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‘To the minister of the home department. - Jeanne Marie Roland de la Platière, An Appeal to Impartial Posterity, by Citizenness Roland 
An Appeal to Impartial Posterity, by Citizenness Roland, wife of the Minister of the Home Department, or A Collection of Pieces written by her during her Confinement in the Prisons of the Abbey and St. Pelagie, Part I (London: J. Johnson, 1795). Vol. 1.
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‘To the minister of the home department.
‘THE post which you fill, citizen, demands, that you should watch over the execution of the laws, and denounce their violation by authorities that abuse them. I am persuaded, your justice will be eager to transmit to the convention the complaints, I have occasion to make against that oppression, of which I am the victim.’
Rising about noon, I considered how I should arrange my new apartment. With a clean napkin I covered a paltry little table, which I placed near my window, intending it to serve me for a bureau, and resolving rather to eat my meals on the corner of the fire-place than on it, that I might keep it clean, and in order, for writing. Two large hat-pins, stuck into the boards, served me for a portmanteau. In my pocket I had Thompson’s Seasons, a work which I valued on more than one account: and I made a memorandum of what other books I wanted. First was Plutarch’s Lives of Illustrious Persons, which, at eight years of age, I used to carry with me to the church, instead of a Prayer-book [une Semaine sainte], and which I had not read through since: and secondly, Hume’s History of England, and Sheridan’s Dictionary, in order to improve myself in the english language. I would rather have continued to read Mrs. Macaulay; but the person, who had lent me the former volumes, was certainly not at home; and I did not know where to procure the work; as I had already sought for it in vain amongst the booksellers. I could not avoid smiling myself at my preparations; for there was a great tumult: the drums were continually beating to arms, and I knew not the occasion. They will not prevent my living to my last moment, said I to myself: more happy in my own conscience, than they will be animated with rage, if they come, I will advance to meet them, and go to death as a man would go to repose.
The keeper’s wife came to invite me to her apartment, where she had directed my cloth to be laid, that I might dine in better air. Repairing thither, I found my faithful nurse. When she threw herself into my arms, bathed with tears, and choked with sobs; I could not avoid melting into tenderness and sorrow, and almost upbraided myself for remaining tranquil, whilst I reflected on the anxiety of those who were attached to me; and figuring to myself the agony of this person and that, I felt an indescribable oppression at my heart. Poor woman! how many tears have I caused her to shed! and for what does an attachment like her’s atone. In the common intercourse of life she has sometimes offended me by her bluntness; but it has been when she has thought me too negligent of what might contribute to my health or happiness; and when I have suffered, the office of complaining has been her’s, that of consoling has been mine. Such was the case now. I showed her, that, by giving way to her grief, she would be less capable of rendering me service; that she was more useful to me without, than she could be within the walls of the prison, where she begged me to permit her to remain; and that, upon the whole, I was far from being so unfortunate as she imagined, which was true. Whenever I have been ill, I have experienced a particular kind of serenity, unquestionably flowing from my mode of contemplating things, and from the precept I have laid down for myself, always to endeavour to soften necessary ills, instead of revolting against them. The moment I take to my bed, every duty seems to me at an end, and no solicitude for any thing lays hold of me: I have nothing to do, but remain there, and remain with resignation; which I do with a good grace. I give free scope to my imagination; I call up agreeable impressions, pleasing remembrances, and ideas of happiness: all exertions, reasonings, calculations, I discard: resigning myself wholly to nature, and peaceful like her, I suffer pain without impatience, or repose myself and am cheerful. I find imprisonment produces on me nearly the same effect as disease: nothing farther is required of me than to remain here, and what great hardship is that? my own company is not so very bad!
I soon learnt, that I must change my habitation. Victims were plentiful, and my chamber would contain more than one bed. Thus, that I might be alone. I was obliged from that evening to be shut up in a little closet, and consequently to remove my little establishment. The window of my new apartment was, I believe, over the sentry, who guarded the prison-gate. All the night long I heard, who goes there?—kill him!—guard!—patrole!—called with a thundering voice. The houses were lighted up: and from the number and frequency of the patroles it was easy to infer, that there had been some commotions, or that tumults were feared. I rose early, and employed myself about my household affairs; that is to say, making my bed, cleaning my little place, and rendering it and myself as neat as I could. Had I desired these things to be done for me, I knew they would not have been refused; but I was aware, that I must have paid for them dearly, waited a long time, and had them very superficially done at last. Thus by taking the office on myself I gained much: I should be better and sooner served, and the trifling presents I might give would be the more considered, as they would be gratuitous. With impatience I waited to hear the massy bolts of my door opened, that I might ask for a newspaper. I read it: the decree of impeachment against the twenty-two was passed: the paper fell from my hands, and in a transport of grief I exclaimed: ‘my country is lost!’
Whilst I imagined myself alone beneath the yoke of oppression, or nearly alone, proud and tranquil I formed wishes, and retained some hopes, for the defenders of liberty. But now guilt and errour have obtained the ascendency: the natural representation is violated, it’s unity is broken, and every one in it distinguished for probity united with talents and reputation is proscribed: the commune of Paris rules the legislative body; Paris is lost; the torch of civil war is lighted; the enemy will profit by our divisions; for the north of France freedom is no more; and the whole republic is delivered over to the most fearful ravages. Sublime illusions, generous sacrifices, hope, happiness, and country, adieu! At twelve years old I lamented, in the first expansions of my young heart, that I was not born at Sparta, or at Rome: in the french revolution I thought I saw the unexpected application of the principles, with which my mind was imbued: liberty, said I, has two sources; good manners, which make sage laws; and knowledge, which guides us to both, by instructing us concerning our rights: my bosom will be no longer torn by the spectacle of mankind debased, the human race will improve, and the happiness of all will constitute the basis and the pledge of the happiness of each. Splendid chimeras! seducing ideas, by which I have been charmed! the horrible corruption of one vast city dispels you all. I have despised life, your loss makes me detest it, and I wish to undergo the extremes of rage. Anarchists, savages, for what wait you? Virtue ye have proscribed, spill the blood of them who profess it: shed on that earth, it will render it ravenous, and make it open underneath your feet.
The course of things ought to have made me foresee the event: but I could not easily bring myself to believe, that the danger to be apprehended would not check the bulk of the convention, and I was astonished at the decisive act, which tolled the bell of it’s dissolution.
Frigid indignation now mantles all my sentiments: indifferent as ever to what concerns myself, my hopes for others are feeble, and I await events with more curiosity than desire: I no longer live to feel, but to know. Soon I learnt, that the tumult directed to force the decree of impeachment had given some uneasiness about the prisons. This was the cause of the strict and noisy guard during the night. The citizens of the section of Unity, too, would not obey the beat of drum, which called them to the convention; but all remained at home, to guard their property, and the prison within their boundaries. I now saw the motive of Grandpré’s alarm and disquietude, and the next day he confessed to me his apprehensions. He had repaired to the assembly, to obtain the reading of my letter; and, during eight successive hours, he, as well as several other deputies, had repeatedly urged it to the president in vain: it was evident, therefore, that I should not procure it’s being read. In the Monitor, I observed, my section, that of Beaurepaire, had expressed it’s sentiments in my favour, even after my imprisonment. It occurred to me, therefore, to write to it; which I did in the following terms.