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“most distressing intelligence. The army (le corps “ militaire) threatens to fall into the most turbu“ lent anarchy. Entire regiments have dared to “ violate at once the respect due to the laws, to “the king, to the order established by your de.
crecs, and to the oaths which they liave taken “ with the most awful solemnity. Compelled by
iny duty to give you information of these excesses, my heart bleeds when I consider wlio they are that have committed them. Those,
against whoin it is not in my power to with“ hold the most grievous complaints, are a part of " that very soldiery which to this day have been " so full of honour and loyalty, and with whom, “ for fifty years, I have lived the comrade and the “ friend.
" What incomprehensible spirit of delirium and " delusion has all at once led them astray? Whilst
you are indefatigable in establishing uniformity " in the empire, and moulding the whole into “ one coherent and consistent body; whilst the “ French are taught by you, at once the respect “ which the laws owe to the rights of man, and " that wbich the citizens owe to the laws, the ad" ministration of the army presents nothing but ** disturbance and confusion. I see in more than
one corps the bonds of discipline relaxed or " broken; the most unheard-of pretensions avow, "ed directly and without any disguise; the or
“ dinances without force; the chiefs without au“thority; the military chest and the colours car“ ried off; the authority of the king hiniself [ri
sum teneatis) proudly defied; the officers des
pised, degraded, threatened, driven away, and “ some of them prisoners in the midst of their
corps, dragging on a precarious life in the bosom “ of disgust and humiliation. To fill up the mea“ sure of all these horrours, the commandants of “ places have had their throats cut, under the eyes, “ and almost in the arms of their own soldiers.
“ These evils are great; but they are not the “ worst consequences which may be produced by
such military insurrections. Sooner or later they may menace the nation itself. The nature of
things requires that the army should never act “ but as an instrument. The moment, that erect
ing itself into a deliberate body, it shall act ac“cording to its own resolutions, the government “ be it what it may, will immediately degenerate "into a military democracy; a species of political " monster, which has always ended by devouring " those who have produced it.
" After all this, who must not be alarmed at " the irregular consultations, and turbulent com"mittees, formed in some regiments by the com“ mon soldiers and non-commissioned officers, “ without the knowledge, or even in contempt w of the authority of their superiours; although
“ the presence and concurrence of those superiours, “could give no authority to such monstrous demo“ cratick assemblies (comices].”
It is not necessary to add much to this finished picture : finished as far as its canvass admits ; but, as I apprehend, not taking in the whole of the nature and complexity of the disorders of this military democracy, which, the minister at war truly and wisely observes, wherever it exists, must be the true constitution of the state, by whatever formal appellation it may pass. For, though he informs the assembly that the more considerable part of the army have not cast off their obedience, but are still attached to their duty, yet those travellers who have seen the corps whose conduct is the best, rather observe in them the absence of mutiny than the existence of discipline.
I cannot help pausing here for a moment, to reflect upon the expressions of surprise which this minister has let fall, relative to the excesses he relates. To him the departure of the troops from their ancient principles of loyalty and honour seems quite inconceivable. Surely those to whom he addresses himself know the causes of it but too well. They know the doctrines which they have preached, the decrees which they have passed, the practices which they have countenanced. The soldiers remember the 6th of October. They recollect the French guards. They have not forgot
the taking of the king's castles in Paris, and at Marseilles. That the governours in both places were murdered with impunity, is a fact that has not passed out of their minds. They do not abandon the principles laid down so ostentatiously and laboriously of the equality of men. They cannot shut their eyes to the degradation of the whole noblesse of France; and the suppression of the very idea of a gentleman. The total abolition of titles and distinctions is not lost upon them. But M. du Pin is astonished at their disloyalty, when the doctors of the assembly have taught them at the same time the respect due to laws. It is easy to judge which of the two sorts of lessons men with arms in their hands are likely to learn. As to the authority of the king, we may collect from the minister himself (if any argument on that head were not quite superfluous) that it is not of more consideration with these troops, than it is with every body else. “ The king,” says he, “has over and over again repeated his orders to
put a stop to these excesses: but, in so terrible
a crisis, your [the assembly's] concurrence is be" come indispensably necessary to prevent the evils “ which menace the state. You unite to the force “ of the legislative power, that of opinion still “ more important.” To be sure the army can have no opinion of the power or authority of the king. Perhaps the soldier has by this time
learned, that the assembly itself does not enjoy a much greater degree of liberty than that royal figure.
It is now to be seen what has been proposed in this exigency, one of the greatest that can happen in a state. The minister requests the assembly to array itself in all its terrours, and to call forth all its majesty. He desires that the grave and severe principles announced by them may give vigour to the king's proclamation. After this we should have looked for courts civil and martial; breaking of some corps, decimating others, and all the terrible means which necessity has employed in such cases to arrest the progress of the most terrible of all evils; particularly, one might expect, that a serious inquiry would be made into the inurder of commandants in the view of their soldiers. Not one word of all this, or of any thing like it. After they had been told that the soldiery trampled upon
the decrees of the assembly promulgated by the king, the assembly pass new decrees; and they authorize the king to make new proclamations. After the secretary at war had stated that the regiments had paid no regard to oaths prétés avec la plus imposante solemnité-they propose what? More oaths. They renew decrees and proclamations as they experience their insufficiency, and they multiply oaths in proportion as they weaken, in the minds of men, the sanctions of