« AnteriorContinuar »
cellent fruit trees. The orange, apricot, and greengage plum, were the best I ever tasted; and it is the only place where I saw the wild cucumber. The place had formerly been occupied by some
My apartments consisted of three rooms; the first, for wood, water, &c., with an old fashioned closet chest, high enough to hang up clothes in; the next was the bed room; and beyond it the sitting room, which looked into the garden through a glass door; and on the outside there was a small landing place railed in, and a flight of narrow stairs almost hidden by the vines that grew over it, by which I could descend into the garden, without going down stairs through the house. I am trying by description to make you see the place in your mind, because it will assist the story I have to tell; and which I think you can do, because you once called upon me there on account of Sir who was then, as I was soon afterwards, in arrestation. But it was winter when you came, and it is a summer scene I am describing.
I went into my chamber to write and sign a certificate for them,* which I intended to take to the guard house to obtain their release. Just as I had finished it a man came into my room dressed in the Parisian uniform of a captain, and spoke to me in good English, and with a good address. He told me that two young men, Englishmen, were arrested and detained in the guard house, and that the section, (meaning those who represented and acted for the section,) had sent him to ask me if I knew them, in which case they would be liberated. This matter being soon settled between us, he talked to me about the Revolution, and something about the "Rights of Man," which he had read in English; and at parting offered me in a polite and civil manner, his services. And who do you think the man was that offered me his services? It was no other than the public executioner Samson, who guillotined the king, and all who were guillotined in Paris; and who lived in the same section, and in the same street with me.
As to myself, I used to find some relief by walking alone in the garden after dark, and cursing with hearty good will, the authors of that terrible system that had turned the character of the Revolution I had been proud to defend.
• Mr. Paine here alludes to two friends who were under arrest. ED.
I went but little to the Convention, and then only to make my appearance; because I found it impossible to join in their tremendous decrees, and useless and dangerous to oppose them. My having voted and spoken extensively, more so than any other member, against the execution of the king, had already fixed a mark upon me: neither dared any of my associates in the Convention to trans. late and speak in French for me, any thing I might have dared to have written.
Pen and ink were then of no use to me: no good could be done by writing, and no printer dared to print; and whatever I might have written for my private amusement, as anecdotes of the times, would have been continually exposed to be examined, and tortured into any meaning that the rage of party might fix upon it; and as to softer subjects, my heart was in distress at the fate of my friends, and my harp hung upon the weeping willows.
As it was summer, we spent most of our time in the garden, and passed it away in those childish amusements that serve to keep reflection from the mind, such as marbles, scotch hops, battledores, &c., at which we were all pretty expert.
In this retired manner we remained about six or seven weeks, and our landlord went every evening into the city to bring us the news of the day, and the evening journal.
I have now, my "Little Corner of the World," led you on, step by step, to the scene that makes the sequel to this narrative, and I will put that scene before your eyes. You shall see it in description as I saw it in fact.*
He recovered, and being anxious to get out of France, a passport was obtained for him and Mr. Choppin: they received it late in the evening, and set off the next morning for Basle before four, from which place I had a letter from them, highly pleased with their escape from France, into which they had entered with an enthusiasm of patriotic devotion. Ah, France! thou hast ruined the character of a Revolution virtuously begun, and destroyed those who produced it. I might almost say like Job's servant, "and I only am escaped."
Two days after they were gone I heard a rapping at the gate,
The second instance of attempted suicide is omitted from motives of personal delicacy. Mr. Paine's letter is continued, as it contains an account of his mode of life before he was sent to prison, &c. ED.
and looking out of the window of the bed room, I saw the landlord going with the candle to the gate, which he opened, and a guard with musquets and fixed bayonets entered. I went to bed again, and made up my mind for prison, for I was then the only lodger. It was a guard to take up but, I thank God, they
were out of their reach.
The guard came about a month after in the night, and took away the landlord, Georgeit; and the scene in the house finished with the arrestation of myself. This was soon after you called on me, and sorry I was it was not in my power to render to service that you asked.
I have now fulfilled my engagement, and I hope your expectation, in relating the case of — landed back on the shore of life, by the mistake of the pilot, who was conducting him out; and preserved afterwards from prison, perhaps a worse fate, without knowing it himself.
This is in
You say a story cannot be too melancholy for you. teresting and affecting, but not melancholy. It may raise in your mind a sympathetic sentiment in reading it; and though it may start a tear of pity, you will not have a tear of sorrow to drop on the page.
Here, my contemplative correspondent, let us stop and look back upon the scene. The matters here related being all facts, are strongly pictured in my mind, and in this sense, Forgetfulness does not apply. But facts and feelings are distinct things, and it is against feelings that the opium wand of Forgetfulness draws us into ease. Look back on any scene or subject that once gave you distress, for all of us have felt some, and you will find, that though the remembrance of the fact is not extinct in your memory, the feeling is extinct in your mind. You can remember when you had felt distress, but you cannot feel that distress again, and perhaps will wonder you felt it then. It is like a shadow that loses itself by light.
It is often difficult to know what is a misfortune: that which we feel as a great one today, may be the means of turning aside our steps into some new path that leads to happiness yet unknown. tracing the scenes of my own life, I can discover that the condition I now enjoy, which is sweet to me, and will be more so when I get to America, except by the loss of your society, has been produced,
in the first instance, in my being disappointed in former projects. Under that impenetrable veil, Futurity, we know not what is concealed, and the day to arrive is hidden from us. Turning then our thoughts to those cases of despair that lead to suicide, when, "the mind," as you say, "neither sees nor hears, and holds counsel only with itself; when the very idea of consolation would add to the torture, and self destruction is its only aim," what, it may be asked, is the best advice, what the best relief; I answer seek it not in reason, for the mind is at war with reason, and to reason against feelings is as vain as to reason against fire: it serves only to torture the torture, by adding reproach to horror. All reasoning with ourselves in such cases acts upon us like the reason of another person, which, however kindly done, serves but to insult the misery we suffer. If Reason could remove the pain, Reason would have prevented it. If she could not do the one, how is she to perform the other? In all such cases we must look upon Reason as dispossessed of her empire, by a revolt of the mind. She retires herself to a distance to weep, and the ebony sceptre of Despair rules alone. All that Reason can do is to suggest, to hint a thought, to signify a wish, to cast now and then a kind of bewailing look, to hold up, when she can catch the eye, the miniature shaded portrait of Hope; and though dethroned, and can dictate no more, to wait upon us in the humble station of a handmaid.
TO A GENTLEMAN AT NEW YORK.
New Rochelle, March 20, 1806.
I WILL inform you of what I know respecting General Miranda, with whom I first became acquainted, at New York, about the year 1783. He is a man of talents and enterprize, a Mexican by birth, and the whole of his life has been a life of adventures.
I went to Europe from New York, in April, 1787, Mr. Jefferson was then minister from America to France, and Mr. Littlepage, a Virginian, (whom John Jay knows,) was agent for the king of Poland, at Paris.
Mr. Littlepage was a young man of extraordinary talents, and I first met with him at Mr. Jefferson's house at dinner. By his intimacy with the king of Poland, to whom also he was chamberlain, he became well acquainted with the plans and projects of the Northern Powers of Europe. He told me of Miranda's getting himself introduced to the Empress Catherine of Russia, and obtaining a sum of money from her, four thousand pounds sterling; but it did not appear to me what the object was for which the money was given; it appeared as a kind of retaining fee.
After I had published the first part of the "Rights of Man," in England, in the year 1791, I met Miranda at the house of Turnbull and Forbes, merchants, Devonshire square, London. He had been a little time before this in the employ of Mr. Pitt, with respect to the affair of Nootka Sound, but I did not at that time know it; and I will, in the course of this letter, inform you how this connection between Pitt and Miranda ended; for I know it of my own knowledge.
I published the second part of the "Rights of Man," in London, in February, 1792, and I continued in London till I was elected a member of the French Convention, in September of that year; and went from London to Paris to take my seat in the Convention, which was to meet the 20th of that month; I arrived at Paris on the 19th.
After the Convention met, Miranda came to Paris, and was appointed general of the French army, under General Dumourier; but as the affairs of that army went wrong in the beginning of the year 1793, Miranda was suspected, and was brought under arrest