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and it is the only place where I saw the wild cucumber. The place had formerly been occupied by some curious person.
My apartments consisted of three rooms; the first, for wood, water, &c. 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 , 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.
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I went into my chamber 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.
* Mr. Paine here alludes to two friends who were under arrest. Ed.
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 any thing I might have dared to have written.
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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 was hung upon the weeping willows.
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, &c. 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 of this narrative, and I will put that scene before your eyes. You shall see it in description as I saw it in fact.*
* * * *
He recovered, and being anxious to get out of France, a passport was obtained for him and Mr. Choppin: they received it late in the evening, and set off 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'
* The second instance of attempted suicide is omitted from motives of personal delicacy. Mr. Paine's lerter is continued, as it contains an account of his mode of life before he was sent to prison, &c.—Ed.
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 , but, I thank God, they were out of their
The guard came about a month after in the night, and took away the landlord, Georgeit; and the scene in the Louse 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 the service that you asked.
I have now fulfilled my engagement, and I hope your expectation, in relating the case of , 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.
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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 to-day, may be the means of taming 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 council 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. All reasoning with ourselves in such cases acts upon us like the reason of another person, which, however kindly done, serves but to insult the misery we suffer. If Reason could remove the pain, Reason would have prevented it. If she could not do the one, how is she to perform the other? In all such cases we must look upon Reason as dispossessed of her empire, by a revolt of the mind. She retires herself to a distance to weep, and the ebony sceptre of Despair rules alone. All that Reason can do is to suggest, to hint a thought, to signify a wish, to cast now and then a kind of bewailing look, to hold up, when she can catch the eye, the miniature shaded portrait of Hope; and though dethroned, and can dictate no more, to wait upon us in the humble station of a hand-maid.
TO THOMAS CLIO RICKMAN.
My Dear Friend, New York, March 8, 1803.
Mr. Monroe, who is appointed Minister Extraordinary to France, takes charge of this, to be delivered to Mr. Este, banker, in Paris, to be forwarded to you.
I arrived at Baltimore on the 30th October, and you can have no idea of the agitation which my arrival occasioned. From New Hampshire, to Georgia, (an extent of 1500 miles) every newspaper was filled with applause, or abuse.
My property in this country has been taken care of by my friends, and is now worth six thousand pounds sterling, which put in the funds will bring me four hundred pounds sterling a year.
Remember me in friendship and affection to your wife and family, and in the circle of our friends.
I am but just arrived here, and the minister sails in a few hours, so that I have but just time to write you this. If he should not sail this tide, I will write to my good friend Colonel Bosville, but in any case, I request you to wait on him for me.
Yours, in friendship,