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A Residence in France During the Years 1792, 1793,

When the prisons of Nantes overflowed

style="text-align: justify;"> October 6, 1794.

The sufferings of individuals have often been the means of destroying or reforming the most powerful tyrannies; reason has been convinced by argument, and passion appealed to by declamation in vain--when some unvarnished tale, or simple exposure of facts, has at once rouzed the feelings, and conquered the supineness of an oppressed people.

The revolutionary government, in spite of the clamorous and weekly swearings of the Convention to perpetuate it, has received a check from an event of this nature, which I trust it will never recover.--By an order of the Revolutionary Committee of Nantes, in November 1793, all prisoners accused of political crimes were to be transferred to Paris, where the tribunal being more immediately under the direction of government, there would be no chance of their acquittal. In consequence of this order, an hundred and thirty-two inhabitants of Nantes, arrested on the usual pretexts of foederalism, or as suspected, or being Muscadins, were, some months after, conducted to Paris. Forty of the number died through the hardships and ill treatment they encountered on the way, the rest remained in prison until after the death of Robespierre.

The evidence produced on their trial, which lately took place, has revealed but too circumstantially all the horrors of the revolutionary system. Destruction in every

form, most shocking to morals or humanity, has depopulated the countries of the Loire; and republican Pizarro's and Almagro's seem to have rivalled each other in the invention and perpetration of crimes.

When the prisons of Nantes overflowed, many hundreds of their miserable inhabitants had been conducted by night, and chained together, to the river side; where, being first stripped of their clothes, they were crouded into vessels with false bottoms, constructed for the purpose, and sunk.*--

* Though the horror excited by such atrocious details must be serviceable to humanity, I am constrained by decency to spare the reader a part of them. Let the imagination, however repugnant, pause for a moment over these scenes--Five, eight hundred people of different sexes, ages, and conditions, are taken from their prisons, in the dreary months of December and January, and conducted, during the silence of the night, to the banks of the Loire. The agents of the Republic there despoil them of their clothes, and force them, shivering and defenceless, to enter the machines prepared for their destruction--they are chained down, to prevent their escape by swimming, and then the bottom is detached for the upper part, and sunk.--On some occasions the miserable victims contrived to loose themselves, and clinging to the boards near them, shrieked in the agonies of despair and death, "O save us! it is not even now too late: in mercy save us!" But they appealed to wretches to whom mercy was a stranger; and, being cut away from their hold by strokes of the sabre, perished with their companions. That nothing might be wanting to these outrages against nature, they were escribed as jests, and called "Noyades, water parties," and "civic baptisms"! Carrier, a Deputy of the Convention, used to dine and make parties of pleasure, accompanied by music and every species of gross luxury, on board the barges appropriated to these execrable purposes.

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