Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A Residence in France During the Years 1792, 1793, 1794 and 1795, by An English Lady

Part 2 out of 11

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

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.

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

Book of the day: