In a rencontre of this kind, having left my antagonist for dead, I was wise enough to make my retreat into France; and a few days after my arrival at Paris, entering into conversation with some officers on the subject of politics, a dispute arose, in which I lost my temper, and spoke so irreverently of the Grand Monarque, that next morning I was sent to the Bastille, by virtue of a lettre de cachet. There I remained for some months, deprived of all intercourse with rational creatures; a circumstance for which I was not sorry, as I had the more time to project schemes of revenge against the tyrant who confined me, and the wretch who had betrayed my private conversation. But tired, at length, with these fruitless suggestions, I was fain to unbend the severity of my thoughts by a correspondence with some industrious spiders, who had hung my dungeon with their ingenious labours.
“I considered their work with such attention that I soon became an adept in the mystery of weaving, and furnished myself with as many useful observations and reflections on that art, as will compose a very curious treatise, which I intend to bequeath to the Royal Society, for the benefit of our woollen manufacture; and this with a view to perpetuate my own name, rather than befriend my country; for, thank Heaven! I am weaned from all attachments of that kind, and look upon myself as one very little obliged to any society whatsoever. Although I presided with absolute power over this long-legged community, and distributed punishments and rewards to each, according to his deserts, I grew impatient of my situation; and my natural disposition one day prevailing, like a fire which had long been smothered, I wreaked the fury of my indignation upon my innocent subjects, and in a twinkling destroyed the whole race.
Smollett, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle