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A Residence in France During the Years 1792, 1793,

By subduing the passions that render restraints necessary


I

know I may be censured as illiberal; but I have, during my abode in this country, sufficiently witnessed the disastrous effects of corrupting a people through their amusements or curiosity, and of making men neglect their useful callings to become patriots and philosophers.*--

*This right of directing public affairs, and neglecting their own, we may suppose essential to republicans of the lower orders, since we find the following sentence of transportation in the registers of a popular commission:

"Bergeron, a dealer in skins--suspected--having done nothing in favour of the revolution--extremely selfish (egoiste,) and blaming the Sans-Culottes for neglecting their callings, that they may attend only to public concerns."--Signed by the members of the Commission and the two Committees.

--_"Il est dangereux d'apprendre au peuple a raisonner: il ne faut pas l'eclairer trop, parce qu'il n'est pas possible de l'eclairer assez."_ ["It is dangerous to teach the people to reason--they should not be too much enlightened, because it is not possible to enlighten them sufficiently."]--When the enthusiasm of Rousseau's genius was thus usefully submitted to his good sense and knowledge of mankind, he little expected every hamlet in France would be inundated with scraps of the contrat social, and thousands of inoffensive peasants massacred for not

understanding the Profession de Foi.

The arguments of mistaken philanthropists or designing politicians may divert the order of things, but they cannot change our nature--they may create an universal taste for literature, but they will never unite it with habits of industry; and until they prove how men are to live without labour, they have no right to banish the chearful vacuity which usually accompanies it, by substituting reflections to make it irksome, and propensities with which it is incompatible.

The situation of France has amply demonstrated the folly of attempting to make a whole people reasoners and politicians--there seems to be no medium; and as it is impossible to make a nation of sages, you let loose a horde of savages: for the philosophy which teaches a contempt for accustomed restraints, is not difficult to propagate; but that superior kind, which enables men to supply them, by subduing the passions that render restraints necessary, is of slow progress, and never can be general.

I have made the war of La Vendee more a subject of reflection than narrative, and have purposely avoided military details, which would be not only uninteresting, but disgusting. You would learn no more from these desultory hostilities, than that the defeats of the republican armies were, if possible, more sanguinary than their victories; that the royalists, who began the war with humanity, were at length irritated to reprisals; and that more than two hundred thousand lives have already been sacrificed in the contest, yet undecided.

Amiens, Oct. 24, 1794.

Revolutions, like every thing else in France, are a mode, and the Convention already commemorate four since 1789: that of July 1789, which rendered the monarchical power nugatory; that of August the 10th, 1792, which subverted it; the expulsion of the Brissotins, in May 1793; and the death of Robespierre, in July 1794.


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