Page images

one evil to avoid an accumulation *; no one pretends that either those men, at least the immense majority of them, who have been sent from time to time to Cayenne, or the Dutch deputies now under arrest, are enemies either to Liberty or their respective Republics; no one of common sense enter-', tains this opinion : knowing many of this conquered party intimately, I can aver, that they have left none behind more pure in manners, or more decided in favour of republican liberty. But, unfortunately, those of France suffered their personal passions to interfere with their political duties, and they lent unwittingly their aid to those who wished to crush the Republic, while their only aim was to crush the men in power, whom they considered as usurpers, and whom they hated.

The men in power WERE TOO WELL VERSED IN REVOLUTIONS not to amalgamate their own personal enemies with those of the state ; and, hence arises the expedition to Cayenne. Take the inverse; suppose the conquered party had triumphed, we should have either an interminable civil war, or Royalty, if it were possible for this exploded system to return, would have been restored. These exiles would themselves have been the first victims of their own operations. In Holland, these deputies confirmed the government; in France, the government overthrew the opposition, then the opposition overthrew the government. The government of Holland, though indebted for its political existence to France, has .

* The invariable progress of guilt! The consequences of one crime produce the necessity of another, till at length a situation arises, from which there is no receding; but, where the callous conscience, even of the most sanguinary Democrat, feels remorse and horror.

Facilis descensus averni,
Sed revocare gradum !


all along shewn a most misplaced spirit of independence; and although the restitution of its colonies seemed the only barrier to a peace with England, has manifested a considerable degree of tardiness to join in the operations against that power. The imprudent and ever-suspected conduct of the government, in sending out the fleet to be taken by the English, and the reluctance they have -shewn to come to any constitutional settlement, on the basis of equality, such as it is now generally understood, has led the French government to lend its hand to the party of the opposition, who were more complying, and the government has changed its hands. It was not difficult to foresee that this event, or a. similar would take place. I had occasion to notice, during a short visit I made this last summer at the Hague, that cordiality between the two governments, would not be of very long duration ; and, oftentimes they were told by M. Noel, the French ambassador, as he himself informed me, that unless they would defer their extreme love of independence to a more convenient season, and join more heartily with the French government in its great plan, they would rue the consequence*, which the event has justified. It is happy, however, that these evils are not out of the reach of repair-the peace will, no doubt, restore every thing to its original position.

In the mean while, every thing within, is in a state of the most perfect tranquillity. The public force has compressed the attempts both of Jacobins and Royalists, and there appears no kind of reason for supposing, that we shall have any more of these civil movements at present. The country, so far as

* This is the people whom France professed to deliver from the yoke of England!


respects its domicile state, is more advantageously situated than any other in Europe. Agriculture was never so much the rage, and manufactures, but for the greit encouragement given to English produce, would have been equally thriving. Every thing in this country is as cheap again as in England; bread is froin a half-penny to three farthings a-pound; meat from three pence to four pence, and other articles in proportion *.

The difference of expense, will no doubt make France the residence of vast numbers at the peace, independent of its other attractions, such as its being the centre of every thing that is sublime and elegant in the arts. The spoils of Italy are on their way to Paris. There will be collected in one point of view, especially since the late events at Rome, all that formerly attracted the visits of travellers to various parts of Italy. The government is also solicitous to make the best use of the treasure which it possesses, by constructing museums, academies, walks ; and, by enumerating the public promenades and gardens, recal, as far as possible, the brilliant, scientific, and literary æras of the Grecian republics.

If there is any thing that meets with discouragement from government in this country, that refers to public instruction, it is the remains of the Roman Catholic Religion, which, with all the letters and laws of tolerance, which have been passed, has not been able to raise itself up from under the crush of the interdict, which the combined powers of philosophy and terror have laid on it. You have heard, no doubt, of the new sect which now

* The falsehood of this assertion hardly deserves refutation. Every one knows that in such a comparison, the quality, as well as the nomioal price of the articles, must be considered.


has usurped every church in Paris, under the name of Theophilanthrophism. This sect is prohibited by the government; but it is in the hands of ignorant men, who do not know how to use the weapons that are put into their hands. They are, however, for the most part well intentioned; and were they the means of information, would probably make good Christians. Nothing is read here on these subjects; because, nothing is wrote. We have seen nothing but Mr. Paine's Age of Reason ; of which an immense edition in French was published, and not twenty copies were sold. I am told, he has also been rejected from the society of the Theophilanthropes, on the charge of intolerance. They have, at least, refused his offers of public instruction. Some atheistical tracts have been published, which have been little attended to, and the mind is floating at present, not knowing on what ground to repose, unwilling to reject the Christian religion, and yet ignorant how to distinguish the wheat from the chaff.

Our national institute goes on, reading and publishing, and has just appearance of activity, though nothing of very considerable importance has been done since its formation. I believe I mentioned to you in my last letter, that Favery is about to publish a History of Chemistry, or, at least, is busily employed in writing, in the mode, as I understand, from himself, of your History of Optics and Electricity. I have a packet of books done


you, at a bookseller's; but the hopes of seeing you in France, hindered me from sending them at the period I might have sent thein, and now it would be extremely hazardous, since all American vessels are made prizes, and there is no security of conveyance; nevertheless, if I find a fortunate opportunity, I shall send them, for I fear that we shall yet delay to see you here.


Whether we shall continue or increase our hostilities towards the United States, is as yet uncertain ; all depends on the great operation directed against England *. If that succeeds, English influence will probably not predominate amongst you. In the mean time, it is most likely that the French will go on as at present, treating with as little ceremony as usual every thing that relates to America. John Adams's speech on the opening of Congress caused a few sniles; the more so, as it was understood to be a speech full of thunder and menace against France. Nothing is wanting but the interposition of some upright and patriotic citizen, to settlep the misunderstanding ; but I fear it will not be done in John Adams's time.

I inclose a note for our friend M. B. P.; but as ignorant of the name he bears at present among you, I must beg you to seal and address it. We have heard nothing of him since his departure, and know but vaguely that he is secreted at present at Kennebeck. Mr. Skipwith has promised that a letter shall be conveyed safely to you : I have therefore taken the opportunity of writing you a triple letter ; and but for fear of wearying your

* Mr. Stone's opinion on this point is not singular. There are few persons in Europe or America who do not now feel that their existence depends on our safety. If more anxiety is not expressed on the subject by foreigners, it proceeds from the confidence which our fleets inspire, and to which they are well entitled. We, for our part, have a stronger ground of confidence a confidence in OURSELVES.

+ If report is to be credited, the Directory were by no means averse to settle the misunderstanding in the usual mode, of the particulars of which M. d'Aranjo, and other negotiators, who have treated personally with them, can give a very accurate account, provided they are out of the reach of a mandat d'arrêt. What pity that no upright and patriotic citizen could be found to comply with this upright and patriotic demand !


« PreviousContinue »