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GOVERNOR W .
The great disposer of human destiny, in vindication of his eternal justice, rescued the life of this infatuated delinquent from the waves, and from a sudden death, to resign him to the public and merited doom of the laws.
CHAP. CHAPTER VII.
Filial Piety. — St. Catharine's Mount. — Madame Phillope. — General Ruffins Trumpet. — Generosity. — Love Infectious. — Masons and Gardeners.
I Have before had occasion to mention the humane conduct
of Madame G towards the persecuted abbe; she soon
afterwards, with the principal ladies of the city, fell under the displeasure of Robespierre, and his agents. Their only crime was wealth, honourably acquired. A committee, composed of the most worthless people of Rouen, was formed, who, in the name of, and for the use of the nation, seized upon the valuable
stock of Messrs. G , who were natives of France. In one
night, by torchlight, their extensive warehouses were sacked, and all their stores were forcibly sold in the public marketplace to the best bidder: the plundered merchants were paid the amount of the sale in assignats, in a paper currency which then bore an enormous discount, and shortly afterwards retained only the value of the paper upon which the national note was written. In short, in a few hours an honourable family, nobly allied, were despoiled of property to the amount of 25,000/. sterling. Other merchants shared the same fate. This act of robbery was followed by an act of cruelty. Madame G , the mother, who was born in England, and who married a French gentleman of large fortune, whom she survived, of a delicate frame and advanced in years, was committed to
prison, FILIAL PIETY. 6i
prison, where, with many other female sufferers, she was closely Chap.
confined for eleven months, during which time she was com- MI"
pelled to endure all sorts of privations. After the committee
of rapine had settled their black account, and had remitted
the guilty balance to their employers, the latter, in a letter of
"friendly collusion, and fraudulent familiarity," after passing
a few revolutionary jokes upon what had occurred, observed
that the G s seemed to bleed very freely, and that as it
was likely they must have credit with many persons to a large amount, directed their obedient and active banditti to order these devoted gentlemen to draw, and to deliver to them, their draughts upon all such persons who stood indebted to their extensive concern. In the words of a celebrated orator *, ** Though they had shaken the tree till nothing remained upon "the leafless branches, yet a new flight was on the wing, to "watch the first buddings of its prosperity, and to nip every ** hope of future foliage and fruit."
The G s expected this visit, and, by an ingenious, and
justified expedient, prevented their perdition from becoming decisive.
Soon after the gates of the prison were closed upon Madame G , her eldest son, a man of commanding person, and eloquent address, in defiance of every friendly, and of every affectionate entreaty, flew to Paris. . •
It was in the evening of the last winter which beheld its
snows crimsoned with revolutionary carnage, when he pre
* Vide Sheridan's oration against Hastings upon the Begum charge. .."
64t FILIAL PIETY. »
Chap. scnted himself, undismayed, before that committee, whose x 1!' horrible nature will be better described by merely relating the names of its members, then sitting, than by the most animated and elaborate delineations of all its deadly deeds of rapine and of blood. At a table, covered with green cloth, shabbily lighted, in one of the committee rooms of the national assembly, were seated Robespierre, Collot d'Herbois, Carnot, and David. They were occupied in filling up the lists for the permanent guillotine, erected very near them, in la Place de la Revolution, which the executioners were then clearing of its gore, and preparing for the next day's butchery. In this devoted capital more blood had, during that day, streamed upon the scaffold, than on any one day during the revolution.
The terrified inhabitants, in darkness, in remote recesses of their desolate houses, were silently offering up a prayer to the great God of Mercy to release them, in a way most suitable to his wisdom, from such scenes of deep dismay, and remorseless slaughter.
Robespierre, as usual, was dressed with great neatness and gayety; the savage was generally scented, whilst his associates were habited, en Jacobin, in the squalid, filthy fashion of that era of the revolution, in the dress of blackguards.
Mr. G bowed, and addressed them very respectfully.
"I am come, citizens, before you," said this amiable son, "to "implore the release of my mother; she is pining in the "prisons of Rouen, without having committed any offence; ** she is in years; and if her confinement continues, her chil"drerv whose fortunes have been placed at the disposal of the
"national FILIAL PIETY.
"national exigencies, will have to lament her death; grant "the prayer of her son, restore, I conjure you, by all the "rights of nature, restore her to her afflicted family." Robespierre looked obliquely at him, and with his accustomed sharpness, interrupted him from proceeding further, by exclaiming, " what right have you to appear before us, mis"creant? you are an agent of Pitt and Cobourg (the then comu mon phrase of reproach) you shall be sent to the guillo
u tine—Why are you not at the frontiers?" Monsieur G ,
unappalled, replied, "give me my mother, and I will be there "to morrow, I am ready instantly to spill my blood, if it "must be the price of her discharge." Robespierre, whose savage soul was occasionally moved by sights of heroic virtue, seemed impressed by this brave and unusual address. He paused, and after whispering a few words to his associates, wrote the discharge, and handing it over to a soldier, for the successful petitioner, he fiercely told him to retire.
Mr. G instantly set out for Rouen, where, after a long,
and severe journey, he arrived, exhausted with fatigue, and agitation of mind; without refreshment, this excellent man "flew to the gates of the prison, which contained his mother, and presented the discharge to the gaoler, who drily, with a brutal grin, informed him, that a trick had been played off upon him, that he had just received a counter order, which he held in his hand, and refused to release her! 1!
It turned out, that immediately after Mr. G had left
the committee room, the. relenting disposition, which he had