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of the victorious people by votes, which seemed to has need to intoxicate itself with blood in order to indicate an intention of maintaining the institution impel it to defend its country, must be a people of of royalty. The dismissed ministers were replaced scoundrels and not a people of heroes. Heroism is in office—the real power, however, was at once lution, its prestige was in its justice and its morality.
the very reverse of assassination. As for our revoengrossed by Danton ; who now stood forward for This massacre went to tarnish it in the eyes of Euthe first time in a prominent position, as minister rope. Europe, it is true, did raise a cry of horror of justice, and immediately asserted his incontesta- but horror is not respect. A cause is never served ble superiority over his colleagues. In truth, he by being dishonored.' wielded the whole executive authority, because he
And he compares the effect of this massacre on had organized it, and called it into action. When
the character of the revolution to that of the mas the Girondins, after the 10th of August, found that the result of their efforts had been to make Danton Church of Rome. Sound policy, as well as the
sacre of St. Bartholomew on the cause of the and the commune rulers over them, they were moral sense of mankind, confirm this judgment. taught too late how grievously they had erred The measures originally proposed by Danton for with respect to the course which they had pursued seizing the persons of those who were well known for the subversion of the monarchy. They had to be disaffected to the revolution, might be justioriginally assailed that institution, in the vain im-fied by the necessities of the crisis. The com agination that government might be pulled down mander of a besieged city is authorized to deprive and built up again by the mere power with which
those whom he knows to be plotting against the oratory sways an assembly and excites a people. public safety, of the power of doing harm; and They understood nothing of the process by which the situation of Paris, expecting the Prussians at the popular force was to be organized and directed; its gates, might be sufficient warrant for the imand when they at last determined on an insurrec- prisonment even of thousands of suspected conspirtion, they had recourse to Danton and the com
ators. But the cold blooded slaughter of disarmed mune to furnish its means. The insurrection over, prisoners was an act of useless as well as revolting the means remained at the disposal of those who had created them. The commune, led by Dan- cruelty. The genius of Dumouriez had already
saved France. ton, Marat, and Robespierre, and embodied in the assassins only heightened into frenzy the passions
The bloody license given to the force which had been organized under Santerre, of the populace. "It maddened them to fresh acts governed Paris, and, through Paris, France. of violence, and deterred all men of justice and Happy had it been for the Girondins, had this lesson taught them, that, before they could hope nection with persons who had made such crimes a
moderation from taking any further part in con10 establish an orderly republic, in place of the monarchy which they had destroyed, they must part of their policy. The guilt recoiled on Danton
and the revolution. It forever separated him from themselves not only re-construct the machinery of
the party, by whose support he might have govexecutive government, but provide, and keep in
erned France; and it was found to have paralyzed their own hands, the physical means by which its
his arm, when the time came in which he wished existence was to be maintained, and its authority to put a stop to violence, and restore the rule of enforced. Unfortunately, to the end of their
humanity and reason. career, they seemed to conceive that they were
A curious anecdote is given by M. de Lamaradministering an established government, instead
tine, on the authority of a surviving friend of of working out a revolution ; and that the votes of an assembly were the end, and speeches the Robespierre and St. Just
, whose name unfortumeans of governing. Too late they learned on estimate the degree of foundation for a story which
nately is kept back. We could wish to be able to the scaffold that the controversies in which they casts a singular light on the strange character of had engaged were only to be settled by “ pike Robespierre. At the period of the massacre he
was a member of the commane ; but, seeing the The reign of the commune, between the 10th of Angusi and the meeting of the convention, borne to attend its meetings. He had no share
turn affairs were taking, had for some days forederives a horrible celebrity from the massacres
in what was done ; had no power of preventing it. of September. M. de Lamartine has been at some pains to collect various proofs of the deliber- As in the case of preceding movements, he did ation with which the details of this horrible nothing, blamed what was being done, but let it
go on ; and when done, took it as a necessary step butchery were concerted. He condemns Marat as having instigated, Danton as having sanctioned,
in the revolution, and defended it. and the commune as having perpetrated it. Ex- “On the 2d of September, at eleven o'clock at cuses which have been offered for it, he rejects night, Robespierre and St. Just went out together with scorn.
from the Jacobins, exhausted by the mental and
bodily fatigue of an entire day passed in tumultuous “History,” he says, “should represent the con- debates, and big with so terrible a night. St. Just science of mankind. The voice of that conscience lived in a small lodging in the Rue Ste. Anne, not will ever condemn Danton. It has been said that far from the house of the joiner Duplay, where Rohe saved his country and the revolution by these bespierre resided. Talking over the events of the measures, and that our victories are their excuse. day, and what was threatened for the morrow, the This is the error into which he fell. A people that two friends reached the door of St. Just's house.
Robespierre, absorbed in his own thoughts, went up very different feelings. The unanimous choice of to the young man's room in order to continue the Petion as president showed the disposition of the conversation. St. Just fung his clothes on a chair, convention; and the Girondin leaders found themand prepared to go to sleep. “What are you selves at the head of a large and determined madoing ?” said Robespierre. * I am going to bed," answered St. Just. What! can you think of jority. Had they been statesmen as well as sleeping on such a night?" replied Robespierre. orators, that majority and the public opinion of “Do you not hear the rocsin? Do you not know France gave them the means of establishing their that this night will probably be the last for thousands
power. But they entered the Assembly, smarting of our fellow-creatures, who are men at the moment with mortification at their recent subjection to the you go to sleep, and will be corpses when you commune ; and their first thought was how they wake?”
should use their majority to throw off that ignoSt. Just answered with one of the common-places minious yoke. Instead of waiting until they had of the day, and went to sleep. Early the next consolidated an efficient executive, they rushed into morning when he woke, he saw Robespierre pac- the contest, unprovided with any means of coming up and down the room, and every now and bating the physical force of their antagonists. They then pressing his face close to the window to watch endeavored at once to bear them down by the the daybreak, and listen to the sounds in the street. weight of public feeling. Nor did they confine St. Just asked him what brought him back so early, themselves to the legitimate weapons with which and found to his astonishment that he had not left a good cause furnished them. There were reathe spot all night.
sons against breaking at once with Danton. They "Sleep!” said Robespierre ; “ what! while hun saw in Robespierre their most formidable antagodreds of assassins were cutting the throats of thou-nist, and were probably stimulated by vindictive sands of victions, and while blood, whether pure or recollections of their bitter conflicts at the Jacobin impure, was running like water in the gutter! 0 Club. They accordingly directed the main force no,” he continued, in a deep voice and with a sar- of their attacks against the one public man who castic smile on his lips, “I have not been to bed, had hitherto, less than any other, participated in but have watched, like remorse or crime; ay, I
any of the disorders of the revolution. On the have been guilty of the weakness of not sleeping ; strength of some frantic declamations of Marat, but Danton, he has slept !”
whom they endeavored most unfairly to associate The instigators of the 10th of August cannot be with him, and of the foolish talk of some insignifiacquitted of having called into activity that spirit cant demagogues, they gravely accused Robeswhich produced the massacres of September. But pierre of aspiring to establish a dictatorship. Such we must not deny to the Girondins the honor due was the substance of the charges brought against to them. As soon as they recovered from the him by Barbaroux and Louvet. The accusation first stupor into which this gigantic crime threw gave him an opportunity of vindicating himself, all France, they raised their voice in loud and un- and of humbling his opponents in one of the most compromising denunciation of it. Roland, while skilful and triumphant of his speeches. These the carnage was going on, exhausted whatever ill-judged attacks imparted to the proceedings of means he could command to stop it; but both he the Girondins a character of petty and malignant and Petion were utterly powerless. In proclama- rivalry, subjected them to the mortification of defeat tions, in letters, and in protests, Roland, at the in a personal conflict, and weakened their hold on imminent peril of his life, continued his war with the majority by justly diminishing its confidence in the commune. Indignant at the enormity of the their discretion. crime itself, at the discredit cast by it on the re- But the trial of the king soon gave a more seripublic, and at the predominance given to both the ous occupation to the contending parties. Actumost anarchical doctrines and the most worthless ated by that mistaken notion of equity which in men, the Girondins now perceived the necessity of like circumstances brought Charles I. to the block, checking the progress of disorder. From being the voice of the people demanded, as a matter of the leaders of the movement, and the instigators equal justice, that the deposed monarch should be of insurrection, they came in a few weeks to be subjected to the same fate as the laws of treason regarded by the populace as the counter-revolu- would infallibly have inflicted on his opponents, tionary party, against whom the next efforts of had he been successful in the contest. None of the friends of the revolution must be directed the leading men of either party, according to M. From this time the hopes of every friend of order de Lamartine, shared this feeling, or desired the and humanity rested on them as the party who death of Louis ; yet each consented, each exhibwould put an end to the turmoil and carnage of the ited a rivalry of eagerness to sacrifice the victim, revolution.
in order to retain its hold over the people. The The aspect of affairs at the first meeting of the Girondins therein undoubtedly sinned the most convention on the 20th of September, 1792, was deeply against their own principles and policy. But most favorable to the Girondins. Though the the conduct of the leaders of that party has been elections of Paris, taking place in the very days too hastily ascribed to mere cowardice. They did that followed the massacre, had returned a depu- not, in truth, so much abandon their own views, tation entirely composed of Jacobins, the represen- as they made an ill-judged attempt to gain their tatives of the departments had been elected under | object by indirect means. When the point camo
to be discussed in their councils, they found that after all the vows of liberty; the blood of Louis they were opposed by some of the principal men XVI. was in the monarchical enthusiasm which of their own party—by Fonfrède, Ducos, Barba- the return of the Bourbons at the restoration re
vived in France ; it mingled, even in 1830, in that roux, and Buzot, whose republican fanaticism required the death of the king. Imagining that, the undecided nation into the arms of another dy
repugnance to the name of republic which threw without their support, they would be unable to nasty. It is republicans who should most deplore save the king's life, they adopted a plan of action this blood, for it is their cause that it has stained, suggested by Sieyes. They agreed to vote for his and it is that blood which has cost them the repubdeath, but to subject the decree of the convention lic.” to ratification by the primary assemblies. The The details of this catastrophe afford ample plan, supported by a plausible conformity with scope for the descriptive powers of M. de Lamardemocratic principles, was obviously impracticable. tine. It is much to the credit of his moral judg. It involved the prolonged agitation of a perilous ment, that he has not sought to heighten the efquestion. It laid the Girondins open to the impu- fect by investing the sufferers with unreal virtues. tation of wishing to create dissension between the The mournful tale of the imprisonment in the different parts of France. The people regarded temple, with all its anguish and all the tortures it as a trick. The votes of the Gironde decided inflicted by the vulgar insolence of the gaolersthe judgment of death, which their influence, boldly the picture of the king, carried along to his trial, exerted, would, in all human probability, have pale, unshaved, with his clothes hanging loosely on averted. And that judgment once pronounced, the his attenuated frame—and the last agonies of his expedient, by which its execution was to have been separation from his family, sensibly touch our pity. stayed, was unhesitatingly rejected.
We admire the calm resignation and the unfailing The speeches of Robespierre contain the simple gentleness which characterized his whole demeanor and forcible exposition of the grounds on which the through these scenes of suffering, and dictated the execution of Louis is defensible as an act, not of will which emanated from the solitude of his own justice, but of state policy. “Louis must die be- thoughts. But the impartial narrative lowers our cause the country must live.” The noble reply previous conception of the dignity of the monarch's of Vergniaud was contradicted by his vote. M. deportment. His feeble capacity suggested to him de Lamartine temperately examines the arguments the expedients by which an ordinary prisoner enon both sides, and his conclusions will not be new deavors to evade his condemnation, instead of the to any Englishman whom the earlier precedent in passive superiority with which a martyr receives our own history shall have ever driven upon a sim- his doom; and we cannot help recalling the stately ilar re-hearing.
silence with which Charles I. rebuked his judges “Exhausted and discredited by four years of un
on the like occasion. equal struggle with the nation, twenty times placed
A momentary lull followed the catastrophe; and at the mercy of his people, without credit with the then the deadly war of the two contending factions soldiery, with a character of which the timidity and broke forth afresh. During the first months of indecision had been repeatedly proved, fallen from 1793, the Girondins assailed the commune, humiliation into humiliation, and step by step from endeavored to discredit the Mountain by continuing the height of his throne into a prison, Louis XVI. to associate them with the frantic ebullitions of was the only prince of his race to whom it was impossible ever again to dream of reigning. Abroad Marat, and by reviving the charges of dictatorial he was discredited by his concessions ; at home he designs against Robespierre. The Mountain rewould have been the patient and inoffensive hostage torted with accusations of counter-revolutionary of the republic, the ornament of its triumphs, the projects and federalism. The Girondins, favored living proof of its magnanimity. His death, on by the Plain, possessed a large, and it must be said, the contrary, alienated from the French cause that a steady majority in the convention. Even in immense portion of every people which judge human Paris they commanded the support of the middle events only through the heart. Human nature is merciful. The republic forgot that it gave to roy
classes. Their party occupied all the most imalty a character of martyrdom, and to liberty that portant offices in the ministry. The successes of of vengeance.
thus prepared a reäction against Dumouriez gave glory to their administration of the the republican cause, and arrayed on the side of government; and they relied on the coöperation royalty the sensibility, the interest, the tears of a of his army against their antagonists. Roland had portion of every people. Who can deny that pity funds at his disposal to keep the newspapers in for the fate of Louis XVI. and his family, had a great part in the revival of royalty some years France. To this party the great majority of the
pay, and circulate the views of his party throughout after? Unsuccessful causes have returns of favor of which the motives are often to be found only in departments adhered most warmly. A little skill the blood of the victims cruelly sacrificed by the in organizing the force of the executive government, opposite party. Public feeling, when once moved and patience until they should have got together by a sense of its injustice, is only set at rest when the means of acting with effect, would apparently it is, so to speak, absolved by some signal and un- have insured them an easy and certain triumph. expected reparation. The blood of Louis XVI. was in every treaty which the powers of Europe Danton, anxious to clear himself from the guilt of contracted for the purpose of branding and stifling September, and to erect a strong and respectable the republic; the blood of Louis XVI. was in the government, was ready to become the ally of the oil which consecrated Napoleon so short a time Girondins, and bring to their aid his sagacity. his
courage, and the vast popular force which he to which his intimate relations with Dumouriez wielded. Vergniaud, and other leaders of the gave some countenance, Danton saw the necessity party, appreciated the value of his aid, and the of throwing himself at once into the arms of the wisdom of temporizing with their opponents. Mountain. He assailed the Girondins with the Their wisdom was overruled. The younger mem- customary accusations of counter-revolutionary probers of the party, inflamed by the counsels of Ma-jects, and with furious gestures declared that from dame Roland, would allow of no truce with the that moment there should be no peace or truce · advocates of anarchy and massacre. Marat was between himself and those who had wished to save again assailed; the people of Paris took the part the king. He at once placed himself at the head of that furious organ of their passions and preju- of their assailants, and set about combining the dices ; and the Mountain defended the favorite of means by which their power might be destroyed. the people. By degrees the leaders were involved For six or seven weeks a conflict was kept up in the fray; and Robespierre, renewing his accu- between the powerless Assembly and the minority, sations against the Girondins, exasperated the peo- which was backed by the physical force of Paris. ple against them.
The Girondins, in order to compose an efficient But the Girondins, while thus provoking the executive within the convention itself, constituted conflict, made no preparation for bringing it to a the famous Committee of Public Safety. They put successful issue. They allowed their friends to Marat on his trial before the revolutionary tribunal, be successively driven from the chief offices of where his acquittal gave their enemies a signal government, and to be replaced by men indifferent and, indeed, fearful triumph. They then struck or opposed to them, at the same time that all the directly at their principal adversary, and established lower offices in every department were filled with a commission of twelve to examine into the procreatures of the Jacobins. They even permitted ceedings of the commune of Paris. That body, the various bodies of fédérés, who formed a mili- thus assailed, lost no time in taking their resolution. tary force on which they could rely, to be sent out The various sections of Paris appeared before the of Paris, until they were left without any means convention with petitions demanding the abrogation of repressing the mob. While they exhausted the of the commission and the arrest and accusation of time and patience of the convention in personal the twenty-two principal deputies of the Girondin recriminations, Danton was suffered to dicate the party. Tumult and menaces followed. On the policy of the republic. When the insurrection of interposition of Danton, who wished to avert the La Vendée broke out, the majority began to follow last extremities, the commission was annulled by the only leader who seemed to have matured the a vote of the convention. The next day Lanmeasures that were required by the crisis ; and, juinais, who displayed, in defence of his party, the in spite of the opposition of the Girondins, at his same intrepidity which he had shown in endeavsuggestion the convention created the revolutionary oring to save the life of the king, carried a motion tribunal, and voted the first laws against the aris- to rescind this vote. The mob could be no longer tocrates, and for taxing the rich in order to arm restrained--they declared themselves in a state of the people.
permanent insurrection. On the 31st of May they In the mean time the commune were no ways surrounded and entered the convention. The Gidisposed to resign their power to the Girondins, or rondins, protesting against this coercion, quitted leave that party leisure to consolidate a force which their seats; their places were occupied by the mob; might control them. On the 10th of March an and the commission was again annulled. But the insurrectionary movement was attempted, with the excited populace now required vengeance as well double object of intimidating the convention, and as submission. The cry for the accusation of the of murdering the principal Girondins at their own twenty-two was again raised. On the morning of houses. Timely information enabled the men- the 2d of June the convention was surrounded by aced deputies to frustrate the last object ; and the the armed force of the sections under the command energy of the minister Beurnonville, with a force of Henriot ; and a hundred pieces of artillery were of fédérés from Brest, awed the assailants. Dan- pointed against the chamber which it occupied in ton, who alone could organize a decisive popular the palace of the Tuileries. Some of the prorising, kept aloof, and, indeed, protected the Gi- scribed deputies had already sought safety in rondins.
flight; others, with Vergniaud at their head, calmly This uncertainty, however, could not long last, proceeded through the threatening mob to brave in face of the increasing dangers of the republic. the fate which was denounced against them. The The troubles of La Vendée grew more serious. Committee of Public Safety endeavored to effect a The French army was defeated and driven out of compromise by inducing the twenty-two to resign Belgium ; and in the first days of April the public their seats in the convention. Some did so ; terror rose to its height on intelligence of the de- others stoutly refused. The menaces of the armed fection of Dumouriez. The contending parties mob increased in violence. As a last expedient to sought to cast on each other the odium of connec- save their colleagues, the convention, with the tion with the traitor. The Girondins, Lasource president at their head, proceeded in a body to and Biroteau, seized the first occasion of making a make their way out of the Tuileries. Henriot redetailed charge against Danton, as an accomplice fused to allow them to pass until they had given of his treason. Enraged and alarmed at a charge up the twenty-two. At every point they found
their passage barred by the insurgent forces ; and obedience. For the first time since the meeting at length they returned to their chamber, and of the States General, France possessed a strong passed a decree ordering the provisional arrest of government. To suppress rebellion, repel the the principal leaders of the Girondins.
foreign foe, and terrify the internal enemies of the So closed the political existence of a party which, republic, was the first business of that government. for nearly two years, had occupied the most con- For this last purpose the revolutionary tribunal spicuous position in the legislature of their country. was reörganized, and armed with the terrible “Lui Misplaced in a revolution, which they were not des Suspects.” capable of conducting, they became the victims of The first sufferer was, perhaps, the one whose those ferocious passions which, after exciting, they fate most revolts us by its injustice—the unforhad failed in coercing, and with which they scorned tunate Custine, whose military reverses drew on to enter into any compromise. A civil war, which him the penalty of treason. A nobler victim folat the outset menaced the existence of the republic, lowed. On the 14th of October the unhappy was for some weeks kept alive in Normandy, and queen was brought before the revolutionary triother parts of France, by such members of the bunal. Her intrepid protest against the fou] party as had escaped from Paris. A majority of charges with which Fouquier garnished his list of the department joined their cause, and prepared to calumnies, for one moment rallied the feelings of resist the usurped authority of the Mountain. All the audience on her side ; but could not avert a of every denomination who were hostile to those doom which was meant to be the penalty both of in power, crowded under the banner raised by the her former greatness and of her recent hostility to Girondins. The natural consequence of this was, the revolution. She was conveyed to her fate in that the royalists, who had long been secretly an open cart, amid the execrations of the mob, and preparing for resistance, and who possessed leaders the savage jests of the infuriated women, whose of military experience, became everywhere the real trade it was to insult the dying. The jolting of masters of the movement, and turned it to their the rough vehicle disordered her dress, and added own purposes. No sooner was this apparent, than to her sufferings by diminishing the air of personthe insurgents lost confidence in one another. The al dignity, which she strove to preserve. Her insurrection subsided as instantaneously as it had haughty countenance evinced the mortification and broken out, except at one or two points, where anger which filled her soul; and she died exhibitit was avowedly continued as a royalist rebellion. ing to the last her hatred and scorn for her butchIn the course of a few weeks the Committee of ers. But the touching narrative does not disarm Public Safety had almost everywhere reëstablished the justice of its historian. After moving our symits authority; and the only resource which was pathy by her wrongs, he remains master of him left the baffled Girondins, was disguise and flight. self, and calmly proceeds to review the life and
These insurrectionary attempts had fearfully ex- condemn the errors of Marie Antoinette. cited the passions of the populace and convention The Girondin leaders, who, in conformity with against those of the Girondin leaders who were in the decree of the second of June, had been watched their power; and the assassination of Marat sealed rather than confined in their own houses, and had their doom. The early history of Charlotte Cor- refused to avail themselves of many opportunities day, (whom M. de Lamartine states to have been of flight, had, as the public became exasperated by a descendant of the great Corneille,) and all the the proceedings of their adherents, been transferred details of her memorable act and heroic death, are to the prisons. Seventy-three of the less imporcarefully narrated. Only one moment of compunc- tant deputies of the party were also décretés, lodged tion came over her—it was on witnessing the grief in prison, but saved from death by the energetic of Marat's mistress. She had not conceived it protection of Robespierre. M. de Lamartine, who possible that, in destroying a monster, she could be endeavors, somewhat at the expense of historical wounding the affections of any human being. Our truth, to represent Robespierre as having endeavauthor gives a striking picture of her as she was ored to save the queen, (for, he had been the first conveyed to the scaffold, clothed in the red shirt publicly to demand her trial within a few weeks of which was reserved for murderers, and inspiring that of the king,) is supparted by more authority, even the ferocious mob with admiration for her when he attributes to him the wish to save the beauty and simple courage. Vergniaud, when he Girondin leaders from the scaffold. Danton unheard the details of her fate, exclaimed, “She kills doubtedly had that object at heart. Both were us, but she teaches us how to die."
powerless to resist the rage of their party and the From this period commences the Reign of Ter- populace. On the 26th of October the trial of the
The perilous condition of society which fol- twenty-two Girondins began. Among them were lowed the 31st of May, 1793, had produced a gen- Brissot, Gensonné, Fauchet, Sillery, and several eral sense of the necessity of a vigorous executive ; of the most eminent deputies of the party. All and the Committee of Public Safety, taking advan- eyes, however, were turned on the last who entage of the opportunity, succeeded in obtaining tered the hall. It was Vergniaud, or rather the complete possession of the administration of affairs. wreck of that great orator, whose voice had subSupported by a disciplined force, under the name verted the monarchy, and disputed the mastery with of the
Revolutionary Army,” it had in its hands Robespierre and Danton. His imprisonment had the means of crushing opposition and enforcing impressed a livid paleness on his cheek, deprived