporary adoption of the ſame ſyſtem in England, their object might often be obtained without leaving it. For this reaſon it may be remarked, that the Engliſh who bring Engliſh ſervants, and perſiſt in their Engliſh mode of living, do not often derive very ſolid advantages from their exile, and their abode in France is rather a retreat from their creditors than the meanſ of paying their debts.

Adieu.—You will not be ſorry that I have been able for a moment to forget our perſonal ſufferings, and the miſerable politics of the country. The details of the former are not pleaſant, and the latter grow every day more inexplicable.








A RESIDENCE IN FRANCE,

DURING THE YEARS

1792, 1793, 1794, and 1795



DESCRIBED IN A SERIES OF LETTERS
FROM AN ENGLISH LADY;
With General And Incidental Remarkſ
On The French Character And Manners.



Prepared for the Preſſ
By John Gifford, Eſq.

Second Edition.

Plus je vis l'Etranger plus j'aimai ma Patrie.
--Du Belloy.

London: Printed for T. N. Longman, Paternoſter Row. 1797.




1794

A RESIDENCE IN FRANCE






Contentſ

January 6, 1794.

January, 1794.

Providence, Jan. 29.

February 2, 1794.

February 12, 1794.

[No date given.]

March 1, 1794.

March, 1794.

March 5, 1794.

March 17, 1794.

Providence, April 15, 1794.

April 22, 1794.

April 30, 1794.

June 3, 1794.

June 11, 1794.

Providence, Aug. 11, 1794.

Auguſt 12.

Providence, Aug. 13, 1794.

Providence, Aug. 14, 1794.

Providence, Aug. 15, 1794.

Auguſt, 1794.

[No Date Given]

Amiens, Sept. 30, 1794.

Amiens, October 4, 1794.

October 6, 1794.

[No Date or Place Given.]

Amiens, Oct. 24, 1794.

Amiens, Nov. 2, 1794.

Baſſe-ville, Arras, Nov. 6, 1794.

Amiens, Nov. 26, 1794.

Amiens, Nov. 29, 1794.

Amiens. [No date given.]

Amiens, Dec. 10, 1794.

Amiens, Dec. 16, 1794.

December 24, 1794.

December 27, 1794.




 

 

 

 

January 6, 1794.

If I had undertaken to follow the French revolution through all itſ abſurdities and iniquities, my indolence would long ſince have taken the alarm, and I ſhould have relinquiſhed a taſk become too difficult and too laborious. Events are now too numerous and too complicated to be deſcribed by occaſional remarks; and a narrator of no more pretenſionſ than myſelf may be allowed to ſhrink from an abundance of matter which will hereafter perplex the choice and excite the wonder of the hiſtorian.—Removed from the great ſcene of intrigues, we are little acquainted with them—we begin to ſuffer almoſt before we begin to conjecture, and our ſolicitude to examine cauſes is loſt in the rapidity with which we feel their effects.

Amidſt the more miſchievous changes of a philoſophic revolution, you will have learned from the newſpapers, that the French have adopted a new aera and a new calendar, the one dating from the foundation of their republic, and other deſcriptive of the climate of Paris, and the productions of the French territory. I doubt, however, if theſe new almanack-makers will create ſo much confuſion as might be ſuppoſed, or as they may deſire, for I do not find as yet that their ſyſtem has made its way beyond the public offices, and the country people are particularly refractory, for they perſiſt in holding their fairs, markets, &c. as uſual, without any regard to the hallowed decade of their legiſlators. As it is to be preſumed that the French do not wiſh to relinquiſh all commercial intercourſe with other nations, they mean poſſibly to tack the republican calendar to the rights of man, and ſend their armies to propagate them together; otherwiſe the correſpondence of a Frenchman will be as difficult to interpret with mercantile exactneſs as the characters of the Chineſe.

The vanity of theſe philoſophers would, doubtleſs, be gratified by forcing the reſt of Europe and the civilized world to adopt their uſeleſſ and chimerical innovations, and they might think it a triumph to ſee the inhabitant of the Hebrides date "Vendemiaire," [Alluding to the vintage.] or the parched Weſt-Indian "Nivoſe;" but vanity is not on this, as it is on many other occaſions, the leading principle.—It waſ hoped that a new arrangement of the year, and a different nomenclature of the months, ſo as to baniſh all the commemorations of Chriſtianity, might prepare the way for aboliſhing religion itſelf, and, if it were poſſible to impoſe the uſe of the new calendar ſo far as to exclude the old one, this might certainly aſſiſt their more ſerious atheiſtical operations; but as the ſucceſs of ſuch an introduction might depend on the will of the people, and is not within the competence of the bayonet, the old year will maintain its ground, and theſe pedantic triflers find that they have laboured to no more extenſive a purpoſe, than to furniſh a date to the newſpapers, or to their own decrees, which no one will take the pains to underſtand.

Mankind are in general more attached to cuſtoms than principles. The uſeful deſpotiſm of Peter, which ſubdued ſo many of the prejudices of hiſ countrymen, could not achieve the curtailment of their beards; and you muſt not imagine that, with all the endurance of the French, theſe continual attempts at innovation paſs without murmurs: partial revoltſ happen very frequently; but, as they are the ſpontaneous effect of perſonal ſuffering, not of political manoeuvre, they are without concert or union, of courſe eaſily quelled, and only ſerve to ſtrengthen the government.—The people of Amiens have lately, in one of theſe ſudden effuſions of diſcontent, burnt the tree of liberty, and even the repreſentative, Dumont, has been menaced; but theſe are only the blows of a coward who is alarmed at his own temerity, and dreads the chaſtiſement of it.*

* The whole town of Bedouin, in the ſouth of France, was burnt purſuant to a decree of the convention, to expiate the imprudence of ſome of its inhabitants in having cut down a dead tree of liberty. Above ſixty people were guillotined as accomplices, and their bodieſ thrown into pits, dug by order of the repreſentative, Magnet, (then on miſſion,) before their death. Theſe executions were ſucceeded by a conflagration of all the houſes, and the impriſonment or diſperſion of their poſſeſſors. It is likewiſe worthy of remark, that many of theſe laſt were obliged, by expreſs order of Maignet, to be ſpectators of the murder of their friends and relations.

This crime in the revolutionary code is of a very ſerious nature; and however trifling it may appear to you, it depends only on the will of Dumont to ſacrifice many lives on the occaſion. But Dumont, though erected by circumſtances into a tyrant, is not ſanguinary—he is by nature and education paſſionate and groſs, and in other times might only have been a good natured Poliſſon. Hitherto he has contented himſelf with alarming, and making people tired of their lives, but I do not believe he has been the direct or intentional cauſe of anyone's death. He has ſo often been the hero of my adventures, that I mention him familiarly to you, without reflecting, that though the delegate of more than monarchical power here, he is too inſignificant of himſelf to be known in England. But the hiſtory of Dumont is that of two-thirds of the Convention. He was originally clerk to an attorney at Abbeville, and afterwards ſet up for himſelf in a neighbouring village. His youth having been marked by ſome digreſſions from the "'haviour of reputation," his profeſſion was far from affording him a ſubſiſtence; and the revolution, which ſeems to have called forth all that was turbulent, unprincipled, or neceſſitous in the country, naturally found a partizan in an attorney without practice.—At the election of 1792, when the King's fall and the domination of the Jacobins had ſpread ſo general a terror that no man of character could be prevailed upon to be a candidate for a public ſituation, Dumont availed himſelf of this timidity and ſupineneſs in thoſe who ought to have become the repreſentatives of the people; and, by a talent for intrigue, and a coarſe facility of phraſe-making, (for he has no pretenſions to eloquence,) prevailed on the mob to elect him. His local knowledge, active diſpoſition, and ſubſervient induſtry, render him an uſeful kind of drudge to any prevailing party, and, ſince the overthrow of the Briſſotines, he haſ been entruſted with the government of this and ſome of the neighbouring departments. He profeſſes himſelf a zealous republican, and an apoſtle of the doctrine of univerſal equality, yet unites in his perſon all the attributes of deſpotiſm, and lives with more luxury and expence than moſt of the ci-devant gentry. His former habitation at Oiſemont is not much better than a good barn; but patriotiſm is more profitable here than in England, and he has lately purchaſed a large manſion belonging to an emigrant.

* "Britain no longer pays her patriots with her ſpoils:" and perhapſ it is matter of congratulation to a country, when the profeſſion of patriotiſm is not lucrative. Many agreeable inferences may be made from it—the ſentiment may have become too general for reward, Miniſters too virtuous to fear, or even the people too enlightened to be deceived.

—His mode of travelling, which uſed at beſt to be in the coche d'eau [Paſſage-boat.] or the diligence, is now in a coach and four, very frequently accompanied by a led horſe, and a party of dragoons. I fear ſome of your patriots behold this with envy, and it is not to be wondered at that they ſhould wiſh to ſee a ſimilar revolution in England. What a ſeducing proſpect for the aſſertors of liberty, to have the power of impriſoning and guillotining all their countrymen! What halcyon days, when the ariſtocratic palaceſ* ſhall be purified by ſolacing the fatigueſ of republican virtue, and the levellers of all diſtinction travel with four horſes and a military eſcort!—But, as Robeſpierre obſerves, you are two centuries behind the French in patriotiſm and information; and I doubt if Engliſh republicaniſm will ever go beyond a dinner, and toaſting the manes of Hampden and Sydney. I would, therefore, ſeriouſly adviſe any of my compatriots who may be enamoured of a government founded on the rights of man, to quit an ungrateful country which ſeems ſo little diſpoſed to reward their labours, and enjoy the ſupreme delight of men a ſyſteme, that of ſeeing their theories in action.

* Many of the emigrantſ' houſes were bought by members of the Convention, or people in office. At Paris, crouds of inferior clerks, who could not purchaſe, found means to get lodged in the moſt ſuperb national edifices: Monceaux was the villa of Robeſpierre—St. Juſt occaſionally amuſed himſelf at Raincy—Couthon ſucceed the Comte d'Artois at Bagatelle-and Vliatte, a juryman of the Revolutionary Tribunal, was lodged at the pavillion of Flora, in the Tuilleries, which he ſeems to have occupied as a ſort of Maitre d'Hotel to the Comite de Salut Public.

A propoſ—a decree of the Convention has lately paſſed to ſecure the perſon of Mr. Thomas Paine, and place ſeals on his papers. I hope, however, as he has been inſtalled in all the rights of a French citizen, in addition to his repreſentative inviolability, that nothing more than a temporary retreat is intended for him. Perhaps even his perſonal ſufferings may prove a benefit to mankind. He may, like Raleigh, "in hiſ priſon hours enrich the world," and add new proſelytes to the cauſe of freedom. Beſides, human evils are often only bleſſings in a queſtionable form—Mr. Paine's perſecutions in England made him a legiſlator in France. Who knows but his perſecutions in France may lead to ſome new advancement, or at leaſt add another line to the already crouded title-pages that announce his literary and political diſtinctionſ!

—Yours.

 

 

 

 

January, 1794.

The total ſuppreſſion of all religious worſhip in this country is an event of too ſingular and important a nature not to have been commented upon largely by the Engliſh papers; but, though I have little new to add on the ſubject, my own reflections have been too much occupied in conſequence for me to paſs it over in ſilence.

I am yet in the firſt emotions of wonder: the vaſt edifice which had been raiſed by the blended efforts of religion and ſuperſtition, which had been conſecrated by time, endeared by national taſte, and become neceſſary by habit, has now diſappeared, and ſcarcely left a veſtige of its ruins. To thoſe who revert only to the genius of the Catholic religion, and to former periods of the hiſtory of France, this event muſt ſeem incredible; and nothing but conſtant opportunities of marking itſ gradual approach can reconcile it to probability. The pious chriſtian and the inſidious philoſopher have equally contributed to the general effect, though with very different intentions: the one, conſulting only his reaſon, wiſhed to eſtabliſh a pure and ſimple mode of worſhip, which, diveſted of the allurements of ſplendid proceſſions and impoſing ceremonies, ſhould teach the people their duty, without captivating their ſenſes; the other, better acquainted with French character, knew how little theſe views were compatible with it, and hoped, under the ſpeciouſ pretext of baniſhing the too numerous ornaments of the Catholic practice, to ſhake the foundations of Chriſtianity itſelf. Thus united in their efforts, though diſſimilar in their motives, all parties were eager at the beginning of the revolution for a reform in the Church: the wealth of the Clergy, the monaſtic eſtabliſhments, the ſupernumerary ſaints, were devoted and attacked without pity, and without regret; and, in the zeal and hurry of innovation, the deciſive meaſure, which reduced eccleſiaſtics to ſmall penſions dependent on the ſtate, was carried, before thoſe who really meant well were aware of its conſequences. The next ſtep was, to make the receiving theſe penſions ſubject to an oath, which the ſelfiſh philoſopher, who can coldly calculate on, and triumph in, the weakneſs of human nature, foreſaw would be a brand of diſcord, certain to deſtroy the ſole force which the Clergy yet poſſeſſed—their union, and the public opinion.

Unfortunately, theſe views were not diſappointed: conviction, intereſt, or fear, prevailed on many to take the oath; while doubt, worldly improvidence, or a ſcrupulous piety, deterred others. A ſchiſm took place between the jurors and nonjurorſ—the people became equally divided, and adhered either to the one or the other, as their habits or prepoſſeſſions directed them. Neither party, as it may be imagined, could ſee themſelves deprived of any portion of the public eſteem, without concern, perhaps without rancour; and their mutual animoſity, far from gaining proſelytes to either, contributed only to the immediate degradation and future ruin of both. Thoſe, however, who had not taken the preſcribed oath, were in general more popular than what were called the conſtitutionaliſts, and the influence they were ſuppoſed to exert in alienating the minds of their followers from the new form of government, ſupplied the republican party with a pretext for propoſing their baniſhment.*

*The King's exertion of the power veſted in him by the conſtitution, by putting a temporary negative on this decree, it is well known, was one of the pretexts for dethroning him.

At the King's depoſition this decree took place, and ſuch of the nonjuring prieſts as were not maſſacred in the priſons, or eſcaped the ſearch, were to be embarked for Guiana. The wiſer and better part of thoſe whoſe compliances entitled them to remain, were, I believe, far from conſidering this perſecution of their opponents as a triumph—to thoſe who did, it was of ſhort duration. The Convention, which had hitherto attempted to diſguiſe its hatred of the profeſſion by cenſure and abuſe of a part of its members, began now to ridicule the profeſſion itſelf: ſome repreſented it as uſeleſſ—others as pernicious and irreconcileable with political freedom; and a diſcourſe* was printed, under the ſanction of the Aſſembly, to prove, that the only feaſible republic muſt be ſupported by pure atheiſm.

* Extracts from the Report of Anacharſis Cloots, member of the Committee of Public Inſtruction, printed by order of the National Convention: "Our Sans-culotteſ want no other ſermon but the rights of man, no other doctrine but the conſtitutional precepts and practice, nor any other church than where the ſection or the club hold their meetings, &c. "The propagation of the rights of man ought to be preſented to the aſtoniſhed world pure and without ſtain. It is not by offering ſtrange gods to our neighbours that we ſhall operate their converſion. We can never raiſe them from their abject ſtate by erecting one altar in oppoſition to another. A trifling hereſy iſ infinitely more revolting than having no religion at all. Nature, like the ſun, diffuſes her light without the aſſiſtance of prieſtſ and veſtals. While we were conſtitutional heretics, we maintained an army of an hundred thouſand prieſts, who waged war equally with the Pope and the diſciples of Calvin. We cruſhed the old prieſthood by means of the new, and while we compelled every ſect to contribute to the payment of a pretended national religion, we became at once the abhorrence of all the Catholics and Proteſtants in Europe. The repulſion of our religious belief counteracted the attraction of our political principles.—But truth is at length triumphant, and all the ill-intentioned ſhall no more be able to detach our neighbourſ from the dominion of the rights of man, under pretext of a religiouſ dominion which no longer exiſts.—The purpoſe of religion is no how ſo well anſwered as by preſenting carte blanche to the abuſed world. Every one will then be at liberty to form his ſpiritual regimen to his own taſte, till in the end the invincible aſcendant of reaſon ſhall teach him that the Supreme Being, the Eternal Being, is no other than Nature uncreated and uncreatable; and that the only Providence is the aſſociation of mankind in freedom and equality!— This ſovereign providence affords comfort to the afflicted, rewardſ the good, and puniſhes the wicked. It exerciſes no unjuſt partialities, like the providence of knaves and fools. Man, when free, wants no other divinity than himſelf. This god will not coſt us a ſingle farthing, not a ſingle tear, nor a drop of blood. From the ſummit of our mountain he hath promulgated his laws, traced in evident characters on the tables of nature. From the Eaſt to the Weſt they will be underſtood without the aid of interpreters, comments, or miracles. Every other ritual will be torn in pieces at the appearance of that of reaſon. Reaſon dethrones both the Kingſ of the earth, and the Kings of heaven.—No monarch above, if we wiſh to preſerve our republic below. "Volumes have been written to determine whether or no a republic of Atheiſts could exiſt. I maintain that every other republic is a chimera. If you once admit the exiſtence of a heavenly Sovereign, you introduce the wooden horſe within your wallſ!—What you adore by day will be your deſtruction at night. "A people of theiſts neceſſarily become revelationiſts, that is to ſay, ſlaves of prieſts, who are but religious go-betweens, and phyſicians of damned ſouls. "If I were a ſcoundrel, I ſhould make a point of exclaiming againſt atheiſm, for a religious maſk is very convenient to a traitor. "The intolerance of truth will one day proſcribe the very name of temple 'fanum,' the etymology of fanaticiſm. "We ſhall inſtantly ſee the monarchy of heaven condemned in its turn by the revolutionary tribunal of victorious Reaſon; for Truth, exalted on the throne of Nature, is ſovereignly intolerant. "The republic of the rights of man is, properly ſpeaking, neither theiſtical nor atheiſtical—it is nihiliſtical."

Many of the moſt eminent conforming Prelates and Clergy were arreſted, and even individuals, who had the reputation of being particularly devout, were marked as objects of perſecution. A new calendar waſ deviſed, which excluded the ancient feſtivals, and limited public worſhip to the decade, or tenth day, and all obſervance of the Sabbath waſ interdicted. The priſons were crouded with ſufferers in the cauſe of religion, and all who had not the zeal or the courage of martyrs, abſtained from manifeſting any attachment to the Chriſtian faith.

While this conſternation was yet recent, the Deputies on miſſion in the departments ſhut up the churches entirely: the refuſe of low clubs were paid and encouraged to break the windows and deſtroy the monuments; and theſe outrages, which, it was previouſly concerted, ſhould at firſt aſſume the appearance of popular tumult, were ſoon regulated and directed by the mandates of the Convention themſelves. The churches were again opened, an atheiſtic ritual, and licentious homilies,* were ſubſtituted for the proſcribed ſervice—and an abſurd and ludicrous imitation of the Greek mythology was exhibited, under the title of the Religion of Reaſon.—

* I have read a diſcourſe pronounced in a church at Paris, on the decade, ſo indecent and profane, that the moſt humble audience of a country-puppet ſhow in England would not have tolerated it.

On the principal church of every town was inſcribed, "The Temple of Reaſon;" and a tutelary goddeſs was inſtalled with a ceremony equally pedantic, ridiculous, and profane.*

* At Havre, the goddeſs of Reaſon was drawn on a car by four cart-horſes, and as it was judged neceſſary, to prevent accidents, that the horſes ſhould be conducted by thoſe they were accuſtomed to, the carters were likewiſe put in requiſition and furniſhed with cuiraſſes a l'antique from the theatre. The men, it ſeems, being neither martial nor learned, were not au fait at this equipment, and concluding it was only a waiſtcoat of ceremony, inveſted themſelves with the front behind, and the back part laced before, to the great amuſement of the few who were ſenſible of the miſtake.

Yet the philoſophers did not on this occaſion diſdain thoſe adventitiouſ aids, the uſe of which they had ſo much declaimed againſt while they were the auxiliaries of Chriſtianity.*

* Mr. Gibbon reproaches the Chriſtians with their adoption of the allurements of the Greek mythology.—The Catholics have been more hoſtilely deſpoiled by their modern perſecutors, and may retort that the religion of reaſon is a more groſs appeal to the ſenſes than the darkeſt ages of ſuperſtition would have ventured on.

Muſic, proceſſions, and decorations, which had been baniſhed from the ancient worſhip, were introduced in the new one, and the philoſophical reformer, even in the very attempt to eſtabliſh a religion purely metaphyſical, found himſelf obliged to inculcate it by a groſs and material idolatry.*—

* The French do not yet annex any other idea to the religion of reaſon than that of the female who performs the part of the goddeſs.

Thus, by ſubmitting his abſtractions to the genius of the people, and the imperfections of our nature, perhaps the beſt apology was offered for the errors of that worſhip which had been proſcribed, perſecuted, and ridiculed.

Previous to the tenth day, on which a celebration of this kind was to take place, a Deputy arrived, accompanied by the female goddeſs:* that is, (if the town itſelf did not produce one for the purpoſe,) a Roman dreſs of white ſatin was hired from the theatre, with which ſhe waſ inveſted—her head covered with a red cap, ornamented with oak leaveſ— one arm was reclined on a plough, the other graſped a ſpear—and her feet were ſupported by a globe, and environed by mutilated emblems of ſeodality. [It is not poſſible to explain this coſtume as appropriate.]

* The females who perſonated the new divinity were uſually ſelected from amongſt thoſe who "might make ſectaries of whom they bid but follow," but who were more conſpicuous for beauty than any other celeſtial attribute.—The itinerant goddeſs of the principal townſ in the department de la Somme was the miſtreſs of one Taillefer, a republican General, brother to the Deputy of the ſame name.—I know not, in this military government, whether the General's ſervices on the occaſion were included in his other appointments. At Amiens, he not only provided the deity, but commanded the detachment that ſecured her a ſubmiſſive adoration.

Thus equipped, the divinity and her appendages were borne on the ſhoulders of Jacobins "en bonnet rouge," and eſcorted by the National Guard, Mayor, Judges, and all the conſtituted authorities, who, whether diverted or indignant, were obliged to preſerve a reſpectful gravity of exterior. When the whole cavalcade arrived at the place appointed, the goddeſs was placed on an altar erected for the occaſion, from whence ſhe harangued the people, who, in return, proffered their adoration, and ſung the Carmagnole, and other republican hymns of the ſame kind. They then proceeded in the ſame order to the principal church, in the choir of which the ſame ceremonies were renewed: a prieſt was procured to abjure his faith and avow the whole of Chriſtianity an impoſture;* and the feſtival concluded with the burning of prayer-books, ſaints, confeſſionals, and every thing appropriated to the uſe of public worſhip.**—

*It muſt be obſerved, in juſtice to the French Clergy, that it waſ ſeldom poſſible to procure any who would conſent to this infamy. In ſuch caſes, the part was exhibited by a man hired and dreſſed for the purpoſe.—The end of degrading the profeſſion in the eyes of the people was equally anſwered. ** In many places, valuable paintings and ſtatues were burnt or diſfigured. The communion cups, and other church plate, were, after being exorciſed in Jacobin revels, ſent to the Convention, and the gold and ſilver, (as the author of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire invidiouſly expreſſes himſelf,) the pearls and jewels, were wickedly converted to the ſervice of mankind; as if any thing whoſe value is merely fictitious, could render more ſervice to mankind than when dedicated to an uſe which is equally the ſolace of the rich and the poor—which gratifies the eye without exciting cupidity, ſoothes the bed of ſickneſs, and heals the wounds of conſcience. Yet I am no advocate for the profuſe decorations of Catholic churches; and if I ſeem to plead in their behalf, it iſ that I recollect no inſtance where the depredators of them have appropriated the ſpoil to more laudable purpoſes.

The greater part of the attendants looked on in ſilent terror and aſtoniſhment; whilſt others, intoxicated, or probably paid to act thiſ ſcandalous farce, danced round the flames with an appearance of frantic and ſavage mirth.—It is not to be forgotten, that repreſentatives of the people often preſided as the high prieſts of theſe rites; and their official diſpatches to the convention, in which theſe ceremonies were minutely deſcribed, were always heard with burſts of applauſe, and ſanctioned by decrees of inſertion in the bulletin.*

* A kind of official newſpaper diſtributed periodically at the expence of Government in large towns, and paſted up in public placeſ—it contained ſuch news as the convention choſe to impart, which was given with the exact meaſure of truth or falſehood that ſuited the purpoſe of the day.

I have now conducted you to the period in which I am contemplating France in poſſeſſion of all the advantages which a total dereliction of religious eſtabliſhments can beſtow—at that conſummation to which the labours of modern philoſophers have ſo long tended.

Ye Shafteſburys, Bolingbrokes, Voltaires, and muſt I add the name of Gibbon,* behold yourſelves inſcribed on the regiſters of fame with a Laplanche, a Chenier, an Andre Dumont, or a Fouche!**—

* The elegant ſatiriſt of Chriſtianity will ſmile at the preſumption of ſo humble a cenſurer.—It is certain, the miſapplication only of ſuch ſplendid talents could embolden me to mention the name of the poſſeſſor with diminiſhed reſpect. ** Theſe are names too contemptible for notice, but for the miſchief to which they were inſtrumental—they were among the firſt and moſt remarkable perſecutors of religion.

Do not bluſh at the aſſociation; your views have been the ſame; and the ſubtle underminer of man's beſt comfort in the principles of hiſ religion, is even more criminal than him who prohibits the external exerciſe of it. Ridicule of the ſacred writings is more dangerous than burning them, and a ſneer at the miracles of the goſpel more miſchievouſ than diſfiguring the ſtatues of the evangeliſts; and it muſt be confeſſed that theſe Anti-chriſtian Iconoclaſts themſelves might probably have been content to "believe and ſay their prayers," had not the intolerance of philoſophy made them atheiſts and perſecutors.—The coarſe legend of "death is the ſleep of eternity,"* is only a compendium of the fine-drawn theories of the more elaborate materialiſt, and the depoſitaries of the dead will not corrupt more by the exhibition of this deſolating ſtandard, than the libraries of the living by the volumes which hold out the ſame oblivion to vice, and diſcouragement to virtue.—

* Poſts, bearing the inſcription "la mort eſt un ſommeil eternel," were erected in many public burying-grounds.—No other ceremony iſ obſerved with the dead than encloſing the body in ſome rough boards, and ſending it off by a couple of porters, (in their uſual garb,) attended by a municipal officer. The latter inſcribes on a regiſter the name of the deceaſed, who is thrown into a grave generally prepared for half a ſcore, and the whole buſineſs is finiſhed.

The great experiment of governing a civilized people without religion will now be made; and ſhould the morals, the manners, or happineſs of the French, be improved by it, the ſectaries of modern philoſophy may triumph. Should it happen otherwiſe, the Chriſtian will have an additional motive for cheriſhing his faith: but even the afflictions of humanity will not, I fear, produce either regret or conviction in hiſ adverſary; for the prejudices of philoſophers and ſyſtemiſts are incorrigible.*

* "Ce ne ſont point les philoſophes qui connoiſſent le mieux leſ hommes. Ils ne les voient qu'a travers les prejuges, et je ne fache aucun etat ou l'on en ait tant."—J. J. Rouſſeau. ["It is not among philoſophers that we are to look for the moſt perfect knowledge of human nature.—They view it only through the prejudices of philoſophy, and I know of no profeſſion where prejudices are more abundant."]

 

 

 

 

Providence, Jan. 29.

We are now quite domeſticated here, though in a very miſerable way, without fire, and with our mattreſſes, on the boards; but we nevertheleſſ adopt the ſpirit of the country, and a total abſence of comfort does not prevent us from amuſing ourſelves. My friend knits, and draws landſcapeſ on the backs of cards; and I have eſtabliſhed a correſpondence with an old bookſeller, who ſends me treatiſes of chemiſtry and fortifications, inſtead of poetry and memoirs. I endeavoured at firſt to borrow books of our companions, but this reſource was ſoon exhauſted, and the whole priſon ſupplied little more than a novel of Florian's, Le Voyage du jeune Anarcharſis, and ſome of the philoſophical romances of Voltaire.—They ſay it ennuyes them to read; and I obſerve, that thoſe who read at all, take their books into the garden, and prefer the moſt crowded walks. Theſe ſtudious perſons, who ſeem to ſurpaſs Crambe himſelf in the faculty of abſtraction, ſmile and bow at every comma, without any appearance of derangement from ſuch frequent interruptions.

Time paſſes ſorrowly, rather than ſlowly; and my thoughts, without being amuſed, are employed. The novelty of our ſituation, the paſt, the future, all offer ſo many ſubjects of reflection, that my mind has more occaſion for repoſe than amuſement. My only external reſource iſ converſing with our fellow-priſoners, and learning the cauſes of their detention. Theſe relations furniſh me with a ſort of "abſtract of the times," and mark the character of the government better than circumſtances of more apparent conſequence; for what are battles, ſieges, and political machinations, but as they ultimately affect the happineſſ of ſociety? And when I learn that the lives, the liberty, and property of no claſs are ſecure from violation, it is not neceſſary one ſhould be at Paris to form an opinion of this period of the revolution, and of thoſe who conduct it.

The perſecution which has hitherto been chiefly directed againſt the Nobleſſe, has now a little ſubſided, and ſeems turned againſt religion and commerce. People are daily arreſted for aſſiſting at private maſſes, concealing images, or even for being poſſeſſors of religious books. Merchants are ſent here as monopolizers, and retailers, under variouſ pretexts, in order to give the committees an opportunity of pillaging their ſhops. It is not uncommon to ſee people of the town who are our guards one day, become our fellow-priſoners the next; and a few weekſ ſince, the ſon of an old gentleman who has been ſome time here, after being on guard the whole day, inſtead of being relieved at the uſual hour, was joined by his wife and children, under the eſcort of a couple of dragoons, who delivered the whole family into the cuſtody of our keeper; and this appears to have happened without any other motive than his having preſented a petition to Dumont in behalf of his father.

An old man was lately taken from his houſe in the night, and brought here, becauſe he was ſaid to have worn the croſs of St. Louis.—The fact is, however, that he never did wear this obnoxious diſtinction; and though his daughter has proved this incontrovertibly to Dumont, ſhe cannot obtain his liberty: and the poor young woman, after making two or three fruitleſs journeys to Paris, is obliged to content herſelf with ſeeing her father occaſionally at the gate.

The refectory of the convent is inhabited by hoſpital nuns. Many of the hoſpitals in France had a ſort of religious order annexed to them, whoſe buſineſs it was to attend the ſick; and habit, perhaps too the aſſociation of the offices of humanity with the duties of religion, had made them ſo uſeful in their profeſſion, that they were ſuffered to remain, even after the abolition of the regular monaſteries. But the devaſtating torrent of the revolution at length reached them: they were accuſed of beſtowing a more tender ſolicitude on their ariſtocratic patients than on the wounded volunteers and republicans; and, upon theſe curious charges, they have been heaped into carts, without a ſingle neceſſary, almoſt without covering, ſent from one department to another, and diſtributed in different priſons, where they are periſhing with cold, ſickneſs, and want! Some people are here only becauſe they happened to be accidentally at a houſe when the owner was arreſted;* and we have one family who were taken at dinner, with their gueſts, and the plate they were uſing!

* It was not uncommon for a mandate of arreſt to direct the taking "Citizen Such-a-one, and all perſons found in his houſe."

A grand-daughter of the celebrated De Witt, who reſided thirty leagueſ from hence, was arreſted in the night, put in an open cart, without any regard to her age, her ſex, or her infirmities, though the rain fell in torrents; and, after ſleeping on ſtraw in different priſons on the road, was depoſited here. As a Fleming, the law places her in the ſame predicament with a very pretty young woman who has lived ſome months at Amiens; but Dumont, who is at once the maker, the interpreter, and executor of the laws, has exempted the latter from the general proſcription, and appears daily with her in public; whereas poor Madame De Witt is excluded from ſuch indulgence, being above ſeventy years old— and is accuſed, moreover, of having been moſt exemplarily charitable, and, what is ſtill worſe, very religious.—I have given theſe inſtanceſ not as any way remarkable, and only that you may form ſome idea of the pretexts which have ſerved to cover France with priſons, and to conduct ſo many of its inhabitants to the ſcaffold.

It is impoſſible to reflect on a country in ſuch a ſituation, without abhorring the authors of it, and dreading the propagation of their doctrines. I hope they neither have imitators nor admirers in England; yet the convention in their debates, the Jacobins, and all the French newſpapers, ſeem ſo ſanguine in their expectation, and ſo poſitive in their aſſertions of an Engliſh revolution, that I occaſionally, and in ſpite of myſelf, feel a vague but ſerious ſolicitude, which I ſhould not have ſuppoſed the apprehenſion of any political evil could inſpre. I know the good ſenſe and information of my countrymen offer a powerful reſource againſt the love of change and metaphyſical ſubtilties; but, it is certain, the French government have much depended on the ſpirit of party, and the zeal of their propagandiſtes. They talk of a Britiſh convention, of a conventional army, and, in ſhort, all France ſeem prepared to ſee their neighbours involved in the ſame diſaſtrous ſyſtem with themſelves. The people are not a little ſupported in this error by the extracts that are given them from your orators in the Houſe of Commons, which teem with nothing but complaints againſt the oppreſſion of their own country, and enthuſiaſtic admiration of French liberty. We read and wonder—collate the Bill of Rights with the Code Revolutionnaire, and again fear what we cannot give credit to.

Since the reports I allude to have gained ground, I have been forcibly ſtricken by a difference in the character of the two nations. At the proſpect of a revolution, all the French who could conveniently leave the country, fled; and thoſe that remained (except adventurers and the banditti that were their accomplices) ſtudiouſly avoided taking any part. But ſo little are our countrymen affected with this ſelfiſh apathy, that I am told there is ſcarcely one here who, amidſt all his preſent ſufferings, does not ſeem to regret his abſence from England, more on account of not being able to oppoſe this threatened attack on our conſtitution, than for any perſonal motive.—The example before them muſt, doubtleſs, tend to increaſe this ſentiment of genuine patriotiſm; for whoever came to France with but a ſingle grain of it in hiſ compoſition, muſt return with more than enough to conſtitute an hundred patriots, whoſe hatred of deſpotiſm is only a principle, and who have never felt its effects.—Adieu.

 

 

 

 

February 2, 1794.

The factions which have choſen to give France the appellation of a republic, ſeem to have judged, and with ſome reaſon, that though it might anſwer their purpoſe to amuſe the people with ſpecious theories of freedom, their habits and ideas were far from requiring that theſe fine ſchemes ſhould be carried into practice. I know of no example equal to the ſubmiſſion of the French at this moment; and if "departed ſpiritſ were permitted to review the world," the ſhades of Richelieu or Louvoiſ might hover with envy round the Committee of Public Welfare, and regret the undaring moderation of their own politics.

How ſhall I explain to an Engliſhman the doctrine of univerſal requiſition? I rejoice that you can imagine nothing like it.—After eſtabliſhing, as a general principle, that the whole country is at the diſpoſal of government, ſucceeding decrees have made ſpecific claims on almoſt every body, and every thing. The tailors, ſhoemakers,* bakers, ſmiths, ſadlers, and many other trades, are all in requiſition—carts, horſes, and carriages of every kind, are in requiſition—the ſtables and cellars are put in requiſition for the extraction of ſaltpetre, and the houſes to lodge ſoldiers, or to be converted into priſons.

* In order to prevent frauds, the ſhoemakers were obliged to make only ſquare-toed ſhoes, and every perſon not in the army waſ forbidden to wear them of this form. Indeed, people of any pretentions to patriotiſm (that is to ſay, who were much afraid) did not venture to wear any thing but wooden ſhoes; as it had been declared anti-civique, if not ſuſpicious, to walk in leather.

—Sometimes ſhopkeepers are forbidden to ſell their cloth, nails, wine, bread, meat, &c. There are inſtances where whole towns have been kept without the neceſſaries of life for ſeveral days together, in conſequence of theſe interdictions; and I have known it proclaimed by beat of drum, that whoever poſſeſſed two uniforms, two hats, or two pair of ſhoes, ſhould relinquiſh one for the uſe of the army! Yet with all theſe efforts of deſpotiſm, the republican troops are in many reſpects ill ſupplied, the produce being too often converted to the uſe of the agentſ of government, who are all Jacobins, and whoſe peculations are ſuffered with impunity, becauſe they are too neceſſary, or perhaps too formidable for puniſhment.

Theſe proceedings, which are not the leſs miſchievous for being abſurd, muſt end in a total deſtruction of commerce: the merchant will not import what he may be obliged to ſell excluſively to government at an arbitrary and inadequate valuation.—Thoſe who are not impriſoned, and have it in their power, are for the moſt part retired from buſineſs, or at leaſt avoid all foreign ſpeculations; ſo that France may in a few months depend only on her internal reſources. The ſame meaſures which ruin one claſs, ſerve as a pretext to oppreſs and levy contributions on the reſt.—In order to make this right of ſeizure ſtill more productive, almoſt every village has its ſpies, and the domiciliary viſits are become ſo frequent, that a man is leſs ſecure in his own houſe, than in a deſert amidſt Arabs. On theſe occaſions, a band of Jacobins, with a municipal officer at their head, enter ſans ceremonie, over-run your apartments, and if they find a few pounds of ſugar, ſoap, or any other article which they chooſe to judge more than ſufficient for immediate conſumption, they take poſſeſſion of the whole as a monopoly, which they claim for the uſe of the republic, and the terrified owner, far from expoſtulating, thinkſ himſelf happy if he eſcapes ſo well.—But this is mere vulgar tyranny: a leſs powerful deſpotiſm might invade the ſecurity of ſocial life, and baniſh its comforts. We are prone to ſuffer, and it requires often little more than the will to do evil to give us a command over the happineſs of others. The Convention are more original, and, not ſatiſfied with having reduced the people to the moſt abject ſlavery, they exact a ſemblance of content, and dictate at ſtated periods the chaſtiſement which awaits thoſe who refuſe to ſmile.

The ſplendid ceremonies at Paris, which paſs for popular rejoicings, merit that appellation leſs than an auto de fe. Every movement iſ previouſly regulated by a Commiſſioner appointed for the purpoſe, (to whom en paſſant theſe fetes are very lucrative jobs,) a plan of the whole is diſtributed, in which is preſcribed with great exactneſs, that at ſuch and ſuch parts the people are to "melt into tears," at otherſ they are to be ſeized with a holy enthuſiaſm, and at the concluſion of the whole they are to rend the air with the cry of "Vive la Convention!" —Theſe celebrations are always attended by a military force, ſufficient to enſure their obſervance, beſides a plentiful mixture of ſpies to notice refractory countenances or faint acclamations.

The departments which cannot imitate the magnificence of Paris, are obliged, nevertheleſs, to manifeſt their ſatiſfaction. At every occaſion on which a rejoicing is ordered, the ſame kind of diſcipline iſ preſerved; and the ariſtocrats, whoſe fears in general overcome their principles, are often not the leaſt zealous attendants.

At the retaking of Toulon, when abandoned by our countrymen, the National Guards were every where aſſembled to participate in the feſtivity, under a menace of three days impriſonment. Thoſe perſons who did not illuminate their houſes were to be conſidered as ſuſpicious, and treated as ſuch: yet, even with all theſe precautions, I am informed the buſineſſ was univerſally cold, and the balls thinly attended, except by ariſtocrats and relations of emigrants, who, in ſome places, with a baſeneſs not excuſed even by their terrors, exhibited themſelves as a public ſpectacle, and ſang the defeats of that country which was armed in their defence.

I muſt here remark to you a circumſtance which does ſtill leſs honour to the French character; and which you will be unwilling to believe. In ſeveral towns the officers and others, under whoſe care the Engliſh were placed during their confinement, were deſirous ſometimes on account of the peculiar hardſhip of their ſituation as foreigners, to grant them little indulgences, and even more liberty than to the French priſoners; and in this they were juſtified on ſeveral conſiderations, as well aſ that of humanity.—They knew an Engliſhman could not eſcape, whatever facility might be given him, without being immediately retaken; and that if his impriſonment were made ſevere, he had fewer external reſources and alleviations than the natives of the country: but theſe favourable diſpoſitions were of no avail—for whenever any of our countrymen obtained an accommodation, the jealouſy of the French took umbrage, and they were obliged to relinquiſh it, or hazard the drawing embarraſſment on the individual who had ſerved them.

You are to notice, that the people in general, far from being averſe to ſeeing the Engliſh treated with a comparative indulgence, were even pleaſed at it; and the invidious compariſons and complaints which prevented it, proceeded from the gentry, from the families of thoſe who had found refuge in England, and who were involved in the common perſecution.—I have, more than once, been reproached by a female ariſtocrat with the ill ſucceſs of the Engliſh army; and many, with whom I formerly lived on terms of intimacy, would refuſe me now the moſt trifling ſervice.—I have heard of a lady, whoſe huſband and brother are both in London, who amuſes herſelf in teaching a bird to repeat abuſe of the Engliſh.

It has been ſaid, that the day a man becomes a ſlave, he loſes half hiſ virtue; and if this be true as to perſonal ſlavery, judging from the examples before me, I conclude it equally ſo of political bondage.—The extreme deſpotiſm of the government ſeems to have confounded every principle of right and wrong, every diſtinction of honour and diſhonour and the individual, of whatever claſs, alive only to the ſenſe of perſonal danger, embraces without reluctance meanneſs or diſgrace, if it inſure his ſafety.—A tailor or ſhoemaker, whoſe reputation perhaps iſ too bad to gain him a livelihood by any trade but that of a patriot, ſhall be beſieged by the flatteries of people of rank, and have levees aſ numerous as Choiſeul or Calonne in their meridian of power.

When a Deputy of the Convention is ſent to a town on miſſion, ſadneſſ takes poſſeſſion of every heart, and gaiety of every countenance. He iſ beſet with adulatory petitions, and propitiating gifts; the Nobleſſe who have eſcaped confinement form a ſort of court about his perſon; and thrice happy is the owner of that habitation at which he condeſcends to reſide.—*

* When a Deputy arrives, the gentry of the town contend with jealouſ rivalſhip for the honour of lodging him; and the moſt eloquent eulogiſt of republican ſimplicity in the Convention does not fail to prefer a large houſe and a good table, even though the unhallowed property of an ariſtocrat.—It is to be obſerved, that theſe Miſſionaries travel in a very patriarchal ſtyle, accompanied by their wives, children, and a numerous train of followers, who are not delicate in availing themſelves of this hoſpitality, and are ſometimes accuſed of carrying off the linen, or any thing elſe portable—even the moſt decent behave on theſe occaſions as though they were at an inn.

—A Repreſentative of gallantry has no reaſon to envy either the authority of the Grand Signor, or the licence of his ſeraglio—he iſ arbiter of the fate of every woman that pleaſes him; and, it is ſuppoſed, that many a fair captive has owed her liberty to her charms, and that the philoſophy of a French huſband has ſometimes opened the doors of hiſ priſon.

Dumont, who is married, and has beſides the countenance of a white Negro, never viſits us without occaſioning a general commotion amongſt all the females, eſpecially thoſe who are young and pretty. As ſoon as it iſ known that he is expected, the toilettes are all in activity, a renovation of rouge and an adjuſtment of curls take place, and, though performed with more haſte, not with leſs ſolicitude, than the preparatory ſplendour of a firſt introduction.—When the great man arrives, he findſ the court by which he enters crowded by theſe formidable priſoners, and each with a petition in her hand endeavours, with the inſidious coquetry of plaintive ſmiles and judicious tears, that brighten the eye without deranging the features, to attract his notice and conciliate his favour. Happy thoſe who obtain a promiſe, a look of complacence, or even of curioſity!—But the attention of this apoſtle of republicaniſm is not often beſtowed, except on high rank, or beauty; and a woman who is old, or ill dreſſed, that ventures to approach him, is uſually repulſed with vulgar brutality—while the very ſight of a male ſuppliant renders him furious. The firſt half hour he walks about, ſurrounded by his fair cortege, and is tolerably civil; but at length, fatigued, I ſuppoſe by continual importunity, he loſes his temper, departs, and throws all the petitions he has received unopened into the fire.

Adieu—the ſubject is too humiliating to dwell on. I feel for myſelf, I feel for human nature, when I ſee the faſtidiouſneſs of wealth, the more liberal pride of birth, and the yet more allowable pretenſions of beauty, degraded into the moſt abject ſubmiſſion to ſuch a being as Dumont. Are our principles every where the mere children of circumſtance, or is it in this country only that nothing is ſtable? For my own part I love inflexibility of character; and pride, even when ill founded, ſeems more reſpectable while it ſuſtains itſelf, than conceſſions which, refuſed to the ſuggeſtions of reaſon, are yielded to the dictates of fear.—Yours.

 

 

 

 

February 12, 1794.

I was too much occupied by my perſonal diſtreſſes to make any remarks on the revolutionary government at the time of its adoption. The text of this political phoenomenon muſt be well known in England—I ſhall, therefore, confine myſelf to giving you a general idea of its ſpirit and tendency,—It is, compared to regular government, what force is to mechaniſm, or the uſual and peaceful operations of nature to the ravageſ of a ſtorm—it ſubſtitutes violence for conciliation, and ſweeps with precipitate fury all that oppoſes its devaſtating progreſs. It referſ every thing to a ſingle principle, which is in itſelf not ſuſceptible of definition, and, like all undefined power, is continually vibrating between deſpotiſm and anarchy. It is the execrable ſhape of Milton'ſ Death, "which ſhape hath none," and which can be deſcribed only by itſ effects.—For inſtance, the revolutionary tribunal condemns without evidence, the revolutionary committees impriſon without a charge, and whatever aſſumes the title of revolutionary is exonerated from all ſubjection to humanity, decency, reaſon, or juſtice.—Drowning the inſurgents, their wives and children, by boatloads, is called, in the diſpatch to the Convention, a revolutionary meaſure—*

* The detail of the horrors committed in La Vendee and at Nanteſ were not at this time fully known. Carrier had, however, acknowledged, in a report read to the Convention, that a boat-load of refractory prieſts had been drowned, and children of twelve yearſ old condemned by a military commiſſion! One Fabre Marat, a republican General, wrote, about the ſame period, I think from Angers, that the Guillotine was too ſlow, and powder ſcarce, ſo that it was concluded more expedient to drown the rebels, which he callſ a patriotic baptiſm!—The following is a copy of a letter addreſſed to the Mayor of Paris by a Commiſſary of the Government:

"You will give us pleaſure by tranſmitting the details of your fete at Paris laſt decade, with the hymns that were ſung. Here we all cried "Vive la Republique!" as we ever do, when our holy mother Guillotine iſ at work. Within theſe three days ſhe has ſhaved eleven prieſts, one ci-devant noble, a nun, a general, and a ſuperb Engliſhman, ſix feet high, and as he was too tall by a head, we have put that into the ſack! At the ſame time eight hundred rebels were ſhot at the Pont du Ce, and their carcaſes thrown into the Loire!—I underſtand the army is on the track of the runaways. All we overtake we ſhoot on the ſpot, and in ſuch numberſ that the ways are heaped with them!"

—At Lyons, it is revolutionary to chain three hundred victims together before the mouths of loaded cannon, and maſſacre thoſe who eſcape the diſcharge with clubs and bayonets;* and at Paris, revolutionary jurieſ guillotine all who come before them.—**

* The Convention formally voted their approbation of this meaſure, and Collot d'Herbois, in a report on the ſubject, makes a kind of apoſtrophical panegyric on the humanity of his colleagues. "Which of you, Citizens, (ſays he,) would not have fired the cannon? Which of you would not joyfully have deſtroyed all theſe traitors at a blow?" ** About this time a woman who ſold newſpapers, and the printer of them, were guillotined for paragraphs deemed incivique.

—Yet this government is not more terrible than it is minutely vexations. One's property is as little ſecure as one's exiſtence. Revolutionary committees every where ſequeſtrate in the groſs, in order to plunder in detail.*

* The revolutionary committees, when they arreſted any one, pretended to affix ſeals in form. The ſeal was often, however, no other than the private one of ſome individual employed—ſometimeſ only a button or a halfpenny, which was broken as often as the Committee wanted acceſs to the wine or other effects. Camille Deſmoulins, in an addreſs to Freron, his fellow-deputy, deſcribeſ with ſome humour the mode of proceeding of theſe revolutionary pilferers:

"Avant hier, deux Commiſſaires de la ſection de Mutius Scaevola, montent chez lui—ils trouvent dans la bibliotheque des livres de droit; et non-obſtant le decret qui porte qu'on ne touchera point Domat ni a Charleſ Dumoulin, bien qu'ils traitent de matieres feodales, ils ſont main baſſe ſur la moitie de la bibliotheque, et chargent deux Chrocheteurs deſ livres paternels. Ils trouvent une pendule, don't la pointe de Paiguille etoit, comme la plupart des pointes d'aiguilles, terminee en trefle: il leur ſemble que cette pointe a quelque choſe d'approchant d'une fleur de lys; et non-obſtant le decret qui ordonne de reſpecter les monumens deſ arts, il confiſquent la pendule.—Notez bien qu'il y avoit a cote une malle ſur laquelle etoit l'adreſſe fleurdeliſee du marchand.—Ici il n'y avoit pas moyen de aier que ce fut une belle et bonne fleur de lys; maiſ comme la malle ne valoit pas un corſet, les Commiſſaires ſe contentent de rayer les lys, au lieu que la malheureuſe pendule, qui vaut bien 1200 livres, eſt, malgre ſon trefle, emportee par eux-memes, qui ne ſe fioient pas aux Chrocheteurs d'un poid ſi precieux—et ce, en vertu du droit que Barrere a appelle ſi heureuſement le droit de prehenſion, quoique le decret ſ'oppoſat, dans l'eſpece, a l'application de ce droit.—Enfin, notre decemvirat ſectionnaire, qui ſe mettoit ainſi au-deſſus deſ decrets, trouve le brevet de penſion de mon beau-pere, qui, comme touſ les brevets de penſion, n'etant pas de nature a etre porte ſur le grand livre de la republique, etoit demeure dans le porte-feuille, et qui, comme tous les brevets de penſion poſſibles, commencoit par ce protocole; Louis, &c. Ciel! ſ'ecrient les Commiſſaires, le nom du tyran!—Et apreſ avoir retrouve leur haleine, ſuffoquee d'abord par l'indignation, ilſ mettent en poche le brevet de penſion, c'eſt a dire 1000 livres de rente, et emportent la marmite. Autre crime, le Citoyen Dupleſſis, qui etoit premier commis des finances, ſous Clugny, avoit conſerve, comme c'etoit l'uſage, la cachet du controle general d'alorſ—un vieux porte-feuille de commis, qui etoit au rebut, ouble au deſſus d'une armoire, dans un tas de pouſſiere, et auquel il n'avoit pas touche ne meme penſe depuis dix anſ peutetre, et ſur le quel on parvint a decouvrir l'empreinte de quelqueſ fleurs de lys, ſous deux doigts de craſſe, acheva de completer la preuve que le Citoyen Dupleſſis etoit ſuſpect—et la voila, lui, enferme juſqu'a la paix, et le ſcelle mis ſur toutes les portes de cette campagne, ou, tu te ſouviens, mon cher Freroa—que, decretes tous deux de priſe de corps, apres le maſſacre du Champ de Mars, nous trouvions un aſyle que le tyran n'oſoit violer."

"The day before yeſterday, two Commiſſaries belonging to the ſection of Mutius Scaevola, entered my father-in-law's apartments; they found ſome law-books in the library, and, notwithſtanding the decree which exemptſ from ſeizure the works of Domat and Charles Dumouin, (although they treat of feudal matters,) they proceeded to lay violent hands on one half of the collection, and loaded two porters with paternal ſpoils. The next object that attracted their attention was a clock, the hand of which, like the hands of moſt other clocks, terminated in a point, in the form of a trefoil, which ſeemed to them to bear ſome reſemblance to a fleur de lys; and, notwithſtanding the decree which ordains that the monuments of the arts ſhall be reſpected, they immediately paſſed ſentence of confiſcation on the clock. I ſhould obſerve to you, that hard by lay a portmanteau, having on it the maker's addreſs, encircled with lilies.— Here there was no diſputing the fact, but as the trunk was not worth five livres, the Commiſſaries contented themſelves with eraſing the lilies; but the unfortunate clock, being worth twelve hundred, was, notwithſtanding its trefoil, carried off by themſelves, for they would not truſt the porters with ſo precious a load.—And all this was done in virtue of the law, which Barrere aptly denominated the law of prehenſion, and which, according to the terms of the decree itſelf, was not applicable to the caſe in queſtion.

"At length our ſectionary decemvirs, who thus placed themſelves above the law, diſcovered the grant of my father-in-law's penſion, which, like all ſimilar grants, being excluded from the privilege of inſcription on the great regiſter of public debts, had been left in his port-folio; and which began, as all ſuch grants neceſſarily muſt, with the words, Louis, &c. "Heaven!" exclaimed the Commiſſaries, "here is the very name of the tyrant!" And, as ſoon as they recovered their breaths, which had been nearly ſtopped by the violence of the indignation, they coolly pocketed the grant, that is to ſay, an annuity of one thouſand livres, and ſent off the porridge-pot. Nor did theſe conſtitute all the crimes of Citizen Dupleſſis, who, having ſerved as firſt clerk of the revenue board under Clugny, had, as was uſual, kept the official ſeal of that day. An old port-folio, which had been thrown aſide, and long forgotten, under a wardrobe, where it was buried in duſt, and had, in all probability, not been touched for ten years, but, which with much difficulty, waſ diſcovered to bear the impreſſion of a fleur de lys, completed the proof that Citizen Dupleſſis was a ſuſpicious character. And now behold him ſhut up in a priſon until peace ſhall be concluded, and the ſeals put upon all the doors of that country ſeat, where, you may remember, my dear Freron, that at the time when warrants were iſſued for apprehending uſ both, after the maſſacre in the Champ de Mars, we found an aſylum which the tyrant did not dare to violate."

—In a word, you muſt generally underſtand, that the revolutionary ſyſtem ſuperſedes law, religion, and morality; and that it inveſts the Committees of Public Welfare and General Safety, their agents, the Jacobin clubs, and ſubſidiary banditti, with the diſpoſal of the whole country and its inhabitants.

This gloomy aera of the revolution has its frivolities as well as the leſs diſaſtrous periods, and the barbariſm of the moment is rendered additionally diſguſting by a mixture of levity and pedantry.—It is a faſhion for people at preſent to abandon their baptiſmal and family names, and to aſſume that of ſome Greek or Roman, which the debates of the Convention have made familiar.—France ſwarms with Gracchuſ's and Publicolas, who by imaginary aſſimilations of acts, which a change of manners has rendered different, fancy themſelves more than equal to their prototypes.*

* The viciſſitudes of the revolution, and the vengeance of party, have brought half the ſages of Greece, and patriots of Rome, to the Guillotine or the pillory. The Newgate Calendar of Paris containſ as many illuſtrious names as the index to Plutarch's Lives; and I believe there are now many Brutuſ's and Gracchuſ's in durance vile, beſides a Mutius Scaevola condemned to twenty years impriſonment for an unſkilful theft.—A man of Amiens, whoſe name is Le Roy, ſignified to the public, through the channel of a newſpaper, that he had adopted that of Republic.

—A man who ſolicits to be the executioner of his own brother yclepſ himſelf Brutus, and a zealous preacher of the right of univerſal pillage cites the Agrarian law, and ſigns himſelf Lycurgus. Some of the Deputieſ have diſcovered, that the French mode of dreſſing is not characteriſtic of republicaniſm, and a project is now in agitation to drill the whole country into the uſe of a Roman coſtume.—You may perhaps ſuſpect, that the Romans had at leaſt more bodily ſedateneſs than their imitators, and that the ſhrugs, jerks, and carracoles of a French petit maitre, however republicanized, will not aſſort with the grave drapery of the toga. But on your ſide of the water you have a habit of reaſoning and deliberating —here they have that of talking and obeying.

Our whole community are in deſpair to-day. Dumont has been here, and thoſe who accoſted him, as well as thoſe who only ventured to interpret his looks, all agree in their reports that he is in a "bad humour."—The brighteſt eyes in France have ſupplicated in vain—not one grace of any ſort has been accorded—and we begin to cheriſh even our preſent ſituation, in the apprehenſion that it may become worſe.—Alaſ! you know not of what evil portent is the "bad humour" of a Repreſentant. We are half of us now, like the Perſian Lord, feeling if our heads are ſtill on our ſhoulders.—I could add much to the concluſion of one of my laſt letters. Surely this inceſſant ſolicitude for mere exiſtence debilitateſ the mind, and impairs even its paſſive faculty of ſuffering. We intrigue for the favour of the keeper, ſmile complacently at the groſſ pleaſantries of a Jacobin, and tremble at the frown of a Dumont.—I am aſhamed to be the chronicler of ſuch humiliation: but, "tuſh, Hal; men, mortal men!" I can add no better apology, and quit you to moralize on it.—Yours.

 

 

 

 

[No date given.]

Were I a mere ſpectator, without fear for myſelf or compaſſion for others, the ſituation of this country would be ſufficiently amuſing. The effects produced (many perhaps unavoidably) by a ſtate of revolution—the ſtrange remedies deviſed to obviate them—the alternate neglect and ſeverity with which the laws are executed—the mixture of want and profuſion that diſtinguiſh the lower claſſes of people—and the diſtreſſ and humiliation of the higher; all offer ſcenes ſo new and unaccountable, as not to be imagined by a perſon who has lived only under a regular government, where the limits of authority are defined, the neceſſaries of life plentiful, and the people rational and ſubordinate. The conſequences of a general ſpirit of monopoly, which I formerly deſcribed, have lately been ſo oppreſſive, that the Convention thought it neceſſary to interfere, and in ſo extraordinary a way, that I doubt if (as uſual) "the diſtemper of their remedieſ" will not make us regret the original diſeaſe. Almoſt every article, by having paſſed through a variety of hands, had become enormouſly dear; which, operating with a real ſcarcity of many things, occaſioned by the war, had excited univerſal murmuringſ and inquietude. The Convention, who know the real ſource of the evil (the diſcredit of aſſignats) to be unattainable, and who are more ſolicitous to divert the clamours of the people, than to ſupply their wants, have adopted a meaſure which, according to the preſent appearances, will ruin one half of the nation, and ſtarve the other. A maximum, or higheſt price, beyond which nothing is to be ſold, is now promulgated under very ſevere penalties for all who ſhall infringe it. Such a regulation as this, muſt, in its nature, be highly complex, and, by way of ſimplifying it, the price of every kind of merchandiſe is fixed at a third above what it bore in 1791: but as no diſtinction is made between the produce of the country, and articles imported—between the ſmall retailer, who has purchaſed perhaps at double the rate he iſ allowed to ſell at, and the wholeſale ſpeculator, this very ſimplification renders the whole abſurd and inexecutable.—The reſult waſ ſuch as might have been expected; previous to the day on which the decree was to take place, ſhopkeepers ſecreted as many of their goods as they could; and, when the day arrived, the people laid ſiege to them in crowds, ſome buying at the maximum, others leſs ceremonious, and in a few hours little remained in the ſhop beyond the fixtures. The farmers have ſince brought neither butter nor eggs to market, the butchers refuſe to kill as uſual, and, in ſhort, nothing is to be purchaſed openly. The country people, inſtead of ſelling proviſions publicly, take them to private houſes; and, in addition to the former exorbitant prices, we are taxed for the riſk that is incurred by evading the law. A dozen of eggs, or a leg of mutton, are now conveyed from houſe to houſe with as much myſtery, as a caſe of fire-arms, or a treaſonable correſpondence; the whole republic is in a ſort of training like the Spartan youth; and we are obliged to have recourſe to dexterity and intrigue to procure us a dinner.

Our legiſlators, aware of what they term the "ariſtocratie marchande,"— that is to ſay, that tradeſmen would naturally ſhut up their ſhops when nothing was to be gained—provided, by a clauſe in the above law, that no one ſhould do this in leſs time than a year; but as the injunction only obliged them to keep the ſhops open, and not to have goods to ſell, every demand is at firſt always anſwered in the negative, till a ſort of intelligence becomes eſtabliſhed betwixt the buyer and ſeller, when the former, if he may be truſted, is informed in a low key, that certain articles may be had, but not au maximum.—Thus even the rich cannot obtain the neceſſaries of life without difficulty and ſubmitting to impoſition—and the decent poor, who will not pillage nor intimidate the tradeſmen, are more embarraſſed than ever.

The above ſpecies of contraband commerce is carried on, indeed, with great circumſpection, and no avowed hoſtilities are attempted in the towns. The great war of the maximum was waged with the farmers and higlers, as ſoon as it was diſcovered that they took their commoditieſ privily to ſuch people as they knew would buy at any price, rather than not be ſupplied. In conſequence, the guards were ordered to ſtop all refractory butter-women at the gates, and conduct them to the town-houſe, where their merchandize was diſtributed, without pity or appeal, au maximum, to thoſe of the populace who could clamour loudeſt.

Theſe proceedings alarmed the peaſants, and our markets became deſerted. New ſtratagems, on one ſide, new attacks on the other. The ſervants were forced to ſupply themſelves at private rendezvous in the night, until ſome were fined, and others arreſted; and the ſearching all comers from the country became more intolerable than the vexations of the ancient Gabelle.—Detachments of dragoons are ſent to ſcour the farm-yards, arreſt the farmers, and bring off in triumph whatever the reſtive houſewives have amaſſed, to be more profitably diſpoſed of.

In this ſituation we remain, and I ſuppoſe ſhall remain, while the law of the maximum continues in force. The principle of it was certainly good, but it is found impoſſible to reduce it to practice ſo equitably as to affect all alike: and as laws which are not executed are for the moſt part rather pernicious than nugatory, informations, arreſts, impoſition, and ſcarcity are the only ends which this meaſure ſeems to have anſwered.

The houſes of detention, before inſupportable, are now yet more crouded with farmers and ſhopkeepers ſuſpected of oppoſing the law.—Many of the former are ſo ignorant, as not to conceive that any circumſtances ought to deprive them of the right to ſell the produce of their farms at the higheſt price they can get, and regard the maximum much in the ſame light as they would a law to authorize robbing or houſebreaking: as for the latter, they are chiefly ſmall dealers, who bought dearer than they have ſold, and are now impriſoned for not ſelling articles which they have not got. An informer by trade, or a perſonal enemy, lodges an accuſation againſt a particular tradeſman for concealing goods, or not ſelling au maximum; and whether the accuſation be true or falſe, if the accuſed iſ not in office, or a Jacobin, he has very little chance of eſcaping impriſonment.—It is certain, that if the perſecution of theſe claſſes of people continue, and commerce (already nearly annihilated by the war) be thus ſhackled, an abſolute want of various articles of primary conſumption muſt enſue; but if Paris and the armies can be ſupplied, the ſtarving the departments will be a mere pleaſurable experiment to their humane repreſentativeſ!

 

 

 

 

March 1, 1794.

The freedom of the preſs is ſo perfectly well regulated, that it is not ſurprizing we are indulged with the permiſſion of ſeeing the public papers: yet this indulgence is often, I aſſure you, a ſource of much perplexity to me—our more intimate aſſociates know that I am a native of England, and as often as any debates of our Houſe of Commons are publiſhed, they apply to me for explanations which it is not always in my power to give them. I have in vain endeavoured to make them comprehend the nature of an oppoſition from ſyſtem, ſo that when they ſee any thing advanced by a member exactly the reverſe of truth, they are wondering how he can be ſo ill informed, and never ſuſpect him of ſaying what he doeſ not believe himſelf. It muſt be confeſſed, however, that our extractſ from the Engliſh papers often form ſo complete a contraſt with facts, that a foreigner unacquainted with the tactics of profeſſional patriotiſm, may very naturally read them with ſome ſurprize. A noble Peer, for example, (whoſe wiſdom is not to be diſputed, ſince the Abbe Mably calls him the Engliſh Socrates,*) aſſerts that the French troopſ are the beſt clothed in Europe; yet letters, of nearly the ſame date with the Earl's ſpeech, from two Generals and a Deputy at the head of different armies intreat a ſupply of covering for their denudated legions, and add, that they are obliged to march in wooden ſhoeſ!**

* It is ſurely a reflection on the Engliſh diſcernment not to have adopted this happy appellation, in which, however, as well as in many other parts of "the rights of Man and the Citizen," the Abbe ſeems to have conſulted his own zeal, rather than the noble Peer'ſ modeſty. ** If the French troops are now better clothed, it is the effect of requiſitions and pre-emptions, which have ruined the manufacturers. —Patriots of the North, would you wiſh to ſee our ſoldiers clothed by the ſame means?

—On another occaſion, your Britiſh Sage deſcribes, with great eloquence, the enthuſiaſm with which the youth of France "ſtart to arms at the call of the Convention;" while the peaceful citizen anticipates, with equal eagerneſs, the leſs glorious injunction to extract ſaltpetre.—The revolts, and the coercion, neceſſary to enforce the departure of the firſt levies (however fear, ſhame, and diſcipline, may have ſince made them ſoldiers, though not republicans) might have corrected the ardour of the orator's inventive talents; and the zeal of the French in manufacturing ſalpetre, has been of ſo ſlow a growth, that any reference to it is peculiarly unlucky. For ſeveral months the Convention haſ recommended, invited, intreated, and ordered the whole country to occupy themſelves in the proceſs neceſſary for obtaining nitre; but the republican enthuſiaſm was ſo tardy, that ſcarcely an ounce appeared, till a long liſt of ſound penal laws, with fines and impriſonments in every line, rouſed the public ſpirit more effectually.*

* Two years impriſonment was the puniſhment aſſigned to a Citizen who ſhould be found to obſtruct in any way the fabricating ſaltpetre. If you had a houſe that was adjudged to contain the materials required, and expoſtulated againſt pulling it down, the penalty was incurred.—I believe ſomething of this kind exiſted under the old government, the abuſes of which are the only parts the republic ſeems to have preſerved.

—Another cauſe alſo has much favoured the extenſion of this manufacture: the neceſſity of procuring gunpowder at any rate has ſecured an exemption from ſerving in the army to thoſe who ſhall be employed in making it.—*

* Many, under this pretext, even procured their diſcharge from the army; and it was eventually found requiſite to ſtop this commutation of ſervice by a decree.

—On this account vaſt numbers of young men, whoſe martial propenſitieſ are not too vehement for calculation, conſidering the extraction of ſaltpetre as more ſafe than the uſe of it, have ſeriouſly devoted themſelves to the buſineſs. Thus, between fear of the Convention and of the enemy, has been produced that enthuſiaſm which ſeems ſo grateful to Lord S____. Yet, if the French are ſtruck by the diſſimilitude of factſ with the language of your Engliſh patriots, there are other circumſtanceſ which appear ſtill more unaccountable to them. I acknowledge the word patriotiſm is not perfectly underſtood any where in France, nor do my priſon-aſſociates abound in it; but ſtill they find it difficult to reconcile the love of their country, ſo excluſively boaſted by certain ſenators, with their eulogiums on a government, and on men who avow an implacable hatred to it, and are the profeſſed agents of its future deſtruction. The Houſes of Lords and Commons reſound with panegyrics on France; the Convention with "delenda eſt Carthate"—"ces vilſ Inſulaireſ"—"de peuple marchand, boutiquier"—"ces laches Angloiſ". ("Carthage muſt be deſtroyed"—"thoſe vile Iſlanderſ"—"that nation of ſhopkeeperſ"—"thoſe cowardly Engliſhmen"—&c.)

The efforts of the Engliſh patriots overtly tend to the conſolidation of the French republic, while the demagogues of France are yet more ſtrenuous for the abolition of monarchy in England. The virtues of certain people called Muir and Palmer,* are at once the theme of Mr. Fox and Robeſpierre,** of Mr. Grey and Barrere,***, of Collot d'Herboiſ**** and Mr. Sheridan; and their fate is lamented as much at the Jacobins aſ at St. Stephen's.*****

* If I have not mentioned theſe gentlemen with the reſpect due to their celebrity, their friends muſt pardon me. To ſay truth, I did not at this time think of them with much complacence, as I had heard of them only from the Jacobins, by whom they were repreſented as the leaders of a Convention, which was to arm ninety thouſand men, for the eſtabliſhment of a ſyſtem ſimilar to that exiſting in France. **The French were ſo much miſled by the eloquence of theſe gentlemen in their favour, that they were all exhibited on the ſtage in red caps and cropped heads, welcoming the arrival of their Gallic friends in England, and triumphing in the overthrow of the Britiſh conſtitution, and the dethronement of the King. *** If we may credit the aſſertions of Barrere, the friendſhip of the Committee of Public Welfare was not merely verbal. He ſays, the ſecret regiſter of the Committee furniſhes proofs of their having ſent three frigates to intercept theſe diſtinguiſhed victims, whom their ungrateful country had ſo ignominiouſly baniſhed. **** This humane and ingenious gentleman, by profeſſion a player, iſ known likewiſe as the author of ſeveral farces and vaudevilles, and of the executions at Lyons.—It is aſſerted, that many of the inhabitants of this unfortunate city expiated under the Guillotine the crime of having formerly hiſſed Collot's ſucceſſful attempts on the ſtage. ***** The printing of a particular ſpeech was interdicted on account of its containing alluſions to certain circumſtances, the knowledge of which might be of diſſervice to their unfortunate friends during their trial.

—The conduct of Mr. Pitt is not more acrimoniouſly diſcuſſed at the Palais National than by a part of his colleagues; and the cenſure of the Britiſh government, which is now the order of the day at the Jacobins, iſ nearly the echo of your parliamentary debates.*

* Allowing for the difference of education in the orators, a journeyman ſhoemaker was, I think, as eloquent, and not more abuſive, than the facetious _ci-devant_ protege of Lord T____d.

—All this, however, does not appear to me out of the natural order of things; it is the ſorry hiſtory of oppoſition for a century and an half, and our political rectitude, I fear, is not increaſing: but the French, who are in their way the moſt corrupt people in Europe, have not hitherto, from the nature of their government, been familiar with thiſ particular mode of provoking corruption, nor are they at preſent likely to become ſo. Indeed, I muſt here obſerve, that your Engliſh Jacobins, if they are wiſe, ſhould not attempt to introduce the revolutionary ſyſtem; for though the total poſſeſſion of ſuch a government is very alluring, yet the prudence, which looks to futurity, and the incertitude of ſublunary events, muſt acknowledge it is "Caeſar or nothing;" and that it offers no reſource in caſe of thoſe ſegregations, which the jealouſy of power, or the appropriation of ſpoil, may occaſion, even amongſt the moſt virtuous aſſociates.—The eloquence of a diſcontented orator is here ſilenced, not by a penſion, but by a mandat d'arret; and the obſtinate patriotiſm, which with you could not be ſoftened with leſs than a participation of authority, is more cheaply ſecured by the Guillotine. A menace is more efficacious than a bribe, and in this reſpect I agree with Mr. Thomas Paine,* that a republic is undoubtedly more oeconomical than a monarchy; beſides, that being conducted on ſuch principles, it has the advantage of ſimplifying the ſcience of government, as it conſultſ neither the intereſts nor weakneſſes of mankind; and, diſdaining to adminiſter either to avarice or vanity, ſubdues its enemies by the ſole influence of terror.—*

* This gentleman's fate is truly to be pitied. After rejecting, aſ his friends aſſert, two hundred a year from the Engliſh Miniſtry, he is obliged now to be ſilent gratis, with the additional deſagrement of occupying a corner in the Luxembourg.

—Adieu!—Heaven knows how often I may have to repeat the word thuſ unmeaningly. I ſit here, like Pope's bard "lulled by ſoft zephyrſ through the broken pane," and ſcribbling high-ſounding phraſes of monarchy, patriotiſm, and republics, while I forget the humbler ſubject of our wants and embarraſſments. We can ſcarcely procure either bread, meat, or any thing elſe: the houſe is crouded by an importation of priſoners from Abbeville, and we are more ſtrictly guarded than ever. My friend ennuyes as uſual, and I grow impatient, not having ſang froid enough for a true French ennuie in a ſituation that would tempt one to hang one's ſelf.

 

 

 

 

March, 1794.

The aſpect of the times promiſes no change in our favour; on the contrary, every day ſeems to bring its attendant evil. The gentry who had eſcaped the comprehenſive decree againſt ſuſpected people, are now ſwept away in this and the three neighbouring departments by a private order of the repreſentatives, St. Juſt, Lebas, and Dumont.*

* The order was to arreſt, without exception, all the ci-devant Nobleſſſe, men, women, and children, in the departments of the Somme, North, and Pas de Calais, and to exclude them rigourouſly from all external communication—(mettre au ſecret).

—A ſeverer regimen is to be adopted in the priſons, and huſbands are already ſeparated from their wives, and fathers from their daughters, for the purpoſe, as it is alledged, of preſerving good morals. Both thiſ place and the Bicetre being too full to admit of more inhabitants, two large buildings in the town are now appropriated to the male priſoners.— My friends continue at Arras, and, I fear, in extreme diſtreſs. I underſtand they have been plundered of what things they had with them, and the little ſupply I was able to ſend them was intercepted by ſome of the harpies of the priſons. Mrs. D____'s health has not been able to ſuſtain theſe accumulated miſfortunes, and ſhe is at preſent at the hoſpital. All this is far from enlivening, even had I a larger ſhare of the national philoſophy; and did I not oftener make what I obſerve, than what I ſuffer, the ſubject of my letters, I ſhould tax your patience aſ much by repetition, as I may by dullneſs.

When I enumerated in my laſt letters a few of the obligations the French have to their friends in England, I ought alſo to have obſerved, with how little gratitude they behave to thoſe who are here. Without mentioning Mr. Thomas Paine, whoſe perſecution will doubtleſs be recorded by abler pens, nothing, I aſſure you, can be more unpleaſant than the ſituation of one of theſe Anglo-Gallican patriots. The republicans, ſuppoſing that an Engliſhman who affects a partiality for them can be only a ſpy, execute all the laws, which concern foreigners, upon him with additional rigour;* and when an Engliſh Jacobin arrives in priſon, far from meeting with conſolation or ſympathy, his diſtreſſes are beheld with triumph, and hiſ perſon avoided with abhorrence. They talk much here of a gentleman, of very democratic principles, who left the priſon before I came. It ſeems, that, notwithſtanding Dumont condeſcended to viſit at his houſe, and waſ on terms of intimacy with him, he was arreſted, and not diſtinguiſhed from the reſt of his countrymen, except by being more harſhly treated. The caſe of this unfortunate gentleman was rendered peculiarly amuſing to his companions, and mortifying to himſelf, by his having a very pretty miſtreſs, who had ſufficient influence over Dumont to obtain any thing but the liberation of her protector. The Deputy was on this head inflexible; doubtleſs, as a proof of his impartial obſervance of the laws, and to ſhow that, like the juſt man in Horace, he deſpiſed the clamour of the vulgar, who did not ſcruple to hint, that the crime of our countryman was rather of a moral than a political nature—that he waſ unaccommodating, and recalcitrant—addicted to ſuſpicions and jealouſies, which it was thought charitable to cure him of, by a little wholeſome ſecluſion. In fact, the ſummary of this gentleman's hiſtory is not calculated to tempt his fellow ſocietiſts on your ſide of the water to imitate his example.—After taking refuge in France from the tyranny and diſappointments he experienced in England, and purchaſing a large national property to ſecure himſelf the rights of a citizen, he iſ awakened from his dream of freedom, to find himſelf lodged in a priſon, his eſtate under ſequeſtration, and his miſtreſs in requiſition.—Let uſ leave this Coriolanus among the Volſcianſ—it is a perſecution to make converts, rather than martyrs, and


               "Quand le malheur ne ſeroit bon,
               "Qu'a mettre un ſot a la raiſon,
               "Toujours ſeroit-ce a juſte cauſe
               "Qu'on le dit bon a quelque choſe."*

* If calamity were only good to reſtore a fool to his ſenſes, ſtill we might juſtly ſay, "that it was good for ſome thing."

Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

March 5, 1794.

Of what ſtrange influence is this word revolution, that it ſhould thus, like a taliſman of romance, keep inchained, as it were, the reaſoning faculties of twenty millions of people! France is at this moment looking for the deciſion of its fate in the quarrels of two miſerable clubs, compoſed of individuals who are either deſpiſed or deteſted. The municipality of Paris favours the Cordeliers, the Convention the Jacobins; and it is eaſy to perceive, that in this cafe the auxiliarieſ are principals, and muſt ſhortly come to ſuch an open rupture, as will end in the deſtruction of either one or the other. The world would be uninhabitable, could the combinations of the wicked be permanent; and it is fortunate for the tranquil and upright part of mankind, that the attainment of the purpoſes for which ſuch combinations are formed, iſ uſually the ſignal of their diſſolution.

The municipality of Paris had been the iniquitous drudges of the Jacobin party in the legiſlative aſſembly—they were made the inſtruments of maſſacring the priſoners,* of dethroning and executing the king,** and ſucceſſively of deſtroying the Briſſotine faction,*** filling the priſonſ with all who were obnoxious to the republicans,**** and of involving a repentant nation in the irremidiable guilt of the Queen's death.—*****

* It is well known that the aſſaſſins were hired and paid by the municipality, and that ſome of the members preſided at theſe horrorſ in their ſcarfs of office. ** The whole of what is called the revolution of the 10th of Auguſt may very juſtly be aſcribed to the municipality of Pariſ—I mean the active part of it. The planning and political part has been ſo often diſputed by different members of the Convention, that it iſ not eaſy to decide on any thing, except that the very terms of theſe diſputes fully evince, that the people at large, and more particularly the departments, were both innocent, and, until it took place, ignorant of an event which has plunged the country into ſo many crimes and calamities. *** A former impriſonment of Hebert formed a principal charge againſt the Briſſotines, and, indeed, the one that was moſt inſiſted on at their trial, if we except that of having precipitated France into a war with England.—It muſt be difficult for the Engliſh Jacobins to decide on this occaſion between the virtues of their dead friends and thoſe of their living ones. **** The famous definition of ſuſpected perſons originated with the municipality of Paris. ***** It is certain that thoſe who, deceived by the calumnies of faction, permitted, if not aſſented to, the King's death, at thiſ time regretted it; and I believe I have before obſerved, that one of the reaſons urged in ſupport of the expediency of putting the Queen to death, was, that it would make the army and people deciſive, by baniſhing all hope of peace or accommodation. See the Moniteur of that time, which, as I have elſewhere obſerved, may be alwayſ conſidered as official.

—Theſe ſervices being too great for adequate reward, were not rewarded at all; and the municipality, tired of the odium of crime, without the participation of power, has ſeized on its portion of tyranny; while the convention, at once jealous and timid, exaſperated and doubtful, yet menaces with the trepidation of a rival, rather than with the ſecurity of a conqueror.

Hebert, the Deputy-ſolicitor for the commune of Paris, appears on thiſ occaſion as the opponent of the whole legiſlature; and all the temporizing eloquence of Barrere, and the myſterious phraſeology of Robeſpierre, are employed to decry his morals, and to reproach the miniſters with the ſums which have been the price of his labours.—*

* Five thouſand pounds, two thouſand pounds, and other conſiderable ſums, were paid to Hebert for ſupplying the army with his paper, called "La Pere Duchene." Let whoever has read one of them, conceive the nature of a government to which ſuch ſupport waſ neceſſary, which ſuppoſed its intereſts promoted by a total extinction of morals, decency, and religion. I could almoſt wiſh, for the ſake of exhibiting vice under its moſt odious colours, that my ſex and my country permitted me to quote one.

—Virtuous republicanſ! the morals of Hebert were pure when he outraged humanity in his accuſations of the Queen—they were pure when he proſtrated the ſtupid multitude at the feet of a Goddeſs of Reaſon;* they were pure while his execrable paper ſerved to corrupt the army, and to eradicate every principle which yet diſtinguiſhed the French as a civilized people.

* Madame Momoro, the unfortunate woman who expoſed herſelf in thiſ pageant, was guillotined as an accomplice of Hebert, together with the wives of Hebert and Camille Deſmoulins.

—Yet, atrocious as his crimes are, they form half the Magna Charta of the republic,* and the authority of the Convention is ſtill ſupported by them.

* What are the death of the King, and the murders of Auguſt and September, 1792, but the Magna Charta of the republicans?

—It is his perſon, not his guilt, that is proſcribed; and if the one be threatened with the ſcaffold, the fruits of the other are held ſacred. He will fall a ſacrifice—not to offended religion or morality, but to the fears and reſentment of his accompliceſ!

Amidſt the diſſentions of two parties, between which neither reaſon nor humanity can diſcover a preference, a third ſeems to have formed itſelf, equally inimical to, and hated by both. At the head of it are Danton, Camille Deſmoulins, Philipeaux, &c.—I own I have no better opinion of the integrity of theſe, than of the reſt; but they profeſs themſelves the advocates of a ſyſtem of mildneſs and moderation, and, ſituated as thiſ country is at preſent, even the affectation of virtue is captivating.— As far as they dare, the people are partial to them: bending beneath the weight of a ſanguinary and turbulent deſpotiſm, if they ſigh not for freedom, they do for repoſe; and the haraſſed mind, bereft of its own energy, looks up with indolent hope for relief from a change of factions. They forget that Danton is actuated by ambitious jealouſy, that Camille Deſmoulins is hacknied in the atrocities of the revolution, and that their partizans are adventurers, with neither honour nor morals. Yet, after all, if they will deſtroy a few of the guillotines, open our baſtilles, and give us at leaſt the ſecurity of ſervitude, we ſhall be content to leave theſe retroſpections to poſterity, and be thankful that in this our day the wicked ſometimes perceive it their intereſt to do good.

In this ſtate of ſecluſion, when I remark to you the temper of the public at any important criſis, you are, perhaps, curious to know my ſources of intelligence; but ſuch details are unneceſſary. I might, indeed, write you a manuel des priſons, and, like Trenck or Latude, by a vain diſplay of ingenuity, deprive ſome future victim of a reſource. It is enough, that Providence itſelf ſeems to aid our invention, when its object is to elude tyranny; beſides that a conſtant acceſſion of priſoners from all parts, who are too numerous to be kept ſeparate, neceſſarily circulateſ among us whatever paſſes in the world.

The Convention has lately made a ſort of pas retrogade [Retrogade movement.] in the doctrine of holy equality, by decreeing, that every officer who has a command ſhall be able to read and write, though it cannot be denied that their reaſons for this leſe democratie are of ſome weight. All gentlemen, or, as it is expreſſed here, nobleſſe, have been recalled from the army, and replaced by officers choſen by the ſoldierſ themſelves, [Under the rank of field-officers.] whoſe affections are often conciliated by qualities not eſſentially military, though ſometimeſ profeſſional. A buffoon, or a pot-companion, is, of courſe, often more popular than a diſciplinarian; and the brighteſt talents loſe their influence when put in competition with a head that can bear a greater number of bottles.*

* Hence it happened, that a poſt was ſometimes confided to one who could not read the parole and counterſign; expeditions failed, becauſe commanding officers miſtook on the map a river for a road, or woods for mountains; and the moſt ſecret orders were betrayed through the inability of thoſe to whom they were entruſted to read them.

—Yet this reading and writing are a ſort of ariſtocratic diſtinctions, and not among the primeval rights of man; ſo that it is poſſible your Engliſh patriots will not approve of any regulations founded on them. But this is not the only point on which there is an apparent diſcordance between them and their friends here—the ſeverity of Meſſrs. Muir and Palmer's ſentence is pathetically lamented in the Houſe of Commons, while the Tribunal Revolutionnaire (in obedience to private orders) iſ petitioning, that any diſreſpect towards the convention ſhall be puniſhed with death. In England, it is aſſerted, that the people have a right to decide on the continuation of the war—here it is propoſed to declare ſuſpicious, and treat accordingly, all who ſhall dare talk of peace.—Mr. Fox and Robeſpierre muſt ſettle theſe trifling variations at the general congreſs of republicans, when the latter ſhall (as they profeſs) have dethroned all the potentates in Europe!

Do you not read of cart-loads of patriotic gifts,* bales of lint and bandages, and ſtockings, knit by the hands of fair citizens, for the uſe of the ſoldiers?

* A ſum of money was at this time publicly offered to the Convention for defraying the expences and repairs of the guillotine.—I know not if it were intended patriotically or correctionally; but the legiſlative delicacy was hurt, and the bearer of the gift ordered for examination to the Committee of General Safety, who moſt probably ſent him to expiate either his patriotiſm or his pleaſantry in a priſon.

—Do you not read, and call me calumniator, and aſk if theſe are proofſ that there is no public ſpirit in France? Yes, the public ſpirit of an eaſtern tributary, who offers, with apprehenſive devotion, a part of the wealth which he fears the hand of deſpotiſm may raviſh entirely.—The wives and daughters of huſbands and fathers, who are pining in arbitrary confinement, are employed in theſe feeble efforts, to deprecate the malice of their perſecutors; and theſe voluntary tributes are but too often proportioned, not to the abilities, but the miſeries of the donor.*

* A lady, confined in one of the ſtate priſons, made an offering, through the hands of a Deputy, of ten thouſand livres; but the Convention obſerved, that this could not properly be deemed a gift— for, as ſhe was doubtleſs a ſuſpicious perſon, all ſhe had belonged of right to the republic:


               "Elle doit etre a moi, dit il, et la raiſon,
               "C'eſt que je m'appelle Lion
               "A cela l'on n'a rien a dire."
               — La Fontaine.

Sometimes theſe dons patriotiqueſ were collected by a band of Jacobins, at others regularly aſſeſſed by a Repreſentative on miſſion; but on all occaſions the ariſtocrats were moſt aſſiduouſ and moſt liberal:


          "Urg'd by th' imperious ſoldier's fierce command,
          "The groaning Greeks break up their golden caverns,
          "The accumulated wealth of toiling ages;
              .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
          "That wealth, too ſacred for their country's uſe;
          "That wealth, too pleaſing to be loſt for freedom,
          "That wealth, which, granted to their weeping Prince,
          "Had rang'd embattled nations at their gates."
          — Johnſon.

Or, what is ſtill better, have relieved the exigencies of the ſtate, without offering a pretext for the horrors of a revolution.—O ſelfiſh luxury, impolitic avarice, how are ye puniſhed? robbed of your enjoyments and your wealth—glad even to commute both for a painful exiſtence!

—The moſt ſplendid ſacrifices that fill the bulletin of the Convention, and claim an honourable mention in their regiſters, are made by the enemies of the republican government—by thoſe who have already been the objects of perſecution, or are fearful of becoming ſuch.—Ah, your priſon and guillotine are able financiers: they raiſe, feed, and clothe an army, in leſs time than you can procure a tardy vote from the moſt complaiſant Houſe of Commonſ!—Your, &c.

 

 

 

 

March 17, 1794.

After ſome days of agitation and ſuſpenſe, we learn that the popularity of Robeſpierre is victorious, and that Hebert and his partizans are arreſted. Were the intrinſic claims of either party conſidered, without regard to the circumſtances of the moment, it might ſeem ſtrange I ſhould expreſs myſelf as though the reſult of a conteſt between ſuch men could excite a general intereſt: yet a people ſadly ſkilled in the gradationſ of evil, and inured to a choice only of what is bad, learn to prefer comparatively, with no other view than that of adopting what may be leaſt injurious to themſelves; and the merit of the object is out of the queſtion. Hence it is, that the public wiſh was in favour of Robeſpierre; for, beſides that his cautious character has given him an advantage over the undiſguiſed profligacy of Hebert, it is conjectured by many, that the more merciful politics profeſſed by Camille Deſmoulins, are ſecretly ſuggeſted, or, at leaſt aſſented to, by the former.*

* This was the opinion of many.—The Convention and the Jacobins had taken alarm at a paper called "The Old Cordelier," written by Camille Deſmoulins, apparently with a view to introduce a milder ſyſtem of government. The author had been cenſured at the one, expelled the other, and defended by Robeſpierre, who ſeems not to have abandoned him until he found the Convention reſolved to perſiſt in the ſanguinary plan they had adopted. Robeſpierre afterwardſ ſacrificed his friends to retrieve his influence; but could hiſ views have been anſwered by humane meaſures, as certainly as by cruel ones, I think he would have preferred the firſt; for I repeat, that the Convention at large were averſe from any thing like reaſon or juſtice, and Robeſpierre more than once riſked his popularity by profeſſions of moderation.—The moſt eloquent ſpeech I have ſeen of his was previous to the death of Danton, and it ſeems evidently intended to ſound the principles of his colleagues as to a change of ſyſtem.—Camille Deſmoulins has excited ſome intereſt, and has been deemed a kind of martyr to humanity. Perhaps nothing marks the horrors of the time more than ſuch a partiality.—Camille Deſmoulins, under an appearance of ſimplicity, was an adventurer, whoſe pen had been employed to miſlead the people from the beginning of the revolution. He had been very active on the 10th of Auguſt; and even in the papers which have given him a comparative reputation, he is the panegyriſt of Marat, and recommends "une Guillotine economique;" that is, a diſcrimination in favour of himſelf and his party, who now began to fear they might themſelveſ be ſacrificed by the Convention and deſerted by Robeſpierre—after being the accomplices and tools of both.

The viciſſitudes of the revolution have hitherto offered nothing but a change of vices and of parties; nor can I regard this defeat of the municipality of Paris as any thing more: the event is, however, important, and will probably have great influence on the future.

After having ſo long authorized, and profited by, the crimes of thoſe they have now ſacrificed, the Convention are willing to have it ſuppoſed they were themſelves held in ſubjection by Hebert and the other repreſentatives of the Pariſian mob.—Admitting this to be true, having regained their independence, we ought naturally to expect a more rational and humane ſyſtem will take place; but this is a mere hope, and the preſent occurrences are far from juſtifying it. We hear much of the guilt of the fallen party, and little of remedying its effectſ—much of puniſhment, and little of reform; and the people are excited to vengeance, without being permitted to claim redreſs. In the meanwhile, fearful of truſting to the cold preference which they owe to a ſuperior abhorrence of their adverſaries, the Convention have ordered their colleagues on miſſion to glean the few arms ſtill remaining in the handſ of the National Guard, and to arreſt all who may be ſuſpected of connection with the adverſe party.—Dumont has performed this ſervice here very diligently; and, by way of ſupererogation, has ſent the Commandant of Amiens to the Bicetre, his wife, who was ill, to the hoſpital, and two young children to this place.

As uſual, theſe proceedings excite ſecret murmurs, but are nevertheleſſ yielded to with perfect ſubmiſſion.

One can never, on theſe occaſions, ceaſe admiring the endurance of the French character. In other countries, at every change of party, the people are flattered with the proſpect of advantage, or conciliated by indulgences; but here they gain nothing by change, except an accumulation of oppreſſion—and the ſucceſs of a new party is always the harbinger of ſome new tyranny. While the fall of Hebert is proclaimed as the triumph of freedom, all the citizens are diſarmed by way of collateral ſecurity; and at the inſtant he is accuſed by the Convention of atheiſm and immorality,* a militant police is ſent forth to devaſtate the churches, and puniſh thoſe who are detected in obſerving the Sabbath—"mais plutot ſouffrir que mourir, c'eſt la deviſe des Francois." ["To ſuffer rather than die is the motto of Frenchmen."]

* It is remarkable, that the perſecution of religion was never more violent than at the time when the Convention were anathematizing Hebert and his party for athieſm.

—Briſſot and his companions died ſinging a paraphraſe of my quotation:


               "Plutot la mort que l'eſclavage,
               "C'eſt la deviſe des Francois."

["Death before ſlavery, is the Frenchman's motto."]

—Let thoſe who reflect on what France has ſubmitted to under them and their ſucceſſors decide, whether the original be not more appoſite.

I hope the act of accuſation againſt Chabot has been publiſhed in England, for the benefit of your Engliſh patriots: I do not mean by way of warning, but example. It appears, that the ſaid Chabot, and four or five of his colleagues in the Convention, had been bribed to ſerve a ſtock-jobbing buſineſs at a ſtipulated ſum,* and that the money was to be divided amongſt them.

* Chabot, Fabre d'Eglantine, (author of "l'Intrigue Epiſtolaire," and ſeveral other admired dramatic pieces,) Delaunay d'Angers, Julien de Toulouſe, and Bazire, were bribed to procure the paſſing certain decrees, tending to enrich particular people, by defrauding the Eaſt India Company.—Delaunay and Julien (both re-elected into the preſent Aſſembly) eſcaped by flight, the reſt were guillotined. —It is probable, that theſe little peculations might have paſſed unnoticed in patriots of ſuch note, but that the intrigues and popular character of Chabot made it neceſſary to diſpoſe of him, and his accomplices ſuffered to give a countenance to the meaſure.

—Chabot, with great reaſon, inſiſted on his claim to an extra ſhare, on account, as he expreſſed it, of having the reputation of one of the firſt patriots in Europe. Now this I look upon to be a very uſeful hint, as it tends to eſtabliſh a tariff of reputations, rather than of talents. In England, you diſtinguiſh too much in favour of the latter; and, in a queſtion of purchaſe, a Miniſter often prefers a "commodity" of rhetoricians, to one of "good names."—I confeſs, I am of Chabot'ſ opinion; and think a vote from a member who has ſome reputation for honeſty, ought to be better paid for than the eloquence which, weakened by the vices of the orator, ceaſes to perſuade. How it is that the patriotic harangues at St. Stephen's ſerve only to amuſe the auditors, who identify the ſentiments they expreſs as little with the ſpeaker, aſ they would thoſe of Cato's ſoliloquy with the actor who perſonates the character for the night? I fear the people reaſon like Chabot, and are "fools to fame." Perhaps it is fortunate for England, that thoſe whoſe talents and principles would make them moſt dangerous, are become leaſt ſo, becauſe both are counteracted by the public contempt. Ought it not to humble the pride, and correct the errors, which too often accompany great genius, that the meaneſt capacity can diſtinguiſh between talentſ and virtue; and that even in the moment our wonder is excited by the one, a ſort of intrinſic preference is given to the other?—Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

Providence, April 15, 1794.

"The friendſhip of bad men turns to fear:" and in this ſingle phraſe of our popular bard is comprized the hiſtory of all the parties who have ſucceeded each other during the revolution.—Danton has been ſacrificed to Robeſpierre's jealouſy,* and Camille Deſmoulins to ſupport hiſ popularity;** and both, after ſharing in the crimes, and contributing to the puniſhment, of Hebert and his aſſociates, have followed them to the ſame ſcaffold.

* The ferocious courage of Danton had, on the 10th of Auguſt, the 2d of September, the 31ſt of May, and other occaſions, been the ductile inſtrument of Robeſpierre; but, in the courſe of their iniquitouſ connection, it ſhould ſeem, they had committed themſelves too much to each other. Danton had betrayed a deſire of more excluſively profiting by his crimes; and Robeſpierre's views been equally ambitious, though leſs daring, their mutual jealouſies had riſen to a height which rendered the ſacrifice of one party neceſſary—and Robeſpierre had the addreſs to ſecure himſelf, by ſtriking the firſt blow. They had ſupped in the country, and returned together to Paris, on the night Danton was arreſted; and, it may be ſuppoſed, that in this interview, which was intended to produce a reconciliation, they had been convinced that neither was to be truſted by the other. ** There can be no doubt but Robeſpierre had encouraged Camille Deſmoulins to publiſh his paper, intitled "The Old Cordelier," in which ſome tranſlations from Tacitus, deſcriptive of every kind of tyranny, were applied to the times, and a change of ſyſtem indirectly propoſed. The publication became highly popular, except with the Convention and the Jacobins; theſe, however, it waſ requiſite for Robeſpierre to conciliate; and Camille Deſmoulins waſ ſacrificed, to prove that he did not favour the obnoxious moderation of his friend.

I know not if one's heart gain any thing by this habitual contemplation of ſucceſſive victims, who ought not to inſpire pity, and whom juſtice and humanity forbid one to regret.—How many parties have fallen, who ſeem to have laboured only to tranſmit a dear-bought tyranny, which they had not time to enjoy themſelves, to their ſucceſſors: The French revolutioniſts may, indeed, adopt the motto of Virgil's Bees, "Not for ourſelves, but for you." The monſtrous powers claimed for the Convention by the Briſſotines,* with the hope of excluſively exerciſing them, were fatal to themſelveſ—the party that overthrew the Briſſotines in its turn became inſignificant—and a ſmall number of them only, under the deſcription of Committees of Public Welfare and General Safety, gradually uſurped the whole authority.

* The victorious Briſſotines, after the 10th of Auguſt, availing themſelves of the ſtupor of one part of the people, and the fanaticiſm of the other, required that the new Convention might be entruſted with unlimited powers. Not a thouſandth portion of thoſe who elected the members, perhaps, comprehended the dreadful extent of ſuch a demand, as abſurd as it has proved fatal.—"Tout pouvoir ſans bornes ne fauroit etre legitime, parce qu'il n'a jamais pu avoir d'origine legitime, car nous ne pouvons pas donner a un autre plus de pouvoir ſur nous que nous n'en avons nous-memeſ" [Monteſquieu.]:—that is, the power which we accord to others, or which we have over ourſelves, cannot exceed the bounds preſcribed by the immutable laws of truth and juſtice. The united voice of the whole French nation could not beſtow on their repreſentatives a right to murder or oppreſs one innocent man.

—Even of theſe, ſeveral have already periſhed; and in the hands of Robeſpierre, and half a dozen others of equal talents and equal atrocity, but leſs cunning, center at preſent all the fruits of ſo many miſeries, and ſo many crimes.

In all theſe conflicts of party, the victory ſeems hitherto to have remained with the moſt artful, rather than the moſt able; and it is under the former title that Robeſpierre, and his colleagues in the Committee of Public Welfare, are now left inheritors of a power more deſpotic than that exerciſed in Japan.—Robeſpierre is certainly not deficient in abilities, but they are not great in proportion to the influence they have acquired him. They may, perhaps, be more properly called ſingular than great, and conſiſt in the art of appropriating to his own advantage both the events of chance and the labours of others, and of captivating the people by an exterior of ſevere virtue, which a cold heart enableſ him to aſſume, and which a profligacy, not the effect of ſtrong paſſions, but of ſyſtem, is eaſily ſubjected to. He is not eloquent, nor are hiſ ſpeeches, as compoſitions,* equal to thoſe of Collot d'Herbais, Barrere, or Billaud Varennes; but, by contriving to reſerve himſelf for extraordinary occaſions, ſuch as announcing plots, victories, and ſyſtemſ of government, he is heard with an intereſt which finally becomeſ tranſferred from his ſubject to himſelf.**

* The moſt celebrated members of the Convention are only readers of ſpeeches, compoſed with great labour, either by themſelves or others; and I think it is diſtinguiſhable, that many are manufactured by the ſame hand. The ſtyle and ſpirit of Lindet, Barrere, and Carnot, ſeem to be in common. ** The following paſſages, from a ſpeech of Dubois Crance, who may be ſuppoſed a competent judge, at once furniſh an idea of Robeſpierre's oratory, exhibit a leading feature in his character, and expoſe ſome of the arts by which the revolutionary deſpotiſm waſ maintained: "Rapportant tout a lui ſeul, juſqu'a la patrie, il n'en parla jamais que pour ſ'en deſigner comme l'unique defenſeur: otez de ſeſ longs diſcours tout ce qui n'a rapport qu'a ſon perſonnel, vous n'y trouverez plus que de ſeches applications de prinipes connus, et ſurtout de phraſes preparees pour amener encore ſon eloge. Vouſ l'avez juge timide, parce que ſon imagination, que l'on croyait ardente, qui n'etait que feroce, paraſſait exagerer ſouvent les maux de ſon pays. C'etait une jonglerie: il ne croyait ni aux conſpirations don't il faiſait tant d'etalage, ni aux poignardſ aux-quels il feignoit de ſſe devouer; mais il vouloit que leſ citoyens fuſſſent conſtamment en defiance l'un de l'autre," &c. "Affecting to conſider all things, even the fate of the country, aſ depending on himſelf alone, he never ſpoke of it but with a view to point himſelf out its principal defender.—If you take away from hiſ long harangues all that regards him perſonally, you will find only dry applications of familiar principles, and, above all, thoſe ſtudied turns, which were artfully prepared to introduce his own eternal panegyric.—You ſuppoſed him timid becauſe his imagination (which was not merely ardent, as was ſuppoſed, but ferocious) ſeemed often to exaggerate the miſfortunes of his country.—This was a mere trick: he believed neither in the conſpiracies he made ſo great a parade of, nor in the poignards to which he pretended to devote himſelf as a victim.—His real deſign was to infuſe into the mindſ of all men an unceaſing diffidence of each other."

One cannot ſtudy the characters of theſe men, and the revolution, without wonder; and, after an hour of ſuch ſcribbling, I wake to the ſcene around me, and my wonder is not a little increaſed, at the idea that the fate of ſuch an individual as myſelf ſhould be at all dependent on either.—My friend Mad. de ____ is ill,* and taken to the hoſpital, ſo that having no longer the care of diſſipating her ennui, I am at full liberty to indulge my own.

* I have generally made uſe of the titles and diſtinctions by which the people I mention were known before the revolution; for, beſideſ that I found it difficult to habituate my pen to the republican ſyſtem of levelling, the perſon to whom theſe letters were addreſſed would not have known who was meant by the new appellations. It is, however, to be obſerved, that, except in private ariſtocratic intercourſe, the word Citizen was in general uſe; and that thoſe who had titles relinquiſhed them and aſſumed their family names.

—Yet I know not how it is, but, as I have before obſerved to you, I do not ennuye—my mind is conſtantly occupied, though my heart is vacant— curioſity ſerves inſtead of intereſt, and I really find it ſufficiently amuſing to conjecture how long my head may remain on my ſhoulders.—You will, I dare ſay, agree with me that any doubts on ſuch a ſubject are very well calculated to remove the tranquil ſort of indifference which produces ennui; though, to judge by the greater part of my fellow-priſoners, one would not think ſo.—There is ſomething ſurely in the character of the French, which makes them differ both in proſperity and adverſity from other people. Here are many amongſt us who ſee little more in the loſs of their liberty than a privation of their uſual amuſements; and I have known ſome who had the good fortune to obtain their releaſe at noon, exhibit themſelves at the theatre at night.—God knows how ſuch minds are conſtituted: for my part, when ſome conſolatory illuſion reſtores me to freedom, I aſſociate with it no idea of poſitive pleaſure, but long for a ſort of intermediate ſtate, which may repoſe my haraſſed faculties, and in which mere comfort and ſecurity are portrayed as luxuries. After being ſo long deprived of the decent accommodationſ of life, ſecluded from the intercourſe which conſtitutes its beſt enjoyments, trembling for my own fate, and hourly lamenting that of my friends, the very thoughts of tumult or gaiety ſeem oppreſſive, and the deſire of peace, for the moment, baniſhes every other. One muſt have no heart, after ſo many ſufferings, not to prefer the caſtle of Indolence to the palace of Armida.

The coarſe organs of an Argus at the door, who is all day employed in calling to my high-born companions by the republican appellations of "Citoyen," and "Citoyenne," has juſt interrupted me by a ſummons to receive a letter from my unfortunate friends at Arras.—It was given me open;* of courſe they ſay nothing of their ſituation, though I have reaſon to believe it is dreadful.

* The opening of letters was now ſo generally avowed, that people who correſponded on buſineſs, and were deſirous their letters ſhould be delivered, put them in the poſt without ſealing; otherwiſe they were often torn in opening, thrown aſide, or detained, to ſave the trouble of peruſing.

—They have now written to me for aſſiſtance, which I have not the meanſ of affording them. Every thing I have is under ſequeſtration; and the difficulty which attends the negociating any drafts drawn upon England, has made it nearly impoſſible to procure money in the uſual way, even if I were not confined. The friendſhip of Mad. de ____ will be little available to me. Her extenſive fortune, before frittered to mere competency by the extortions of the revolution, now ſcarcely ſupplies her own wants; and her tenants humanely take the opportunity of her preſent diſtreſs to avoid paying their rent.*

* In ſome inſtances ſervants or tenants have been known to ſeize on portions of land for their own uſe—in others the country municipalities exacted as the price of a certificate of civiſm, (without which no releaſe from priſon could be obtained,) ſuch leaſes, lands, or privileges, as they thought the embarraſſments of their landlords would induce them to grant. Almoſt every where the houſes of perſons arreſted were pilfered either by their own ſervants or the agents of the republic. I have known an elegant houſe put in requiſition to erect blackſmithſ' forges in for the uſe of the army, and another filled with tailors employed in making ſoldierſ' clothes.—Houſes were likewiſe not unfrequently abandoned by the ſervants through fear of ſharing the fate of their maſters, and ſometimes expoſed equally by the arreſt of thoſe who had been left in charge, in order to extort diſcoveries of plate, money, &c. the concealment of which they might be ſuppoſed privy to.

—So that I have no reſource, either for myſelf or Mrs. D____, but the ſale of a few trinkets, which I had fortunately ſecreted on my firſt arreſt. How are we to exiſt, and what an exiſtence to be ſolicitouſ about! In gayer moments, and, perhaps, a little tinctured by romantic refinement, I have thought Dr. Johnſon made poverty too excluſively the ſubject of compaſſion: indeed I believe he uſed to ſay, it was the only evil he really felt for. This, to one who has known only mental ſuffering, appears the notion of a coarſe mind; but I doubt whether, the firſt time we are alarmed by the fear of want, the dread of dependence does not render us in part his converts. The opinion of our Engliſh ſage is more natural than we may at firſt imagine; or why is it that we are affected by the ſimple diſtreſſes of Jane Shore, beyond thoſe of any other heroine?—Yours.

 

 

 

 

April 22, 1794.

Our abode becomes daily more crouded; and I obſerve, that the greater part of thoſe now arreſted are farmers. This appears ſtrange enough, when we conſider how much the revolutionary perſecution has hitherto ſpared this claſs of people; and you will naturally enquire why it has at length reached them.

It has been often obſerved, that the two extremes of ſociety are nearly the ſame in all countries; the great reſemble each other from education, the little from nature. Compariſons, therefore, of morals and mannerſ ſhould be drawn from the intervening claſſes; yet from this compariſon alſo I believe we muſt exclude farmers, who are every where the ſame, and who ſeem always more marked by profeſſional ſimilitude than national diſtinction.

The French farmer exhibits the ſame acuteneſs in all that regards his own intereſt, and the ſame ſtupidity on moſt other occaſions, as the mere Engliſh one; and the ſame objects which enlarge the underſtanding and dilate the heart of other people, ſeem to have a contrary effect on both. They contemplate the objects of nature as the ſtock-jobber does the viciſſitudes of the public funds: "the dews of heaven," and the enlivening orb by which they are diſpelled, are to the farmer only objects of avaricious ſpeculation; and the ſcarcity, which is partially profitable, is but too often more welcome than a general abundance.—They conſider nothing beyond the limits of their own farms, except for the purpoſe of making envious compariſons with thoſe of their neighbours; and being fed and clothed almoſt without intermediate commerce, they have little neceſſity for communication, and are nearly as iſolated a part of ſociety as ſailors themſelves.

The French revolutioniſts have not been unobſerving of theſe circumſtances, nor ſcrupulous of profiting by them: they knew they might have diſcuſſed for ever their metaphyſical definitions of the rights of man, without reaching the comprehenſion, or exciting the intereſt, of the country people; but that if they would not underſtand the propagation of the rights of man, they would very eaſily comprehend an abolition of the rights of their landlords. Accordingly, the firſt principle of liberty they were taught from the new code was, that they had a right to aſſemble in arms, to force the ſurrender of title-deeds; and their firſt revolutionary notions of equality and property ſeem to have been manifeſted by the burning of chateaux, and refuſing to pay their rents. They were permitted to intimidate their landlords, in order to force them to emigration, and either to ſell their eſtates at a low price, or leave them to the mercy of the tenants.

At a time when the neceſſities of the ſtate had been great enough to be made the pretext of a dreadful revolution, they were not only almoſt exempt from contributing to its relief, but were enriched by the common diſtreſs; and while the reſt of their countrymen beheld with unavailing regret their property gradually replaced by ſcraps of paper, the peaſantſ became inſolent and daring by impunity, refuſed to ſell but for ſpecie, and were daily amaſſing wealth. It is not therefore to be wondered at, that they were partial to the new order of things. The priſons might have overflowed or been thinned by the miſeries of thoſe with whom they had been crowded—the Revolutionary Tribunal might have ſacrificed half France, and theſe ſelfiſh citizens, I fear, would have beheld it tranquilly, had not the requiſition forced their labourers to the army, and the "maximum" lowered the price of their corn. The exigency of the war, and an internal ſcarcity, having rendered theſe meaſures neceſſary, and it being found impoſſible to perſuade the farmers into a peaceful compliance with them, the government has had recourſe to its uſual ſummary mode of expoſtulation—a priſon or the Guillotine.*

* The avarice of the farmers was doubtleſs to be condemned, but the cruel deſpotiſm of the government almoſt weakened our ſenſe of rectitude; for by confounding error with guilt, and guilt with innocence, they habituated us to indiſcriminate pity, and obliged uſ to tranſfer our hatred of a crime to thoſe who in puniſhing it, obſerved neither mercy nor juſtice. A farmer was guillotined, becauſe ſome blades of corn appeared growing in one of his ponds; from which circumſtance it was inferred, he had thrown in a large quantity, in order to promote a ſcarcity—though it waſ ſubſtantially proved on his trial, that at the preceding harveſt the grain of an adjoining field had been got in during a high wind, and that in all probability ſome ſcattered ears which reached the water had produced what was deemed ſufficient teſtimony to convict him.— Another underwent the ſame puniſhment for purſuing his uſual courſe of tillage, and ſowing part of his ground with lucerne, inſtead of employing the whole for wheat; and every where theſe people became the objects of perſecution, both in their perſons and property. "Almoſt all our conſiderable farmers have been thrown into priſon; the conſequence is, that their capital is eat up, their ſtock gone to ruin, and our lands have loſt the almoſt incalculable effect of their induſtry. In La Vendee ſix million acres of land lie uncultivated, and five hundred thouſand oxen have been turned aſtray, without ſhelter and without an owner." Speech of Dubois Crance, Sept. 22, 1794.

—Amazed to find themſelves the objects of a tyranny they had hitherto contributed to ſupport, and ſharing the miſfortune of their Lords and Clergy, theſe ignorant and miſtaken people wander up and down with a vacant ſort of ruefulneſs, which ſeems to beſpeak that they are far from comprehending or being ſatiſfied with this new ſpecimen of republicaniſm.—It has been a fatality attending the French through the whole revolution, that the different claſſes have too readily facilitated the ſacrifice of each other; and the Nobility, the Clergy, the Merchant, and the Farmer, have the mortification of experiencing, that their ſelfiſh and illiberal policy has anſwered no purpoſe but to involve all in one common ruin.

Angelique has contrived to-day to negotiate the ſale of ſome bracelets, which a lady, with whom I was acquainted previous to our detention, haſ very obligingly given almoſt half their value for, though not without many injunctions to ſecreſy, and as many implied panegyrics on her benevolence, in riſking the odium of affording aſſiſtance to a foreigner. We are, I aſſure you, under the neceſſity of being oeconomiſts, where the moſt abundant wealth could not render us externally comfortable: and the little we procure, by a clandeſtine diſpoſal of my unneceſſary trinkets, is conſiderably diminiſhed,* by arbitrary impoſitions of the guard and the poor,** and a voluntary tax from the miſery that ſurrounds us.

* I am aware of Mr. Burke's pleaſantry on the expreſſion of very little, being greatly diminiſhed; but my exchequer at this time waſ as well calculated to prove the infinite diviſibility of matter, aſ that of the Welch principality. ** The guards of the republican Baſtilles were paid by the priſonerſ they contained; and, in many places, the tax for this purpoſe waſ levied with indecent rigour. It might indeed be ſuppoſed, that people already in priſon could have little to apprehend from an inability or unwillingneſs to ſubmit to ſuch an impoſition; yet thoſe who refuſed were menaced with a dungeon; and I was informed, from undoubted authority, of two inſtances of the ſort among the Engliſh—the one a young woman, the other a perſon with a large family of children, who were on the point of ſuffering thiſ treatment, but that the humanity of ſome of their companionſ interfered and paid the ſum exacted of them. The tax for ſupporting the impriſoned poor was more willingly complied with, though not leſs iniquitous in its principle; numbers of inoffenſive and induſtrious people were taken from their homes on account of their religion, or other frivolous pretexts, and not having the wherewithal to maintain themſelves in confinement, inſtead of being kept by the republic, were ſupported by their fellow-priſoners, in conſequence of a decree to that purpoſe. Families who inherited nothing from their noble anceſtors but their names, were dragged from obſcurity only to become objects of perſecution; and one in particular, conſiſting of nine perſons, who lived in extreme indigence, but were notwithſtanding of the proſcribed claſs; the ſons were brought wounded from the army and lodged with the father, mother, and five younger children in a priſon, where they had ſcarcely food to ſupport, or clothing to cover them. I take this opportunity of doing juſtice to the Comte d'Artois, whoſe youthful errors did not extinguiſh his benevolence—the unfortunate people in queſtion having enjoyed a penſion from him until the revolution deprived them of it.

Our male companions are for the moſt part tranſferred to other priſons, and among the number are two young Engliſhmen, with whom I uſed ſometimeſ to converſe in French, without acknowledging our compatriotiſm. They have told me, that when the decree for arreſting the Engliſh was received at Amiens, they happened to be on a viſit, a few miles from the town; and having notice that a party of horſe were on the road to take them, willing to gain time at leaſt, they eſcaped by another route, and got home. The republican conſtables, for I can call the military employed in the interior by no better appellation, finding their prey had taken flight, adopted the impartial juſtice of the men of Charles Town,* and carried off the old couple (both above ſeventy) at whoſe houſe they had been.

             * "But they maturely having weigh'd
               "They had no more but him o'th'trade,
               "Reſolved to ſpare him, yet to do
               "The Indian Hoghan-Moghan too
               "Impartial juſtice—in his ſtead did
               "Hang an old weaver that was bed-rid."

The good man, who was probably not verſed in the etiquette of the revolution, conceived nothing of the matter, and when at the end of their journey they were depoſited at the Bicetre, his head was ſo totally deranged, that he imagined himſelf ſtill in his own houſe, and continued for ſome days addreſſing all the priſoners as though they were hiſ gueſtſ—at one moment congratulating them on their arrival, the next apologizing for want of room and accommodation.—The evaſion of the young men, as you will conclude, availed them nothing, except a delay of their captivity for a few hours.

A report has circulated amongſt us to-day, that all who are not detained on ſpecific charges are ſoon to be liberated. This is eagerly believed by the new-comers, and thoſe who are not the "pale converts of experience." I am myſelf ſo far from crediting it, that I dread leſt it ſhould be the harbinger of ſome new evil, for I know not whether it be from the effect of chance, or a refinement in atrocity, but I have generally found every meaſure which tended to make our ſituation more miſerable preceded by theſe flattering rumours.

You would ſmile to ſee with what anxious credulity intelligence of thiſ ſort is propagated: we ſtop each other on the ſtairs and liſten while our palled dinner, juſt arrived from the traiteur, is cooling; and the bucket of the draw-well hangs ſuſpended while a hiſtory is finiſhed, of which the relator knows as little as the hearer, and which, after all, proveſ to have originated in ſome ambiguous phraſe of our keeper, uttered in a good-humoured paroxyſm while receiving a douceur.

We occaſionally loſe ſome of our aſſociates, who, having obtained their diſcharge, depart a la Francaiſe, forget their ſuffering, and praiſe the clemency of Dumont, and the virtue of the Convention; while thoſe who remain ſtill unconverted amuſe themſelves in conjecturing the channel through which ſuch favours were ſolicited, and alleging reaſons why ſuch preferences were partial and unjuſt.

Dumont viſits us, as uſual, receives an hundred or two of petitions, which he does not deign to read, and reſerves his indulgence for thoſe who have the means of aſſailing him through the ſmiles of a favourite miſtreſs, or propitiating him by more ſubſtantial advantages.—Many of the emigrantſ' wives have procured their liberty by being divorced, and in this there is nothing blameable, for I imagine the greater number conſider it only as a temporary expedient, indifferent in itſelf, and which they are juſtified in having recourſe to for the protection of their perſons and property. But theſe domeſtic alienations are not confined to thoſe who once moved in the higher orders of ſociety—the monthly regiſters announce almoſt as many divorces as marriages, and the facility of ſeparation has rendered the one little more than a licentiouſ compact, which the other is conſidered as a means of diſſolving. The effect of the revolution has in this, as in many other caſes, been to make the little emulate the vices of the great, and to introduce a more groſs and deſtructive policy among the people at large, than exiſted in the narrow circle of courtiers, imitators of the Regent, or Louis the fifteenth. Immorality, now conſecrated as a principle, is far more pernicious than when, though practiſed, it was condemned, and, though ſuffered, not ſanctioned.

You muſt forgive me if I ennuye you a little ſententiouſly—I was more partial to the lower ranks of life in France, than to thoſe who were deemed their ſuperiors; and I cannot help beholding with indignant regret the laſt aſylums of national morals thus invaded by the general corruption.—I believe no one will diſpute that the revolution haſ rendered the people more vicious; and, without conſidering the matter either in a moral or religious point of view, it is impoſſible to aſſert that they are not leſs happy. How many times, when I was at liberty, have I heard the old wiſh for an acceſſion of years, or envy thoſe yet too young to be ſenſible of "the miſeries of a revolution!"—Were the vanity of the ſelf-ſufficient philoſopher ſuſceptible of remorſe, would he not, when he beholds this country, lament his preſumption, in ſuppoſing he had a right to cancel the wiſdom of paſt ages; or that the happineſs of mankind might be promoted by the deſtruction of their morals, and the depravation of their ſocial affections?—Yours, &c.

 

 

 

 

April 30, 1794.

For ſome years previous to the revolution, there were ſeveral points in which the French aſcribed to themſelves a ſuperiority not very diſtant from perfection. Amongſt theſe were philoſophy, politeneſs, the refinements of ſociety, and, above all, the art of living.—I have ſometimes, as you know, been inclined to diſpute theſe claims; yet, if it be true that in our ſublunary career perfection is not ſtationary, and that, having reached the apex of the pyramid on one ſide, we muſt neceſſarily deſcend on the other, I might, on this ground, allow ſuch pretenſions to be more reaſonable than I then thought them. Whatever progreſs might have been attained in theſe reſpects, or however near our neighbours might have approached to one extreme, it is but too certain they are now rapidly declining to the other. This boaſted philoſophy iſ become a horrid compound of all that is offenſive to Heaven, and diſgraceful to man—this politeneſs, a ferocious incivility—and thiſ ſocial elegance and excluſive ſcience in the enjoyment of life, are now reduced to ſuſpicious intercourſe, and the want of common neceſſaries.

If the national vanity only were wounded, perhaps I might ſmile, though I hope I ſhould not triumph; but when I ſee ſo much miſery accompany ſo profound a degradation, my heart does not accord with my language, if I ſeem to do either one or the other.

I ſhould ineffectually attempt to deſcribe the circumſtances and ſituation which have given riſe to theſe reflections. Imagine to yourſelf whatever tyranny can inflict, or human nature ſubmit to— whatever can be the reſult of unreſtrained wickedneſs and unreſiſting deſpair—all that can ſcourge or diſgrace a people—and you may form ſome idea of the actual ſtate of this country: but do not ſearch your bookſ for compariſons, or expect to find in the proſcriptions and extravagancies of former periods any examples by which to judge the preſent.—Tiberius and Nero are on the road to oblivion, and the ſubjectſ of the Lama may boaſt comparative pretenſions to rank as a free and enlightened nation.

The frantic ebullitions of the revolutionary government are now as it were ſubſided, and inſtead of appearing the temporary reſources of "deſpotiſm in diſtreſs," [Burke.] have aſſumed the form of a permanent and regular ſyſtem. The agitation occaſioned by ſo many unexampled ſcenes is ſucceeded by an habitual terror, and this depreſſing ſentiment has ſo pervaded all ranks, that it would be difficult to find an individual, however obſcure or inoffenſive, who deems his property, or even his exiſtence, ſecure only for a moment. The ſound of a bell or a knocker at the cloſe of the evening is the ſignal of diſmay. The inhabitants of the houſe regard each other with looks of fearful interrogation—all the precautions hitherto taken appear inſufficient— every one recollects ſomething yet to be ſecreted—a prayer-book, an unburied ſilver ſpoon, or a few aſſignats "a face royale," are haſtily ſcrambled together, and if the viſit prove nothing more than an amicable domiciliary one, in ſearch of arms and corn, it forms matter of congratulation for a week after. Yet ſuch is the ſubmiſſion of the people to a government they abhor, that it is ſcarcely thought requiſite now to arreſt any perſon formally: thoſe whom it is intended to ſecure often receive nothing more than a written mandate* to betake themſelveſ to a certain priſon, and ſuch unpleaſant rendezvous are attended with more punctuality than the moſt ceremonious viſit, or the moſt gallant aſſignation.

* Theſe reſcripts were uſually couched in the following terms:— "Citizen, you are deſired to betake yourſelf immediately to ———, (naming the priſon,) under pain of being conveyed there by an armed force in caſe of delay."

—A few neceſſaries are haſtily packed together, the adieus are made, and, after a walk to their priſon, they lay their beds down in the corner allotted, juſt as if it were a thing of courſe.

It was a general obſervation with travellers, that the roads in France were ſolitary, and had rather the deſerted appearance of the route of a caravan, than of the communications between different parts of a rich and populous kingdom. This, however, is no longer true, and, as far as I can learn, they are now ſufficiently crowded—not, indeed, by curiouſ itinerants, parties of pleaſure, or commercial induſtry, but by Deputieſ of the Convention,* agents of ſubſiſtence,** committee men, Jacobin miſſionaries,*** troops poſting from places where inſurrection is juſt quelled to where it has juſt begun, beſides the great and never-failing ſource of activity, that of conveying ſuſpected people from their homeſ to priſon, and from one priſon to another.—

* Every department was infeſted by one, two, or more of theſe ſtrolling Deputies; and, it muſt be confeſſed, the conſtant tendency of the people to revolt in many places afforded them ſufficient employment. Sometimes they acted as legiſlators, making laws on the ſpot—ſometimes, both as judges and conſtableſ—or, if occaſion required, they amuſed themſelves in aſſiſting the executioner.—The migrations of obſcure men, armed with unlimited powers, and whoſe perſons were unknown, was a ſtrong temptation to impoſture, and in ſeveral places adventurers were detected aſſuming the character of Deputies, for various purpoſes of fraud and depredation.—The following inſtance may appear ludicrous, but I ſhall be excuſed mentioning it, as it is a fact on record, and conveys an idea of what the people ſuppoſed a Deputy might do, conſiſtent with the "dignity" of his executive functions. An itinerant of this ſort, whoſe object ſeems to have been no more than to procure a daily maintenance, arriving hungry in a village, entered the firſt farm-houſe that preſented itſelf, and immediately put a pig in requiſition, ordered it to be killed, and ſome ſauſageſ to be made, with all ſpeed. In the meanwhile our mock-legiſlator, who ſeems to have acted his part perfectly well, talked of liberty, l'amour de la Patrie, of Pitt and the coaleſced tyrants, of arreſting ſuſpicious people and rewarding patriots; ſo that the whole village thought themſelves highly fortunate in the preſence of a Deputy who did no worſe than harangue and put their pork in requiſiton.—Unfortunately, however, before the repaſt of ſauſageſ could be prepared, a hue and cry reached the place, that thiſ gracious Repreſentant was an impoſtor! He was bereft of hiſ dignities, conveyed to priſon, and afterwards tried by the Tribunal Revolutionnaire at Paris; but his Counſel, by inſiſting on the mildneſs with which he had "borne his faculties," contrived to get his puniſhment mitigated to a ſhort impriſonment.—Another ſuffered death on a ſomewhat ſimilar account; or, as the ſentence expreſſed it, for degrading the character of a National Repreſentative.—Juſt Heaven! for degrading the character of a National Repreſentative!!! —and this too after the return of Carrier from Nantes, and the publication of Collot d'Herboiſ' maſſacres at Lyonſ! **The agents employed by government in the purchaſe of ſubſiſtence amounted, by official confeſſion, to ten thouſand. In all partſ they were to be ſeen, rivalling each other, and creating ſcarcity and famine, by requiſitions and exactions, which they did not convert to the profit of the republic, but to their own.—Theſe privileged locuſts, beſides what they ſeized upon, occaſioned a total ſtagnation of commerce, by laying embargoes on what they did not want; ſo that it frequently occurred that an unfortunate tradeſman might have half the articles in his ſhop under requiſition for a month together, and ſometimes under different requiſitionſ from deputies, commiſſaries of war, and agents of ſubſiſtence, all at once; nor could any thing be diſpoſed of till ſuch claims were ſatiſfied or relinquiſhed. *** Jacobin miſſionaries were ſent from Paris, and other great towns, to keep up the ſpirits of the people, to explain the benefitſ of the revolution, (which, indeed, were not very apparent,) and to maintain the connection between the provincial and metropolitan ſocieties.—I remember the Deputies on miſſion at Perpignan writing to the Club at Paris for a reinforcement of civic apoſtles, "pour evangeliſer les habitans et les mettre dans la voie de ſalut"—("to convert the inhabitants, and put them in the road to ſalvation").

—Theſe movements are almoſt entirely confined to the official travellerſ of the republic; for, beſides the ſcarcity of horſes, the increaſe of expence, and the diminution of means, few people are willing to incur the ſuſpicion or hazard* attendant on quitting their homes, and every poſſible obſtacle is thrown in the way of a too general intercourſe between the inhabitants of large towns.

* There were moments when an application for a paſſport was certain of being followed by a mandat d'arret—(a writ of arreſt). The applicant was examined minutely as to the buſineſs he was going upon, the perſons he was to tranſact it with, and whether the journey was to be performed on horſeback or in a carriage, and any ſigns of impatience or diſtaſte at thoſe democratic ceremonies were ſufficient to conſtitute "un homme ſuſpect"—("a ſuſpiciouſ perſon"), or at leaſt one "ſoupconne d'etre ſuſpect," that is, a man ſuſpected of being ſuſpicious. In either caſe it was uſually deemed expedient to prevent the diſſemination of his ſuppoſed principles, by laying an embargo on his perſon.—I knew a man under perſecution ſix months together, for having gone from one department to another to ſee his family.

The committee of Public Welfare is making rapid advances to an abſolute concentration of the ſupreme power, and the convention, while they are the inſtruments of oppreſſing the whole country, are themſelves become inſignificant, and, perhaps, leſs ſecure than thoſe over whom they tyrannize. They ceaſe to debate, or even to ſpeak; but if a member of the Committee aſcends the tribune, they overwhelm him with applauſeſ before they know what he has to ſay, and then paſs all the decreeſ preſented to them more implicitly than the moſt obſequious Parliament ever enregiſtered an arrete of the Court; happy if, by way of compenſation, they attract a ſmile from Barrere, or eſcape the ominouſ glances of Robeſpierre.*

* When a member of the committee looked inauſpiciouſly at a ſubordinate accomplice, the latter ſcarce ventured to approach hiſ home for ſome time.—Legendre, who has ſince boaſted ſo continually about his courage, is ſaid to have kept his bed, and Bourdon de l'Oiſe, to have loſt his ſenſes for a conſiderable time, from frights, the conſequence of ſuch menaces.

Having ſo far deſcribed the ſituation of public affairs, I proceed aſ uſual, and for which I have the example of Pope, who never quits a ſubject without introducing himſelf, to ſome notice of my own. It is not only bad in itſelf, but worſe in perſpective than ever: yet I learn not to murmur, and derive patience from the certainty, that almoſt every part of France is more oppreſſed and wretched than we are.—Yours, etc.

 

 

 

 

June 3, 1794.

The individual ſufferings of the French may perhaps yet admit of increaſe; but their humiliation as a people can go no farther; and if it were not certain that the acts of the government are congenial to itſ principles, one might ſuppoſe this tyranny rather a moral experiment on the extent of human endurance, than a political ſyſtem.

Either the vanity or cowardice of Robeſpierre is continually ſuggeſting to him plots for his aſſaſſination; and on pretexts, at once abſurd and atrocious, a whole family, with near ſeventy other innocent people aſ accomplices, have been ſentenced to death by a formal decree of the convention.

One might be inclined to pity a people obliged to ſuppreſs their indignation on ſuch an event, but the mind revolts when addreſſes are preſented from all quarters to congratulate this monſter's pretended eſcape, and to ſolicit a farther ſacrifice of victims to his revenge.— The aſſaſſins of Henry the Fourth had all the benefit of the laws, and ſuffered only after a legal condemnation; yet the unfortunate Cecilia Renaud, though evidently in a ſtate of mental derangement, was hurried to the ſcaffold without a hearing, for the vague utterance of a truth, to which every heart in France, not loſt to humanity, muſt aſſent. Brooding over the miſeries of her country, till her imagination became heated and diſordered, this young woman ſeems to have conceived ſome hopeleſs plan of redreſs from expoſtulation with Robeſpierre, whom ſhe regarded as a principal in all the evils ſhe deplored. The difficulty of obtaining an audience of him irritated her to make ſome compariſon between an hereditary ſovereign and a republican deſpot; and ſhe avowed, that, in deſiring to ſee Robeſpierre, ſhe was actuated only by a curioſity to "contemplate the features of a tyrant."—On being examined by the Committee, ſhe ſtill perſiſted that her deſign was "ſeulement pour voir comment etoit fait un tyrant;" and no inſtrument nor poſſible means of deſtruction was found upon her to juſtify a charge of any thing more than the wild and enthuſiaſtic attachment to royaliſm, which ſhe did not attempt to diſguiſe. The influence of a feminine propenſity, which often ſurvives even the wreck of reaſon and beauty, had induced her to dreſſ with peculiar neatneſs, when ſhe went in ſearch of Robeſpierre; and, from the complexion of the times, ſuppoſing it very probable a viſit of thiſ nature might end in impriſonment and death, ſhe had alſo provided herſelf with a change of clothes to wear in her laſt moments.

Such an attention in a beautiful girl of eighteen was not very unnatural; yet the mean and cruel wretches who were her judges, had the littleneſſ to endeavour at mortifying, by diveſting her of her ornaments, and covering her with the moſt loathſome rags. But a mind tortured to madneſs by the ſufferings of her country, was not likely to be ſhaken by ſuch puerile malice; and, when interrogated under this diſguiſe, ſhe ſtill preſerved the ſame firmneſs, mingled with contempt, which ſhe had diſplayed when firſt apprehended. No accuſation, nor even implication, of any perſon could be drawn from her, and her only confeſſion was that of a paſſionate loyalty: yet an univerſal conſpiracy was nevertheleſſ decreed by the Convention to exiſt, and Miſs Renaud, with ſixty-nine others,* were ſentenced to the guillotine, without farther trial than merely calling over their names.

* It is worthy of remark, that the ſixty-nine people executed aſ accomplices of Miſs Renaud, except her father, mother, and aunt, were totally unconnected with her, or with each other, and had been collected from different priſons, between which no communication could have ſubſiſted.

—They were conducted to the ſcaffold in a ſort of red frocks, intended, as was alleged, to mark them as aſſaſſinſ—but, in reality, to prevent the crowd from diſtinguiſhing or receiving any impreſſion from the number of young and intereſting females who were compriſed in this dreadful ſlaughter.—They met death with a courage which ſeemed almoſt to diſappoint the malice of their tyrants, who, in an original exceſs of barbarity, are ſaid to have lamented that their power of inflicting could not reach thoſe mental faculties which enabled their victims to ſuffer with fortitude.*

* Fouquier Tinville, public accuſer of the Revolutionary Tribunal, enraged at the courage with which his victims ſubmitted to their fate, had formed the deſign of having them bled previous to their execution; hoping by this means to weaken their ſpirits, and that they might, by a puſillanimous behaviour in their laſt moments, appear leſs intereſting to the people.

Such are the horrors now common to almoſt every part of France: the priſons are daily thinned by the ravages of the executioner, and again repeopled by inhabitants deſtined to the fate of their predeceſſors. A gloomy reſerve, and a ſort of uncertain foreboding, have taken poſſeſſion of every body—no one ventures to communicate his thoughts, even to hiſ neareſt friend—relations avoid each other—and the whole ſocial ſyſtem ſeems on the point of being diſſolved. Thoſe who have yet preſerved their freedom take the longeſt circuit, rather than paſs a republican Baſtille; or, if obliged by neceſſity to approach one, it is with downcaſt or averted looks, which beſpeak their dread of incurring the ſuſpicion of humanity.

I ſay little of my own feelings; they are not of a nature to be relieved by pathetic expreſſions: "I am e'en ſick at heart." For ſome time I have ſtruggled both againſt my own evils, and the ſhare I take in the general calamity, but my mortal part gives way, and I can no longer reſiſt the deſpondency which at times depreſſes me, and which indeed, more than the danger attending it, has occaſioned my abandoning my pen for the laſt month.—Several circumſtances have occurred within theſe few days, to add to the uneaſineſs of our ſituation, and my own apprehenſions. Le Bon,* whoſe cruelties at Arras ſeem to have endeared him to his colleagues in the Convention, has had his powers extended to this department, and Andre Dumont is recalled; ſo that we are hourly menaced with the preſence of a monſter, compared to whom our own repreſentative is amiable.—

* I have already noticed the cruel and ferocious temper of Le Bon, and the maſſacres of his tribunals are already well known. I will only add ſome circumſtances which not only may be conſidered aſ characteriſtic of this tyrant, but of the timeſ—and I fear I may add of the people, who ſuffered and even applauded them. They are ſelected from many others not ſuſceptible of being deſcribed in language fit for an Engliſh reader. As he was one day enjoying his cuſtomary amuſement of ſuperintending an execution, where ſeveral had already ſuffered, one of the victimſ having, from a very natural emotion, averted his eyes while he placed his body in the poſture required, the executioner perceived it, and going to the ſack which contained the heads of thoſe juſt ſacrificed, took one out, and with the moſt horrible imprecationſ obliged the unhappy wretch to kiſs it: yet Le Bon not only permitted, but ſanctioned this, by dining daily with the hangman. He was afterwards reproached with this familiarity in the Convention, but defended himſelf by ſaying, "A ſimilar act of Lequinio's was inſerted by your orders in the bulletin with 'honourable mention;' and your decrees have invariably conſecrated the principles on which I acted." They all felt for a moment the dominion of conſcience, and were ſilent.—On another occaſion he ſuſpended an execution, while the ſavages he kept in pay threw dirt on the priſoners, and even got on the ſcaffold and inſulted them previous to their ſuffering. When any of his colleagues paſſed through Arras, he always propoſed their joining with him in a "partie de Guillotine," and the executions were perpetrated on a ſmall ſquare at Arras, rather than the great one, that he, his wife, and relations might more commodiouſly enjoy the ſpectacle from the balcony of the theatre, where they took their coffee, attended by a band of muſic, which played while this human butchery laſted. The following circumſtance, though ſomething leſs horrid, yet ſufficiently ſo to excite the indignation of feeling people, happened to ſome friends of my own.—They had been brought with many others from a diſtant town in open carts to Arras, and, worn out with fatigue, were going to be depoſited in the priſon to which they were deſtined. At the moment of their arrival ſeveral perſons were on the point of being executed. Le Bon, preſiding as uſual at the ſpectacle, obſerved the cavalcade paſſing, and ordered it to ſtop, that the priſoners might likewiſe be witneſſes. He was, of courſe, obeyed; and my terrified friends and their companions were obliged not only to appear attentive to the ſcene before them, but to join in the cry of "Vive la Republique!" at the ſevering of each head.— One of them, a young lady, did not recover the ſhock ſhe received for months. The Convention, the Committees, all France, were well acquainted with the conduct of Le Bon. He himſelf began to fear he might have exceeded the limits of his commiſſion; and, upon communicating ſome ſcruples of this kind to his employers, received the following letters, which, though they do not exculpate him, certainly render the Committee of Public Welfare more criminal than himſelf. "Citizen, "The Committee of Public Welfare approve the meaſures you have adopted, at the ſame time that they judge the warrant you ſolicit unneceſſary—ſuch meaſures being not only allowable, but enjoined by the very nature of your miſſion. No conſideration ought to ſtand in the way of your revolutionary progreſſ—give free ſcope therefore to your energy; the powers you are inveſted with are unlimited, and whatever you may deem conducive to the public good, you are free, you are even called upon by duty, to carry into execution without delay.—We here tranſmit you an order of the Committee, by which your powers are extended to the neighbouring departments. Armed with ſuch means, and with your energy, you will go on to confound the enemies of the republic, with the very ſchemes they have projected for its deſtruction. "Carnot. "Barrere. "R. Lindet."

Extract from another letter, ſigned Billaud Varenne, Carnot, Barrere. "There is no commutation for offences againſt a republic. Death alone can expiate them!—Purſue the traitors with fire and ſword, and continue to march with courage in the revolutionary track you have deſcribed."

—Merciful Heaven! are there yet poſitive diſtinctions betwixt bad and worſe that we thus regret a Dumont, and deem ourſelves fortunate in being at the mercy of a tyrant who is only brutal and profligate? But ſo it is; and Dumont himſelf, fearful that he has not exerciſed his miſſion with ſufficient ſeverity, has ordered every kind of indulgence to ceaſe, the priſons to be more ſtrictly guarded, and, if poſſible, more crowded; and he is now gone to Paris, trembling leſt he ſhould be accuſed of juſtice or moderation!

The pretended plots for aſſaſſinating Robeſpierre are, as uſual, attributed to Mr. Pitt; and a decree has juſt paſſed, that no quarter ſhall be given to Engliſh priſoners. I know not what ſuch inhuman politics tend to, but my contempt, and the conſcious pride of national ſuperiority; certain, that when Providence ſees fit to vindicate itſelf, by beſtowing victory on our countrymen, the moſt welcome

"Laurels that adorn their browſ "Will be from living, not dead boughs."

The recollection of England, and its generous inhabitants, has animated me with pleaſure; yet I muſt for the preſent quit this agreeable contemplation, to take precautions which remind me that I am ſeparated from both, and in a land of deſpotiſm and miſery!

—Yours affectionately.

 

 

 

 

June 11, 1794.

The immorality of Hebert, and the baſe compliances of the Convention, for ſome months turned the churches into "temples of reaſon."—The ambition, perhaps the vanity, of Robeſpierre, has now permitted them to be dedicated to the "Supreme Being," and the people, under ſuch auſpices, are to be conducted from atheiſm to deiſm. Deſirous of diſtinguiſhing his preſidency, and of exhibiting himſelf in a conſpicuous and intereſting light, Robeſpierre, on the laſt decade, appeared as the hero of a ceremony which we are told is to reſtore morals, deſtroy all the miſchiefs introduced by the abolition of religion, and finally to defeat the machinations of Mr. Pitt. A gay and ſplendid feſtival has been exhibited at Paris, and imitated in the provinces: flags of the republican colours, branches of trees, and wreaths of flowers, were ordered to be ſuſpended from the houſeſ—every countenance was to wear the preſcribed ſmile, and the whole country, forgetting the preſſure of ſorrow and famine, was to rejoice. A ſort of monſter was prepared, which, by ſome unaccountable ingenuity, at once repreſented Atheiſm and the Engliſh, Cobourg and the Auſtrianſ—in ſhort, all the enemies of the Convention.—This external phantom, being burned with proper form, diſcovered a ſtatue, which was underſtood to be that of Liberty, and the inauguration of this divinity, with placing the buſts of Chalier* and Marat in the temple of the Supreme Being, by way of attendant ſaints, concluded the ceremony.—

* Chalier had been ſent from the municipality of Paris after the dethronement of the King, to revolutionize the people of Lyons, and to excite a maſſacre. In conſequence, the firſt days of September preſented the ſame ſcenes at Lyons as were preſented in the capital. For near a year he continued to ſcourge this unfortunate city, by urging the lower claſſes of people to murder and pillage; till, at the inſurrection which took place in the ſpring of 1793, he waſ arreſted by the inſurgents, tried, and ſentenced to the guillotine. —The Convention, however, whoſe calendar of ſaints is aſ extraordinary as their criminal code, choſe to beatify Chalier, while they executed Maleſherbes; and, accordingly, decreed him a lodging in the Pantheon, penſioning his miſtreſs, and ſet up hiſ buſt in their own Hall as an aſſociate for Brutus, whom, by the way, one ſhould not have expected to find in ſuch company.

The good citizens of the republic, not to be behind hand with their repreſentatives, placed Chalier in the cathedrals, in their public-houſes, on fans and ſnuff-boxeſ—in ſhort, wherever they thought his appearance would proclaim their patriotiſm.—I can only exclaim aſ Poultier, a deputy, did, on a ſimilar occaſion—"Francais, Francais, ſerez vous toujours Francais?"—(Frenchmen, Frenchmen, will you never ceaſe to be Frenchmen?)

—But the mandates for ſuch celebrations reach not the heart: flowerſ were gathered, and flags planted, with the ſcrupulous exactitude of fear;* yet all was cold and heavy, and a diſcerning government muſt have read in this anxious and literal obedience the indication of terror and hatred.

* I have more than once had occaſion to remark the ſingularity of popular feſtivities ſolemnized on the part of the people with no other intention but that of exact obedience to the edicts of government. This is ſo generally underſtood, that Richard, a deputy on miſſion at Lyons, writes to the Convention, as a circumſtance extraordinary, and worthy of remark, that, at the repeal of a decree which was to have razed their city to the ground, a rejoicing took place, "dirigee et executee par le peuple, les autoriteſ conſtitutees n'ayant fait en quelque ſorte qu'y aſſiſter,"— (directed and executed by the people, the conſtituted authoritieſ having merely aſſiſted at the ceremony).

—Even the priſons were inſultingly decorated with the mockery of colours, which, we are told, are the emblems of freedom; and thoſe whoſe relations have expired on the ſcaffold, or who are pining in dungeons for having heard a maſs, were obliged to liſten with apparent admiration to a diſcourſe on the charms of religious liberty.—The people, who, for the moſt part, took little intereſt in the reſt of this pantomime, and inſenſible of the national diſgrace it implied, beheld with ſtupid ſatiſfaction* the inſcription on the temple of reaſon replaced by a legend, ſignifying that, in this age of ſcience and information, the French find it neceſſary to declare their acknowledgment of a God, and their belief in the immortality of the ſoul.

* Much has been ſaid of the partial ignorance of the unfortunate inhabitants of La Vendee, and divers republican ſcribblers attribute their attachment to religion and monarchy to that cauſe: yet at Havre, a ſea-port, where, from commercial communication, I ſhould ſuppoſe the people as informed and civilized as in any other part of France, the ears of piety and decency were aſſailed, during the celebration above-mentioned, by the acclamations of, "Vive le Pere Eternel!"—"Vive l'etre Supreme!"—(I entreat that I may not be ſuſpected of levity when I tranſlate this; in Engliſh it would be "God Almighty for ever! The Supreme Being for ever!")

—At Avignon the public underſtanding ſeems to have been equally enlightened, if we may judge from the report of a Paris miſſionary, who writes in theſe terms:—"The celebration in honour of the Supreme Being was performed here yeſterday with all poſſible pomp: all our country-folks were preſent, and unſpeakably content that there was ſtill a God—What a fine decree (cried they all) is thiſ!"

My laſt letter was a record of the moſt odious barbaritieſ—to-day I am deſcribing a feſtival. At one period I have to remark the deſtruction of the ſaintſ—at another the adoration of Marat. One half of the newſpaper is filled with a liſt of names of the guillotined, and the other with that of places of amuſement; and every thing now more than ever markſ that deteſtable aſſociation of cruelty and levity, of impiety and abſurdity, which has uniformly characterized the French revolution. It is become a crime to feel, and a mode to affect a brutality incapable of feeling—the perſecution of Chriſtianity has made atheiſm a boaſt, and the danger of reſpecting traditional virtues has hurried the weak and timid into the apotheoſis of the moſt abominable vices. Conſcious that they are no longer animated by enthuſiaſm,* the Pariſians hope to imitate it by ſavage fury or ferocious mirth—their patriotiſm is ſignalized only by their zeal to deſtroy, and their attachment to their government only by applauding its cruelties.—If Robeſpierre, St. Juſt, Collot d'Herbois, and the Convention as their inſtruments, deſolate and maſſacre half France, we may lament, but we can ſcarcely wonder at it. How ſhould a ſet of baſe and needy adventurers refrain from an abuſe of power more unlimited than that of the moſt deſpotic monarch; or how diſtinguiſh the general abhorrence, amid addreſſes of adulation, which Louis the Fourteenth would have bluſhed to appropriate?*

* Louis the Fourteenth, aguerri (ſteeled) as he was by ſixty yearſ of adulation and proſperity, had yet modeſty ſufficient to reject a "doſe of incenſe which he thought too ſtrong." (See D'Alembert'ſ Apology for Clermont Tonnerre.) Republicaniſm, it ſhould ſeem, haſ not diminiſhed the national compliaſance for men in power, thought it has leſſened the modeſty of thoſe who exerciſe it.—If Louis the Fourteenth repreſſed the zeal of the academicians, the Convention publiſh, without ſcruple, addreſſes more hyperbolical than the praiſes that monarch refuſed.—Letters are addreſſed to Robeſpierre under the appellation of the Meſſiah, ſent by the almighty for the reform of all thingſ! He is the apoſtle of one, and the tutelar deity of another. He is by turns the repreſentative of the virtueſ individually, and a compendium of them altogether: and this monſter, whoſe features are the counterpart of his ſoul, find republican paraſites who congratulate themſelves on reſembling him.

The bulletins of the Convention announce, that the whole republic is in a ſort of revolutionary tranſport at the eſcape of Robeſpierre and hiſ colleague, Collot d'Herbois, from aſſaſſination; and that we may not ſuppoſe the legiſlators at large deficient in ſenſibility, we learn alſo that they not only ſhed their grateful tears on this affecting occaſion, but have ſettled a penſion on the man who was inſtrumental in reſcuing the benign Collot.

The members of the Committee are not, however, the excluſive objects of public adoration—the whole Convention are at times incenſed in a ſtyle truly oriental; and if this be ſometimes done with more zeal than judgment, it does not appear to be leſs acceptable on that account. A petition from an incarcerated poet aſſimilates the mountain of the Jacobins to that of Parnaſſuſ—a ſtate-creditor importunes for a ſmall payment from the Gods of Olympuſ—and congratulations on the abolition of Chriſtianity are offered to the legiſlators of Mount Sinai! Every inſtance of baſeneſs calls forth an eulogium on their magnanimity. A ſcore of orators harangue them daily on their courage, while they are over-awed by deſpots as mean as themſelves and whom they continue to reinſtal at the ſtated period with clamorous approbation. They proſcribe, devaſtate, burn, and maſſacre—and permit themſelves to be addreſſed by the title of "Fathers of their Country!"

All this would be inexplicable, if we did not contemplate in the French a nation where every faculty is abſorbed by a terror which involves a thouſand contradictions. The rich now ſeek protection by becoming members of clubs,* and are happy if, after various mortifications, they are finally admitted by the mob who compoſe them; while families, that heretofore piqued themſelves on a voluminous and illuſtrious genealogy,** eagerly endeavour to prove they have no claim to either.