Imatges de pÓgina

unshaken and unconquered. How many gallant men who are heroes on the field and on the wave, are less than women in the cell ! If these spirits be not fed with the atmosphere of liberty, they pine and dwindle away until the light of their lives expires, and they go mad or die.' After all, the dungeon is the true testing place for greatness of soul. Infinitely more easy is it to be heroic on the scaffold or in the breach, for these are but the efforts of the moment, than to remain for years in a prison unsubdued. How Sir Sidney Smith bore this terrible ordeal will be shortly seen.

Were we writing a romance instead of a biography, the two years of Sir Sidney Smith’s confinement would amply supply us with exciting materials sufficient for two volumes. Fears, hopes, despondency, even love, were all in their turn brought into play. When Sir Sidney was captured, he was accompanied by his secretary and a gentleman of the name of T, who had emigrated, and was in constant attendance on Sir Sidney in the hope of serving the royalist cause. Thus suddenly and unexpectedly finding himself a captive in a country where he would be looked upon as a traitor and executed as a spy, the commodore arranged with him that he should assume the character of his servant; and so well did he

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act up to the disguise, that he was never suspected for a moment. He was called John, by his supposititious master, and Mr. T.'s assimilation of the menial proved to be perfect.

At Havre, Sir Sidney was treated with the most unjustifiable rigour, subjected to insult, taunted with being a spy, and threatened with a trial by a military commission. So obnoxious had he become by his activity, and the detriment he had been to his enemies, that they would have gladly hung him, had not the fear of retaliation prevented this mean vengeance. He was, however, a prisoner much too valuable to be permitted to remain so near the sea-coast, and the French government accordingly ordered his removal to Paris. In that metropolis, he was at first confined to the prison called the Abbaye, and, with his two companions in adversity, kept under the most rigorous surveillance as well as the closest confinement.

But no external circumstances could paralyse the activity of a mind such as Sir Sidney's. Escape formed the constant object of his thoughts. He did not confine himself to idle wishes, but set about deeds. His consultations with his fellow sufferers were incessant, but such was the rigour of his custodiers that, for a length of time, nothing feasible could be suggested. The window

of their common sitting-room looked into the street, and thus brought liberty, though not within their reach, in a most tantalising proximity. Looking out thus continually upon the general thoroughfare of their fellow men held out to them, without cessation, illusive hopes. Indeed, they felt certain that, sooner or later, this circumstance would aid them in their escape.

Whenever there is anything remarkably dangerous and remarkably chivalrous to perform, (the usual deeds of war excepted,) we are sure to find woman the principal agent. Three ladies, who could see the prisoners from the windows of their apartment, by the blessed feminine intuition immediately took a lively interest in their fate. Their ingenuity kept pace with their generous sympathy. They rapidly learned to exchange intelligence with the objects of their solicitude by the means of signals, and a regular correspondence immediately ensued.

So unceasing and lynx-eyed was the vigilance to which every action of Sir Sidney Smith was subjected, that he was forced to adopt a very novel sort of telegraph, wherewith to communicate with his fair correspondents. It was the catching and destroying flies upon the different squares of glass that admitted light to his apartment. Thus several minute lives were sacrificed, before the imprisoned hero could well rid himself of a single idea. We have read of the great waste of fly-life for the amusement of a Roman emperor, but the necessity of this wholesale slaughter on the part of the gallant Sir Sidney must form his apology.

These ladies made the proposition themselves, to do all that lay in their power to aid them in their escape; an offer, we may be sure, that Sir Sidney accepted with an eager gratitude, and they instantly began operations in his behalf.

Before the stern moralist condemns these womanly exertions in favour of the unfortunate on the score of the want of patriotism, it must be remembered that the dominant party in France was not then the most numerous, and that there was virtue in a cherished, though secret, loyalty to the vanquished royal cause. They had not, however, the reward of success for their ceaseless exertions, and the enormous expenses to which they freely subjected themselves. They continually contrived to elude the vigilance of Sir Sidney's keepers. On both sides borrowed names were used, taken from the Grecian Mythology, so that the three prisoners were in direct correspondence with three of the Muses, Thalia, Melpomene, and Clio.

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for escape.

But all their exertions were unavailing, all their little plans frustrated. The only good that they were able to effect, was feeding and supporting the minds of their protegés with that most delicious of nutriments, hope. Scheme after scheme failed, and in the midst of a very plausible one, Sir Sidney and his companions were suddenly removed into the Temple.

But the walls of the Temple were not more impervious to them than had been those of the Abbaye. They soon contrived to renew their correspondence, and not a day passed that did not find them provided with some new plan

The captive commodore, at first, accepted them all with eagerness, but mature reflection soon convinced him that they were as visionary as they were generous. In the first place, he was resolved not to leave his secretary behind him, and his resolution was still stronger in favour of the soi-disant John. The discovery of the real character of the latter would have been to him an instant and ignominious death, and his safety was much dearer to his master than his own emancipation.

Now this John was a very likely, pleasant, and clever fellow, and for his facetious qualities, and his general pleasing deportment, was allowed a considerable degree of liberty in the Temple.



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