Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

the honor of playing hot-cockles and draw-gloves with her, I had obtained her permission to write to her on behalf of a friend, whose occasions not requiring it, I no further availed myself of it. This I almost regret, as I should have been undoubtedly proud of such a correspondent.[ She possesses various accomplishments, rides well, dances well, and designs well. She was then employed in finish, ing a whole length portrait of the first consul. She also spoke English: and as I lodged just opposite her balcony, we often talked across the street in my vernacular tongue.

Madame Bonaparte, the mother, is a fine person undoubtedly for her years; a sensible Italian physiognomy, fresh, alert and vigorous. On the day of a fete champetre in the enchanting valley called the Val-da-gol, the rendesvous of the ladies was on a steep and ruggid mountain. She took my arm to descend the abrupt declivity, which she achieved with the lightness of a nymph; proving herself the true mother of her intrepid son. I asked her if it would not be delightful to pass away life in peace amongst these craggy mountains and flowery fields? and she answered, as if from her heart, with an accent that marked a soul: On n'y serait que trop hereux. This, my dear friend, is all I can call to mind. If these little gos. sippings be of no importance in themselves, the persons of whom they are related and their growing and extraordinary fortunes may give them some. If they afford you the slightest amusement I am repaid.

I might have had the honor of being, on my return to Paris, presented at the circles of these ladies, and at the court; but after the arrival of the English ambassador, a

+ This is not said because this lady is now a queen; but bccause she was then so amiable.

Y

rule was made, that no stranger should be presented, but by the ministers of their respective countries; and I, a poor Irish exile, had no country nor no minister. That however does not hinder me to live in peace with myself and all the world.

LETTER XXVII.

Peace --CornwallisColonel Littlehales_My Memorial.

Amiens - General Musnier--Unrelenting PersecutionMrs. Sampson-Her arrival in France with her Children.

AT length, in an unexpected moment, the sound of cannon proclaimed the joyful news of peace. Festive illuminations gave it new eclat, and drooping humanity, half doubting, half believing, ventured to raise up her head. Next came the news of the almost frantic transports into which this event had thrown the government, no less than the people of England; and how all contending parties seemed now to be united. This might be supposed an auspicious moment for me; one of whose principal crimes was, with the infinite majority of the people of Great Britain and Ireland, to have opposed a war, the bare. termination of which, although no one end for which it was ever pretended to exist had been attained, produced so much exstacy. If such a peace had produced so much joy, as to resemble the effects of a reprieve upon the point of an exea

7

cution, one would suppose, that persecution would at least cease against those who had never encouraged that war; one might have hoped, that past experience had dictated a milder and a wiser system.

But more: The minister of this good work, was lord Cornwallis; the same nobleman whose honor was pledged to me so solemnly, that I was authorised by the chancellor, lord Clare, to say, “that the government that could prove false to such an agreement, could neither stand, nor deserve to stand." Relying upon lord Cornwallis's honor, however, more than on the assertions of lord Clare, I had given him a confidence blindly implicit, and to that honor so flagrantly violated, I had now an opportunity to appeal.. He was now in the plenitude of power, and he knew whether four years separation from my family, and that detestable and atrocious law, that it should be felony to correspond with me, entered either into the letter or the spirit of my agreement with him, for so alone I shall consent to call it; or whether so base and virulent a persecution was a just return for the loyalty I had put into the observation of my part of this hard bargain, and the moderation I liad shewn not to speak of the great sacrifice I had made to humanity and peace. I was warmly counselled also by my friends, and I had sincere ones in every class (for I have sought only the good, and shunned only the vicious of any party) to apply directly to lord Cornwallis for redress. Nobody doubted, that he who had power to make such an agreement would have power to make it respected. Or that he being entrusted with the destiny of so ma

[ocr errors]

+ Mr. Lauriston, the Aid-de-Camp who carried the news to England, was drawn in triumph, by the Englishmen, through the streets of London,

ny nations, was equal to give a passport to an individual, who certainly, under the circumstances, had a right to it. But in this my friends, French, Irish and English, were alike deceived as the sequel will shew.

A few days after the arrival of lord Cornwallis, I demanded of him in writing, an audience of a few minutes, and after some days, I was at his desire received by his secretary, .colonel Littlehales. This gentleman professed to be already in possession of my story, at which I was well pleased. But that we might the better understand each other, I begged to know if he was induced, from any thing he knew of me, to look upon me as a person who was guilty of any crime? He answered with a frankness that gave me still a better opinion of him, that I was accused of being concerned in that which had cost so much blood. I replied, that when I was in prison was the time to have examined into that; then when I might be truly said to be in the hands of my enemies, in the midst of terror and carnage; when every law, save those of destruction, was suspended; when I had no other possible protection than the courage of honor and innocence, I had boldly and unremittingly, to the last hour, demanded a trial, which had been shamefully refused. For ħad it been granted, I would have made it too clearly appear against my accusers, that they were traitors in every sense of the word; and that if I was as they pretended, a rebel, I was a rebet only against the crimes of treason, disloyalty, subordinas tion, murder, torture, kidnapping, arson, and house-breaking; crimes against which I was bound by my true allegiance to rebel. It was natural I said for those who had taken upon themselves to be my judges, accusers and executioners, to propagate zealously such calumny, because as

their crimes were my defence, so my innocence was their guilt. They might justify themselves in having by bloodshed, which I struggled to prevent, worked the union between England and Ireland. But it was too extravagant to call - an Irishman a traitor, however he might be an enemy to such proceedings. And if this great measure is to be followed, as it was preceded by proscriptions, treasons, and persecutions, it must remain a union certainly in name alone. Lord Cornwallis's principal glory, I added, in Ireland, had been putting a stop to horrors at which the human heart recoils, and which I have been disgracefully persecuted for opposing. I did not deny, that under such circumstances, educated as I was in notions of constitution, liberty, and true religion, I might have been bold, or call it mad, enough to have taken the field. But this I never had done; and that all the charges against me, such as being a French general, a traitor, and so forth, were alike contemptible, and undeserving of an answer. I told colonel Littlehales, moreover, that the best compliment I could offer to lord Cornwallis was to assure him of my firm belief, that in my situation he would have done the same thing; and that upon no pretext whatever he would suffer my countrymen to go over to his country and torture his countrymen or ravish his country-women. If I did not think so, and that he would repel them at the peril of his existence, I should not think of him as I did, and no man should ever have seen me at his door. I also answered colonel Littlehales, that of all the charges preferred against me, not one happened to be true. But if it was any satisfaction to him at any time, I was ready to say to what degree, and in what manner, I should have consented to repel force by force.

« ForrigeFortsæt »