« EelmineJätka »
My dear Madam,
Calais, Oct. 24, 1796.
T has been obferved that "there is
scarcely any mind fo fluggish as not "to feel a certain degree of rapture at the
thought of travelling;" and if under ordinary circumftances we have an eagerness to vifit and explore foreign scenes and manners, you may judge how much my curiofity was ftimulated by the expectation
pectation of feeing France in these times. I fat my feet on this fhore, peopled by millions hoftile to my native country, with fome trepidation; but this was a sensation which yielded to ardor for novelty, and to the defire excited in my mind of tracing the effects of one of the greatest political changes which the world has ever expcrienced. It was referved for the conclufion of the eighteenth century, to exhibit a great and powerful people, in the heart of enlightened Europe, who had been celebrated for their attachment to monarchy, and were proud of the fplendor of their civil and religious inftitutions, on a fudden, almoft, to change their veneration for all that was old and eftablished, into a rage for fomething entirely new;-to effect a total fubverfion of their government and religion; to refolve themselves into almost a ftate of nature, and from this ftate to form for themfelves a fyftem of government wholly unlike the preceding.
What are termed Revolutions in the hif tories of other countries, are but mild alterations compared with what the country in which I am now writing has experienced. That event which we call the Revolution, when speaking of our own country and hiftory, operated no violent and convulfive change. It affected none of the great principles of the conftitution; it neither annihilated the monarchy, the aristocracy, nor the church; it invaded the property of no order of men, nor did it abolish any of our civil ufages and inftitutions. But what is called the French Revolution has had the effect of an earthquake on fociety; it has shook and fubverted every thing to the very foundation; it has not "left one flone upon an"other" of the old government. This is completely in ruins, and the actors in this drama of change are labouring to erect a ftructure, bearing no refemblance to what once occupied its place.
The effects of this convulfion, and new order of things, I fhall now have an opportunity of beholding; and be assured, Madam, that you will have from me, as often as I can write, a faithful, though I cannot promise you an elegant narration. If my letters have any value, it will be from their containing facts. not to be a lying traveller. juryman, I confider myself bound to "make "a true prefentment of things as they fhall
I am refolved
Like a grand
come to my knowledge." I will endeavour that neither hatred for the French, nor love for the English, shall keep me from seeing and relating the truth. You must remember, however, that Truth is not a lady of the most easy access, and that in our fituation there may be times when we may be unable to push ourselves even into her antichamber.
Having thus developed my fenfations, and explained the principle on which I have commenced my journal, I proceed to acquaint
acquaint you with the particulars of our voyage, and with the firft fcenes that prefented themselves to our aftonished fight.
We failed from Dover on one of the finest mornings in October, with a fair wind. The cliffs of dear, dear Albion fast retired from our view, while thofe of France as rapidly fwelled on the fight. In a few hours we approached Calais. As the veffel was preparing to enter this Gallic port, B. and myself were aroused from a ftate of ftupidity, which the motion of the ship had occafioned, by a violent noise, proceeding, as we foon found, from a boat of no inconfiderable fize, filled with failors and foldiers, who making the best of their way towards us, immediately boarded the veffel, the former going to the helm, the latter, with fixed bayonets, taking poffeffion of the ship.
Judge of my alarm; for I fancied that we had fallen into the hands of fome miferable privateer. Soon, however, were my fears diffipated. I found that the foldiers,