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ordered its destruction, with the main key of the fortress of despotism. It is a tribute which I owe as a son to my adopted father, as an aide-de-camp to my general, as a mis sionary of liberty to its patriarch.”
Mr. Thomas Paine forwarded from London the drawing and key, accompanied by a letter, in which he said:
“I feel myself happy in being the person through whom the Marquis has conveyed this early trophy of the spoils of despotism, and first ripe fruits of American principles transplanted into Europe, to his great master and patron.
“That the principles of America opened the Bastile is not to be doubted, and, therefore, the key comes to the right place.”
Washington wrote to La Fayette:
“I received your affectionate letter by one conveyance, and the token gained by liberty over despotism, by another; for both which testimonials of your friendship and regard, I pray you to accept my sincerest thanks. In this great subject of triumph for the New World, and for humanity in general, it will never be forgotten how conspicuous a part you bore, and how much lustre you reflected on a country in which you made the first displays of your character.”
It has been eloquently and truthfully said:
“ The key was hung in Mount Vernon as a memento of the triumph of American principles of liberty in France, and an emblem of their all-pervading vigor in our own country. What a melancholy retrospect for the American citizen! The Bastile is crumbled in France, but the principles of despotism that reared it are transplanted into America, and impress the character of the very fortress named after its illus
ous destroyer. THE BASTILE IS HERE. If the spirits of
the -miglity dead ever mingle with the destinies of the living, how must the groans of anguish wafted up to Heaven from that prison, fall on the mighty spirits of the immortal Washiington and Lafayette? That key still hangs in the hallowed shades of Mount Vernon, an Emblem of Liberty.”
JUDGE H. Do you not think the arbitrary power exerciseu during the Administration of Mr. Lincoln, will have a damaging effect upon the influence of free institutions abroad, and that we had better protect the liberty of the citizen at home, before we attempt to transplant it into other countries?
AUTHOR. The encroachments upon the personal rights of American citizens, during the Administration of President Lincoln, would not inspire one with the idea that we had much of liberty to lose, or, at least, be in a condition to transplant it into other countries, or among other peoples. Far better would it be, to inscribe on the brow of the Goddess of Liberty, over the dome of the Capitol at Washington, the ancient inscription over the entrance into the Temple of A pollo, at Delphi — “Know THYSELF,” than attempt to preach liberty abroad, when we do not enjoy it at home. Let our citizens be protected by constitutional liberty at home, and then you may sow the seeds of freedom of speech freedom of the press - and freedom of thought — throughout the world if you choose ; but so long as our own soil is so poor that liberty will not germinate and fructify in it if it does take root, is so feeble as to be swept away by the first under-current, then the less we boast about American Liberty, under an American Constitution, the better for our reputation and the cause for which our forefathers contended.
JUDGE II. The people ought to know whereiu they have heen robbed of their liberties, and by whom. You know it
was the fear of the Roman citizen tha: his liberty was in danger that caused the assassination of Cæsar.
AUTHOR. That was the excuse of the conspirators. The mere presentation of a crown to Cæsar, at the Lupercal, however, did not justify the deed, for he had thrice refused it. The liberty of the Roman citizen was not in danger, nor had any as yet been deprived of it. But in our country the case was quite different, for our citizens were robbed of their liberties ; and I agree with you, the people ought to know why, and by what authority they have been deprived of their constitutional rights.
JUDGE H. What method would you adopt to let them know the extent of the wrongs they have endured ?
AUTHOR. The most truthful, and, I should think, the most eflectual method, would be to publish a history of the indi ridual cases of some of those who have suffered. In addi. tion to this, I would publish a translated copy of the Magna Charta, a document which should be dear to every American freeman; and besides, it would be a great curiosity to the American reader, for I do not think it has been published more than three or four times in this country. No one who could secure a copy of the Great Charter — the Keystone of English Liberty - would neglect the opportunity. I have seen the original manuscript in the British Museum, in London. It is written in Latin, and is considered a great curiosity. Accompanying it, of course, would be its offspringthe Constitution of the United States, with the recent amend. ments to it. No man, of whatever political creed, should be withont a copy of the Constitution, because it is as necessary for him to know its teachings, to understand his civic rights on earth, as it is important for him to study the precepta of
the Bible to aid him in his preparation for heaven. Then I would illustrate the book with "Independence Bell,” with its inscription; Mr. Seward's “ little bell,” with the hand of an unseen person touching it; “ Independence Hall,” where the Declaration of Independence was adopted and proclaimed; and the “Old Capitol” at Washington, now demolished, where Congress (after the destruction of the Capitol by the British, in 1814,) met, but more recently used for the incarceration of Prisoners of State, together with some of the Forts in which thousands of citizens, torn from their families, without warrant or charge, and secretly hurried away from their homes, were immured for months and years, in damp, dungeon casemates. While all these things would be interesting to the reader, some of them would reveal secrets in the history of the Government which would astonish him.
Judge H. You astonish me, and have excited my desire to see such a book. I am entirely ignorant of many things of which you have talked to-night.
have talked to-night. Such a work would be very instructive, and more interesting than any book that has ever been published in this country. It would be bought and read by every man and woman who can read the English language. What would you call it ?
AUTHOR. The “ AMERICAN BASTILE.”
JUDGE H. Now I not only request, but urge you to pub lish such a book.
AUTHOR. But I have already said I would prefer to write a brighter page in my country's history.
JUDGE H. So would a judge rather not sentence a criminal to death.
AUTHOR. I will undertake then, though reluctantly, to do what you suggest — write a history of the cases of State
Prisoners. Your advice to me has always been good ; and while I undertake this work, it will be for the public good. It will be for the purpose of preventing, in future, a repetition of the errors and crimes committed in the past, and to aid in the preservation of those rights, liberties, and franchises transmitted to us by the fathers of the Republic, to be protected, defended, and guarded by us, as a sacred trust.
JUDGE H. I am heartily glad, my dear sir, that you have acceded to my suggestions, and hope the history you write will find a place on the shelf of every public and private library in our common country. It will not exhibit the bright side, but it may be the means of guarding the people against a repetition of the offences and wrongs committed in the past, and forewarn them, in the language of the Father of his Country, to “resist with care the spirit of innovation upon the principles of our government, however specious the pretext."
AUTHOR. I thank you, my dear Judge, for the many kind suggestions you have made to me to-night, and trust they are fully appreciated. Your kindness is proverbial; your learning acknowledged ; and your patriotism undoubted. Your disinterested friendship and advice to me bave been invaluable, and I hope I may continue in the future to merit your confidence and regard.
JUDGE H. It will always give me pleasure to promote your individual interests; but my advice to you, to-night, has been more concerning your duty, than interest. The genius and science of our Government are based upon personal rights, and personal liberty. The people under our form of government are sovereign. They should know wherein their civil rights have been vic!ated, and their liberties abridged. Al