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E------ and I had not
walked into the garden,) she undressed herself, and tied her apron over
her head; which, descending below her waist, gave her the shapeless
figure I have spoken of. With this and a white under petticoat and
slippers, for she had taken out her buckles and put them at the servant
maid's door, I suppose as a keepsake, and aided by the obscurity of
almost midnight, she came down stairs, and was going to drown her-self
in a pond at the bottom of the garden, towards which she was going when
Mrs. E------screamed out. We found afterwards that she had heard the
scream, and that was the cause of her changing her walk.

By gentle usage, and leading her into subjects that might, without
doing violence to her feelings, and without letting her see the direct
intention of it, steal her as it were from the horror she was in, (and
I felt a compassionate, earnest disposition to do it, for she was a good
girl,) she recovered her former cheerfulness, and was afterwards a happy
wife, and the mother of a family.

The other case, and the conclusion in my next: In Paris, in 1793, had
lodgings in the Rue Fauxbourg, St. Denis, No. 63.(1) They were the most
agreeable, for situation, of any I ever had in Paris, except that they
were too remote from the Convention, of which I was then a member. But
this was recompensed by their being also remote from the alarms and
confusion into which the interior of Paris was then often thrown. The
news of those things used to arrive to us, as if we were in a state of
tranquility in the country. The house, which was enclosed by a wall and
gateway from the street, was a good deal like an old mansion farm house,
and the court yard was like a farm-yard, stocked with fowls, ducks,
turkies, and geese; which, for amusement, we used to feed out of the
parlour window on the ground floor. There were some hutches for rabbits,
and a sty with two pigs. Beyond, was a garden of more than an acre
of ground, well laid out, and stocked with excellent fruit trees. The
orange, apricot, and green-gage plum, were the best I ever tasted;
and it is the only place where I saw the wild cucumber. The place had
formerly been occupied by some curious person.(2)

1 This ancient mansion is still standing (1895).--_Editor._

2 Madame de Pompadour, among others.--_Editor._

My apartments consisted of three rooms; the first for wood, water, etc.,
with an old fashioned closet chest, high enough to hang up clothes in;
the next was the bed room; and beyond it the sitting room, which looked
into the garden through a glass door; and on the outside there was a
small landing place railed in, and a flight of narrow stairs almost
hidden by the vines that grew over it, by which I could descend into
the garden, without going down stairs through the house. I am trying
by description to make you see the place in your mind, because it will
assist the story I have to tell; and which I think you can do, because
you once called upon me there on account of Sir [Robert Smyth], who was
then, as I was soon afterwards, in arrestation. But it was winter when
you came, and it is a summer scene I am describing.

*****

I went into my chambers to write and sign a certificate for them, which
I intended to take to the guard house to obtain their release. Just as I
had finished it a man came into my room dressed in the Parisian uniform
of a captain, and spoke to me in good English, and with a good address.
He told me that two young men, Englishmen, were arrested and detained
in the guard house, and that the section, (meaning those who represented
and acted for the section,) had sent him to ask me if I knew them,
in which case they would be liberated. This matter being soon settled
between us, he talked to me about the Revolution, and something about
the "Rights of Man," which he had read in English; and at parting
offered me in a polite and civil manner, his services. And who do you
think the man was that offered me his services? It was no other than the
public executioner Samson, who guillotined the king, and all who were
guillotined in Paris; and who lived in the same section, and in the same
street with me.

*****

As to myself, I used to find some relief by walking alone in the garden
after dark, and cursing with hearty good will the authors of that
terrible system that had turned the character of the Revolution I had
been proud to defend.

I went but little to the Convention, and then only to make my
appearance; because I found it impossible to join in their tremendous
decrees, and useless and dangerous to oppose them. My having voted and
spoken extensively, more so than any other member, against the execution
of the king, had already fixed a mark upon me: neither dared any of my
associates in the Convention to translate and speak in French for me
anything I might have dared to have written.


*****

Pen and ink were then of no use to me: no good could be done by writing,
and no printer dared to print; and whatever I might have written for
my private amusement, as anecdotes of the times, would have been
continually exposed to be examined, and tortured into any meaning that
the rage of party might fix upon it; and as to softer subjects, my heart
was in distress at the fate of my friends, and my harp hung upon the
weeping willows.(1)

As it was summer we spent most of our time in the garden, and passed it
away in those childish amusements that serve to keep reflection from the
mind, such as marbles, scotch-hops, battledores, etc., at which we were
all pretty expert.

In this retired manner we remained about six or seven weeks, and our
landlord went every evening into the city to bring us the news of the
day and the evening journal.

I have now, my "Little Corner of the World," led you on, step by step,
to the scene that makes the sequel to this narrative, and I will put
that scene before your eyes. You shall see it in description as I saw it
in fact.

1 This allusion is to the Girondins.--_Editor._,

2 Yorke omits the description "from motives of personal
delicacy." The case was that of young Johnson, a wealthy
devotee of Paine in London, who had followed him to Paris
and lived in the same house with him. Hearing that Marat had
resolved on Paine's death, Johnson wrote a will bequeathing
his property to Paine, then stabbed himself, but recovered.
Paine was examined about this incident at Marat's trial.
(Moniteur, April 24, 1793.) See my "Life of Paine," vol.
ii., p. 48 seq.--_Editor._.

*****

He recovered, and being anxious to get out of France, a passage was
obtained for him and Mr. Choppin: they received it late in the evening,
and set off the next morning for Basle before four, from which place I
had a letter from them, highly pleased with their escape from France,
into which they had entered with an enthusiasm of patriotic devotion.
Ah, France! thou hast ruined the character of a Revolution virtuously
begun, and destroyed those who produced it. I might almost say like
Job's servant, "and I only am escaped."

Two days after they were gone I heard a rapping at the gate, and looking
out of the window of the bed room I saw the landlord going with the
candle to the gate, which he opened, and a guard with musquets and fixed
bayonets entered. I went to bed again, and made up my mind for prison,
for I was then the only lodger. It was a guard to take up [Johnson and
Choppin], but, I thank God, they were out of their reach.

The guard came about a month after in the night, and took away the
landlord Georgeit; and the scene in the house finished with the
arrestation of myself. This was soon after you called on me, and sorry
I was it was not in my power to render to [Sir Robert Smyth] the service
that you asked.

I have now fulfilled my engagement, and I hope your expectation, in
relating the case of [Johnson], landed back on the shore of life, by
the mistake of the pilot who was conducting him out; and preserved
afterwards from prison, perhaps a worse fate, without knowing it
himself.

You say a story cannot be too melancholy for you. This is interesting
and affecting, but not melancholy. It may raise in your mind a
sympathetic sentiment in reading it; and though it may start a tear of
pity, you will not have a tear of sorrow to drop on the page.

*****

Here, my contemplative correspondent, let us stop and look back upon the
scene. The matters here related being all facts, are strongly pictured
in my mind, and in this sense Forgetfulness does not apply. But facts
and feelings are distinct things, and it is against feelings that the
opium wand of Forgetfulness draws us into ease. Look back on any scene
or subject that once gave you distress, for all of us have felt some,
and you will find, that though the remembrance of the fact is not
extinct in your memory, the feeling is extinct in your mind. You can
remember when you had felt distress, but you cannot feel that distress
again, and perhaps will wonder you felt it then. It is like a shadow
that loses itself by light.

It is often difficult to know what is a misfortune: that which we feel
as a great one today, may be the means of turning aside our steps into
some new path that leads to happiness yet unknown. In tracing the scenes
of my own life, I can discover that the condition I now enjoy, which is
sweet to me, and will be more so when I get to America, except by the
loss of your society, has been produced, in the first instance, in my
being disappointed in former projects. Under that impenetrable veil,
futurity, we know not what is concealed, and the day to arrive is hidden
from us. Turning then our thoughts to those cases of despair that lead
to suicide, when, "the mind," as you say, "neither sees nor hears, and
holds counsel only with itself; when the very idea of consolation would
add to the torture, and self-destruction is its only aim," what, it may
be asked, is the best advice, what the best relief? I answer, seek it
not in reason, for the mind is at war with reason, and to reason against
feelings is as vain as to reason against fire: it serves only to torture
the torture, by adding reproach to horror.



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