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his expectations of foreign succour, restrained from commencing his operations by the orders of the court at Coblentz, living in woods and marshes in continued danger of being taken, and affected at the death of the king with more than common affliction, he fell dangerously ill, and was compelled to ask shelter at the castle of Laguyomarais, near Lamballe, he knew the political principles of the family, and was personally known to them, but wishing, in case of the worst, not to expose them to the penalty of the law, he claimed hospitality and received it under a fictitious name. His illness soon proved fatal, he died, and was buried in a neighbouring wood—unfortunately a wretch, who had followed him as a servant for many years, thought himself injured by the family of the castle; they would not give up to him some effects of his late master, until they could be justified for so doing by the nearest relation; and he in revenge went privately to a neighbouring magistrate and betrayed the whole affair. If this sad history were ever written the attention of the reader would be as much excited by the events which followed as by those which precede the death of Armand. The whole family of Laguyomarais was destroyed ; the husband, the wife, the daughter, the daughter's husband, the preceptor, and two or three old and faithful servants were convey- ied to Paris and there executed ;—and with them was a young lady of the name of Desille, accused of having secreted some important papers relative to the conspiracy in Britanny, having been mistaken for her sister, the person meant by the informer, she left the revolutionary tribunal, not as yet become familiar to scenes of cruelty and injustice, in their mistake, and died with all the resignation and tranquillity of a martyr. I saw Kosciusco, who served with reputation against Burgoyne, and in South Carolina, and who has since acted so distinguished a part in Poland; he lives in the outskirts of Paris with a family of friends, whose children play about him, and here he reads the newspapers, and cultivates his garden, and smokes his gigarr, forgetting the world as much as possible, and striving, I really believe, to be forgotten. I also saw La Fayette, whose character having been at one time elevated far beyond its intrinsic merit, has been since as unjustly decried. His object was probably never well defined even to himself, but that he meant the good of his country, connected indeed with his own exaltation, is not, I think, to be doubted. What the effect of the revolution will ultimately be to France, we arc yet to learn, but to him it has been certainly productive of every evil. It has robbed him of rank, fortune, and friends, and has subjected him to exile, to imprisonment, and to disgrace. He nevertheless looks better than when I knew him many years ago, during the war, and has an air of tranquillity, and I should say of contentment, if I thought it possible, for he cannot but have some bitter moments—moments during which reflections must
force themselves upon him, not unlike those of Calista in the play, who sees her lover lifeless at her feet, who hears that her father is mortally wounded, and who now bewails those evils which her crimes and fatal follies had occasioned. His circumstances, which are far from being affluent, have been in some measure improved by the generous gratitude of the United States, but his friends will regret that he did not feel himself above accepting the bounty of the present government of France. The remnant of his estate furnishes him a farm to live upon about thirty miles from Paris, and he has there the comfort and satisfaction of being surrounded by a numerous and affectionate family. He speaks with great regard of America, and both he and madame de la Fayette appear to entertain the strongest sentiments of gratitude towards Mr. Hugn and Dr. Bolman, who so rashly but so gallantly attempted to rescue him. His confinement at Olmutz was not in a dungeon; it was upon the ground floor in a room which opened upon the court of the castle, and he was treated with more distinction and tenderness by far than his fellow-prisoners, he was the only one allowed to take exercise out of the castle, until the attempt to rescue him. His memoirs, if he were ever to publish them, would be scarcely less romantic, and still more interesting perhaps than those of Armand, and I wish he may one day publish them, for I like him well enough to wish that he could exculpate himself from two or three charges which still affect his character, even supposing we allowed of his good intentions, and suffered them to operate in his defence, for the evils which have flowed from his rash undertakings. I cannot believe that he was acquainted with, and still less that he intentionally promoted the flight to Varennes; but it is probable that the little numberless, mortifying restraints which he unnecessarily imposed upon the royal family, at the Thuilleries, contributed to impel them to that fatal step ; and it is certain, that the queen used to disclose to the last moments of her life, that he was the only person upon earth whom she could not forgive. It is singular, that of all the various parties which have succeeded each other in France, no one has expressed itself satisfied with the conduct of La. Fayette: with the personal courage of a grenadier, he seems to have wanted decision in moments of emergency. He might once have marched that very army to Paris, from which he was so soon after obliged to fly: if he was right, he was not enough so, and if criminal, it was his fate to be criminal only by halves; his conduct reminds me in short of what Hume applies to a duke of Norfolk in queen Elizabeth's time: "when men of good principles, he observes, engage in dangerous enterprises, they are too apt to balance between the execution of their designs, and their remorse, the fear of punishment and the hope of pardon, till they deprive themselves of all means of effective defence, and become an easy prey to their enemies."
You will say, perhaps, that I do not speak as advantageously as I ought of our old friend the marquis; but his conduct was perhaps never strictly proper; and with respect to America, I do not think it will be approved hereafter, when passion shall have given way to reason. He had made every preparation for an excursion to Greece and Asia Minor in '76, when it was accidentally suggested to him that he might serve his country and acquire reputaion by taking part with the Americans. Animated by the hostility of a Frenchman towards the ancient rivals of his nation, his object was to render the breach irreparable between the colonies and the mother country; nor will it be hereafter thought otherwise of him than of any adventurer, who, availing himself of the discontent which is said to be lurking in Louisiana, were to exhort the people of that country not to submit to the sale that has been made of them, not to be transferred like a flock of sheep—and were to furnish them with the means of successful resistance to the government of the United States.
Notwithstanding the change of behaviour which is upon some occasions perceivable, the French are in society the same good-humoured people they ever were, and well-behaved, though not of manners so refined as formerly. It is never thought necessary to introduce to each other persons who meet together in the same drawing-room, or at the same table, and nothing perhaps could better prove the general discretion which prevals in all companies—the last play, the opera, the different performers, some new novel, or some great event, all knowledge of which is built upon the bulletin of the day, furnish a great abundance of topics. The French are more generally than they used to be in the custom of learning foreign languages, and the residence of so many exiled families in England during the late war has rendered it not uncommon to hear English well spoken in mixed companies. I feel that I have given you a very imperfect account of this great capital and its inhabitants; but there are books without end from which the deficiency may be supplied; of these I know none so useful as Arthur Young's tour, he gives us no list indeed of pictures, and of sta; tues, of palaces and churches to be seen, but he has marked with all the sagacity of an experienced observer a variety of little circumstances, which distinguish the two great rival powers of Europe, and has traced the rise and progress of the revolution, pointing out the weakness and indecision of the one party, and the blind headlong fury of the other better than any one I know of: it has seldom been my good fortune to follow precisely the same course that he did, but I had now the pleasure of having him in some sense as a companion as we were rolling along the great road that leads to Orleans. The traveller, whether he enters or leaves Paris, is struck with the air of squallid poverty in the suburbs, and with the silence and solitude which prevail in the environs of the city. The road to Orleans is one of the most frequented in France, it is broad and straight, and the pavement, which was laid in the time of Louis XIV, is in such perfect preservation, that one is at a loss to conceive how the government can have a pretext for the number of expensive turnpikes which the traveller has to pay his way through. I took notice of the shafts, Young speaks of, which lead down into the quarries, they afford a passage to the labourers, and to the blocks of stone which are raised by a wheel worked by horses. A shaft of this sort opening a passage into a tin mine upon the coast of Cornwall in England, has been sunk in the sea at the distance of three hundred yards from high-water mark; a steam engine upon a great scale which is erected on the shore and communicates by means of pipes with the mine, keeps the workmen from being incommoded by water, and they think no more of the waves which are heard to roar incessantly over their heads, than we do of the artificial thunder of a playhouse.
We passed through Estampes, which furnished in former times a ducal title to one of the favourites of Francis I, who upon many occasions contributed not a little to the embarrassment of his affairs, and we stopped for the night at Augerville. The country we passed along seemed well cultivated, but flat, with a few small towns and villages, and now and then what appeared a gentleman's seat, but there were no farm houses and no hedges. France, though subject to all the evils of a division of property to excess, is yet without those embellishments which the same cause gives rise to in England, and in our northern and eastern states. The greatest want I found the people exposed to was that of fuel; they had no coal, and no wood frequently nearer than the forest of Orleans. We found the inns as upon the other great roads—with neither doors nor windows that could shut well, but abounding in every thing an epicure could wish, and furnished with good beds and the best of wine. It was at Augerville that the prince of had arrived in the year , on his way to the southern provinces, with the view of executing a civil war, when the courier, who had been by mistake directed to Augerville at last overtook him. You will see the anecdote in Voltaire's Age of Louis XIV, and will admire what important events it pleased Providence to connect with so trifling a circumstance. In passing rapidly along between Estampes and Augerville I was struck with the appearance of some ornamental building on a commanding situation, and was told, that it stood on the estate once held by the farmer-general Laborde. Few families were so rich, and very few indeed so conspicuous for the noble use they made of their immense wealth; but they have been singularly unfortunate; two of the sons were lost on the north-west goast of America, and the father, with others of his children, suffered death at the guillotine. MadameLaborde is now the only survivor of this once flourishing family ; she lives, I was told, in the ancient mansion-house, which, together with a small portion of the estate, remained unsold, and finds consolation under all the afflictions she has been exposed to in acts of kindness and generosity to the neighbouring poor.
There came on a snow storm as we left Augerville, and though we were now in one of the most highly cultivated parts of France, yet the view might have reminded the traveller of the deserts of Arabia, whilst the few farm houses that appeared had such high walls and so many outbuildings, that they had the appearance of strongholds where the inhabitants of a whole district had retired for shelter against some predatory excursion of a roving banditti. At length we reached the forest of Orleans which is very much diminished, and entered the city by the very gate through which the valient Joan of Arc so boldly and so successfully sallied out against the English at the famous siege, on the event of which the fate of all France once depended. It would have been very agreeable to us to have passed a few days in this ancient place, where Shakspeare lays so many scenes in his Henry VI, and to have traced, as may still be done, some vestiges of those times; but we soon found, that we were in the most extravagant of all inns, and that it would be ruinous to remain there. There had been indeed the whole length of the way from Paris a disgusting eagerness after money, which I had nowhere before observed ; it arose no doubt from the road being a more frequented one than any we had before travelled, and affording those who live by the side of it frequent opportunities of petty gain from the wants and accidents to which travellers are exposed; like the wild beasts of the desert, who, havmg once tasted of human blood are said never to be satisfied with any other; no sooner does a carriage stop at the post-house than two or three mechanics are seen prowling about it in hopes of some petty job, which they perfectly well know how to exaggerate the importance of, and not the smallest service of any kind is ever rendered without payment being required. I have been dunned by a man who had mounted of his own accord upon the hind-wheel of the carriage and pulled the oil-cloth over the imperial, and who observed in justification of his importunity, that in his efforts to serve us his foot might have slipped, and he might have hurt himself, so as to be incapable of working for his family. Orleans stands in one of the most fertile parts in France, and had some manufactories which have shared the fate of all those that in any degree depended upon foreign commerce; it being upon the Loire, by which a continued intercourse is kept up with Nantes, and its vicinity to the canal, by which the waters of the Loire are made to communicate with those of the Seine, have enabled it to retain a degree of internal trade. The city is one of the most ancient in the empire, but derives Vol. in. p p