« PreviousContinue »
Amongst all the neutral countries, of which I thought two only seemed free from objection, Genoa and Hamburg. The former I might have preferred on account of its climate ; the latter on account of its proximity to my own, and the greater facility of having communication with my family; with either I should have been contented. You know, however, to what unexampled misery the one was afterwards reduced by the war, and how in the other the rights of nations and of hospitality have been yiolated in a degree beyond what had ever before happened amongst the hords of the deserts. Thus it is, that mean and jealous tyranny hems in its victims on every side with snares and dangers.
I do not know whether what I said to this gentleman might have surprised his sensibility, or whether the symptoms he betrayed were counterfeited; but they were those of strong emotion; and he promised to repeat all I had said to the Intendente with equal force, and hoped to obtain for me the permission to remain in Portugal as I desired—Though he said it might be under some restrictions.
After some days, he returned and told me, that the minister had been very much affected by my story, and that, particularly, when he mentioned the chain of difficulties by which I was encompassed, that he had started as if with surprise and agitation, and desired him to repeat the different points, that he might write them down. He advised me, also, to write to the Intendente a letter in English, but to be çautious to use such terms of deference as our language
afforded, and to call him My Lord: and, upon the whole, to use the stile, which, being translated into Portuguese, as it would be, should be found most agreeable to the usages of that country, and shew a due consideration of his quality,
I thanked him for his friendly intimation, and complied to the best of my power. My letter was sent: and I think it was on the following day I was called into the same hall where I first made my entrée; and there, in the presence of the gaoler, I received from the hands of an officer of the police, my pa. pers, for which I gave him a receipt. They were all numbered in a certain order, as if they had served as references to some statement; and I think they had the air of having recently arrived from England!!! The only one of any curiosity that I could miss, was that famous letter with which Mr. Sealy took upon him to insult me, touching his political principles.Why this gentleman's letter was taken from among the rest, I do not know. It could not surely be, that he was in the management of this affair, and wished to suppress a production which might one day turn to his shame.
Tried again-Acquitted—Attempt at suicide--My
danger-Dungeons describedJurisprudence-My fears—Antonio-Italian nobleman–Lady-Cruel perfidy-English threats-Gibraltar prison-shipAnother Gaol.
BEFORE I proceed further, I must mention one or two occurrences, which happened about this time. One night I was at supper with the Danish gentleman, when Joachim, the most odious of the turnkeys, came to me, and abruptly desired me to put on my coat and take off my bonnet, for that the judge was waiting for me to appear before him : I smiled at his official gravity, but did as he desired, and followed him to another part of the prison, which I believe might not have been entirely constructed for the use of kings and queens, and was taken up a narrow ladder through a trap-door, and into a cockloft, where the court was sitting. This august tribunal consisted of two mean-looking persons, the judge and his clerk, who sat facing each other at a tableI was placed on a diagonal line with a good
deal of method, as if to have my picture drawn ; and near me was placed a genteel looking person, whom I at first took for some high emanation from the court; but found afterwards to be Mr. Regnier, the gaoler of another prison, who was brought there to serve as interpreter : from which, and more that I had occasion to observe, I concluded, that a gaoler in this country is a person of more dignity than a judge.' Indeed I had, before going into that despotic country, been prepared by what I had witnessed, to receive such an impression.
I was now led through nearly the same absurdities as in Oporto, except that this judge dwelt much upon the story and name of Oliver Bond, and seemed to doubt that a government could make such an agreement, as to accept of one man's banishment to save the life of another. I told him, that the fact was so, and that he might write it down, and I would sign it. But I told him, that it was not I who singly signed this act of self-devotion, to save the single life of Oliver Bond: for however willing I might have been, that man was too brave and too generous to have accepted such a sacrifice; but that I was one of many, who, after braying every accuser, had subscribed to a measure presented under a very different form from what perfidy had since given it, in the hopes of putting a stop to that system, of which the atrocity will hereafter rank in history with whatever has been perpetrated of most foul.
I owned, that such a sacrifice must appear difficult of belief to those who had never seen nor felt the in
Auence of public spirit, nor the love of their species, or their country ; yet, that acts of generosity, infinitely beyond that, were common even amongst the poorest and most oppressed in my country. He there asked me, what had been the questions put to me in Oporto, when I was examined there ? I told him, they were much the same as those he had asked me, and that my answers were of course the same ; as I had but one answer, and that was the truth, for all persons and all occasions : that my persecution was a violation of justice, and a scandalous indecency, as useless as shameful to its authors : that it was founded upon disgraceful perfidy, and therefore I requested he would put a speedy end to it. He said he would submit what had been written down to his superiors ; and I, after reading it over, and finding it to contain nothing of any importance, subscribed my name to it, and Joachim led me back with a less stern aspect to my companion.
As to this gentleman, his impatience encreased daily. One evening in particular, he received a note from his ambassador, which nettled him. He had been that day below among the French prisoners, and had drank more wine than was good for him, and he suddenly after supper snatched away a knife which I had concealed from the eyes of the gaolers, and retired into his own room shutting the door after him. John, mistrusting his intentions, watched him through the key-hole, and gave the alarm just in time, for us both with all our force to burst the door open, and prevent his putting an end to his existence. He