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Public Executioners.


"A friend of mine,' said Beaumont, had a remarkably good Swiss servant. His education was far above his station, and we could not find what had been his birth or his canton.

"Suddenly he became agitated and melancholy, and at last told my friend that he must leave him, and why. His father was the hereditary bourreau of a Swiss canton. To the office was attached an estate, to be forfeited if the office were refused. He had resolved to take neither, and, to avoid being solicited, had left his country and changed his name. But his family had traced him, had informed him of his father's death, and had implored him to accept the succession. He was the only son, and his mother and sisters would be ruined, if he allowed it to pass to the next in order of inheritance, a distant cousin. He had not been able to persist in his refusal.'

• The husband of an acquaintance of mine,' said Madame de Beaumont, 'used to disappear for two or three hours every day. He would not tell her for what purpose. At last she found out that he was employed in the chambre noire, the department of the police by which letters passing through the post are opened. The duties were well paid, and she could not persuade him to give them up. They were on uneasy terms, when an accident threw a list of all the names of the employés in the chambre noire, into the hands of an opposition editor, who published them in his newspaper.

She then separated from him.' • If the Post-office,' I said, 'were not a Government


monopoly, if everyone had a right to send his letters in the way that he liked best, there would be some ex

But the State compels you, under severe penalties, to use its couriers, undertaking, not tacitly but expressly, to respect the secrecy of your correspondence, , and then systematically violates it.'

I should have said,' answered Ampère, 'not expressly but tacitly.'

No,' I replied ; 'expressly. Guizot, when Minister for Foreign Affairs, proclaimed from the tribune, that in France the secrecy of correspondence was, under all circumstances, inviolable. This has never been officially contradicted.

• The English Post-office enters into no such engagements. Any letters may be legally opened, under an order from a Secretary of State.'

Are prisoners in England,' asked Beaumont, allowed to correspond with their friends ?'

I believe,' I answered, “ that their letters pass through the Governor's hands, and that he opens them, or not, at his discretion.'

‘Among the tortures,' said Ampère,' which Continental despots delight to inflict on their state prisoners the privation of correspondence is one.'

'In ordinary life,' I said, the educated endure inaction worse than the ignorant. "A coachman sits for hours on his box without feeling ennui. If his master had to sit quiet all that time, inside the carriage, he would tear his hair from impatience.


Prisoners of State.



But the educated seem to tolerate the inactivity of imprisonment better than their inferiors. We find that our ordinary malefactors cannot endure solitary imprisonment for more than a year-seldom indeed so long. The Italian prisoners whom I have known, Zucchi, Borsieri, Poerio, Gonfalonieri, and Pellico, endured imprisonment lasting from ten to seventeen years without much injury to mind or body.'

· The spirit of Pellico,' said Madame de Beaumont, was broken. When released, he gave himself up to devotion and works of charity. Perhaps the humility, resignation, and submission of his book made it still more mischievous to the Austrian Government. The reader's indignation against those who could so trample on so unresisting a victim becomes fierce.'

'If the Austrians,' I said, 'had been wise, they would have shot instead of imprisoning them. Their deaths would have been forgotten their imprisonment has contributed much to the general odium which is destroying the Austrian Empire.'

It would have been wiser,' said Beaumont, 'but it would have been more merciful, and therefore it was not done. But you talk of all these men as solitarily imprisoned. Some of them had companions.'

• Yes,' I said, “but they complained that one permanent companion was worse than solitude. Gonfalonieri said, that one could not be in the same room, with the same man, a year without hating him.

• One of the Neapolitan prisoners was chained for some time to a brigand. Afterwards the brigand was

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replaced by a gentleman. He complained bitterly of the change.

* The brigand,' said Minnie, 'was his slave, the gentleman had a will of his own.'

How did M. de La Fayette,'' I asked Madame de Beaumont, 'bear his five years' imprisonment at Olmütz ?'

His health,' said Madame de Beaumont, 'was good, but the miseries of his country and the sufferings of his wife made him very unhappy. When my grandmother came to him, it was two days before she had strength to tell him that all his and her family had perished. I was once at Olmütz, and saw the one room which they had inhabited. It was damp and dark. She asked to be allowed to leave it for a time for better medical treatment and change of air. It was granted only on the condition that she should never return.

She refused. The rheumatic attacks which the state of the prison had produced, continued and increased : she was hopelessly ill when they were released and died soon afterwards. The sense of wrong aggravated their sufferings, for their imprisonment was a gross and wanton violation of all law, international and municipal. My grandfather was not an Austrian subject; he had committed no offence against Austria. She seized him simply because he was a liberal, because his principles had made him the enemy of tyranny in America and in France; and because his birth and talents and reputa

· M. de La Fayette was Madame de Beaumont's grandfather.—ED.


Power of La Fayette.


It was

tion gave him influence.

one of the brutal stupid acts of individual cruelty which characterise the Austrian despotism, and have done more to ruin it than a wider oppression—such a one, for instance, as ours, more mischievous, but more intelligent,—would have done.'

* Freedom,' said Ampère, 'was offered to him on the mere condition of his not serving in the French army. At that time the Jacobins would have guillotined him, the Royalists would have forced duel after duel on him till they had killed him. It seemed impossible that he should ever be able to draw his sword for France. In fact he never was able. America offered him an asylum, honours, land, everything that could console an exile. But he refused to give up the chance, remote as it was, of being useful to his country, and remained a prisoner till he was delivered by Napoleon.'

*He firmly believed,' said Madame de Beaumont, 'that if the Royal Family would have taken refuge with his army in 1791 he could have saved them, and probably the Monarchy. His army was then in his hands, a few months after the Jacobins had corrupted it.'

'Two men,' said Ampère, 'Mirabeau and La Fayette, could have saved the Monarchy, and were anxious to do So. But neither the King nor the Queen would trust them.

*Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette are among the historical personages who have most influenced the destinies of the world. His dulness, torpidity and indecision, and her frivolity, narrow-minded prejudices and

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