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arrives in Paris almost in indigence. Boyer-Fon- | accomplished woman, who was the social centre of frède and Ducos of Bordeaux, his two friends, re- the party, who inspired its most generous resoluceive him as a guest at their table, and under their tions, who was its noblest martyr, whose pen has roof. Vergniaud, careless of success, like all men who feel their own power, worked little, and trusted to the moment and to nature. His genius, unfortunately too fond of indolence, loved to slumber and give itself up to the carelessness of his age and disposition. It was necessary to shake him in order to waken him out of his youthful love of ease, and push him to the tribune or into council. With him, as with the Orientals, there was no transition between idleness and heroism. Action hurried him away, but soon wearied him. He fell back into a reverie of genius.
"Brissot, Guadet, Gensonné, dragged him to Madame Roland's. She did not find him manly or ambitious enough for her taste. His southern habits, his literary tastes, his attraction towards a less imperious beauty, continually brought him back into the society of an actress of the Theatre-Français, Madame Simon Candeille. He had written for her, under another name, some scenes of the drama then in vogue, of 'La Belle Fermière.' This young woman, at once a poetess, writer, actress, displayed in this drama all the fascinations of her feelings, her talent, and her beauty. Vergniaud intoxicated himself with this life of art, of music, of declamation, and of pleasure; he was eager to enjoy his youth, as if he had a foreboding that it would soon be cut short. His habits were meditative and idle. He rose in the middle of the day; wrote little, and on loose sheets, with his paper on his knee, like a man in a hurry who makes the most of his time; he composed his speeches slowly in his reveries, and kept them in his memory by the help of notes; he polished his eloquence at leisure, as the soldier polishes his weapon when at rest. He wished his blows to be not only mortal, but brilliant; he was as curious about their merits in point of art, as of their political efficiency. The stone launched, he left the recoil to fate, and gave himself up anew to indolence. He was not the inan for every hour; he was a man for great days."
made it known and honored, and whose life and
Such were the leading persons in the party of the Girondins-a party destined to play a brief and brilliant part in the drama of the revolution, to exhibit much of its greatness, to be involved in many of its most grievous errors, and in some of its crimes, to perish by an unjust death, and to suffer after death from the injustice of posterity. The modern historians of the revolution, under the influence of a kind of superstitious veneration for its energy and vastness, have had a tendency more or less openly to extol those of the actors in it, who seem to have most entered into its spirit and propelled its progress, and who followed its course to its ulti.nate development with the most unfaltering constancy. The purity of the motives which actuated the Girondins in their struggle against anarchy, their generous sacrifice of power and life Verginaud was of middle size, and of a strong to the cause of their country and humanity, are and vigorous make; his lips were somewhat thick, acknowledged and praised, but at the expense of his eyes black and flashing, his forehead broad and their intellect and vigor: their unsuccessful efforts open; and his long brown hair waved, like that of are treated as indicating feebleness of will and Mirabeau, with the motions of his head. His shallowness of thought; and we are taught to look complexion was pale, and his face marked with the on them with no less contempt than pity, as a host smail-pox. "In a state of repose no one would of declaimers, who were found wholly wanting in have noticed this man in the crowd. He would capacity to deal with the realities of political life. have passed with the common herd, without offend-The general impression produced by M. de Lamaring or arresting the gaze. But when his soul tine's history is not at all calculated to raise the beamed forth in his features like light on a bust, Girondins from this unjust depression. For unjust his countenance as a whole gained by its expres- we must consider it. That they failed in the sion that ideal splendor and beauty which none of great endeavor to guide the revolution, that they his features had in detail. His eloquence lit him failed through great and culpable mistakes, their up. The throbbing muscles of his eyebrows, tem-story clearly proves. They have no pretensions ples, and lips, shaped themselves according to the to belong to that higher class of statesmen, who thought that was in him, and made his countenance the thought itself: it was the transfiguration of genius. The time of Verginaud was when he spoke the pedestal of his beauty was the tribune. When he had come down it vanished: the orator was no more than a mere man."-(Vol. iii., pp. 21-25.)
The picture of the party would be incomplete without that of the beautiful, high-minded, and
can comprehend the mind of a people when in a state of revolutionary ferment, can foresee the tendency of ideas and the course of events, and can by their wisdom and energy direct the great movement of mankind to the desired end. The crisis with which they had to deal was too vast for them. But we must not from that conclude, that they were puny men. Rare among the sons of men is the capacity that would have succeeded where they
the subversion of the institutions to which the nation had given its assent.
failed! They possessed in a high degree the qualities which give eminence and influence in free governments an eloquence never surpassed, a For we cannot think that the constitution of soundness and largeness of views, which experi- 1791 was so utterly impracticable, but that pruence would have gradually ripened into statesman-dence and vigor might have upheld it for some litlike ability, and the courage, probity, and gener- tle time until the public mind should cool, and the osity, that, by commanding respect, and inspiring amendments, which experience might prove necesconfidence, raise men to be the leaders of their sary could be calmly and safely applied. A single fellow-citizens. Though not gifted with such chamber passing laws by a single vote, under the energy and genius as could bear them safely influence of any momentary influence, was not through the terrible crisis in which they were calculated to continue for any length of time the placed, we may confidently say, that few men in legislative institution of a great and civilized namodern times have exhibited a fairer promise of the qualities which, in the ordinary course of settled government, best fit their possessors for the safe and useful conduct of affairs.
tion. While it lasted, it must have been turbulent and democratic; but the instant collision into which it was brought with the royal authority, recognized by the constitution, might, it would seem, have been avoided, had the right use of the prerogatives vested in the crown been understood and enforced. M. de Lamartine thinks rightly that the direct course of difficulty in the constitution of 1791, lay not in the want of power in the crown, but in the king's possessing an amount of authority incompatible with the other provisions of the constitution. The legal independence of the other branches of the legislature, which is secured to the executive by the letter of the British constitution, would, if asserted in fact, be fatal to the stability of any mixed form of government. Since the establishment of parliamentary government in England, its compatibility with an hereditary monarchy has been maintained by the recognition of the principle, that the ministers of the executive must always be taken from the party possessing the actual parliamentary majority. The power of the crown is really upheld, not by its legal authority of counteracting, but by all the influences which enable it to modify, the will of parliament. Of that will, resulting from the conflict of all the various influences that determine its character, the
The misfortune of the Girondins was, that, when they arrived in Paris, and suddenly found themselves the leading men in the legislature, which was to conduct twenty-five millions of men through a revolution, the science of politics was practically unknown to them. What books could teach they had learned; but the institutions of their country had excluded them from all acquaintance with public business; and it unfortunately happened that hardly one of them had, by his previous occupations, acquired any knowledge of the art of managing men. They shared that general indignation against the abuses of the old system of things which pervaded the whole heart of France; their minds, like those of most of their generation, were fraught with an enthusiastic reverence for the great men and institutions of the ancient republics; and they hoped so to direct the course of government and legislation, as, either under the newly established constitution, or under openly republican forms, to secure to their countrymen the imagined blessings of democracy. They found no leaders to whom they could attach themselves. The prominent men of the late As-executive government is and must be the passive sembly had almost disappeared from public life; nor were either Barnave or Lafayette, who were recognized as the founders and principal supporters of the new constitution, competent to mould and inspire a party. The Girondins were left to their own guidance. New to public life, they had to bring new institutions into safe and steady operation, in a society torn to pieces by the violence of the changes already effected, and by the passions which the convulsion had excited.
M. de Lamartine thinks that the original error of the Girondins was in not at once proclaiming the republic on the meeting of the Legislative Assembly. It is only as the next best course to that, that he thinks they should have made a more determined and sincere effort to uphold the constitution of 1791. The course suggested by M. de Lamartine would have been infinitely preferable to that actually taken by the Girondins. But we think that their first duty was, to make every effort to maintain the constitution which they found established; and that their great error was, in ever resorting to insurrectionary force to effect
instrument. The democratic elements of the constitution of 1791 would have allowed the crown to exercise but little influence in the legislature; and the executive authority would necessarily have been the instrument of a very democratic government. But it would have been better that such should be the case than that anarchy should be inevitably produced by the conflict between the two independent wills of the executive and the legisla
The powers which the constitution of 1791 vested in the king were quite sufficient to prove formidable obstacles to the power of the legislature. He possessed a suspensive veto on all its acts, which, in the emergencies of a revolution and a war, was quite as effectual as a more complete authority. He was entrusted with the uncontrolled nomination of all the ministers, and of every officer of the civil and military service of the kingdom. He enjoyed a civil list of a million sterling, of which the disposal rested wholly in his pleasure. It was impossible that a free people and a sovereign legislature could long leave such powers in
"Measures of vigor, corruption of the Assembly, sincere adoption of the constitution, attempts at resistance, an attitude of royal dignity, repentance, weakness, terror, and flight, all were conceived, tried, prepared, determined upon, abandoned the tion, are rarely capable of the steadiness of purpose same day. Women, so sublime in their self-devoand the coolness necessary to a plan of policy. Their policy is in their heart; their feelings act too closely on their reason. Of all the royal virtues, they have none but courage: they rise often to heroes, never to statesmen. The queen was an additional example of this. She did the king much character, her superiority served only to inspire him mischief: gifted with more ability, more soul, more with confidence in fatal counsels. She was at once the charm of his misfortunes, and the genius of his ruin. She led him step by step to the scaffold, but she mounted it with him."
hostile, or even suspected hands. The only chance | says, one man who could understand, much less for the maintenance of the royal authority lay in one who was capable of resisting, the revolution. placing it entirely at the disposal of the nation. He was chiefly under the influence of the queen; The king should at once have waived the inde- and he could hardly have been under worse. M. pendent exercise of prerogatives, which he could de Lamartine's pity for the sufferings of Marie not exert in opposition to the national will, with- Antoinette-his admiration of her beauty and courout the downfall of the whole system. He should age, do not blind him to her faults. She had the have taken the ministers pointed out by the domi- tact that could conciliate individuals, and the intrenant party in the Assembly; abstained, in conform-pidity which bore her nobly through personal ity with the invariable practice of the English emergencies; but she had none of the political constitution, from exercising the veto placed in his knowledge or genius-none of the patient courhands; and laid the accounts of his civil list before age, which would have enabled her to give a wise the Assembly. The just judgment of mankind direction to the feeble mind of her husband. Perwould have relieved him of all moral responsibility sonal resentments and predilections forever outfor the formal acts done in pursuance of a deliber-weighed the dictates of policy; and the vehemence ate renunciation of powers which could not be and quickness of her impulses rendered her energy freely exercised without compromising the public as fickle as the king's weakness. tranquillity. The whole present, as well as future, responsibility of government and legislation would have been thrown on the Assembly; and the executive authority, avowedly the prize of the conflict, and the instrument of the successful party, would have been removed beyond the possibility of collision with the people. Free from reproach for all the ills that might result from the mistakes or violence of factions, the king might have preserved the existence of the monarchy; and when all parties had ultimately weakened and discredited each other, or any one of them had succeeded in establishing itself in power, might, in either event, have availed himself of the exhaustion of the nation, or of the restoration of order, to reässert the rights and consolidate the power of the crown. Unfortunately, the disposition of the court induced the deposed monarch rather to avail himself Every act of the court during the year that of any fragment left him out of the wreck of his passed between the acceptance of the constitution former authority, than, by wise concessions, to and the 10th of August, 1792, aided and precipiprepare for a future recovery of the whole. The tated the catastrophe. It is not too much to say, picture which M. de Lamartine gives of the char- that they formed one long treason against the conacter, and his narrative of the conduct of this un-stitution to which the king had sworn. Throughhappy prince, leave such an impression of his out, the king had two ministries; the one avowed extraordinary weakness, that, fearful as were the and responsible to the nation, the other consisting necessary perils of the revolution, we cannot but of such men as Calonne and the Baron de Breteuil, feel that their fatal result was mainly to be ascribed who were organizing, under the king's auspices, to the incapacity of Louis. Meaning well, without the invasion of France by the emigrants and fora thought of vengeance or triumph, and sincerely eign powers, and thus fomenting the two main desirous of the public good, his mere weakness causes of the destruction of the monarchy. The produced the appearance, and even the actual ef- emigration was the master evil; it stripped France fect, of the worst designs, and the deepest perfidy. of the very class, whose presence in their own With no notion of the state of affairs-no concep- country would have been the most effectual support tion of the course which he ought to adopt-he to the throne. A small portion even of the 20,000 depended entirely on the suggestions of others. emigrants, whom our author states to have been at He took everybody's advice: the worst parasites, one time in arms on the frontier, might have baffled the most open opponents, were in turn resorted to any of the decisive movements of the revolution. by him. Unable to discriminate between good The course pursued by the emigrants, coupled with and bad counsels, he followed one man's advice the hostile preparations of the foreign powers, ex to-day, and held language in conformity with it; cited to the utmost pitch the alarm and anger of and the next day took the directly opposite course, the French people. The court, though their safety and used language which gave a character of false-depended on the removal of all causes of excitehood to the words which he had uttered the day ment, could not abstain from encouraging the inbefore. No one could trust, no one could fix, and, vaders. They did it unsteadily, it is true. consequently, no one could effectually guide or favorable vote, or any mark of confidence on the serve him. Among all those who principally di- part of the Assembly, or any demonstration of poprected him, there was not, as M. de Lamartine ular favor, would at any time raise the king's
hopes, and make him write off to his agents at Coblentz to discontinue their hostile preparations. The next day came some encroachment by the Assembly, or some insult from the mob around his palace, and he had no hope but in the success of the invasion. His acts too constantly justified the suspicions of the people. The ministers of his choice were enemies of the revolution; and those whom the popular feeling for awhile forced on him, were speedily dismissed from his councils. The strong measures to which the Assembly had recourse for what we cannot but regard as justifiable purposes of self-defence, were obstructed by his unwise exercise of his veto. His large revenue was undoubtedly applied to purposes inconsistent with good faith and the public interest; and the mystery in which the expenditure of the civil list was kept, of course led to suspicions which went far beyond the truth.
ity to disarm the suspicions excited against him by his aristocratic birth, and from the unpopularity of the party to which he was supposed to owe his elevation. Unsupported by the Assembly, he was dismissed by the king, who, in his turn, distrusted him on account of his popular professions. mouriez sought to attain the same object as Narbonne, under more favorable circumstances, and with far greater qualifications. Elevated to office by the influence of the Girondins, he had the sagacity to take the only course that would have enabled them to consolidate their power; and their misfortune was, that in the man whom they had taken as an instrument, they did not discern, or would not recognize, the qualities that they wanted in a leader.
Dumouriez had described the true policy to be pursued by the king, in a phrase which he used a short time before his accession to office. "If I It would, no doubt, have been a task of great were king of France, I would baffle all these pardifficulty for the leaders of a popular party to up- ties by putting myself at the head of the revoluhold the constitution in despite of the public excite- tion." And on this principle he acted for a time ment, and of the impulse given to it by the suicidal most successfully, winning the confidence of the conduct of the court. But the Girondins cannot king and queen in spite of their strong prepossesbe relieved from the charge of having aggravated sions against him; humoring the Jacobins by going the intrinsic difficulties of the state of affairs by at once to their sittings, and with the cap of libtheir own errors. They commenced the session erty on his head, explaining to them the principles of the Assembly by petty encroachments on the on which he intended to govern; taking, in all his royal dignity, which lowered the authority, and measures, a strong popular and national line; exeirritated the feelings of the king. They then com- cuting his plans with energy and skill; and using mitted the far graver fault of encouraging the war- his influence with the king and queen to obtain the like feeling of the country, and of forcing on the withdrawal of the veto from decrees which had war with Austria, which prudence might have passed the Assembly. No policy could have been averted, or, at any rate, postponed. To avoid or better adapted to promote the interests of the Gipostpone it was the obvious interest, not merely rondins, as well as those of the country. Personal of their party, but of their principles. They differences seem to have occasioned the breach looked, however, only to their immediate object between them and Dumouriez. Madame Roland the coercion of the court; and by bringing on a detected his ambition, and inspired suspicions of war for that purpose, they swelled and prolonged him, which Dumouriez unfortunately confirmed by an excitement, which was sure to frustrate all their manners and morality savoring so much of the old ulterior schemes of tranquil government. The régime as to shock the republican puritanism of the bright period of Robespierre's history is that of Girondins. His commanding tone and superior his determined opposition to this war. His popu- abilities gave umbrage to his colleagues; while larity, and his exertions in the Jacobin Club, for he, on the other hand, grew impatient of their a month counterbalanced the public feeling, the narrow views and want of practical skill. In the efforts of the Girondins, and the violence of the vehement dissensions which at this time broke out popular agitators. It was in the long and angry between the Girondins and the yet more extreme discussion of this subject, that he was for the first section of the revolutionists, he thought he saw time brought into violent collision with the Giron- the means of obtaining support for his policy in the dins, especially with Brissot; and it is a remarka-event of a rupture with his old supporters. He ble proof of his extraordinary ability, that while accordingly entered into close communication with asserting the unpopular cause, he greatly augmented his own popularity, and weakened that of his rivals, who were lending themselves to the passions of the people.
Danton, in whom he found a sagacity and vigor congenial to his own. Emboldened by the prospect of assistance from the Jacobins, he encouraged the king to dismiss the three Girondin ministers, But the capital error of the Girondins was their Roland, Clavières, and Servan; and was prepared, rupture with Dumouriez. The only chance of by giving effect to a thoroughly popular policy, to maintaining the constitution lay in strengthening a defy the anger of the majority who supported the popular minister, and enabling him to keep the dismissed ministers. In this attempt he was executive in harmony with the Assembly. Nar- baffled by the king's refusal to sanction the decree bonne was the first of the ministers of Louis who against the refractory priests, and resigned. With thought of establishing his ministry on the confi- his retirement from office vanished the last hope dence of the Assembly. His ill-success resulted of a popular ministry. The king was driven to not so much from his own acts, as from his inabil- take his ministers from the known opponents of
the revolution; and the Girondins, inflamed by spired the movement; the reckless excitement personal mortification, and giving way to a bound-produced by the anticipation; the fears that gradless distrust of the court, directed their attacks ually thickened as the reality began to exhibit against the existence of the monarchy.
itself, and armed bands began to pass; as, one by The dismissal of the Girondin ministers was one, friend and husband armed himself to take followed, in a few days, by the outrages of the part in the fray, and as the appalling clang of the 20th June, 1792, the guilt of which principally tocsin surmounted the din; the night of agony rests with Petion. The momentary reaction which watched through by the women, crouching, listenthese outrages provoked, was neutralized by Lafay-ing, and wailing, until they fainted at the sound ette's imprudent manifestation, and by the advance of the cannon. Danton alone is calm; after havof the allies on Paris. The Girondins and Jaco-ing set the whole in motion, he leaves its details bins suspended their disputes for a time, in order to take their chance in the hands of the subordito unite against the refractory general and the nate but more immediate agents, and goes quietly invading enemy. The leaders of the Assembly to bed. threw off all disguise of attachment to the consti- Then we are taken through the same awful tution; and Vergniaud, in his memorable speech night as it was passed by the royal family in the on the "Dangers of the Country," openly broached Tuileries, with the dreaded morning breaking on the deposition of the king. The levy of troops to them amid the first notes of assault and the preparserve against the invading armies was made the ations for defence. The king makes his appearpretext for filling Paris with a revolutionary force. ance, worn and haggard, with his dress disordered, Barbaroux brought up the Marseillais. On the and his manner exhibiting the confusion, not of other hand, the court prepared their means of fear, but of shyness. The queen preserves her defence. The excitement grew, as the two parties haughty air, and intrepid spirit; which is only found themselves face to face. The popular fury broken by the fruitlessness of her efforts to inspire broke forth into multiplied and ferocious outrages her husband with the energy required by the crion the real or supposed adherents of the court. sis. She sees him commence his review of the Suddenly the insane proclamation signed by the troops; her hopes rise with the shouts of "Vive Duke of Brunswick, as general of the invading le Roi!" raised by the gentlemen who fill the army, made its appearance in Paris. Not a mo- palace, and by the royal battalions in the courts; ment was to be lost in taking the powers of gov- they are dashed when the king, instead of assumernment out of the hands of a court who were, in ing the bearing and uttering the few bold words reality, counting every stage of the Prussian march that would have stimulated his defenders, stammers as a day nearer to their deliverance. The insur- forth one or two disjointed purposeless phrases, rection of the 10th of August took place. The which only communicate to others his own irresocourt had considerable means of resistance at their lution; and they are finally extinguished as she disposal; but by a succession of mistakes and mis-sees him return amid hisses from his luckless circhances they allowed the well-directed resources cuit of the gardens, while band after band of the of the mob to obtain an easy triumph. The king left his palace, and the monarchy was abolished.
Of all these remarkable incidents M. de Lamartine has given graphic and stirring descriptions. The wild elements of the insurrectionary force of Paris are brought before our eyes. We have the various picturesque biographies of Santerre, SaintHurugue, Theroigue de Mericourt, and the other strange leaders of that terrible host. It was in a lone house at Charenton that all these movements were planned. There the details of the 10th of August were concerted on the night of the arrival of the Marseillais, amid the terrors of a memorable thunder-storm. The electric fluid was everywhere attracted by the crosses which occupied the highest pinnacles, or stood isolated on the roadsides; and the next morning the ground in the neighborhood of Paris was found ominously strewn with the prostrated emblems of religion.
Of the 10th of August itself we have a very minute narrative. The first sketch is taken from an account given by Lucile, the young wife of Camille Desmoulins, who describes the evening and night of the 9th, and morning of the 10th, which she passed at Danton's house, in company with his wife. Here we have the insurrection as it came home to the families of those who had con
national guards march over and range themselves with the assailants. We accompany the family in their mournful passage to the Assembly, and during the mortal agony of those sixteen hours passed in the narrow, heated box of the lagographe. The king eats, drinks, and chats with the deputies; the queen sits silent, exhausted, vanquished; her countenance flushed with the mortification of defeat, but still lit up with unyielding pride and resentment. The cannon sounds close; the Swiss are said to be victorious; the deputies swear to die at their posts. This hope, too, passes away; the victorious mob enters to announce its triumph, and parade its trophies. The royal captives are doomed to sit through the long debate in which they hear their fate discussed, and their downfall decided; and are then finally dismissed to prison. We give but a faint outline of the startling picture drawn by M. de Lamartine; the reader who would receive the full impression of its effect must read the work itself.
The Girondins, when they had triumphed over the monarchy, seemed at first scared by their own success. They scrupled at once to proclaim the republic; and not only left the responsibility of doing so to a convention to be immediately summoned, but excited in the mean time the distrust