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A Residence in France During the Years 1792, 1793,

Naturally found a partizan in an attorney without practice


Mankind are in general more attached to customs than principles. The useful despotism of Peter, which subdued so many of the prejudices of his countrymen, could not achieve the curtailment of their beards; and you must not imagine that, with all the endurance of the French, these continual attempts at innovation pass without murmurs: partial revolts happen very frequently; but, as they are the spontaneous effect of personal suffering, not of political manoeuvre, they are without concert or union, of course easily quelled, and only serve to strengthen the government.--The people of Amiens have lately, in one of these sudden effusions of discontent, burnt the tree of liberty, and even the representative, Dumont, has been menaced; but these are only the blows of a coward who is alarmed at his own temerity, and dreads the chastisement of it.*

* The whole town of Bedouin, in the south of France, was burnt pursuant to a decree of the convention, to expiate the imprudence of some of its inhabitants in having cut down a dead tree of liberty. Above sixty people were guillotined as accomplices, and their bodies thrown into pits, dug by order of the representative, Magnet, (then on mission,) before their death. These executions were succeeded by a conflagration of all the houses, and the imprisonment or dispersion of their possessors. It is likewise worthy of remark, that many of these last were obliged, by express order of Maignet, to be spectators of the murder of their friends and relations.

This crime in the revolutionary code is of a very serious nature; and however trifling it may appear to you, it depends only on the will of Dumont to sacrifice many lives on the occasion. But Dumont, though erected by circumstances into a tyrant, is not sanguinary--he is by nature and education passionate and gross, and in other times might only have been a good natured Polisson. Hitherto he has contented himself with alarming, and making people tired of their lives, but I do not believe he has been the direct or intentional cause of anyone's death. He has so often been the hero of my adventures, that I mention him familiarly to you, without reflecting, that though the delegate of more than monarchical power here, he is too insignificant of himself to be known in England. But the history of Dumont is that of two-thirds of the Convention. He was originally clerk to an attorney at Abbeville, and afterwards set up for himself in a neighbouring village. His youth having been marked by some digressions from the "'haviour of reputation," his profession was far from affording him a subsistence; and the revolution, which seems to have called forth all that was turbulent, unprincipled, or necessitous in the country, naturally found a partizan in an attorney without practice.--At the election of 1792, when the King's fall and the domination of the Jacobins had spread so general a terror that no man of character could be prevailed upon to be a candidate for a public situation, Dumont availed himself of this timidity and supineness in those who ought to have become the representatives of the people; and, by a talent for intrigue, and a coarse facility of phrase-making, (for he has no pretensions to eloquence,) prevailed on the mob to elect him. His local knowledge, active disposition, and subservient industry, render him an useful kind of drudge to any prevailing party, and, since the overthrow of the Brissotines, he has been entrusted with the government of this and some of the neighbouring departments. He professes himself a zealous republican, and an apostle of the doctrine of universal equality, yet unites in his person all the attributes of despotism, and lives with more luxury and expence than most of the _ci-devant_ gentry. His former habitation at Oisemont is not much better than a good barn; but patriotism is more profitable here than in England, and he has lately purchased a large mansion belonging to an emigrant.


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