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

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the loss of six thousand troops which the French had taken prisoners,
would doubtless produce an insurrection in England, par consequent a
peace, and our release from captivity!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 18.

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

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

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

Oct. 19.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 20.

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

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

* Nearly at the same time, and on the same occasion, there were
literary partizans of the Duke of Orleans, who endeavoured to
persuade the people that the man with the iron mask, who had so long
excited curiosity and eluded conjecture, was the real son of Louis
XIII.--and Louis XIV. in consequence, supposititious, and only the
illegitimate offspring of Cardinal Mazarin and Anne of Austria--that
the spirit of ambition and intrigue which characterized this
Minister had suggested this substitution to the lawful heir, and
that the fears of the Queen and confusion of the times had obliged
her to acquiesce:

"Cette opinion ridicule, et dont les dates connues de l'histoire
demontrent l'absurdite, avoit eu des partisans en France--elle
tendoit a avilir la maison regnante, et a persuader au peuple que le
trone n'appartient pas aux descendans de Louis XIV. prince
furtivement sutstitue, mais a la posterite du second fils de Louis
XIII. qui est la tige de la branche d'Orleans, et qui est reconnue
comme descendant legitimement, et sans objection, du Roi Louis

--Nouvelles Considerations sur la Masque de Fer, Memoirs de

"This ridiculous opinion, the absurdity of which is demonstrated by
historical dates, had not been without its partizans in France.--It
tended to degrade the reigning family, and to make the people
believe that the throne did not of right belong to the descendants
of Louis XIV. (a prince surreptitiously intruded) but to the
posterity of the second son of Louis XIII. from whom is derived the
branch of Orleans, and who was, without dispute, the legitimate and
unobjectionable offspring of Louis XIII."

--New Considerations on the Iron Mask.--Memoirs of the Duc de

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

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

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

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

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

Arras, 1793.

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

Oct. 21.

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

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

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

Oct. 22.

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

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

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

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

Oct. 25.

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

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

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

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

Oct. 27.

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

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

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

* Decree concerning suspected people:

"Art. I. Immediately after the promulgation of the present decree,
all suspected persons that are found on the territory of the
republic, and who are still at large, shall be put under arrest.

"II. Those are deemed suspicious, who by their connections, their
conversation, or their writings, declare themselves partizans of
tyranny or foederation, and enemies to liberty--Those who have not
demonstrated their means of living or the performance of their civic
duties, in the manner prescribed by the law of March last--Those
who, having been suspended from public employments by the Convention
or its Commissioners, are not reinstated therein--Those of the
ci-devant noblesse, who have not invariably manifested their
attachment to the revolution, and, in general, all the fathers,
mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and agents of
emigrants--All who have emigrated between the 1st of July, 1789,
and 8th of April, 1792.

"III. The execution of the decree is confided to the Committee of
Inspection. The individuals arrested shall be taken to the houses
of confinement appointed for their reception. They are allowed to
take with them such only of their effects as are strictly necessary,
the guards set upon them shall be paid at their expence, and they
shall be kept in confinement until the peace.--The Committees of
Inspection shall, without delay, transmit to the Committee of
General Safety an account of the persons arrested, with the motives
of their arrest. [If this were observed (which I doubt much) it was
but a mockery, few persons ever knew the precise reason of their
confinement.]--The civil and criminal tribunals are empowered, when
they deem it necessary, to detain and imprison, as suspected
persons, those who being accused of crimes have nevertheless had no
bill found against them, (lieu a accusation,) or who have even been
tried and acquitted."

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

"I. Those who in popular assemblies check the ardour of the people
by artful speeches, by violent exclamations or threats.

"II. Those who with more caution speak in a mysterious way of the
public misfortunes, who appear to pity the lot of the people, and
are ever ready to spread bad news with an affectation of concern.

"III. Those who adapt their conduct and language to the
circumstances of the moment--who, in order to be taken for
republicans, put on a studied austerity of manners, and exclaim with
vehemence against the most trifling error in a patriot, but mollify
when the crimes of an Aristocrate or a Moderee are the subject of
complaint. [These trifling events were, being concerned in the
massacres of September, 1792--public peculations--occasional, and
even habitual robbery, forgeries, &c. &c. &c.--The second, fourth,
fifth, sixth, and seventh classes, were particularly numerous,
insomuch that I doubt whether they would not have included
nineteen-twentieths of all the people in France who were honest
or at all capable of reflection.]

"IV. Those who pity avaricious farmers and shopkeepers, against
whom the laws have been necessarily directed.

"V. Those who with the words liberty, country, republic, &c.
constantly in their mouths, hold intercourse with ci-devant Nobles,
Contre-revolutionnaires, Priests, Aristocrates, Feuillans, &c. and
take an interest in their concerns.

"VI. Those who not having borne an active part in the revolution,
endeavour to excuse themselves by urging the regular payment of
their taxes, their patriotic gifts, and their service in the Garde
National by substitute or otherwise.

"VII. Those who received the republican constitution with coolness,
or who intimated their pretended apprehensions for its establishment
and duration.

"VIII. Those who, having done nothing against liberty, have done as
little for it.

"IX. Those who do not frequent the assembly of their section, and
offer, for excuse, that they are no orators, or have no time to
spare from their own business.

"X. Those who speak with contempt of the constituted authorities,
of the rigour of the laws, of the popular societies, and the
defenders of liberty.

"XI. Those who have signed anti-revolutionary petitions, or any
time frequented unpatriotic clubs, or were known as partizans of La
Fayette, and accomplices in the affair of the Champ de Mars."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 30.

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

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

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

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

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

The People of Brest were suffered to behold, I had almost said to be
amused with (for if those who order such spectacles are detestable,
the people that permit them are not free from blame,) the sight of
twenty-five heads ranged in a line, and still convulsed with the
agonies of death.--The cant word for the Guillotine was "our holy
mother;" and verdicts of condemnation were called prizes in the
Sainte Lotterie--"holy lottery."

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

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

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

Bicetre at Amiens, Nov. 18, 1793.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 19, 1793.

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

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

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

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

Nov. 20.

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

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

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

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

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

* The Commandant of Lisle, on his arrival at the Bicetre, was
stripped of a considerable sum of money, and a quantity of plate he
had unluckily brought with him by way of security. Out of this he
is to be supplied with fifty livres at a time in paper, which,
according to the exchange and the price of every thing, is, I
suppose, about half a guinea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Amiens, Providence, Dec. 10, 1793.

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

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

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

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

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

[End of Vol. I. The Printed Books]

[Beginning of Volume II. Of The Printed Books]

Providence, Dec. 20, 1793.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My ideas on the French character and manner of living may not be unuseful
to such of my countrymen as come to France with the project of retrieving
their affairs; for it is very necessary they should be informed, that it
is not so much the difference in the price of things, which makes a
residence here oeconomical, as a conformity to the habits of the country;
and if they were not deterred by a false shame from a temporary adoption
of the same system in England, their object might often be obtained

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