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

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Produced by Mary Munarin and David Widger

1792, 1793, 1794, AND 1795;

With General And Incidental Remarks
On The French Character And Manners.

Prepared for the Press
By John Gifford, Esq.
Author of the History of France, Letter to Lord
Lauderdale, Letter to the Hon. T. Erskine, &c.

Second Edition.

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

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


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

* 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

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

--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

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

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

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

* 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

"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
has engendered.--These, together with the numberless agents of government
enriched by more direct pillage, live in coarse luxury, and dissipate
with careless profusion those riches which their original situations and
habits have disqualified them from converting to a better use.

Although the circumstances of the times have necessitated a good deal of
domestic oeconomy among people who live on their fortunes, they have
lately assumed a gayer style of dress, and are less averse from
frequenting public amusements. For three years past, (and very
naturally,) the gentry have openly murmured at the revolution; and they
now, either convinced of the impolicy of such conduct, terrified by their
past sufferings, or, above all, desirous of proclaiming their triumph
over the Jacobins, are every where reviving the national taste for modes
and finery. The attempt to reconcile these gaieties with prudence, has
introduced some contrasts in apparel whimsical enough, though our French
belles adopt them with much gravity.

In consequence of the disorders in the South of France, and the
interruption of commerce by sea, soap is not only dear, but sometimes
difficult to purchase at any rate. We have ourselves paid equal to five
livres a pound in money. Hence we have white wigs* and grey stockings,
medallions and gold chains with coloured handkerchiefs and discoloured
tuckers, and chemises de Sappho, which are often worn till they rather
remind one of the pious Queen Isabel, than the Greek poetess.

* Vilate, in his pamphlet on the secret causes of the revolution of
the ninth Thermidor, relates the following anecdote of the origin of
the peruques blondes. "The caprice of a revolutionary female who,
on the fete in celebration of the Supreme Being, covered her own
dark hair with a tete of a lighter colour, having excited the
jealousy of La Demahe, one of Barrere's mistresses, she took
occasion to complain to him of this coquettry, by which she thought
her own charms eclipsed. Barrere instantly sent for Payen, the
national agent, and informed him that a new counter-revolutionary
sect had started up, and that its partizans distinguished themselves
by wearing wigs made of light hair cut from the heads of the
guillotined aristocrats. He therefore enjoined Payen to make a
speech at the municipality, and to thunder against this new mode.
The mandate was, of course, obeyed; and the women of rank, who had
never before heard of these wigs, were both surprized and alarmed at
an imputation so dangerous. Barrere is said to have been highly
amused at having thus solemnly stopped the progress of a fashion,
only becuase it displeased one of his female favourites.--I
perfectly remember Payen's oration against this coeffure, and every
woman in Paris who had light hair, was, I doubt not, intimidated."

This pleasantry of Barrere's proves with what inhuman levity the
government sported with the feelings of the people. At the fall of
Robespierre, the peruque blonde, no longer subject to the empire of
Barrere's favourites, became a reigning mode.

--Madame Tallien, who is supposed occasionally to dictate decrees to the
Convention, presides with a more avowed and certain sway over the realms
of fashion; and the Turkish draperies that may float very gracefully on a
form like hers, are imitated by rotund sesquipedal Fatimas, who make one
regret even the tight lacings and unnatural diminishings of our

I came to Beauvais a fortnight ago with the Marquise. Her long
confinement has totally ruined her health, and I much fear she will not
recover. She has an aunt lives here, and we flattered ourselves she
might benefit by change of air--but, on the contrary, she seems worse,
and we propose to return in the course of a week to Amiens.

I had a good deal of altercation with the municipality about obtaining a
passport; and when they at last consented, they gave me to understand I
was still a prisoner in the eye of the law, and that I was indebted to
them for all the freedom I enjoyed. This is but too true; for the decree
constituting the English hostages for the Deputies at Toulon has never
been repealed--

"Ah, what avails it that from slavery far,
"I drew the breath of life in English air?"

Yet is it a consolation, that the title by which I was made an object of
mean vengeance is the one I most value.*

* An English gentleman, who was asked by a republican Commissary,
employed in examining the prisons, why he was there, replied,
"Because I have not the misfortune to be a Frenchman!"

This is a large manufacturing town, and the capital of the department of
l'Oise. Its manufactories now owe their chief activity to the
requisitions for supplying cloth to the armies. Such commerce is by no
means courted; and if people were permitted, as they are in most
countries, to trade or let it alone, it would soon decline.--The choir of
the cathedral is extremely beautiful, and has luckily escaped republican
devastation, though there seems to exist no hope that it will be again
restored to the use of public worship. Your books will inform you, that
Beauvais was besieged in 1472 by the Duke of Burgundy, with eighty
thousand men, and that he failed in the attempt. Its modern history is
not so fortunate. It was for some time harassed by a revolutionary army,
whose exactions and disorders being opposed by the inhabitants, a decree
of the Convention declared the town in a state of rebellion; and this
ban, which operates like the Papal excommunications three centuries ago,
and authorizes tyranny of all kinds, was not removed until long after the
death of Robespierre.--Such a specimen of republican government has made
the people cautious, and abundant in the exteriors of patriotism. Where
they are sure of their company, they express themselves without reserve,
both on the subject of their legislators and the miseries of the country;
but intercourse is considerably more timid here than at Amiens.

Two gentlemen dined with us yesterday, whom I know to be zealous
royalists, and, as they are acquainted, I made no scruple of producing an
engraving which commemorates mysteriously the death of the King, and
which I had just received from Paris by a private conveyance. They
looked alarmed, and affected not to understand it; and, perceiving I had
done wrong, I replaced the print without farther explanation: but they
both called this evening, and reproached me separately for thus exposing
their sentiments to each other.--This is a trifling incident, yet perhaps
it may partly explain the great aenigma why no effectual resistance is
made to a government which is secretly detested. It has been the policy
of all the revolutionists, from the Lameths and La Fayette down to
Brissot and Robespierre, to destroy the confidence of society; and the
calamities of last year, now aiding the system of spies and informers,
occasion an apprehension and distrust which impede union, and check every
enterprize that might tend to restore the freedom of the country.--Yours,

Amiens, April 12, 1795.

Instead of commenting on the late disorders at Paris, I subjoin the
translation of a letter just received by Mrs. D-------- from a friend,
whose information, we have reason to believe, is as exact as can possibly
be obtained in the chaos of little intrigues which now comprise the whole
science of French politics.

"Paris, April 9.

"Though I know, my good friend, you are sufficiently versed in the
technicals of our revolution not to form an opinion of occurrences from
the language in which they are officially described, yet I cannot resist
the favourable opportunity of Mad. --------'s return, to communicate such
explanations of the late events as their very ambiguous appearance may
render necessary even to you.

"I must begin by informing you, that the proposed decree of the
Convention to dissolve themselves and call a new Assembly, was a mere
coquettry. Harassed by the struggles of the Jacobins, and alarmed at
the symptoms of public weariness and disgust, which became every day more
visible, they hoped this feint might operate on the fears of the people
of Paris, and animate them to a more decided support against the efforts
of the common enemy, as well as tend to reconcile them to a farther
endurance of a representation from which they did not disguise their
wishes to be released. An opportunity was therefore seized on, or
created, when our allowance of bread had become unusually short, and the
Jacobins unusually turbulent, to bring forward this project of renovating
the legislature. But in politics, as well as love, such experiments are
dangerous. Far from being received with regret, the proposition excited
universal transport; and it required all the diligence of the agents of
government to insinuate effectually, that if Paris were abandoned by the
Convention at this juncture, it would not only become a prey to famine,
but the Jacobins would avail themselves of the momentary disorder to
regain their power, and renew their past atrocities.

"A conviction that we in reality derive our scanty supplies from
exertions which would not be made, were they not necessary to restrain
the popular ill humour, added to an habitual apprehension of the Clubs,*
assisted this manoeuvre; and a few of the sections were, in consequence,
prevailed on to address our Representatives, and to request they would
remain at their post.--

* Paris had been long almost entirely dependent on the government
for subsistence, so that an insurrection could always be procured by
withholding the usual supply. The departments were pillaged by
requisitions, and enormous sums sent to the neutral countries to
purchase provisions, that the capital might be maintained in
dependence and good humour. The provisions obtained by these means
were distributed to the shopkeepers, who had instructions to retail
them to the idle and disorderly, at about a twentieth part of the
original cost, and no one could profit by this regulation, without
first receiving a ticket from the Committee of his section.

It was lately asserted in the Convention, and not disavowed, that if
the government persisted in this sort of traffic, the annual loss
attending the article of corn alone would amount to fifty millions
sterling. The reduction of the sum in question into English money
is made on a presumption that the French government did not mean
(were it to be avoided) to commit an act of bankruptcy, and redeem
their paper at less than par. Reckoning, however, at the real value
of assignats when the calculation was made, and they were then worth
perhaps a fifth of their nominal value, the government was actually
at the expence of ten millions sterling a year, for supplying Paris
with a very scanty portion of bread! The sum must appear enormous,
but the peculation under such a government must be incalculable; and
when it is recollected that all neutral ships bringing cargoes for
the republic must have been insured at an immense premium, or
perhaps eventually purchased by the French, and that very few could
reach their destination, we may conclude that such as did arrive
cost an immoderate sum.

--"The insurrection that immediately succeeded was at first the effect of
a similar scheme, and it ended in a party contention, in which the
people, as usual, were neuter.

"The examination into the conduct of Barrere, Collot, &c. had been
delayed until it seemed rather a measure destined to protect than to
bring them to punishment; and the impatience which was every where
expressed on the subject, sufficiently indicated the necessity, or at
least the prudence, of hastening their trial. Such a process could not
be ventured on but at the risk of involving the whole Convention in a
labyrinth of crimes, inconsistencies, and ridicule, and the delinquents
already began to exonerate themselves by appealing to the vote of solemn
approbation passed in their favour three months after the death of
Robespierre had restored the Assembly to entire freedom.

"The only means of extrication from this dilemma, appeared to be that of
finding some pretext to satisfy the public vengeance, without hazarding
the scandal of a judicial exposure. Such a pretext it was not difficult
to give rise to: a diminished portion of bread never fails to produce
tumultuous assemblages, that are easily directed, though not easily
suppressed; and crouds of this description, agitated by real misery, were
excited (as we have every reason to suppose) by hired emissaries to
assail the Convention with disorderly clamours for bread. This being
attributed to the friends of the culprits, decrees were opportunely
introduced and passed for transporting them untried out of the republic,
and for arresting most of the principal Jacobin members as their

"The subsequent disturbances were less artificial; for the Jacobins, thus
rendered desperate, attempted resistance; but, as they were unsuccessful,
their efforts only served their adversaries as an excuse for arresting
several of the party who had escaped the former decrees.

"Nothing, I assure you, can with less truth be denominated popular
movements, than many of these scenes, which have, notwithstanding,
powerfully influenced the fate of our country. A revolt, or
insurrection, is often only an affair of intrigue and arrangement; and
the desultory violences of the suburbs of St. Antoine, or of the market
women, are regulated by the same Committee and cabals that direct our
campaigns and treaties. The common distresses of the people are
continually drawing them together; and, when thus collected, their
credulity renders them the ready instruments of any prevailing faction.

"Our recent disorders afforded a striking proof of this. I was myself
the Cicerone of a country friend on the day the Convention was first
assailed. The numbers who crouded into the hall were at first
considerable, yet they exhibited no signs of hostility, and it was
evident they were brought there for some purpose of which they were
themselves ignorant. When asked their intentions, they vociferated 'Du
pain! Du pain!'--Bread, Bread; and, after occupying the seats of the
Deputies for a short time, quietly withdrew.

"That this insurrection was originally factitious, and devised for the
purpose I have mentioned, is farther corroborated by the sudden
appearance of Pichegru and other officers, who seemed brought expressly
to protect the departure of the obnoxious trio, in case it should be
opposed either by their friends or enemies. It is likewise to be
remarked, that Barrere and the rest were stopped at the gates of Paris by
the same mob who were alledged to have risen in their favour, and who,
instead of endeavouring to rescue them, brought them back to the
Committee of General Safety, on a supposition that they had escaped from
prison.--The members of the moderate party, who were detained in some of
the sections, sustained no ill treatment whatever, and were released on
being claimed by their colleagues, which could scarcely have happened,
had the mob been under the direction of the Jacobins, or excited by
them.--In short, the whole business proved that the populace were mere
agents, guided by no impulse of their own, except hunger, and who, when
left to themselves, rather impeded than promoted the designs of both

"You must have been surprized to see among the list of members arrested,
the name of Laurent Lecointre; but he could never be pardoned for having
reduced the Convention to the embarrassing necessity of prosecuting
Robespierre's associates, and he is now secured, lest his restless
Quixotism should remind the public, that the pretended punishment of
these criminals is in fact only a scandalous impunity.

"We are at present calm, but our distress for bread is intolerable, and
the people occasionally assail the pastry-cooks' shops; which act of
hostility is called, with more pleasantry than truth or feeling, _'La
guerre du pain bis contre la brioche.'_ [The war of brown bread against
cakes.]--God knows, it is not the quality of bread, but the scarcity of
it which excites these discontents.

"The new arithmetic* is more followed, and more interesting, than ever,
though our hopes are all vague, and we neither guess how or by whom they
are to be fulfilled.

* This was a mysterious way of expressing that the royalists were
still gaining ground. It alluded to a custom which then prevailed,
of people asking each other in the street, and sometimes even
assailing the Deputies, with the question of "How much is eight and
a half and eight and a half?"--By which was understood Louis the

"I have done every thing that depends on me to obtain your passports
without success, and I still advise you to come to Paris and solicit them
in person. Your departure, in happier times, would be a subject of
regret, at present I shall both envy and congratulate you when you are
enabled to quit a country which promises so little security or

"We receive, at this moment, the two loaves. My sister joins me in
acknowledgments, and expresses her fears that you must suffer by your
kindness, though it is truly acceptable--for I have been several days
under arms, and have had no time to make my usual excursions in search of

"Yours, &c."

The proposed dissolution of the Assembly alluded to in the beginning of
Mons. --------'s letter, occasioned here a more general rejoicing than
even the fall of the Jacobin club, and, not being influenced by the
motives suggested to the Parisians, we were sincerely disappointed when
we found the measure postponed. The morning this news arrived, we walked
about the town till dinner, and in every street people were collected in
groupes, and engaged in eager discussion. An acquaintance whom we
happened to meet, instead of the usual salutations, exclaimed "_Nous
viola quittes, ils s'en vont les brigands_" ["At length we are quit of
them--the rogues are going about their business."]; and I observed several
recontres of this sort, where people skipped and caracoled, as though
unable to contain their satisfaction. Nothing was talked of but _Le
Petit_ [An endearing appellation given to the young King by those who
would not venture to mention his name.], and the new elections; and I
remarked with pleasure, that every one agreed in the total exclusion of
all the present Deputies.

Two mornings after we had been indulging in these agreeable visions, we
learned that the Convention, purely from a patriotic desire of serving
their country, had determined not to quit their post. We were at this
time in extreme want of bread, the distribution not exceeding a quarter
of a pound per day; and numbers who are at their ease in other respects,
could not obtain any. This, operating perhaps with the latent ill humour
occasioned by so unwelcome a declaration of perseverance on the part of
their Representatives, occasioned a violent ferment among the people, and
on the second of this month they were in open revolt; the magazine of
corn for the use of the army was besieged, the national colours were
insulted, and Blaux, a Deputy who is here on mission, was dragged from
the Hotel de Ville, and obliged by the enraged populace to cry "Vive le
Roi!" These disorders continued till the next day, but were at length
appeased by a small distribution of flour from the magazine.

In the debates of the Convention the whole is ascribed to the Jacobins,
though it is well known they have no influence here; and I wish you to
attend to this circumstance more particularly, as it proves what
artifices are used to conceal the real sentiments of the people.
I, and every inhabitant of Amiens, can attest that this revolt, which was
declared in the Assembly to have been instigated by the partizans of the
Jacobins, was, as far as it had any decided political character, an
effervescence of royalism.

At Rouen, Abbeville, and other places, the trees of liberty, (or, rather,
the trees of the republic,) have been cut down, the tri-coloured flag
torn, and the cry of "Vive le Roi!" was for some time predominant; yet
the same misrepresentation was had recourse to, and all these places were
asserted to have espoused the cause of that party to which they are most

I acknowledge that the chief source of these useless excesses is famine,
and that it is for the most part the lower classes only who promote them;
but the same cause and the same description of people were made the
instruments for bringing about the revolution, and the poor seek now, as
they did in 1789, a remedy for their accumulated sufferings in a change
of government. The mass of mankind are ever more readily deluded by hope
than benefited by experience; and the French, being taught by the
revolutionists to look for that relief from changes of government which
such changes cannot afford, now expect that the restoration of the
monarchy will produce plenty, as they were before persuaded that the
first efforts to subvert it would banish want.

We are now tolerably quiet, and should seriously think of going to Paris,
were we not apprehensive that some attempt from the Jacobins to rescue
their chiefs, may create new disturbances. The late affair appears to
have been only a retaliation of the thirty-first of May, 1792; and the
remains of the Girondists have now proscribed the leaders of the
Mountaineers, much in the same way as they were then proscribed

Amiens, May 9, 1795.

Whilst all Europe is probably watching with solicitude the progress of
the French arms, and the variations of their government, the French
themselves, almost indifferent to war and politics, think only of
averting the horrors of famine. The important news of the day is the
portion of bread which is to be distributed; and the siege of Mentz,
or the treaty with the King of Prussia, are almost forgotten, amidst
enquiries about the arrival of corn, and anxiety for the approach of
harvest. The same paper that announces the surrender of towns, and the
success of battles, tells us that the poor die in the streets of Paris,
or are driven to commit suicide, through want. We have no longer to
contend with avaricious speculations, but a real scarcity; and
detachments of the National Guard, reinforced by cannon, often search the
adjacent villages several days successively without finding a single
septier of corn. The farmers who have yet been able to conceal any,
refuse to dispose of it for assignats; and the poor, who have neither
plate nor money, exchange their best clothes or linen for a loaf, or a
small quantity of flour. Our gates are sometimes assailed by twenty or
thirty people, not to beg money, but bread; and I am frequently accosted
in the street by women of decent appearance, who, when I offer them
assignats, refuse them, saying, "We have enough of this sorry paper--it
is bread we want."--If you are asked to dine, you take your bread with
you; and you travel as though you were going a voyage--for there are not
many inns on the road where you can expect to find bread, or indeed
provisions of any kind.

Having procured a few six-livre pieces, we were enabled to purchase a
small supply of corn, though by no means enough for our consumption, so
that we are obliged to oeconomise very rigidly. Mr. D-------- and the
servants eat bread made with three-parts bran to one of flour. The
little provision we possess is, however, a great embarrassment to us, for
we are not only subject to domiciliary visits, but continually liable to
be pillaged by the starving poor around us; and we are often under the
necessity of passing several meals without bread, because we dare not
send the wheat to be ground, nor bake except at night. While the last
operation is performing, the doors are carefully shut, the bell rings in
vain, and no guest is admitted till every vestige of it is removed.--All
the breweries have seals put upon the doors, and severe penal laws are
issued against converting barley to any other purpose than the making of
bread. If what is allowed us were composed only of barley, or any other
wholesome grain, we should not repine; but the distribution at present is
a mixture of grown wheat, peas, rye, &c. which has scarcely the
resemblance of bread.

I was asked to-day, by some women who had just received their portion,
and in an accent of rage and despair that alarmed me, whether I thought
such food fit for a human creature.--We cannot alleviate this misery, and
are impatient to escape from the sight of it. If we can obtain passports
to go from hence to Paris, we hope there to get a final release, and a
permission to return to England.

My friend Madame de la F-------- has left us, and I fear is only gone
home to die. Her health was perfectly good when we were first arrested,
though vexation, more than confinement, has contributed to undermine it.
The revolution had, in various ways, diminished her property; but this
she would have endured with patience, had not the law of successions
involved her in difficulties which appeared every day more interminable,
and perplexed her mind by the prospect of a life of litigation and
uncertainty. By this law, all inheritances, donations, or bequests,
since the fourteenth of July 1789, are annulled and subjected to a
general partition among the nearest relatives. In consequence, a large
estate of the Marquise's, as well as another already sold, are to be
accounted for, and divided between a variety of claimants. Two of the
number being emigrants, the republic is also to share; and as the live
stock, furniture, farming utensils, and arrears, are included in this
absurd and iniquitous regulation, the confusion and embarrassment which
it has occasioned are indescribable.

Though an unlucky combination of circumstances has rendered such a law
particularly oppressive to Madame de la F--------, she is only one of an
infinite number who are affected by it, and many of whom may perhaps be
still greater sufferers than herself. The Constituent Assembly had
attempted to form a code that might counteract the spirit of legal
disputation, for which the French are so remarkable; but this single
decree will give birth to more processes than all the _pandects, canons,_
and _droits feodaux,_ accumulated since the days of Charlemagne; and I
doubt, though one half the nation were lawyers, whether they might not
find sufficient employment in demalgamating the property of the other

This mode of partition, in itself ill calculated for a rich and
commercial people, and better adapted to the republic of St. Marino than
to that of France, was introduced under pretext of favouring the system
of equality; and its transition from absurdity to injustice, by giving it
a retroactive effect, was promoted to accommodate the "virtuous" Herault
de Sechelles, who acquired a considerable addition of fortune by it. The
Convention are daily beset with petitions from all parts on this subject;
but their followers and themselves being somewhat in the style of
Falstaff's regiment--"younger sons of younger brothers," they seem
determined, as they usually are, to square their notions of justice by
what is most conducive to their own interest.

An apprehension of some attempt from the Jacobins, and the discontents
which the scarcity of bread give rise to among the people, have produced
a private order from the Committees of government for arming and
re-organizing the National Guard.*

* Though I have often had occasion to use the term National Guard,
it is to be understood only as citizens armed for some temporary
purpose, whose arms were taken from them as soon as that service was
performed. The _Garde Nationale,_ as a regular institution, had
been in a great measure suppressed since the summer of 1793, and
those who composed it gradually disarmed. The usual service of
mounting guard was still continued, but the citizens, with very few
exceptions, were armed only with pikes, and even those were not
entrusted to their own care, each delivering up his arms when he
retired more exactly than if it were an article of capitulation with
a successful enemy.

--I remember, in 1789 and 1790, when this popular militia was first
instituted, every one, either from policy or inclination, appeared eager
to promote it; and nothing was discussed but military fetes, balls,
exercise, and uniforms. These patriotic levities have now entirely
vanished, and the business proceeds with languor and difficulty. One
dreads the present expence, another future persecution, and all are
solicitous to find cause for exemption.

This reluctance, though perhaps to be regretted, is in a great measure
justifiable. Where the lives and fortunes of a whole nation are
dependent on the changes of party, obscurity becomes the surest
protection, and those who are zealous now, may be the first sacrifices
hereafter. Nor is it encouraging to arm for the defence of the
Convention, which is despised, or to oppose the violence of a populace,
who, however misguided, are more objects of compassion than of

Fouquier Tinville, with sixteen revolutionary Judges and Jurymen, have
been tried and executed, at the moment when the instigators of their
crimes, Billaud-Varennes, Collot, &c. were sentenced by the Convention to
a banishment, which is probably the object of their wishes. This
Tinville and his accomplices, who condemned thousands with such ferocious
gaiety, beheld the approach of death themselves with a mixture of rage
and terror, that even cowardice and guilt do not always exhibit. It
seems an awful dispensation of Providence, that they who were inhuman
enough to wish to deprive their victims of the courage which enabled them
to submit to their fate with resignation, should in their last moments
want that courage, and die despairing, furious, and uttering
imprecations, which were returned by the enraged multitude.*

--Yours, &c.

* Some of the Jurymen were in the habit of taking caricatures of the
prisoners while they condemned them. Among the papers of the
Revolutionary Tribunal were found blank sentences, which were
occasionally sent to the Committee of Public Safety, to be filled up
with the names of those intended to be sacrificed.--The name of one
of the Jurymen executed on this occasion was Leroi, but being a very
ardent republican, he had changed it for that of Citizen Tenth of

Amiens, May 26, 1795.

Our journey to Paris has been postponed by the insurrection which
occurred on the first and second of Prairial, (20th and 21st of May,) and
which was not like that of Germinal, fabricated--but a real and violent
attempt of the Jacobins to regain their power. Of this event it is to be
remarked, that the people of Paris were at first merely spectators, and
that the Convention were at length defended by the very classes which
they have so long oppressed under the denomination of aristocrats. For
several hours the Assembly was surrounded, and in the power of its
enemies; the head of Ferraud, a deputy, was borne in triumph to the
hall;* and but for the impolitic precipitation of the Jacobins, the
present government might have been destroyed.

* The head of Ferraud was placed on a pole, and, after being paraded
about the Hall, stationed opposite the President. It is impossible
to execrate sufficiently this savage triumph; but similar scenes had
been applauded on the fourteenth of July and the fifth and sixth of
October 1789; and the Parisians had learned, from the example of the
Convention themselves, that to rejoice in the daily sacrifice of
fifty or sixty people, was an act of patriotism. As to the epithets
of Coquin, Scelerats, Voleurs, &c. which were now bestowed on the
Assembly, they were only what the members were in the constant habit
of applying to each other.

The assassin of Ferraud being afterwards taken and sentenced to the
Guillotine, was rescued by the mob at the place of execution, and
the inhabitants of the Fauxbourg St. Antoine were in revolt for two
days on this occasion, nor would they give him up until abandoned by
the cannoneers of their party.--It is singular, and does no honour
to the revolutionary school, or the people of Paris, that Madame
Elizabeth, Malsherbes, Cecile Renaud, and thousands of others,
should perish innocently, and that the only effort of this kind
should be exerted in favour of a murderer who deserved even a worse

The contest began, as usual, by an assemblage of females, who forced
themselves into the national palace, and loudly clamoured for immediate
supplies of bread. They then proceeded to reproach the Convention with
having robbed them of their liberty, plundered the public treasure, and
finally reduced the country to a state of famine.*

* People.--_"Nous vous demandons ce que vous avez fait de nos
tresors et de notre liberte?"_--"We want to know what you have done
with our treasure and our liberty?"

President.--_"Citoyens, vous etes dans le sein de la Convention
Nationale."_--"Citizens, I must remind you that you are in the
presence of the National Convention."

People.--_"Du pain, du pain, Coquin--Qu'as tu fait de notre argent?
Pas tant de belles phrases, mais du pain, du pain, il n'y a point
ici de conspirateurs--nous demandons du pain parceque nous avons
saim."_--"Bread, bread, rogue!--what have you done with our money?--
Fine speeches won't do--'tis bread we want.--There are no
conspirators among us--we only ask for bread, because we are

See Debates of the Convention.

--It was not easy either to produce bread, or refute these charges, and
the Deputies of the moderate party remained silent and overpowered, while
the Jacobins encouraged the mob, and began to head them openly. The
Parisians, however interested in the result of this struggle, appeared to
behold it with indifference, or at least with inactivity. Ferraud had
already been massacred in endeavouring to repel the croud, and the
Convention was abandoned to outrage and insult; yet no effectual attempt
had been made in their defence, until the Deputies of the Mountain
prematurely avowed their designs, and moved for a repeal of all the
doctrines since the death of Robespierre--for the reincarceration of
suspected persons--and, in fine, for an absolute revival of the whole
revolutionary system.

The avowal of these projects created an immediate alarm among those on
whom the massacre of Ferraud, and the dangers to which the Assembly was
exposed, had made no impression. The dismay became general; and in a few
hours the aristocrats themselves collected together a force sufficient to
liberate the Assembly,* and wrest the government from the hands of the

* This is stated as a ground of reproach by the Jacobins, and is
admitted by the Convention. Andre Dumont, who had taken so active a
part in supporting Robespierre's government, was yet on this
occasion defended and protected the whole day by a young man whose
father had been guillotined.

--This defeat ended in the arrest of all who had taken a part against the
now triumphant majority; and there are, I believe, near fifty of them in
custody, besides numbers who contrived to escape.*

* Among those implicated in this attempt to revive the revolutionary
government was Carnot, and the decree of arrest would have been
carried against him, had it not been suggested that his talents were
necessary in the military department. All that remained of
Robespierre's Committees, Jean Bon St. Andre, Robert Lindet, and
Prieur, were arrested. Carnot alone was excepted; and it was not
disguised that his utility, more than any supposed integrity,
procured him the exemption.

That the efforts of this more sanguinary faction have been checked, is
doubtless a temporary advantage; yet those who calculate beyond the
moment see only the perpetuation of anarchy, in a habit of expelling one
part of the legislature to secure the government of the other; nor can it
be denied, that the freedom of the representative body has been as much
violated by the Moderates in the recent transactions, as by the Jacobins
on the thirty-first of May 1793. The Deputies of the Mountain have been
proscribed and imprisoned, rather as partizans than criminals; and it is
the opinion of many, that these measures, which deprive the Convention of
such a portion of its members, attach as much illegality to the
proceedings of the rest, as the former violences of Robespierre and his

* The decrees passed by the Jacobin members during their few hours
triumph cannot be defended; but the whole Convention had long
acquiesced in them, and the precise time when they were to cease was
certainly a matter of opinion. The greater part of these members
were accused of no active violence, nor could they have been
arrested on any principles but that of being rivals to a faction
stronger than themselves.

--It is true, the reigning party may plead in their justification that
they only inflict what they would themselves have suffered, had the
Jacobins prevailed; and this is an additional proof of the weakness and
instability of a form of government which is incapable of resisting
opposition, and which knows no medium between yielding to its
adversaries, and destroying them.

In a well organized constitution, it is supposed that a liberal spirit of
party is salutary. Here they dispute the alternatives of power and
emolument, or prisons and guillotines; and the sole result to the people
is the certainty of being sacrificed to the fears, and plundered by the
rapacity of either faction which may chance to acquire the superiority.--
Had the government any permanent or inherent strength, a party watching
its errors, and eager to attack them, might, in time, by these perpetual
collisions, give birth to some principles of liberty and order. But, as
I have often had occasion to notice, this species of republicanism is in
itself so weak, that it cannot exist except by a constant recurrence to
the very despotism it professes to exclude. Hence it is jealous and
suspicious, and all opposition to it is fatal; so that, to use an
argument somewhat similar to Hume's on the liberty of the press in
republics, the French possess a sort of freedom which does not admit of
enjoyment; and, in order to boast that they have a popular constitution,
are obliged to support every kind of tyranny.*

* Hume observes, that absolute monarchies and republics nearly
approach; for the excess of liberty in the latter renders such
restraints necessary as to make them in practice resemble the

The provinces take much less interest in this event, than in one of a
more general and personal effect, though not apparently of equal
importance. A very few weeks ago, the Convention asseverated, in the
usual acclamatory style, that they would never even listen to a proposal
for diminishing the value, or stopping the currency, of any description
of assignats. Their oaths are not, indeed, in great repute, yet many
people were so far deceived, as to imagine that at least the credit of
the paper would not be formally destroyed by those who had forced its
circulation. All of a sudden, and without any previous notice, a decree
was issued to suppress the corsets, (or assignats of five livres,)
bearing the King's image;* and as these were very numerous, and chiefly
in the hands of the lower order of people, the consternation produced by
this measure was serious and unusual.--

* The opinion that prevailed at this time that a restoration of the
monarchy was intended by the Convention, had rendered every one
solicitous to amass assignats issued during the late King's reign.
Royal assignats of five livres were exchanged for six, seven, and
eight livres of the republican paper.

--There cannot be a stronger proof of the tyranny of the government, or
of the national propensity to submission, than the circumstance of making
it penal to refuse one day, what, by the same authority, is rendered
valueless the next--and that notwithstanding this, the remaining
assignats are still received under all the probability of their
experiencing a similar fate.

Paris now offers an interval of tranquillity which we mean to avail
ourselves of, and shall, in a day or two, leave this place with the hope
of procuring passports for England. The Convention affect great
moderation and gratitude for their late rescue; and the people, persuaded
in general that the victorious party are royalists, wait with impatience
some important change, and expect, if not an immediate restoration of the
monarchy, at least a free election of new Representatives, which must
infallibly lead to it. With this hope, which is the first that has long
presented itself to this harassed country, I shall probably bid it adieu;
but a visit to the metropolis will be too interesting for me to conclude
these papers, without giving you the result of my observations.

--Yours. &c.

Paris, June 3, 1795.

We arrived here early on Saturday, and as no stranger coming to Paris,
whether a native of France, or a foreigner, is suffered to remain longer
than three days without a particular permission, our first care was to
present ourselves to the Committee of the section where we lodge, and, on
giving proper security for our good conduct, we have had this permission
extended to a Decade.

I approached Paris with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension, as
though I expected the scenes which had passed in it, and the moral
changes it had undergone, would be every where visible; but the gloomy
ideas produced by a visit to this metropolis, are rather the effect of
mental association than external objects. Palaces and public buildings
still remain; but we recollect that they are become the prisons of
misfortune, or the rewards of baseness. We see the same hotels, but
their owners are wandering over the world, or have expired on the
scaffold. Public places are not less numerous, nor less frequented; but,
far from inspiring gaiety, we behold them with regret and disgust, as
proofs of the national levity and want of feeling.

I could almost wish, for the credit of the French character, to have
found some indications that the past was not so soon consigned to
oblivion. It is true, the reign of Robespierre and his sanguinary
tribunal are execrated in studied phrases; yet is it enough to adopt
humanity as a mode, to sing the _Revel du Peuple_ in preference to the
_Marseillois,_ or to go to a theatre with a well-powdered head, instead
of cropped locks a la Jacobin? But the people forget, that while they
permitted, and even applauded, the past horrors, they were also accessary
to them, and if they rejoice at their termination, their sensibility does
not extend to compunction; they cast their sorrows away, and think it
sufficient to exhibit their reformation in dressing and dancing--

"Yet hearts refin'd their sadden'd tint retain,
"The sigh is pleasure, and the jest is pain."

French refinements are not, however, of this poetical kind.*

* This too great facility of the Parisians has been commented upon
by an anonymous writer in the following terms:

"At Paris, where more than fifty victims were dragged daily to the
scaffold, the theatres never failed to overflow, and that on the
Place de la Revolution was not the least frequented. The public, in
their way every evening to the Champs Ellisees, continued
uninterruptedly to cross the stream of blood that deluged this fatal
spot with the most dreadful indifference; and now, though these days
of horror are scarcely passed over our heads, one would suppose them
ages removed--so little are we sensible that we are dancing, as it
were, on a platform of dead bodies. Well may we say, respecting
those events which have not reached ourselves--

_'Le malheur Qui n'est plus, n'a jamais existe.'_

But if we desire earnestly that the same misfortunes should not
return, we must keep them always present in our recollection."

The practice of the government appears to depart every day more widely
from its professions; and the moderate harangues of the tribune are often
succeeded by measures as arbitrary as those which are said to be
exploded.--Perhaps the Convention begin to perceive their mistake in
supposing that they can maintain a government against the inclination of
the people, without the aid of tyranny. They expected at the same time
that they decried Robespierre, to retain all the power he possessed.
Hence, their assumed principles and their conduct are generally at
variance; and, divided between despotism and weakness, they arrest the
printers of pamphlets and newspapers one day, and are obliged to liberate
them the next.--They exclaim publicly against the system of terror, yet
secretly court the assistance of its agents.--They affect to respect the
liberty of the press, yet every new publication has to defend itself
against the whole force of the government, if it happen to censure a
single member of the reigning party.--Thus, the _Memoirs of Dumouriez_
had circulated nearly through all Europe, yet it was not without much
risk, and after a long warfare, that they were printed in France.*

*On this subject the government appears sometimes to have adopted
the maxim--that prevention is better than punishment; for, in
several instances, they seized on manuscripts, and laid embargoes on
the printers' presses, where they only suspected that a work which
they might disapprove was intended to be published.

I know not if it be attributable to these political inconsistencies that
the calm which has succeeded the late disorders is little more than
external. The minds of the people are uncommonly agitated, and every one
expresses either hope or apprehension of some impending event. The
royalists, amidst their ostensible persecutions, are particularly elated;
and I have been told, that many conspicuous revolutionists already talk
of emigration.

I am just returned from a day's ramble, during which I have met with
various subjects of unpleasant meditation. About dinner-time I called on
an old Chevalier de St. Louis and his lady, who live in the Fauxbourg
St. Germain. When I knew them formerly, they had a handsome annuity on
the Hotel de Ville, and were in possession of all the comforts necessary
to their declining years. To-day the door was opened by a girl of dirty
appearance, the house looked miserable, the furniture worn, and I found
the old couple over a slender meal of soup maigre and eggs, without wine
or bread. Our revolutionary adventures, as is usual on all meetings of
this kind, were soon communicated; and I learned, that almost before they
knew what was passing around them, Monsieur du G--------'s forty years'
service, and his croix, had rendered him suspected, and that he and his
wife were taken from their beds at midnight and carried to prison. Here
they consumed their stock of ready money, while a guard, placed in their
house, pillaged what was moveable, and spoiled what could not be
pillaged. Soon after the ninth of Thermidor they were released, but they
returned to bare walls, and their annuity, being paid in assignats, now
scarcely affords them a subsistence.--Monsieur du G-------- is near
seventy, and Madame is become helpless from a nervous complaint, the
effect of fear and confinement; and if this depreciation of the paper
should continue, these poor people may probably die of absolute want.

I dined with a relation of the Marquise's, and in the afternoon we called
by appointment on a person who is employed by the Committee of National
Domains, and who has long promised my friend to facilitate the adjustment
of some of the various claims which the government has on her property.
This man was originally a valet to the brother of the Marquise: at the
revolution he set up a shop, became a bankrupt, and a furious Jacobin,
and, in the end, a member of a Revolutionary Committee. In the last
capacity he found means to enrich himself, and intimidate his creditors
so as to obtain a discharge of his debts, without the trouble of paying

* "It was common for men in debt to procure themselves to be made
members of a revolutionary committee, and then force their creditors
to give them a receipt in full, under the fear of being imprisoned."
Clauzel's Report, Oct. 13, 1794.

I am myself acquainted with an old lady, who was confined four
months, for having asked one of these patriots for three hundred
livres which he owed her.

--Since the dissolution of the Committees, he has contrived to obtain the
situation I have mentioned, and now occupies superb apartments in an
hotel, amply furnished with the proofs of his official dexterity, and the
perquisites of patriotism.

The humiliating vicissitudes occasioned by the revolution induced Madame
de la F-------- to apply to this democratic _parvenu,_ [Upstart.] whose
office at present gives him the power, and whose former obligations to
her family (by whom he was brought up) she hoped would add the
disposition, to serve her.--The gratitude she expected has, however,
ended only in delays and disappointments, and the sole object of my
commission was to get some papers which she had entrusted to him out of
his possession.

When we enquired if the Citizen was at home, a servant, not in livery,
informed us Monsieur was dressing, but that if we would walk in, he would
let Monsieur know we were there. We passed through a dining parlour,
where we saw the remains of a dessert, coffee, &c. and were assailed by
the odours of a plentiful repast. As we entered the saloon, we heard the
servant call at the door of an adjoining parlour, _"Monsieur, voici deux
Citoyennes et un Citoyen qui vous demandent."_ ["Sir, here are two female
citizens and one male citizen enquiring for you."] When Monsieur
appeared, he apologized with an air of graciousness for the impossibility
he had been under of getting my friend's affairs arranged--protested he
was _accable_ [Oppressed..]--that he had scarcely an instant at his own
disposal--that _enfin_ the responsibility of people in office was so
terrible, and the fatigue so _assommante,_ [Overpowering.] that nothing
but the purest _civism,_ and a heart _penetre de l'amour de la patrie,_
[Penetrated with the love of his country.] could enable him to persevere
in the task imposed on him. As for the papers we required, he would
endeavour to find them, though his cabinet was really so filled with
petitions and certificates of all sorts, _que des malheureux lui avoient
addresses,_ [Addressed to him by unfortunate people.] that it would not
be very easy to find them at present; and, with this answer, which we
should have smiled at from M. de Choiseul or Sartine, we were obliged to
be satisfied. We then talked of the news of the day, and he lamented
that the aristocrats were still restless and increasing in number, and
that notwithstanding the efforts of the Convention to diffuse a spirit of
philosophy, it was too evident there was yet much fanaticism among the

As we rose to depart, Madame entered, dressed for visiting, and decorated
with bracelets on her wrists and above her elbows, medallions on her
waists and neck, and, indeed, finery wherever it could possibly be
bestowed. We observed her primitive condition of a waiting-woman still
operated, and that far from affecting the language of her husband, she
retained a great deference for rank, and was solicitous to insinuate that
she was secretly of a superior way of thinking. As we left the room
together, she made advances to an acquaintance with my companions (who
were people of condition); and having occasion to speak to a person at
the door, as she uttered the word _Citoyen_ she looked at us with an
expression which she intended should imply the contempt and reluctance
with which she made use of it.

I have in general remarked, that the republicans are either of the
species I have just been describing, waiters, jockies, gamblers,
bankrupts, and low scribblers, living in great splendour, or men taken
from laborious professions, more sincere in their principles, more
ignorant and brutal--and who dissipate what they have gained in gross
luxury, because they have been told that elegance and delicacy are worthy
only of Sybarites, and that the Greeks and Romans despised both. These
patriots are not, however, so uninformed, nor so disinterested, as to
suppose they are to serve their country without serving themselves; and
they perfectly understand, that the rich are their legal patrimony, and
that it is enjoined them by their mission to pillage royalists and


* Garat observes, it was a maxim of Danton, _"Que ceux qui fesaient
les affaires de la republique devaient aussi faireles leurs,"_ that
who undertook the care of the republic should also take care of
themselves. This tenet, however, seems common to the friends of

Paris, June 6, 1795.

I had scarcely concluded my last, when I received advice of the death of
Madame de la F--------; and though I have, almost from the time we
quitted the Providence, thought she was declining, and that such an event
was probable, it has, nevertheless, both shocked and grieved me.

Exclusively of her many good and engaging qualities, which were
reasonable objects of attachment, Madame de la F-------- was endeared to
me by those habits of intimacy that often supply the want of merit, and
make us adhere to our early friendships, even when not sanctioned by our
maturer judgment. Madame de la F-------- never became entirely divested
of the effects of a convent education; but if she retained a love of
trifling amusements, and a sort of infantine gaiety, she likewise
continued pious, charitable, and strictly attentive not only to the
duties, but to the decorum, essential in the female character and merits
of this sort are, I believe, now more rare than those in which she might
be deemed deficient.

I was speaking of her this morning to a lady of our acquaintance, who
acquiesced in my friendly eulogiums, but added, in a tone of superiority,
_"C'etoit pourtant une petite femme bien minutieuse_--she always put me
out of patience with her birds and her flowers, her levees of poor
people, and her persevering industry in frivolous projects." My friend
was, indeed, the most feminine creature in the world, and this is a
flippant literary lady, who talks in raptures of the Greeks and Romans,
calls Rousseau familiarly Jean Jaques, frisks through the whole circle of
science at the Lyceum, and has an utter contempt both for personal
neatness and domestic oeconomy. How would Madame de Sevigne wonder,
could she behold one of these modern belles esprits, with which her
country, as well as England, abounds? In our zeal for reforming the
irregular orthography and housewifely penmanship of the last century, we
are all become readers, and authors, and critics. I do not assert, that
the female mind is too much cultivated, but that it is too generally so;
and that we encourage a taste for attainments not always compatible with
the duties and occupations of domestic life. No age has, I believe,
produced so many literary ladies as the present;* yet I cannot learn that
we are at all improved in morals, or that domestic happiness is more
universal than when, instead of writing sonnets to dew-drops or
daisies,** we copied prayers and recipes, in spelling similar to that of
Stowe or Hollingshed.

* Let me not be supposed to undervalue the female authors of the
present day. There are some who, uniting great talents with
personal worth, are justly entitled to our respect and admiration.
The authoress of "Cecilia," or the Miss Lees, cannot be confounded
with the proprietors of all the Castles, Forests, Groves, Woods,
Cottages, and Caverns, which are so alluring in the catalogue of a
circulating library.

** Mrs. Smith's beautiful Sonnets have produced sonnetteers for
every object in nature, visible or invisible; and her elegant
translations of Petrarch have procured the Italian bard many an
English dress that he would have been ashamed to appear in.

--We seem industrious to make every branch of education a vehicle for
inspiring a premature taste for literary amusements; and our old
fashioned moral adages in writing-books are replaced by scraps from
"Elegant Extracts," while print-work and embroidery represent scenes from
poems or novels. I allow, that the subjects formerly pourtrayed by the
needle were not pictoresque, yet, the tendency considered, young ladies
might as well employ their silk or pencils in exhibiting Daniel in the
lions' den, or Joseph and his brethren, as Sterne's Maria, or Charlotte
and Werter.

You will forgive this digression, which I have been led into on hearing
the character of Madame de la F-------- depreciated, because she was only
gentle and amiable, and did not read Plutarch, nor hold literary
assemblies. It is, in truth, a little amende I owe her memory, for I may
myself have sometimes estimated her too lightly, and concluded my own
pursuits more rational than hers, when possibly they were only different.
Her death has left an impression on my mind, which the turbulence of
Paris is not calculated to soothe; but the short time we have to stay,
and the number of people I must see, oblige me to conquer both my regret
and my indolence, and to pass a great part of the day in running from
place to place.

I have been employed all this morning in executing some female
commissions, which, of course, led me to milliners, mantua-makers, &c.
These people now recommend fashions by saying one thing is invented by
Tallien's wife, and another by Merlin de Thionville, or some other
Deputy's mistress; and the genius of these elegantes has contrived, by a
mode of dressing the hair which lengthens the neck, and by robes with an
inch of waist, to give their countrywomen an appearance not much unlike
that of a Bar Gander.

I saw yesterday a relation of Madame de la F--------, who is in the army,
and whom I formerly mentioned as having met when we passed through
Dourlens. He was for some months suspended, and in confinement, but is
now restored to his rank, and ordered on service. He asked me if I ever
intended to visit France again. I told him I had so little reason to be
satisfied with my treatment, that I did not imagine I should.--"Yes,
(returned he,) but if the republic should conquer Italy, and bring all
its treasures to Paris, as has lately been suggested in the Convention,
we shall tempt you to return, in spite of yourself."*

*The project of pillaging Italy of its most valuable works of art
was suggested by the philosophic Abbe Gregoire, a constitutional
Bishop, as early as September 1794, because, as he alledged, the
chefs d'ouvres of the Greek republic ought not to embellish a
country of slaves.

--I told him, I neither doubted their intending such a scheme, nor the
possibility of its success, though it was not altogether worthy of
philosophers and republicans to wage war for Venus's and Appollos, and to
sacrifice the lives of one part of their fellow-citizens, that the rest
might be amused with pictures and statues.--"That's not our affair (says
Monsieur de --------). Soldiers do not reason. And if the Convention
should have a fancy to pillage the Emperor of China's palace, I see no
remedy but to set sail with the first fair wind,"--"I wish, (said his
sister, who was the only person present,) instead of being under such
orders, you had escaped from the service." "Yes, (returned the General
quickly,) and wander about Europe like Dumouriez, suspected and despised
by all parties." I observed, Dumouriez was an adventurer, and that on
many accounts it was necessary to guard against him. He said, he did not
dispute the necessity or even the justice of the conduct observed towards
him, but that nevertheless I might be assured it had operated as an
effectual check to those who might, otherwise, have been tempted to
follow Dumouriez's example; "And we have now (added he, in a tone between
gaiety and despair,) no alternative but obedience or the guillotine."--I
have transcribed the substance of this conversation, as it confirms what
I have frequently been told, that the fate of Dumouriez, however merited,
is one great cause why no desertion of importance has since taken place.

I was just now interrupted by a noise and shouting near my window, and
could plainly distinguish the words Scipio and Solon uttered in a tone of
taunt and reproach. Not immediately comprehending how Solon or Scipio
could be introduced in a fray at Paris, I dispatched Angelique to make
enquiry; and at her return I learned that a croud of boys were following
a shoemaker of the neighbourhood, who, while he was member of a
revolutionary Committee, had chosen to unite in his person the glories of
both Rome and Greece, of the sword and gown, and had taken unto himself
the name of Scipio Solon. A decree of the Convention some weeks since
enjoined all such heroes and sages to resume their original appellations,
and forbade any person, however ardent his patriotism, to distinguish
himself by the name of Brutus, Timoleon, or any other but that which he
derived from his Christian parents. The people, it seems, are not so
obedient to the decree as those whom it more immediately concerns; and as
the above-mentioned Scipio Solon had been detected in various larcenies,
he is not allowed to quit his shop without being reproached with his
thefts, and his Greek and Roman appellations.

--I am, &c.

Paris, June 8, 1795.

Yesterday being Sunday, and to-day the Decade, we have had two holidays
successively, though, since the people have been more at liberty to
manifest their opinions, they give a decided preference to the Christian
festival over that of the republic.*

* This was only at Paris, where the people, from their number, are
less manageable, and of course more courageous. In the departments,
the same cautious timidity prevailed, and appeared likely to

--They observe the former from inclination, and the latter from
necessity; so that between the performance of their religious duties, and
the sacrifice to their political fears, a larger portion of time will be
deducted from industry than was gained by the suppression of the Saints'
days. The Parisians, however, seem to acquiesce very readily in this
compromise, and the philosophers of the Convention, who have so often
declaimed against the idleness occasioned by the numerous fetes of the
old calendar, obstinately persist in the adoption of a new one, which
increases the evil they pretend to remedy.

If the people are to be taken from their labour for such a number of
days, it might as well be in the name of St. Genevieve or St. Denis, as
of the Decade, and the Saints'-days have at least this advantage, that
the forenoons are passed in churches; whereas the republican festivals,
dedicated one to love, another to stoicism, and so forth, not conveying
any very determinate idea, are interpreted to mean only an obligation to
do nothing, or to pass some supernumerary hours at the cabaret.

I noticed with extreme pleasure yesterday, that as many of the places of
public worship as are permitted to be open were much crouded, and that
religion appears to have survived the loss of those exterior allurements
which might be supposed to have rendered it peculiarly attractive to the
Parisians. The churches at present, far from being splendid, are not
even decent, the walls and windows still bear traces of the Goths (or, if
you will, the philosophers,) and in some places service is celebrated
amidst piles of farage, sacks, casks, or lumber appertaining to the
government--who, though they have by their own confession the disposal of
half the metropolis, choose the churches in preference for such

* It has frequently been asserted in the Convention, that by
emigrations, banishments, and executions, half Paris had become the
property of the public.

--Yet these unseemly and desolate appearances do not prevent the
attendance of congregations more numerous, and, I think, more fervent,
than were usual when the altars shone with the offerings of wealth, and
the walls were covered with the more interesting decorations of pictures
and tapestry.

This it is not difficult to account for. Many who used to perform these
religious duties with negligence, or indifference, are now become pious,
and even enthusiastic--and this not from hypocrisy or political
contradiction, but from a real sense of the evils of irreligion, produced
by the examples and conduct of those in whom such a tendency has been
most remarkable.--It must, indeed, be acknowledged, that did Christianity
require an advocate, a more powerful one need not be found, than in a
retrospect of the crimes and sufferings of the French since its

Those who have made fortunes by the revolution (for very few have been
able to preserve them) now begin to exhibit equipages; and they hope to
render the people blind to this departure from their visionary systems of
equality, by foregoing the use of arms and liveries--as if the real
difference between the rich and the poor was not constituted rather by
essential accommodation, than extrinsic embellishments, which perhaps do
not gratify the eyes of the possessor a second time, and are, probably of
all branches of luxury, the most useful. The livery of servants can be
of very little importance, whether morally or politically considered--it
is the act of maintaining men in idleness, who might be more profitably
employed, that makes the keeping a great number exceptionable; nor is a
man more degraded by going behind a carriage with a hat and feather, than
with a bonnet de police, or a plain beaver; but he eats just as much, and
earns just as little, equipped as a Carmagnole, as though glittering in
the most superb gala suit.*

* In their zeal to imitate the Roman republicans, the French seem to
forget that a political consideration very different from the love
of simplicity, or an idea of the dignity of man, made the Romans
averse from distinguishing their slaves by any external indication.
They were so numerous that it was thought impolitic to furnish them
with such means of knowing their own strength in case of a revolt.

The marks of service cannot be more degrading than service itself; and it
is the mere chicane of philosophy to extend reform only to cuffs and
collars, while we do not dispense with the services annexed to them. A
valet who walks the street in his powdering jacket, disdains a livery as

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