Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XVIII: Of the Situation of the Friends of Liberty Out of France During the Reign of Terror. - Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution (LF ed.)
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CHAPTER XVIII: Of the Situation of the Friends of Liberty Out of France During the Reign of Terror. - Germaine de Staël, Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution (LF ed.) 
Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution, newly revised translation of the 1818 English edition, edited, with an introduction and notes by Aurelian Craiutu (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
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Of the Situation of the Friends of Liberty Out of France During the Reign of Terror.
It is difficult to relate the events of these horrible times without recalling one’s own impressions in almost their original vivacity: and I know not why one should combat this natural inclination. For the best manner of representing such extraordinary circumstances is to show in what state they placed individuals in the midst of the universal tempest.
Emigration during the Reign of Terror was no longer a political measure. People escaped from France to save themselves from the scaffold, and no one could have remained there without exposing oneself to death in order to avoid ruin. The friends of liberty were more detested by the Jacobins than even the aristocrats, because they had been engaged in a closer struggle with one another, and because the Jacobins feared the constitutionalists, whom they believed to be still in possession of a very considerable influence over the mind of the nation. These friends of liberty found themselves, therefore, almost without a place of refuge upon earth. The pure royalists did not violate their principles in fighting with foreign armies against their country; but the constitutionalists could not adopt such a resolution: they were proscribed by France and viewed with an evil eye by the ancient governments of Europe, who knew little of them but from the recitals of the French aristocrats, their most furious enemies.
I concealed in my house, in the Pays de Vaud,1 some friends of liberty respectable in every way, both for their rank and for their virtues; and as a regular permission to authorize their residence could not then be obtained from the Swiss authorities, they bore Swedish names, which M. de Staël assigned them that he might have the pleasure of yielding them protection. Scaffolds were erected for them on the frontier of their native country, and persecutions of every kind awaited them in foreign lands. Thus the monks of the order of La Trappe found themselves detained in an island in the middle of a river which separates Prussia from Russia: each of the two countries rejected them as if tainted with a pestilence; and yet no reproach could be alleged against them, except that they were faithful to their vows.
One particular circumstance may be of use in depicting this epoch of 1793, when perils were multiplied at every step. A young French gentleman, M. Achille du Chayla, nephew of the Count de Jaucourt, wished to escape from France under a Swiss passport which we had sent him; for we thought ourselves quite at liberty to deceive tyranny. At Morez, a frontier town situated at the foot of Mount Jura, suspicions were entertained that M. du Chayla was not what his passport pretended, and he was arrested with a declaration that he must remain a prisoner till the lieutenant of the district of Nyon should attest that he was a Swiss. M. de Jaucourt was then staying in my house, under one of those Swedish names of which we were the inventors. At the news of his nephew’s arrest, his despair was extreme; for the young man, at that time an object of pursuit, the bearer of a false passport, and, besides, son to one of the chiefs of the army of Condé, would have been instantly shot had his name been discovered. There remained only one hope; it was to prevail upon M. Reverdil, lieutenant-bailiff of the district of Nyon, to claim M. du Chayla as in reality a native of the Pays de Vaud.
I went to M. Reverdil to ask this favor of him: he was an old friend of my parents, and one of the most enlightened and most respectable men in French Switzerland.* He at first refused, opposing to me the most weighty motives; he was scrupulous of deviating from truth for any object whatsoever, and besides, as a magistrate, he was fearful of compromising his country by an act of falsehood. “If the truth is discovered,” said he, “we shall no longer have the right of claiming our own countrymen who may be arrested in France; and thus I expose the interest of those who are entrusted to me, for the safety of a man to whom I owe nothing.” This argument had a very plausible aspect: but the pious fraud which I solicited could alone save the life of a man over whose head the axe of the murderer was suspended. I remained two hours with M. Reverdil, seeking to vanquish his conscience by his humanity; he resisted long, but when I repeated to him several times, “If you say no, an only son, a man without reproach, is assassinated within twenty-four hours, and your mere word kills him,” my emotion, or rather his own, triumphed over every other consideration, and the young Du Chayla was claimed. It was the first time that a circumstance presented itself to me in which two duties struggled against each other with equal force. But I still think, as I thought twenty-three years ago, that the present danger of the victim ought to prevail over the uncertain dangers of the future. There is not in the short space of existence a greater chance of happiness than to save the life of an innocent man; and I know not how it would be possible to resist this seduction, by supposing it in such a case to be one.
Alas! I was not always so fortunate in my connections with my friends. It was necessary for me a few months afterward to communicate to the man, the most susceptible of strong affection, and consequently of deep grief, M. Mathieu de Montmorency, the sentence of death pronounced upon his young brother, the Abbé de Montmorency, whose only crime was the illustrious name which he had received from his ancestors. At the same time the wife, the mother, and the mother-in-law of M. de Montmorency were alike threatened with destruction: a few days later, and all the prisoners were at this horrid epoch sent to the scaffold. One of the reflections which struck us the most forcibly in our long walks by the shores of the lake of Geneva was the contrast of the noble scenes of nature around us, and of the brilliant sun of the end of June, with the despair of man—of this prince of the earth who would have wanted to make the world carry his own mourning. Dejection had seized us: the younger we were, the less resignation we had; for in youth especially we look for happiness, we think that we have a right to it, and we revolt at the idea of not obtaining it. Yet it was in these very moments, when we were contemplating in vain the sky and the flowers, and were reproaching them with dispersing light and fragrance through the air in the presence of so many crimes, it was then that deliverance was preparing. A day of which the new name disguises, perhaps, the date from strangers, the ninth of Thermidor, carried into the hearts of Frenchmen an emotion of inexpressible joy. Poor human nature could never owe so lively a delight but to the cessation of sorrow.
[1. ] At Coppet, in Switzerland.
[* ] M. Reverdil was chosen to preside over the education of the King of Denmark. He wrote, during his residence in the North, very interesting memoirs of the events of which he was a witness. These memoirs have not yet appeared.