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A Residence in France During the Years 1792, 1793,

On a similar occasion Francais


The

good citizens of the republic, not to be behind hand with their representatives, placed Chalier in the cathedrals, in their public-houses, on fans and snuff-boxes--in short, wherever they thought his appearance would proclaim their patriotism.--I can only exclaim as Poultier, a deputy, did, on a similar occasion--"Francais, Francais, serez vous toujours Francais?"--(Frenchmen, Frenchmen, will you never cease to be Frenchmen?)

--But the mandates for such celebrations reach not the heart: flowers were gathered, and flags planted, with the scrupulous exactitude of fear;* yet all was cold and heavy, and a discerning government must have read in this anxious and literal obedience the indication of terror and hatred.

* I have more than once had occasion to remark the singularity of popular festivities solemnized on the part of the people with no other intention but that of exact obedience to the edicts of government. This is so generally understood, that Richard, a deputy on mission at Lyons, writes to the Convention, as a circumstance extraordinary, and worthy of remark, that, at the repeal of a decree which was to have razed their city to the ground, a rejoicing took place, _"dirigee et executee par le peuple, les autorites constitutees n'ayant fait en quelque sorte qu'y assister,"_-- (directed and executed by the people, the constituted authorities having

merely assisted at the ceremony).

--Even the prisons were insultingly decorated with the mockery of colours, which, we are told, are the emblems of freedom; and those whose relations have expired on the scaffold, or who are pining in dungeons for having heard a mass, were obliged to listen with apparent admiration to a discourse on the charms of religious liberty.--The people, who, for the most part, took little interest in the rest of this pantomime, and insensible of the national disgrace it implied, beheld with stupid satisfaction* the inscription on the temple of reason replaced by a legend, signifying that, in this age of science and information, the French find it necessary to declare their acknowledgment of a God, and their belief in the immortality of the soul.

* Much has been said of the partial ignorance of the unfortunate inhabitants of La Vendee, and divers republican scribblers attribute their attachment to religion and monarchy to that cause: yet at Havre, a sea-port, where, from commercial communication, I should suppose the people as informed and civilized as in any other part of France, the ears of piety and decency were assailed, during the celebration above-mentioned, by the acclamations of, _"Vive le Pere Eternel!"--"Vive l'etre Supreme!"_--(I entreat that I may not be suspected of levity when I translate this; in English it would be "God Almighty for ever! The Supreme Being for ever!")

--At Avignon the public understanding seems to have been equally enlightened, if we may judge from the report of a Paris missionary, who writes in these terms:--"The celebration in honour of the Supreme Being was performed here yesterday with all possible pomp: all our country-folks were present, and unspeakably content that there was still a God--What a fine decree (cried they all) is this!"


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