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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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* _Considerations Generales fur l'Esprit et les Principes du Decret
du 15 Decembre_.

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

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

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

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

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

JOHN GIFFORD. London, Nov. 12, 1796.

* _Discorsi di Nicoli Machiavelli,_ Lib. ii. p. 88.

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

- - - - - - - - - - - -

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

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

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

April 14, 1797.





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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sept. 12, 1796.


May 10, 1792.

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

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

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

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

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

May, 1792.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 10, 1792.

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

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

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

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

June 24, 1792.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 24, 1792.

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

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

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

August 4, 1792.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 15.

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

* All fire and slaughter.

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

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

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

_Choeur Bearnais.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours, &c.

August 22, 1792.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arras, August, 1792.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lisle, August, 1792.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Lisle, Saturday.

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

Arras, September 1, 1792.

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

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

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

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

This is another evil arising from the circumstances of the times. All
people of property have begun to bury their money and plate, and as the
servants are often unavoidably privy to it, they are become idle and
impertinent--they make a kind of commutation of diligence for fidelity,
and imagine that the observance of the one exempts them from the
necessity of the other. The clubs are a constant receptacle for
idleness; and servants who think proper to frequent them do it with very
little ceremony, knowing that few whom they serve would be imprudent
enough to discharge them for their patriotism in attending a Jacobin

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