« ForrigeFortsæt »
Again threatened with Arrestation-Remonstrance-Munici
pality of Bayonne arrete motive-Arrival in France.
HERE I applied to Don Louis Blondel de Drouhot, the commandant, or captain-general, for a passport to proceed by land to my destination; where I certainly did hope to learn at least the cause of such extraordinary treatment, And I was now very willing that the dogger should make the rest of her passage without me. Don Louis first threatened to arrest me as a subject of the king of Great-Britain, then at war with his king. Nor could I avail myself in this instance of the passports of the duke of Portland and the marquis Cornwallis. If they had not served me in Portugal, still less could they do so here. Yet I did produce them; for I was determined at all events to deal with candor, and to oppose nothing to such compłicated vexation but simplicity and truth. I offered be sides the testimony of Mr. Rivet, that of the captain, and our servants, that we were sent away by forcé. I produced also the passport of the minister of Portugal, then in strict alliance with Spain; and also the certificates of the Englislı consul, the Danish ambassador and consul, the French minister in Portugal, and other proofs, all shewing beyond doubt, that I was sent for reasons of state from Lisbon to Bordeaux. And since this was apparently done by the 'concurrence of so many ministers, it was to be presumed it was for some good or great purpose, though I protested I knew not what those reasons could be: but merely hoped that the principles of civilization were not yet so lost in Europe, that an individual could be seized upon as if by pirates, and transported by then from place to place, by sea and by land, from dungeon to dungeon, without some account finally to be rendered of such proceedings. At Bordeaux alone I stated I could expect to have that satisfaction, and there I looked for it confidently; as I was sure the diplomatic agents of so many kings would not deliberately join to prostrate those laws, and openly viclate without motive those received notions of natural right and justice, by which their right to govern, and their titles to their thrones, were alone secured. I moreover stated what I had already suffered on board of this ship; what the state of my health was: and I prevailed finally to obtain a passport to follow my destination as far as the frontiers of France, where I might explain myself, as I best could, with the authorities of that country.
With this passport I arrived at Bayonne, where I appeared before the municipality, and was desired to return; the quicker the better, to the place I came from; for that otherwise I should be put in prison.
To this I replied with warmth, that I had heard it proclaimed that France was to be the terre hospitaliere, where the persecuted were to find a refuge. But if I, who had no other crime than the love of my country, of human liberty and justice, and who had not come into this land from any motive of curiosity or caprice, but by misfortune and necessity, which gives a title to humanity in every country: if I was now to be driven back into other lands, where I might expect at least a renewal of the wrongs I had already suffered, it might be said that hospitality and justice were banished
from the earth. That I wanted nothing more than to go to Bordeaux, where alone I could hope for some clue to my situation, or the acquaintance of some person of my own country, by whose interest I might have the means of present existence; or when it should appear prudent, of removing elsewhere.
And above all, some news of my family, touching whom I have been so long and so cruelly in pain.
The loyalty with which I uttered this disposed the assembly in my favor. There were some also of the members who had known something of me by reading the English papers; and if more were wanting, the prisoners of war, who had been confined at the same time with me in the castle of St. George, arrived at this instant; and Mr, Rivet exerted himself with zeal.
Mr. Bastereche, the commissary of the executive power, who had at first spoken with so much sternness, now expressed his desire of serving me as far as his duty would permit; and in the first instance I was allowed to remain in Bayonne until he should write to the minister of the police for his decision.
This was in the month of June, 1799, a critical moment in France. The spirit of party was mounted to an extravagant height, and a stranger had little cliance for
repose in such a conflict. Bayonne was a frontier town, and guarded with jealousy. The remainder of the sum of one hundred pounds, which I had received from Mr. Nash before 'my arrest, was nearly expended; and I in vain cast my eyes round for a friend to apply to: for a stranger in such a moment could expect nothing but distrust.
No answer was to be expected from the minister of the police, and it happened at this moment that a total revolution took place in that department. I applied once more to Mr. Bastereche, and he advised me to present a petic. tion to the municipality, stating all the circumstances of my case, and that they would deliberate, upon it. I there, fore drew up a very abridged statement of what I have pow stated to you; and observed at the same time, that if I was capable of imposing on those whose protection ! claimed, I might avail myself of a multitude of publications in the governmental papers against me; and of public records and acts of parliament. But as all those were false and atrocious, I scorned to profit by them at the exprense of truth, and would make no title but that of an oppressed individual; nor demand any other favor thạn the permission to remain in peace, the greatest good for me after my liberty.
Upon this petition the municipality deliberated, and concluded by drawing up a decree, motived upon the utility of encouraging such strangers as were victims of the despotism of their enemies, and recommending me as a
person well known in the annals of my country. (See Appendix No. XIII.)
Had my views been ambitious, nothing could be more flattering; but my determination was, not to meddle with the concerns of government, nor to be surprised into any step for which I was not prepared. No motive has ever since appeared strong enough to tempt me from this reserve; and I am now as little connected with France, save in gratitude for the asylum it has afforded me, as on the day I first set my foot upon its soil.
I at first objected to this arrete motive, as giving me a character which it was not my desire to avail myself of. But it was replied to me, that the municipality, in its de
sire to serve me, had gone a great length, and that the motives stated were the only ones upon which the members could justify themselves to their government.
That I was not forced to accept of it; but that if I did not think proper so to do, I must wait the answer of the minister, of which they could not take upon themselves to say any thing: whereas this arrete was intended to shorten the delays, by sending me directly before the minister, who alone was competent to decide upon my case,
This instrument was to serve me, as you see, for a passport; and I was bound by it to take the road of Bordeaux, Angouleme, Poitiers, Tours and Orleans, and to present myself before the municipality in each of those towns as I passed. Fearing to be reduced to want, I had no other part to take, and I made use of it accordingly to go as far as Bordeaux, where I without much difficulty obtained leave to remain, and thereupon struck out my signature.
Bordeaux-Bureau Central-Reflections on Party-Spirit
New Embarrassments Mr. Forster-Special Letter of Exchange My Protest-Its Effect.
AS I held firmly to my design of steering clear of every interference or declaration that could affect my own independence, I could the less complain of the rigorous scrutiny to which I was exposed. I was summoned -several times before the Bureau central, and interrogated!