Travels in France


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Defective Administration of Justice


Take the road to Lourdes, where is a castle on a rock, garrisoned for the mere purpose of keeping state prisoners, sent hither by lettres de cachet. Seven or eight are known to be here at present; thirty have been here at a time; and many for life. They were torn by the hand of jealous tyranny from the bosom of domestic comfort; from wives, children, friends, and hurried for crimes unknown to themselves — more probably for virtues to languish in this detested abode of misery and die of despair. Oh, liberty! liberty! — and yet this is the mildest government of any considerable country in Europe, our own excepted. The dispensations of Providence seem to have permitted the human race to exist only as the prey of tyrants, as it has made pigeons for the prey of hawks.

I was sorry to see, at the village, a pillory erected, to which a chain and heavy iron collar are fastened, as a mark of the lordly arrogance of the nobility and the slavery of the people. I asked why it was not burned, with the horror it merited? The question did not excite the surprise I expected, and which it would have done before the French Revolution.1 This led to a conversation, by which I learned that in the High Savoy there are no seigneurs, and the people are generally at their ease; possessing little properties, and the land in spite of nature almost as valuable as in the lower country, where the people are poor and ill at their ease. I demanded why? "Because there are seigneurs everywhere." What a vice is it, and even a curse, that the gentry, instead of being the cherishers and benefactors of their poor neighbors, should thus, by the abomination of feudal rights, prove mere tyrants. Will nothing but revolutions, which cause their chateaux to be burnt, induce them to give to reason and humanity what will be extorted by violence and commotion?

2 Young, , pp. 60, 278–279.

1 This entry in Young’s journal is under date December 24, 1789.


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Chicago: "Defective Administration of Justice," Travels in France in Readings in Modern European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: D.C. Heath, 1926), 213. Original Sources, accessed September 25, 2018,

MLA: . "Defective Administration of Justice." Travels in France, in Readings in Modern European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, D.C. Heath, 1926, page 213. Original Sources. 25 Sep. 2018.

Harvard: , 'Defective Administration of Justice' in Travels in France. cited in 1926, Readings in Modern European History, ed. , D.C. Heath, Boston, pp.213. Original Sources, retrieved 25 September 2018, from