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A Residence in France During the Years 1792, 1793,

Was a periodical paper published by Freron


The people of Abbeville manifested their sense of the business when d'Etalonde, La Barre's intimate friend, who had saved himself by flight, returned, after a long exile, under favour of the revolution. He was received in the neighbourhood with the most mortifying indifference.

The decree of the Convention too, by which the memory of this imprudent young man was re-established, when promulgated, created about as much interest as any other law which did not immediately affect the property or awaken the apprehensions of the hearers.

Madame de St. E__m__d told me her whole fortune was now reduced to a few Louis, and about six or seven thousand livres in diamonds; that she was unwilling to burden her aunt, who was not rich, and intended to make some advantage of her musical talents, which are indeed considerable. But I could not, without anguish, hear an elegant young woman, with a heart half broken, propose to get her living by teaching music.--I know not that I ever passed a more melancholy day. In the afternoon we walked up and down the path of the village church-yard. The church was shut up, the roof in part untiled, the windows were broken, and the wooden crosses that religion or tenderness had erected to commemorate the dead, broken and scattered about. Two labourers, and a black-smith in his working garb, came while we were there, and threw a sort of uncouth wooden coffin hastily into a hole dug for the purpose, which they then covered and left without farther ceremony. Yet this was the body of a lady regretted by a large family, who were thus obliged to conquer both their affection and their prejudices, and inter her according to the republican mode.*

* The relations or friends of the dead were prohibited, under severe penalties, from following their remains to the grave.

I thought, while we traversed the walk, and beheld this scene, that every thing about me bore the marks of the revolution. The melancholy objects I held on my arm, and the feeble steps of Clementine, whom we could scarcely support, aided the impression; and I fear that, for the moment, I questioned the justice of Heaven, in permitting such a scourge to be let loose upon its works.

I quitted Madame de St. E__m__d this morning with reluctance, for we shall not meet again till I am entirely at liberty. The village municipality where she now resides, are quiet and civil, and her misfortunes make her fearful of attracting the notice of the people in authority of a large place, so that she cannot venture to Amiens.--You must observe, that any person who has suffered is an object of particular suspicion, and that to have had a father or a husband executed, and to be reduced to beggary, are titles to farther persecution.--The politics of the day are, it is true, something less ferocious than they were: but confidence is not to be restored by an essay in the Orateur du Peuple,* or an equivocal harangue from the tribune; and I perceive every where, that those who have been most injured, are most timid.

* _"L'Orateur du Peuple,"_ was a periodical paper published by Freron, many numbers of which were written with great spirit.-- Freron was at this time supposed to have become a royalist, and his paper, which was comparatively favourable to the aristocrats, was read with great eagerness.

The following extract from the registers of one of the popular commissions will prove, that the fears of those who had already suffered by the revolution were well founded:

"A. Sourdeville, and A. N. E. Sourdeville, sisters of an emigrant Noble, daughters of a Count, aristocrats, and having had their father and brother guillotined.

"M. J. Sourdeville, mother of an emigrant, an aristocrat, and her husband and son having been guillotined.

"Jean Marie Defille--very suspicious--a partizan of the Abbe Arnoud and La Fayette, has had a brother guillotined, and always shewn himself indifferent about the public welfare."

The commissions declare that the above are condemned to banishment.

I did not reach this place till after the family had dined, and taking my soup and a dish of coffee, have escaped, under pretext of the headache, to my own room. I left our poet far gone in a classical description of a sort of Roman dresses, the drawings of which he had seen exhibited at the Lyceum, as models of an intended national equipment for the French citizens of both sexes; and my visit to Madame de St. E__m__d had incapacitated me for discussing revolutionary draperies.

In England, this is the season of festivity to the little, and beneficence in the great; but here, the sterile genius of atheism has suppressed the sounds of mirth, and closed the hands of charity--no season is consecrated either to the one or the other; and the once-varied year is but an uniform round of gloom and selfishness. The philosopher may treat with contempt the notion of periodical benevolence, and assert that we should not wait to be reminded by religion or the calendar, in order to contribute to the relief of our fellow creatures: yet there are people who are influenced by custom and duty, that are not always awake to compassion; and indolence or avarice may yield a too ready obedience to prohibitions which favour both. The poor are certainly no gainers by the substitution of philosophy for religion; and many of those who are forbidden to celebrate Christmas or Easter by a mass, will forget to do it by a donation. For my own part, I think it an advantage that any period of the year is more particularly signalized by charity; and I rejoice when I hear of the annual gifts of meat or firing of such, or such a great personage--and I never enquire whether they might still continue their munificence if Christianity were abolished.--Adieu.


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