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

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reprobation, and for some time they had braved not only the people, but
the government itself. The instant they were disabled from corresponding
and communicating in that privileged sort of way which rendered them so
conspicuous, they felt their weakness; and their desultory and
unconnected efforts to regain their influence only served to complete its
annihilation. While they pretended obedience to the regulations to which
the Convention had subjected them, they intrigued to promote a revolt,
and were strenuously exerting themselves to gain partizans among the idle
and dissolute, who, having subsisted for months as members of
revolutionary committees, and in other revolutionary offices, were
naturally averse from a more moderate government. The numbers of these
were far from inconsiderable: and, when it is recollected that this
description of people only had been allowed to retain their arms, while
all who had any thing to defend were deprived of them, we cannot wonder
if the Jacobins entertained hopes of success.

The Convention, aware of these attempts, now employed against its ancient
accomplices the same arts that had proved so fatal to all those whom it
had considered as its enemies. A correspondence was "opportunely"
intercepted between the Jacobins and the Emigrants in Switzerland, while
emissaries insinuated themselves into the Clubs, for the purpose of
exciting desperate motions; or, dispersed in public places, contrived, by
assuming the Jacobin costume, to throw on the faction the odium of those
seditious exclamations which they were employed to vociferate.

There is little doubt that the designs of the Jacobins were nearly such
as have been imputed to them. They had, however, become more politic
than to act thus openly, without being prepared to repel their enemies,
or to support their friends; and there is every appearance that the Swiss
plots, and the insurrections of the _Palais Egalite,_ were the devices of
the government, to give a pretext for shutting up the Club altogether,
and to avert the real dangers with which it was menaced, by spreading an
alarm of fictitious ones. A few idle people assembled (probably on
purpose) about the _Palais Egalite,_ and the place where the Jacobins held
their meetings, and the exclamation of "Down with the Convention!" served
as the signal for hostilities. The aristocrats joined the partizans of
the Convention, the Jacobins were attacked in their hall, and an affray
ensued, in which several persons on each side were wounded. Both parties
accused each other of being the aggressor, and a report of the business
was made to the Assembly; but the Assembly had already decided--and, on
the ninth of November, while the Jacobins were endeavouring to raise the
storm by a recapitulation of the rights of man, a decree was passed,
prohibiting their debates, and ordering the national seal to be put on
their doors and papers. The society were not in force to make
resistance, and the decree was carried into execution as quietly as
though it had been levelled against the hotel of some devoted aristocrat.

When the news of this event reached the departments, it occasioned an
universal rejoicing--not such a rejoicing as is ordered for the successes
of the French arms, (which always seems to be a matter of great
indifference,) but a chearfulness of heart and of countenance; and many
persons whom I do not remember to have ever seen in the least degree
moved by political events, appeared sincerely delighted at this--

"And those smile now, who never smil'd before,
"And those who always smil'd, now smile the more."
Parnell's Claudian.

The armies might proceed to Vienna, pillage the Escurial, or subjugate
all Europe, and I am convinced no emotion of pleasure would be excited
equal to that manifested at the downfall of the Jacobins of Paris.

Since this disgrace of the parent society, the Clubs in the departments
have, for the most part, dissolved themselves, or dwindled into peaceable
assemblies to hear the news read, and applaud the convention.--The few
Jacobin emblems which were yet remaining have totally disappeared, and no
vestige of Jacobinism is left, but the graves of its victims, and the
desolation of the country.

The profligate, the turbulent, the idle, and needy, of various countries
in Europe, have been tempted by the successes of the French Jacobins to
endeavour to establish similar institutions; but the same successes have
operated as a warning to people of a different description, and the fall
of these societies has drawn two confessions from their original
partizans, which ought never to be forgotten--namely, that they were
formed for the purpose of subverting the monarchy, and that their
existence is incompatible with regular government of any kind.--"While
the monarchy still existed, (says the most philosophic Lequinio, with
whose scheme of reforming La Vendee you are already acquainted,) it was
politic and necessary to encourage popular societies, as the most
efficacious means of operating its destruction; but now we have effected
a revolution, and have only to consolidate it by mild and philosophic
laws, these societies are dangerous, because they can produce only
confusion and disorder."--This is also the language of Brissot, who
admires the Jacobins from their origin till the end of 1792, but after
that period he admits they were only the instruments of faction, and
destructive of all property and order.*

* The period of the Jacobin annals so much admired by Brissot,
comprises the dethronement of the King, the massacres of the
prisons, the banishment of the priests, &c. That which he
reprobates begins precisely at the period when the Jacobins disputed
the claims of himself and his party to the exclusive direction of
the government.--See Brissot's Address to his Constituents.

--We learn therefore, not from the abuses alone, but from the praises
bestowed on the Jacobins, how much such combinations are to be dreaded.
Their merit, it appears, consisted in the subversion of the monarchical
government, and their crime in ceasing to be useful as agents of tyranny,
the moment they ceased to be principals.

I am still sceptical as to the conversion of the Assembly, and little
disposed to expect good from it; yet whatever it may attempt in future,
or however its real principles may take an ascendant, this fortunate
concurrence of personal interests, coalition of aristocrats and
democrats, and political rivalry, have likewise secured France from a
return of that excess of despotism which could have been exercised only
by such means. It is true, the spirit of the nation is so much
depressed, that an effort to revive these Clubs might meet no resistance;
but the ridicule and opprobrium to which they have latterly been subject,
and finally the manner of their being sacrificed by that very Convention,
of which they were the sole creators and support, will, I think, cool the
zeal, and diminish the numbers of their partizans too much for them ever
again to become formidable.

The conduct of Carrier has been examined according to the new forms, and
he is now on his trial--though not till the delays of the Convention had
given rise to a general suspicion that they intended either to exonerate
or afford him an opportunity of escaping; and the people were at last so
highly exasperated, that six thousand troops were added to the military
force of Paris, and an insurrection was seriously apprehended. This
stimulated the diligence, or relaxed the indulgence, of the commission
appointed to make the report on Carrier's conduct; and it being decided
that there was room for accusation, the Assembly confirmed the decision,
and he was ordered into custody, to be tried along with the Revolutionary
Committee of Nantes which had been the instrument of his crimes.

It is a circumstance worth noting, that most of the Deputies who
explained the motives on which they thought Carrier guilty, were silent
on the subject of his drowning, shooting, and guillotining so many
thousands of innocent people, and only declared him guilty, as having
been wanting in respect towards Trehouard, one of his colleagues, and of
injuring the republican cause by his atrocities.

The fate of this monster exhibits a practical exposition of the enormous
absurdity of such a government. He is himself tried for the exercise of
a power declared to be unbounded when entrusted to him. The men tried
with him as his accomplices were obliged by the laws to obey him; and the
acts of which they are all accused were known, applauded, and held out
for imitation, by the Convention, who now declare those very acts to be
criminal!--There is certainly no way of reconciling justice but by
punishing both chiefs and subordinates, and the hour for this will yet
come.--Adieu.

Amiens. [No date given.]

I do not yet venture to correspond with my Paris friends by the post, but
whenever the opportunity of private conveyance occurs, I receive long and
circumstantial letters, as well as packets, of all the publications most
read, and the theatrical pieces most applauded. I have lately drudged
through great numbers of these last, and bestowed on them an attention
they did not in themselves deserve, because I considered it as one means
of judging both of the spirit of the government and the morals of the
people.

The dramas produced at the beginning of the revolution were in general
calculated to corrupt the national taste and morals, and many of them
were written with skill enough to answer the purpose for which they were
intended; but those that have appeared during the last two years, are so
stupid and so depraved, that the circumstance of their being tolerated
even for a moment implies an extinction both of taste and of morals.*

* _"Dans l'espace d'un an ils ont failli detruire le produit de
plusieurs siecles de civilization."_--("In the space of a year they
nearly destroyed the fruits of several ages of civilization.")

The principal cause of this is the despotism of the government in making
the stage a mere political engine, and suffering the performance of such
pieces only as a man of honesty or genius would not submit to write.*

* The tragedy of Brutus was interdicted on account of these two
lines:

_"Arreter un romain sur de simple soupcons,
"C'est agir en tyrans, nous qui les punissons."_

That of Mahomet for the following:

_"Exterminez, grands dieux, de la terre ou nous sommes
"Quiconque avec plaisir repand le sang des hommes."_

It is to be remarked, that the last lines are only a simple axiom of
humanity, and could not have been considered as implying a censure
on any government except that of the French republic.

--Hence a croud of scribblers, without shame or talents, have become the
exclusive directors of public amusements, and, as far as the noise of a
theatre constitutes success, are perhaps more successful than ever was
Racine or Moliere. Immorality and dulness have an infallible resource
against public disapprobation in the abuse of monarchy and religion, or a
niche for Mr. Pitt; and an indignant or impatient audience, losing their
other feelings in their fears, are glad to purchase the reputation of
patriotism by applauding trash they find it difficult to endure. The
theatres swarm with spies, and to censure a revolutionary piece, however
detestable even as a composition, is dangerous, and few have courage to
be the critics of an author who is patronized by the superintendants of
the guillotine, or who may retaliate a comment on his poetry by the
significant prose of a mandat d'arret.

Men of literature, therefore, have wisely preferred the conservation of
their freedom to the vindication of their taste, and have deemed it
better to applaud at the Theatre de la Republique, than lodge at St.
Lazare or Duplessis.--Thus political slavery has assisted moral
depravation: the writer who is the advocate of despotism, may be dull and
licentious by privilege, and is alone exempt from the laws of Parnassus
and of decency.--One Sylvan Marechal, author of a work he calls
philosophie, has written a sort of farce, which has been performed very
generally, where all the Kings in Europe are brought together as so many
monsters; and when the King of France is enquired after as not being
among them, a Frenchman answers,--"Oh, he is not here--we have
guillotined him--we have cut off his head according to law."--In one
piece, the hero is a felon escaped from the galleys, and is represented
as a patriot of the most sublime principles; in another, he is the
virtuous conductor of a gang of banditti; and the principal character in
a third, is a ploughman turned deist and politician.

Yet, while these malevolent and mercenary scribblers are ransacking past
ages for the crimes of Kings or the abuses of religion, and imputing to
both many that never existed, they forget that neither their books nor
their imagination are able to furnish scenes of guilt and misery equal to
those which have been presented daily by republicans and philosophers.
What horror can their mock-tragedies excite in those who have
contemplated the Place de la Revolution? or who can smile at a farce in
ridicule of monarchy, that beholds the Convention, and knows the
characters of the men who compose it?--But in most of these wretched
productions the absurdity is luckily not less conspicuous than the
immoral intention: their Princes, their Priests, their Nobles, are all
tyrannical, vicious, and miserable; yet the common people, living under
these same vicious tyrants, are described as models of virtue,
hospitality, and happiness. If, then, the auditors of such edifying
dramas were in the habit of reasoning, they might very justly conclude,
that the ignorance which republicanism is to banish is desirable, and
that the diffusion of riches with which they have been flattered, will
only increase their vices, and subtract from their felicity.

There are, however, some patriotic spirits, who, not insensible to this
degeneracy of the French theatre, and lamenting the evil, have lately
exercised much ingenuity in developing the cause. They have at length
discovered, that all the republican tragedies, flat farces, and heavy
comedies, are attributable to Mr. Pitt, who has thought proper to corrupt
the authors, with a view to deprave the public taste. There is,
certainly, no combating this charge; for as, according to the assertions
of the Convention, Mr. Pitt has succeeded in bribing nearly every other
description of men in the republic, we may suppose the consciences of
such scribblers not less flexible. Mr. Pitt, indeed, stands accused,
sometimes in conjunction with the Prince of Cobourg, and sometimes on his
own account, of successively corrupting the officers of the fleet and
army, all the bankers and all the farmers, the priests who say masses,
and the people who attend them, the chiefs of the aristocrats, and the
leaders of the Jacobins. The bakers who refuse to bake when they have no
flour, and the populace who murmur when they have no bread, besides the
merchants and shopkeepers who prefer coin to assignats, are notoriously
pensioned by him: and even a part of the Representatives, and all the
frail beauties, are said to be enlisted in his service.--These
multifarious charges will be found on the journals of the Assembly, and
we must of course infer, that Mr. Pitt is the ablest statesman, or the
French the most corrupt nation, existing.

But it is not only Barrere and his colleagues who suppose the whole
country bribeable--the notion is common to the French in general; and
vanity adding to the omnipotence of gold, whenever they speak of a battle
lost, or a town taken, they conclude it impossible to have occurred but
through the venal treachery of their officers.--The English, I have
observed, always judge differently, and would not think the national
honour sustained by a supposition that their commanders were vulnerable
only in the hand. If a general or an admiral happen to be unfortunate,
it would be with the utmost reluctance that we should think of
attributing his mischance to a cause so degrading; yet whoever has been
used to French society will acknowledge, that the first suggestion on
such events is _"nos officiers ont ete gagnes,"_ [Our officers were
bought.] or _"sans la trahison ce ne seroit pas arrive."_ [This could not
have happened without treachery.]--Pope's hyperbole of

"Just half the land would buy, and half be sold,"

is more than applicable here; for if we may credit the French themselves,
the buyers are by no means so well proportioned to the sellers.

As I have no new political intelligence to comment upon, I shall finish
my letter with a domestic adventure of the morning.--Our house was
yesterday assigned as the quarters of some officers, who, with part of a
regiment, were passing this way to join the Northern army. As they spent
the evening out, we saw nothing of them, but finding one was a Colonel,
and the other a Captain, though we knew what republican colonels and
captains might be, we thought it civil, or rather necessary, to send them
an invitation to breakfast. We therefore ordered some milk coffee early,
(for Frenchmen seldom take tea,) and were all assembled before the usual
time to receive our military guests. As they did not, however, appear,
we were ringing to enquire for them, when Mr. D____ entered from his
morning walk, and desired us to be at ease on their account, for that in
passing the kitchen, he had perceived the Captain fraternizing over some
onions, bread, and beer, with our man; while the Colonel was in close
conference with the cook, and watching a pan of soup, which was warming
for his breakfast. We have learned since, that these heroes were very
willing to accept of any thing the servants offered them, but could not
be prevailed upon to approach us; though, you are to understand, this was
not occasioned either by timidity or incivility, but by mere ignorance.
--Mr. D____ says, the Marquise and I have not divested ourselves of
aristocratic associations with our ideas of the military, and that our
deshabilles this morning were unusually coquetish. Our projects of
conquest were, however, all frustrated by the unlucky intervention of
Bernardine's _soupe aux choux,_ [Cabbage-soup.] and Eustace's regale of
cheese and onions.

"And with such beaux 'tis vain to be a belle."

Yours, &c.

Amiens, Dec. 10, 1794.

Your American friend passed through here yesterday, and delivered me the
two parcels. As marks of your attention, they were very acceptable; but
on any other account, I assure you, I should have preferred a present of
a few pecks of wheat to all your fineries.

I have been used to conclude, when I saw such strange and unaccountable
absurdities given in the French papers as extracts from the debates in
either of your Houses of Parliament, that they were probably fabricated
here to serve the designs of the reigning factions: yet I perceive, by
some old papers which came with the muslins, that there are really
members so ill-informed or so unprincipled, as to use the language
attributed to them, and who assert that the French are attached to their
government, and call France "a land of republicans."

When it is said that a people are republicans, we must suppose they are
either partial to republicanism as a system, or that they prefer it in
practice. A little retrospection, perhaps, will determine both these
points better than the eloquence of your orators.

A few men, of philosophic or restless minds, have, in various ages and
countries, endeavoured to enlighten or disturb the world by examinations
and disputes on forms of government; yet the best heads and the best
hearts have remained divided on the subject, and I never heard that any
writer was able to produce more than a partial conviction, even in the
most limited circle. Whence, then, did it happen in France, where
information was avowedly confined, and where such discussions could not
have been general, that the people became suddenly inspired with this
political sagacity, which made them in one day the judges and converts of
a system they could scarcely have known before, even by name?--At the
deposition of the King, the French, (speaking at large,) had as
perspicuous a notion of republics, as they may be supposed to have of
mathematics, and would have understood Euclid's Elements as well as the
Social Contract. Yet an assemblage of the worst and most daring men from
every faction, elected amidst massacres and proscription, the moment they
are collected together, declare, on the proposal of Collot d'Herbois, a
profligate strolling player, that France shall be a republic.--Admitting
that the French were desirous of altering their form of government, I
believe no one will venture to say such an inclination was ever
manifested, or that the Convention were elected in a manner to render
them competent to such a decision. They were not the choice of the
people, but chiefly emissaries imposed on the departments by the Jacobins
and the municipality of Paris; and let those who are not acquainted with
the means by which the elections were obtained, examine the composition
of the Assembly itself, and then decide whether any people being free
could have selected such men as Petion, Tallien, Robespierre, Brissot,
Carrier, Taillefer, &c. &c. from the whole nation to be their
Representatives.--There must, in all large associations, be a mixture of
good and bad; but when it is incontrovertible that the principal members
of the Convention are monsters, who, we hope, are not to be paralleled--
that the rest are inferior rather in talents than wickedness, or cowards
and ideots, who have supported and applauded crimes they only wanted
opportunity to commit--it is not possible to conceive, that any people in
the world could make a similar choice. Yet if the French were absolutely
unbiassed, and of their own free will made this collection, who would,
after such an example, be the advocates of general suffrage and popular
representation?--But, I repeat, the people were not free. They were not,
indeed, influenced by bribes--they were intimidated by the horrors of the
moment; and along with the regulations for the new elections, were every
where circulated details of the assassinations of August and September.*

* The influence of the municipality of Paris on the new elections is
well known. The following letter will show what instruments were
employed, and the description of Representatives likely to be chosen
under such auspices.

"Circular letter, written by the Committee of Inspection of the
municipality of Paris to all the departments of the republic, dated
the third of September, the second day of the massacres:

"The municipality of Paris is impatient to inform their brethren of
the departments, that a part of the ferocious conspirators detained
in the prisons have been put to death by the people: an act of
justice which appeared to them indispensable, to restrain by terror
those legions of traitors whom they must have left behind when they
departed for the army. There is no doubt but the whole nation,
after such multiplied treasons, will hasten to adopt the same
salutary measure!"--Signed by the Commune of Paris and the Minister
of Justice.

Who, after this mandate, would venture to oppose a member
recommended by the Commune of Paris?

--The French, then, neither chose the republican form of government,
nor the men who adopted it; and are, therefore, not republicans on
principle.--Let us now consider whether, not being republicans on
principle, experience may have rendered them such.

The first effects of the new system were an universal consternation,
the disappearance of all the specie, an extravagant rise in the price of
provisions, and many indications of scarcity. The scandalous quarrels of
the legislature shocked the national vanity, by making France the
ridicule of all Europe, until ridicule was suppressed by detestation at
the subsequent murder of the King. This was followed by the efforts of
one faction to strengthen itself against another, by means of a general
war--the leaders of the former presuming, that they alone were capable of
conducting it.

To the miseries of war were added revolutionary tribunals, revolutionary
armies and committees, forced loans, requisitions, maximums, and every
species of tyranny and iniquity man could devise or suffer; or, to use
the expression of Rewbell, [One of the Directory in 1796.] "France was in
mourning and desolation; all her families plunged in despair; her whole
surface covered with Bastilles, and the republican government become so
odious, that the most wretched slave, bending beneath the weight of his
chains, would have refused to live under it!"

Such were the means by which France was converted into a land of
republicans, and such the government to which your patriots assert the
French people were attached: yet so little was this attachment
appreciated here, that the mere institutions for watching and suppressing
disaffection amount, by the confession of Cambon, the financier, to
twenty-four millions six hundred and thirty-one thousand pounds sterling
a year!

To suppose, then, that the French are devoted to a system which has
served as a pretext for so many crimes, and has been the cause of so many
calamities, is to conclude them a nation of philosophers, who are able to
endure, yet incapable of reasoning; and who suffer evils of every kind in
defence of a principle with which they can be little acquainted, and
which, in practice, they have known only by the destruction it has
occasioned.

You may, perhaps, have been persuaded, that the people submit patiently
now, for the sake of an advantage in perspective; but it is not in the
disposition of unenlightened men (and the mass of a people must
necessarily be so) to give up the present for the future. The individual
may sometimes atchieve this painful conquest over himself, and submit to
evil, on a calculation of future retribution, but the multitude will ever
prefer the good most immediately attainable, if not under the influence
of that terror which supersedes every other consideration. Recollect,
then, the counsel of the first historian of our age, and "suspend your
belief of whatever deviates from the laws of nature and the character of
man;" and when you are told the French are attached to a government which
oppresses them, or to principles of which they are ignorant, suppose
their adoption of the one, and their submission to the other, are the
result of fear, and that those who make these assertions to the contrary,
are either interested or misinformed.

Excuse me if I have devoted a few pages to a subject which with you is
obsolete. I am indignant at the perusal of such falsehoods; and though I
feel for the humiliation of great talents, I feel still more for the
disgrace such an abuse of them brings on our country.

It is not inapposite to mention a circumstance which happened to a friend
of Mr. D____'s, some little time since, at Paris. He was passing through
France, in his way from Italy, at the time of the general arrest, and was
detained there till the other day. As soon as he was released from
prison, he applied in person to a member of the Convention, to learn when
he might hope to return to England. The Deputy replied, _"Ma soi je n'en
sais rien_ [Faith I can't tell you.]--If your Messieurs (naming some
members in the opposition) had succeeded in promoting a revolution, you
would not have been in your cage so long--_mais pour le coup il faut
attendre."_ [But now you must have patience.] It is not probable the
members he named could have such designs, but Dumont once held the same
language to me; and it is mortifying to hear these miscreants suppose,
that factious or ambitious men, because they chance to possess talents,
can make revolutions in England as they have done in France.

In the papers which gave rise to these reflections, I observe that some
of your manufacturing towns are discontented, and attribute the
stagnation of their commerce to the war; but it is not unlikely, that the
stagnation and failures complained of might have taken place, though the
war had not happened.--When I came here in 1792, every shop and warehouse
were over-stocked with English goods. I could purchase any article of
our manufacture at nearly the retail price of London; and some I sent for
from Paris, in the beginning of 1793, notwithstanding the reports of war,
were very little advanced. Soon after the conclusion of the commercial
treaty, every thing English became fashionable; and so many people had
speculated in consequence, that similar speculations took place in
England. But France was glutted before the war; and all speculations
entered into on a presumption of a demand equal to that of the first
years of the treaty, must have failed in a certain degree, though the two
countries had remained at peace.--Even after a two years cessation of
direct intercourse, British manufactures are every where to be procured,
which is a sufficient proof that either the country was previously over
supplied, or that they are still imported through neutral or indirect
channels. Both these suppositions preclude the likelihood that the war
has so great a share in relaxing the activity of your commerce, as is
pretended.

But whatever may be the effect of the war, there is no prospect of peace,
until the efforts of England, or the total ruin of the French finances,*
shall open the way for it.

* By a report of Cambon's at this time, it appears the expences of
France in 1792 were eighteen millions sterling--in 1793, near ninety
millions--and, in the spring of 1794, twelve and a half millions per
month!--The church bells, we learn from the same authority, cost in
coinage, and the purchase of copper to mix with the metal, five or
six millions of livres more than they produced as money. The church
plate, which was brought to the bar of the Convention with such
eclat, and represented as an inexhaustible resource, amounted to
scarcely a million sterling: for as the offering was every where
involuntary, and promoted by its agents for the purposes of pillage,
part was secreted, a still greater part stolen, and, as the
conveyance to Paris was a sort of job, the expences often exceeded
the worth--a patine, a censor, and a small chalice, were sent to the
Convention, perhaps an hundred leagues, by a couple of Jacobin
Commissioners in a coach and four, with a military escort. Thus,
the prejudices of the people were outraged, and their property
wasted, without any benefit, even to those who suggested the
measure.

--The Convention, indeed, have partly relinquished their project of
destroying all the Kings of the earth, and forcing all the people to be
free. But, though their schemes of reformation have failed, they still
adhere to those of extirpation; and the most moderate members talk
occasionally of "vile islanders," and "sailing up the Thames."*--

* The Jacobins and the Moderates, who could agree in nothing else,
were here perfectly in unison; so that on the same day we see the
usual invectives of Barrere succeeded by menaces equally ridiculous
from Pelet and Tallien--

_"La seule chose dont nous devons nous occuper est d'ecraser ce
gouvernement infame."_

Discours de Pelet, 14 Nov.

"The destruction of that infamous government is the only thing that
ought to engage our attention."
Pelet's Speech, 14 Nov. 1794.

_"Aujourdhui que la France peut en se debarrassant d'une partie de
ses ennemis reporter la gloire de ses armes sur les bordes de la
Tamise, et ecraser le gouvernement Anglais."
Discours de Tallien._

"France, having now the opportunity of lessening the number of her
enemies, may carry the glory of her arms to the banks of the Thames,
and crush the English government."
Tallien's Speech.

_"Que le gouvernement prenne des mesures sages pour faire une paix
honorable avec quelques uns de nos ennemis, et a l'aide des
vaisseaux Hollandais et Espagnols, portons nous ensuite avec vigueur
sur les bordes de la Tamise, et detruisons la nouvelle Carthage."
Discours de Tallien, 14 Nov._

"Let the government but adopt wise measures for making an honorable
peace with a part of our enemies, and with the aid of the Dutch and
Spanish navies, let us repair to the banks of the Thames, and
destroy the modern Carthage."
Tallien's Speech, 14 Nov. 1794.

No one is here ignorant of the source of Tallien's predilection for
Spain, and we may suppose the intrigue at this time far advanced.
Probably the charms of his wife (the daughter of Mons. Cabarrus, a French
speculator, formerly much encouraged by the Spanish government,
afterwards disgraced and imprisoned, but now liberated) might not be the
only means employed to procure his conversion.

--Tallien, Clauzel, and those who have newly assumed the character of
rational and decent people, still use the low and atrocious language of
Brissot, on the day he made his declaration of war; and perhaps hope, by
exciting a national spirit of vengeance against Great Britain, to secure
their lives and their pay, when they shall have been forced to make peace
on the Continent: for, be certain, the motives of these men are never to
be sought for in any great political object, but merely in expedients to
preserve their persons and their plunder.

Those who judge of the Convention by their daily harangues, and the
justice, virtue, or talents which they ascribe to themselves, must
believe them to be greatly regenerated: yet such is the dearth both of
abilities and of worth of any kind, that Andre Dumont has been
successively President of the Assembly, Member of the Committee of
General Safety, and is now in that of Public Welfare.--Adieu.

Amiens, Dec. 16, 1794.

The seventy-three Deputies who have been so long confined are now
liberated, and have resumed their seats. Jealousy and fear for some time
rendered the Convention averse from the adoption of this measure; but the
public opinion was so determined in favour of it, that farther resistance
might not have been prudent. The satisfaction created by this event is
general, though the same sentiment is the result of various conclusions,
which, however, all tend to one object--the re-establishment of monarchy.

The idea most prevalent is, that these deputies, when arrested, were
royalists.*

* This opinion prevailed in many places where the proscribed
deputies took refuge. "The Normans (says Louvet) deceived by the
imputations in the newspapers, assisted us, under the idea that we
were royalists: but abandoned us when they found themselves
mistaken." In the same manner, on the appearance of these Deputies
in other departments, armies were collecting very fast, but
dispersed when they perceived these men were actuated only by
personal fear or personal ambition, and that no one talked of
restoring the monarchy.

--By some it is thought, persecution may have converted them; but the
reflecting part of the nation look on the greater number as adherents of
the Girondists, whom the fortunate violence of Robespierre excluded from
participating in many of the past crimes of their colleagues, and who
have, in that alone, a reason for not becoming accomplices in those which
may be attempted in future.

It is astonishing to see with what facility people daily take on trust
things which they have it in their power to ascertain. The seventy-three
owe a great part of the interest they have excited to a persuasion of
their having voted either for a mild sentence on the King, or an appeal
to the nation: yet this is so far from being true, that many of them were
unfavourable to him on every question. But supposing it to have been
otherwise, their merit is in reality little enhanced: they all voted him
guilty, without examining whether he was so or not; and in affecting
mercy while they refused justice, they only aimed at conciliating their
present views with their future safety.

The whole claim of this party, who are now the Moderates of the
Convention, is reducible to their having opposed the commission of crimes
which were intended to serve their adversaries, rather than themselves.
To effect the dethronement of the King, and the destruction of those
obnoxious to them, they approved of popular insurrections; but expected
that the people whom they had rendered proficients in cruelty, should
become gentle and obedient when urged to resist their own authority; yet
they now come forth as victims of their patriotism, and call the heads of
the faction who are fallen--martyrs to liberty! But if they are victims,
it is to their folly or wickedness in becoming members of such an
assembly; and if their chiefs were martyrs, it was to the principles they
inculcated.

The trial of the Brissotins was justice, compared with that of the King.
If the former were condemned without proof, their partizans should
remember, that the revolutionary jury pretended to be influenced by the
same moral evidence they had themselves urged as the ground on which they
condemned the King; and if the people beheld with applause or
indifference the execution of their once-popular idols, they only put in
practice the barbarous lessons which those idols had taught them;--they
were forbidden to lament the fate of their Sovereign, and they rejoiced
in that of Brissot and his confederates.--These men, then, only found the
just retribution of their own guilt; and though it may be politic to
forget that their survivors were also their accomplices, they are not
objects of esteem--and the contemporary popularity, which a long
seclusion has obtained for them, will vanish, if their future conduct
should be directed by their original principles.*

* Louvet's pamphlet had not at this time appeared, and the
subsequent events proved, that the interest taken in these Deputies
was founded on a supposition they had changed their principles; for
before the close of the Convention they were as much objects of
hatred and contempt as their colleagues.

Some of these Deputies were the hirelings of the Duke of Orleans, and
most of them are individuals of no better reputation than the rest of the
Assembly. Lanjuinais has the merit of having acted with great courage in
defence of himself and his party on the thirty-first of May 1792; but the
following anecdote, recited by Gregoire* in the Convention a few days ago
will sufficiently explain both his character and Gregoire's, who are now,
however, looked up to as royalists, and as men comparatively honest.

* Gregoire is one of the constitutional Clergy, and, from the habit
of comparing bad with worse, is more esteemed than many of his
colleagues; yet, in his report on the progress of Vandalism, he
expresses himself with sanguinary indecency--"They have torn (says
he) the prints which represented the execution of Charles the first,
because there were coats of arms on them. Ah, would to god we could
behold, engraved in the same manner, the heads of all Kings, done
from nature! We might then reconcile ourselves to seeing a
ridiculous embellishment of heraldry accompany them."

--"When I first arrived at Versailles, (says Gregoire,) as member of the
Constituent Assembly, (in 1789,) I met with Lanjuinais, and we took an
oath in concert to dethrone the King and abolish Nobility." Now, this
was before the alledged provocations of the King and Nobility--before the
constitution was framed--before the flight of the royal family to
Varennes--and before the war. But almost daily confessions of this sort
escape, which at once justify the King, and establish the infamy of the
revolutionists.

These are circumstances not to be forgotten, did not the sad science of
discriminating the shades of wickedness, in which (as I have before
noticed) the French have been rendered such adepts, oblige them at
present to fix their hopes--not according to the degree of merit, but by
that of guilt. They are reduced to distinguish between those who
sanction murders, and those who perpetrated them--between the sacrificer
of one thousand victims, and that of ten--between those who assassinate,
and those who only reward the assassin.*

* Tallien is supposed, as agent of the municipality of paris, to
have paid a million and a half of livres to the Septembrisers or
assassins of the prisons! I know not whether the sum was in
assignats or specie.--If in the former, it was, according to the
exchange then, about two and thirty thousand pounds sterling: but if
estimated in proportion to what might be purchased with it, near
fifty thousand. Tallien has never denied the payment of the money--
we may, therefore, conclude the charge to be true.

--Before the revolution, they would not have known how to select, where
all were objects of abhorrence; but now the most ignorant are casuists in
the gradations of turpitude, and prefer Tallien to Le Bon, and the Abbe
Sieyes to Barrere.

The crimes of Carrier have been terminated, not punished, by death. He
met his fate with a courage which, when the effect of innocence, is
glorious to the sufferer, and consoling to humanity; but a career like
his, so ended, was only the confirmation of a brutal and ferocious mind.*

* When Carrier was arrested, he attempted to shoot himself, and, on
being prevented by the Gens-d'armes, he told them there were members
of the Convention who would not forgive their having prevented his
purpose--implying, that they apprehended the discoveries he might
make on his trial. While he was dressing himself, (for they took
him in bed,) he added, "_Les Scelerats!_ (Meaning his more
particular accomplices, who, he was told, had voted against him,)
they deserved that I should be as dastardly as themselves." He
rested his defence entirely on the decrees of the Convention.

--Of thirty who were tried with him as his agents, and convicted of
assisting at the drownings, shootings, &c. two only were executed, the
rest were acquitted; because, though the facts were proved, the moral
latitude of the Revolutionary Jury* did not find the guilt of the
intention--that is, the culprits were indisputably the murderers of
several thousand people, but, according to the words of the verdict, they
did not act with a counter-revolutionary intention.

* An English reader may be deceived by the name of Jury. The
Revolutionary Jury was not only instituted, but even appointed by
the Convention.--The following is a literal translation of some of
the verdicts given on this occasion:

"That O'Sulivan is author and accomplice of several noyades
(drownings) and unheard-of cruelties towards the victims delivered
to the waves.

"That Lefevre is proved to have ordered and caused to be executed a
noyade of men, women, and children, and to have committed various
arbitrary acts.

"That General Heron is proved to have assassinated children, and
worn publicly in his hat the ear of a man he had murdered. That he
also killed two children who were peaceably watching sheep.

"That Bachelier is author and accomplice of the operations at
Nantes, in signing arbitrary mandates of arrest, imposing vexatious
taxes, and taking for himself plate, &c. found at the houses of
citizens arrested on suspicion.

"That Joly is guilty, &c. in executing the arbitrary orders of the
Revolutionary Committee, of tying together the victims destined to
be drowned or shot."

There are thirty-one articles conceived nearly in the same terms,
and which conclude thus--"All convicted as above, but not having
acted with criminal or counter-revolutionary intentions, the
Tribunal acquits and sets them at liberty."

All France was indignant at those verdicts, and the people of Paris
were so enraged, that the Convention ordered the acquitted culprits
to be arrested again, perhaps rather for protection than punishment.
They were sent from Paris, and I never heard the result; but I have
seen the name of General Heron as being at large.

The Convention were certainly desirous that the atrocities of these men
(all zealous republicans) should be forgotten; for, independently of the
disgrace which their trial has brought on the cause, the sacrifice of
such agents might create a dangerous timidity in future, and deprive the
government of valuable partizans, who would fear to be the instruments of
crimes for which, after such a precedent, they might become responsible.
But the evil, which was unavoidable, has been palliated by the tenderness
or gratitude of a jury chosen by the Convention, who, by sacrificing two
only of this mass of monsters, and protecting the rest, hope to
consecrate the useful principle of indulgence for every act, whatever its
enormity, which has been the consequence of zeal or obedience to the
government.

It is among the dreadful singularities of the revolution, that the
greatest crimes which have been committed were all in strict observance
of the laws. Hence the Convention are perpetually embarrassed by
interest or shame, when it becomes necessary to punish them. We have
only to compare the conduct of Carrier, le Bon, Maignet, &c. with the
decrees under which they acted, to be convinced that their chief guilt
lies in having been capable of obeying: and the convention, coldly
issuing forth their rescripts of extermination and conflagration, will
not, in the opinion of the moralist, be favorably distinguished from
those who carried these mandates into execution.

December 24, 1794.

I am now at a village a few miles from Amiens, where, upon giving
security in the usual form, we have been permitted to come for a few days
on a visit to some relations of my friend Mad. de ____. On our arrival,
we found the lady of the house in a nankeen pierrot, knitting grey thread
stockings for herself, and the gentleman in a thick woollen jacket and
pantaloons, at work in the fields, and really labouring as hard as his
men.--They hope, by thus taking up the occupation and assuming the
appearance of farmers, to escape farther persecution; and this policy may
be available to those who have little to lose: but property is now a more
dangerous distinction than birth, and whoever possesses it, will always
be considered as the enemies of the republic, and treated accordingly.

We have been so much confined the last twelve months, that we were glad
to ride yesterday in spite of the cold; and our hosts having procured
asses for the females of the party, accompanied us themselves on foot.--
During our ramble, we entered into conversation with two old men and a
boy, who were at work in an open field near the road. They told us, they
had not strength to labour, because they had not their usual quantity of
bread--that their good lady, whose chateau we saw at a distance, had been
guillotined, or else they should have wanted for nothing--_"Et ste pauvre
Javotte la n'auroit pas travaille quant elle est qualsiment prete a
mourir."_ ["And our poor Javotte there would not have had to work when she
is almost in her grave."]--_"Mon dieu,"_ (says one of the old men, who had
not yet spoke,) _"Je donnerais bien ma portion de sa terre pour la ravoir
notre bonne dame."_ ["God knows, I would willingly give up my share of
her estate to have our good lady amongst us again."]--_"Ah pour ca oui,"_
(returned the other,) _"mais j'crois que nous n'aurons ni l'une l'autre,
voila ste maudite nation qui s'empare de tout."_ ["Ah truly, but I fancy
we shall have neither one nor the other, for this cursed nation gets hold
of every thing."]

While they were going on in this style, a berline and four cabriolets,
with three-coloured flags at the windows, and a whole troop of national
guard, passed along the road. _"Vive la Republique!"_--"Vive la Nation!"
cried our peasants, in an instant; and as soon as the cavalcade was out
of sight, _"Voyez ste gueusaille la, quel train, c'est vraiment quelque
depute de la Convention--ces brigands la, ils ne manquent de rien, ils
vivent comme des rois, et nous autres nous sommes cent sois plus
miserables que jamais."_ ["See there what a figure they make, those
beggarly fellows--it's some deputy of the convention I take it. The
thieves want for nothing, they live like so many kings, and we are all a
hundred times worse off than ever."]--_"Tais toi, tais tois,"_ ["Be quiet,
I tell you."] (says the old man, who seemed the least garrulous of the
two.)--_"Ne crains rien,_ ["Never fear."] (replied the first,) _c'est de
braves gens;_ these ladies and gentlemen I'm sure are good people; they
have not the look of patriots."--And with this compliment to ourselves,
and the externals of patriotism, we took our leave of them.

I found, however, by this little conversation, that some of the peasants
still believe they are to have the lands of the gentry divided amongst
them, according to a decree for that purpose. The lady, whom they
lamented, and whose estate they expected to share, was the Marquise de
B____, who had really left the country before the revolution, and had
gone to drink some of the German mineral waters, but not returning within
the time afterwards prescribed, was declared an emigrant. By means of a
friend, she got an application made to Chabot, (then in high popularity,)
who for an hundred thousand livres procured a passport from the Executive
Council to enter France. Upon the faith of this she ventured to return,
and was in consequence, notwithstanding her passport, executed as an
emigrant.

Mrs. D____, who is not yet well enough for such an expedition, and is,
besides, unaccustomed to our montures, remained at home. We found she
had been much alarmed during our absence, every house in the village
having been searched, by order of the district, for corn, and two of the
horses taken to the next post to convey the retinue of the Deputy we had
seen in the morning. Every thing, however, was tranquil on our arrival,
and rejoicing it was no worse, though Mons. ____ seemed to be under great
apprehension for his horses, we sat down to what in France is called a
late dinner.

Our host's brother, who left the army at the general exclusion of the
Noblesse, and was in confinement at the Luxembourg until after the death
of Robespierre, is a professed wit, writes couplets to popular airs, and
has dramatized one of Plutarch's Lives. While we were at the desert, he
amused us with some of his compositions in prison, such as an epigram on
the Guillotine, half a dozen calembours on the bad fare at the _Gamelle,_
[Mess.] and an ode on the republican victory at Fleurus--the last written
under the hourly expectation of being sent off with the next _fournee_
(batch) of pretended conspirators, yet breathing the most ardent
attachment to the convention, and terminated by a full sounding line
about tyrants and liberty.--This may appear strange, but the Poets were,
for the most part, in durance, and the Muses must sing, though in a cage:
hope and fear too both inspire prescriptively, and freedom might be
obtained or death averted by these effusions of a devotion so profound as
not to be alienated by the sufferings of imprisonment, or the menace of
destruction. Whole volumes of little jeux d'esprit, written under these
circumstances, might be collected from the different prisons; and, I
believe, it is only in France that such a collection could have been
furnished.*

* Many of these poetical trifles have been published--some written
even the night before their authors were executed. There are
several of great poetical merit, and, when considered relatively,
are wonderful.--Among the various poets imprisoned, was one we
should scarcely have expected--Rouget Delille, author of the
Marseillois Hymn, who, while his muse was rouzing the citizens from
one end of the republic to the other to arm against tyrants, was
himself languishing obscurely a victim to the worst of all
tyrannies.

Mr. D____, though he writes and speaks French admirably, does not love
French verses; and I found he could not depend on the government of his
features, while a French poet was reciting his own, but kept his eyes
fixed on a dried apple, which he pared very curiously, and when that was
atchieved, betook himself to breaking pralines, and extracting the
almonds with equal application. We, however, complimented Monsieur's
poetry; and when we had taken our coffee, and the servants were entirely
withdrawn, he read us some trifles more agreeable to our principles, if
not to our taste, and in which the Convention was treated with more
sincerity than complaisance. It seems the poet's zeal for the republic
had vanished at his departure from the Luxembourg, and that his wrath
against coalesced despots, and his passion for liberty, had entirely
evaporated. In the evening we played a party of reversi with republican
cards,* and heard the children sing "Mourrons pour la Patrie."

* The four Kings are replaced by four Genii, the Queens by four
sorts of liberty, and the Knaves by four descriptions of equality.

--After these civic amusements, we closed our chairs round the fire,
conjecturing how long the republic might last, or whether we should all
pass another twelve months in prison, and, agreeing that both our fate
and that of the republic were very precarious, adjourned to rest.

While I was undressing, I observed Angelique looked extremely
discontented, and on my enquiring what was the matter, she answered,
_"C'est que je m'ennuie beaucoup ici,"_ ["I am quite tired of this
place."] "Mademoiselle," (for no state or calling is here exempt from this
polite sensation.) "And why, pray?"--_"Ah quelle triste societe, tout le
monde est d'un patriotisme insoutenable, la maison est remplie d'images
republicaines, des Marat, des Voltaire, des Pelletier, que sais-moi? et
voila jusqu'au garcon de l'ecurie qui me traite de citoyenne."_ ["Oh,
they are a sad set--every body is so insufferably patriotic. The house
is full from top to bottom of republican images, Marats, and Voltaires,
and Pelletiers, and I don't know who--and I am called Citizen even by the
stable boy."] I did not think it right to satisfy her as to the real
principles of our friends, and went to bed ruminating on the improvements
which the revolution must have occasioned in the art of dissimulation.
Terror has drilled people of the most opposite sentiments into such an
uniformity of manner and expression, that an aristocrat who is ruined and
persecuted by the government is not distinguishable from the Jacobin who
has made his fortune under it.

In the morning Angelique's countenance was brightened, and I found she
had slept in the same room with Madame's _femme de chambre,_ when an
explanation of their political creeds had taken place, so that she now
assured me Mad. Augustine was _"fort honnete dans le fond,"_ [A very good
girl at heart.] though she was obliged to affect republicanism.--"All the
world's a stage," says our great dramatic moralist. France is certainly
so at present, and we are not only necessitated to act a part, but a
sorry one too; for we have no choice but to exhibit in farce, or suffer
in tragedy.--Yours, &c.

December 27, 1794.

I took the opportunity of my being here to go about four leagues farther
to see an old convent acquaintance lately come to this part of the
country, and whom I have not met since I was at Orleans in 1789.

The time has been when I should have thought such a history as this
lady's a romance, but tales of woe are now become familiar to us, and, if
they create sympathy, they no longer excite surprize, and we hear of them
as the natural effects of the revolution.

Madame de St. E__m__d is the daughter of a gentleman whose fortune was
inadequate both to his rank and manner of living, and he gladly embraced
the offer of Monsieur de St. E__m__d to marry her at sixteen, and to
relinquish the fortune allotted her to her two younger sisters. Monsieur
de St. E__m__d, being a dissipated man, soon grew weary of any sort of
domestic life, and placing his wife with her father, in less than a year
after their marriage departed for Italy.--Madame de St. E__m__d, thus
left in a situation both delicate and dangerous for a young and pretty
woman, became unfortunately attached to a gentleman who was her distant
relation: yet, far from adopting the immoral principles not unjustly
ascribed to your country, she conducted herself with a prudence and
reserve, which even in France made her an object of general respect.
About three years after her husband's departure the revolution took
place, and not returning, he was of course put on the list of emigrants.
In 1792, when the law passed which sanctioned and facilitated divorces,
her friends all earnestly persuaded her to avail herself of it, but she
could not be prevailed upon to consider the step as justifiable; for
though Monsieur de St. E__m__d neglected her, he had, in other respects,
treated her with generosity and kindness. She, therefore, persisted in
her refusal, and her lover, in despair, joined the republican army.

At the general arrest of the Noblesse, Madame de St. E__m__d and her
sisters were confined in the town where they resided, but their father
was sent to Paris; and a letter from one of his female relations, who had
emigrated, being found among his papers, he was executed without being
able to see or write to his children. Madame de St. E__m__d's husband had
returned about the same time to France, in the disguise of a post-boy,
was discovered, and shared the same fate. These events reached her love,
still at the army, but it was impossible for him to quit his post, and in
a few days after, being mortally wounded, he died,* recommending Eugenie
de St. E__m__d to the protection of his father.--

* This young man, who died gallantly fighting in the cause of the
republic, was no republican: but this does not render the murder of
his father, a deaf [There were people both deaf and dumb in the
prisons as conspirators.] and inoffensive man, less abominable.--The
case of General Moreau's father, though somewhat similar, is yet
more characteristic of the revolution. Mons. Moreau was persuaded,
by a man who had some interest in the business, to pay a debt which
he owed an emigrant, to an individual, instead of paying it, as the
law directed, to the use of the republic. The same man afterwards
denounced him, and he was thrown into prison. At nine o'clock on
the night preceding his trial, his act of accusation was brought
him, and before he had time to sketch out a few lines for his
defence, the light by which he wrote was taken away. In the morning
he was tried, the man who had informed against him sitting as one of
his judges, and he was condemned and executed the very day on which
his son took the Fort de l'Ecluse!--Mons. Moreau had four sons,
besides the General in the army, and two daughters, all left
destitute by the confiscation of his property.

--A brother officer, who engaged to execute this commission, wrote
immediately to the old man, to inform him of his loss, and of his son's
last request. It was too late, the father having been arrested on
suspicion, and afterwards guillotined, with many other persons, for a
pretended conspiracy in prison, the very day on which his son had fallen
in the performance of an act of uncommon bravery.

Were I writing from imagination, I should add, that Madame de St. E__m__d
had been unable to sustain the shock of these repeated calamities, and
that her life or understanding had been the sacrifice. It were, indeed,
happy for the sufferer, if our days were always terminated when they
became embittered, or that we lost the sense of sorrow by its excess: but
it is not so--we continue to exist when we have lost the desire of
existence, and to reason when feeling and reason constitute our torments.
Madame de St. E__m__d then lives, but lives in affliction; and having
collected the wreck of her personal property, which some friends had
concealed, she left the part of France she formerly inhabited, and is now
with an aunt in this neighbourhood, watching the decay of her eldest
sister, and educating the youngest.

Clementine was consumptive when they were first arrested, and vexation,
with ill-treatment in the prison, have so established her disorder, that
she is now past relief. She is yet scarcely eighteen, and one of the
most lovely young women I ever saw. Grief and sickness have ravaged her
features; but they are still so perfect, that fancy, associating their
past bloom with their present languor, supplies perhaps as much to the
mind as is lost by the eye. She suffers without complaining, and mourns
without ostentation; and hears her father spoken of with such solemn
silent floods of tears, that she looks like the original of Dryden's
beautiful portrait of the weeping Sigismunda.

The letter which condemned the father of these ladies, was not, it seems,
written to himself, but to a brother, lately dead, whose executor he was,
and of whose papers he thus became possessed. On this ground their
friends engaged them to petition the Assembly for a revision of the
sentence, and the restoration of their property, which was in consequence
forfeited.

The daily professions of the Convention, in favour of justice and
humanity, and the return of the seventy-three imprisoned Deputies, had
soothed these poor young women with the hopes of regaining their paternal
inheritance, so iniquitously confiscated. A petition was, therefore,
forwarded to Paris about a fortnight ago; and the day before, the
following decree was issued, which has silenced their claims for ever:
"La Convention Nationale declare qu'elle n'admettra aucune demande en
revision des jugemens criminels portant confiscation de biens rendus et
executes pendant la revolution."*

* "The National Convention hereby declares that it will admit no
petitions for the revisal of such criminal sentences, attended with
confiscation of property, as have been passed and executed since the
revolution."

Yet these revolutionists, who would hear nothing of repairing their
own injustice, had occasionally been annulling sentences past half a
century ago, and the more recent one of the Chevalier La Barre. But
their own executions and confiscations for an adherence to religion
were to be held sacred.--I shall be excused for introducing here a
few words respecting the affair of La Barre, which has been a
favourite topic with popular writers of a certain description. The
severity of the punishment must, doubtless, be considered as
disgraceful to those who advised as well as to those who sanctioned
it: but we must not infer from hence that he merited no punishment
at all; and perhaps degradation, some scandalous and public
correction, with a few years solitary confinement, might have
answered every purpose intended.

La Barre was a young etourdi, under twenty, but of lively talents,
which, unfortunately for him, had taken a very perverse turn. The
misdemeanour commonly imputed to him and his associates was, that
they had mutilated a Christ which stood on the Pont-neuf at
Abbeville: but La Barre had accustomed himself to take all
opportunities of insulting, with the most wanton malignity, these
pious representations, and especially in the presence of people,
with whom his particular connections led him to associate, and whose
profession could not allow them entirely to overlook such affronts
on what was deemed an appendage to the established religion of the
country.

The people of Abbeville manifested their sense of the business when
d'Etalonde, La Barre's intimate friend, who had saved himself by
flight, returned, after a long exile, under favour of the
revolution. He was received in the neighbourhood with the most
mortifying indifference.

The decree of the Convention too, by which the memory of this
imprudent young man was re-established, when promulgated, created
about as much interest as any other law which did not immediately
affect the property or awaken the apprehensions of the hearers.

Madame de St. E__m__d told me her whole fortune was now reduced to a few
Louis, and about six or seven thousand livres in diamonds; that she was
unwilling to burden her aunt, who was not rich, and intended to make some
advantage of her musical talents, which are indeed considerable. But I
could not, without anguish, hear an elegant young woman, with a heart
half broken, propose to get her living by teaching music.--I know not
that I ever passed a more melancholy day. In the afternoon we walked up
and down the path of the village church-yard. The church was shut up,
the roof in part untiled, the windows were broken, and the wooden crosses
that religion or tenderness had erected to commemorate the dead, broken
and scattered about. Two labourers, and a black-smith in his working
garb, came while we were there, and threw a sort of uncouth wooden coffin
hastily into a hole dug for the purpose, which they then covered and left
without farther ceremony. Yet this was the body of a lady regretted by a
large family, who were thus obliged to conquer both their affection and
their prejudices, and inter her according to the republican mode.*

* The relations or friends of the dead were prohibited, under severe
penalties, from following their remains to the grave.

I thought, while we traversed the walk, and beheld this scene, that every
thing about me bore the marks of the revolution. The melancholy objects
I held on my arm, and the feeble steps of Clementine, whom we could
scarcely support, aided the impression; and I fear that, for the moment,
I questioned the justice of Heaven, in permitting such a scourge to be
let loose upon its works.

I quitted Madame de St. E__m__d this morning with reluctance, for we
shall not meet again till I am entirely at liberty. The village
municipality where she now resides, are quiet and civil, and her
misfortunes make her fearful of attracting the notice of the people in
authority of a large place, so that she cannot venture to Amiens.--You
must observe, that any person who has suffered is an object of particular
suspicion, and that to have had a father or a husband executed, and to be
reduced to beggary, are titles to farther persecution.--The politics of
the day are, it is true, something less ferocious than they were: but
confidence is not to be restored by an essay in the Orateur du Peuple,*
or an equivocal harangue from the tribune; and I perceive every where,
that those who have been most injured, are most timid.

* _"L'Orateur du Peuple,"_ was a periodical paper published by
Freron, many numbers of which were written with great spirit.--
Freron was at this time supposed to have become a royalist, and his
paper, which was comparatively favourable to the aristocrats, was
read with great eagerness.

The following extract from the registers of one of the popular
commissions will prove, that the fears of those who had already
suffered by the revolution were well founded:

"A. Sourdeville, and A. N. E. Sourdeville, sisters of an emigrant
Noble, daughters of a Count, aristocrats, and having had their
father and brother guillotined.

"M. J. Sourdeville, mother of an emigrant, an aristocrat, and her
husband and son having been guillotined.

"Jean Marie Defille--very suspicious--a partizan of the Abbe Arnoud
and La Fayette, has had a brother guillotined, and always shewn
himself indifferent about the public welfare."

The commissions declare that the above are condemned to banishment.

I did not reach this place till after the family had dined, and taking my
soup and a dish of coffee, have escaped, under pretext of the headache,
to my own room. I left our poet far gone in a classical description of a
sort of Roman dresses, the drawings of which he had seen exhibited at the
Lyceum, as models of an intended national equipment for the French
citizens of both sexes; and my visit to Madame de St. E__m__d had
incapacitated me for discussing revolutionary draperies.

In England, this is the season of festivity to the little, and
beneficence in the great; but here, the sterile genius of atheism has
suppressed the sounds of mirth, and closed the hands of charity--no
season is consecrated either to the one or the other; and the once-varied
year is but an uniform round of gloom and selfishness. The philosopher
may treat with contempt the notion of periodical benevolence, and assert
that we should not wait to be reminded by religion or the calendar, in
order to contribute to the relief of our fellow creatures: yet there are
people who are influenced by custom and duty, that are not always awake
to compassion; and indolence or avarice may yield a too ready obedience
to prohibitions which favour both. The poor are certainly no gainers by
the substitution of philosophy for religion; and many of those who are
forbidden to celebrate Christmas or Easter by a mass, will forget to do
it by a donation. For my own part, I think it an advantage that any
period of the year is more particularly signalized by charity; and I
rejoice when I hear of the annual gifts of meat or firing of such, or
such a great personage--and I never enquire whether they might still
continue their munificence if Christianity were abolished.--Adieu.

1795

Amiens, Jan. 23, 1795.

Nothing proves more that the French republican government was originally
founded on principles of despotism and injustice, than the weakness and
anarchy which seem to accompany every deviation from these principles.
It is strong to destroy and weak to protect: because, deriving its
support from the power of the bad and the submission of the timid, it is
deserted or opposed by the former when it ceases to plunder or oppress--
while the fears and habits of the latter still prevail, and render them
as unwilling to defend a better system as they have been to resist the
worst possible.

The reforms that have taken place since the death of Robespierre, though
not sufficient for the demands of justice, are yet enough to relax the
strength of the government; and the Jacobins, though excluded from
authority, yet influence by the turbulence of their chiefs in the
Convention, and the recollection of their past tyranny--against the
return of which the fluctuating politics of the Assembly offer no
security. The Committees of Public Welfare and General Safety (whose
members were intended, according to the original institution, to be
removed monthly) were, under Robespierre, perpetual; and the union they
preserved in certain points, however unfavourable to liberty, gave a
vigour to the government, of which from its conformation it should appear
to have been incapable. It is now discovered, that an undefined power,
not subject to the restriction of fixed laws, cannot remain long in the
same hands without producing tyranny. A fourth part of the Members of
these Committees are, therefore, now changed every month; but this
regulation, more advantageous to the Convention than the people, keeps
alive animosities, stimulates ambition, and retains the country in
anxiety and suspense; for no one can guess this month what system may be
adopted the next--and the admission of two or three new Jacobin members
would be sufficient to excite an universal alarm.

We watch these renewals with a solicitude inconceivable to those who
study politics as they do a new opera, and have nothing to apprehend from
the personal characters of Ministers; and our hopes and fears vary
according as the members elected are Moderates, Doubtfuls, or decided
Mountaineers.*

* For instance, Carnot, whose talents in the military department
obliged the Convention (even if they had not been so disposed) to
forget his compliances with Robespierre, his friendship for Barrere
and Collot, and his eulogiums on Carrier.

--This mixture of principles, which intrigue, intimidation, or
expediency, occasions in the Committees, is felt daily; and if the
languor and versatility of the government be not more apparent, it is
that habits of submission still continue, and that the force of terror
operates in the branches, though the main spring be relaxed. Were armies
to be raised, or means devised to pay them now, it could not be done;
though, being once put in motion, they continue to act, and the
requisitions still in a certain degree supply them.

The Convention, while they have lost much of their real power, have also
become more externally contemptible than ever. When they were overawed
by the imposing tone of their Committees, they were tolerably decent; but
as this restraint has worn off, the scandalous tumult of their debates
increases, and they exhibit whatever you can imagine of an assemblage of
men, most of whom are probably unacquainted with those salutary forms
which correct the passions, and soften the intercourse of polished
society. They question each other's veracity with a frankness truly
democratic, and come fraternally to "Touchstone's seventh remove" at
once, without passing any of the intermediate progressions. It was but
lately that one Gaston advanced with a stick in full assembly to thresh
Legendre; and Cambon and Duhem are sometimes obliged to be holden by the
arms and legs, to prevent their falling on Tallien and Freron. I
described scenes of this nature to you at the opening of the Convention;
but I assure you, the silent meditations of the members under Robespierre
have extremely improved them in that species of eloquence, which is not
susceptible of translation or transcription. We may conclude, that these
licences are inherent to a perfect democracy; for the greater the number
of representatives, and the nearer they approach to the mass of the
people, the less they will be influenced by aristocratic ceremonials. We
have, however, no interest in disputing the right of the Convention to
use violence and lavish abuse amongst themselves; for, perhaps, these
scenes form the only part of their journals which does not record or
applaud some real mischief.

The French, who are obliged to celebrate so many aeras of revolution, who
have demolished Bastilles and destroyed tyrants, seem at this moment to
be in a political infancy, struggling against despotism, and emerging
from ignorance and barbarity. A person unacquainted with the promoters
and objects of the revolution, might be apt to enquire for what it had
been undertaken, or what had been gained by it, when all the manufactured
eloquence of Tallien is vainly exerted to obtain some limitation of
arbitrary imprisonment--when Freron harangues with equal labour and as
little success in behalf of the liberty of the press; while Gregoire
pleads for freedom of worship, Echasseriaux for that of commerce, and all
the sections of Paris for that of election.*

* It is to be observed, that in these orations all the decrees
passed by the Convention for the destruction of commerce and
religion, are ascribed to the influence of Mr. Pitt.--"La libertedes
cultes existe en Turquie, elle n'existe point en France. Le peuple
y est prive d'un droit donc on jouit dans les etats despotiques
memes, sous les regences de Maroc et d'Algers. Si cet etat de
choses doit perseverer, ne parlons plus de l'inquisition, nous en
avons perdu le droit, car la liberte des cultes n'est que dans les
decrets, et la persecution tiraille toute la France.

"Cette impression intolerante aurait elle ete (suggeree) par le
cabinet de St. James?"

"In Turkey the liberty of worship is admitted, though it does not
exist in France. Here the people are deprived of a right common to
the most despotic governments, not even excepting those of Algiers
and Morocco.--If things are to continue in this state, let us say no
more about the Inquisition, we have no right, for religious liberty
is to be found only in our decrees, while, in truth, the whole
country is exposed to persecution.

"May not these intolerant notions have been suggested by the Cabinet
of St. James?"

Gregoire's Report on the Liberty of Worship.

--Thus, after so many years of suffering, and such a waste of whatever is
most valuable, the civil, religious, and political privileges of this
country depend on a vote of the Convention.

The speech of Gregoire, which tended to restore the Catholic worship, was
very ill received by his colleagues, but every where else it is read with
avidity and applause; for, exclusive of its merit as a composition, the
subject is of general interest, and there are few who do not wish to have
the present puerile imitations of Paganism replaced by Christianity. The
Assembly listened to this tolerating oration with impatience, passed to
the order of the day, and called loudly for Decades, with celebrations in
honour of "the liberty of the world, posterity, stoicism, the republic,
and the hatred of tyrants!" But the people, who understand nothing of
this new worship, languish after the saints of their ancestors, and think
St. Francois d'Assise, or St. Francois de Sales, at least as likely to
afford them spiritual consolation, as Carmagnoles, political homilies, or
pasteboard goddesses of liberty.

The failure of Gregoire is far from operating as a discouragement to this
mode of thinking; for such has been the intolerance of the last year,
that his having even ventured to suggest a declaration in favour of free
worship, is deemed a sort of triumph to the pious which has revived their
hopes. Nothing is talked of but the restoration of churches, and
reinstalment of priests--the shops are already open on the Decade, and
the decrees of the Convention, which make a principal part of the
republican service, are now read only to a few idle children or bare
walls. [When the bell toll'd on the Decade, the people used to say it was
for La messe du Diable--The Devil's mass.]--My maid told me this morning,
as a secret of too much importance for her to retain, that she had the
promise of being introduced to a good priest, (un bon pretre, for so the
people entitle those who have never conformed,) to receive her confession
at Easter; and the fetes of the new calendar are now jested on publicly
with very little reverence.

The Convention have very lately decreed themselves an increase of pay,
from eighteen to thirty-six livres. This, according to the comparative
value of assignats, is very trifling: but the people, who have so long
been flattered with the ideas of partition and equality, and are now
starving, consider it as a great deal, and much discontent is excited,
which however evaporates, as usual, in the national talent for bon mots.
The augmentation, though an object of popular jealousy, is most likely
valued by the leading members only as it procures them an ostensible
means of living; for all who have been on missions, or had any share in
the government, have, like Falstaff, "hid their honour in their
necessities," and have now resources they desire to profit by, but cannot
decently avow.

The Jacobin party have in general opposed this additional eighteen
livres, with the hope of casting an odium on their adversaries; but the
people, though they murmur, still prefer the Moderates, even at the
expence of paying the difference. The policy of some Deputies who have
acquired too much, or the malice of others who have acquired nothing, has
frequently proposed, that every member of the Convention should publish
an account of his fortune before and since the revolution. An
enthusiastic and acclamatory decree of assent has always insued; but
somehow prudence has hitherto cooled this warmth before the subsequent
debate, and the resolution has never yet been carried into effect.

The crimes of Maignet, though they appear to occasion but little regret
in his colleagues, have been the source of considerable embarrassment to
them. When he was on mission in the department of Vaucluse, besides
numberless other enormities, he caused the whole town of Bedouin to be
burnt, a part of its inhabitants to be guillotined, and the rest
dispersed, because the tree of liberty was cut down one dark night, while
they were asleep.*

* Maignet's order for the burning of Bedouin begins thus: "Liberte,
egalite, au nom du peuple Francais!" He then states the offence of
the inhabitants in suffering the tree of liberty to be cut down,
institutes a commission for trying them, and proceeds--"It is hereby
ordered, that as soon as the principal criminals are executed, the
national agent shall notify to the remaining inhabitants not
confined, that they are enjoined to evacuate their dwellings, and
take out their effects in twenty-four hours; at the expiration of
which he is to commit the town to the flames, and leave no vestige
of a building standing. Farther, it is forbidden to erect any
building on the spot in future, or to cultivate the soil."

"Done at Avignon, the 17th Floreal."

The decree of the Convention to the same effect passed about the 1st
of Floreal. Merlin de Douai, (Minister of Justice in 1796,)
Legendre, and Bourdon de l'Oise, were the zealous defenders of
Maignet on this occasion.

--Since the Assembly have thought it expedient to disavow these
revolutionary measures, the conduct of Maignet has been denounced, and
the accusations against him sent to a commission to be examined. For a
long time no report was made, till the impatience of Rovere, who is
Maignet's personal enemy, rendered a publication of the result
dispensable. They declared they found no room for censure or farther
proceedings. This decision was at first strongly reprobated by the
Moderates; but as it was proved, in the course of the debate, that
Maignet was authorized, by an express decree of the Convention, to burn
Bedouin, and guillotine its inhabitants, all parties soon agreed to
consign the whole to oblivion.

Our clothes, &c. are at length entirely released from sequestration, and
the seals taken off. We are indebted for this act of justice to the
intrigues of Tallien, whose belle Espagnole is considerably interested.
Tallien's good fortune is so much envied, that some of the members were
little enough to move, that the property of the Spanish Bank of St.
Charles (in which Madame T----'s is included) should be excepted from the
decree in favour of foreigners. The Convention were weak enough to
accede; but the exception will, doubtless, be over-ruled.

The weather is severe beyond what it has been in my remembrance. The
thermometer was this morning at fourteen and a half. It is, besides,
potentially cold, and every particle of air is like a dart.--I suppose
you contrive to keep yourselves warm in England, though it is not
possible to do so here. The houses are neither furnished nor put
together for the climate, and we are fanned by these congealing winds, as
though the apertures which admit them were designed to alleviate the
ardours of an Italian sun.

The satin hangings of my room, framed on canvas, wave with the gales
lodged behind them every second. A pair of "silver cupids, nicely poised
on their brands," support a wood fire, which it is an occupation to keep
from extinguishing; and all the illusion of a gay orange-grove pourtrayed
on the tapestry at my feet, is dissipated by a villainous chasm of about
half an inch between the floor and the skirting-boards. Then we have so
many corresponding windows, supernumerary doors, "and passages that lead
to nothing," that all our English ingenuity in comfortable arrangement is
baffled.--When the cold first became so insupportable, we attempted to
live entirely in the eating-room, which is warmed by a poele, or German
stove, but the kind of heat it emits is so depressive and relaxing to
those who are not inured to it, that we are again returned to our large
chimney and wood-fire.--The French depend more on the warmth of their
clothing, than the comfort of their houses. They are all wadded and
furred as though they were going on a sledge party, and the men, in this
respect, are more delicate than the ladies: but whether it be the
consequence of these precautions, or from any other cause, I observe they
are, in general, without excepting even the natives of the Southern
provinces, less sensible of cold than the English.

Amiens, Jan. 30, 1795.

Delacroix, author of _"Les Constitutions Politiques de l'Europe,"_ [The
Political Constitutions of Europe.] has lately published a work much
read, and which has excited the displeasure of the Assembly so highly,
that the writer, by way of preliminary criticism, has been arrested. The
book is intitled _"Le Spectateur Francais pendant la Revolution."_ [The
French Spectator during the Revolution.] It contains many truths, and
some speculations very unfavourable both to republicanism and its
founders. It ventures to doubt the free acceptance of the democratic
constitution, proposes indirectly the restoration of the monarchy, and
dilates with great composure on a plan for transporting to America all
the Deputies who voted for the King's death. The popularity of the work,
still more than its principles, has contributed to exasperate the
Assembly; and serious apprehensions are entertained for the fate of
Delacroix, who is ordered for trial to the Revolutionary Tribunal.

It would astonish a superficial observer to see with what avidity all
forbidden doctrines are read. Under the Church and Monarchy, a deistical
or republican author might sometimes acquire proselytes, or become the
favourite amusement of fashionable or literary people; but the
circulation of such works could be only partial, and amongst a particular
class of readers: whereas the treason of the day, which comprises
whatever favours Kings or religion, is understood by the meanest
individual, and the temptation to these prohibited enjoyments is assisted
both by affection and prejudice.--An almanack, with a pleasantry on the
Convention, or a couplet in behalf of royalism, is handed mysteriously
through half a town, and a _brochure_ [A pamphlet.] of higher
pretensions, though on the same principles, is the very bonne bouche of
our political _gourmands_. [Gluttons.]

There is, in fact, no liberty of the press. It is permitted to write
against Barrere or the Jacobins, because they are no longer in power; but
a single word of disrespect towards the Convention is more certain of
being followed by a Lettre de Cachet, than a volume of satire on any of
Louis the Fourteenth's ministers would have been formerly. The only
period in which a real freedom of the press has existed in France were
those years of the late King's reign immediately preceding the
revolution; and either through the contempt, supineness, or worse
motives, of those who should have checked it, it existed in too great a
degree: so that deists and republicans were permitted to corrupt the
people, and undermine the government without restraint.*

* It is well known that Calonne encouraged libels on the Queen, to
obtain credit for his zeal in suppressing them; and the culpable
vanity of Necker made made him but too willing to raise his own
reputation on the wreck of that of an unsuspecting and unfortunate
Monarch.

After the fourteenth of July 1789, political literature became more
subject to mobs and the lanterne, than ever it had been to Ministers and
Bastilles; and at the tenth of August 1792, every vestige of the liberty
of the press disappeared.*--

* "What impartial man among us must not be forced to acknowledge,
that since the revolution it has become dangerous for any one, I
will not say to attack the government, but to emit opinions contrary
to those which the government has adopted."
Discours de Jean Bon St. Andre sur la Liberte de la Presse, 30th
April, 1795.

A law was passed on the first of May, 1795, a short time after this
letter was written, making it transportation to vilify the National
Representation, either by words or writing; and if the offence were
committed publicly, or among a certain number of people, it became
capital.

--Under the Brissotins it was fatal to write, and hazardous to read, any
work which tended to exculpate the King, or to censure his despotism, and
the massacres that accompanied and followed it.*--

* I appeal for the confirmation of this to every person who resided
in France at that period.

--During the time of Robespierre the same system was only transmitted to
other hands, and would still prevail under the Moderates, if their
tyranny were not circumscribed by their weakness. It was some time
before I ventured to receive Freron's Orateur du Peuple by the post.
Even pamphlets written with the greatest caution are not to be procured
without difficulty in the country; and this is not to be wondered at when
we recollect how many people have lost their lives through a subscription
to a newspaper, or the possession of some work, which, when they
purchased it, was not interdicted.

As the government has lately assumed a more civilized cast, it was
expected that the anniversary of the King's death would not have been
celebrated. The Convention, however, determined otherwise; and their
musical band was ordered to attend as usual on occasions of festivity.
The leader of the band had perhaps sense and decency enough to suppose,
that if such an event could possibly be justified, it never could be a
subject of rejoicing, and therefore made choice of melodies rather tender
than gay. But this Lydian mood, far from having the mollifying effect
attributed to it by Scriblerus, threw several Deputies into a rage; and
the conductor was reprimanded for daring to insult the ears of the
legislature with strains which seemed to lament the tyrant. The
affrighted musician begged to be heard in his defence; and declaring he
only meant, by the adoption of these gentle airs, to express the
tranquillity and happiness enjoyed under the republican constitution,
struck off Ca Ira.

When the ceremony was over, one Brival proposed, that the young King
should be put to death; observing that instead of the many useless crimes
which had been committed, this ought to have had the preference. The
motion was not seconded; but the Convention, in order to defeat the
purposes of the royalists, who, they say, increase in number, have
ordered the Committees to consider of some way of sending this poor child
out of the country.

When I reflect on the event which these men have so indecently
commemorated, and the horrors which succeeded it, I feel something more
than a detestation for republicanism. The undefined notions of liberty
imbibed from poets and historians, fade away--my reverence for names long
consecrated in our annals abates--and the sole object of my political
attachment is the English constitution, as tried by time and undeformed
by the experiments of visionaries and impostors. I begin to doubt either
the sense or honesty of most of those men who are celebrated as the
promoters of changes of government which have chiefly been adopted rather
with a view to indulge a favourite theory, than to relieve a people from
any acknowledged oppression. A wise or good man would distrust his
judgment on a subject so momentous, and perhaps the best of such
reformers were but enthusiasts. Shaftesbury calls enthusiasm an honest
passion; yet we have seen it is a very dangerous one: and we may perhaps
learn, from the example of France, not to venerate principles which we do
not admire in practice.*

* I do not imply that the French Revolution was the work of
enthusiasts, but that the enthusiasm of Rousseau produced a horde of
Brissots, Marats, Robespierres, &c. who speculated on the
affectation of it. The Abbe Sieyes, whose views were directed to a
change of Monarchs, not a dissolution of the monarchy, and who in
promoting a revolution did not mean to found a republic, has
ventured to doubt both the political genius of Rousseau, and the
honesty of his sectaries. These truths from the Abbe are not the
less so for our knowing they would not be avowed if it answered his
purpose to conceal them.--_"Helas! un ecrivain justement celebre qui
seroit mort de douleur s'il avoit connu ses disciples; un philosophe
aussi parfait de sentiment que foible de vues, n'a-t-il pas dans ses
pages eloquentes, riches en detail, pauvre au fond, confondu
lui-meme les principes de l'art social avec les commencemens de la
societe humaine? Que dire si l'on voyait dans un autre genre de
mechaniques, entreprendre le radoub ou la construction d'un vaisseau
de ligne avec la seule theorie, avec les seules resources des
Sauvages dans la construction de leurs Pirogues!"_--"Alas! has not a
justly-celebrated writer, who would have died with grief, could he
have known what disciples he was destined to have;--a philosopher as
perfect in sentiment as feeble in his views,--confounded, in his
eloquent pages--pages which are as rich in matter as poor in
substance--the principles of the social system with the commencement
of human society? What should we say to a mechanic of a different
description, who should undertake the repair or construction of a
ship of the line, without any practical knowledge of the art, on
mere theory, and with no other resources than those which the savage
employs in the construction of his canoe?"
Notices sur la Vie de Sieyes.

What had France, already possessed of a constitution capable of rendering
her prosperous and happy, to do with the adoration of Rousseau's
speculative systems? Or why are the English encouraged in a traditional
respect for the manes of republicans, whom, if living, we might not
improbably consider as factious and turbulent fanatics?*

* The prejudices of my countrymen on this subject are respectable,
and I know I shall be deemed guilty of a species of political
sacrilege. I attack not the tombs of the dead, but the want of
consideration for the living; and let not those who admire
republican principles in their closets, think themselves competent
to censure the opinions of one who has been watching their effects
amidst the disasters of a revolution.

Our slumbers have for some time been patriotically disturbed by the
danger of Holland; and the taking of the Maestricht nearly caused me a
jaundice: but the French have taught us philosophy--and their conquests
appear to afford them so little pleasure, that we ourselves hear of them
with less pain. The Convention were indeed, at first, greatly elated by
the dispatches from Amsterdam, and imagined they were on the eve of
dictating to all Europe: the churches were ordered to toll their only
bell, and the gasconades of the bulletin were uncommonly pompous--but the
novelty of the event has now subsided, and the conquest of Holland
excites less interest than the thaw. Public spirit is absorbed by
private necessities or afflictions; people who cannot procure bread or
firing, even though they have money to purchase it, are little gratified
by reading that a pair of their Deputies lodged in the Stadtholder's
palace; and the triumphs of the republic offer no consolation to the
families which it has pillaged or dismembered.

The mind, narrowed and occupied by the little cares of hunting out the
necessaries of life, and evading the restraints of a jealous government,
is not susceptible of that lively concern in distant and general events
which is the effect of ease and security; and all the recent victories
have not been able to sooth the discontents of the Parisians, who are
obliged to shiver whole hours at the door of a baker, to buy, at an
extravagant price, a trifling portion of bread.

* "Chacun se concentre aujourdhui dans sa famille et calcule ses
resources."--"The attention of every one now is confined to his
family, and to the calculation of his resources."
Discours de Lindet.

"Accable du soin d'etre, et du travail de vivre."--"Overwhelmed with
the care of existence, and the labour of living."
St. Lambert

--The impression of these successes is, I am persuaded, also diminished
by considerations to which the philosopher of the day would allow no
influence; yet by their assimilation with the Deputies and Generals whose
names are so obscure as to escape the memory, they cease to inspire that
mixed sentiment which is the result of national pride and personal
affection. The name of a General or an Admiral serves as the epitome of
an historical relation, and suffices to recall all his glories, and all
his services; but this sort of enthusiasm is entirely repelled by an
account that the citizens Gillet and Jourbert, two representatives heard
of almost for the first time, have taken possession of Amsterdam.

I enquired of a man who was sawing wood for us this morning, what the
bells clattered for last night. _"L'on m'a dit_ (answered he) _que c'est
pour quelque ville que quelque general de la republique a prise. Ah! ca
nous avancera beaucoup; la paix et du pain, je crois, sera mieux notre
affaire que toutes ces conquetes."_ ["They say its for some town or
other, that some general or other has taken.--Ah! we shall get a vast
deal by that--a peace and bread, I think, would answer our purpose better
than all these victories."] I told him he ought to speak with more
caution. _"Mourir pour mourir,_ [One death's as good as another.] (says
he, half gaily,) one may as well die by the Guillotine as be starved. My
family have had no bread these two days, and because I went to a
neighbouring village to buy a little corn, the peasants, who are jealous
that the town's people already get too much of the farmers, beat me so
that I am scarce able to work."*--

* _"L'interet et la criminelle avarice ont fomente et entretenu des
germes de division entre les citoyens des villes et ceux des
campagnes, entre les cultivateurs, les artisans et les commercans,
entre les citoyens des departements et districts, et meme des
communes voisines. On a voulu s'isoler de toutes parts."
Discours de Lindet._

"Self-interest and a criminal avarice have fomented and kept alive
the seeds of division between the inhabitants of the towns and those
of the country, between the farmer, the mechanic, and the trader--
the like has happened between adjoining towns and districts--an
universal selfishness, in short, has prevailed."
Lindet's Speech.

This picture, drawn by a Jacobin Deputy, is not flattering to
republican fraternization.

--It is true, the wants of the lower classes are afflicting. The whole
town has, for some weeks, been reduced to a nominal half pound of bread a
day for each person--I say nominal, for it has repeatedly happened, that
none has been distributed for three days together, and the quantity
diminished to four ounces; whereas the poor, who are used to eat little
else, consume each, in ordinary times, two pounds daily, on the lowest
calculation.

We have had here a brutal vulgar-looking Deputy, one Florent-Guyot, who
has harangued upon the virtues of patience, and the magnanimity of
suffering hunger for the good of the republic. This doctrine has,
however, made few converts; though we learn, from a letter of
Florent-Guyot's to the Assembly, that the Amienois are excellent
patriots, and that they starve with the best grace possible.

You are to understand, that the Representatives on mission, who describe
the inhabitants of all the towns they visit as glowing with
republicanism, have, besides the service of the common cause, views of
their own, and are often enabled by these fictions to administer both to
their interest and their vanity. They ingratiate themselves with the
aristocrats, who are pleased at the imputation of principles which may
secure them from persecution--they see their names recorded on the
journals; and, finally, by ascribing these civic dispositions to the
power of their own eloquence, they obtain the renewal of an itinerant
delegation--which, it may be presumed, is very profitable.

Beauvais, March 13, 1795.

I have often, in the course of these letters, experienced how difficult
it is to describe the political situation of a country governed by no
fixed principles, and subject to all the fluctuations which are produced
by the interests and passions of individuals and of parties. In such a
state conclusions are necessarily drawn from daily events, minute facts,
and an attentive observation of the opinions and dispositions of the
people, which, though they leave a perfect impression on the mind of the
writer, are not easily conveyed to that of the reader. They are like
colours, the various shades of which, though discriminated by the eye,
cannot be described but in general terms.

Since I last wrote, the government has considerably improved in decency
and moderation; and though the French enjoy as little freedom as their
almost sole Allies, the Algerines, yet their terror begins to wear off--
and, temporizing with a despotism they want energy to destroy, they
rejoice in the suspension of oppressions which a day or an hour may
renew. No one pretends to have any faith in the Convention; but we are
tranquil, if not secure--and, though subject to a thousand arbitrary
details, incompatible with a good government, the political system is
doubtless meliorated. Justice and the voice of the people have been
attended to in the arrest of Collot, Barrere, and Billaud, though many
are of opinion that their punishment will extend no farther; for a trial,
particularly that of Barrere, who is in the secret of all factions, would
expose so many revolutionary mysteries and patriotic reputations, that
there are few members of the Convention who will not wish it evaded; they
probably expect, that the seclusion, for some months, of the persons of
the delinquents will appease the public vengeance, and that this affair
may be forgotten in the bustle of more recent events.--If there had been
any doubt of the crimes of these men, the publication of Robespierre's
papers would have removed them; and, exclusive of their value when
considered as a history of the times, these papers form one of the most
curious and humiliating monuments of human debasement, and human
depravity, extant.*

* The Report of Courtois on Robespierre's papers, though very able,
is an instance of the pedantry I have often remarked as so peculiar
to the French, even when they are not deficient in talents. It
seems to be an abstract of all the learning, ancient and modern,
that Courtois was possessed of. I have the book before me, and have
selected the following list of persons and allusions; many of which
are indeed of so little use or ornament to their stations in this
speech, that one would have thought even a republican requisition
could not have brought them there:

"Sampson, Dalila, Philip, Athens, Sylla, the Greeks and Romans,
Brutus, Lycurgus, Persepolis, Sparta, Pulcheria, Cataline, Dagon,
Anicius, Nero, Babel, Tiberius, Caligula, Augustus, Antony, Lepidus,
the Manicheans, Bayle and Galileo, Anitus, Socrates, Demosthenes,
Eschinus, Marius, Busiris, Diogenes, Caesar, Cromwell, Constantine,
the Labarum, Domitius, Machiavel, Thraseas, Cicero, Cato,
Aristophanes, Riscius, Sophocles, Euripides, Tacitus, Sydney,
Wisnou, Possidonius, Julian, Argus, Pompey, the Teutates, Gainas,
Areadius, Sinon, Asmodeus, Salamanders, Anicetus, Atreus, Thyestus,
Cesonius, Barca and Oreb, Omar and the Koran, Ptolomy Philadelphus,
Arimanes, Gengis, Themuginus, Tigellinus, Adrean, Cacus, the Fates,
Minos and Rhadamanthus," &c. &c.
Rapport de Courtois su les Papiers de Robespierre.

After several skirmishes between the Jacobins and Muscadins, the bust of
Marat has been expelled from the theatres and public places of Paris, and
the Convention have ratified this popular judgment, by removing him also
from their Hall and the Pantheon. But reflecting on the frailty of our
nature, and the levity of their countrymen, in order to obviate the
disorders these premature beatifications give rise to, they have decreed
that no patriot shall in future by Pantheonized until ten years after his
death. This is no long period; yet revolutionary reputations have
hitherto scarcely survived as many months, and the puerile enthusiasm
which is adopted, not felt, has been usually succeeded by a violence and
revenge equally irrational.

It has lately been discovered that Condorcet is dead, and that he
perished in a manner singularly awful. Travelling under a mean
appearance, he stopped at a public house to refresh himself, and was
arrested in consequence of having no passport. He told the people who
examined him he was a servant, but a Horace, which they found about him,
leading to a suspicion that he was of a superior rank, they determined to
take him to the next town. Though already exhausted, he was obliged to
walk some miles farther, and, on his arrival, he was deposited in a
prison, where he was forgotten, and starved to death.

Thus, perhaps at the moment the French were apotheosing an obscure
demagogue, the celebrated Condorcet expired, through the neglect of a
gaoler; and now, the coarse and ferocious Marat, and the more refined,
yet more pernicious, philosopher, are both involved in one common
obloquy.

What a theme for the moralist!--Perhaps the gaoler, whose brutal
carelessness terminated the days of Condorcet, extinguished his own
humanity in the torrent of that revolution of which Condorcet himself was
one of the authors; and perhaps the death of a sovereign, whom Condorcet
assisted in bringing to the scaffold, might have been this man's first
lesson in cruelty, and have taught him to set little value on the lives
of the rest of mankind.--The French, though they do not analyse
seriously, speak of this event as a just retribution, which will be
followed by others of a similar nature. _"Quelle mort,"_ ["What an end."]
says one--_"Elle est affreuse,_ (says another,) _mais il etoit cause que
bien d'autres ont peri aussi."_--_"Ils periront tous, et tant mieux,"_
["'Twas dreadful--but how many people have perished by his means."--
"They'll all share the same fate, and so much the better."] reply twenty
voices; and this is the only epitaph on Condorcet.

The pretended revolution of the thirty-first of May, 1792, which has
occasioned so much bloodshed, and which I remember it dangerous not to
hallow, though you did not understand why, is now formally erased from
among the festivals of the republic; but this is only the triumph of
party, and a signal that the remains of the Brissotines are gaining
ground.

A more conspicuous and a more popular victory has been obtained by the
royalists, in the trial and acquittal of Delacroix. The jury had been
changed after the affair of Carrier, and were now better composed; though
the escape of Delacroix is more properly to be attributed to the
intimidating favour of the people. The verdict was received with shouts
of applause, repeated with transport, and Delacroix, who had so
patriotically projected to purify the Convention, by sending more than
half its members to America, was borne home on the shoulders of an
exulting populace.

Again the extinction of the war in La Vendee is officially announced; and
it is certain that the chiefs are now in treaty with government. Such a
peace only implies, that the country is exhausted, for it suffices to
have read the treatment of these unhappy people to know that a
reconciliation can neither be sincere nor permanent. But whatever may be
the eventual effect of this negotiation, it has been, for the present,
the means of wresting some unwilling concessions from the Assembly in
favour of a free exercise of religion. No arrangement could ever be
proposed to the Vendeans, which did not include a toleration of
Christianity; and to refuse that to patriots and republicans, which was
granted to rebels and royalists, was deemed at this time neither
reasonable nor politic. A decree is therefore passed, authorizing
people, if they can overcome all the annexed obstacles, to worship God in
they way they have been accustomed to.

The public hitherto, far from being assured or encouraged by this decree,
appear to have become more timid and suspicious; for it is conceived in
so narrow and paltry a spirit, and expressed in such malignant and
illusive terms, that it can hardly be said to intend an indulgence. Of
twelve articles of an act said to be concessive, eight are prohibitory
and restrictive; and a municipal officer, or any other person "in place
or office," may controul at his pleasure all religious celebrations. The
cathedrals and parish churches yet standing were seized on by the
government at the introduction of the Goddesses of Reason, and the decree
expressly declares that they shall not be restored or appropriated to
their original uses. Individuals, who have purchased chapels or
churches, hesitate to sell or let them, lest they should, on a change of
politics, be persecuted as the abettors of fanaticism; so that the
long-desired restoration of the Catholic worship makes but very slow
progress.*--

* This decree prohibits any parish, community, or body of people
collectively, from hiring or purchasing a church, or maintaining a
clergyman: it also forbids ringing a bell, or giving any other
public notice of Divine Service, or even distinguishing any building
by external signs of its being dedicated to religion.

--A few people, whose zeal overpowers their discretion, have ventured to
have masses at their own houses, but they are thinly attended; and on
asking any one if they have yet been to this sort of conventicle, the
reply is, _"On new sait pas trop ce que le decret veut dire; il faut voir
comment cela tournera."_ ["One cannot rightly comprehend the decree--it
will be best to wait and see how things go."] Such a distrust is indeed
very natural; for there are two subjects on which an inveterate hatred is
apparent, and which are equally obnoxious to all systems and all parties
in the Assembly--I mean Christianity and Great Britain. Every day
produces harangues against the latter; and Boissy d'Anglas has solemnly
proclaimed, as the directing principle of the government, that the only
negociation for peace shall be a new boundary described by the Northern
conquests of the republic; and this modest diplomatic is supported by
arguments to prove, that the commerce of England cannot be ruined on any
other terms.*

* "How (exclaims the sagacious Bourdon de l'Oise) can you hope to
ruin England, if you do not keep possession of the three great
rivers." (The Rhine, the Meuse, and the Scheldt.)

The debates of the Convention increase in variety and amusement. Besides
the manual exercises of the members, the accusations and retorts of
unguarded choler, disclose to us many curious truths which a politic
unanimity might conceal. Saladin, who was a stipendiary of the Duke of
Orleans, and whose reputation would not grace any other assembly, is
transformed into a Moderate, and talks of virtue and crime; while Andre
Dumont, to the great admiration of his private biographists, has been
signing a peace with the Duke of Tuscany.--Our republican statesmen
require to be viewed in perspective: they appear to no advantage in the
foreground. Dumont would have made "a good pantler, he would have
chipp'd bread well;" or, like Scrub, he might have "drawn warrants, or
drawn beer,"--but I should doubt if, in a transaction of this nature, the
Dukedom of Tuscany was ever before so assorted; and if the Duke were
obliged to make this peace, he may well say, "necessity doth make us herd
with strange companions."

Notwithstanding the Convention still detests Christianity, utters
anathemas against England, and exhibits daily scenes of indecent
discussion and reviling, it is doubtless become more moderate on the
whole; and though this moderation be not equal to the people's wishes, it
is more than sufficient to exasperate the Jacobins, who call the
Convention the Senate of Coblentz, and are perpetually endeavouring to
excite commotions. The belief is, indeed, general, that the Assembly
contains a strong party of royalists; yet, though this may be true in a
degree, I fear the impulse which has been given by the public opinion, is
mistaken for a tendency in the Convention itself. But however, this may
be, neither the imputations of the Jacobins, nor the hopes of the people,
have been able to oppose the progress of a sentiment which, operating on
a character like that of the French, is more fatal to a popular body than
even hatred or contempt. The long duration of this disastrous
legislature has excited an universal weariness; the guilt of particular
members is now less discussed than the insignificance of the whole
assemblage; and the epithets corrupt, worn out, hackneyed, and
everlasting, [Tare, use, banal, and eternel.] have almost superseded
those of rogues and villains.

The law of the maximum has been repealed some time, and we now procure
necessaries with much greater facility; but the assignats, no longer
supported by violence, are rapidly diminishing in credit--so that every
thing is dear in proportion. We, who are more than indemnified by the
rise of exchange in our favour, are not affected by these progressive
augmentations in the price of provisions. It would, however, be
erroneous and unfeeling to judge of the situation of the French
themselves from such a calculation.

People who have let their estates on leases, or have annuities on the
Hotel de Ville, &c. receive assignats at par, and the wages of the
labouring poor are still comparatively low. What was five years ago a
handsome fortune, now barely supplies a decent maintenance; and smaller
incomes, which were competencies at that period, are now almost
insufficient for existence. A workman, who formerly earned twenty-five
sols a day, has at present three livres; and you give a sempstress thirty
sols, instead of ten: yet meat, which was only five or six sols when
wages was twenty-five, is now from fifty sols to three livres the pound,
and every other article in the same or a higher proportion. Thus, a
man's daily wages, instead of purchasing four or five pounds of meat, as
they would have done before the revolution, now only purchase one.

It grieves me to see people whom I have known at their ease, obliged to
relinquish, in the decline of life, comforts to which they were
accustomed at a time when youth rendered indulgence less necessary; yet
every day points to the necessity of additional oeconomy, and some little
convenience or enjoyment is retrenched--and to those who are not above
acknowledging how much we are the creatures of habit, a dish of coffee,
or a glass of liqueur, &c. will not seem such trifling privations. It is
true, these are, strictly speaking, luxuries; so too are most things by
comparison--

"O reason not the need: our basest beggars
"Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
"Allow not nature more than nature needs,
"Man's life is cheap as beast's."

If the wants of one class were relieved by these deductions from the
enjoyments of another, it might form a sufficient consolation; but the
same causes which have banished the splendor of wealth and the comforts
of mediocrity, deprive the poor of bread and raiment, and enforced
parsimony is not more generally conspicuous than wretchedness.

The frugal tables of those who were once rich, have been accompanied by
relative and similar changes among the lower classes; and the suppression
of gilt equipages is so far from diminishing the number of wooden shoes,
that for one pair of sabots which were seen formerly, there are now ten.
The only Lucullus's of the day are a swarm of adventurers who have
escaped from prisons, or abandoned gaming-houses, to raise fortunes by
speculating in the various modes of acquiring wealth which the revolution

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