Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 hands, 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 Bayonné 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 chance 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 petition to the municipality, stating all the circumstances of my case, and that they would deliberate upon it.

it. I therefore drew up a very abridged statement of what I have now stated to you'; and observed, at the same time, that if I was capable of imposing on those whose protection I claimed, I might avail myself of a multitude of publications in the governmental papers against mé; and of public records and acts of parliament. But as all those were false and atrocious, I scorned to profit by them at the expence of truth, and would make no title but that of an oppressed individual ; nor demand any other favor than the permission to remain in peacem-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 Appendir 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 arrété motivé, 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 desire 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 arrêté 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, Angouléme, Poitiers, Tours, and Orléans, 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.

LETTER XXV.

Bordeaux-----Bureau Central-Reflections on Party

Spirit--New EmbarrassmentsMr. ForsterSpecial Letter of Exchange ---My Protest---Its Effect.

[ocr errors]

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 strictly; as was my servant, and Mr. Rivet, and also the captain upon

his arrival from St. Sebastian. You will find in the appendix a copy of those interrogatories which I afterwards made interest to obtain.-(See Appendix No. XIV.) You will perceive by them in how difficult a situation I was placed, and judge whether my persecutors, had they been in my place, would have acted so truly or so honorably.

It may, at some future day, be thought worthy of enquiry why I was thus piratically sent to Bordeaux : but had those events, which some so confidently expected at that crisis, taken place, my destruction might have easily been effected: for in such angry moments accusation may be heard, but not defence. Be it as it may—my way was here again strewed with thorns, and bigotry and ignorance envenomed against me. There is every where unførtunately, a class to be met with of human beings, leaning naturally to the side of power, however depraved or atrocious; and ever ready to enlist under the banners of oppression, and to join in cry of malice. With such I could naturally hold no friendship, nor look for any justice, much less for benevolence. With them the name of honor, and the love of their fellow-creatures, is a jest: and never having felt the impulse of any honorable feeling, they readily believe that there is no such thing. But I have had the mortification here as in other places during the course of my persecution, of meeting with persons naturally good, and such as I could have wished to esteem, worked up by deceit and calumny to a pitch of uncharitableness not very distinguishable from the most odious

« PreviousContinue »