The Maid of Maiden Lane eBook

Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 302 pages of information about The Maid of Maiden Lane.

My dear friend Cornelia

If to-day I could walk down Maiden Lane, if to-day I could see you and talk to you, I should imagine myself in heaven.  For as to this city, I think that in hell the name of “Paris” must have spread itself far and wide.  Indeed I often wonder if I am yet on the earth, or if I have gone away in my sleep to the country of the devil and his angels.  Even as I am writing to you, my pen is shaking with terror, for I hear the tumbrel come jolting along, and I know that it is loaded with innocent men and women who are going to the guillotine; and I know also that it is accompanied by a mob of dreadful creatures—­mostly women—­for I hear them singing—­no, screaming—­in a kind of rage,

“Ca ira les aristocrates a la lanterne!”

Do you remember our learning in those happy days at Bethlehem of the slaughter of Christians by Nero?  Very well; right here in the Paris of Marat and Robespierre, you may hear constantly the same brutal cry that filled the Rome of the Caesars—­“Death to the Christians!” Famine, anarchy, murder, are everywhere; and I live from moment to moment, trembling if a step comes near me.  For Athanase is imprudence itself.  His opinions will be the death of him.  He will not desert the Girondists, though Mr. Morris tells him their doom is certain.  Marat is against them, and the Jacobins—­who are deliriously wicked—­are against them, and the mob of the Faubourgs is against them; and this mob is always of one mind, always on the spot, and always hungry and ready for anarchy and blood.  Besides which, they are already accused of having sold themselves to Mr. Pitt.  Very often I have heard my dear father talking of universal suffrage as the bulwark of liberty; well then, we have now, and here, an universal suffrage that is neither a fraud nor a fiction; and as Athanase says, “it is expressing itself every minute, in the crimes of the Holy Guillotine.”

And yet Paris makes a pretence of being gay and of enjoying itself.  We go to the theatre and the opera, and we dance, as it were, red, wet-shod to the hideous strains of the Carmagnole.  It is indeed a dance of death.  The other night we were at a reception given by Madame Talma to the victorious General Dumouriez.  All the Brissot party were there.  Your father will remember Brissot de Warville very well.  He was greatly petted by Mrs. Jay and the aristocracy of New York and Philadelphia.  Jefferson made a friend of him, and even Washington talked with him about his book on our country.  Then he passed himself off as a noble, but he is really the son of an innkeeper.  I had so often heard of him, that I regarded with interest his pale face and grave, melancholy manner.  He was accompanied by Camille Desmoulins, and by Danton; the latter a man almost terrible in his ugliness.  David, the painter of Socrates, was there; he had his hair frizzed, and was dressed splendidly; and with him was Chenier,

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The Maid of Maiden Lane from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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