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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.
1 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.'
Two days after they were gone I heard a rapping at the gate, and looking out of the window of the bedroom I saw the landlord going with the candle to the
* The second instance of attempted suicide is omitted from motives of personal delicacy. Mr. Paine's letter is continued, as it contains an account of his mode of life before he was sent to prison, &c.—Ed.
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 turning 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 tho dethroned, and can dictate no more, to wait upon us in the humble station of a hand-maid.
A Letter from Mr. Paine to a Gentleman at
New Rochelle, March 20, 1806.
I will inform you of what I know respecting General Miranda, with whom I first became acquainted at
New York about the year 1783. He is a man of talents and euterprize, a Mexican by birth, and the whole of his life has been a life of adventures.
I went to Europe from New York in April 1787. Mr. Jefferson was then minister from America to France, and Mr. Littlepage a Virginian (whom John Jay knows) was agent for the king of Poland, at Paris.
Mr. Littlepage was a young man of extraordinary talents, and I first met with him at Mr. Jefferson's house at dinner. By his intimacy with the king of Poland, to whom also he was chamberlain, he became well acquainted with the plans and projects of the northern powers of Europe. He told me of Miranda's getting himself introduced to the Empress Catharine of Russia, and obtaining a sum of money from her, four thousand pounds sterling; but it did not appear to me what the project was for which the money was given: it appeared as a kind of retaining fee.
After I had published the first part of the 'Rights of Man' in England, in the year 1791, I met Miranda at the house of Turnbull and Forbes, merchants, Devonshire square, London. He had been a little time before this in the employ of Mr. Pitt, with respect to Nootka Sound, but I did not at that time know it; and I will, in the course of this letter, inform you how this connection between Pitt and Miranda ended; for I know it of my own knowledge.