Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

nisance I was obliged to sign, before I could quit bridewell. After what had passed in Paris, I did not expect to be turned round again to Mr. Marsden to ask for an an: swer. It was to lord Cornwallis, and not to Mr. Marsden, I had addressed myself. As to Mr. Marsden, I think of him just as I did before: as to him and his associates they could never deceive me, for I never trusted them; nor could any thing they could say either wound or injure me: for

6 Insults are innocent where men are worthless." But lord Cornwallis's honor was at stake: it became him have redressed me, and he has not done it.

Here then was at length something that appeared to be decided; at least there seemed to be a relinquishment of that monstrous idea of separating me from my family. My friends and I were now assured, that passports would no longer be refused to my family to come and join me; but the venom was not yet assuaged. My persecution had not reached its term: for my wife about this time, having written to the duke of Portland, in her impatience to know her destiny; he answered her, and promised to lay her letter before lord Pelham; and after some time she received the following letter from Mr. King: Madam,

I am directed by lord Pelham to acquaint you, in answer to your letter to the duke of Portland of the 5th instant, requesting permission for your husband to return to Ireland, that his lordship is very sorry it is not in his power to comply with your request,

I am, Madam,
Your most obedient humble servant,

J. KING

Indeed the letter by which my kinsman, Mr. Dobbs, announced Mr. Marsden's answer to my wife, was of very bad augur for any view either of humanity, of justice towards me, towards my unoffending wife and children, or my wretched country. In it are these expressions, “I received a letter from your husband a short time ago," and then it concludes “I would have written to him, but I do not feel that, under the existing circumstances, I ought to do so.Now this Mr. Dobbs is my near kinsman. He is a man whom I myself recommended and prevailed upon to be the agent of negociation between the state-prisoners and the government, at a time when it entered little into my thoughts, or his, or those of any other person, that I was to be the dupe of the genërous part I acted. As to my kinsman, he could not be accused of any but the most natural and inoffensive motive for corresponding with me, and the circumstances he stood in as an agent in the bargain I made, called upon him imperiously to communicate with me. · Judge then, by these expressions in his letter, of the terror that still broods over this newly united kingdom, so degrading to those who live under its iron sway, and a thousand times more dreadful to an honest mind than death.

END OF THE LETTERS WRITTEN IN FRANCES

THE SUBJECT CONTINUED,

IN A SERIES OF

LETTERS FROM NEW-YORK,

LETTER XXVIII.

of the Terror in France.

NEW-YORK, 1807. YOUR flattering expressions, my dearest friend, and the interest you take in my fate, are reward enough for any trouble it can cost me, to give my opinion upon the topics you point out; and to relate the sequel of my story. As in every work some method must be observed, I shall take the first that presents itself, and in adopting the order of your questions, make each the subject of a separate letter.

To speak of the terror in France is, I must say, to begin with the most painful part of my task. To defend or justify the enormities committed on that great theatre, could least of all be expected from one of my principles or feelings. He who has been devoted to the cause of liberty, and a martyr to the desire of promoting human happiness, must turn with most natural abhorrence from the vices by which the idol of his heart has been profaned.

But since the world has been made to resound with these crimes; since they have been celebrated through the universe by eloquence so much beyond my pretensions, until every echo has been wearied with the repetition of them, it would be an idle affectation to go over a ground so beaten. I could however wish, that those who have been so zealous in proclaiming the sufferings of the victims to the French terror, had been themselves more innocent of them. That their machinations, intrigues and interference, had not tended to promote them. And I could further wish, that if they were innocent of that terror, they had been also guiltless of one more cruel and more horrible; for too truly may the French terrorist reply to the English terrorist, smutato nomine de te fabula narratur;" by altering the names of things we do not change their nature: and what is tyranny in France, cannot be ennobled in Ireland by the appellation of "loyalty," of "royalty," or of "vigor beyond the law!"

You express your wonder, that in a civilized country, either monsters should be found to plan such deeds, or instruments to execute them. But it is surely less wonderful that they should happen during the first convulsive throws of a nation bursting the bonds of ancient thraldom; a people long used to abject submission, suddenly and violently becoming masters; and where hostile interference of foreigners, malevolent intrigues, and ferocious threats, had carried rage and despair into the hearts of the multitude, than that they should happen under a regular and settled government.

The state and parliamentary proceedings of England, and also the proclamations of the duke of Brunswick, at the head of a foreign army, before any terror had been

practised, threatened the people of France with fire and sword. The fate of such measures under general Burgoyne and the others in America, was a sufficiently recent example to have served as a warning against that mode of dragooning, if perverse men were capable of taking a lesson from experience, or measuring with a judicious eye the present and the past.

Then if we must wonder at mad cruelty, let it rather be, that such deeds could be perpetrated under a government vast and powerful, which had neither interest nor temptation to be any thing but just! Or the terror in Ireland' my former correspondence may have given you some faint idea: some histories since published in more detail, may have fallen into your hands: and indeed the horror of those enormities, in spite of all the pains taken to suppress it, seems at length to have made its way to the hearts and understandings of the intelligent and virtuous in most parts of the civilized world. And perhaps it is now in England alone, that they are least known or felt. I must observe, nevertheless, that every historian who has treated of them, seems more or less tinctured with the spirit of the times, and to crouch under the sentiment we deplore: so that whilst it is above all things meritorious to blazon the crimes of the French revolutionists, it is held treasonable and desperate to speak of those of Ireland, as if the ancient proverb, “we are born to suffer," was intended for the edification of Irishmen alone!

For this reason I think it due to justice and to truth, to draw some lines of impartial comparison between these two parties.

First. In France the jacobin chiefs were not, as I ever could learn, avariciously interested; few of them enriched

« ForrigeFortsæt »