Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

lowed his rank and arms in the herald's college of the · rights of men, would be too generous, too gallant a man, .too full of the sense of his new dignity, to employ that cutting consolation to any of the persons whom the leze nation might bring under the administration of his executive powers.

A man is fallen indeed, when he is thus flattered. The anodyne draught of oblivion, thus drugged, is well calculated to preserve a galling wakefulness, and to feed the living ulcer of a corroding memory. Thus to administer the opiate potion of amnesty, powdered with all the ingredients of scorn and contempt, is to hold to his lips, instead of “the balm of hurt minds,” the cup of human misery full to the brim, and to force him to drink it to the dregs.

Yielding to reasons, at least as forcible as those which were so delicately urged in the complimerit on the new year, the King of France will probably endeavour to forget these events and that compliment. But history, who keeps a durable record of all our acts, and exercises her awful censure over the proceedings of all sorts of sovereigns, will not forget, either those events, or the æra of this liberal refinement in the intercourse of mankind.History will record, that on the morning of the 6th of October 1789, the King and Queen of France, after a day of confusion, alarm, dismay, and slaughter, lay dowii, under the pledged security of public, faith, to indulge uature in a few hours of respite, and troubled melancholy repose. From this sleep the Queen was first startied by the voice of the centinel at her door, who cried out to her, to save herself by flight--that this was the last proof of fidelity he could give-that they were upon him, and he was dead. Instantly he was cut down. A band of cruel ruffians and assassins, reeking with his blood, rushed into the chamber of the Queen, and pierced with an hundred strokes of bayonets and poniards the bed, from whence this persecuted woman had but just time to fly almost naked, and through ways unknown to the mur derers had escaped to seek refuge at the feet of a king and husband, not secure of his own life for a moment.

This king, to say no more of him, and this queen, and their infaut children, who once would have been the

pride and hope of a great and generous people, were then forced to abandon the sanctuary of the most splendid palace in the world, which they left swimning in blood, polluted by massacre, and strewed with scattered limbs and mutilated carcases. Thence they were conducted into the capital of their kingdom. Two had been selected from the unprovoked, unresisted, promiscuous slaughter, which was made of the gentlemen of birth and family who composed the king's body guard. These two gentlemen, with all the parade of an execution of justice, were cruelly and publicly dragged to the block, and beheaded in the great court of the palace. Their heads were stuck upon spears, and led the procession ; whilst the royal captives who followed in the train were slowly moved along, amidst the korrid yells, and shrilling screams, and frantic dances, and infamous contumelies, and all the unutterable abominations of the furies of hell, in the abused shape of the vilest of womeu. After they had been made to taste, drop by drup, more than the bitterness of death, in the slow torture of a journey of twelve miles, protracted to six hours, they were, under a guard composed of those very soldiers who had thus conducted them through this famous triumph, lodged in one of the old palaces of Paris, now converted into a bastile for kings.

Is this a triumph to be consecrated at altars? to be commemorated with grateful thanksgiving? to be offered to the divine humanity with fervent prayer and enthusiastic ejaculation ?-_These Theban and Thracian orgies, acted in France, and applauded only in the Old Jewry, Í assure you, kindle prophetic enthusiasm in the minds but of very few people in this kingdom; although a saint and apostle, who may have revelatious of his own, and who has so completely vanquished all the mean superstitions of the beart, may incline to think it pious and decorous to compare it with the entrance into the world of the Prince of Peace, proclaimed in an holy temple by a venerable sage, and not long before not worse announced by the voice of angels to the quiet innocence of shepherds.

At first I was at a loss to account for this fit of unguarded transport. I knew, indeed, that the sufferings of monarchs make a delicious repast to some sort of palates.

There were reflections which might serve to keep this appetite within some bounds of temperance. But when I took one circumstance into my consideration, I was obliged to confess, that much allowance ought to be made for the society, and that the temptation was too strong for common discretion; I mean the circumstance of the lo Pæan of the triumph, the animating cry which called " for all the Bishops to be hanged on the lamp-posts,"* might well have brought forth a burst of enthusiasm on the foreseen consequences of this happy day, I allow to so much enthusiasm some little deviation from prudence. I allow this prophet to break forth into hymns of joy and thanksgiving on an event which appears like the precursor of the Millenium, and the projected fifth monarchy, in the destruction of all church establishments. There was, however, as in all human affairs there is, in the midst of this joy something to exercise the patience of these worthy gentlemen, and to try the long-suffering of their faith. T'he actual murder of the king and queen, and their child, was wanting to the other auspicious circumstances of this “ beautiful day.” The actual murder of the bishops, though called for by so many holy ejaculations, was also wanting. A groupe of regicide and sacrilegious slaughter, was indeed boldly sketched, but it was only sketched. It unhappily was left unfinished, in this great historypiece of the massacre of innocents. What hardy pencil of a great master, from the school of the rights of men, will finish it, is to be seen hereafter. The age has not yet the complete benefit of that diffusion of knowledge that has undermined superstition and error; and the King of France wants another object or two, to consign to oblivion, in consideration of all the good which is to arise from his own sufferings, and the patriotic crimes of an enlightened age.f

* Tous les Eveques a la lanterne.

+ It is proper bere to refer to a letter written upon this subject by an eye-witness. Thai eye-witness was one of the most bouest, intelligent, and eloquent members of the National Assembly, one of the most active and zealous reformers of the state. He was obliged to secede from the assembly; and be afterwards became a voluntary exile, on account of the horrors of this pious triumph,, Although this work of our new light and knowledge, did not go to the length that in all probability it was intended it should be carried; yet I must think that such treatment of any human creatures must be shocking to any but those who are made for accomplishing revolutions. But I cannot stop here. Influenced by the inborn

and the dispositions of men, who, profiting of crimes, if not causing them, have taken the lead in public affairs.

Extract of M. de Lally Tollendal's second Letter to a Friend.

“ Parlons dn parti que j'ai pris; il est bien justifie dans ma conscience.-Ni'cette ville conpable, ni cette assemblee plus coupable encore, ne meritoient que je me justitie; mais j'ai a cônr que vous, et les personnes qui pensent comme vous, ne ine condamnent pas.--Ma sante, je vous jure, me rendoit mes fonctions impossibles; mais meme en les mettant de cote il a ete au-dessus de mes forces de supporter plus long-tems l'horreur que me causoit ce sang, -ces tetes,-cette reine presque egorgée,-ce roi,-amene esclave,-entrant a Paris, au milieu de ses assassins, et precede des tetes de ses malheureux gardes.-Ces perfides jannissaires, ces assassins, ces femmes can uibales, ce cri de, Tous les Evêques a la lanterne, dans le moment on le roi entre sa capitale avec deux eveques de son conseil dans sa voiture. Un coup de fusil, que j'ai vu tirer dans un des carosses de la reine. M. Bailey, appellant cela un beau jour. L'assemblee ayant declare froidement le matin, qu'il n'eroit pas de sa dignite d'aller toute entiere environner le roi. M. Mirabeau disant impunement dans cette assemblee, qne le vaisseau de l'etat, loins d'etre arrete dans sa course, s'elanceroit avec plus de rapidite que jamais vers sa regeneration. M. Barnave, riant avec lui, quand des flots de sang couloient autour de nous. Le vertneux Mounier * echappant par miracle a vingt assassins, qui avoient voulu faire de sa tete un trophee de plus.

"Voila ce qui me fit jurer de ne plus mettre le pied dans cette caverne d'Aniropophages (the National Assembly) ou je n'avois plus de force d'élever la voix, ou depuis six semaines je l'avois elevee en vain. Moi, Mounier, et tous les honnetes gens, ont le dernier effort a faire pour le bien etoit d'en sortir. Aucune idee de craintę ne s'est approchee de moi. Je rougirois de m'en defendre. j'avois encore recu sur la route de la part de ce peuple, moins coupable que ceux qui l'ont enivre de fureur, des acclamations, et des applaudissements, dont d'autres auroient ete flattes, et qui m'ont fait fremir. C'est a l'indignation, c'est a l'horreur. C'est aux convulsions physiques, que le seul aspect du sang me feelings of my nature, and not being illuminated by a single ray of this new-sprung modern light, I confess to you, Sir, that the exalted rank of the persons suffering, and particularly the sex, the beauty, and the amiable qualities of the descendant of so many kings and emperors, with the tender age of royal infants, insensible only through infancy and innocence of the cruel out ges to which their parents were exposed, instead of being a subject of exultation, adds not a little to my sensibility on that most me: lancholy occasion.

* N. B. Mr. Mounier was then Speaker of the Natioual Assembly. He has siuce been obliged to live iu exile, though one of the firmest assertors of liberty,

I hear that the august person, who was the principal object of our preacher's triumph, though he supported himself, felt much on that shameful occasion. As a man, it became him to feel for his wife and his children, and the faithful guards of his person, that were massacred in cold blood about him; as a prince, it became bim to feel for the strange and frightful transformation of his civilized subjects, and to be more grieved for them than solicitous for himself. It derogates little from his fortitude, while it adds infinitely to the honour of his humanity. I am very sorry to say it, very sorry indeed, that such personages are in a situation in which it is not unbecoming to praise the virtues of the great.

I hear, and I rejoice to hear, that the great lady, the other object of the triumph, has borne that day, (one is interested that beings made for suffering should suffer well) and that she bears all the succeeding days, that she bears the imprisonment of her husband, and her owo captivity, and the exile of her friends, and the insulting fait eprouver que j'ai cede. On brave une seule mort; on la brave plusieurs fois,, quand elle peut etre utile. Mais aucune puissance sous le Ciel, mais aucune opinion publique ou privee n'ont le droit de me condamner a souffrir inutilement mille supplices par minute, et a perir de desespoir, de rage, au milien des triomphes, dn crime que je n'ai pu arreter. Is me proscriront, ils confisqueront mes biens Je labourerai la terre, et je ne les verrai plus.-Voila ma justification, Vous pourez la lire, la montrer, la laisser copier; tant pis pour ceux qui ne la comprendrout pas; ce ne sera alors moi qui auroit eut tort de la leur donner.”

This inilitary man had not so good nerves as the peaceable gentleman of the Old Jewry-See Moos. Mounier's narrative of íbese transactions; a man also of honour and virtue, and talents, and therefore a fugitive,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »