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And I think I can assure you, that there are in France as affectionate and faithful wives, as tender and attentive mothers, as in any other country of the earth. Such, however, are not naturally the first to present themselves to the acquaintance of the stranger or the traveller.
Journey to Hamburg-Occupations—Correspondence
-Mr. Thornton-Lord Harvkesbury-Mr. Fox.
It is time now that my accounts are settled, and
my debts discharged in France, that we should think of leaving it. From the year 1799, until the arrival of Mrs. Sampson, in 1802, I had led a bachelor's life, which had given me an opportunity of making a very numerous acquaintance. If ever we should meet again, I might perhaps amuse you with such observations as I have been able to make upon some of those who now figure amongst the first personages of the universe ; and with my opinions of their various merits. But besides that, I should fear to weary your patience, I am now obliged to dedicate almost all my hours to the occupations and studies of my profession; and am forced to hurry
through this correspondence in a manner more careless and abrupt than you might otherwise have reason to be pleased with. Necessity is in this case my apology, and I count upon your acceptance of it.
After the arrival of Mrs. Sampson, my life became once more domestic. We joined our labours in the education of our children, which became our chief pleasure, and our principal care. We were not un. rewarded for our pains. Their letters, in various languages, which I have forwarded to you, may give you some idea of the progress of their understandings, and are the unstudied effusions of their innocent hearts. We spent three summers in the charming valley of Montmorency, and as many winters in Paris ; not so much to enjoy its brilliant pleasures, as to give our children the advantage of the best masters, in those accomplishments which, they could never learn so well elsewhere. But at length, some symptoms of declining health in my son ; certain family concerns; and the desire my wife had to revisit a kind and excellent mother, whom she loves with a deserved enthusiasm, decided us to endeavor at returning. Indeed I was tired of living inactive, and long wished to take my flight for the happy country where fate, it seems, had intended I should at last repose.
The intensity of the war with England, made a state of neutrality and independence more difficult to be preserved—and the sincerity of my disposition allowed of no disguise. I applied therefore for a passport, which I obtained, not without difficulty, to go to Hamburg : and this was granted on the recom
mendation of my countrymen, who were in the French service, and from other persons of distinction, and who were willing to do me every good office. My passport was that of a prisoner of war, signed by the minister of war, and countersigned by the minister of police.--(See Appendix No. XV.)
Nothing in our journey was worth remarking until we arrived at Rotterdam. There we were like to have suffered a heavy misfortune, from the loss of our only son, who was attacked with a violent fever, which detained us, I think, six weeks. The only pleasure or consolation we had in this town, was in the goodness and hospitality of Mr. George Crawfurd, a Scotch gentleman of good fortune; who, without place or office, represents his country, by his reception of strangers from every quarter of the world, in a distinguished and honorable manner.
We spent some days at the Hague, and about the latter end of June left Holland, passing from Amsterdam across the Zuyder Sea, and reached Hamnburg in the month of July. On my arrival, I thought it prudent to present myself both to the French and English Minister. For, if I was to go to England, I should require the protection of the Jatter—or if circumstances should oblige me to return to France, of the former.
I lost no time in announcing to Mr. Thornton my situation, and my wishes, and produced to him such of my papers' as might satisfy him at once
my identity, and my views; and after some explanation, he undertook to write to Lord Hawkesbury, respect
ing my permission to conduct my wife and children home.
I must say, that of all the towns where it has been my fortune to be, this was the least agreeable. Hitherto, our little means, backed by the various kindnesses and partialities of friends, had made our course of life smooth and agreeable, nor was there any reasonable gratification to which we were strangers. In this place, the very aspect of which is odious, there were few sources of enjoyment, and those expensive. From one or two respectable families, we received some attentions; but we soon found that retirement was our best prospect of comfort.
There is a custom inhospitable, and deserving of animadversion, which has too much prevalence in other countries, but which is pushed to extreme both in Holland and in this cityl: which is, that the guest must pay a heavy ransom at any genteel house, to get out of the hands of the servants. I have been told that some servants get no other wages. I should not wonder if they bought their places. At all events, between coach-hire, ransom, and cards, at which I never play without losing, we found a dinner or supper too dear for our shattered fortunes, and determined prudently to live on ourselves. I had, besides, a horror of this town, from the recollection of the cruelties committed upon certain of my countrymen, as you will see by the short, simple, and truly interesting narrative lately been published at Versailles, by William Corbet, entitled-La conduite du senat de Hamburg devoileé aux yeux de l'Europe, of which I
send you a copy. We provided ourselves, therefore, with a lodging at a place called Slavshoff, on the banks of the Elbe, near Altona, the same which the English minister Rumbold had occupied at the time of his arrest : and there we dedicated our time as before, to the care and education of our children. My son was now eleven years of age, and sufficiently advanced to make his tuition a source of some amusement and profit to myself. We often walked with our book along the strand, and divided our time between exercise and study. I was a play-fellow to him, and he was a companion to me. When we met an agreeable and sequestered spot, we sat down to study; and when tired, we got up and walked. Thus we followed the outward discipline of the Peripatetic school, though in many things we differed from it, and held considerably less to the opinions of Aristotle. It is curious to recollect how many didactic sentences, how many grave aphorisms, rules of criticism, logic, and philosophy, that poor child has been cajoled to swallow, as well on the banks of this river, as in the lovely forest of Montmorency, either climbing upon a rock, or swinging on the bow of a green tree.
My daughter was about nine years old, and gifted, if my partiality does not deceive me, with uncommon powers of mind. The facility with which she could conceive and learn things above the level of her years, often surprised and delighted me. She had, besides, a little arch turn of Irish drollery, which enhanced her merit in my eyes ; with an