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maintain the freedom of that body, and to provide for the personal safety of the members; neither of which, from the fourteenth of July 1789, to this hour, have been really enjoyed by their assemblies sitting under any denomination.
This scheme, which was well conceived, had not the desired success. Paris, from which the Convention did not dare to move, though some threats of such a departure were from time to time thrown out, was too powerful for the party of the Gironde. Some of the proposed guards, but neither with regularity nor in force, did indeed arrive; they were debauched as fast as they came; or were sent to the frontiers. The game played by the revolutionists in 1789, with respect to the French guards of the unhappy king, was now played against the departmental guards, called together for the protection of the revolutionists. Every part of their own policy comes round, and strikes at their own power and their own lives.
The Parisians, on their part, were not slow in taking the alarm. They had just reason to apprehend, that if they permitted the smallest delay, they should see themselves besieged by an army collected from all parts of France. Violent threats were thrown out against that city in the assembly. Its total destruction was menaced. A very remarkable expression was used in these debates, " that in future times it might be inquired, on “ what part of the Seine Paris had stood.” The faction which ruled in Paris, too bold to be intimidated, and too vigilant to be surprised, instantly armed themselves. In their turn, they accused the Girondists of a treasonable design to break the republick one and indivisible (whose unity they contended could only be preserved by the supremacy of Paris) into a number of confederate commonwealths. The Girondin faction on this account received also the name of federalists.
Things on both sides hastened fast to extremities. Paris, the mother of equality, was herself to be equalised. Matters were come to this alternative; either that city must be reduced to a mere member of the federative republick, or, the Convention, chosen, as they said, by all France, was to be brought regularly and systematically under the dominion of the common-hall, and even of any one of the sections of Paris.
In this awful contest, thus brought to issue, the great mother club of the jacobins was entirely in the Parisian interest. The Girondins no longer dared to shew their faces in that assembly. Nine tenths at least of the jacobin clubs, throughout France, adhered to the great patriarchal jacobiniere of Paris, to which they were (to use their own term) affiliated. No authority of magistracy,
judicial judicial or executive, had the least weight, whenever these clubs chose to interfere; and they chose to interfere in every thing, and on every occasion.
. All hope of gaining them to the support of property, or to the acknowledgment of any law but their own will, was evidently vain, and hopeless. Nothing but an armed insurrection against their anarchical authority could answer the purpose of the Girondins. Anarchy was to be cured by rebellion, as it had been caused by it.
As a preliminary to this attempt on the jacobins and the commons of Paris, which it was hoped would be supported by all the remaining property of France, it became absolutely necessary to prepare a manifesto, laying before the publick the whole policy, genius, character, and conduct, of the partisans of club government. To make this exposition as fully and clearly as it ought to be made, it was of the same unavoidable necessity to go through a series of transactions, in which all those concerned in this Revolution, were, at the several periods of their activity, deeply involved. In consequence of this design, and under these difficulties, Brissot prepared the following declaration of his party, which he executed with no small ability; and in this manner the whole mystery of the French Revolution was laid open in all its parts. It is almost needless to mention to the reader
the fate of the design to which this pamphlet was to be subservient. The jacobins of Paris were more prompt than their adversaries. They were the readiest to resort to what La Fayette calls the most sacred of all duties, that of insurrection. Another æra of holy insurrection commenced the thirtyfirst of last May. As the first fruits of that insurrection grafted on insurrection, and of that rebellion improving upon rebellion, the sacred, irresponsible character of the members of the Convention was laughed to scorn. They had themselves shewn, in their proceedings against the late king, how little the most fixed principles are to be relied upon, in their revolutionary constitution. The members of the Girondin party in the Convention were seized upon, or obliged to save themselves by flight. The unhappy author of this piece with twenty of his associates suffered together on the scaffold, after a trial, the iniquity of which puts all description to defiance.
The English reader will draw from this work of Brissot, and from the result of the last struggles of this party, some useful lessons. He will be enabled to judge of the information of those who have undertaken to guide and enlighten us, and who, for reasons best known to themselves, have chosen to paint the French Revolution and its consequences in brilliant and flattering colours.—They will know how to appreciate the liberty of France, which has been so much magnified in England. They will do justice to the wisdom and goodness of their sovereign and his parliament, who have put them in a state of defence, in the war audaciously made upon us, in favour of that kind of liberty. When we see, (as here we must see) in their true colours, the character and policy of our enemies, our gratitude will become an active principle. It will produce a strong and zealous cooperation with the efforts of our government, in favour of a constitution under which we enjoy advantages, the full value of which, the querulous weakness of human nature requires sometimes the opportunity of a comparison, to understand and to relish.
Our confidence in those who watch for the publick will not be lessened. We shall be sensible that to alarm us in the late circumstances of our affairs, was not for our molestation, but for our security. We shall be sensible that this alarm was not ill-timed—and that it ought to have been given, as it was given, before the enemy had time fully to mature and accomplish their plans, for reducing us to the condition of France, as that condition is faithfully and without exaggeration described in the following work. We now have our arms in our hands; we have the means of VOL. VII.