Page images



Soon after the execution of the tyrant ROBESPIERRE, the committee of general safety appointed a deputation of its members to visit the prisons, and speak the words of comfort to the prisoners. In the mean time orders for liberty arrived in glad succession; and the prisons of Paris, so lately the abodes of hopeless misery, now exhibited scenes which an angel might have contemplated with ecstasy. Upon the fall of the republican tyrant, the terrible spell which bound the land of France was broken ; the shrieking whirlwinds, the black precipices, the bottomless gulphs, suddenly vanished. The generous affections, the tender sympathies, so long repressed by the congealing stupefaction of terror, burst forth with uncontrolable energy; and the enthusiasm of humanity took place of the gloomy terror of despair, as suddenly as when the winter's ice diffolves in the clear sunshine, or that luminary assumes its effulgence after an eclipse. The first persons released from the Luxenbourg were

Monsieur gave

Monsieur and Madame BITAUBY, two days after the fall of ROBESPIERRE. When they were liberated, the prisoners, to the ainount of nine hundred persons, formed a lane to see them pass; they embraced them, they bathed them with tears, they overwhelmed them with benedictions, they hailed with transport the moment which themselves the earnest of returning freedom: but the feelings of such moments may be imagined, but cannot be described. Crowds of people were constantly assembled at the gates of the prisons, to enjoy the luxury of seeing the prisoners snatched from their living tombs, and restored to freedom : that very people, who, when they first shook off their yoke of regal dominion, had committed every excess, and afterwards beheld, with stupid silence, the daily work of death under new rulers, now melted into tears over the sufferers, and filled the air with the loudest acclamations at their release. Paris was converted into a scene of enthusiastic transport. The theatres, the public walks, the streets, resounded with the songs of rejoicing; the people indulged themselves in all the frolic gaiety which belongs especially to their character ; whilst the transport of the prisoners choaked the voice of utterance.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

IMAGINE to yourself Demosthenes addressing the most illustrious assembly in the world, upon a point whereon the fate of the most illustrious of nations de pended. How awful such a meeting ! How vast the subject ! Is any man pofseffed of talents adequate to the great occasion ? Adequate-yes, superior.

16 I beheld “ Philip,” says DEMOSTHENES, “ he with whom

was your contest, resolutely, while in pursuit of em“ pire and dominion, exposing himself to every wound; “ his eye gored, his neck wrested, his arm, his thigh

pierced; whatever part of his body fortune should “ feize on, that cheerfully relinquishing; provided that, “ with what remained, he might live with honour and is renown.-And shall it be faid, that he, born in PÉL

LA, a place heretofore mean and ignoble, should be

inspired with so high an ambition and thirst of fame, “ while you, ATHENIANS!!" &c. Thus DemostHENES, by the organs of his body, attuned to the exertions of the mind, through the kindred organs of the hearers, instantaneously, and, as it were, with an electrical spirit, vibrates those énergies from soul to soul.Notwithstanding the diversity of minds in such a multitude, by the lightning of eloquence, they are melted into one mass-the whole assembly, actuated in one and the same way, become, as it were, one man, and have but one voice. --The universal cry is—" Let us march


against Philip-let us fight for our liberties—let us “ conquer-or die !"

HANNIBAL having assembled together all his fortes, previous to the battle of Ticinus, he brought before them the young prisoners, whom he had taken among thofe barbarians that had disturbed his march across the Alps. With a view to the design which he now put in practice, he had before given orders, that these men fhould be treated with the last severity. They were loaded with heavy chains; their bodies were emaciated with hunger ; and mangled by blows and stripes. In this condition, he now placed them in the midst of the assembly; and threw before them fomé suits of Gallic armour, such as their kings are accustomed to wear when they engage in single combat. He ordered fome horses also to be set before them; and military habits, that were very rich and splendid. He then demanded


of the young men,

“ which of them were willing to " try their fate in arms against each other; on condition " that the conqueror should possess those spoils that were “ before their eyes, while the vanquished would be re" leased by death from all his miseries.” The captives, with one voice, cried out, and testified the utmost eagerness to engage.

HANNIBAL then commanded, ” that lots should be cast among them: and that those “ two, upon whom the lot should fall, should take the

arms that were before them, and begin the combat.” When the prisoners heard these orders, they extended their hands towards the heavens; and every one most fervently implored the gods, that the lot to fight might be his own. And no sooner was their chance decided, than those whose fortune it was to engage, appeared filled with joy, while the rest wese mournful and dejected. When the combat was also determined, the captives, that were by lot excluded the trial, pronounced “ him who had lost his life in the engagement to be, in “ their sight, not less happy than the conqueror : since, “ by dying, he was released from all that wretchedness, “ which they were still doomed to suffer.” The same reflections arose also in the minds of the Carthaginian soldiers; who, from comparing the condition of the


« PreviousContinue »