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A Residence in France During the Years 1792, 1793,

That all the republican tragedies


Men

of literature, therefore, have wisely preferred the conservation of their freedom to the vindication of their taste, and have deemed it better to applaud at the Theatre de la Republique, than lodge at St. Lazare or Duplessis.--Thus political slavery has assisted moral depravation: the writer who is the advocate of despotism, may be dull and licentious by privilege, and is alone exempt from the laws of Parnassus and of decency.--One Sylvan Marechal, author of a work he calls philosophie, has written a sort of farce, which has been performed very generally, where all the Kings in Europe are brought together as so many monsters; and when the King of France is enquired after as not being among them, a Frenchman answers,--"Oh, he is not here--we have guillotined him--we have cut off his head according to law."--In one piece, the hero is a felon escaped from the galleys, and is represented as a patriot of the most sublime principles; in another, he is the virtuous conductor of a gang of banditti; and the principal character in a third, is a ploughman turned deist and politician.

Yet, while these malevolent and mercenary scribblers are ransacking past ages for the crimes of Kings or the abuses of religion, and imputing to both many that never existed, they forget that neither their books nor their imagination are able to furnish scenes of guilt and misery equal to those which have been presented daily by republicans and philosophers. What horror can

their mock-tragedies excite in those who have contemplated the Place de la Revolution? or who can smile at a farce in ridicule of monarchy, that beholds the Convention, and knows the characters of the men who compose it?--But in most of these wretched productions the absurdity is luckily not less conspicuous than the immoral intention: their Princes, their Priests, their Nobles, are all tyrannical, vicious, and miserable; yet the common people, living under these same vicious tyrants, are described as models of virtue, hospitality, and happiness. If, then, the auditors of such edifying dramas were in the habit of reasoning, they might very justly conclude, that the ignorance which republicanism is to banish is desirable, and that the diffusion of riches with which they have been flattered, will only increase their vices, and subtract from their felicity.

There are, however, some patriotic spirits, who, not insensible to this degeneracy of the French theatre, and lamenting the evil, have lately exercised much ingenuity in developing the cause. They have at length discovered, that all the republican tragedies, flat farces, and heavy comedies, are attributable to Mr. Pitt, who has thought proper to corrupt the authors, with a view to deprave the public taste. There is, certainly, no combating this charge; for as, according to the assertions of the Convention, Mr. Pitt has succeeded in bribing nearly every other description of men in the republic, we may suppose the consciences of such scribblers not less flexible. Mr. Pitt, indeed, stands accused, sometimes in conjunction with the Prince of Cobourg, and sometimes on his own account, of successively corrupting the officers of the fleet and army, all the bankers and all the farmers, the priests who say masses, and the people who attend them, the chiefs of the aristocrats, and the leaders of the Jacobins. The bakers who refuse to bake when they have no flour, and the populace who murmur when they have no bread, besides the merchants and shopkeepers who prefer coin to assignats, are notoriously pensioned by him: and even a part of the Representatives, and all the frail beauties, are said to be enlisted in his service.--These multifarious charges will be found on the journals of the Assembly, and we must of course infer, that Mr. Pitt is the ablest statesman, or the French the most corrupt nation, existing.


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