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Title: History of the Girondists, Volume I - Personal Memoirs of the Patriots of the French Revolution
Author: Lamartine, Alphonse de, 1790-1869
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of the Girondists, Volume I - Personal Memoirs of the Patriots of the French Revolution" ***

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[Illustration: Portrait of Robespierre]





_Personal Memoirs of the Patriots_






Author of "Travels in the Holy Land," &c.

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *



|Transcriber's Note: You may notice some inconsistencies in    |
|accentation. These have been left as they are in the original.|


We have not thought it necessary to preface this recital by any
introduction of the preceding epochs of the Revolution.

We have not re-produced, with the minute elaboration of an annalist, the
numerous parliamentary and military details of all the events of these
forty months. Two or three times we have, in order to group men and
circumstances in masses, made unimportant anachronisms.

We have written after having scrupulously investigated facts and
characters: we do not ask to be credited on our mere word only. Although
we have not encumbered our work with notes, quotations, and documentary
testimony, we have not made one assertion unauthorised by authentic
memoirs, by unpublished manuscripts, by autograph letters, which the
families of the most conspicuous persons have confided to our care, or
by oral and well confirmed statements gathered from the lips of the last
survivors of this great epoch.

If some errors in fact or judgment have, notwithstanding, escaped us, we
shall be ready to acknowledge them, and repair them in sequent editions,
when the proofs have been transmitted to us. We shall not reply one by
one to such denials and contradictions as this book may give rise to; it
might be a tedious and unprofitable paper-war in the newspapers. But we
will make notes of every observation, and reply _en masse_, by our
proofs and tests, after a certain lapse of time. We seek the truth only,
and should blush to make our work a calumny of the dead.

As to the title of this book, we have only assumed it, as being unable
to find any other which can so well define this recital, which has none
of the pretensions of history, and therefore should not affect its
gravity. It is an intermediate labour between history and memoirs.
Events do not herein occupy so much space as men and ideas. It is full
of private details, and details are the physiognomy of characters, and
by them they engrave themselves on the imagination.

Great writers have already written the records of this memorable epoch,
and others still to follow will write them also. It would be an
injustice to compare us with them. They have produced, or will produce,
the history of an age. We have produced nothing more than a "study" of a
group of men and a few months of the Revolution.

  A. L.

  Paris, March 1. 1847.


     BOOK I.

     Introduction. Mirabeau. Marries. Enters the National Assembly. His
     Master Mind. His Death and Character. Glance at the Revolution. The
     New Idea. Revolution defined. Revolutions the Results of Printing.
     Bossuet's Warnings. Rousseau. Fénélon. Voltaire. The Philosophers
     of France. Louis XVI. The King's Ministers. The Queen. Her Conduct
     and Plans. The National Assembly. Maury. Cazalès. Barnave and the
     Lameths. Rival Champions. Robespierre. His Personal Appearance.
     Revolutionary Leaders. State of the Kingdom. Jacobin Club. Effects
     of the Clubs. Club of the Cordeliers. La Fayette. His Popularity.
     Characters of the Leaders. What the Revolution might have been    1

     BOOK II.

     State of the Assembly. Discussions. The Periodical Press. The King
     and his Brothers. He meditates Escape. Various Plans of Flight. The
     King's embarrassed Position. Marquis de Bouillé. The King and
     Mirabeau. Preparations for the King's Escape. Fatal Alterations.
     Anxiety. Rumours. Count de Fersen. A Faithless Servant suspicious.
     Mode of Escape. Dangers of the Route. The Passport. Hopes of
     Success. Drouet recognises the King. Narrowly saves his own Life.
     Varennes. Capture of the Royal Family. Entreaties of the King and
     Queen. Refusal of the Syndic and his Wife. Conduct of the Soldiers
     and People. Effect on the Queen. Conduct of the Parisians. Their
     Rage. La Fayette attacked. Defended by Barnave. Power assumed by La
     Fayette. La Fayette's Proceedings. The King's Parting Address.
     Manifesto. Proceedings of the Cordeliers and Jacobins.
     Robespierre's Address. Its Effect. Danton's Oration. His Audacity
     and Venality. Address of the Assembly. The King's Arrest known. His
     Hopes. The Queen's Despair. The Royal Family depart for Paris. De
     Bouillé's unavailing Efforts. Indignation of the Populace.
     Barnave's noble Interference. Barnave gained over. Drouet's
     Declaration. The Entrance into Paris. Arrival at the Tuileries.
     Barnave and Pétion's report to the Assembly. La Fayette and the
     Royal Family. The Queen's Courage. Effects of the Flight. The King
     should have abdicated                                            42

     BOOK III.

     The Interregnum. Barnave's Conversion. His Devotion. His Meetings
     with the Queen. The King's Reply. Fatal Resolution of the "Right."
     A Party that protests, abdicates. Address of the Cordeliers to the
     National Assembly. Barnave's great Speech. Irresistible Advance of
     the Revolution. The Press. Camille Desmoulins. Marat. Brissot.
     Clamours for a Republic. Desmoulin's Attack on La Fayette.
     Petitions of the People. Robespierre's Popularity. Popular Meeting
     in the Champ de Mars. Absence of the Ringleaders. "The Altar of
     the Country." The Remarkable Signatures. Advance of the National
     Guard, preceded by the Red Flag. Fearful Massacre. The Day after.
     The Jacobins take Courage. Schisms in the Clubs. Attempts of
     Desmoulins and Pétion to restore Unity. Malouet's Plan for amending
     the Constitution. Power of the Assembly. The New Men. Condorcet.
     Danton. Brissot disowned by Robespierre. Charges made against him.
     Defended by Manuel. Girondist Leaders                           100

     BOOK IV.

     Revolutionary Press. High State of Excitement. Removal of
     Voltaire's Remains to the Pantheon. The Procession. Voltaire's
     Character. His War against Christianity. His Tact and Courage in
     opposing the Priesthood. His Devotion. His Deficiencies. Barnave's
     weakened Position. His momentary Success while addressing the
     Assembly. Sillery's Defence of the Duc d'Orleans. Robespierre's
     Alarm. Malouet's Speech in Defence of the Monarchy. Robespierre's
     Remarks. Constitution presented to the King. His Reply and
     Acceptance. Rejoicings. Universal Satisfaction. The King in Person
     dissolves the Assembly                                          145

     BOOK V.

     Opinions of the Revolution in Europe.
     Austria--Prussia--Russia--England--Spain. State of
     Italy--Venice--Genoa--Florence--Piedmont--Savoy--Sweden. Gustavus
     III. Feelings of the People. Poets and Philosophers. England and
     its Liberty. America. Holland. Germany. Freemasonry. German School.
     French Emigration. Female Influence. Louis XIV.'s Letter. Conduct
     of the Emigrant Princes unsatisfactory to the King. Attempts of the
     Emigrés. The German Sovereigns. Their Conference. The Revolt. The
     Declaration. The Courts of Europe, The Princes disobey the King.
     Desire for War in the Assembly. Madame de Stäel. Count Louis de
     Narbonne. His Ambition. The Hero of Madame de Stäel. M. de Segur's
     Mission. The Mission frustrated. The Duke of Brunswick          172

     BOOK VI.

     The New Assembly. Juvenile Members. First Audience with the King.
     Decrees of the Assembly. Vergniaud's Policy. Offensive Decree
     repealed. Rage of the Clubs. Indifference of the People. The King's
     Address to the Assembly. Momentary Calm. The Girondists. The
     Clergy. The King's Religious Alarms. State of Religious Worship.
     Fauchet's Speech. The Abbé Tourné's Reply. Advantages of
     Toleration. Dacos. Gensonné. Isnard. Isnard's eloquent Address to
     the Assembly. His severe Measures. Decree against the Priests. New
     Policy of Louis XVI. Question of Emigration. Brissot advocates War.
     His Arguments. Condorcet. Vergniaud. His Character and his Speech
     against the Emigrants. Isnard's violent Harangue. Decision of the
     Assembly. André Chénier. Camille Desmoulins. State of Parties.
     Hopes of the Aristocracy. La Fayette's Letter. La Fayette in
     Retirement. Candidates for Mayor of Paris. Pétion and La Fayette.
     La Fayette's Popularity. Pétion elected Mayor                   211


     Character of Parties. France worked for the Universe. Mechanism of
     the Constitution. The King's Veto. Defence of the Constitution. No
     Balance of Power. All Odium falls upon the King. Order, the Life of
     Monarchy. When a Republic is needful. The Will of the People.
     Mistake of the Assembly. The King's Position. The Assembly
     hesitates. Third Course open. The Republicans                   257


     Madame Roland. Her Infancy. Her Personal Appearance. Early
     Abilities. Habits. Her Father's House. Future Héloïse. Influence of
     Birth in Society. Her Impression of the Court. Has many Suitors. M.
     Roland. His Career. Their Marriage. Mode of Life. La Platière.
     Country Life. Madame Roland's Love for Mankind. The Rolands in
     Paris. Interview with Brissot. Reunion at Roland's. Madame Roland
     and Robespierre. Her Opinion of him. Her Anxiety for his Safety  272

     BOOK IX.

     New Assembly. Roland's Position. De Molleville. M. de Narbonne.
     Treachery of the Girondists. Narbonne's Policy and Success. His
     Popularity. Robespierre his sole Opponent. Robespierre's Desire for
     Peace. His Views. His Rupture with the Girondists. His Speech
     against War. Louvet's Reply. Brissot's Efforts                  296

     BOOK X.

     Committee of the Girondists. Its Report. Gensonné. His Reply.
     Guadet. Vergniaud's Proclamation. Constitutionalists for War.
     Narbonne's Report. The Pamphleteers. Unpopularity of the Veto.
     Outbreak at Avignon. Jourdan. San Domingo. Negro Slavery. Men of
     Colour. Ogé. His Execution. Insurrection of the Blacks at San
     Domingo. Increase of Disorder. The Abbé Fauchet. His Career.
     Charges against him. Riot in Caen Cathedral. Insurrection at Mende.
     National Guard drives out the Troops. Insubordination. Universal
     Bloodshed. The Swiss Soldiers. Their Revolt pardoned. Chénier's
     Remonstrance. Dupont de Nemours. Pétion's Weakness. Robespierre's
     Interference. Gouvion. Couthon. Triumph of the Swiss Soldiers   312

     BOOK XI

     Increasing Disturbances. Murder of Simoneau. Duc d'Orleans. His
     peculiar Position. The Duchesse d'Orleans. Duc disliked at Court.
     Forms the Palais Royal. Madame de Genlis. Her Talents. The Duke
     Citizen. Mirabeau's Estimate of the Duke. La Fayette's Interference
     with the Duc d'Orleans. Plans of the Girondists. Duc d'Orleans made
     Admiral. His Declaration. Details. Avoided by the King's Friends.
     Becomes a Jacobin. Vergniaud's great Eloquence. His powerful
     Appeal. Its Effects                                             352

     BOOK XII.

     The Emperor Leopold. De Lessart's Despatch. His Impeachment. De
     Narbonne's Dismissal. Death of Leopold. Supposed to be poisoned.
     His Vices and Virtues. Conspiracy. Assassination. Ankastroem. Death
     of Gustavus. Joy of the Jacobins. Brissot's Policy. Accusation of
     M. de Lessart. Roland and the Girondist Ministry                377


     Dumouriez's Talent and Aptitude. Education and Acquirements.
     Favier. Corsica. Paoli. Dumouriez sent to Poland. Stanislaus
     Policy. Dumouriez at Cherbourg. His Tact; Appearance. Dumouriez and
     Madame Roland. Roland's Vanity. His Opinion of the King. His Wife's
     Sagacity. Dumouriez in favour with the King. His Interview with the
     Queen. His Advice. Bonnet Rouge. Dumouriez and Robespierre. Pétion
     and the Bonnet Rouge. The King's Letter. Treachery of the
     Girondists. Roland's Letter to the King. Letter of the Girondist
     Chiefs. Dumouriez's Policy. Danton. Hatred of Robespierre and
     Brissot. Camille Desmoulins. Brissot's Attack on Robespierre.
     Guadet. Robespierre's Defence                                   396

     BOOK XIV.

     Quarrel between Girondists and Jacobins. Violence of the Journals.
     Marat's atrocious Writings. Duke of Brunswick. Mirabeau's Opinion
     of him. Dumouriez's Plan. The King himself proposes War. Slight
     Opposition. Condorcet's Manifesto. War declared. State of Belgium.
     Revolt. German Confederation. French Nobility and Emigrés. Comte de
     Provence. Comte d'Artois. Mallet-Dupan, the King's Confidant    436

     BOOK XV.

     Dumouriez's Tactics. Servan's Proposition. Change of Ministry.
     Dumouriez's Infidelity. Another Change of Ministers. Dumouriez
     quits Paris. Barbaroux. Madame Roland's Plans for a Republic.
     Increase of the Girondists. Buzot. Danton: his Origin and Life.
     Progress. Hostilities in Belgium. Duc de Lauzun. Luckner. State of
     France                                                          459

     BOOK XVI.

     King Pétion. His Policy. Murder of De Brissac. Another Phase of the
     Revolution. Santerre, Legendre, Instigators of 20th June.
     Preparation. Disposition of Lower Orders. The Mobs excited. The
     Alarm of the King. The Assembling of the People. St. Huruge.
     Théroigne de Méricourt. Her Fate. The Procession. Roederer's
     Courage. Huguenin's Declaration. The Mob admitted. Defence at the
     Tuileries. Movement of the Populace. The Troops faithless. Fury of
     the Mob. The King's Defenders. Madame Elizabeth. Legendre's
     Insolence. The Bonnet Rouge. "Vive le Roi." The Dangers of the
     Queen. Princesse de Lamballe. Queen and Royal Children. Santerre.
     Deputation to the King. Pétion's Duplicity. Retirement of the
     Rebels. Merlin's brutal Remark. The Marseillaise. Its Origin and
     Popularity: universally adopted                                 478







I now undertake to write the history of a small party of men who, cast
by Providence into the very centre of the greatest drama of modern
times, comprise in themselves the ideas, the passions, the faults, the
virtues of their epoch, and whose life and political acts forming, as we
may say, the nucleus of the French Revolution, perished by the same blow
which crushed the destinies of their country.

This history, full of blood and tears, is full also of instruction for
the people. Never, perhaps, were so many tragical events crowded into so
short a space of time, never was the mysterious connexion which exists
between deeds and their consequences developed with greater rapidity.
Never did weaknesses more quickly engender faults,--faults
crimes,--crimes punishment. That retributive justice which God has
implanted in our very acts, as a conscience more sacred than the
fatalism of the ancients[1], never manifested itself more unequivocally;
never was the law of morality illustrated by a more ample testimony, or
avenged more mercilessly. Thus the simple recital of these two years is
the most luminous commentary of the whole Revolution; and blood, spilled
like water, not only shrieks in accents of terror and pity, but gives,
indeed, a lesson and an example to mankind. It is in this spirit I would
indite this work. The impartiality of history is not that of a mirror,
which merely reflects objects, it should be that of a judge who sees,
listens, and decides. Annals are not history; in order to deserve that
appellation it requires a conviction; for it becomes, in after times,
_that_ of the human race.

Recital animated by the imagination, weighed and judged by wisdom,--such
is history as the ancients understood it; and of history conceived and
produced in such a spirit, I would, under the Divine guidance, leave a
fragment to my country.



Mirabeau had just died. The instinct of the people led them to press
around the house of his tribune, as if to demand inspiration even from
his coffin; but had Mirabeau been still living, he could no longer have
given it; his star had paled its fires before that of the Revolution;
hurried to the verge of an unavoidable precipice by the very chariot he
himself had set in motion, it was in vain that he clung to the tribune.
The last memorial he addressed to the king, which the Iron Chest has
surrendered to us, together with the secret of his venality, testify the
failure and dejection of his mind. His counsels are versatile,
incoherent, and almost childish:--now he will arrest the Revolution with
a grain of sand--now he places the salvation of the Monarchy in a
proclamation of the crown and a regal ceremony which shall revive the
popularity of the king,--.and now he is desirous of buying the
acclamations of the tribune, and believes the nation, like him, to be
purchasable at a price. The pettiness of his means of safety are in
contrast with the vast increase of perils; there is a vagueness in every
idea; we see that he is impelled by the very passions he has excited,
and that unable any longer to guide or control them, he betrays, whilst
he is yet unable to crush, them. The prime agitator is now but the
alarmed courtier seeking shelter beneath the throne, and though still
stuttering out terrible words in behalf of the nation and liberty, which
are in the part set down for him, has already in his soul all the
paltriness and the thoughts of vanity which are proper to a court. We
pity genius when we behold it struggling with impossibility. Mirabeau
was the most potent man of his time; but the greatest individual
contending with an enraged element appears but a madman. A fall is only
majestic when accompanied by virtue.

Poets say that clouds assume the form of the countries over which they
have passed, and moulding themselves upon the valleys, plains, or
mountains, acquire their shapes and move with them over the skies. This
resembles certain men, whose genius being as it were acquisitive, models
itself upon the epoch in which it lives, and assumes all the
individuality of the nation to which it belongs. Mirabeau was a man of
this class: he did not invent the Revolution, but was its manifestation.
But for him it might perhaps have remained in a state of idea and
tendency. He was born, and it took in him the form, the passion, the
language which make a multitude say when they see a thing--There it is.

He was born a gentleman and of ancient lineage, refugee and established
in Provence, but of Italian origin: the progenitors were Tuscan. The
family was one of those whom Florence had cast from her bosom in the
stormy excesses of her liberty, and for which Dante reproaches his
country in such bitter strains for her exiles and persecutions. The
blood of Machiavel and the earthquake genius of the Italian republics
were characteristics of all the individuals of this race. The
proportions of their souls exceed the height of their destiny: vices,
passions, virtues are all in excess. The women are all angelic or
perverse, the men sublime or depraved, and their language even is as
emphatic and lofty as their aspirations. There is in their most familiar
correspondence the colour and tone of the heroic tongues of Italy.

The ancestors of Mirabeau speak of their domestic affairs as Plutarch of
the quarrels of Marius and Sylla, of Cæsar and Pompey. We perceive the
great men descending to trifling matters. Mirabeau inspired this
domestic majesty and virility in his very cradle. I dwell on these
details, which may seem foreign to this history, but explain it. The
source of genius is often in ancestry, and the blood of descent is
sometimes the prophecy of destiny.


Mirabeau's education was as rough and rude as the hand of his father,
who was styled the _friend of man_, but whose restless spirit and
selfish vanity rendered him the persecutor of his wife and the tyrant of
all his family. The only virtue he was taught was honour, for by that
name in those days they dignified that ceremonious demeanour which was
too frequently but the show of probity and the elegance of vice.
Entering the army at an early age, he acquired nothing of military
habits except a love of licentiousness and play. The hand of his father
was constantly extended not to aid him in rising, but to depress him
still lower under the consequences of his errors: his youth was passed
in the prisons of the state; his passions, becoming envenomed by
solitude, and his intellect being rendered more acute by contact with
the irons of his dungeon, where his mind lost that modesty which rarely
survives the infamy of precocious punishments.

Released from gaol, in order, by his father's command, to attempt to
form a marriage beset with difficulties with Mademoiselle De Marignan, a
rich heiress of one of the greatest families of Provence, he displayed,
like a wrestler, all kinds of stratagems and daring schemes of policy in
the small theatre of Aix. Cunning, seduction, courage, he used every
resource of his nature to succeed, and he succeeded; but he was hardly
married, before fresh persecutions beset him, and the stronghold of
Pontarlier gaped to enclose him. A love, which his _Lettres à Sophie_
has rendered immortal, opened its gates and freed him. He carried off
Madame de Monier from her aged husband. The lovers, happy for some
months, took refuge in Holland; they were seized there, separated and
shut up, the one in a convent and the other in the dungeon of Vincennes.
Love, which, like fire in the veins of the earth, is always detected in
some crevice of man's destiny, lighted up in a single and ardent blaze
all Mirabeau's passions. In his vengeance it was outraged love that he
appeased; in liberty, it was love which he sought and which delivered
him; in study, it was love which still illustrated his path. Entering
obscure into his cell, he quitted it a writer, orator, statesman, but
perverted--ripe for any thing, even to sell himself, in order to buy
fortune and celebrity. The drama of life was conceived in his head, he
wanted but the stage, and that time was preparing for him. During the
few short years which elapsed for him between his leaving the keep of
Vincennes and the tribune of the National Assembly, he employed himself
with polemic labours, which would have weighed down another man, but
which only kept him in health. The Bank of Saint Charles, the
Institutions of Holland, the books on Prussia, the skirmish with
Beaumarchais, his style and character, his lengthened pleadings on
questions of warfare, the balance of European power, finance, those
biting invectives, that war of words with the ministers or men of the
hour, resembled the Roman forum in the days of Clodius and Cicero. We
discern the men of antiquity in even his most modern controversies. We
may fancy that we hear the first roarings of those popular tumults which
were so soon to burst forth, and which his voice was destined to
control. At the first election of Aix, rejected with contempt by the
_noblesse_, he cast himself into the arms of the people, certain of
making the balance incline to the side on which he should cast the
weight of his daring and his genius. Marseilles contended with Aix for
the great plebeian; his two elections, the discourses he then delivered,
the addresses he drew up, the energy he employed, commanded the
attention of all France. His sonorous phrases became the proverbs of the
Revolution; comparing himself, in his lofty language, to the men of
antiquity, he placed himself already in the public estimation in the
elevated position he aspired to reach. Men became accustomed to identify
him with the names he cited; he made a loud noise in order to prepare
minds for great commotions; he announced himself proudly to the nation
in that sublime apostrophe in his address to the Marseillais: "When the
last of the Gracchi expired, he flung dust towards heaven, and from this
dust sprung Marius! Marius, less great for having exterminated the
Cimbri than for having prostrated in Rome the aristocracy of the

From the moment of his entry into the National Assembly he filled it: he
was the whole people. His gestures were commands; his movements _coups
d'état_. He placed himself on a level with the throne, and the nobility
felt itself subdued by a power emanating from its own body. The clergy,
which is the people, and desires to reconcile the democracy with the
church, lends him its influence, in order to destroy the double
aristocracy of the nobility and bishops.

All that had been built by antiquity and cemented by ages fell in a few
months. Mirabeau alone preserved his presence of mind in the midst of
this ruin. His character of tribune ceases, that of the statesman
begins, and in this he is even greater than in the other. There, when
all else creep and crawl, he acts with firmness, advancing boldly. The
Revolution in his brain is no longer a momentary idea--it is a settled
plan. The philosophy of the eighteenth century, moderated by the
prudence of policy, flows easily, and modelled from his lips. His
eloquence, imperative as the law, is now the talent of giving force to
reason. His language lights and inspires every thing; and though almost
alone at this moment, he has the courage to remain alone. He braves
envy, hatred, murmurs, supported by the strong feeling of his
superiority. He dismisses with disdain the passions which have hitherto
beset him. He will no longer serve them when his cause no longer needs
them. He speaks to men now only in the name of his genius. This title is
enough to cause obedience to him. His power is based on the assent which
truth finds in all minds, and his strength again reverts to him. He
contests with all parties, and rises superior to one and all. All hate
him because he commands; and all seek him because he can serve or
destroy them. He does not give himself up to any one, but negotiates
with each: he lays down calmly on the tumultuous element of this
assembly, the basis of the reformed constitution: legislation, finance,
diplomacy, war, religion, political economy, balances of power, every
question he approaches and solves, not as an Utopian, but as a
politician. The solution he gives is always the precise mean between the
theoretical and the practical. He places reason on a level with manners,
and the institutions of the land in consonance with its habits. He
desires a throne to support the democracy, liberty in the chambers, and
in the will of the nation, one and irresistible in the government. The
characteristic of his genius, so well defined, so ill understood, was
less audacity than justness. Beneath the grandeur of his expression is
always to be found unfailing good sense. His very vices could not
repress the clearness, the sincerity of his understanding. At the foot
of the tribune he was a man devoid of shame or virtue: in the tribune he
was an honest man. Abandoned to private debauchery, bought over by
foreign powers, sold to the court in order to satisfy his lavish
expenditure, he preserved, amidst all this infamous traffic of his
powers, the incorruptibility of his genius. Of all the qualities of a
great man of his age, he was only wanting in honesty. The people were
not his devotees, but his instruments,--his own glory was the god of his
idolatry; his faith was posterity; his conscience existed but in his
thought; the fanaticism of his idea was quite human; the chilling
materialism of his age had crushed in his heart the expansion, force,
and craving for imperishable things. His dying words were "sprinkle me
with perfumes, crown me with flowers, that I may thus enter upon eternal
sleep." He was especially of his time, and his course bears no impress
of infinity. Neither his character, his acts, nor his thoughts have the
brand of immortality. If he had believed in God, he might have died a
martyr, but he would have left behind him the religion of reason and the
reign of democracy. Mirabeau, in a word, was the reason of the people;
and that is not yet the faith of humanity!


Grand displays cast a veil of universal mourning over the secret
sentiments which his death inspired to all parties. Whilst the various
belfries tolled his knell, and minute guns were fired; whilst, in a
ceremony that had assembled two hundred thousand spectators, they
awarded to a citizen the funeral obsequies of a monarch; whilst the
Pantheon, to which they conveyed his remains, seemed scarcely a monument
worthy of such ashes,--what was passing in the depths of men's hearts?

The king, who held Mirabeau's eloquence in pay, the queen, with whom he
had nocturnal conferences, regretted him, perhaps, as the last means of
safety: yet still he inspired them with more terror than confidence; and
the humiliation of a crowned head demanding succour from a subject must
have felt comforted at the removal of that destroying power which itself
fell before the throne did. The court was avenged by death for the
affronts which it had undergone. He was to the nobility merely an
apostate from his order. The climax of its shame must have been to be
one day raised by him who had abased it. The National Assembly had
grown weary of his superiority; the Duc d'Orleans felt that a word from
this man would unfold and crush his premature aspirations; M. de La
Fayette, the hero of the _bourgeoisie_, must have been in dread of the
orator of the people. Between the dictator of the city and the dictator
of the tribune there must have been a secret jealousy. Mirabeau, who had
never assailed M. de La Fayette in his discourses, had often in
conversation allowed words to escape with respect to his rival which
print themselves as they fall on a man. Mirabeau the less, and then M.
de La Fayette appeared the greater, and it was the same with all the
orators of the Assembly. There was no longer any rival, but there were
many envious. His eloquence, though popular in its style, was that of a
patrician. His democracy was delivered from a lofty position, and
comprised none of that covetousness and hate which excite the vilest
passions of the human heart, and which see in the good done for the
people nothing but an insult to the nobility. His popular sentiments
were in some sort but the liberality of his genius. The vast
expansiveness of his mighty soul had no resemblance with the paltry
impulses of demagogues. In acquiring rights for the people he seemed as
though he bestowed them. He was a volunteer of democracy. He recalled by
his part, and his bearing, to those democrats behind him, that from the
time of the Gracchi to his own, the tribunes who most served the people
had sprung from the ranks of the patricians. His talent, unequalled for
philosophy of thought, for depth of reflection, and loftiness of
expression, was another kind of aristocracy, which could never be
pardoned him. Nature placed him in the foremost rank; and death only
created a space around him for secondary minds. They all endeavoured to
acquire his position, and all endeavoured in vain. The tears they shed
upon his coffin were hypocritical. The people only wept in all
sincerity, because the people were too strong to be jealous, and they,
far from reproaching Mirabeau with his birth, loved in him that nobility
as though it were a spoil they had carried off from the aristocracy.
Moreover, the nation, disturbed at seeing its institutions crumbling
away one by one, and dreading a total destruction, felt instinctively
that the genius of a great man was the last stronghold left to them.
This genius quenched, it saw only darkness and precipices before the
monarchy. The Jacobins alone rejoiced loudly, for it was only he who
could outweigh them.

It was on the 6th of April, 1791, that the National Assembly resumed its
sittings. Mirabeau's place, left vacant, reminded each gazer of the
impossibility of again filling it; consternation was impressed on every
countenance in the tribunes, and a profound silence pervaded the
meeting. M. de Talleyrand announced to the Assembly a posthumous address
of Mirabeau. They would hear him though dead. The weakened echo of his
voice seemed to return to his country from the depths of the vaults of
the Pantheon. The reading was mournful. Parties were burning to measure
their strength free from any counterpoise. Impatience and anxiety were
paramount, and the struggle was imminent. The arbitrator who controlled
them was no more.


Before we depict the state of these parties, let us throw a rapid glance
over the commencement of the Revolution, the progress it had made, and
the principal leaders who were about to attempt directing it in the way
they desired to see it advance.

It was hardly two years since opinion had opened the breaches against
the monarchy, yet it had already accomplished immense results. The weak
and vacillating spirit of the government had convoked the Assembly of
Notables, whilst public spirit had placed its grasp on power and
convoked the States General. The States General being established, the
nation had felt its omnipotence, and from this feeling to a legal
insurrection there was but a word; that word Mirabeau had uttered. The
National Assembly had constituted itself in front of, and higher than,
the throne itself. The prodigious popularity of M. Necker was exhausted
by concessions, and utterly vanished when he no longer had any of the
spoils of monarchy to cast before the people. Minister of a monarch in
retirement, his own had been utter defeat. His last step conducted him
out of the kingdom. The disarmed king had remained the hostage of the
ancient _régime_ in the hands of the nation. The declaration of the
rights of man and citizen, the sole metaphysical act of the Revolution
to this time, had given it a social and universal signification. This
declaration had been much jeered; it certainly contained some errors,
and confused in terms the state of nature and the state of society; but
it was, notwithstanding, the very essence of the new dogma.


There are objects in nature, the forms of which can only be accurately
ascertained when contemplated afar off. Too near, as well as too far
off, prevents a correct view. Thus it is with great events. The hand of
God is visible in human things, but this hand itself has a shadow which
conceals what it accomplishes. All that could then be seen of the French
Revolution announced all that was great in this world, the advent of a
new idea in human kind, the democratic idea, and afterwards the
democratic government.

This idea was an emanation of Christianity. Christianity finding men in
serfage and degraded all over the earth, had arisen on the fall of the
Roman Empire, like a mighty vengeance, though under the aspect of a
resignation. It had proclaimed the three words which 2000 years
afterwards was re-echoed by French philosophy--liberty, equality,
fraternity--amongst mankind. But it had for a time hidden this idea in
the recesses of the Christian heart. As yet too weak to attack civil
laws, it had said to the powers--"I leave you still for a short space of
time possession of the political world, confining myself to the moral
world. Continue if you can to enchain, class, keep in bondage, degrade
the people, I am engaged in the emancipation of souls. I shall occupy
2000 years, perchance, in renewing men's minds before I become apparent
in human institutions. But the day will come when my doctrines will
escape from the temple, and will enter into the councils of the people;
on that day the social world will be renewed."

This day had now arrived; it had been prepared by an age of philosophy,
sceptical in appearance but in reality replete with belief. The
scepticism of the 18th century only affected exterior forms, and the
supernatural dogmata of Christianity, whilst it adopted with enthusiasm,
morality and the social sense. What Christianity called revelation,
philosophy called reason. The words were different, the meaning
identical. The emancipation of individuals, of castes, of people, were
alike derived from it. Only the ancient world had been enfranchised in
the name of Christ, whilst the modern world was freed in the name of the
rights which every human creature has received from the hand of God; and
from both flowed the enfranchisement of God or nature. The political
philosophy of the Revolution could not have invented a word more true,
more complete, more divine than Christianity, to reveal itself to
Europe, and it had adopted the dogma and the word of _fraternity_. Only
the French Revolution attacked the form of this ruling religion; because
it was incrusted in the forms of government, monarchical, theocratic, or
aristocratic, which they sought to destroy. It is the explanation of
that apparent contradiction of the mind of the 18th century, which
borrowed all from Christianity in policy, and denied, whilst it
despoiled, it. There was at one and the same time a violent attraction
and a violent repulsion in the two doctrines. They recognised whilst
they struggled against each other, and yearned to recognise each other
even more completely when the contest was terminated by the triumph of

Three things were then evident to reflecting minds from and after the
month of April, 1791; the one, that the march of the revolutionary
movement advanced from step to step to the complete restoration of all
the rights of suffering humanity--from those of the people by their
government, to those of citizens by castes, and of the workman by the
citizen; thus it assailed tyranny, privilege, inequality, selfishness,
not only on the throne, but in the civil law; in the administration, in
the legal distribution of property, in the conditions of industry,
labour, family, and in all the relations of man with man, and man with
woman: the second,--that this philosophic and social movement of
democracy would seek its natural form in a form of government analogous
to its principle, and its nature; that is to say, representing the
sovereignty of the people; republic with one or two heads: and, finally,
that the social and political emancipation would involve in it the
intellectual and religious emancipation of the human mind; that the
liberty of thought, of speaking and acting, should not pause before the
liberty of belief; that the idea of God confined in the sanctuaries,
should shine forth pouring into each free conscience the right of
liberty itself; that this light, a revelation for some, and reason for
others, would spread more and more with truth and justice, which emanate
from God to overspread the earth.


Human thought, like God, makes the world in its own image.

Thought was revived by a philosophical age.

It had to transform the social world.

The French Revolution was therefore in its essence a sublime and
impassioned spirituality. It had a divine and universal ideal. This is
the reason why its passion spread beyond the frontiers of France. Those
who limit, mutilate it. It was the accession of three moral

The sovereignty of right over force;

The sovereignty of intelligence over prejudices;

The sovereignty of people over governments.

Revolution in rights; equality.

Revolution in ideas; reasoning substituted for authority.

Revolution in facts; the reign of the people.

A Gospel of social rights.

A Gospel of duties, a charter of humanity.

France declared itself the apostle of this creed. In this war of ideas
France had allies every where, and even on thrones themselves.


There are epochs in the history of the human race, when the decayed
branches fall from the tree of humanity; and when institutions grown old
and exhausted, sink and leave space for fresh institutions full of sap,
which renew the youth and recast the ideas of a people. Antiquity is
replete with this transformation, of which we only catch a glimpse in
the relics of history. Each decadence of effete ideas carries with it an
old world, and gives its name to a new order of civilisation. The East.
China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, have seen these ruins and these renewals.
The West experienced them when the Druidical theocracy gave way to the
gods and government of the Romans. Byzantium, Rome, and the Empire
effected them rapidly, and as it were instinctively by themselves when,
wearied with, and blushing at, polytheism, they rose at the voice of
Constantine against their gods, and swept away, like an angry tempest,
those temples, those ideas and forms of worship, to which the people
still clung, but which the superior portion of human thought had already
abandoned. The Civilisation of Constantine and Charlemagne grew old in
its turn, and the beliefs which for eighteen centuries had supported
altars and thrones, menaced the religious world, as well as the
political world, with a catastrophe which rarely leaves power standing
when faith is staggered. Monarchical Europe was the handiwork of
catholicism; politics were fashioned after the image of the Church;
authority was founded on a mystery. Rights came to it from on high, and
power, like faith, was reputed divine. The obedience of the people was
consecrated to it, and from that very reason inquiry was a blasphemy,
and servitude a virtue. The spirit of philosophy, which had silently
revolted against this for three centuries, as a doctrine which the
scandals, tyrannies, and crimes of the two powers belied daily, refused
any longer to recognise a divine title in those authorities which deny
reason and subjugate a people. So long as catholicism had been the sole
legal doctrine in Europe, these murmuring revolts of mind had not
overset empires. They had been punished by the hands of rulers.
Dungeons, punishments, inquisitions, fire, and faggot, had intimidated
reason, and preserved erect the two-fold dogma on which the two
governments reposed.

But printing, that unceasing outpouring of the human mind, was to the
people a second revelation. Employed at first exclusively for the
Church, for the propagation of ruling ideas, it had begun to sap them.
The dogmata of temporal power, and spiritual power, incessantly assailed
by these floods of light, could not be long without being shaken, first
in the human mind and afterwards in things, to the very foundations.
_Guttemberg_; without knowing it, was the mechanist of the New World. In
creating the communication of ideas, he had assured the independence of
reason. Every letter of this alphabet which left his fingers, contained
in it, more power than the armies of kings, and the thunders of
pontiffs. It was mind which he furnished with language. These two powers
were the mistresses of man, as they were hereafter of mankind. The
intellectual world was born of a material invention, and it had grown
rapidly. The reformed religion was one of its early offspring.

The empire of catholic Christianity had undergone extensive
dismemberments. Switzerland, a part of Germany, Holland, England, whole
provinces of France, had been drawn away from the centre of religious
authority, and passed over to the doctrine of free examination. Divine
authority attacked and contested in catholicism, the authority of the
throne remained at the mercy of the people. Philosophy, more potent than
sedition, approached it more and more near, with less respect, less
fear. History had actually written of the weaknesses and crimes of
kings. Public writers had dared to comment upon it, and the people to
draw conclusions. Social institutions had been weighed by their real
value for humanity. Minds the most devoted to power had spoken to
sovereigns of duties, and to people of rights. The holy boldness of
Christianity had been heard even in the consecrated pulpit, in the
presence of Louis XIV. Bossuet, that sacerdotal genius of the ancient
synagogue, had mingled his proud adulations to Louis XIV. with some of
those austere warnings which console persons for their abasement.
Fénélon, that evangelical and tender genius, of the new law, had written
his instructions to princes, and his Telemachus, in the palace of the
king, and in the cabinet of an heir to the throne. The political
philosophy of Christianity, that insurrection of justice in favour of
the weak, had glided from the lips of Louis XIV. into the ear of his
grandson. Fénélon educated another revolution in the Duke of Burgundy.
This the king perceived when too late, and expelled the divine seduction
from his palace. But the revolutionary policy was born there; there the
people read the pages of the holy archbishop: Versailles was destined to
be, thanks to Louis XIV. and Fénélon, at once the palace of despotism
and the cradle of the Revolution. Montesquieu had sounded the
institutions, and analysed the laws of all people. By classing
governments, he had compared them, by comparing he passed judgment on
them; and this judgment brought out, in its bold relief, and contrast,
on every page, right and force, privilege and equality, tyranny and

Jean Jacques Rousseau, less ingenious, but more eloquent, had studied
politics, not in the laws, but in nature. A free but oppressed and
suffering mind, the palpitation of his noble heart had made every heart
beat that had been ulcerated by the odious inequality of social
conditions. It was the revolt of the ideal against the real. He had been
the tribune of nature, the Gracchus of philosophy--he had not produced
the history of institutions, only its vision--but that vision descended
from heaven and returned thither. There was to be seen the design of God
and the excess of his love--but there was not enough seen of the
infirmity of men. It was the Utopia of government; but by this Rousseau
led further astray. To impel the people to passion there must be some
slight illusion mingled with the truth; reality alone was too chilling
to fanaticise the human mind; it is only roused to enthusiasm by things
something out of nature. What is termed the ideal is the attraction and
force of religions, which always aspire higher than they mount; this is
how fanaticism is produced, that delirium of virtue. Rousseau was the
ideal of politics, as Fénélon was the ideal of Christianity.

Voltaire had the genius of criticism, that power of raillery which
withers all it overthrows. He had made human nature laugh at itself, had
felled it low in order to raise it, had laid bare before it all errors,
prejudices, iniquities, and crimes of ignorance; he had urged it to
rebellion against consecrated ideas, not by the ideal but by sheer
contempt. Destiny gave him eighty years of existence, that he might
slowly decompose the decayed age; he had the time to combat against
time, and when he fell he was the conqueror. His disciples filled
courts, academies, and saloons; those of Rousseau grew splenetic and
visionary amongst the lower orders of society. The one had been the
fortunate and elegant advocate of the aristocracy, the other was the
secret consoler and beloved avenger of the democracy. His book was the
book of all oppressed and tender souls. Unhappy and devotee himself, he
had placed God by the side of the people; his doctrines sanctified the
mind, whilst they led the heart to rebellion. There was vengeance in his
very accent, but there was piety also. Voltaire's followers would have
overturned altars, those of Rousseau would have raised them. The one
could have done without virtues, and made arrangements with thrones; the
other had absolute need of a God, and could only have founded republics.

Their numerous disciples progressed with their missions, and possessed
all the organs of public thought. From the seat of geometry to the
consecrated pulpit, the philosophy of the 18th century invaded or
altered every thing. D'Alembert, Diderot, Raynal, Buffon, Condorcet,
Bernardin Saint Pierre, Helvetius, Saint Lambert, La Harpe, were the
church of the new era. One sole thought animated these diverse
minds--the renovation of human ideas. Arithmetic, science, history,
economy, politics, the stage, morals, poetry, all served as the vehicle
of modern philosophy; it ran in all the veins of the times; it had
enlisted every genius, it spoke every language. Chance or Providence had
decided that this period, which elsewhere was almost barren, should be
the age of France. From the end of the reign of Louis XIV. to the
commencement of the reign of Louis XVI., nature had been prodigal of men
to France. This brilliancy continued by so many geniuses of the first
order, from Corneille to Voltaire, from Bossuet to Rousseau, from
Fénélon to Bernardin Saint Pierre, had accustomed the people to look on
this side. The focus of the ideas of the world shed thence its
brilliancy. The moral authority of the human mind was no longer at Rome.
The stir, light, direction, were from Paris; the European mind was
French. There was, and there always will be, in the French genius
something more potent than its potency, more luminous than its
splendour; and that is its warmth, its penetrating power of
communicating the attraction which it has, and which it inspires to

The genius of the Spain of Charles V. is high and adventurous, that of
Germany is profound and severe, that of England skilful and proud, that
of France is attractive,--it is in that it has its force. Easily seduced
itself, it easily seduces other people. The other great individualities
of the world of have only their genius. France for a second genius has
its heart, and is prodigal in its thoughts, in its writings, as well as
in its national acts. When Providence wills that one desire shall fire
the world, it is first kindled in a Frenchman's soul. This communicative
quality of the character of this race--this French attraction, as yet
unaltered by the ambition of conquest,--was then the precursory mark of
the age. It seems that a providential instinct turned all the attraction
of Europe towards this point, as if motion and light could only emanate
thence. The only real echoing point of the Continent was Paris. There
the smallest things made great noise, literature was the vehicle of
French influence; there intellectual monarchy had its books, its
theatre, its writings even before it had its heroes.

Conquering by its intelligence, its printing-presses were its army.


The parties who divided the country after the death of Mirabeau were
thus distributed; out of the Assembly, the Court, and the Jacobins; in
the Assembly the right side and the left side, and between these two
extreme parties--the one fanatic by its innovations, the other fanatic
from its resistance,--there was an intermediate party, consisting of the
men of substance and peace belonging to both these parties. Their views
moderate, and wavering between revolution and conservatism, desired that
the one should conquer without violence, and the other concede without
vindictiveness. These were the philosophers of the Revolution,--but it
was not the hour for philosophy, it was the hour of victory; the two
ideas required champions, not judges; they crushed men in their
encounter. Let us enumerate the principal chiefs of the contending
parties, and make them known before we bring them into action.

King Louis XVI. was then only thirty-seven years of age; his features
resembled those of his race, rendered somewhat heavy by the German blood
of his mother, a princess of the house of Saxony. Fine blue eyes, very
wide open, and clear rather than dazzling, a round and retreating
forehead, a Roman nose, the nostrils flaccid and large, and somewhat
destroying the energy of the aquiline profile, a mouth smiling and
gracious in expression, lips thick, but well shaped, a fine skin, fresh
and high-coloured in tint, though rather loose; of short stature, stout
frame, timid carriage, irregular walk, and, when not moving, a
restlessness of body in shifting first one foot and then the other
without advancing--a habit contracted either from that impatience common
to princes compelled to undergo long audiences, or else the outward
token of the constant wavering of an undecided mind. In his person there
was an expression of _bonhommie_ more vulgar than royal, which at the
first glance inspired as much derision as veneration, and on which his
enemies seized with contemptuous perversity, in order to show to the
people in the features of their ruler the visible and personal sign of
those vices they sought to destroy in royalty; in the _tout ensemble_
some resemblance to the imperial physiognomy of the later Cæsars at the
period of the fall of things and races,--the mildness of Antoninus, with
the vast obesity of Vitellius;--this was precisely the man.


This young prince had been educated in complete solitude at the court of
Louis XV. The atmosphere which had infected the age had not touched his
heir. Whilst Louis XV. had changed his court into a place of ill-fame,
his grandson, educated in a corner of the palace of Meudon by pious and
enlightened masters, grew up in respect for his rank, in awe of the
throne, and in a real love for the people whom he was one day to be
called upon to govern. The soul of Fénélon seemed to have traversed two
generations of kings in the palace where he had brought up the Duke of
Burgundy, in order to inspire the education of his descendant. What was
nearest the crowned vice upon the throne was perhaps the most pure of
any thing in France. If the age had not been as dissolute as the king,
it would have directed his love in that direction. He had reached that
point of corruption in which purity appears ridiculous, and modesty was
treated with contempt.

Married at twenty years of age to a daughter of Maria Theresa of
Austria, the young prince had continued until his accession to the
throne in his life of domestic retirement, study, and isolation. Europe
was slumbering in a disgraceful peace. War, that exercise of princes,
could not thus form him by contact with men and the custom of command.
Fields of battle, which are the theatre of great actors of his stamp,
had not brought him under the observation of his people. No _prestige_,
except the circumstance of birth, clung to him. His sole popularity was
derived from the disgust inspired by his grandfather. He occasionally
had the esteem of his people, but never their favour. Upright and
well-informed, he called to him sterling honesty and clear intelligence
in the person of Turgot. But with the philosophic sentiment of the
necessity of reforms, the prince had not the feeling of a reformer; he
had neither the genius nor the boldness; nor had his ministers more than
himself. They raised all questions without settling any, accumulated
storms, without giving them any impulse, and the tempests were doomed to
be eventually directed against themselves. From M. de Maurepas to M.
Turgot, from M. Turgot to M. de Calonne, from M. de Calonne to M.
Necker, from M. Necker to M. de Malesherbes, he floated from an honest
man to an _intriguant_, from a philosopher to a banker, whilst the
spirit of system and charlatanism ill supplied the spirit of government.
God, who had given many men of notoriety during this reign, had refused
it a statesman; all was promise and deception. The court clamoured,
impatience seized on the nation, and violent convulsions followed. The
Assembly of Notables, States General, National Assembly, had all burst
in the hands of royalty; a revolution emanated from his good intentions
more fierce and more irritable than if it had been the consequence of
his vices. At the time when the king had this revolution before him in
the National Assembly, he had not in his councils one man, not only
capable of resisting but even of comprehending it. Men really strong
prefer in such moments to be rather the popular ministers of the nation
than the bucklers of the king.


M. de Montmorin was devoted to the king, but had no credit with the
nation. The ministry had neither the initiative nor opposition; the
initiative was in the hands of the Jacobins, and the executive power
with the mob. The king, without an organ, without privilege, without
force, had merely the odious responsibility of anarchy. He was the butt
against which all parties directed the hate or rage of the people. He
had the privilege of every accusation; whilst from the tribune Mirabeau,
Barnave, Pétion, Lameth, and Robespierre, eloquently threatened the
throne; infamous pamphlets, factious journals painted the king in the
colours of a tyrant who was brutalised by wine, who lent himself to
every caprice of an abandoned woman, and who conspired in the recesses
of his palace with the enemies of the nation. In the sinister feeling of
his coming fall, the stoical virtue of this prince sufficed for the
calming of his conscience, but was not adequate to his resolutions. On
leaving the council of his ministers, where he loyally accomplished the
constitutional conditions of his character, he sought, sometimes in the
friendship of his devoted servants, sometimes from the very persons of
his enemies, admitted by stealth to his confidence, the most important
inspirations. Counsels succeeded to counsels, and contradicted one
another in the royal ear, as their results contradicted each other in
their operations. His enemies suggested concessions, promising him a
popularity, which escaped their hands just as they were about to ensure
it to him. The court counselled the resistance which it had only in its
dreams; the queen the courage she felt in her soul; intriguants,
corruption, the timid, flight; and in turns, and almost at the same
time, he tried all these expedients: not one was efficacious; the time
for useful resolutions had passed,--the crisis was without remedy. It
was necessary to choose between life and the throne. In endeavouring to
preserve the two, it was written that he should lose both.

When we place ourselves in imagination in the position of Louis XVI.,
and ask what could have saved him? we reply disheartened--nothing. There
are circumstances which enfold all a man's movements in such a snare,
that, whatever direction he may take, he falls into the fatality of his
faults or his virtues. This was the dilemma of Louis XVI. All the
unpopularity of royalty in France, all the faults of preceding
administrations, all the vices of kings, all the shame of courts, all
the griefs of the people, were as it were accumulated on his head, and
marked his innocent brow for the expiation of many ages. Epochs have
their sacrifices as well as their religions. When they desire to recast
an institution which no longer suits them, they pile upon the individual
who personifies this institution all the odium and all the condemnation
of the institution itself,--they make of this man a victim whom they
sacrifice to the time. Louis XVI. was this innocent sacrifice,
overwhelmed with all the iniquities of thrones, and destined to be
immolated as a chastisement for royalty. Such was the king.


The queen seemed to be created by nature to contrast with the king, and
to attract for ever the interest and pity of ages to one of those state
dramas, which are incomplete unless the miseries and misfortunes of a
woman mingle in them. Daughter of Maria Theresa, she had commenced her
life in the storms of the Austrian monarchy. She was one of the children
whom the Empress held by the hand when she presented herself as a
supplicant before her faithful Hungarians, and the troops exclaimed, "We
will die for our king, Maria Theresa." Her daughter, too, had the heart
of a king. On her arrival in France, her beauty had dazzled the whole
kingdom,--a beauty then in all its splendour. The two children whom she
had given to the throne, far from impairing her good looks, added to the
attractions of her person that character of maternal majesty which so
well becomes the mother of a nation. The presentiment of her
misfortunes, the recollection of the tragic scenes of Versailles, the
uneasiness of each day somewhat diminished her youthful freshness. She
was tall, slim, and graceful,--a real daughter of Tyrol. Her naturally
majestic carriage in no way impaired the grace of her movements; her
neck rising elegantly and distinctly from her shoulders gave expression
to every attitude. The woman was perceptible beneath the queen, the
tenderness of heart was not lost in the elevation of her destiny. Her
light brown hair was long and silky, her forehead, high and rather
projecting, was united to her temples by those fine curves which give so
much delicacy and expression to that seat of thought or the soul in
women; her eyes of that clear blue which recall the skies of the North
or the waters of the Danube; an aquiline nose, with nostrils open and
slightly projecting, where emotions palpitate and courage is evidenced;
a large mouth, brilliant teeth, Austrian lips, that is, projecting and
well defined; an oval countenance, animated, varying, impassioned, and
the _ensemble_ of these features replete with that expression impossible
to describe which emanates from the look, the shades, the reflections of
the face, which encompasses it with an iris like that of the warm and
tinted vapour which bathes objects in full sunlight--the extreme
loveliness which the ideal conveys, and which by giving it life
increases its attraction. With all these charms, a soul yearning to
attach itself, a heart easily moved, but yet earnest in desire to fix
itself; a pensive and intelligent smile, with nothing of vacuity in it,
nothing of preference or mere acquaintanceship in it, because it felt
itself worthy of friendships. Such was Marie-Antoinette as a woman.


It was enough to form the happiness of a man and the ornament of a
court: to inspire a wavering monarch, and be the safeguard of a state
under trying circumstances, something more is requisite. The genius of
government is required, and the queen had it not. Nothing could have
prepared her for the regulation of the disordered elements which were
about her; misfortune had given her no time for reflection. Hailed with
enthusiasm by a perverse court and an ardent nation, she must have
believed in the eternity of such sentiments. She was lulled to sleep in
the dissipations of the Trianon. She had heard the first threatenings of
the tempest without believing in its dangers: she had trusted in the
love she inspired, and which she felt in her own heart. The court had
become exacting, the nation hostile. The instrument of the intrigues of
the court on the heart of the king, she had at first favoured and then
opposed all reforms which prevented or delayed the crises that arose.
Her policy was but infatuation; her system but the perpetual abandonment
of herself to every partisan who promised her the king's safety. The
Comte D'Artois, a youthful prince, chivalrous in etiquette, had much
influence with her. He relied greatly on the noblesse; made frequent
references to his sword. He laughed at the crises: he disdained this war
of words, caballed against ministers, and treated passing events with
levity. The queen, intoxicated with the adulation of those around her,
urged the king to recall the next day what he had conceded on the
previous evening. Her hand was felt in all the transactions of the
government: her apartments were the focus of a perpetual conspiracy
against the government; the nation detected it, and ultimately detested

Her name became for the people the phantom of all counter-revolution. We
are apt to calumniate what we fear. She was depicted under the features
of a Messalina. The most infamous pamphlets were in circulation; the
most scandalous anecdotes were credited. She may be accused of
tenderness, but never of depravity. Lovely, young, and adored, if her
heart did not remain insensible, her innermost feelings, innocent
perhaps, never gave just ground for open scandal. History has its
modesty, and we will not violate it.


On the days of the 5th and 6th of October the queen perceived (too late)
the enmity of the people; her heart must have been full of vengeance.
Emigration commenced, and she viewed it favourably. All her friends were
at Coblentz; she was believed to be in close connection with them, and
this belief was true. Stories of an Austrian committee were busily
spread amongst the people. The queen was accused of conspiring for the
destruction of the nation, who at every moment demanded her head. A
people in revolt must have some one to hate, and they handed over to her
the queen. Her name was the theme of their songs of rage. One woman was
the enemy of a whole nation, and her pride disdained to undeceive them.
She inclosed herself in her resentment and her terror. Imprisoned in the
palace of the Tuileries, she could not put her head out of window
without provoking an outrage and hearing insult. Every noise in the city
made her apprehensive of an insurrection. Her days were melancholy, her
nights disturbed: she underwent hourly agony for two years, and that
anguish was magnified in her heart by her love for her two children, and
her disquietude for the king. Her court was forsaken; she saw none but
the shadows of authority; the ministers forced on her by M. de La
Fayette, before whom she was compelled to mask her countenance in
smiles. Her apartments were watched by spies in the guise of servants.
It was necessary to mislead them, in order to have interviews with the
few friends who remained to her. Private staircases, dark corridors,
were the means by which at night her secret counsellors obtained access
to her. These meetings resembled conspiracies; she left them every time
with a different train of ideas, which she communicated to the king,
whose behaviour thus acquired the incoherence of a woman persecuted and
distressed. Measures of resistance, bribing the Assembly, an entire
surrender of the constitution, attempts by force, an assumption of royal
dignity, repentance, weakness, terror, and flight,--all were discussed,
planned, decided on, prepared and abandoned, on the same day. Women, so
sublime in their devotion, are seldom capable of the continuous firmness
of mind--the imperturbability requisite for a political plan. Their
politics are in their heart, their passions trench so closely on their
reason. Of all the virtues which a throne requires they have but
courage; often heroes, they are never statesmen. The queen was another
example of this: she did the king incredible mischief. With a mind
infinitely superior, with more soul, more character than he, her
superiority only served to inspire him with mischievous counsels. She
was at once the charm of his misfortunes and the genius of his
destruction; she conducted him step by step to the scaffold, but she
ascended it with him.


The right side in the National Assembly consisted of men, the natural
opponents of the movement, the nobility and higher clergy. All, however,
were not of the same rank nor the same title. Seditions are found
amongst the lower rank, revolutions in the higher. Seditions are but the
angry workings of the people--revolutions are the ideas of the epoch.
Ideas begin in the head of the nation. The French Revolution was a
generous thought of the aristocracy. This thought fell into the hands of
the people, who framed of it a weapon against the _noblesse_, the
throne, and religion. The philosophy of the saloons became revolt in the
streets: nevertheless all the great houses of the kingdom had given
apostles to the first dogmata of the Revolution: the States General, the
ancient theatre of the importance and triumphs of the higher nobility,
had tempted the ambition of their heirs, and they had marched in the van
of the reformers. _Esprit de corps_ could not restrain them when the
question of uniting with the Tiers Etat had been invoked. The
Montmorencies, Noailles, La Rochefoucaulds, Clermont Tonnerres, Lally
Tollendals, Virieux, d'Aiguillons, Lauzans, Montesquieus, Lameths,
Mirabeaus, the Duc d'Orleans, first prince of the blood, the Count de
Provence, brother of the king, king himself afterwards as Louis XVIII.,
had given an impulse to the boldest innovations. They had each borrowed
their momentary popularity from principles easier to enunciate than
restrain, and that popularity had nearly forsaken them all. So soon as
these theorists of speculative revolution saw that they were carried
away in the torrent, they attempted to ascend the stream from whose
source they had started; some again surrounded the throne, others had
emigrated after the days of the 5th and 6th of October. Others, more
firm, remained in their places in the National Assembly; they fought
without a hope, but still defended a fallen cause, gloriously resolute
to maintain at least a monarchical power, and abandoning to the people,
without a struggle, the spoils of the nobility and the church. Amongst
these are Cazalès, the Abbé Maury, Malouet, and Clermont Tonnerre: they
were the distinguished orators of this expiring party.

Clermont Tonnerre and Malouet were rather statesmen than orators; their
cautious and reflective language weighed only on the reason; they sought
for the mean between liberty and monarchy, and believed they had found
it in the system of the Two Houses of English Legislature. The _modérés_
of the two parties listened to them respectfully; like all half parties
and half talents, they excited neither hatred nor anger; but events did
not listen to them, but thrusting them aside, advanced towards results
that were utterly absolute. Maury and Cazalès, less philosophic, were
the two champions of the right side; different in character, their
oratorical powers were much on a par. Maury represented the clergy, of
which body he was a member; Cazalès, the _noblesse_, to whom he
belonged. The one, Maury, early trained to struggles of polemical
theology, had sharpened and polished in the pulpit the eloquence he was
to bring into the tribune. Sprung from the lowest ranks of the people,
he only belonged to the _ancien régime_ by his garb, and defended
religion and the monarchy as two texts, imposed upon him as themes for
discourses. His conviction was the part he played; any other appointed
character would have suited equally well; yet he sustained with
unflinching courage and admirable consistency that which had been "set
down for him."

Devoted from his youth to serious studies, endowed with abundant flow of
words, striking and vivid in his language, his harangues were perfect
treatises on the subjects he discussed. The only rival of Mirabeau, he
needed but a cause more natural and more sterling to have become his
equal: but sophistry could not deck abuses in colours more specious than
those with which Maury invested the _ancien régime_.

Historical erudition and sacred learning supplied him with ample sources
of argument. The boldness of his character and language inspired words
which even avenge a defeat, and his fine countenance, his sonorous
voice, his commanding gesture, the defiance and good temper with which
he braved the tribunes, frequently drew down the applauses of his
enemies. The people, who recognised his invincible strength, were amused
at his impotent opposition. Maury was to them as one of those gladiators
whom they like to see fight, although well knowing that they must perish
in the strife. One thing was wanting to the Abbé Maury,--weight to his
eloquence; neither his birth, his faith, nor his life inspired respect
in those who listened. The actor was visible in the man, the advocate in
the cause, the orator and his language were not identified. Strip the
Abbé Maury of the habit of his order, and he might have changed sides
without a struggle, and have taken his seat amongst the innovators. Such
orators grace a party, they never save it.


Cazalès was one of those men who are themselves ignorant of their own
powers until the hour arrives when circumstances call forth their
genius, and assign to them a duty. An obscure officer in the ranks of
the army, chance, which cast him into the tribune, revealed the orator.
He did not inquire which side he should defend; noble, the _noblesse_;
royalist, the king; a subject, the throne. His position made his creed;
he bore in the Assembly the character and qualities of his uniform.
Language to him was only another sword, and in all the spirit of
chivalry, he devoted it to the cause of Monarchy. Indolent and
ill-educated, his natural good sense supplied the place of study. His
monarchical faith was by no means fanaticism of the past: it admitted
the modifications conceded by the king himself, and which were
compatible with the inviolability of the throne and the working of the
executive power. From Mirabeau to him the difference of the first
principle was not wide apart, only one decried it as an aristocrat, and
the other as a democrat. The one flung himself headlong into the midst
of the people, the other attached himself to the steps of the throne.
The characteristic of Cazalès' eloquence was that of a desperate cause.
He protested more than he discussed, and opposed to the triumphs of
violence on the _côté gauche_, his ironic defiance, his bursts of bitter
indignation, which for the moment acquired admiration, but never led to
victory. To him the _noblesse_ owed that it fell with glory; the throne,
with majesty: and his eloquence attained something that was heroic.

Behind these two men there was only a party, soured by ill-fortune,
discouraged by its isolation from the nation, odious to the people,
useless to the throne, feeding on vain illusions, and only preserving of
its fallen power the resentment of injuries, and that insolence which
was perpetually provoking fresh humiliations. The hopes of this party
were entirely sustained by their reliance on the armed intervention of
foreign powers. Louis XVI. was in their eyes a prisoner king, whom
Europe would come and deliver from his thraldom. With them, patriotism
and honour were at Coblentz. Overcome by numbers, without skilful
leaders who understood how to gain immortal names by timely retreats;
with no strength to contend against the spirit of the age and refusing
to move with it, the _côté droit_ could only call for vengeance, its
political power was now confined to an imprecation.

The left side lost at one blow its leader and controller; in Mirabeau
the national man had ceased to exist, and only the men of party
remained, and they were Barnave and the two Lameths. These men humbled,
rebuked, before the ascendency of Mirabeau, had attempted, long before
his death, to balance the sovereignty of his genius by the exaggeration
of their doctrines and harangues. Mirabeau was but the apostle--they
would fain have been the faction-leaders of the time. Jealous of his
influence, they would have crushed his talents beneath the superiority
of their popularity. Mediocrity thinks to equal genius by outraging
reason. A diminution of thirty or forty votes had taken place in the
left side. This was the work of Barnave and the Lameths. The club of the
friends of the constitution become the Jacobin Club, responded to them
from without. The popular agitation excited by them was restrained by
Mirabeau, who rallied against them the left, the centre, and the
intelligent members of the right side. They conspired, they caballed,
they fomented divisions in opinion all the more that they had not
control in the Assembly.

Mirabeau was dead, and now the field was open to them. The
Lameths--courtiers, educated by the kindness of the royal family,
overwhelmed by the favours and pensions of the king, had the conspicuous
defection of Mirabeau without having the excuse of his wrongs against
the monarchy: this defection was one of their titles to popular favour.
Clever men, they carried with them into the national cause the conduct
of Courts in which they had been brought up: still their love of the
Revolution was disinterested and sincere. Their eminent talents did not
equal their ambition. Crushed by Mirabeau, they stirred up against him
all those whom the shadow of that great man eclipsed in common with
themselves. They sought for a rival to oppose to him, and found only men
who envied him. Barnave presented himself, and they surrounded him,
applauded him, intoxicated him with his self-importance. They persuaded
him for a moment that phrases were politics, and that a rhetorician was
a statesman.

Mirabeau was great enough not to fear, and just enough not to despise
him. Barnave, a young barrister of Dauphiné, had made his _début_ with
much effect in the struggles between the parliament and the throne which
had agitated his province, and displayed on small theatres the eloquence
of men of the bar. Sent at thirty years of age to the States General,
with Mounier his patron and master, he had soon quitted Mounier and the
monarchical party, and made himself conspicuous amongst the democratic
division. A word of sinister import which escaped not from his heart,
but from his lips, weighed on his conscience with remorse. "Is then the
blood that flows so pure?" he exclaimed at the first murder of the
Revolution. This phrase had branded him on the brow with the mark of a
ringleader of faction. Barnave was not this, or only as much so as was
necessary for the success of his discourses; nothing in him was extreme
but the orator: the man was by no means so, neither was he at all cruel.
Studious, but without imagination; copious, but without warmth, his
intellect was mediocre, his mind honest, his will variable, his heart in
the right place. His talent, which they affected to compare with
Mirabeau's, was nothing more than a power of skilfully rivetting public
attention. His habit of pleading gave him, with its power of extempore
speaking, an apparent superiority which vanished before reflection,
Mirabeau's enemies had created him a pedestal on their hatred, and
magnified his importance to make the comparison closer. When reduced to
his actual stature, it was easy to recognise the distance that existed
between the man of the nation, and the man of the bar.

Barnave had the misfortune to be the great man of a mediocre party, and
the hero of an envious faction: he deserved a better destiny, which he
subsequently acquired.


Still deeper in the shade, and behind the chief of the National
Assembly, a man almost unknown began to move, agitated by uneasy
thoughts which seemed to forbid him to be silent and unmoved; he spoke
on all occasions, and attacked all speakers indifferently, including
Mirabeau himself. Driven from the tribune, he ascended it next day:
overwhelmed with sarcasm, coughed down, disowned by all parties, lost
amongst the eminent champions who fixed public attention, he was
incessantly beaten, but never dispirited. It might have been said, that
an inward and prophetic genius revealed to him the vanity of all talent,
and the omnipotence of a firm will and unwearied patience, and that an
inward voice said to him, "These men who despise thee are thine: all the
changes of this Revolution which now will not deign to look upon thee,
will eventually terminate in thee, for thou hast placed thyself in the
way like the inevitable excess, in which all impulse ends."

This man was Robespierre.

There are abysses that we dare not sound, and characters we desire not
to fathom, for fear of finding in them too great darkness, too much
horror; but history, which has the unflinching eye of time, must not be
chilled by these terrors, she must understand whilst she undertakes to
recount. Maximilien Robespierre was born at Arras, of a poor family,
honest and respectable; his father, who died in Germany, was of English
origin. This may explain the shade of Puritanism in his character. The
bishop of Arras had defrayed the cost of his education. Young Maximilien
had distinguished himself on leaving college by a studious life, and
austere manners. Literature and the bar shared his time. The philosophy
of Jean Jacques Rousseau had made a profound impression on his
understanding; the philosophy, falling upon an active imagination, had
not remained a dead letter; it had become in him a leading principle, a
faith, a fanaticism. In the strong mind of a sectarian, all conviction
becomes a thing apart. Robespierre was the Luther of politics: and in
obscurity he brooded over the confused thoughts of a renovation of the
social world, and the religious world, as a dream which unavailingly
beset his youth, when the Revolution came to offer him what destiny
always offers to those who watch her progress, opportunity. He seized on
it. He was named deputy of the third estate in the States General. Alone
perhaps among all these men who opened at Versailles the first scene of
this vast drama, he foresaw the termination; like the soul, whose seat
in the human frame philosophers have not discovered, the thought of an
entire people sometimes concentrates itself in the individual, the least
known in the great mass. We should not despise any, for the finger of
Destiny marks in the soul and not upon the brow. Robespierre had
nothing: neither birth, nor genius nor exterior which should point him
out to men's notice. There was nothing conspicuous about him; his
limited talent had only shone at the bar or in provincial academies; a
few verbal harangues filled with a tame and almost rustic philosophy,
some bits of cold and affected poetry, had vainly displayed his name in
the insignificance of the literary productions of the day: he was more
than unknown, he was mediocre and contemned. His features presented
nothing which could attract attention, when gazing round in a large
assembly: there was no sign in visible characters of this power which
was all within; he was the last word of the Revolution, but no one could
read him.

Robespierre's figure was small, his limbs feeble and angular, his step
irresolute, his attitudes affected, his gestures destitute of harmony or
grace; his voice, rather shrill, aimed at oratorical inflexions, but
only produced fatigue and monotony; his forehead was good, but small and
extremely projecting above the temples, as if the mass and embarrassed
movement of his thoughts had enlarged it by their efforts; his eyes,
much covered by their lids and very sharp at the extremities, were
deeply buried in the cavities of their orbits; they gave out a soft blue
hue, but it was vague and unfixed, like a steel reflector on which a
light glances; his nose straight and small was very wide at the
nostrils, which were high and too expanded; his mouth was large, his
lips thin and disagreeably contracted at each corner; his chin small and
pointed, his complexion yellow and livid, like that of an invalid or a
man worn out by vigils and meditations. The habitual expression of this
visage was that of superficial serenity on a serious mind, and a smile
wavering betwixt sarcasm and condescension. There was softness, but of a
sinister character. The prevailing characteristic of this countenance
was the prodigious and continual tension of brow, eyes, mouth, and all
the facial muscles; in regarding him it was perceptible that the whole
of his features, like the labour of his mind, converged incessantly on a
single point with such power that there was no waste of will in his
temperament, and he appeared to foresee all he desired to accomplish, as
though he had already the reality before his eyes. Such then was the man
destined to absorb in himself all those men, and make them his victims
after he had used them as his instruments. He was of no party, but of
all parties which in their turn served his ideal of the Revolution. In
this his power consisted, for parties paused but he never did. He placed
this ideal as an end to reach in every revolutionary movement, and
advanced towards it with those who sought to attain it; then, this goal
reached, he placed it still further off, and again marched forward with
other men, continually advancing without ever deviating, ever pausing,
ever retreating. The Revolution, decimated in its progress, must one day
or other inevitably arrive at a last stage, and he desired it
should end in himself. He was the entire incorporation of the
Revolution,--principles, thoughts, passions, impulses. Thus
incorporating himself wholly with it, he compelled it one day to
incorporate itself in him--that day was a distant one.


Robespierre, who had often struggled against Mirabeau with Duport, the
Lameths, and Barnave, began to separate himself from them as soon as
they appeared to predominate in the Assembly. He formed, with Pétion and
some others of small note, a small band of opposition, radically
democratic, who encouraged the Jacobins without, and menaced Barnave and
the Lameths whenever they ventured to pause. Pétion and Robespierre in
the Assembly, Brissot and Danton at the Jacobin Club, formed the nucleus
of the new party which was destined to accelerate the movement and
speedily to convert it into convulsions and catastrophes.

Pétion was a popular Lafayette: popularity was his aim, and he acquired
it earlier than Robespierre. A barrister without talent but upright, he
had imbibed no more of philosophy than the Social Contract; young, good
looking and a patriot, he was destined to become one of those
complaisant idols of whom the people make what they please except a man;
his credit in the streets and amongst the Jacobins gave him a certain
amount of authority in the Assembly, where he was listened to as the
significant echo of the will out of doors. Robespierre affected to
respect him.


The constitution was completed, the regal power was but a mere name, the
king was but the executive of the orders of the national representation,
his ministers only responsible hostages in the hands of the Assembly.
The vices of this constitution were evident before it was entirely
finished. Voted in the rage of parties, it was not a constitution, it
was a vengeance of the people against the monarchy, the throne only
existing as the substitute of a unique power which was every where
instituted, but which no one yet dared to name. The people, parties,
trembled lest on removing the throne they should behold an abyss in
which the nation would be engulphed: it was thus tacitly agreed to
respect its forms, though they daily despoiled and insulted the
unfortunate monarch whom they kept chained to it.

Things were at that point where they have no possible termination except
in a catastrophe. The army, without discipline, added but another
element to the popular ferment: forsaken by its officers, who emigrated
in masses, the subalterns seized upon democracy and propagated it in
their ranks. Affiliated in every garrison with the Jacobin Club, they
received from it their orders, and made of their troops soldiers of
anarchy, accomplices of faction. The people to whom they had cast as a
prey the feudal rights of the nobility and the tithes of the clergy,
feared to have wrested from it what it held with disquietude, and saw in
every direction plots which it anticipated by crimes. The sudden burst
of liberty, for which it was not prepared, agitated without
strengthening it: it evinced all the vices of enfranchised men without
having got the virtues of the free man. The whole of France was but one
vast sedition: anarchy swayed the state, and in order that it might be,
as it were, self-governed, it had created its government in as many
clubs as there were large municipalities in the kingdom. The dominant
club was that of the Jacobins: this club was the centralisation of
anarchy. So soon as a powerful and high passioned will moves a nation,
their common impulse brings men together; individuality ceases, and the
legal or illegal association organises the public prejudice. Popular
societies thus have birth. At the first menaces of the court against the
States General, certain Breton deputies had a meeting at Versailles, and
formed a society to detect the plots of the court and assure the
triumphs of liberty: its founders were Siéyès, Chapelier, Barnave, and
Lameth. After the 5th and 6th of October, the Breton Club, transported
to Paris in the train of the National Assembly, had there assumed the
more forcible name of "Society of the Friends of the Constitution." It
held its sittings in the old convent of the Jacobins Saint Honoré, not
far from the Manège, where the National Assembly sat. The deputies, who
had founded it at the beginning for themselves, now opened their doors
to journalists, revolutionary writers, and finally to all citizens. The
presentation by two of its members, and an open scrutiny as to the moral
character of the person proposed, were the sole conditions of admission:
the public was admitted to the sittings by inspectors, who examined the
admission card. A set of rules, an office, a president, a corresponding
committee, secretaries, an order of the day, a tribune, and orators,
gave to these meetings all the forms of deliberative assemblies: they
were assemblies of the people only without elections and responsibility;
feeling alone gave them authority: instead of framing laws they formed

The sittings took place in the evening, so that the people should not be
prevented from attending in consequence of their daily labour: the acts
of the National Assembly, the events of the moment, the examination of
social questions, frequently accusations against the king, ministers,
the _côté droit_; were the texts of the debates. Of all the passions of
the people, there hatred was the most flattered; they made it suspicious
in order to subject it. Convinced that all was conspiring against
it,--king, queen, court, ministers, authorities, foreign powers,--it
threw itself headlong into the arms of its defenders. The most eloquent
in its eyes was he who inspired it with most dread--it had a parching
thirst for denunciations, and they were lavished on it with prodigal
hand. It was thus that Barnave, the Lameths, then Danton, Marat,
Brissot, Camille Desmoulins, Pétion, Robespierre, had acquired their
authority over the people. These names had increased in reputation as
the anger of the people grew hotter; they cherished their wrath in order
to retain their greatness. The nightly sittings of the Jacobins and the
Cordeliers frequently stifled the echo of the sittings of the National
Assembly: the minority, beaten at the Manège, came to protest, accuse,
threaten at the Jacobins.

Mirabeau himself, accused by Lameth on the subject of the law of
emigration, came a few days before his death to listen face to face to
the invectives of his denouncer, and had not disdained to justify
himself. The clubs were the exterior strength, where the factious of the
assembly gave the support of their names in order to intimidate the
national representation. The national representation had only the laws;
the club had the people, sedition, and even the army.


This expression of public opinion, thus organised into a permanent
association at every point in the empire, gave an electric shock which
nothing could resist. A motion made in Paris was echoed from club to
club to the extremest provinces. The same spark lighted at once the same
passion in millions of souls. All the societies corresponded with one
another and with the mother society. The impulse was communicated and
the response was felt every day. It was the government of factions
enfolding in their nets the government of the law; but the law was mute
and invisible, whilst faction was erect and eloquent. Let us imagine one
of these sittings, at which the citizens, already agitated by the stormy
air of the period, took their places at the close of day in one of those
naves recently devoted to another worship. Some candles, brought by the
affiliated, scarcely lighted up the gloomy place; naked walls, wooden
benches, a tribune instead of an altar. Around this tribune some
favoured orators pressed in order to speak. A crowd of citizens of all
classes, of all costumes, rich, poor, soldiers, workpeople; women, to
create excitement, enthusiasm, tenderness, tears whenever they enter;
children, whom they raise in their arms as if to make them inspire, with
their earliest breath, the feelings of an irritated people: a gloomy
silence interrupted by shouts, applause, or hisses, just as the speaker
is loved or hated: then inflammatory discourses shaking to the very
centre by phrases of magical effect, the passions of this mob new to all
the effects of eloquence. The enthusiasm real in some, feigned in
others; stirring propositions, patriotic gifts, civic crowns, busts of
leading republicans paraded round, symbols of superstition, and
aristocracy burnt, songs loudly vociferated by demagogues in chorus at
the opening of each sitting. What people, even in a time of
tranquillity, could have resisted the pulsations of this fever, whose
throbbings were daily renewed from the end of 1790 in every city in the
kingdom? It was the rule of fanaticism preceding the reign of terror.

Thus was the Jacobin Club organised.


The club of the Cordeliers, which is sometimes confounded with that of
the Jacobins, even surpassed it in turbulence and demagogism. Marat and
Danton ruled there.

The moderate constitutional party had also attempted its clubs, but
passion is wanting to defensive societies; it is only the offensive that
groups in factions; and thus the former expired of themselves until the
establishment of the Club of Feuillants. The people drove away with a
shower of stones the first meeting of the deputies, at M. De Clermont
Tonnerres. Barnave reproached his colleagues in the tribune, and
devoted them to public execration with the same voice which had raised
and rallied the _Friends of the Constitution_. Liberty was as yet but a
partial arm, which was unblushingly broken in the hands of an opponent.

What remained to the king thus pressed between an assembly, which had
usurped all the executive functions, and those factious clubs, which
usurped to themselves all the rights of representation? Placed without
adequate strength between two rival powers, he was only there to receive
the blows of each in the struggle, and to be cast as a daily sacrifice
to popularity by the National Assembly; one power alone still maintained
the shadow of the throne and exterior order, the national guard of
Paris. But the national guard, which as a neutral force, whose only law
was in public opinion, and was wavering itself between factions and the
monarchy, might very well maintain safety in a public place, was unable
to serve as a strong and independent support to political power. It was
itself of the people; every serious intervention against the will of the
people, appeared to it as sacrilege. It was a body of municipal police;
it could never again be the army of the throne or the constitution; it
was born of itself on the day after the 14th of July on the steps of the
Hôtel de Ville, and it received no orders but from the municipality. The
municipality had assigned M. de La Fayette as its head--nor could it
have chosen better: an honest people, directed by its instinct, could
not have selected a man who would represent it more faithfully.


The marquis de La Fayette was a patrician, possessor of an immense
fortune, and allied, through his wife, daughter of the Duc d'Ayen, with
the greatest families of the court. Born at Chavaignac in Auvergne on
the 6th of September, 1757, married at sixteen years of age, a
precocious instinct of renown drove him in 1777 from his own country. It
was at the period of the war of Independence in America; the name of
Washington resounded throughout the two continents. A youth dreamed the
same destiny for himself in the delights of the effeminate court of
Louis XV.; that youth was La Fayette. He privately fitted out two
vessels with arms and provisions, and arrived at Boston. Washington
hailed him as he would have hailed the open succour of France. It was
France without its flag. La Fayette and the young officers who followed
him assured him of the secret wishes of a great people for the
independence of the new world. The American general employed M. de La
Fayette in this long war, the least of whose skirmishes assumed in
traversing the seas the importance of a great battle. The American war,
more remarkable for its results than its campaigns, was more fitted to
form republicans than warriors. M. de La Fayette joined in it with
heroism and devotion: he acquired the friendship of Washington. A French
name was written by him on the baptismal register of a transatlantic
nation. This name came back to France like the echo of liberty and
glory. That popularity which seizes on all that is brilliant, was
accorded to La Fayette on his return to his native land, and quite
intoxicated the young hero. Opinion adopted him, the opera applauded
him, actresses crowned him; the queen smiled upon him, the king created
him a general; Franklin, made him a citizen, and national enthusiasm
elevated him into its idol. This excess of public estimation decided his
life. La Fayette found this popularity so sweet that he could not
consent to lose it. Applause, however, is by no means glory, and
subsequently he deserved that which he acquired. He gave to democracy
that of which it was worthy, honesty.

On the 14th of July M. de La Fayette was ready for elevation on the
shields of the _bourgeoisie_ of Paris. A _frondeur_ of the court, a
revolutionist of high family, an aristocrat by birth, a democrat in
principles, radiant with military renown acquired beyond seas, he united
in his own person many qualities for rallying around him a civic
militia, and for becoming the natural chief of an army of citizens. His
American glory shone forth brilliantly in Paris. Distance increases
every reputation--his was immense; it comprised and eclipsed all;
Necker, Mirabeau, the Duc d'Orleans, the three most popular men in

  Paled their ineffectual fires

before La Fayette, whose name was the nation's for three years. Supreme
arbiter, he carried into the Assembly his authority as commandant of the
national guard; his authority, as an influential member of the Assembly.
Of these two conjoined titles be made a real dictatorship of opinion. As
an orator he was but of slight consideration; his gentle style, though
witty and keen, had nothing of that firm and electric manner which
strikes the senses, makes the heart vibrate and communicates its vigour
and effects to all who listen. Elegant as the language of a drawing room
and overwhelmed in the mazes of diplomatic intrigues, he spoke of
liberty in court phrases. The only parliamentary act of M. La Fayette
was a proclamation of the _rights of man_, which was adopted by the
National Assembly. This decalogue of free men, formed in the forests of
America, contained more metaphysical phrases than sound policy. It
applied as ill to an old society as the nudity of the savage to the
complicated wants of civilised man: but it had the merit of placing man
bare for the moment, and, by showing him what he was and what he was
not, of setting him on the discovery of the real value of his duties and
his rights. It was the cry of the revolt of nature against all
tyrannies. This cry was destined to crumble into dust an old world used
up in servitude, and to produce another new and breathing. It was to La
Fayette's honour that he first proposed it.

The federation of 1790 was the apogee of M. de La Fayette: on that day
he surpassed both king and assembly. The nation armed and reflective was
there in person, and he commanded it; he could have done every thing and
attempted nothing: the misfortune of that man was in his situation. A
man of transition, his life passed between two ideas; if he had had but
one he could have been master of the destinies of his country. The
monarchy or the republic were alike in his hand; he had but to open it
wide, he only half opened it, and it was only a semi-liberty that issued
from it. In inspiring his country with a desire for a republic, he
defended a constitution and a throne. His principles and his conduct
were in opposition; he was honest, and yet seemed to betray; whilst he
struggled with regret from duty to the monarchy, his heart was in the
republic. Protector of the throne, he was at the same time its bugbear.
One life can only be devoted to one cause. Monarchy and republicanism
had the same esteem, the same wrongs in his mind, and he served for and
against both. He died without having seen either of them triumphant, but
he died virtuous and popular. He had, beside his private virtues, a
public virtue, which will ever be a pardon to his faults, and
immortality to his name; he had before all, more than all, and after
all, the feeling, constancy, and moderation of the Revolution.

Such was the man and such the army on which reposed the executive power,
the safety of Paris, the constitutional throne, and the life of the


Thus on the 1st of June, 1791, were parties situated, such the men and
things in the midst of which the irresistible spirit of a vast social
renovation advanced with occult and continuous impulse. What but
contention, anarchy, crime, and death, could emanate from such elements!
No party had the reason, no mind had the genius, no soul had the
virtue, no arm had the energy, to control this chaos, and extract from
it justice, truth, and strength. Things will only produce what they
contain. Louis XVI. was upright and devoted to well doing, but he had
not understood, from the very first symptoms of the Revolution, that
there was only one part for the leader of a people, and that was to
place himself in the van of the newly born idea, to forbear any struggle
for the past, and thus to combine in his own person the twofold power of
chief of the nation, and chief of a party. The character of moderation
is only possible on the condition of having already acquired the
unreserved confidence of the party whom it is desired to control. Henri
IV. assumed this character, but it was _after_ victory; had he attempted
it _before_ Ivry, he would have lost, not only the kingdom of France,
but also of Navarre.

The court was venal, selfish, corrupt; it only defended in the king's
person the sources of its vanities,--profitable exactions. The clergy,
with Christian virtues, had no public virtues: a state within a state,
its life was apart from the life of the nation, its ecclesiastical
establishment seemed to be wholly independent of the monarchical
establishment. It had only rallied round the monarchy, on the day it had
beheld its own fortune compromised; and then it had appealed to the
faith of the people, in order to preserve its wealth; but the people now
only saw in the monks mendicants, and in the bishops extortioners. The
nobility, effeminate by lengthened peace, emigrated in masses,
abandoning their king to his besetting perils, and fully trusting in the
prompt and decisive intervention of foreign powers. The third estate,
jealous and envious, fiercely demanded their place and their rights
amongst the privileged castes; its justice appeared hatred. The Assembly
comprised in its bosom all these weaknesses, all this egotism, all these
vices. Mirabeau was venal, Barnave jealous, Robespierre fanatic, the
Jacobin Club blood-thirsty, the National Guard selfish, La Fayette a
waverer, the government a nullity. No one desired the Revolution but for
his own purpose, and according to his own scheme; and it must have been
wrecked on these shoals a hundred times, if there were not in human
crises something even stronger than the men who appear to guide
them--the will of the event itself.

The Revolution in all its comprehensive bearings was not understood at
that period by any one except, perchance, Robespierre and the thorough
going democrats. The King viewed it only as a vast reform, the Duc
d'Orleans as a great faction, Mirabeau but in its political point of
view, La Fayette only in its constitutional aspect, the Jacobins as a
vengeance, the mob as the abasing of the higher orders, the nation as a
display of patriotism. None ventured as yet to contemplate its ultimate

All was thus blind, except the Revolution itself. The virtue of the
Revolution was in the idea which forced these men on to accomplish it,
and not in those who actually accomplished it; all its instruments were
vitiated, corrupt, or personal; but the idea was pure, incorruptible,
divine. The vices, passions, selfishness of men were inevitably doomed
to produce in the coming crises those shocks, those violences, those
perversities, and those crimes which are to human passions what
consequences are to principles.

If each of the parties or men, mixed up from the first day with these
great events had taken their virtue, instead of their impulses as the
rule of their actions, all these disasters which eventually crushed
them, would have been saved to them and to their country. If the king
had been firm and sagacious, if the clergy had been free from a longing
for things temporal, and if the aristocracy had been good; if the people
had been moderate, if Mirabeau had been honest, if La Fayette had been
decided, if Robespierre had been humane, the Revolution would have
progressed, majestic and calm as a heavenly thought, through France, and
thence through Europe; it would have been installed like a philosophy in
facts, in laws, and in creeds. But it was otherwise decreed. The holiest
most just and virtuous thought, when it passes through the medium of
imperfect humanity, comes out in rags and in blood. Those very persons
who conceived it, no longer recognise, disavow it. Yet it is not
permitted, even to crime, to degrade the truth, that survives all, even
its victims. The blood which sullies men does not stain its idea; and
despite the selfishness which debases it, the infamies which trammel it,
the crimes which pollute it, the blood-stained Revolution purifies
itself, feels its own worth, triumphs, and will triumph.



The National Assembly, wearied with two years of existence, relaxed in
its legislative movement: from the moment when it had nothing more to
destroy, it really was at a loss what to do. The Jacobins took umbrage
at it, its popularity was disappearing, the press inveighed against it,
the clubs insulted it; the worn-out tool by which the people had
acquired conquest, it felt the people were about to snap it asunder if
it did not dissolve of its own accord. Its sittings were inanimate, and
it was completing the constitution as a task inflicted on it, but at
which it was discouraged before completion. It had no belief in the
duration of that which it proclaimed imperishable. The lofty voices
which had shaken France so long were now no more, or were silent from
indifference. Maury, Cazalès, Clermont Tonnerre seemed careless of
continuing a conflict in which honour was saved, and in which victory
was henceforth impossible. From time to time, indeed, some burst of
passion between parties interrupted the usual monotony of these
theoretical discussions. Such was the struggle of the 10th of June
between Cazalès and Robespierre with respect to the disbanding the
officers of the army. "What is it," exclaimed Robespierre, "that the
committees propose to us? to trust to the oaths, to the honour of
officers, to defend a constitution which they detest! of what honour do
they talk to us? What is that honour more than virtue and love of
country? I take credit to myself for not believing in such honour."

Cazalès himself arose indignantly. "I could not listen tamely to such
calumniating language," he exclaimed. At these words violent murmurs
arose on the left, and cries (order! to the Abbaye! to the Abbaye!)
burst forth from the ranks of the revolution: "What," said the royalist
orator, "is it not enough to have restrained my indignation on hearing
two thousand citizens thus accused, who in all moments of peril have
presented an example of most heroic patience! I have listened to the
previous speaker, because I am, and I assert it, a partisan of the most
unlimited declaration of opinions; but it is beyond human endurance for
me to conceal the contempt I feel for such diatribes. If you adopt the
disbanding proposed you will no longer have an army, our frontiers will
be delivered up to foreign invasion, and the interior to excesses and
the pillage of an infuriated soldiery." These energetic words were the
funeral oration of the old army, the project of the committee was

The discussion on the abolition of the punishment of death presented to
Adrien Duport an opportunity to pronounce in favour of the abolition one
of those orations which survive time, and which protest, in the name of
reason and philosophy, against the blindness and atrocity of criminal
legislation. He demonstrated with the most profound logic that society,
by reserving to itself the right of homicide, justifies it to a certain
extent in the murderer, and that the means most efficacious for
preventing murder and making it infamous was to evince its own horror of
the crime. Robespierre, who subsequently was fated to allow of unlimited
immolation, demanded that society should be disarmed of the power of
putting to death. If the prejudices of jurists had not prevailed over
the wholesome doctrines of moral philosophy, who can say how much blood
might not have been spared in France.

But these discussions confined to the interior of the Manège, occupied
less public attention than the fierce controversies of the periodical
press. Journalism, that universal and daily _forum_ of the people's
passions, had expanded with the progress of liberty. All ardent minds
had eagerly embraced it, Mirabeau himself having set the example when he
descended from the tribune. He wrote his letters to his constituents in
the _Courrier de Provence_. Camille Desmoulins, a young man of great
talent but weak reasoning powers, threw into his lucubrations for the
press the feverish tumult of his thoughts. Brissot, Gorsas, Carra,
Prudhomme, Fréron, Danton, Fauchet, Condorcet, edited democratic
journals: they began by demanding the abolition of royalty, "the
greatest scourge," said the _Revolutions de Paris_, "which has ever
dishonoured the human species." Marat seemed to have concentrated in
himself all the evil passions which ferment in a society in a state of
decomposition: he constituted himself the permanent representative of
popular hate. By pretending this, he kept it up, writing all the while
with bitterness and ferocity. He became a cynic in order the more
intimately to know the masses. He assumed the language of the lowest
reprobates. Like the elder Brutus, he feigned idiocy, but it was not to
save his country, it was to urge it to the uttermost bounds of madness,
and then control it by its very insanity. All his pamphlets, echoes of
the Jacobins and Cordeliers, daily excited the uneasiness, suspicions,
and terrors of the people.

"Citizens," said he, "watch closely around this palace: the inviolable
asylum of all plots against the nation, there a perverse queen lords it
over an imbecile king and rears the cubs of tyranny. Lawless priests
there consecrate the arms of insurrection against the people. They
prepare the Saint Bartholomew of patriots. The genius of Austria is
there, hidden in the committees over which Antoinette presides; they
correspond with foreigners, and by concealed means forward to them the
gold and arms of France, so that the tyrants who are assembling in arms
on your frontier may find you famished and disarmed. The
emigrants--d'Artois and Condé--there receive instructions of the coming
vengeance of despotism. A guard of Swiss stipendiaries is not enough for
the liberticide schemes of the Capets. Every night the good citizens who
watch around this den see the ancient nobility entering stealthily and
concealing arms beneath their clothes. Can knights of the poignard be
any thing but the enrolled assassins of the people? What is La Fayette
doing,--is he a dupe or an accomplice? Why does he leave free the
avenues of the palace, which is only opened for vengeance or flight? Why
do we leave the Revolution incomplete, and also leave in the hands of
our crowned enemy, still in the midst of us, the time to overcome and
destroy it? Do you not see that specie is disappearing and assignats are
discredited? What means the assemblings on your frontier of emigrants
and armed bodies, who are advancing to enclose you in a circle of iron?
What are your ministers doing? Why is not the property of emigrants
confiscated, their houses burnt, their heads set at a price? In whose
hands are arms? In the hands of traitors. Who command your troops?
traitors! Who hold the keys of your strong places? traitors, traitors,
traitors, everywhere traitors; and in this palace of treason, the king
of traitors! the inviolable traitor, the king! They tell you that he
loves the constitution,--humbug! he comes to the Assembly,--humbug; the
better he conceals his flight. Watch! watch! a great blow is preparing,
is ready to burst; if you do not prevent it by a counter-blow more
sudden, more terrible, the people and liberty are annihilated."

These declarations were not wholly void of foundation. The king, honest
and good, did not conspire against his people, the queen did not think
of selling to the House of Austria the crown of her husband and her son.
If the constitution now completed had been able to restore order to the
country and security to the throne, no sacrifice of power would have
been felt by Louis XVI.: never did prince find more innate in his
character the conditions of his moderation: that passive resignation,
which is the character of constitutional sovereigns, was his virtue. He
neither desired to reconquer nor to avenge himself. All he desired was,
that his sincerity should be appreciated by the people, order
re-established within and power without; that the Assembly, receding
from the encroachments it had made on the executive power, should raise
the constitution, correct its errors, and restore to royalty that power
indispensable for the weal of the kingdom.

The queen herself, although of a mind more powerful and absolute, was
convinced by necessity, and joined the king in his intentions; but the
king, who had not two wills, had nevertheless two administrations, and
two policies, one in France with his constitutional ministers, and
another without with his brothers, and his agents with other powers.
Baron de Breteuil, and M. de Calonne, rivals in intrigue, spake and
diplomatised in his name. The king disowned them, sometimes with, and
sometimes without, sincerity, in his official letters to ambassadors.
This was not hypocrisy, it was weakness; a captive king, who speaks
aloud to his jailers and in whispers to his friends, is excusable. These
two languages not always agreeing, gave to Louis XVI. the appearance of
disloyalty and treason: he did not betray, he hesitated.

His brothers, and especially the Comte d'Artois, did violence from
without to his wishes, interpreting his silence according to their own
desires. This young prince went from court to court to solicit in his
brother's name the coalition of the monarchical powers against
principles which already threatened every throne. Received graciously at
Florence by the Emperor of Austria, Leopold, the queen's brother, he
obtained a few days afterwards at Mantua the promise of a force of
35,000 men. The King of Prussia, and Spain, the King of Sardinia,
Naples, and Switzerland, guaranteed equal forces. Louis XVI. sometimes
entertained the hope of an European intervention as a means of
intimidating the Assembly, and compelling it to a reconciliation with
him; at other times he repulsed it as a crime. The state of his mind in
this respect depended on the state of the kingdom; his understanding
followed the flux and reflux of interior events. If a good decree, a
cordial reconciliation with the Assembly, a return of popular applause
came to console his sorrows, he resumed his hopes, and wrote to his
agents to break up the hostile gatherings at Coblentz. If a new _émeute_
disturbed the palace--if the Assembly degraded the royal power by some
indignity or some outrage--he again began to despair of the
Constitution, and to fortify himself against it. The incoherence of his
thoughts was rather the fault of his situation than his own; but it
compromised his cause equally within and without. Every thought which is
not at unity destroys itself. The thought of the king, although right in
the main, was too fluctuating not to vary with events, but those events
had but one direction--the destruction of the monarchy.


Nevertheless, in the midst of these vacillations of the royal will, it
is impossible for history to misunderstand that from the month of
November 1790 the king vaguely meditated a plan of escape from Paris in
collusion with the emperor. Louis XVI. had obtained from this prince the
promise of sending a body of troops on the French frontier at the moment
when he should desire it; but had the king the intention of quitting the
kingdom and returning at the head of a foreign force, or simply to
assemble round his person a portion of his own army in some point of the
frontier, and there to treat with the Assembly? This latter is the more
probable hypothesis.

Louis XVI. had read much history, especially the history of England.
Like all unfortunate men, he sought, in the misfortunes of dethroned
princes, analogies with his own unhappy position. The portrait of
Charles I., by Van Dyck, was constantly before his eyes in his closet in
the Tuileries; his history continually open on his table. He had been
struck by two circumstances; that James II. had lost his throne because
he had left his kingdom, and that Charles I. had been beheaded for
having made war against his parliament and his people. These reflections
had inspired him with an instinctive repugnance against the idea of
leaving France, or of casting himself into the arms of the army. In
order to compel his decision one way or the other in favour of one of
these two extreme parties, his freedom of mind was completely oppressed
by the imminence of his present perils, and the dread which beset the
château of the Tuileries night and day had penetrated the very soul of
the king and queen.

The atrocious threats which assailed them whenever they showed
themselves at the windows of their residence, the insults of the press,
the vociferations of the Jacobins, the riots and murders which
multiplied in the capital and the provinces, the violent obstacles which
had been opposed to their departure from St. Cloud, and then the
recollections of the daggers which had even pierced the queen's bed on
the evening of the 5th to the 6th of October, made their life one
continued scene of alarms. They began to comprehend that the insatiate
Revolution was irritated even by the concessions they had made; that the
blind fury of factions which had not paused before royalty surrounded by
its guards, would not hesitate before the illusory inviolability decreed
by a constitution; and that their lives, those of their children, and
those of the royal family which remained, had no longer any assurance of
safety but in flight.

Flight was therefore resolved upon, and was frequently discussed before
the time when the king decided upon it. Mirabeau himself, bought by the
court, had proposed it in his mysterious interviews with the queen. One
of his plans presented to the king was, to escape from Paris, take
refuge in the midst of a camp, or in a frontier town, and there treat
with the baffled Assembly. Mirabeau remaining in Paris, and again
possessing himself of the public mind, would lead matters, as he
declared, to accommodation, and a voluntary restoration of the royal
authority. Mirabeau had carried these hopes away with him into the tomb.
The king himself, in his secret correspondence, testified his repugnance
to intrusting his fate into the hands of the ringleader of the factions.
Another cause of uneasiness troubled the king's mind, and gave the queen
great anxiety; they were not ignorant that it was a question without,
either at Coblentz or in the councils of Leopold and the King of
Prussia, to declare the throne of France virtually vacant by default of
the king's liberty, and to nominate as regent one of the emigrant
princes, in order that he might call around him with a show of legality
all his loyal subjects, and give to foreign troops an incontestible
right of intervention. A throne even in fragments will not admit of

An uneasy jealousy still prevailed in the midst of so many other alarms
even in this palace, where sedition had already effected so many
breaches. "M. le Comte d'Artois will then become a hero," said the queen
ironically, who at one time was excessively fond of this young prince,
but now hated him. The king, on his part, feared that moral forfeiture
with which he was menaced, under pretence of delivering the monarchy. He
knew not which to fear the most, his friends or his enemies. Flight
only, to the centre of a faithful army, could remove him from both these
perils; but flight was also a peril. If he succeeded, civil war might
spring up, and the king had a horror of blood spilled in his defence; if
it did not succeed, it would be imputed to him as a crime, and then who
could say where the national fury would stop? Forfeiture, captivity,
death, might be the consequence of the slightest accident, or least
indiscretion. He was about to suspend by a slender thread his throne,
his liberty, his life, and the lives a thousand times more dear to
him--those of his wife, his two children, and his sister.

His tormenting reflections were long and terrible, lasting for eight
months, during which time he had no confidants but the queen, Madame
Elizabeth, a few faithful servants within the palace, and the Marquis de
Bouillé without.


The Marquis de Bouillé, cousin of M. de La Fayette, was of a character
totally different to that of the hero of Paris. Severe and stern
soldier, attached to the monarchy by principle, to the king by an almost
religious devotion, his respect for his sovereign's orders had alone
prevented him from emigrating; he was one of the few general officers
popular amongst the soldiers who had remained faithful to their duty
amidst the storms and tempests of the last two years, and who, without
openly declaring for or against these innovations, had yet striven to
preserve that force which outlives, and not unfrequently supplies, the
deficiency of all others,--the force of discipline. He had served with
great distinction in America, in the colonies in India, and the
authority of his character and name had not as yet lost their influence
over the soldiery; the heroic repression of the famous outbreak amongst
the troops at Nancy in the preceding August had greatly contributed to
strengthen this authority; and he alone of all the French generals had
re-obtained the supreme command, and had crushed insubordination. The
Assembly, alarmed in the midst of its triumphs by the seditions amongst
the troops, had passed a vote of thanks to him as the saviour of his
country. La Fayette, who commanded the citizens, feared only this rival
who commanded regiments, he therefore watched and flattered M. de
Bouillé. He constantly proposed to him a coalition of their forces, of
which they would be the commanders-in-chief, and by thus acting in
concert secure at once the revolution and the monarchy. M. de Bouillé,
who doubted the loyalty of La Fayette, replied with a cold and sarcastic
civility, that but ill concealed his suspicions. These two characters
were incompatible,--the one was the representative of modern patriotism,
the other of ancient honour: they could not harmonise.

The Marquis de Bouillé commanded the troops of Loraine, Alsace,
Franche-Comté, and Champagne, and his government extended from
Switzerland to the Sambre. He had no less than ninety battalions of
foot, and a hundred and four squadrons of cavalry under his orders. Out
of this number the general could only rely upon twenty battalions of
German troops and a few cavalry regiments; the remainder were in favour
of the Revolution: and the influence of the clubs had spread amongst
them the spirit of insubordination and hatred for the king; the
regiments obeyed the municipalities rather than their generals.


Since the month of February, 1791, the king, who had the most entire
confidence in M. de Bouillé, had written to this general that he wished
him to make overtures to Mirabeau, and through the intervention of the
Count de Lamarck, a foreign nobleman, the intimate and confidential
friend of Mirabeau. "Although these persons are not over estimable,"
said the king in his letter, "and although I have paid Mirabeau very
dearly, I yet think he has it in his power to serve me. Hear all he has
to say, without putting yourself too much in his hands." The Count de
Lamarck arrived soon after at Metz. He mentioned to M. de Bouillé the
object of his mission, confessed to him that the king had recently given
Mirabeau 600,000f. (24,000_l._), and that he also allowed him 50,000f. a
month. He then revealed to him the plan of his counter-revolutionary
conspiracy, the first act of which was to be an address to Paris and the
Departments demanding the liberty of the king. Every thing in this
scheme depended upon the rhetoric of Mirabeau. Carried away by his own
eloquence, the salaried orator was ignorant that words, though
all-powerful to excite, are yet impotent to appease; they urge nations
forward, but nothing but the bayonet can arrest them. M. de Bouillé, a
veteran soldier, smiled at these chimerical projects of the citizen
orator; but he did not, however, discourage him in his plans, and
promised him his assistance: he wrote to the king to repay largely the
desertion of Mirabeau; "A clever scoundrel," said he, "who perhaps has
it in his power to repair through cupidity the mischief he has done
through revenge;" and to mistrust La Fayette, "A chimerical enthusiast,
intoxicated with popularity, who might become the chief of a party, but
never the support of a monarchy."

After the death of Mirabeau, the king adhered to the project with some
modification; he wrote in cypher to the Marquis de Bouillé at the end
of April, to inform him that he should leave Paris almost immediately
with his family in one carriage, which he had ordered to be built
secretly and expressly for this purpose; and he also desired him to
establish a line of posts from Châlons to Montmédy, the frontier town he
had fixed upon. The nearest road from Paris to Montmédy was through
Rheims; but the king having been crowned there dreaded recognition. He
therefore determined, in spite of M. de Bouillé's reiterated advice, to
pass through Varennes. The chief inconvenience of this road was, that
there were no relays of post-horses, and it would be therefore necessary
to send relays thither under different pretexts; the arrival of these
relays would naturally create suspicion amongst the inhabitants of the
small towns. The presence of detachments along a road not usually
frequented by troops was likewise dangerous, and M. de Bouillé was
anxious to dissuade the king from taking this road. He pointed out to
him in his answer, that if the detachments were strong they would excite
the alarm and vigilance of the municipal authorities, and if they were
weak they would be unable to afford him protection: he also entreated
him not to travel in a berlin made expressly for him, and conspicuous by
its form, but to make use of two English carriages, then much in vogue,
and better fitted for such a purpose; he, moreover, dwelt on the
necessity of taking with him some man of firmness and energy to advise
and assist him in the unforeseen accidents that might happen on his
journey; he mentioned as the fittest person the Marquis d'Agoult, major
in the French guards; and he lastly besought the king to request the
Emperor to make a threatening movement of the Austrian troops on the
frontier near Montmédy, in order that the disquietude and alarm of the
population might serve as a pretext to justify the movements of the
different detachments and the presence of the different corps of cavalry
in the vicinity of the town.

The king agreed to this, and also to take with him the Marquis d'Agoult;
to the rest he positively refused to accede. A few days prior to his
departure he sent a million in assignats (40,000_l._) to M. de Bouillé,
to furnish the rations and forage, as well as to pay the faithful troops
who were destined to favour his flight. These arrangements made, the
Marquis de Bouillé despatched a trusty officer of his staff, M. de
Guoguelas, with instructions to make a minute and accurate survey of the
road and country between Châlons and Montmédy, and to deliver an exact
report to the king. This officer saw the king, and brought back his
orders to M. de Bouillé.

In the meantime M. de Bouillé held himself in readiness to execute all
that had been agreed upon; he had sent to a distance the disaffected
troops, and concentrated the twelve foreign battalions on which he could
rely. A train of sixteen pieces of artillery was sent towards Montmédy.
The regiment of _Royal Allemand_ arrived at Stenay, a squadron of
hussars was at Dun, another at Varennes; two squadrons of dragoons were
to be at Clermont on the day the king would pass through; they were
commanded by Count Charles de Damas, a bold and dashing officer, who had
instructions to send forward a detachment to Sainte Menehould, and fifty
hussars, detached from Varennes, were to march to Pont Sommeville
between Châlons and Sainte Menehould, under pretence of securing the
safe passage of a large sum of money sent from Paris to pay the troops.
Thus once through Châlons the king's carriage would be surrounded at
each relay by tried and faithful followers. The commanding officers of
these detachments had instructions to approach the window of the
carriage whilst they changed horses, and to receive any orders the king
might think proper to issue. In case his majesty wished to pursue his
journey without being recognised, these officers were to content
themselves with ascertaining that no obstacle existed to bar the road.
If it was his pleasure to be escorted, then they would mount their men
and escort him. Nothing could be better devised, and the most inviolable
secrecy enveloped all.

The 27th of May the king wrote that he should set out the 19th of the
next month between twelve and one at night; that he should leave Paris
in a hired carriage, and at Bondy, the first stage out of Paris, he
should take his berlin; that one of his body guard, who was to serve as
courier, would await him at Bondy; that in case the king did not arrive
before two, it was because he had been arrested on his way; the courier
would then proceed alone to Pont Sommeville to inform M. de Bouillé the
scheme had failed, and to warn the general, and those of his officers
engaged in the plot, to provide for their own safety.


After the receipt of these last orders, M. de Bouillé despatched the
Duke de Choiseul to Paris, with orders to await the king's instructions,
and to precede his departure by twelve hours. M. de Choiseul was to
desire his servants to be at Varennes on the 18th with his own horses,
which would draw the king's carriage; the spot where the horses were
placed was to be clearly explained to the king, in order that they might
be changed without any loss of time. On his return M. de Choiseul had
instructions to take the command of the hussars posted at Pont
Sommeville, to await the king, to escort him with his hussars as far as
Sainte-Menehould, and to station his troopers there, with positive
orders to allow no one to pass on the road from Paris to Verdun, and
from Paris to Varennes, for four and twenty hours after the king's
arrival. M. de Choiseul received from M. de Bouillé orders signed by the
king himself, enjoining him, as well as all the other commanding
officers of the detachments, to employ force, should it be necessary, to
rescue his majesty if the populace attempted to lay violent hands on
him. In case the carriage was stopped at Lyons, M. de Choiseul was to
give instant information to the general to assemble all the detachments,
and march to the king's rescue. He received six hundred louis in gold,
to distribute amongst the soldiers, and thus insure their fidelity, when
the king arrived and made himself known to them.

M. de Guoguelas left at the same for Paris, to reconnoitre the roads a
second time, passing by Stenay, Dun, Varennes, and Sainte Menehould, and
to explain clearly to the king the topography of the country; he was
also to bring back the latest orders for M. de Bouillé, and to return to
Montmédy by another route. The Marquis de Bouillé left Metz himself,
under pretence of visiting the fortresses under his command, and drew
near Montmédy. The 15th he was at Longwy, where he received a message
from the king, informing him that they had put off their journey for
four and twenty hours, in consequence of the necessity of concealing
the preparations for their departure from a femme de chambre of the
queen, a fanatical democrat, who was fully capable of betraying them,
and whose duties only terminated on the 19th. His majesty added that the
Marquis d'Agoult would not accompany him, because Madame de Tourzel, the
governess of the royal children, had claimed the privileges of her post,
and wished to accompany them.

This delay rendered necessary counter-orders of the most fatal nature;
all the arrangements as to time and place were thus thrown out. The
detachments were forced to remain at places they were only to have
marched through, and the relays stationed on the road might be
withdrawn. However, the Marquis de Bouillé remedied all these evils as
far as was in his power; sent modified orders to the commanders of the
detachments, and advanced in person the 20th to Stenay, which was
garrisoned by the Royal Allemand regiment, on whose fidelity he could
rely. The 21st he assembled the generals under his orders, informed them
that the king would pass in the course of the night by Stenay, and would
be at Montmédy the next evening; he ordered General Klinglin to prepare
under the guns of the fortress a camp of twelve battalions and
twenty-four squadrons; the king was to reside in a chateau behind the
camp: this chateau would thus serve as head quarters, and the king's
position would be at once more secure and more dignified surrounded by
his army. The generals did not hesitate for an instant. M. de Bouillé
left General de Hoffelizze at Stenay with the Royal Allemand regiment,
with orders to saddle the horses at night fall, to mount at daybreak and
to send at ten o'clock at night a detachment of fifty troopers between
Stenay and Dun, to await the king and escort him to Stenay.

At night M. de Choiseul quitted Stenay with several officers on
horseback, and advanced to the very gate of Dun, but he would not enter
lest his presence might in any way work on the people. There he awaited,
in silence and obscurity, the courier who was to precede the carriages
by an hour. The destiny of the monarchy, the throne of a dynasty, the
lives of the royal family, king, queen, princess, children, all weighed
down his spirit and lay heavily on his heart. The night seemed
interminable, yet it passed without the sound of horses' feet
announcing to the group who so anxiously awaited the intelligence, that
the king of France was saved or lost.


What passed at the Tuileries during these decisive hours? the secret of
the projected flight had been carefully confined to the king, the queen,
the princess Elizabeth, two or three faithful attendants, and the Count
de Fersen, a Swedish gentlemen who had the care of the exterior
arrangements confided to him. Some vague rumours, like presentiments of
coming events, had, it is true, been bruited amongst the people for some
days past, but these rumours originated rather in the state of popular
excitement than any actual disclosures of the intended departure. These
reports, however, which were constantly transmitted to M. de La Fayette
and his staff, occasioned a stricter _surveillance_ round the palace and
the king's apartments. Since the 5th and 6th of October the household
guards had been disbanded; the companies of the body guard, every
soldier of whom was a gentleman and whose honour, descent, ancient
traditions, and party feeling assured their fidelity, existed no longer;
that respectful vigilance that rendered their service a matter of duty
with them, had given place to the jealous watchfulness of the national
guard, who were rather spies on the king than guardians of the monarchy.
The Swiss guards still, it is true, surrounded the Tuileries, but they
only occupied the exterior posts; the interior of the Tuileries, the
staircases, the communications between the apartments, were guarded by
the national guards. M. de La Fayette was constantly going to and fro,
his officers at night were at every issue, and they had secret orders
not to allow even the king to quit the palace after midnight. To this
official vigilance was now joined the secret and close _espionage_ of
the numerous domestics of the palace, amongst whom revolutionary feeling
had crept in to encourage treachery, and sanction ingratitude: amongst
them, as amongst their superiors, betrayal was termed virtue, and
treason, patriotism. Within the walls of the palace of his fathers the
king could alone count on the queen, his sisters, and a few nobles still
faithful in his misfortunes, and even whose gestures were duly reported
to M. de La Fayette. This general had driven by violence from the
Tuileries many of the faithful gentlemen who had come to strengthen the
guard, on the day of the _émeute_ at Vincennes. The king had witnessed,
with tears in his eyes, his most faithful adherents ignominiously driven
from his palace and exposed by his official protector to the insults and
outrages of the populace. Thus the royal family could hope to find no
one disposed to aid their escape without the palace walls.


The Count de Fersen was the principal agent and confidant of this
hazardous enterprise. Young, handsome, and accomplished, he had been
admitted during the happy years of Marie Antoinette's life to the
parties and fêtes of Trianon. It was said, that a chivalrous admiration,
to which respect alone prevented his giving the name of love, had bound
him to the queen. And now this admiration had been changed into the most
passionate devotion to her in misfortune. The queen perceived this, and
when she reflected to whom she could confide the safety of the king and
her children, she thought of M. de Fersen--he instantly quitted
Stockholm, saw the king and queen, and undertook to prepare for the
flight the carriages, which were to meet them at Bondy. His position as
a foreigner favoured his plans, and he combined them with a skill only
equalled by his fidelity. Three soldiers of the body guard, MM. de
Valorg, de Moustier, et de Maldan, were taken into his confidence, and
the parts they were to play were fully explained to them; they were to
disguise themselves as servants, mount behind the carriages, and protect
the royal family at all risks. The names of three obscure gentlemen
effaced that day the names of the courtiers. Should they be discovered,
their fate was sealed; but in the hope of aiding the escape of their
king, they courageously offered themselves as a sacrifice to the popular


The queen had for many months entertained the project of escape. Since
the month of March she had commissioned one of her waiting-maids to
procure her from Brussels a complete wardrobe for Madame and the
Dauphin; she had sent most of her valuables to her sister, the
Archduchess Christina, the regent of the Low Countries, under pretence
of making her a present; her diamonds had been intrusted to her
hair-dresser, Leonard, who had started before herself with the Duke de
Choiseul. These slight indications of a projected flight had not
entirely escaped the vigilance of a waiting-maid; this woman had noticed
that whispered conversations were carried on; she had seen desks opened
on the table, and empty jewel boxes lying about; she denounced these
facts to M. de Gouvion, M. de La Fayette's _aide-de-camp_, whose
mistress she was, and M. de Gouvion reported all again to the mayor of
Paris and his general. But these denunciations had been so often made,
and by so many different persons, and had so often proved false, that
now but little importance was attached to them. However, in consequence
of the revelations of this woman, a stricter watch than usual was kept
around the chateau. M. de Gouvion detained several officers of the
national guard under various pretexts in the palace, he placed them at
the different doors, and he himself, with five _chefs-de-bataillon_,
passed part of the night at the door of the apartment formerly occupied
by the Duke de Villequier, which had been specially pointed out to him.
He had been told (which was the case) that there existed a secret
communication from the queen's cabinet to the apartment of the former
captain of the guard; and that the king, who it is well known was an
expert locksmith, had made false keys that opened all the doors; at last
these reports (that went the round of all the clubs) transformed every
patriot on that night into the king's gaoler. We read with surprise in
the journal of Camille Desmoulins of the 20th of June, 1791:--"The
evening passed most tranquilly at Paris; I returned at eleven o'clock
from the Jacobins' Club with Danton and several other patriots; we only
met a single patrole all the way. Paris appeared to me that night so
deserted, that I could not help remarking it. One of us, Fréron, who had
in his pocket a letter warning him that the king would escape that
night, wished to observe the chateau; he saw M. de La Fayette enter it
at eleven."

A little further on Camille Desmoulins relates the restless fears of
the people on the fatal night. "The night," says he "on which the family
of the Capets escaped, Busebi, a perruke-maker in the Rue de Bourbon,
called on Hucher, a baker and Sapeur in the Bataillon of the Théatins,
to communicate his fears on what he had just learnt relative to the
king's projected flight. They instantly aroused their neighbours, to the
number of thirty, and went to La Fayette to inform him of the fact, and
to summon him to take instant measures to prevent it. M. de La Fayette
laughed, and advised them to go home. In order to avoid being stopped by
the patrols, they asked for the pass-word, which he gave them. Armed
with this they hastened to the Tuileries, where nothing was visible
except several hackney coachman drinking round one of the small shops
near the wicket gate of the Carrousel. They inspected all the courts
until they came to the door of the Manége without perceiving anything
suspicious, but at their return they were surprised to find that every
hackney coach had disappeared, which made them conjecture that these
coaches had been used by some of the attendants of this unworthy
(_indigne_) family."

It is too evident from the state of agitation of the public mind and the
severity of the king's captivity, how difficult it must have been.
However, either owing to the connivance of some of the national guards
who had on that day demanded the custody of the interior posts, and who
winking at this infraction of the orders,--to the skilful management of
the Count de Fersen,--or that providence afforded a last ray of hope and
safety to those whom she was so soon about to overwhelm with
misfortunes, all the watchfulness of the guardians was in vain, and the
Revolution suffered its prey for some time to escape.


The king and queen received, as was their custom at their _coucher_,
those persons who were in the habit of paying their respects to them at
that time, nor did they dismiss their servants any earlier than was
their wont. But no sooner were they alone than they again dressed
themselves in plain travelling dress adapted to their supposed station.
They met Madame Elizabeth and their children, in the Queen's room, and
thence they passed by a secret communication into the apartment of the
Duke de Villequier, first gentleman of the bed-chamber, and left the
palace at intervals, in order that the attention of the sentinels in the
court might not be attracted by the appearance of groups of persons at
that late hour; owing to the bustle of the servants and workpeople
leaving the chateau, and which M. de Fersen had no doubt taken care
should on that evening be greater than usual, they arrived, without
having been recognised, at the Carrousel. The queen leaned on the arm of
one of the body guard, and led Madame Royal by the hand. As she crossed
the Carrousel she met M. La Fayette with one or two officers of his
staff proceeding to the Tuileries, in order to satisfy himself that the
measures ordered in consequence of the revelations made that day had
been strictly complied with. She shuddered as she recognised the man who
in her eyes was the representative of insurrection and captivity, but in
escaping him she fancied she had escaped the whole nation, and smiled as
she thought of his appearance the next day when he could no longer
produce his prisoners to the people. Madame Elizabeth also held the arm
of one of the guards, and followed them at some distance, whilst the
king, who had insisted upon being the last, held the Dauphin (who was in
his seventh year) by the hand. The Count de Fersen, disguised as a
coachman, walked a little ahead of the king to show him the way. The
meeting place of the royal family was on the Quai des Théatins, where
two hackney coaches awaited them; the queen's waiting women, and the
Marquise de Tourzel had preceded them.

Amidst the confusion of so dangerous and complicated a flight, the queen
and her guide crossed the Pont Royal and entered the Rue de Bac, but
instantly perceiving their error, with hasty and faltering steps they
retraced their road. The king and his son, obliged to traverse the
darkest and least frequented streets to arrive at the rendezvous, were
delayed half an hour, which seemed to his wife and sister an age. At
last they arrived, sprang into the coach, the Count de Fersen seized the
reins and drove the royal family to Bondy, the first stage between Paris
and Châlons: there they found, ready harnessed for the journey, a berlin
and a small travelling carriage; the queen's women and one of the
disguised body-guard got into the smaller carriage, whilst the king,
the queen, and the Dauphin, Madame Royale, Madame Elizabeth, and the
Marquise de Tourville took their places in the berlin; one of the
body-guard sat on the box, and the other behind, the Count de Fersen
kissed the hands of the king and queen, and returned to Paris, from
whence he went, the same night to Brussels by another road, in order to
rejoin the royal family at a later period. At the same hour Monsieur the
king's brother, Count de Provence, left the Luxembourg palace, and
arrived safely at Brussels.


The king's carriage rolled on the road to Châlons, and relays of eight
horses were ordered at each post-house: this number of horses, the
remarkable size and build of the berlin, the number of travellers who
occupied the interior, the three body guards, whose livery formed a
strange contrast to their physiognomy and martial appearance, the
Bourbonian features of Louis XVI. seated in a corner of the carriage,
and which was totally out of character with the _rôle_ of valet de
chambre the king had taken on himself,--all these circumstances were
calculated to excite distrust and suspicion, and to compromise the
safety of the royal family. But their passport removed all
objections,--it was perfectly formal, and in these terms: "_De par le
roi. Mandons de laisser passer Madame la baronne de Korf, se rendant à
Franckfort avec ses deux enfants, une femme de chambre, un valet de
chambre, et trois domestiques_." And lower down, "_Le Ministre des
Affaires étrangeres_, MONTMORIN."

This foreign name, the title of German Baroness, the proverbial wealth
of the bankers of Frankfort, to whom the people were accustomed to
attribute everything that was singular and bizarre, had been most
admirably combined by the Count de Fersen, to account for anything
strange or remarkable in the appearance of the royal equipages; nothing,
however, excited attention, and they arrived without interruption at
Montmirail, a little town between Meaux and Châlons: there some
necessary repairs to the berlin detained them an hour; this delay,
during which the king's flight might be discovered, and couriers
despatched to give information to all the country, threw them into the
greatest alarm.

However the carriage was soon repaired, and they once more started on
their journey, ignorant that this hour's delay would ultimately cost the
lives of four out of five persons who composed the royal family.

They were full of security and confidence; the success with which they
had escaped from the palace, the manner in which they had left Paris,
the punctuality with which the relays were furnished, the loneliness of
the roads, the absence of anything like suspicion or vigilance in the
towns they had passed through, the dangers they had left behind them,
the security they were so fast approaching, each turn of the wheel
bringing them nearer M. de Bouillé and his faithful troops; the beauty
of the scene and the time, doubly beautiful to their eyes, that for two
years had looked on nought save the seditious mob that daily filled the
courts of the Tuileries, or the glittering bayonets of the armed
populace beneath their windows,--all this seemed to them as if
Providence had at last taken pity on them, that the fervent and touching
prayers of the babes that slept in their arms, and of the angelic Madame
Elizabeth had at last vanquished the fate that had so long pursued them.

It was under the influence of these happy feelings that they entered
Châlons, the only large town through which they had to pass, at
half-past three in the afternoon. A few idlers gathered round the
carriage whilst the horses were being changed; the king somewhat
imprudently put his head out of the window, and was recognised by the
post-master; but this worthy man felt that his sovereign's life was in
his hands, and without manifesting the least surprise, he helped to put
to the horses, and ordered the postilions to drive on; he alone of this
people was free from the blood of his king. The carriage passed the
gates of Châlons, the king, the queen, and madame Elizabeth exclaimed,
with one voice, "We are saved." Châlons once passed, the king's security
no longer depended on chance, but on prudence and force. The first relay
was at Pont Sommeville. It will be remembered, that in obedience to the
orders of M. de Bouillé, M. de Choiseul and M. de Guoguelas, at the head
of a detachment of fifty hussars, were to meet the king and follow in
his rear, and besides, as soon as the king's carriage appeared, to send
off an hussar to warn the troops at Sainte Menehould and at Clermont of
the vicinity of the royal family. The king felt thus certain of meeting
faithful and armed friends; but he found no one, M. de Choiseul, M. de
Guoguelas, and the fifty hussars had left half an hour before. The
populace seemed disturbed and restless; they looked suspiciously at the
travellers, and whispered from time to time in a low voice with each
other. However, no one ventured to oppose their departure, and the king
arrived at half past seven at Sainte Menehould; at this season of the
year, it was still broad daylight; and alarmed at having passed two of
the relays without meeting the friends he expected, the king by a
natural impulse put his head out of the window, in order to seek amidst
the crowd for some friend, some officer posted there to explain to him
the reason of the absence of the detachments: that action caused his
ruin. The son of the post-master, Drouet, recognised the king, whom he
had never seen, by his likeness to the effigy on the coins in

Nevertheless as the horses were harnessed, and the town occupied by a
troop of dragoons, who could force a passage, the young man did not
venture to attempt to detain the carriages at this spot.


The officer commanding the detachment of dragoons in the town, was also,
under pretence of walking on the Grand Place, on the watch for the royal
carriages, which he recognised instantly, by the description of them
with which he was furnished. He ordered his soldiers to mount and follow
the king; but the national guards of Sainte Menehould, amongst whom the
rumour of the likeness between the travellers and the royal family had
been rapidly circulated, surrounded the barracks, closed the stables,
and opposed by force the departure of the soldiers. During this rapid
and instinctive movement of the people, the post-master's son saddled
his best horse, and galloped as fast as possible to Varennes, in order
to arrive before the carriages, inform the municipal authorities of his
suspicions, and arouse the patroles to arrest the monarch. Whilst this
man, who bore the king's fate, galloped on the road to Varennes, the
king himself, unconscious of danger, pursued his journey towards the
same town. Drouet was certain to arrive before the king; for the road
from Sainte Menehould to Varennes forms a considerable angle, and passes
through Clermont, where a relay of horses was stationed; whilst the
direct road, accessible only to horsemen, avoids Clermont, runs in a
straight line to Varennes, and thus lessens the distance between this
town and Menehould by four leagues. Drouet had thus two hours before
him, and danger far outstripped safety. Yet by a strange coincidence
death followed Drouet also, and threatened without his being aware of
it, the life of him who in his turn (and without _his_ knowledge)
threatened the life of his sovereign.

A quarter-master (maréchal des logis) of the dragoons shut up in the
barracks at Sainte Menehould, had alone found means to mount his horse,
and escape the vigilance of the people. He had learnt from his
commanding officer of Drouet's precipitate departure, and, suspecting
the cause, he followed him on the road to Varennes, resolved to overtake
and kill him; he kept within sight of him, but always at a distance, in
order that he might not arouse his suspicions, and with the intention of
overtaking and killing him at a favourable opportunity, and at a retired
spot. But Drouet, who had repeatedly looked round to ascertain whether
he were pursued, had conjectured his intentions; and, being a native of
the country, and knowing every path, he struck into some bye roads, and
at last under cover of a wood he escaped from the dragoon and pursued
his way to Varennes.

On his arrival at Clermont the king was recognised by Count Charles de
Damas, who awaited his arrival at the head of two squadrons. Without
opposing the departure of the carriages, the municipal authorities,
whose suspicions had been in some measure aroused by the presence of the
troops, ordered the dragoons not to quit the town, and they obeyed these
orders. The Count de Damas alone, with a corporal and three dragoons,
found means to leave the town, and galloped towards Varennes at some
distance from the king, a too feeble or too tardy succour. The royal
family shut up in their berlin--and seeing that no opposition was
offered to their journey, was unacquainted with these sinister
occurrences. It was half past eleven at night, when the carriages
arrived at the first houses of the little town of Varennes; all were or
appeared to be asleep; all was silent and deserted. It will be
remembered, that Varennes not being on the direct line from Châlons to
Montmédy, the king would not find horses there. It had been arranged
between himself and M. de Bouillé, that the horses of M. de Choiseul
should be stationed beforehand in a spot agreed upon in Varennes, and
should conduct the carriages to Dun and Stenay, where M. de Bouillé
awaited them. It will also be borne in mind that in compliance with the
instructions of M. de Bouillé, M. de Choiseul and M. de Guoguelas, who,
with the detachment of fifty hussars, were to await the king at Pont
Sommeville, and then follow in his rear, had not awaited him nor
followed him. Instead of reaching Varennes at the same time as the king,
these officers on leaving Pont Sommeville had taken a road that avoids
Sainte Menehould, and thus materially lengthens the distance between
Pont Sommeville and Varennes. Their object in this was to avoid Sainte
Menehould, in which the passage of the hussars had created some
excitement the day previous. The consequence was, that neither M. de
Guoguelas, nor M. de Choiseul, these two guides and confidants of the
king's flight, were at Varennes on his arrival, nor did they reach there
until an hour after. The carriages had stopped at the entrance of
Varennes. The king, surprised to meet neither M. de Choiseul nor M. de
Guoguelas, neither escort nor relays, hoped that the cracking of the
postilions' whips would procure them fresh horses to continue their
journey. The three body-guards went from door to door, to inquire where
the horses had been placed, but could obtain no information.


The little town of Varennes is formed into two divisions, the upper and
lower town, separated by a river and bridge. M. Guoguelas had stationed
the fresh horses in the lower town on the other side of the bridge: the
measure was in itself prudent, because the carriages would cross the
bridge at full speed, and also, because in case of popular tumult, the
changing horses and departure would be more easy when the bridge was
once crossed; but the king should have been, but was not, informed of
it. The king and queen, greatly alarmed, left the carriage and wandered
about in the deserted streets of the upper town for half an hour,
seeking for the relays. In vain did they knock at the door of the houses
in which lights were burning, they could not hear of them. At last they
returned in despair to the carriages, from which the postilions, wearied
with waiting, threatened to unharness the horses: by dint of bribes and
promises, however, they persuaded them to remount and continue their
road: the carriages again were in motion, and the travellers reassured
themselves that this was nothing but a misunderstanding, and that in a
few moments they should be in the camp of M. de Bouillé. They traversed
the upper town without any difficulty, all was buried in the most
perfect tranquillity,--a few men alone are on the watch, and they are
silent and concealed.

Between the upper and lower town is a tower at the entrance of the
bridge that divides them; this tower is supported by a massive and
gloomy arch, which carriages are compelled to traverse with the greatest
care, and in which the least obstacle stops them; a relic of the feudal
system, in which the nobles captured the serfs, and in which by a
strange retribution the people were destined to capture the monarchy.
The carriages had hardly entered this dark arch than the horses,
frightened at a cart that was overturned, stopped, and five or six armed
men seizing their heads, ordered the travellers to alight and exhibit
their passports at the Municipality. The man who thus gave orders to his
sovereign was Drouet: scarcely had he arrived at Sainte Menehould than
he hastened to arouse the young _patriotes_ of the town, to communicate
to them his conjectures and his apprehensions. Uncertain as to how far
their suspicions were correct, or wishing to reserve for themselves the
glory of arresting the king of France, they had neither warned the
authorities nor aroused the populace. The plot awakened their
patriotism; they felt that they represented the whole of the nation.

At this sudden apparition, at these shouts, and the aspect of the naked
swords and bayonets, the body-guard seized their arms and awaited the
king's orders; but the king forbade them to force the passage, the
horses were turned round, and the carriages, escorted by Drouet and his
companions, stopped before the door of a grocer named Sausse, who was
at the same time Procureur Syndic of Varennes. There the king and his
family were obliged to alight, in order that their passports might be
examined, and the truth of the people's suspicions ascertained. At the
same instant the friends of Drouet rushed into the town, knocked at the
doors, mounted the belfry, and rang the alarm-bell. The affrighted
inhabitants awoke, the national guards of the town and the adjacent
villages hastened one after another to M. Sausse's door; others went to
the quarters of the troops, to gain them over to their interest, or to
disarm them. In vain did the king deny his rank--his features and those
of the queen betrayed them. He at last discovered himself to the mayor
and the municipal officers, and taking M. de Sausse's hand, "Yes," said
he, "I am your king, and in your hands I place my destiny, and that of
my wife, of my sister, and of my children; our lives, the fate of the
empire, the peace of the kingdom, the safety of the constitution even,
depends upon you. Suffer me to continue my journey; I have no design of
leaving the country; I am going in the midst of a part of the army, and
in a French town, to regain my real liberty, of which the factions at
Paris deprive me, and from thence make terms with the Assembly, who,
like myself, are held in subjection through fear. I am not about to
destroy, but to save and secure the constitution; if you detain me, the
constitution, I myself, France, all are lost. I conjure you as a father,
as a husband, as a man, as a citizen, leave the road free to us; in an
hour we shall be saved, and with us France is saved; and if you guard in
your hearts that fidelity your words profess for him who was your
master, I order you as your king."


The men, touched by these words, respectful even in their violence,
hesitated, and seemed touched. It is evident, by the expression of their
features, by their tears, that they are wavering between their pity for
so terrible a reverse of fortune and their conscience as patriots. The
sight of their king, who pressed their hands in his, of their queen, by
turns suppliant and majestic, who strives by despair or entreaties to
wring from them permission to depart, unmanned them. They would have
yielded had they consulted the dictates of their heart alone; but they
began to fear for themselves the responsibility of their indulgence; the
people will demand from them their king, the nation its chief. Egotism
hardened their hearts; the wife of M. Sausse, with whom her husband
repeatedly exchanged glances, and in whose breast the queen hoped to
find pity and compassion, was the least moved of any. Whilst the king
harangued the municipal authorities, the queen, seated with her children
on her lap between two bales of goods in the shop, showed her infants to
Madame Sausse. "You are a mother, madame," said the queen; "you are a
wife; the fate of a wife and mother is in your hands--think what I must
suffer for these children, for my husband. At one word from you I shall
owe them to you; the queen of France will owe you more than her kingdom,
more than life." "Madame," returned the grocer's wife unmoved, with that
petty common sense of minds in which calculation stifles generosity, "I
wish it was in my power to serve you; you are thinking of the king; I am
thinking of M. Sausse. It is a wife's duty to think of her husband." All
hope is lost when no pity can be found in a woman's heart. The queen,
indignant and hurt, retired with Madame Elizabeth and the children into
two rooms at the top of the house, and there she burst into tears. The
king, surrounded by municipal officers and national guard, relinquished
all hope of softening them. He repeatedly mounted the wooden staircase
of the wretched shop; he went from the queen to his sister, from his
sister to his children; that which he had been unable to obtain from
pity she hoped to obtain from time and compulsion. He could not believe
that these men, who still showed something like feeling, and manifested
so much respect for him, would persist in their determination of
detaining him, and awaiting the orders of the Assembly. At all events he
felt certain that before the return of the couriers from Paris he should
be rescued by the forces of M. de Bouillé, by which he knew he was
surrounded without the knowledge of the people. He was only astonished
that these succours should delay their appearance so long. Hour after
hour chimed, the night wore away, and yet they came not.


The officer who commanded the squadron of hussars stationed at Varennes
by M. de Bouillé was not entirely acquainted with the plan of action, or
its nature; he had merely been told that a large sum in gold would pass
through, and that it would be his duty to escort it. No courier preceded
the king's carriage, no messenger had arrived from Sainte Menehould to
warn him to assemble his troopers; MM. de Choiseul and de Guoguelas, who
were to be at Varennes before the king's arrival, and communicate to
this officer the last secret orders relative to his duty, were not
there; thus the officer was left with nothing but his own conjectures to
guide him. Two other officers, who were informed by M. de Bouillé of the
real facts, had been sent by the general to Varennes, but they remained
in the lower town at the same inn where the horses of M. de Choiseul had
been stationed; they were totally ignorant of all that was passing in
the upper town; they awaited, in compliance with their orders, the
arrival of M. de Choiseul, and were only aroused by the sound of the

M. de Choiseul and M. de Guoguelas, with count Charles de Damas, and his
three faithful dragoons, galloped towards Varennes, having with the
greatest difficulty escaped the insurrection of the squadrons at
Clermont. On their arrival at the gates of the town, three quarters of
an hour after the king's arrest, they were recognised and stopped by the
national guard, who, before they would allow the little troop to enter,
compelled them to dismount. They demanded to see the king, and this they
were permitted to do. The king, however, forbade them to use any
violence, as he expected every instant the arrival of M. de Bouillé's
superior force. M. de Guoguelas, however, left the house; and seeing the
hussars intermingled with the crowd that filled the streets, wished to
make trial of their fidelity. "Hussars," exclaimed he, imprudently, "are
you for the nation or the king?" "_Vive la nation_!" replied the
soldiers; "we are, and always shall be, in her favour." The people
applauded this declaration; and a sergeant of the national guard headed
them, whilst their commanding officer succeeded in making his escape,
and hastened to join the two officers, who, together with M. de
Choiseul's horses, had been stationed in the lower town, and they all
three quitted Varennes, and hastened to inform their general at Dun.

These officers had been fired upon, when, learning the royal carriages
had been stopped, they endeavoured to gain access to the king. The whole
night passed in these different occurrences. Already had the national
guards of the neighbouring villages arrived at Varennes; barricades were
erected between the upper and lower town; and the authorities sent off
expresses to warn the inhabitants of Metz and Verdun, and to demand that
troops and cannon might be instantly sent, to prevent the king being
rescued by the approaching troops of M. de Bouillé.

The king, the queen, Madame Elizabeth, and the children, lay down for a
short time, dressed as they were, in the rooms at M. Sausse's, amidst
the threatening murmurs of the people and the noise of footsteps, that
at each instant increased beneath their window. Such was the state of
affairs at Varennes at seven o'clock in the morning. The queen had not
slept; all her feelings as a wife, a mother, a queen--rage, terror,
despair,--waged so terrible a conflict in her mind, that her hair, which
had been auburn on the previous evening, was in the morning white as


At Paris the most profound mystery had covered the king's departure. M.
de La Fayette, who had twice been to the Tuileries, to assure himself
with his own eyes that his orders had been strictly obeyed, quitted it
at midnight, perfectly convinced that its walls would securely guard the
people's hostages. It was only at seven o'clock in the morning of the
21st of June, that the servants of the chateau, on entering the
apartments of the king and queen, found the beds undisturbed and the
rooms deserted, and spread the alarm amongst the palace guard. The
fugitive family had thus ten or twelve hours' start of any attempt that
could be made to pursue them; and even supposing it could be ascertained
which road they had taken, they could be only stopped by couriers, and
the body guard who accompanied the king would arrest the couriers
without difficulty. Moreover, no attempt could be made to oppose their
flight by force before they had reached the town in which were stationed
the detachments of M. de Bouillé.

All Paris was in the greatest confusion. The report flew from the
chateau, and spread like wildfire into the neighbouring _quartiers_, and
from thence into the faubourgs. The words, "The king has escaped," were
in every body's mouth; yet no one could believe it. Crowds flocked to
the chateau, to assure themselves of the fact--they questioned the
guards--inveighed against the traitors--every one believed that some
conspiracy was on the point of breaking out. The name of M. de La
Fayette, coupled with invectives, was on every tongue. "Is he a fool--is
he a confederate? how is it possible that so many of the royal family
could have passed the gates--the guards--without connivance?" The doors
were forced open, to enable the people to visit the royal apartments.
Divided between stupor and insult, they avenged themselves on inanimate
objects, for the long respect with which these dwellings of kings had
inspired them--and they passed from awe to derision. A portrait of the
king was taken from the bed-chamber and hung up at the gate of the
chateau, as an article of furniture for sale. A fruit woman took
possession of the queen's bed, to sell her cherries in, saying, "It is
to-day the nation's turn to take their ease."

A cap of the queen's was placed on the head of a young girl, but she
exclaimed it would sully her forehead, and trampled it under foot with
indignation and contempt. They entered the school-room of the young
dauphin--there the people were touched, and respected the books, the
maps, the toys of the baby king. The streets and public squares were
crowded with people; the national guards assembled; the drums beat to
arms; the alarm-gun thundered every minute. Men armed with pikes, and
wearing the _bonnet rouge_, reappeared, and eclipsed the uniforms.
Santerre, the brewer and agitator of the faubourgs, alone led a band of
2000 pikes. The people's indignation began to prevail over their terror,
and showed itself in satirical outcries and injurious actions against
royalty. On the Place de la Grève, the bust of Louis XVI., placed
beneath the fatal lantern, that had been the instrument of the first
crimes of the Revolution, was mutilated. "When," exclaimed the
demagogues, "will the people execute justice for themselves upon all
these kings of bronze and marble--shameful monuments of their slavery
and their idolatry?" The statues of the king were torn from the shops;
some broke them into pieces, others merely tied a bandage over the eyes,
to signify the blindness attributed to the king. The names of king,
queen, Bourbon, were effaced from all the signs. The Palais Royal lost
its name, and was now called Palais d'Orléans. The clubs, hastily
convoked, rang with the most frantic motions; that of the Cordeliers
decreed that the National Assembly had devoted France to slavery, by
declaring the crown hereditary; they demanded that the name of the king
should be for ever abolished, and that the kingdom should be constituted
into a republic. Danton gave it its audacity, and Marat its madness.

The most singular reports were in circulation, and contradicted each
other at every moment. According to one, the king had taken the road to
Metz, to another, the royal family had escaped by a drain. Camille
Desmoulins excited the people's mirth as the most insulting mark of
their contempt. The walls of the Tuileries were placarded with offers of
a small reward to any one who would bring back the noxious or unclean
animals that had escaped from it. In the garden, in the open air, the
most extravagant proposals were made. "People," said one of these
orators, mounting on a chair, "it will be unfortunate, should this
perfidious king be brought back to us,--what should we do with him? He
would come to us like Thersites to pour forth those big tears, of which
Homer tells us; and we should be moved with pity. If he returns, I
propose that he be exposed for three days to public derision, with the
red handkerchief on his head, and that he be then conducted from stage
to stage to the frontier, and that he be then kicked out of the

Fréron caused his papers to be sold amongst the groups. "He is gone,"
said one of them, "this imbecile king, this perjured monarch. She is
gone, this wretched queen, who, to the lasciviousness of Messalina,
unites the insatiable thirst of blood that devoured Medea. Execrable
woman, evil genius of France, thou wast the leader, the soul of this
conspiracy." The people repeating these words, circulated from street
to street these odious accusations, which fomented their hate, and
envenomed their alarm.


It was only at ten o'clock that three cannon shots proclaimed (by order
of the municipal and departmental authorities) the event of the night to
the people. The National Assembly had already met; the president
informed it that M. Bailly, the mayor of Paris, was come to acquaint
them that the king and his family had been carried off during the night
from the Tuileries by some enemies of the nation; the Assembly, who were
already individually aware of this fact, listened to the communication
with imposing gravity. It seemed as though at this moment the critical
juncture of public affairs gave them a majestic calmness, and that
all the wisdom of the great nation was concentrated in its
representatives--one feeling alone dictated every act, every thought,
every resolution,--to preserve and defend the constitution, even
although the king was absent, and the royalty virtually dead. To take
temporary possession of the regency of the kingdom, to summon the
ministers, to send couriers on every road, to arrest all individuals
leaving the kingdom; to visit the arsenal, to supply arms, to send the
generals to their posts, and to garrison the frontiers,--all this was
the work of an instant; there was no "right," no "left," no "centre;"
the "left" comprised all. The Assembly was informed that one of the
aides-de-camp of M. de La Fayette, sent by him on his own
responsibility, and previous to any orders from the Assembly, was in the
power of the people, who accused M. de La Fayette and his staff of
treason; and messengers were sent to free him.

The aide-de-camp entered the chamber and announced the object of his
mission; the Assembly gave a second order, sanctioning that of M. de La
Fayette, and he departed. Barnave, who perceived in the popular
irritation against La Fayette a fresh peril, hastened to mount the
tribune; and although up to that period he had been opposed to the
popular general, he yet generously, or adroitly, defended him against
the suspicions of the people, who were ready to abandon him. It was
said that for some days past Lameth and Barnave, in succeeding Mirabeau
in the Assembly, felt, like himself, the necessity of some secret
intelligence with this remnant of the monarchy. Much was said of secret
relations between Barnave and the king, of a planned flight, of
concealed measures; but these rumours, accredited by La Fayette himself
in his Memoirs, had not then burst forth; and even at this present
period they are doubtful. "The object which ought to occupy us," said
Barnave, "is to re-establish the confidence in him to whom it belongs.
There is a man against whom popular movement would fain create distrust,
that I firmly believe is undeserved; let us throw ourselves between this
distrust and the people. We must have a concentrated, a central force,
an arm to act, when we have but one single head to reflect. M. de La
Fayette, since the commencement of the revolution, has evinced the
opinions and the conduct of a good citizen. It is absolutely necessary
that he should retain his credit with the nation. Force is necessary at
Paris, but tranquillity is equally so. It is you, who must direct this

These words of Barnave were voted to be the text of the proclamation. At
this moment information was brought that M. de Cazalès, the orator of
the _côté droit_, was in the hands of the people, and exposed to the
greatest danger at the Tuileries.

Six commissioners were appointed to go to his succour, and they
conducted him to the chamber. He mounted the tribune, irritated at once
against the people, from whose violence he had just escaped, and against
the king, who had abandoned his partisans without giving them any timely

"I have narrowly escaped being torn in pieces by the people," cried he;
"and without the assistance of the national guard, who displayed so much
attachment for me--." At these words which indicated the pretension to
personal popularity lurking in the mind of the royalist orator, the
Assembly gave marked signs of disapprobation, and the _côté gauche_
murmured loudly. "I do not speak for myself," returned Cazalès, "but for
the common interest. I will willingly sacrifice my petty existence, and
this sacrifice has long ago been made; but it is important to the whole
empire that your sittings be undisturbed by any popular tumult in the
critical state of affairs at present, and in consequence I second all
the measures for preserving order and tranquillity that have just been
proposed." At length, on the motion of several members, the Assembly
decided, that in the king's absence, all power should be vested in
themselves, and that their decrees should be immediately put in
execution by the ministers without any further sanction or acceptance.
The Assembly seized on the dictatorship with a prompt and firm grasp,
and declared themselves permanent.


Whilst the Assembly, by the rights alike of prudence and necessity,
seized on the supreme power, M. de La Fayette cast himself with calm
audacity amidst the people, to grasp again, at the peril of his life,
the confidence that he had lost. The first impulse of the people would
naturally be to massacre the perfidious general, who had answered for
the safe custody of the king with his life, and had yet suffered him to
escape. La Fayette saw his peril, and, by braving, averted the tempest.
One of the first to learn the king's flight, from his officers, he
hurried to the Tuileries, where he found the mayor of Paris, Bailly, and
the president of the Assembly, Beauharnais. Bailly and Beauharnais
lamented the number of hours that must be lost in the pursuit before the
Assembly could be convoked, and the decrees executed. "Is it your
opinion," asked La Fayette, "that the arrest of the king and the royal
family is absolutely essential to the public safety, and can alone
preserve us from civil war?" "No doubt can be entertained of that,"
returned the mayor and the president. "Well then," returned La Fayette,
"I take on myself all the responsibility of this arrest;" and he
instantly wrote an order to all the national guards and citizens to
arrest the king. This was also a dictatorship, and the most personal of
all dictatorships, that a single man, taking the place of the Assembly,
and the whole nation, thus assumed. He, on his private authority and the
right of his civic foresight, struck at the liberty and perhaps the life
of the lawful ruler of the nation. This order led Louis XVI. to the
scaffold, for it restored to the people the victim who had escaped
their clutches. "Fortunately for him," he writes in his Memoirs, after
the atrocities committed on these august victims, "fortunately for him,
their arrest was not owing to his orders, but to the accident of being
recognised by a post-master, and to their ill arrangements." Thus the
citizen ordered that which the man trembled to see fulfilled; and tardy
sensibility protested against patriotism.

Quitting the Tuileries, La Fayette went to the Hôtel de Ville, on
horseback. The quays were crowded with persons whose anger vented itself
in reproaches against him, which he supported with the utmost apparent
serenity. On his arrival at the Place de Grève, almost unattended, he
found the duke d'Aumont, one of his officers, in the hands of the
populace, who were on the point of massacring him; and he instantly
mingled with the crowd, who were astonished at his audacity, and rescued
the duke d'Aumont. He thus recovered by courage the dominion, which he
would have lost (and with it his life) had he hesitated.

"Why do you complain?" he asked of the crowd. "Does not every citizen
gain twenty sous by the suppression of the civil list? If you call the
flight of the king a misfortune, by what name would you then denominate
a counter-revolution that would deprive you of liberty?" He again
quitted the Hôtel de Ville with an escort, and directed his steps with
more confidence towards the Assembly. As he entered the chamber, Camus,
near whom he seated himself, rose indignantly: "No uniforms here," cried
he; "in this place we should behold neither arms nor uniforms." Several
members of the left side rose with Camus, exclaiming to La Fayette,
"Quit the chamber!" and dismissing with a gesture the intimidated
general. Other members, friends of La Fayette, collected round him, and
sought to silence the threatening vociferations of Camus. M. de La
Fayette at last obtained a hearing at the bar. After uttering a few
common places about liberty and the people, he proposed that M. de
Gouvion, his second in command, to whom the guard of the Tuileries had
been intrusted, should be examined by the Assembly. "I will answer for
this officer," said he; "and take upon myself the responsibility." M. de
Gouvion was heard, and affirmed that all the outlets from the palace had
been strictly guarded, and that the king could not have escaped by any
of the doors. This statement was confirmed by M. Bailly, the mayor of
Paris. The intendant of the civil list, M. de Laporte, appeared, to
present to the Assembly the manifesto the king had left for his people.
He was asked, "How did you receive it?" "The king," replied M. de
Laporte, "had left it sealed, with a letter for me." "Read this letter,"
said a member. "No, no," exclaimed the Assembly, "it is a confidential
letter, we have no right to read it." They equally refused to unseal a
letter for the queen that had been left on her table. The generosity of
the nation, even in this moment, predominated over their irritation.

The king's manifesto was read amidst much laughter and loud murmurs.

"Frenchmen," said the king in this address to his people, "so long as I
hoped to behold public happiness and tranquillity restored by the
measures concerted by myself and the Assembly, no sacrifice was too
great; calumnies, insult, injury, even the loss of liberty,--I have
suffered all without a murmur. But now that I behold the kingdom
destroyed, property violated, personal safety compromised, anarchy in
every part of my dominions, I feel it my duty to lay before my subjects
the motives of my conduct. In the month of July, 1789, I did not fear to
trust myself amongst the inhabitants of Paris. On the 5th and 6th of
October, although outraged in my own palace, and a witness of the
impunity with which all sorts of crimes were committed, I would not quit
France, lest I should be the cause of civil war. I came to reside in the
Tuileries, deprived of almost the necessaries of life; my body-guard was
torn from me, and many of these faithful gentlemen were massacred under
my very eyes. The most shameful calumnies have been heaped upon the
faithful and devoted wife, who participates in my affection for the
people, and who has generously taken her share of all the sacrifices I
have made for them. Convocation of the States-general, double
representation granted to the third estate (_le tiers état_), reunion of
the orders, sacrifice of the 20th of June,--I have done all this for the
nation; and all these sacrifices have been lost, misinterpreted, turned
against me. I have been detained as a prisoner in my own palace; instead
of guards, jailers have been imposed on me. I have been rendered
responsible for a government that has been torn from my grasp. Though
charged to preserve the dignity of France in relation to foreign powers,
I have been deprived of the right of declaring peace or war. Your
constitution is a perpetual contradiction between the titles with which
it invests me, and the functions it denies me. I am only the responsible
chief of anarchy, and the seditious power of the clubs wrests from you
the power you have wrested from me. Frenchmen, was this the result you
looked for from your regeneration? Your attachment to your king was wont
to be reckoned amongst your virtues; this attachment is now changed into
hatred, and homage into insult. From M. Necker down to the lowest of the
rabble, every one has been king except the king himself. Threats have
been held out of depriving the king even of this empty title, and of
shutting up the queen in a convent. In the nights of October, when it
was proposed to the Assembly to go and protect the king by its presence,
they declared it was beneath their dignity to do so. The king's aunts
have been arrested, when from religious motives they wished to journey
to Rome. My conscience has been equally outraged; even my religious
principles have been constrained: when after my illness I wished to go
to St. Cloud, to complete my convalescence, it was feared that I was
going to this residence to perform my pious duties with priests who had
not taken the oaths; my horses were unharnessed, and I was compelled by
force to return to the Tuileries. M. de La Fayette himself could not
ensure obedience to the law, or the respect due to the king. I have been
forced to send away the very priests of my chapels, and even the adviser
of my conscience. In such a situation, all that is left me is to appeal
to the justice and affection of my people, to take refuge from the
attacks of the factions and the oppression of the Assembly and the
clubs, in a town of my kingdom, and to resolve there, in perfect
freedom, on the modifications the constitution requires; of the
restoration of our holy religion; of the strengthening of the royal
power, and the consolidation of true liberty."

The Assembly, who had several times interrupted the reading of this
manifesto by bursts of laughter or murmurs of indignation, proceeded
with disdain to the order of the day, and received the oaths of the
generals employed at Paris. Numerous deputations from Paris and the
neighbouring departments came successively to the bar to assure the
Assembly that it would ever be considered as the rallying point by all
good citizens.

The same evening the clubs of the Cordeliers and the Jacobins caused the
motions for the king's dethronement to be placarded about. The club of
the Cordeliers declared in one of its placards that every citizen who
belonged to it had sworn individually to poignard the tyrants. Marat,
one of its members, published and distributed in Paris an incendiary
proclamation. "People," said he, "behold the loyalty, the honour, the
religion of kings. Remember Henry III. and the duke de Guise: at the
same table as his enemy did Henry receive the sacrament, and swear on
the same altar eternal friendship; scarcely had he quitted the temple
than he distributed poignards to his followers, summoned the duke to his
cabinet, and there beheld him fall pierced with wounds. Trust then to
the oaths of princes! On the morning of the 19th, Louis XVI. laughed at
his oath, and enjoyed beforehand the alarm his flight would cause you.
The Austrian woman has seduced La Fayette last night. Louis XVI.,
disguised in a priest's robe, fled with the dauphin, his wife, his
brother, and all the family. He now laughs at the folly of the
Parisians, and ere long he will swim in their blood. Citizens, this
escape has been long prepared by the traitors of the National Assembly.
You are on the brink of ruin; hasten to provide for your safety.
Instantly choose a dictator; let your choice fall on the citizen who has
up to the present displayed most zeal, activity, and intelligence; and
do all he bids you do to strike at your foes; this is the time to lop
off the heads of Bailly, La Fayette, all the scoundrels of the staff,
all the traitors of the Assembly. A tribune, a military tribune, or you
are lost without hope. At present I have done all that was in the power
of man to save you. If you neglect this last piece of advice, I have no
more to say to you, and take my farewell of you for ever. Louis XVI., at
the head of his satellites, will besiege you in Paris, and the friend of
the people will have a burning pile (_four ardent_) for his tomb, but
his last sigh shall be for his country, for liberty, and for you."


The members of the constitutional party felt it their duty to attend the
sitting of the Jacobins on the 22d, in order to moderate its ardour.
Barnave, Siéyès, and La Fayette also appeared there, and took the oath
of fidelity to the nation. Camille Desmoulins thus relates the results
of this sitting:

"Whilst the National Assembly was decreeing, decreeing, decreeing, the
people were acting. I went to the Jacobins, and on the Quai Voltaire I
met La Fayette. Barnave's words had begun to turn the current of popular
opinion, and some voices cried 'Vive La Fayette.' He had reviewed the
battalions on the quay. Convinced of the necessity of rallying round a
chief, I yielded to the impulse that drew me towards the white horse.
'Monsieur de La Fayette,' said I to him in the midst of the crowd, 'for
more than a year I have constantly spoken ill of you, this is the moment
to convict me of falsehood. Prove that I am a calumniator, render me
execrable, cover me with infamy, and save the state.' I spoke with the
utmost warmth, whilst he pressed my hand. 'I have always recognised you
as a good citizen,' returned he; 'you will see that you have been
deceived; our common oath is to live free, or to die--all goes
well--there's but one feeling amongst the National Assembly--the common
danger has united all parties.' 'But why,' I inquired, 'does your
Assembly affect to speak of the carrying off (_enlèvement_) of the king
in all its decrees, when the king himself writes that he escaped of his
own free will? what baseness, or what treason, in the Assembly to employ
such language, when surrounded by three millions of bayonets.' 'The word
_carrying off_ is a mistake in dictation, that the Assembly will
correct,' replied La Fayette; then he added, 'this conduct of the king
is infamous.' La Fayette repeated this several times, and shook me
heartily by the hand. I left him, reflecting that possibly the vast
field that the king's flight opened to his ambition, might bring him
back to the party of the people. I arrived at the Jacobins, striving to
believe the sincerity of his demonstrations, of his patriotism, and
friendship; and to persuade myself of this, which, in spite of all my
efforts, escaped by a thousand recollections, and a thousand issues."

When Camille Desmoulins entered Robespierre was in the tribune: the
immense credit that this young orator's perseverance and
incorruptibility had gained him with the people, made his hearers crowd
around him.

"I am not one of those," said he, "who term this event a disaster; this
day would be the most glorious of the Revolution, did you but know how
to turn it to your advantage. The king has chosen to quit his post at
the moment of our most deadly perils, both at home and abroad. The
Assembly has lost its credit; all men's minds are excited by the
approaching elections. The emigrés are at Coblentz. The emperor and the
king of Sweden are at Brussels; our harvests are ripe to feed their
troops; but three millions of men are under arms in France, and this
league of Europe may easily be vanquished. I fear neither Leopold, nor
the king of Sweden. That which alone terrifies me, seems to reassure all
others. It is the fact that since this morning all our enemies affect to
use the same language as ourselves. All men are united, and in
appearance wear the same aspect. It is impossible that all can feel the
same joy at the flight of a king who possessed a revenue of forty
millions of francs, and who distributed all the offices of state amongst
his adherents and our enemies; there are traitors, then, among us; there
is a secret understanding between the fugitive king and these traitors
who have remained at Paris. Read the king's manifesto, and the whole
plot will be there unveiled. The king, the emperor, the king of Sweden,
d'Artois, Condé, all the fugitives, all these brigands, are about to
march against us. A paternal manifesto will appear, in which the king
will talk of his love of peace, and even of liberty; whilst at the same
time the traitors in the capital and the departments will represent you,
on their part, as the leaders of the civil war. Thus the Revolution will
be stifled in the embraces of hypocritical despotism and intimidated

"Look already at the Assembly: in twenty decrees the king's flight is
termed carrying off by force (_enlèvement_). To whom does it intrust the
safety of the people? To a minister of foreign affairs, under the
inspection of diplomatic committee. Who is the minister? A traitor whom
I have unceasingly denounced to you, the persecutor of the patriot
soldiers, the upholder of the aristocrat officers. What is the
committee? A committee of traitors composed of all our enemies beneath
the garb of patriots. And the minister for foreign affairs, who is he? A
traitor, a Montmorin, who but a short month ago declared a perfidious
_adoration_ of the constitution. And Delissart, who is he? A traitor, to
whom Necker has bequeathed his mantle to cover his plots and

"Do you not see the coalition of these men with the king, and the king
with the European league? That will crush us! In an instant you will see
all the men of 1789--mayor, general, ministers, orators,--enter this
room. How can you escape Antony?" continued he, alluding to La Fayette.
"Antony commands the legions that are about to avenge Cæsar; and
Octavius, Cæsar's nephew, commands the legions of the republic.

"How can the republic hope to avoid destruction? We are continually told
of the necessity of uniting ourselves; but when Antony encamped at the
side of Lepidus, and all the foes to freedom were united to those who
termed themselves its defenders, nought remained for Brutus and Cassius,
save to die.

"It is to this point that this feigned unanimity, this perfidious
reconciliation of patriots, tends. Yes, this is the fate prepared for
you. I know that by daring to unveil these conspiracies I sharpen a
thousand daggers against my own life. I know the fate that awaits me;
but if, when almost unknown in the National Assembly, I, amongst the
earliest apostles of liberty, sacrificed my life to the cause of truth,
of humanity, of my country; to-day, when I have been so amply repaid for
this sacrifice, by such marks of universal goodwill, consideration, and
regard, I shall look at death as a mercy, if it prevents my witnessing
such misfortunes. I have tried the Assembly, let them in their turn try


These words so artfully combined, and calculated to fill every breast
with suspicion, were hailed like the last speech of a martyr for
liberty. All eyes were suffused with tears. "We will die with you,"
cried Camille Desmoulins, extending his arms towards Robespierre, as
though he would fain embrace him. His excitable and changeable spirit
was borne away by the breath of each new enthusiastic impulse. He passed
from the arms of La Fayette into those of Robespierre like a courtezan.
Eight hundred persons rose _en masse_; and by their attitudes, their
gestures, their spontaneous and unanimous inspiration, offered one of
those most imposing tableaux, that prove how great is the effect of
oratory, passion, and circumstance over an assembled people. After they
had all individually sworn to defend Robespierre's life, they were
informed of the arrival of the ministers and members of the Assembly who
had belonged to the club in '89, and who in this perilous state of their
country, had come to fraternise with the Jacobins.

"Monsieur le President," cried Danton, "if the traitors venture to
present themselves, I undertake solemnly either that my head shall fall
on the scaffold, or to prove that their heads should roll at the feet of
the nation they have betrayed."

The deputies entered: Danton, recognising La Fayette amongst them,
mounted the tribunal, and addressing the general, said:--"It is my turn
to speak, and I will speak as though I were writing a history for the
use of future ages. How do you dare, M. de La Fayette, to join the
friends of the constitution; you, who are a friend and partisan of the
system of the two chambers invented by the priest Siéyès, a system
destructive of the constitution and liberty? Did you not yourself tell
me that the project of M. Mounier was too execrable for any one to
venture to reproduce it, but that it was possible to cause an equivalent
to it to be accepted by the Assembly? I dare you to deny this fact--that
damns you. How comes it that the king in his proclamation uses the same
language as yourself? How have you dared to infringe an order of the day
on the circulation of the pamphlets of the defenders of the people,
whilst you grant the protection of your bayonets to cowardly writers,
the destroyers of the constitution? Why did you bring back prisoners,
and as it were in triumph, the inhabitants of the Faubourg St. Antoine,
who wished to destroy the last stronghold of tyranny at Vincennes? Why,
on the evening of this expedition to Vincennes, did you protect in the
Tuileries assassins armed with poignards to favour the king's escape?
Explain to me by what chance, on the 21st June, the Tuileries was
guarded by the company of the grenadiers of the Rue de l'Oratoire, that
you had punished on the 18th of April for having opposed the king's
departure? Let us not deceive ourselves: the king's flight is only the
result of a plot; there has been a secret understanding, and you, M. de
La Fayette, who lately staked your head for the king's safety, do you by
appearing in this assembly seek your own condemnation? The people must
have vengeance; they are wearied of being thus alternately braved or
deceived. If my voice is unheard here, if our weak indulgence for the
enemies of our country continually endanger it, I appeal to posterity,
and leave it to them to judge between us."

M. de La Fayette, thus attacked, made no reply to these strong appeals;
he merely said that he had come to join the assembly, because it was
there that all good citizens should hasten in perilous times; and he
then left the place. The assembly having issued a decree next day
calling on the general to appear and justify himself, he wrote that he
would do so at a future period; he however never did so. But the motions
of Robespierre and Danton did not in the least injure his influence over
the national guard. Danton on that day displayed the greatest audacity.
M. de La Fayette had the proofs of the orator's venality in his
possession--he had received from M. de Montmorin 100,000 francs. Danton
knew that M. de La Fayette was well aware of this transaction; but he
also knew that La Fayette could not accuse him without naming M. de
Montmorin, and without also accusing himself of participation in this
shameful traffic, that supplied the funds of the civil list. This double
secret kept them mutually in check, and obliged the orator and general
to maintain a degree of reserve that lessened the fury of the contest.
Lameth replied to Danton, and spoke in favour of concord. The violent
resolutions proposed by Robespierre and Danton had no weight that day at
the Jacobins' Club. The peril that threatened them taught the people
wisdom, and their instinct forbade their dividing their force before
that which was unknown.


The same evening the National Assembly discussed and adopted an address
to the French nation, in these terms:--

"A great crime has been committed. The king and his family have been
_carried off_, (the continuance of this pretended _enlèvement_ of the
king excited loud murmurs,) but your representatives will triumph over
all these obstacles. France wishes to be free, and she shall be; the
Revolution will not retrograde. We have saved the law by resolving that
our decrees shall be the law. We have saved the nation by sending to the
army reinforcements of 300,000 men. We have saved public peace by
placing it under the safeguard of the zeal and patriotism of the armed
citizens. In this position we await our enemies. In a manifesto dictated
to the king by those who have offered violence to his affection for his
people, you are accused--the constitution is accused--the law of
impunity of the 6th of October is accused. The nation is more just, for
she does not accuse the king of the crimes of his ancestors. (Applause.)

"But the king swore on the 14th of July to protect this constitution; he
has therefore consented to perjure himself. The changes made in the
constitution of the kingdom are laid to the charge of the _soidisant_
factious. A few factious? that is not sufficient; we are 26,000,000 of
factious. (Loud applause.) We have re-constructed the power, we have
preserved the monarchy, because we believe it useful to France. We have
doubtless reformed it, but it was to save it from its abuses and its
excesses; we have granted a yearly sum of 50,000,000 of francs to
maintain the legitimate splendour of the throne. We have reserved to
ourselves the right of declaring war, because we would not that the
blood of the people should belong to the ministers. Frenchmen! all is
organised, every man is at his post. The Assembly watches over all. You
have nought to fear save from yourselves, should your just emotion lead
you to commit any violence or disorders. The people who seek to be free
should remain unmoved in great crises.

"Behold Paris, and imitate the example of the capital. All goes on as
usual; the tyrants will be deceived. Before they can bend France beneath
their yoke, the whole nation must be annihilated. Should despotism
venture to attempt it, it will be vanquished; or even though it
triumph, it will triumph over nought save ruins!" (Loud and unanimous
applause followed the conclusion of the address.)

The sitting which had been suspended during an hour, re-opened at
half-past nine. Much agitation prevailed in the chamber, and the words
_He is arrested! He is arrested!_ ran along the benches, and from the
benches to the tribune. The president announced that he had just
received a packet containing several letters which he would read; at the
same time recommending them to abstain from any marks of approbation or
disapprobation. He then opened the packet amidst a profound silence, and
read the letters of the municipal authorities at Varennes and of St.
Menehould brought by M. Mangin, surgeon, at Varennes. The Assembly then
nominated three commissioners out of the members to bring the king back
to Paris. These three commissioners were Barnave, Pétion, and
Latour-Maubourg, and they instantly started off to fulfil their mission.
Let us now for a brief space leave Paris a prey to all the different
emotions of surprise, joy, and indignation excited by the flight and
arrest of the king.


The night at Varennes had been passed by the king, the queen, and the
people in alternate feelings of hope and terror. Whilst the children,
fatigued with a long day's journey, and the heat of the weather, slept
soundly, the king and queen, guarded by the municipal guards of
Varennes, discussed, in a low voice, the danger of their position, their
pious sister, Madame Elizabeth, prayed by their side; her kingdom was,
indeed, "in heaven." Nothing had induced her to remain at the court,
from which she was estranged, alike by her piety and her renouncement of
all worldly pleasure, but her affection for her brother, and she had
shared only the sorrows and sufferings of the throne.

The prisoners were far from despairing yet; they had no doubt that M. de
Bouillé, warned by one of the officers whom he had stationed on the
road, would march all night to their assistance; and they attributed his
delay to the necessity of collecting a sufficient force to overpower
the numerous troops of national guards whom the sound of the tocsin had
summoned to Varennes. But at each instant they expected to see him
appear, and the least movement of the populace, the slightest clash of
arms in the streets, seemed to announce his arrival; the courier
despatched to Paris by the authorities of Varennes to receive the orders
of the Assembly, only left at three o'clock in the morning. He could not
reach Paris in less than twenty hours, and would require as much more
for his return; and the Assembly would require, at least three or four
hours more to deliberate; thus M. de Bouillé must have forty-eight
hours' start of any orders from Paris.

Moreover, in what state would Paris be? what would have happened there
at the unexpected announcement of the king's departure? Had not terror
or repentance taken possession of every mind; would not anarchy have
destroyed the feeble barriers that an anarchical assembly might have
opposed to it? Would not the cry of treason have been the first signal
of alarm? La Fayette have been torn to pieces as a traitor, and the
national guard disbanded? Would not the well-intentioned and loyal
citizens have again obtained the mastery over the factious and turbulent
in the confusion and terror that would prevail? Who would give orders?
who would execute them?

The nation trembling, and in disorder, would fall perhaps at the feet of
its king. Such were the chimæras, the last fond hopes of this
unfortunate family, and on which they sustained their courage, during
this fatal night, in the small and suffocating room into which they were
all crowded.

The king had been allowed to communicate with several officers: M. de
Guoguelas, M. de Damas, M. de Choiseul had seen him. The procureur
syndic, and the municipal officers of Varennes, showed both respect and
pity for their king, even in the execution of what they believed to be
their duty. The people do not pass at once from respect to outrage.
There is a moment of indecision in every sacrilegious act, in which they
seem yet to reverence that which they are about to destroy. The
authorities of Varennes and M. Sausse, although believing they were the
saviours of the nation, were yet far from wishing to offend the king,
and guarded him as much as their sovereign as their captive. This did
not escape the king's notice; he flattered himself that at the first
demand made by M. de Bouillé, respect would prevail over patriotism, and
that he would be set at liberty, and he expressed this belief to his

One of them, M. Derlons, who commanded the squadron of hussars stationed
at Dun, between Varennes and Stenay, had been informed of the king's
arrest at two o'clock in the morning by the commander of the detachment
at Varennes: having escaped this town, M. Derlons, without awaiting any
orders from the general, and anticipating them, he ordered his hussars
to mount, and galloped to Varennes, determined to rescue the king by
force. On his arrival at the gates of that town, he found them
barricaded and defended by a numerous body of national guards, who
refused to allow the hussars to enter the town. M. Derlons dismounted,
and leaving his men outside, demanded to see the king, which was
consented to. His aim was to inform the king that M. de Bouillé was
about to march thither at the head of the royal Allemand regiment, and
also to assure himself, if it was impossible for his squadron to force
the obstacles, to break down the barricades in the upper town, and carry
off the king. The barricades appeared to him impregnable to cavalry, he
therefore gained admittance to the king, and asked him what were his
orders. "Tell M. de Bouillé," returned the king, "that I am a prisoner,
and can give no orders. I much fear he can do no more for me, but I pray
him to do all he can." M. Derlons, who was an Alsatian, and spoke
German, wished to say a few words in that language to the queen, in
order that no person present might understand what passed. "Speak
French, sir," said the queen, "we are overheard." M. Derlons said no
more, but withdrew in despair; but he remained with his troop at the
gates of Varennes, awaiting the arrival of the superior forces of M. de


The aide-de-camp of M. de La Fayette, M. Romeuf, despatched by that
general, and bearer of the order of the Assembly, arrived at Varennes at
half-past seven. The queen, who knew him personally, reproached him in
the most pathetic manner with the odious mission with which his general
had charged him. M. Romeuf sought in vain to calm her indignation by
every mark of respect and devotion compatible with the rigour of his
orders. The queen then changing from invectives to tears, gave a free
vent to her grief. M. Romeuf having laid the order of the Assembly on
the Dauphin's bed, the queen seized the paper, threw it on the ground,
and trampled it under her feet, exclaiming, that such a paper would
sully her son's bed. "In the name of your safety, of your glory, madam,"
said the young officer, "master your grief; would you suffer any one but
myself to witness such a fit of despair?"

The preparations for their departure were hastened, through fear, lest
the troops of M. de Bouillé might march on the town, or cut them off.
The king used every means in his power to delay them, for each minute
gained gave them a fresh hope of safety, and disputed them one by one.
At the moment they were entering the carriage, one of the queen's women
feigned a sudden and alarming illness. The queen refused to start
without her, and only yielded at last to threats of force, and the
shouts of the impatient populace. She would suffer no one to touch her
son, but carried him herself to the carriage; and the royal cortège
escorted by three or four thousand national guards, moved slowly towards


What was M. de Bouillé doing during this long and agonising night the
king passed at Varennes? He had, as we have already seen, passed the
night at the gates of Dun, two leagues from Varennes, awaiting the
couriers who were to inform him of the king's approach. At four in the
morning, fearing to be discovered, and having seen no one, he regained
Stenay, in order to be nearer his troops, in case any accident had
happened to the king. At half-past four he was at the gates of Stenay,
when the two officers whom he had left there the previous evening, and
the commanding officer of the squadron that had abandoned him, arrived
and informed him that the king had been arrested since eleven o'clock at
night. Stupified and astonished at being informed so late he instantly
ordered the royal Allemand regiment, which was at Stenay, to mount and
follow him. The colonel of this regiment had received the previous
evening orders to keep the horses saddled. This order had not been
executed, and the regiment lost three quarters of an hour, in spite of
the repeated messages of M. de Bouillé, who sent his own son to the
barracks. The general was powerless without this regiment, and no sooner
were they outside the town than M. de Bouillé endeavoured to ascertain
its disposition towards the king. "Your king," said he, "who was
hastening hither to dwell amongst you, has been stopped by the
inhabitants of Varennes, within a few leagues. Will you let him remain a
prisoner, exposed to every insult at the hands of the national guards?
Here are his orders: he awaits you; he counts every moment. Let us march
to Varennes. Let us hasten to deliver him, and restore him to the nation
and liberty."

Loud acclamations followed this speech. M. de Bouillé distributed 500 or
600 louis amongst the soldiers, and the regiment marched forward.

Stenay is at least nine leagues from Varennes, and the road very hilly
and bad. M. de Bouillé, however, used all possible dispatch, and at a
little distance from Varennes he met the advanced guard of the regiment,
halted at the entrance of a little wood, defended by a body of the
national guard. M. de Bouillé ordered them to charge, and putting
himself at the head of the troop, arrived at Varennes at a quarter to
nine, closely followed by the regiment. Whilst reconnoitring the town,
previous to an attack, he observed a troop of hussars, who appeared also
to watch the town. It was the squadron from Dun, commanded by M.
Derlons, who had passed the night here, awaiting reinforcements. M.
Derlons hastened to inform the general that the king had left the town
more than an hour and a half; he added, the bridge was broken, the
streets barricaded; that the hussars of Clermont and Varennes had
fraternised with the people, and the commanders of the detachments, MM.
de Choiseul, de Damas, and de Guoguelas, were prisoners. M. de Bouillé,
baffled, but not discouraged, resolved to follow the king, and rescue
him from the hands of the national guard. He despatched officers to find
a ford by which they could pass the river; but, unfortunately, although
one existed, they were unable to find it.

Whilst thus engaged, he learnt that the garrisons of Metz and Verdun
were advancing with a train of artillery to the aid of the people. The
country was swarming with troops and national guards. The troops began
to show symptoms of hesitation; the horses, fatigued by nine leagues
over a bad road, could not sustain the speed necessary to overtake the
king at Sainte Menehould. All energy deserted them with hope. The
regiment turned round, and M. de Bouillé led them back in silence to
Stenay; thence, followed only by a few of the officers most implicated,
he gained Luxembourg, and passed the frontier amidst a shower of balls,
and wishing for death more than he shunned the punishment.


The royal carriages, however, rolled rapidly along the road to Châlons,
attended by the national guard, who relieved each other in order to
escort them on; the whole population lined the road on either side, to
gaze upon a king brought back in triumph by the nation that believed
itself betrayed. The pikes and bayonets of the national guards could
scarcely force them a passage through this dense throng, that at each
instant grew more and more numerous, and who were never weary of
uttering cries of derision and menace, accompanied by the most furious

The carriages pursued their journey amidst a torrent of abuse, and the
clamour of the people recommenced at every turn of the wheel. It was a
Calvary of sixty leagues, every step of which was a torture. One
gentleman, M. de Dampierre, an old man, accustomed all his life to
venerate the king, having advanced towards the carriage to show some
marks of respectful compassion to his master, was instantly massacred
before their eyes, and the royal family narrowly escaped passing over
his bleeding corpse. Fidelity was the only unpardonable crime amongst
this band of savages. The king and queen, who had already made the
sacrifice of their lives, had summoned all their dignity and courage, in
order to die worthily. Passive courage was Louis XVI.'s virtue, as
though Heaven, who destined him to suffer martyrdom, had gifted him with
heroic endurance, that cannot resist, but can die. The queen found in
her blood and her pride sufficient hatred for the people, to return
with inward scorn the insults with which they profaned her. Madame
Elizabeth prayed mentally for divine assistance; and the two children
wondered at the hatred of the people they had been taught to love, and
whom they now saw only a prey to the most violent fury. The august
family would never have reached Paris alive, had not the commissioners
of the Assembly, who by their presence overawed the people, arrived in
time to subdue and control this growing sedition.

The commissioners met the carriages between Dormans and Epernay, and
read to the king and people the order of the Assembly, giving them the
absolute command of the troops and national guards along the line; and
which enjoined them to watch not only over the king's security, but also
to maintain the respect due to royalty, represented in his person.
Barnave and Pétion hastened to enter the king's carriage, to share his
danger, and shield him with their bodies. They succeeded in preserving
him from death, but not from outrage. The fury of the people, kept aloof
from the carriages, found vent further off; and all persons suspected of
feeling the least sympathy were brutally ill-treated.

An ecclesiastic having approached the berlin, and exhibited some traces
of respect and sorrow on his features, was seized by the people, thrown
under the horses' feet, and was on the point of being massacred before
the queen's eyes, when Barnave, with a noble impulse, leant out of the
carriage. "Frenchmen," exclaimed he, "will you, a nation of brave men,
become a people of murderers?" Madame Elizabeth, struck with admiration
at his courageous interference, and fearing lest he might spring out,
and be in his turn torn to pieces by the people, held him by his coat
whilst he addressed the mob. From this moment the pious princess, the
queen, and the king himself conceived a secret esteem for Barnave. A
generous heart amidst so many cruel ones inspired them with a species of
confidence in the young _député_. They had known him only as a leader of
faction, and by his voice heard amidst all their misfortunes; and they
were astonished to find a respectful protector in the man whom they had
hitherto looked upon as an insolent foe.

Barnave's features were marked, yet attractive and open; his manners
polished, his language elegant; his bearing saddened by the aspect of
so much beauty, so much majesty, and so great a reverse of fortune. The
king in the intervals of calm and silence frequently spoke to him, and
discoursed of the events of the day. Barnave replied, with the tone of a
man devoted to liberty, but faithful still to the throne; and who in his
plans of regeneration, never separated the nation from the throne. Full
of attention to the queen, Madame Elizabeth, and the royal children, he
strove by every means in his power to hide from them the perils and
humiliations of the journey. Constrained, no doubt, by the presence of
his rough colleague, Pétion, if he did not openly avow the feeling of
pity, admiration, and respect which had conquered him during the
journey, he showed it in his actions, and a tacit treaty was concluded
by looks. The royal family felt that amidst this wreck of all their
hopes they had yet gained Barnave. All his subsequent conduct justified
the confidence of the queen. Audacious, when opposed to tyranny, he was
powerless against weakness, beauty, and misfortune; and this lost him
his life, but rendered his memory glorious. Until then he had been only
eloquent; he now showed that he possessed sensibility. Pétion, on the
contrary, remained cold as a sectarian, and rude as a _parvenu_; he
affected a brusque familiarity with the royal family, eating in the
queen's presence, and throwing the rind of fruit out of the window, at
the risk of striking the king's face. When Madame Elizabeth poured him
out some wine, he raised his glass without thanking her to show that he
had enough. Louis XVI. having asked him if he was in favour of the
system of the two chambers, or for the republic--"I should be in favour
of a republic," returned Pétion, "if I thought my country sufficiently
ripe for this form of government." The king, offended, made no reply,
and did not once speak until they arrived at Paris.

The commissioners had written from Dormans to the Assembly, to inform
them what road the king would take, and at what day and hour he would
arrive. The approach to Paris offered increasing danger, owing to the
numbers and fury of the populace through which the king had to pass. The
Assembly redoubled its energy and precaution to assure the inviolability
of the king's person. The people, too, recovered the sentiment of their
own dignity before this great success fate granted them: they would not
dishonour their own triumph. Thousands of placards were stuck on the
walls--"_Whoever applauds the king shall be beaten; whoever insults him
shall be hung_." The king had slept at Meaux, and the commissioners
advised the Assembly to sit permanently, in order to be in readiness for
any unforeseen event that might take place on the king's arrival at
Paris; and the Assembly, consequently, did not dissolve. The hero of the
day, the author of the king's arrest, Drouet, son of the post-master of
Sainte Menehould, appeared before it, and gave the following
evidence:--"I have served in Condé's regiment of dragoons, and my
comrade, Guillaume, in the Queen's dragoons. The 21st of June, at seven
in the evening, two carriages and eleven horses arrived at Sainte
Menehould, and I recognised the king and queen; but, fearful of being
deceived, I resolved to ascertain the truth of this by arriving at
Varennes, by a bye-road, before the carriages. It was eleven o'clock,
and quite dark, when I reached Varennes; the carriages arrived also, and
were delayed by a dispute between the couriers and the postilions, who
refused to go any farther. I said to my comrade, 'Guillaume, are you a
good patriot?' 'Do not doubt it,' replied he. 'Well, then, the king is
here; let us arrest him.' We overturned a cart, filled with goods, under
the arch of the bridge; and when the carriage arrived, demanded their
passports. 'We are in a hurry, gentlemen,' said the queen. However, we
insisted, and made them alight at the house of the procureur of the
district; then, of his own accord, Louis XVI. said to us, 'Behold your
king--your queen--and my children! Treat us with that respect that
Frenchmen have always shown to their king.' We, however, detained him;
the national guards hastened to the town, and the hussars espoused our
cause; and after having done our duty, we returned home, amidst the
acclamations of our fellow-citizens, and to-day come to offer the homage
of our services to the National Assembly."

Drouet and Guillaume were loudly applauded after this speech.

The Assembly then decreed that immediately after the arrival of Louis
XVI. at the Tuileries, a guard should be given him, under the orders of
La Fayette, who should be responsible for his security. Malouet was the
only one who ventured to remonstrate against this captivity. "It at
once destroyed inviolability and the constitution; the legislative and
executive powers are now united." Alexandre Lameth opposed Malouet's
motion, and declared that it was the duty of the Assembly to assume and
retain, until the completion of the constitution, a dictatorship, forced
upon it by the state of affairs, but that the monarchy being the form of
government necessary to the concentration of the forces of so great a
nation, the Assembly would immediately afterwards resume a division of
powers, and return to the forms of a monarchy.


At this moment the captive king entered Paris. It was on the 25th of
June, at seven o'clock in the evening. From Meaux to the suburbs of
Paris, the crowd thickened in every place as the king passed. The
passions of the city, the Assembly, the press, and the clubs worked more
intensely, and even closer in this population of the environs of Paris.
These passions, written on every countenance, were repressed by their
very violence. Indignation and contempt controlled their rage. Insult
escaped them only in under tones; the populace was sinister, and not
furious. Thousands of glances darted death into the windows of the
carriages, but not one tongue uttered a threat.

This calmness of hatred did not escape the king; the day was burning
hot. A scorching sun, reflected by the pavement and the bayonets, was
almost suffocating in the berlin, where ten persons were squeezed
together. Volumes of dust, raised by the trampling of two or three
hundred thousand spectators, was the only veil which from time to time
covered the humiliation of the king and queen from the triumph of the
people. The sweat of the horses, the feverish breath of this multitude
compact and excited, made the atmosphere dense and fetid. The travellers
panted for breath, the foreheads of the two children were bathed in
perspiration. The queen, trembling for them, let down one of the windows
of the carriage quickly, and addressing the crowd in an appeal to their
compassion, "See, gentlemen," she exclaimed, "in what a state my poor
children are--one is choking!" "We will choke you in another fashion,"
replied these ferocious men in an under tone.

From time to time violent attempts of the mob broke through the line,
pushed aside the horses, and men reaching the doors mounted on the
steps. Merciless ruffians, looking in silence on the king, the queen,
and the dauphin, seemed calculating on final crimes, and feeding on the
degradation of royalty. Bodies of _gendarmerie_ restored order from time
to time. The procession resumed its way in the midst of the clashing of
sabres, and the cries of men trampled under the horses' hoofs. La
Fayette, who feared attempts and surprises in the streets of Paris,
desired general Damas, the commandant of the escort, not to traverse the
city. He placed troops in deep line on the boulevard from the barrier De
l'Etoile to the Tuileries. The national guard bordered this line. The
Swiss guards were also drawn up, but their flags no longer lowered
before their master. No military honour was paid to the supreme head of
the army. The national guards, resting on their arms, did not salute
them, but saw the _cortège_ pass by in an attitude of force,
indifference, and contempt.


The carriages entered in the garden of the Tuileries by the turning
bridge. La Fayette, on horseback at the head of his staff, had gone to
meet the procession, and now headed it. During his absence an immense
crowd had filled the garden, the terraces, and obstructed the gate of
the chateau. The escort had the greatest difficulty in forcing its way
through this tumultuous mass. They made every man keep his hat on. M. de
Guillermy, a member of the Assembly, alone remained uncovered, in spite
of the threats and insults which this mark of respect brought down upon
him. It was then that the queen, perceiving M. de La Fayette, and
fearing for her faithful body-guard sitting in the carriage, and
threatened by the people, exclaimed, "Monsieur de La Fayette, save the
_gardes du corps_."

The royal family descended from the carriage at the end of the terrace.
La Fayette received them from the hands of Barnave and Pétion. The
children were carried in the arms of the national guard. One of the
members of the left side of the Assembly, the vicomte de Noailles,
approached the queen with eagerness, and offered his arm. The queen
indignantly rejected it, and cast a look of contempt at the offer of
protection from an enemy, then perceiving a deputy of the right,
demanded his arm. So much degradation might depress, but could not
overcome her. The dignity of the empire displayed itself unabated in the
gesture and the heart of the woman.

The prolonged clamours of the crowd at the entrance of the king at the
Tuileries announced to the Assembly its triumph. The excitement
suspended the sitting for nearly half an hour. A deputy, rushing into
the meeting, exclaimed that three _gardes du corps_ were in the hands of
the people, who would rend them in pieces. Twenty _commissaires_ went
out at the moment to rescue them. They entered some minutes afterwards.
The riot had been appeased by them. They stated that they had seen
Pétion protecting with his person the door of the king's carriage.
Barnave entered, mounted the tribune, covered as he was with the dust of
his journey, and said, "We have fulfilled our mission to the honour of
France and the Assembly; we have assured the public tranquillity and the
safety of the king. The king has declared to us that he had no intention
of passing the boundaries of the kingdom. (Murmurs.) We advanced rapidly
as far as Meaux, in order to avoid the pursuit of M. de Bouillé's
troops. The national guards and the troops have done their duty. The
king is at the Tuileries."

Pétion added, in order to flatter public opinion, that when the carriage
stopped some persons had attempted to lay hands on the _gardes du
corps_, that he himself had been seized by the collar and dragged from
his place by the carriage door, but that this movement by the people was
legal in its intention, and had no other object than to enforce the
execution of the law which had ordered the arrest of the accomplices of
the court. It was decreed that information should be drawn up by the
tribunal of the _arrondissement_ of the Tuileries concerning the king's
flight, and that three commissioners appointed by the Assembly should
receive the declarations of the king and queen. "What means this
obsequious exception?" exclaimed Robespierre. "Do you fear to degrade
royalty by handing over the king and queen to ordinary tribunals? A
citizen, a _citoyenne_, any man, any dignity, how elevated soever, can
never be degraded by the law." Buzot supported this opinion; Duport
opposed it. Respect prevailed over outrage. The commissioners named were
Tronchet, Dandré, and Duport.


Once more in his own apartments, Louis XVI. measured with a glance the
depth of his fall. La Fayette presented himself with all the demeanour
of regret and respect, but with the reality of command. "Your majesty,"
said he to the king, "knows my attachment for your royal person, but at
the same time you are not ignorant that if you separated yourself from
the cause of the people, I should side with the people." "That is true,"
replied the king. "You follow your principles--this is a party matter,
and I tell you frankly, that until lately I had believed you had
surrounded me by a turbulent faction of persons of your own way of
thinking in order to mislead me, but that yours was not the real opinion
of France. I have learnt during my journey that I was deceived, and that
this was the general wish." "Has your majesty any orders to give me?"
replied La Fayette. "It seems to me," retorted the king with a smile,
"that I am more at your orders than you are at mine."

The queen allowed the bitterness of her ill-restrained resentment to
display itself. She wished to force on M. de La Fayette the keys of her
caskets, which were in the carriages: he refused. She insisted; and when
he was firm in his refusal, she placed them in his hat with her own
hands. "Your majesty will have the goodness to take them back," said M.
de La Fayette, "for I shall not touch them." "Well, then," answered the
queen, "I shall find persons less delicate than you." The king entered
his closet, wrote several letters, and gave them to a footman, who
presented them to La Fayette for inspection. The general appeared
indignant that he should be deemed capable of such an unworthy office as
acting the spy over the king's acts; he was desirous that the thraldom
of the monarch should at least preserve the outward appearance of

The service of the chateau went on as usual; but La Fayette gave the
pass-word without first receiving it from the king. The iron gates of
the courts and gardens were locked. The royal family submitted to La
Fayette the list of persons whom they desired to receive. Sentinels were
placed at every door, in every passage, in the corridors between the
chambers of the king and queen. The doors of these chambers were
constantly kept open--even the queen's bed was inspected. Every place,
the most sacred, was suspected; female modesty was in no wise respected.
The gestures, looks, and words of the king and queen all were watched,
spied, and noted. They were obliged to manage by stealth some secret
interviews. An officer of the guard passed twenty-four hours at a time
at the end of a dark corridor, which was placed behind the apartment of
the queen's,--a single lamp lighted it, like the vault of a dungeon.
This post, detested by the officers on service, was sought after by the
devotion of some of them; they affected zeal, in order to cloak their
respect. Saint Prix, a celebrated actor of the Théâtre Français,
frequently accepted this post,--he favoured the hasty interviews of the
king, his wife, and sister.

In the evening one of the queen's women moved her bed between that of
her mistress and the open door of the apartment, that she might thus
conceal her from the eyes of the sentinels. One night the commandant of
the guard, who watched between the two doors, seeing that this woman was
asleep, and the queen was awake, ventured to approach the couch of his
royal mistress, and gave her in a low tone some information and advice
as to her situation. This conversation aroused the sleeping attendant,
who, alarmed at seeing a man in uniform close to the royal bed, was
about to call aloud, when the queen desired her to be silent, saying,
"Do not alarm yourself; this is a good Frenchman, who is mistaken as to
the intentions of the king and myself, but whose conversation betokens a
sincere attachment to his masters."

Providence thus made some of their persecutors to convey some
consolation to the victims. The king, so resigned, so unmoved, was bowed
for a moment beneath the weight of so many troubles--so much
humiliation. Such was his mental occupation, that he remained for ten
days without exchanging a word with one of his family. His last struggle
with misfortune seemed to have exhausted his strength. He felt himself
vanquished, and desired, it would almost seem, to die by anticipation.
The queen, throwing herself at his feet, and presenting to him his
children, forced him to break this mournful silence. "Let us," she
exclaimed, "preserve all our fortitude, in order to sustain this long
struggle with fortune. If our destruction be inevitable, there is still
left to us the choice of how we will perish; let us perish as
sovereigns, and do not let us wait without resistance, and without
vengeance, until they come and strangle us on the very floor of our own
apartments!" The queen had the heart of a hero; Louis XVI. had the soul
of a sage; but the genius which combines wisdom with valour was wanting
to both: the one knew how to struggle--the other knew how to
submit--neither knew how to reign.


The effect of this flight, had it succeeded, would have wholly changed
the aspect of the Revolution. Instead of having in the king, captive in
Paris, an instrument and a victim, the Revolution would have had in an
emancipated king, an enemy or a mediator; instead of being an anarchy,
she would have had a civil war; instead of having massacres, she would
have gained victories; she would have triumphed by arms, and not by

Never did the fate of so many men and so many ideas depend so plainly on
a chance! And yet this was not a chance. Drouet was the means of the
king's destruction: if he had not recognised the monarch from his
resemblance with his portrait on the assignats--if he had not rode with
all speed, and reached Varennes before the carriages, in two hours more
the king and his family must have been saved. Drouet, this obscure son
of a post-master, sauntering and idle that evening before the door of a
cottage, decided the fate of a monarchy. He took the advice of no one
but himself--he set off, saying, "I will arrest the king." But Drouet
would not have had this decisive impulse if, at this moment, as it were,
he had not personified in himself all the agitation and all the
suspicions of the people. It was the fanaticism of his country which
impelled him, unknown to himself, to Varennes, and which urged him to
sacrifice a whole family of fugitives to what he believed to be the
safety of the nation.

He had not received instructions from anyone; he took upon himself alone
the arrest and the death that ensued. His devotion to his country was
cruel: his silence and commiseration would have drawn down minor

As to the king himself, this flight was in him a fault if not a crime:
it was too soon or too late. Too late--for the king had already too far
sanctioned the Revolution, to turn suddenly against it without appearing
to betray his people and give himself the lie; too soon--for the
constitution which the National Assembly was drawing up was not yet
completed, the government was not yet pronounced powerless; and the foes
of the king and his family were not yet so decidedly menaced that the
care of his safety as a man should surpass his duties as a king. In case
of success, Louis XVI. had none but foreign forces to recover his
kingdom; in case of arrest, he found only a prison in his palace. On
which side soever we view it, flight was fatal--it was the road to shame
or to the scaffold. There is but one route by which to flee a throne and
not to die--abdication. On his return from Varennes, the king should
have abdicated. The Revolution would have adopted his son, and have
educated it in its own image. He did not abdicate--he consented to
accept the pardon of his people; he swore to execute a constitution from
which he had fled. He was a king in a state of amnesty. Europe beheld in
him but a fugitive from his throne led back to his punishment, the
nation but a traitor, and the Revolution but a plaything.



There is for a people, as for individuals, an instinct of conservation
which warns and "gives them pause," even under the impulses of the most
blind passions, before the dangers into which they are about to fling
themselves headlong. They seem suddenly to recede at the aspect of this
abyss, into which but now they were hastening precipitately. The
intermissions of human passions are short and fugitive, but they give
time to events, returns to wisdom, and opportunities to statesmen. These
are moments in which they seize the hesitating and intimidated spirit of
the people, in order to make them create a reaction against their own
excesses, and to lead them back by the very revulsion of the passions
that have already urged them too far. The day after the 25th of June,
1791, France experienced one of those throes of repentance which save a
people. There was only the statesman wanting.

Never had the National Assembly presented a spectacle so imposing and so
calm as during the five days which had succeeded the king's departure.
It would appear as though it felt the weight of the whole empire resting
on it, and it sustained its attitude in order to bear it with dignity.
It accepted the power without desiring either to usurp or to retain it.
It covered with a respectful fiction the king's desertion--called the
flight a carrying off, and sought for the guilty around the
throne--regarding the throne itself as inviolable. The man disappeared,
for it, in Louis XVI.:--in the irresponsible chief of the state. These
three months may be considered as an interregnum, during which public
reason was her sole constitution. There was no longer a king, for he was
a captive, and his sanction was taken from him: there was no longer law,
for the constitution was incomplete: there was no longer a minister, for
the executive power was suspended; and yet the kingdom was standing
erect, was acting, organising, defending itself, preserving itself--and
what is still more marvellous, controlled itself. It held in reserve in
a palace the principal machinery of the constitution,--Royalty; and the
day when the work is accomplished, it puts the king in his place, and
says to him, "Be free and reign."


One thing only dishonours this majestic interregnum of the nation--the
temporary captivity of the king and his family. But we must remember
that the nation had the right to say to its chief; "If thou wilt reign
over us, thou shalt not quit the kingdom, thou shalt not convey the
royalty of France amongst our enemies." And as to the forms of that
captivity in the Tuileries, we must remember too that the National
Assembly had not prescribed them,--that in fact it had risen with
indignation at the word imprisonment,--that it had commanded a political
resistance and nothing more, and that the severity and odium of the
precautionary measures used were occasioned by the zealous
responsibility of the national guard, more than to the irreverence of
the Assembly. La Fayette guarded, in the person of the king, the
dynasty, its proper head, and the constitution--a hostage against the
republic and royalty at the same time. _Maire du palais_, he intimidated
by the presence of a weak and degraded monarch, the discouraged
royalists and the restrained republicans. Louis XVI. was his pledge.

Barnave and the Lameths had within the Assembly the attitude of La
Fayette without. They required the king, in order to defend themselves
from their enemies. So long as there was a man (Mirabeau) between the
throne and themselves, they had played with the republic and sapped the
throne in order to crush a rival. But Mirabeau dead and the throne
shaken, they felt themselves weak against the very impulse they had
given. They sustained, therefore, this wreck of monarchy in order to be
sustained in their turn. Founders of the Jacobins, they trembled before
their own handiwork:--they took refuge in the constitution which they
themselves had dilapidated, and passed from the character of
destructives to that of statesmen. But for the first part there is only
violence needed; for the second genius is required. Barnave had talent
only. He had something more, however--he had a heart, and he was a good
man. The first excesses of his language were in him but the excitements
of the tribune; he was desirous of tasting the popular applause, and it
was showered upon him beyond his real merit. Hereafter it was not with
Mirabeau he was about to measure his strength; it was with the
Revolution in all its force. Jealousy took from him the pedestal which
it had lent, and he was about to appear as he really was.


But a sentiment more noble than that of his personal safety impelled
Barnave to side with the monarchical party. His heart had passed before
his ambition to the side of weakness, beauty, and misfortune. Nothing is
more dangerous than for a sensitive man to know those against whom he
contends. Hatred against the cause shrinks before the feeling for the
persons. We become partial unwittingly. Sensibility disarms the
understanding, and we soften instead of reasoning, whilst the
sensitiveness of a commiserating man soon usurps the place of his

It was thus that Barnave's mind was worked upon, after the return from
Varennes. The interest he had conceived for the queen had converted this
young republican into a royalist. Barnave had only previously known this
princess through a cloud of prejudice, amid which parties enshroud those
whom they wish to have detested. A sudden communication caused this
conventional atmosphere to dissipate, and he adored, when close, what he
had calumniated at a distance. The very character which fortune had cast
for him in the destiny of this woman had something unexpected and
romantic, capable of dazzling his lofty imagination, and deeply
affecting his generous disposition. Young, obscure, unknown but a few
months before, and now celebrated, popular, and powerful--thrown in the
name of a sovereign assembly between the people and the king--he became
the protector of those whose enemy he had been. Royal and suppliant
hands met his plebeian touch! He who opposed the popular royalty of
talent and eloquence to the royalty of the blood of the Bourbons! He
covered with his body the life of those who had been his masters. His
very devotion was a triumph; the object of that devotion was in his
queen. That queen was young, handsome, majestic; but brought to the
level of ordinary humanity by her alarm for her husband and his
children. Her tearful eyes besought their safety from Barnave's eyes. He
was the leading orator in that Assembly which held the fate of the
monarch in his house. He was the favourite of that people whom he
controlled by a gesture, and whose fury he averted during the long
journey between the throne and death. The queen had placed her son, the
young dauphin, between his knees. Barnave's fingers had played with the
fair hair of the child. The king, the queen, Madame Elizabeth, had
distinguished, with tact, Barnave from the inflexible and brutal Pétion.
They had conversed with him as to their situation: they complained of
having been deceived as to the nature of the public mind in France. They
unveiled their repentance and constitutional inclinations. These
conversations, marred in the carriage by the presence of the other
commissioner and the eyes of the people, had been stealthily and more
intimately renewed in the meetings which the royal family nightly held.
Mysterious political correspondences and secret interviews in the
Tuileries were contrived. Barnave, the inflexible partisan, reached
Paris a devoted man. The nocturnal conference of Mirabeau with the
queen, in the park of Saint Cloud, was ambitioned by his rival; but
Mirabeau sold, Barnave gave, himself. Heaps of gold bought the man of
genius; a glance seduced the man of sentiment.


Barnave had found Duport and the Lameths, his friends, in the most
monarchical moods, but from other motives than his own. This triumvirate
was in terms of good understanding at the Tuileries. Lameths and Duport
saw the king. Barnave, who at first dared not venture to visit the
chateau, subsequently went there secretly. The utmost precaution and
concealment attended these interviews. The king and queen sometimes
awaited the youthful orator in a small apartment on the _entre sol_ of
the palace, with a key in their hand, so as to open the door the moment
his footsteps were heard. When these meetings were utterly impossible,
Barnave wrote to the queen. He reckoned greatly on the strength of his
party in the Assembly, because he measured the power of their opinions
by the talent with which they expressed them. The queen did not feel a
similar confidence. "Take courage, madame," wrote Barnave; "it is true
our banner is torn, but the word _Constitution_ is still legible
thereon. This word will recover all its pristine force and _prestige_,
if the king will rally to it sincerely. The friends of this
constitution, retrieving past errors, may still raise and maintain it
firmly. The Jacobins alarm public reason; the emigrants threaten our
nationality. Do not fear the Jacobins--put no trust in the emigrants.
Throw yourself into the national party which now exists. Did not Henry
IV. ascend the throne of a Catholic nation at the head of a Protestant

The queen with all sincerity adopted this tardy counsel, and arranged
with Barnave all her measures, and all her foreign correspondence. She
neither said nor did any thing which could thwart the plans he had
conceived for the restoration of royal authority. "A feeling of
legitimate pride," said the queen when speaking of him, "a feeling which
I am far from blaming in a young man of talent born in the obscure ranks
of the third estate, has made him desire a revolution which should
smooth the way to fame and influence. But his heart is loyal, and if
ever power is again in our hands, Barnave's pardon is already written on
our hearts." Madame Elizabeth partook of this regard of the king and
queen for Barnave. Defeated at all points, they had ended by believing
that the only persons capable of restoring the monarchy were those who
had destroyed it. This was a fatal superstition. They were induced to
adore that power of the Revolution which they could not bend.


The first acts of the king were too much imbued with the inspirations of
Barnave and the Lameths for the royal dignity. He addressed to the
commissioners of the Assembly charged with interrogating him as to the
circumstances of the 21st of June, a reply, the bad faith of which
called for the smile rather than the indulgence of his enemies.

"Introduced into the king's chamber and alone with him," said the
commissioners of the Assembly, "the king made to us the following
declaration:--The motives of my departure were the insults and outrages
I underwent on the 18th of April, when I wished to go to St. Cloud.
These insults remained unpunished, and I thereupon believed that there
was neither safety nor decorum in my staying any longer in Paris. Unable
to quit publicly, I resolved to depart in the night, and without
attendants; my intention was never to leave the kingdom. I had no
concert with foreign powers, nor with the princes of my family who have
emigrated. My residence would have been at Montmédy, a place I had
chosen because it is fortified, and that being close to the frontier, I
was more ready to oppose every kind of invasion. I have learnt during my
journey that public opinion was decided in favour of the constitution,
and so soon as I learnt the general wish I have not hesitated, as I
never have hesitated, to make the sacrifice of what concerns myself for
the public good."

"The king," added the queen, in her declaration, "desiring to depart
with his children, I declare that nothing in nature could prevent my
following him. I have sufficiently proved, during two years, and under
the most painful circumstances, that I will never separate from him."

Not content with this inquiry into the motives and circumstances of the
king's flight, public opinion, much irritated, demanded that the hand of
the nation should be extended even to the paternal authority, and that
the Assembly should appoint a governor for the dauphin. Eighty names,
for the most part of obscure persons, were found in the division which
was openly taken. They were hailed with shouts of general derision. This
outrage to the king and father was spared him. The governor subsequently
named by Louis XVI., M. de Fleurieu, never entered upon his duties. The
governor of the heir to an empire was the gaoler of a prison of

The Marquis de Bouillé addressed from Luxembourg a threatening letter to
the Assembly, in order to turn from the king all popular indignation,
and to assume to himself the projection and execution of the king's
departure. "If," he added, "one hair of the head of Louis XVI. fall to
the ground, not one stone of Paris shall remain upon another. I know the
roads, and will guide the foreign armies thither." A laugh followed
these words. The Assembly was sufficiently wise not to require the
advice of M. de Bouillé, and strong enough to despise the threats of a
proscribed man.

M. de Cazalès sent in his resignation, in order to _go and fight (aller
combattre)_. The most prominent members of the right side, amongst whom
were Maury, Montlozier, the abbé Montesquieu, the abbé de Pradt, Virieu,
&c. &c., to the number of two hundred and ninety, took a pernicious
resolution, which, by removing all counterpoise from the extreme party
of the Revolution, precipitated the fall of, and destroyed, the king,
under pretext of a sacred respect for royalty. They remained in the
Assembly, but they annulled their power, and would only be considered as
a living protest against the violation of the royal liberty and
authority. The Assembly refused to hear the reading of their protest,
which was itself a violation of their elective power; and they then
published it and circulated it profusely all over the kingdom. "The
decrees of the Assembly," they said, "have wholly absorbed the royal
power. The seal of state is on the president's table; the king's
sanction is annihilated. The king's name is erased from the oath which
is taken from the law. The commissioners convey the orders of the
committees direct to the armies. The king is a captive; a provisional
republic occupies the interregnum. Far be it from us to concur in such
acts; we would not even consent to be witnesses of it, if we had not
still the duty of watching over the preservation of the king. Excepting
this sole interest, we shall impose on ourselves the most absolute
silence. This silence will be the only expression of our constant
opposition to all your acts."

These words were the abdication of an entire party, for any party that
protests abdicates. On this day there was emigration in the Assembly.
This mistaken fidelity, which deplored instead of combating, obtained
the applause of the nobility and clergy; it merited the utmost contempt
of politicians. Abandoning, in their struggle against the Jacobins,
Barnave and the monarchical constitutionalists, it gave the victory to
Robespierre, and by assuring the majority to his proposition for the non
re-election of the members of the National Assembly to the Legislative
Assembly, it sanctioned the convention. The royalists took away the
weight of one great opinion from the balance, which consequently then
leaned towards the disorders that ensued, and which in their progress
carried off the head of the king and their own heads. A great opinion
never lays down its arms with impunity for its country.


The Jacobins perceived this great error, and rejoiced at it. On seeing
so large a body of the supporters of the constitutional monarchy
withdraw from the contest voluntarily, they at once foresaw what they
might dare, and they dared it. Their sittings became more significant in
proportion as those of the Assembly grew more dull and impotent. The
words of "forfeiture" and "republic" were heard there for the first
time. Retracted at first, they were afterwards again pronounced: uttered
at first like blasphemies, they were not long in being familiar as
principles. Parties did not at first know what they themselves
desired--they learnt it from success. The daring broached distempered
ideas; if repulsed, the sagacious disavowed them--if caught up, the
leaders resumed them. In conflicts of opinions _reconnaissances_ are
employed, as they are in the campaigns of armies. The Jacobins were the
advanced guard of the Revolution, who measured the opposing obstacles of
the monarchical feeling.

The club of Cordeliers sent to the Jacobins a copy of a proposed address
to the National Assembly, in which the annihilation of royalty was
openly demanded.

"We are _free and without a king,_" said the Cordeliers, "as the day
after the taking of the Bastille; it is only for us to decide whether or
no we shall name another. We are of opinion that the nation should do
every thing by itself or by agents removable by her. We think, that the
more important an employ, the more temporary should be its tenure. We
think that royalty, and especially hereditary royalty, is incompatible
with liberty; we anticipate the crowd of opponents such a declaration
will create, but has not the declaration of rights produced as many? In
leaving his post the king virtually abdicated,--let us profit by the
occasion and our right--let us swear that France is a republic."

This address, read to the club of Jacobins on the 22d, at first excited
universal indignation. On the 23d, Danton mounted the tribune, demanded
the positive forfeiture of the throne (_la déchéance_), and the
nomination of a council of regency. "Your king," he said, "is an idiot,
or a criminal. It would be a horrid spectacle to present to the world,
if, having the option of declaring a king criminal or idiotic, you did
not prefer the latter alternative."

On the 27th, Girey Dupré, a young writer who awaited the Gironde,
mooted the judgment of Louis XVI. "We can punish a perjured king, and we
ought;" such was the text of his discourse. Brissot opened the question
as Pétion had done at the preceding sitting, "_Can a perjured king be
brought to trial_ (_jugé_)?

"Why," asked Brissot "should we divide ourselves into dangerous
denominations? we are all of one opinion. What do they want who are here
hostile to the republicans? They detest the turbulent assemblies of
Athens and Rome; they fear the division of France into isolated
federations. They only want the representative constitution, and they
are right. What do they want who boast of the name of republicans? They
fear, they abhor equally, the turbulent assemblies of Rome and Athens,
and equally dread a federated republic. They desire a representative
constitution--nothing more, nothing less--and thus, we all concur. The
head of the executive power has betrayed his oath,--must we bring him to
judgment? This is the only point on which we differ. Inviolability will
else be impunity to all crimes, an encouragement for all treason--common
sense demands that the punishment should follow the offence. I do not
see an inviolable man governing the people, but a _God_ and 25,000,000
of _brutes!_ If the king had on his return entered France at the head of
foreign forces, if he had ravaged our fairest provinces, and if, checked
in his career, you had made him prisoner, what would you then have done
with him? Would you have allowed his inviolability to have saved him?
Foreign powers are held up before you as a threat; do not fear them:
Europe in arms is impotent against a people who will be free."

In the National Assembly Muguer, in the name of the joint committees,
brought up the report on the king's flight; he maintained the
inviolability of Louis XVI. and the accusation of his accomplices.
ROBESPIERRE opposed the inviolability; he avoided all show of
anger in his language; and was careful to veil all his conclusions
beneath the cover of mildness and humanity. "I will not pause to
inquire," he said, "whether the king fled voluntarily, of his own act,
or if from the extremity of the frontiers a citizen carried him off by
his advice: I will not inquire either, whether this flight is a
conspiracy against the public liberty. I shall speak of the king as of
an imaginary sovereign, and of inviolability as a principle." After
having combated the principle of inviolability by the same arguments
which Girey Dupré and Brissot had applied, Robespierre thus concluded.
"The measures you propose cannot but dishonour you; if you adopt them, I
demand to declare myself the advocate of all the accused. I will be the
defender of the three _gardes du corps_, the dauphine's governess, even
of Monsieur de Bouillé. By the principles of your committees, there is
no crime; yet, invariably, where there is no crime there can be no
accomplices. Gentlemen, if it be a weakness to spare a culprit,
to visit the weaker culprit when the greater one escapes, is
cowardice--injustice. You must pass sentence on all the guilty alike, or
pronounce a general pardon."

Grégoire supported the accusation party. Salles defended the
recommendation of the committee.

Barnave at length spoke, and in support of Salles' opinion. He said:
"The French nation has just undergone a violent shock; but if we are to
believe all the auguries which are delivered, this recent event, like
all others which have preceded it, will only serve to advance the
period, to confirm the solidity of the revolution we have effected. I
will not dilate on the advantages of monarchical government: you have
proved your conviction by establishing it in your country: I will only
say that every government, to be good, should comprise within itself the
principles of its stability: for otherwise, instead of prosperity there
would be before us only the perspective of a series of changes. Some
men, whose motives I shall not impugn, seeking for examples to adduce,
have found, in America, a people occupying a vast territory with a
scanty population, nowhere surrounded by very powerful neighbours,
having forests for their boundaries, and having for customs the feelings
of a new race, and who are wholly ignorant of those factitious passions
and impulses which effect revolutions of government. They have seen a
republican government established in that land, and have thence drawn
the conclusion that a similar government was suitable for us. These men
are the same who at this moment are contesting the inviolability of the
king. But, if it be true that in our territory there is a vast
population spread,--if it be true that there are amongst them a
multitude of men exclusively given up to those intellectual speculations
which excite ambition and the love of fame,--if it be true that around
us powerful neighbours compel us to form but one compact body in order
to resist them,--if it be true that all these circumstances are
irresistible, and are wholly independent of ourselves, it is undeniable
that the sole existing remedy lies in a monarchical government. When a
country is populous and extensive, there are--and political experience
proves it--but two modes of assuring to it a solid and permanent
existence. Either you must organise those parts separately;--you must
place in each section of the empire a portion of the government, and
thus you will maintain security at the expense of unity, strength, and
all the advantages which result from a great and homogeneous
association:--or else you will be forced to centralise an unchangeable
power, which, never renewed by the law, presenting incessantly obstacles
to ambition, resists with advantage the shocks, rivalries, and rapid
vibrations of an immense population, agitated by all the passions
engendered by long established society. These facts decide our position.
We can only be strong through a federative government, which no one here
has the madness to propose, or by a monarchical government, such as you
have established; that is to say, by confiding the reins of the
executive power to a family having the right of hereditary succession.
You have intrusted to an inviolable king the exclusive function of
naming the agents of his power, but you have made those agents
responsible. To be independent the king must be inviolable: do not let
us set aside this axiom. We have never failed to observe this as regards
individuals, let us regard it as respects the monarch. Our principles,
the constitution, the law, declare that he has not forfeited (_qu'il
n'est pas déchu_): thus, then, we have to choose between our attachment
to the constitution and our resentment against an individual. Yes, I
demand at this moment from him amongst you all, who may have conceived
against the head of the executive power prejudices however strong, and
resentment however deep; I ask at his hands whether he is more irritated
against the king than he is attached to the laws of his country? I would
say to those who rage so furiously against an individual who has done
wrong,--I would say, Then you would be at his feet if you were content
with him? (Loud and lengthened applause.) Those who would thus sacrifice
the constitution to their anger against one man, seem to me too much
inclined to sacrifice liberty from their enthusiasm for some other man;
and since they love a republic, it is, indeed, the moment to say to
them, What, would you wish a republic in such a nation? How is it you do
not fear that the same variableness of the people, which to-day
manifests itself by hatred, may on another day be displayed by
enthusiasm in favour of some great man? Enthusiasm even more dangerous
than hatred: for the French nation, you know, understands better how to
love than to hate. I neither fear the attacks of foreign nations nor of
emigrants: I have already said so; but I now repeat it with the more
truth, as I fear the continuation of uneasiness and agitation, which
will not cease to exist and affect us until the Revolution be wholly and
pacifically concluded. We need fear no mischief from without; but vast
injury is done to us from within, when we are disturbed by painful
ideas--when chimerical dangers, excited around us, create with the
people some consistency and some credit for the men who use them as a
means of unceasing agitation. Immense damage is done to us when that
revolutionary impetus, which has destroyed every thing there was to
destroy, and which has urged us to the point where we must at last
pause, is perpetuated. If the Revolution advance one step further it
cannot do so without danger. In the line of liberty, the first act which
can follow is the annihilation of royalty; in the line of equality, the
first act which must follow is an attempt on all property. Revolutions
are not effected with metaphysical maxims--there must be an actual
tangible prey to offer to the multitude that is led astray. It is time,
therefore, to end the Revolution. It ought to stop at the moment when
the nation is free, and when all Frenchmen are equal. If it continue in
trouble, it is dishonoured, and we with it; yes, all the world ought to
agree that the common interest is involved in the close of the
Revolution. Those who have lost ought to perceive that it is impossible
to make it retrograde. Those who fashioned it must see that it is at its
consummation. Kings themselves--if from, time to time profound truths
can penetrate to the councils of kings--if occasionally the prejudices
which surround them will permit the sound views of a great and
philosophical policy to reach them--kings themselves must learn that
there is for them a wide difference between the example of a great
reform in the government and that of the abolition of royalty: that if
we pause here, where we are, they are still kings! but be their conduct
what it may, let the fault come from them and not from us. Regenerators
of the empire! follow straightly your undeviating line; you have been
courageous and potent--be to-day wise and moderate. In this will consist
the glorious termination of your efforts. Then, again returning to your
domestic hearths, you will obtain from all, if not blessings, at least
the silence of calumny." This address, the most eloquent ever delivered
by Barnave, carried the report in the affirmative; and for several days
checked all attempts at republic and forfeiture in the clubs of the
Cordeliers and Jacobins. The king's inviolability was consecrated in
fact as well as in principle. M. de Bouillé, his accomplices and
adherents, were sent for trial to the high national court of Orleans.


Whilst these men, exclusively political, each measuring the advance of
the Revolution, step by step, with their eyes, desired courageously to
stop it, or checked their own views, the Revolution was continually
progressing. Its own thought was too vast for any head of public man,
orator, or statesman to contain. Its breath was too powerful for any one
breast to respire it solely. Its end was too comprehensive to be
included in any of the successive views that the ambition of certain
factions, or the theories of certain statesmen could propound. Barnave,
the Lameths, and La Fayette, like Mirabeau and Necker, endeavoured, in
vain, to oppose to it the power and influence they had derived from it.
It was destined, before it was appeased or relaxed in its onward career,
to frustrate many other systems, make many other breasts pant in vain,
and outstrip a multitude of other aims.

Independent of the national assemblies it had given to itself as a
government, and in which were, for the most part, concentrated the
political instruments of its impulse, it had also given birth to two
levers, still more potent and terrible to move and sweep away these
political bodies when they attempted to check her when she chose to
advance. These two levers were the press and the clubs. The clubs and
the press were, to the legal assemblies, what free air is to confined
air. Whilst the air of these assemblies became vitiated, and exhausted
itself in the circle of the established government, the air of
journalism and popular societies was impregnated and incessantly stirred
by an inexhaustible principle of vitality and movement. The stagnation
within was fully credited, but the current was without.

The press, in the half century which had preceded the Revolution, had
been the echo, well organised and calm, of the thoughts of sages and
reformers. From the time when the Revolution burst forth, it had become
the turbulent and frequently cynical echo of the popular excitement.

It had itself transformed the modes of communicating ideas; it no longer
produced books--it had not the time: at first it expended itself in
pamphlets, and subsequently in a multitude of flying and diurnal sheets,
which, published at a low price amongst the people, or gratuitously
placarded in the public thoroughfares, incited the multitude to read and
discuss them. The treasury of the national thought, whose pieces of gold
were too pure, or too bulky, for the use of the populace, it was, if we
may be allowed the expression, converted into a multitude of smaller
coins, struck with the impress of the passions of the hour, and often
tarnished with the foulest oxides. Journalism, like an irresistible
element of the life of a people in revolution, had made its own place,
without listening to the law which had been made to restrain it.

Mirabeau, who required that his speeches should echo throughout the
departments, had given birth to this speaking trumpet of the Revolution,
(despite the orders in council) in his _Letters to my Constituents_, and
in the _Courrier de Provence_. At the opening of the States General, and
at the taking of the Bastille, other journals had appeared. At each new
insurrection there was a fresh inundation of newspapers. The leading
organs of public agitation were then the _Revolution of Paris_, edited
by Loustalot; a weekly paper, with a circulation of 200,000 copies; the
feeling of the man may be seen in the motto of his paper: "The great
appear great to us only because we are on our knees--let us rise!" The
_Discours de la Lanterne aux Parisiens_, subsequently called the
_Revolutions de France et de Brabant_, was the production of Camille
Desmoulins. This young student, who became suddenly a political
character on a chair in the garden of the Palais Royal, on the first
outbreak of the month of July, 1789, preserved in his style, which was
frequently very brilliant, something of his early character. It was the
sarcastic genius of Voltaire descended from the saloon to the pavement.
No man in himself ever personified the people better than did Camille
Desmoulins. He was the mob with his turbulent and unexpected movements,
his variableness, his unconnectedness, his rages interrupted by
laughter, or suddenly sinking into sympathy and sorrow for the very
victims he immolated. A man, at the same time so ardent and so trifling,
so trivial and so inspired, so indecisive between blood and tears, so
ready to crush what he had just deified with enthusiasm, must have the
more empire over a people in revolt, in proportion as he resembled them.
His character was his nature. He not only aped the people, he was the
people himself. His newspapers cried in the public streets, and their
sarcasm, bandied from mouth to mouth, has not been swept away with the
other impurities of the day. He remains, and will remain, a Menippus,
the satirist stained with blood. It was the popular chorus which led the
people to their most important movements, and which was frequently
stifled by the whistling of the cord of the street lamp, or in the
hatchet-stroke of the guillotine. Camille Desmoulins was the remorseless
offspring of the Revolution,--Marat was its fury; he had the clumsy
tumblings of the brute in his thought, and its gnashing of teeth in his
style. His journal (_L'Ami du Peuple_), the People's Friend, smelt of
blood in every line.


Marat was born in Switzerland. A writer without talent, a _savant_
without reputation, with a desire for fame without having received from
society or nature the means of acquiring either, he revenged himself on
all that was great not only in society but in nature. Genius was as
hateful to him as aristocracy. Wherever he saw any thing elevated or
striking he hunted it down as though it were a deadly enemy. He would
have levelled creation. Equality was his mania, because superiority was
his martyrdom; he loved the Revolution because it brought down all to
his level; he loved it even to blood, because blood washed out the stain
of his long-during obscurity; he made himself a public denouncer by the
popular title; he knew that denouncement is flattery to all who tremble,
and the people are always trembling. A real prophet of demagogueism,
inspired by insanity, he gave his nightly dreams to daily conspiracies.
The Seid of the people, he interested it by his self-devotion to its
interests. He affected mystery like all oracles. He lived in obscurity,
and only went out at night; he only communicated with his fellows with
the most sinistrous precautions. A subterranean cell was his residence,
and there he took refuge safe from poignard and poison. His journal
affected the imagination like something supernatural. Marat was wrapped
in real fanaticism. The confidence reposed in him nearly amounted to
worship. The fumes of the blood he incessantly demanded had mounted to
his brain. He was the delirium of the Revolution, himself a living


Brissot, as yet obscure, wrote _Le Patriote Français_. A politician, and
aspiring to leading parts, he only excited revolutionary passions in
proportion as he hoped one day to govern by them. At first a
constitutionalist and friend of Necker and Mirabeau, a hireling before
he became a _doctrinaire_, he saw in the people only a sovereign more
suitable to his own ambition. The republic was his rising sun; he
approached it as to his own fortune, but with prudence, and frequently
looking behind him to see if opinion followed his traces.

Condorcet, an aristocrat by genius, although an aristocrat by birth,
became a democrat from philosophy. His passion was the transformation of
human reason. He wrote _La Chronique de Paris_.

Carra, an obscure demagogue, had created for himself a name of fear in
the _Annales Patriotiques_. Fréron, in the _Orateur du Peuple_, rivalled
Marat. Fauchet, in the _Bouche de Fer_, elevated democracy to a level
with religious philosophy. The "last not least," Laclos, an officer of
artillery, author of an obscene novel, and the confidant of the Duc
d'Orleans, edited the _Journal des Jacobins_, and stirred up through
France the flame of ideas and words of which the focus was in the clubs.

All these men used their utmost efforts to impel the people beyond the
limits which Barnave had prescribed to the event of the 21st June. They
desired to avail themselves of the instant when the throne was left
empty to obliterate it from the constitution. They overwhelmed the king
with insults and objurgations, in order that the Assembly might not dare
to replace at the head of their institutions a prince whom they had
vilified. They clamoured for interrogatory, sentence, forfeiture,
abdication, imprisonment, and hoped to degrade royalty for ever by
degrading the king. The republic saw its hour for the first moment, and
trembled to allow it to escape. All these hands at once urged men's
minds towards a decisive movement. Articles in the journals provoked
motions, motions petitions, and petitions riots. The altar of the
country in the Champ-de-Mars, which remained erected for a new
federation, was the place which was already pointed out for the
assemblies of the people. It was the _Mons Aventinus_, whither it was to
retire, and whence it was to dictate to a timid and corrupt senate.

"No more king,--let us be republicans," wrote Brissot in the _Patriote_.
"Such is the cry at the Palais Royal, and it does not gain ground fast
enough; it would seem as though it were blasphemy. This repugnance for
assuming the name of the condition in which the state _actually is_ is
very extraordinary in the eyes of philosophy." "No king! no protector!
no regent! Let us have done with man-eaters of every sort and kind,"
re-echoed the _Bouche de Fer_. "Let the eighty-three departments enter
into a federation, and declare that they will no longer endure tyrants,
monarchs, or protectors. Their shade is as fatal to the people as that
of the Bohonupas is deadly to all that lives. If we nominate a regent we
shall soon fight for the choice of a master. Let us only contend for

Provoked by this reference to the regency, which appeared to point to
him, the Duc d'Orleans wrote to the journals that he was ready to serve
his country by land or by sea; but in respect to any question of
regency, he from that moment renounced, and for ever, any pretensions to
that title which the constitution might give him. "After having made so
many sacrifices to the cause of the people," he said, "I am no longer in
a condition to quit my position as a simple citizen. Ambition in me
would be an inexcusable inconsistency."

Already discredited by all parties, this prince, henceforth incapable of
serving the throne, was equally incapable of serving the republic.
Odious to the royalists, put aside by the demagogues, suspected by the
constitutionalists, there only remained to him the stoical attitude in
which he took refuge. He had abdicated his rank, abdicated his own
faction; he had abdicated the favour of the people. His life was all
that remained to him.

At the same moment Camille Desmoulins was thus satirically
apostrophising La Fayette, the first idol of the Revolution:--"Liberator
of two worlds, flower of Janissaries, phoenix of Alguazils-major, Don
Quixotte of Capet and the two chambers, constellation of the white
horse[2], my voice is too weak to raise itself above the clamour of your
thirty thousand spies, and as many more your satellites, above the noise
of your four hundred drums, and your cannons loaded with grape. I had
until now misrepresented your--more than--royal highness through the
allusions of Barnave, Lameth, and Duport. It was after them that I
denounced you to the eighty-three departments as an ambitious man who
only cared for parade, a slave of the court similar to those marshals of
the league to whom revolt had given the _bâton_, and who, looking upon
themselves as bastards, were desirous of becoming legitimate; but all of
a sudden you embrace each other, and proclaim yourselves mutually
fathers of your country! You say to the nation, 'Confide in us; we are
the Cincinnati, the Washingtons, the Aristides.' Which of these two
testimonies are we to believe? Foolish people! The Parisians are like
those Athenians to whom Demosthenes said, 'Shall you always resemble
those athletes who struck in one place cover it with their hand,--struck
in another place they place their hand there, and thus always occupied
with the blows they receive, do not know either how to strike or defend
themselves!' They are beginning to doubt whether Louis XVI. could be
perjured since he is at Varennes. I think I see the same great eyes open
when they shall see La Fayette open the gates of the capital to
despotism and aristocracy. May I be deceived in my conjectures, for I am
going from Paris, as Camillus my patron departed from an ungrateful
country, wishing it every kind of prosperity. I have no occasion to have
been an emperor like Diocletian to know that the fine lettuces of
Salernum, which are far superior to the empire of the East, are quite
equal to the gay scarf which a municipal authority wears, and the
uneasiness with which a Jacobin journalist returns to his home in the
evening, fearing always lest he should fall into an ambuscade of the
cut-throats of the general. For me it was not to establish two chambers
that I first mounted the tricolour cockade!"


Such was the general tone of the press, such the exhaustless laughter
which this young man diffused, like the Aristophanes of an irritated
people. He accustomed it to revile men, majesty, misfortune, and worth.
The day came when he required for himself and for the young and lovely
woman whom he adored, that pity which he had destroyed in the people. He
found, in his turn, only the brutal derision of the multitude, and he
himself then became sad and sorry for the first and last time.

The people, all whose political idea is from the senses, could not at
all comprehend why the statesmen of the Assembly should impose upon them
a fugitive king, out of respect for abstract royalty. The moderation of
Barnave and Lameth seemed to them full of suspicion; and cries of
treason were uttered at all their meetings. The decree of the Assembly
was the signal for increased ferment, which developed from and after the
13th of July, in zealous meetings, imprecations, and threats. Large
bodies of workmen, leaving their work, congregated in the public places,
and demanded bread of the municipal authorities. The commune, in order
to appease them, voted for distributions and supplies. Bailly, the mayor
of Paris, harangued them, and gave them extraordinary work. They went to
it for a moment, and then quitted it, being speedily attracted by the
mob becoming dense and uttering cries of hunger.

The crowd betook itself from the Hôtel-de-Ville to the Jacobins, from
the Jacobins to the National Assembly, clamorous for the forfeiture of
the crown and the republic. This popular gathering had no other leader
than the uneasiness that excited it. A spontaneous and unanimous
instinct assured it that the Assembly would be found wanting at the hour
of great resolutions. This mob desired to compel it again to seize the
opportunity. Its will was the more potent as it was wholly impossible to
trace it to its source--no chief gave it any visible impetus. It
advanced of itself, spake of itself, and wrote with its own hand in the
streets--on the corner stone--its threatening petitions.

The first that the people presented to the Assembly, on the 14th, and
which was escorted by 4000 petitioners, was signed "_The People_." The
14th of July and the 6th of October had taught it its name. The
Assembly, firm and unmoved, passed to the order of the day.

On quitting the Assembly, the crowd went to the Champ-de-Mars, where it
signed, in greater numbers, a second petition in still more imperative
terms. "Entrusted with the representation of a free people, will you
destroy the work we have perfected? Will you replace liberty by a reign
of tyranny? If, indeed, it were so, learn that the French people, which
has acquired its rights, will not again lose them."

On quitting the Champ-de-Mars, the people thronged round the Tuileries,
the Assembly, and the Palais Royal. Of their own accord they shut up the
theatres, and proclaimed the suspension of all public entertainments,
until justice should be done to them. That evening 4000 persons went to
the Jacobins, as though to identify in the agitators who met there the
real assembly of the people. The chiefs in whom they reposed confidence
were there: the tribune was occupied by a member who was denouncing to
the meeting a citizen for having made a remark injurious to Robespierre;
the accused was justifying himself, and they drove him tumultuously from
the chamber. At this moment Robespierre appeared, and begged them to
pardon the citizen who had insulted him. His generous intercession was
hailed with applause, and enthusiasm for Robespierre was at its height.
"Sacred vaults of the Jacobins," were the words of an address from the
departments; "you guarantee to us Robespierre and Danton, these two
oracles of patriotism." Laclos proposed a petition to be sent into the
departments, and covered with ten millions of signatures. A member
opposes this proposition, from love of order and peace. Danton
rises,--"And I, too, love peace, but not the peace of slavery. If we
have energy, let us show it. Let those who do not feel courage to rise
and beard tyranny refrain from signing our petition: we want no better
proof by which to understand each other. Here it is to our hand."

Robespierre next spoke, and demonstrated to the people that Barnave and
the Lameths were playing the same game as Mirabeau. "They concert with
our enemies, and then they call us factious!" More timid than Laclos and
Danton, he did not give any opinion as to the petition. A man of
calculation rather than of passion, he foresaw that the disorderly
movement would split against the organised resistance of the
_bourgeoisie_. He reserved to himself the power of falling back upon the
legality of the question, and kept on terms with the Assembly. Laclos
pressed his motion, and the people carried it. At midnight they
separated, after having agreed to meet the next day in the
Champ-de-Mars, there to sign the petition.

The day following was lost to sedition, by disputes between the clubs as
to the terms of the petition. The Republicans negotiated with La
Fayette, to whom they offered the presidency of an American government.
Robespierre and Danton, who detested La Fayette--Laclos, who urged on
the Duc d'Orleans, concerted together, and impeded the impulse given by
the Cordeliers subservient to Danton. The Assembly watchful, Bailly on
his guard, La Fayette resolute, watched in unison for the repression of
all outbreak. On the 16th the Assembly summoned to its bar the
municipality and its officers, to make it responsible for the public
peace. It drew up an address to the French people, in order to rally
them around the constitution. Bailly, the same evening, issued a
proclamation against the agitators. The fluctuating Jacobins themselves
declared their submission to the decrees of the Assembly. At the moment
when the struggle was expected, the leaders of the projected movement
were invisible. The night was spent in military preparations against the
meeting on the morrow.


On the 17th, very early in the morning, the people, without leaders,
began to collect in the Champ-de-Mars, and surround the altar of the
country, raised in the centre of the large square of the confederation.
A strange and melancholy chance opened the scenes of murder on this day.
When the multitude is excited, every thing becomes the occasion of
crime. A young painter, who, before the hour of meeting, was copying the
patriotic inscriptions engraved in front of the altar, heard a slight
noise at his feet; astonished, he looked around him and saw the point of
a gimlet, with which some men, concealed under the steps of the altar,
were piercing the planks of the pedestal. He hastened to the nearest
guard-house, and returned with some soldiers. They lifted up one of the
steps and found beneath two invalids, who had got under the altar in the
night, with no other design, as they declared, than a childish and
obscene curiosity. The report instantly spread that the altar of the
country was undermined, in order to blow up the people; that a barrel of
gunpowder had been discovered beside the conspirators; that the
invalids, surprised in the preliminaries to their criminal design, were
well known satellites of the aristocracy; that they had confessed their
deadly design, and the amount of reward promised on the success of their
wickedness. The mob mustered, and raging with fury, surrounded the
guard-house of the Gros-Caillou. The two invalids underwent an
interrogatory. The moment when they left the guard-house, to be conveyed
to the Hôtel-de-Ville, the populace rushed upon them, tore them from the
soldiers who were escorting them, rent them in pieces, and their heads,
placed on the tops of pikes, were carried by a band of ferocious
children to the environs of the Palais Royal.


The news of these murders, confusedly spread and variously interpreted
in the city, in the Assembly, among various groups, excited various
feelings, according as it was viewed as a crime of the people or a crime
of its enemies. The truth was only made apparent long after. The
agitation increased from the indignation of some and the suspicions of
others. Bailly, duly informed, sent three commissaries and a battalion.
Other commissaries traversed the quarters of the capital, reading to the
people the proclamation of the magistrates and the address of the
National Assembly.

The ground of the Bastille was occupied by the national guard and the
patriotic societies, which were to go thence to the field of the
Federation. Danton, Camille Desmoulins, Fréron, Brissot, and the
principal ringleaders of the people had disappeared; some said in order
to concert insurrectional measures, at Legendre's house in the country;
others, in order to escape the responsibility of the day. The former
version was the more generally accredited, from Robespierre's known
hatred to Danton, to whom Saint Just said, in his accusation--"Mirabeau,
who meditated a change of dynasty, appreciated the force of thy
audacity, and laid hands upon it. Thou didst startle him from the laws
of stern principle; we heard nothing more of thee until the massacres of
the Champ-de-Mars. Thou didst support that false measure of the people,
and the proposition of the law, which had no other object than to serve
for a pretext for unfolding the red banner, and an attempt at tyranny.
The patriots, not initiated in this treachery, had opposed thy
perfidious advice. Thou wast named in conjunction with Brissot to draw
up this petition. You both escaped the prey of La Fayette, who caused
the slaughter of ten thousand patriots. Brissot remained calmly in
Paris, and thou didst hasten to Arcis-sur-Aube, to pass some agreeable
days. Can one fancy thy tranquil joys--thou being one of the drawers up
of this petition, whilst those who signed the document were loaded with
irons, or weltering in their blood? You were then--thou and
Brissot--objects for the gratitude of tyranny; because, assuredly, you
could not be the objects of its detestation!"

Camille Desmoulins thus justifies the absence of Danton, himself, and
Fréron, by asserting that Danton had fled from proscription and
assassination to the house of his father-in-law, at Fontenay, on the
previous night, and was tracked thither by a band of La Fayette's spies;
and that Fréron, whilst crossing the Pont Neuf, had been assailed,
trampled under foot, and wounded by fourteen hired ruffians; whilst
Camille himself, marked for the dagger, only escaped by a mistake in his
description. History has not put any faith in these pretended
assassinations of La Fayette.

Camille, invisible all day, repaired in the evening to the Jacobins.


In the mean while the crowd began to congregate in vast masses in the
Champ-de-Mars--agitated, but inoffensive--the national guard, every
battalion of whom La Fayette had ordered out, were under arms. One of
the detachments which had arrived that morning in the Champ-de-Mars,
with a train of artillery, withdrew by the quays, in order that the
appearance of an armed force might not irritate the people. At twelve
o'clock the crowd assembled round the "altar of the country" (_autel de
la patrie_), not seeing the commissioners of the Jacobin club, who had
promised to bring the petition to be signed, of their own accord chose
four commissioners of their number to draw up one. One of the
commissioners took the pen, the citizens crowded round him, and he wrote
as follows:--

"On the altar of the country, July 13th, in the year III.
Representatives of the people, your labours are drawing to a close. A
great crime has been committed; Louis flies, and has unworthily
abandoned his post--the empire is on the verge of ruin--he has been
arrested, and has been brought back to Paris, where the people demand
that he be tried. You declare he shall be king. This is not the wish of
the people, and the decree is therefore annulled. He has been carried
off by the two hundred and ninety-two _aristocrates_, who have
themselves declared that they have no longer a voice in the National
Assembly. It is annulled because it is in opposition to the voice of the
people, your sovereign. Repeal your decree: the king has abdicated by
his crime: receive his abdication; convoke a fresh constitutive power;
point out the criminal, and organise a new executive power."

This petition was laid on the altar of the country, and quires of paper,
placed at the four corners of the altar, received six thousand

This petition is still preserved in the archives of the Municipality,
and bears on it the indelible imprint of the hand of the people. It is
the medal of the Revolution struck on the spot in the fused metal of
popular agitation. Here and there on it are to be traced those sinister
names that for the first time emerged from obscurity. These names are
like the hieroglyphics of the ancient monuments. The acts of men now
famous, who signed names then unknown and obscure, give to these
signatures a retrospective signification, and the eye dwells with
curiosity on these characters that seem to contain in a few marks the
mystery of a long life--the whole horror of an epoch. Here is the name
of _Chaumette, then a medical student, Rue Mazarine, No. 9_. There
_Maillard_, the president of the fearful massacres of September. Further
on, _Hébert_; underneath it, _Hanriot_, Inspector Warden of the
condemned prisoners (_Général des Suppliciés_) during the reign of
terror. The small and scrawled signature of Hébert, who was afterwards
the "_Père_ Duchesne," or le Peuple en colère, is like a spider that
extends its arms to seize its prey. Santerre has signed lower down: this
is the last name of note, the rest are alone those of the populace. It
is easy to discern how many a hasty and tremulous hand has traced the
witness of its fury or ignorance on this document. Many were even unable
to write. A circle of ink with a cross in the centre marks their
anonymous adhesion to the petition. Some female names are to be seen,
and numerous names of children are discernible, from the inaccuracy of
their hand, guided by another: poor babes, who professed the opinions of
their parents, without comprehending them; and who signed the
attestation of the passions of the people, ere their infant tongues
could utter a manly sound.


The municipal body had been informed at two o'clock of the murders
committed at the Champ-de-Mars, and of the insults offered to the body
of national guards sent to disperse the mob. M. de La Fayette himself,
who headed this detachment, had been struck by several stones hurled at
him by the populace. It was even reported that a man in the uniform of
the national guard had fired a pistol at him, and that he had generously
pardoned and released this man, who had been seized by the escort. This
popular report cast a halo of heroism around M. de La Fayette, and
animated anew the national guard, who were devoted to him. At this
recital Bailly did not hesitate to proclaim martial law, and to unfurl
the red flag, the last resource against sedition. On their side, the
mob, alarmed at the aspect of the red flag floating from the windows of
the Hôtel-de-Ville, despatched twelve of their number as a deputation to
the municipality. These commissioners with difficulty made their way to
the audience-hall, through a forest of bayonets, and demanded that three
citizens who had been arrested should be given up to them. No attention
was paid to them, however, and the resolution of employing force was
adopted. The mayor and authorities descended the steps of the
Hôtel-de-Ville, uttering threats of their intentions. At the sight of
Bailly preceded by the red flag a cry of enthusiasm burst from the
ranks, and the national guards clashed the butts of their muskets loudly
against the stones. The public force, indignant with the clubs, was in a
state of that nervous excitement that occasionally takes possession of
large bodies as well as individuals.

La Fayette, Bailly, and the municipal authorities commenced their march
preceded by the red flag, and followed by 10,000 national guards, the
paid battalions of grenadiers of this army of citizens formed the
advanced guard. An immense concourse of people followed by a natural
impulse this mass of bayonets that slowly descended the quays and the
rue du Gros-Caillou, towards the Champ-de-Mars. During this march, the
people congregated around the altar of the country since the morning
continued to sign the petition in peace. They were aware that the troops
were called out, but did not believe any violence was intended; their
calm and lawful method of proceeding, and the impunity of their sedition
for two years, made them believe in a perpetual impunity, and they
looked on the red flag merely as a fresh law to be despised.

On his arrival at the glacis of the Champ-de-Mars, La Fayette divided
his forces into three columns; the first debouched by the avenue of the
Ecole Militaire, the second and third by the two successive openings
that intersect the glacis between the Ecole Militaire and the Seine.
Bailly, La Fayette, and the municipal body with the red flag, marched at
the head of the first column. The _pas de charge_ beaten by 400 drums,
and the rolling of the cannon over the stones, announced the arrival of
the national army. These sounds drowned for an instant the hollow
murmurs and the shrill cries of 50,000 men, women, and children, who
filled the centre of the Champ-de-Mars, or crowded on the glacis. At the
moment when Bailly debouched between the glacis, the populace, who from
the top of the bank looked down on the mayor, the bayonets, and the
artillery, burst into threatening shouts and furious outcries against
the national guard. "_Down with the red flag! Shame to Bailly! Death to
La Fayette!_" The people in the Champ-de-Mars responded to these cries
with unanimous imprecations. Lumps of wet mud, the only arms at hand,
were cast at the national guard, and struck La Fayette's horse, the red
flag, and Bailly himself; and it is even said that several pistol shots
were fired from a distance; this however was by no means proved,--the
people had no intention of resisting, they wished only to intimidate.
Bailly summoned them to disperse legally, to which they replied by
shouts of derision; and he then, with the grave dignity of his office,
and the mute sorrow that formed part of his character, ordered them to
be dispersed by force. La Fayette first ordered the guard to fire in the
air; but the people, encouraged by this vain demonstration, formed into
line before the national guard, who then fired a discharge that killed
and wounded 600 persons, the republicans say 10,000. At the same moment
the ranks opened, the cavalry charged, and the artillerymen prepared to
open their fire; which, on this dense mass of people, would have taken
fearful effect. La Fayette, unable to restrain his soldiers by his
voice, placed himself before the cannon's mouth, and by this heroic act
saved the lives of thousands. In an instant the Champ-de-Mars was
cleared, and nought remained on it save the dead bodies of women,
children, trampled under foot, or flying before the cavalry; and a few
intrepid men on the steps of the altar of their country, who, amidst a
murderous fire and at the cannon's mouth, collected, in order to
preserve them, the sheets of the petition, as proofs of the wishes, or
bloody pledges of the future vengeance, of the people, and they only
retired when they had obtained them.

The columns of the national guard, and particularly the cavalry, pursued
the fugitives into the neighbouring fields, and made two hundred
prisoners. Not a man was killed on the side of the national guard; the
loss of the people is unknown. The one side diminished it, in order to
extenuate the odium of an execution without resistance; the others
augmented it, in order to rouse the people's resentment. At night, which
was already fast approaching, the bodies were cast into the Seine.
Opinions were divided as to the nature and details of this execution,
some terming it a crime, and others a painful duty; but this day of
unresisting butchery still retains the name given it by the people, _The
Massacre of the Champ-de-Mars_.


The national guard, headed by La Fayette, marched victorious, but
mournful, again into Paris: it was visible by their demeanour that they
hesitated between self-congratulation and shame, as though undecided on
the justice of what they had done. Amidst a few approving acclamations
that saluted them on their passage, they heard smothered imprecations;
and the words _murderers_ and _vengeance_ were substituted for
_patriotism_ and _obedience to the law_. They passed with a gloomy air
beneath the windows of that Assembly they had so lately protected;
still more sadly and more silently beneath the windows of the palace of
that monarchy, whose cause rather than whose king, they had just
defended. Bailly, calm and glacial as the law--La Fayette, resolute and
stern as a system, knew not how to awake any feeling beyond that of
imperious duty. They furled the red flag, stained with the first drops
of blood; and dispersed, battalion after battalion, in the dark streets
of Paris, more like gendarmes after an execution, than an army returning
from a victory.

Such was this "_Day of the Champ-de-Mars_," which gave a reign of three
months to the Assembly, by which they did not profit; which intimidated
the clubs for a few days, but which did not restore to the monarchy or
to the public tranquillity the blood it had cost. La Fayette had on this
day the destiny of the monarchy and the republic in his hands: he merely
re-established order.


The next morning Bailly appeared before the Assembly to report to them
the triumph of the law. He displayed the heartfelt sorrow of his mind,
and the masculine energy that formed part of his duty.

"The conspiracy had been formed," said he; "it was necessary to employ
force, and severe punishment has overtaken the crime." The president
approved, in the name of the Assembly, of the mayor's conduct, and
Barnave thanked the national guard in cold and weak language, whilst his
praises seemed near akin to excuses. The enthusiasm of the victors had
already subsided, and Pétion perceiving this, rose and said a few words
concerning a _projet de décret_ that had just been proposed, against
those who should assemble the people in numbers. These words, in the
mouth of Pétion, who was well known to be the friend of Brissot and the
conspirators, were at first received with sarcastic cries by the _côté
droit_, and then with loud applause from the _côté gauche_ and the
tribunes. The victory of the Champ-de-Mars was already contested in the
Assembly, and the clubs re-opened that evening. Robespierre, Brissot,
Danton, Camille Desmoulins, and Marat, who had for some days past
disappeared, now took fresh courage, for the hesitation of their enemies
reassured them,--by constantly attacking a power that was contented to
remain on the defensive, they could not fail to weary it out, and thus,
from accused they transformed themselves into accusers. Their papers
abandoned for a short time, became more malignant from their temporary
panic, and heaped ridicule and odium on Bailly and La Fayette. They
aroused the people to vengeance by displaying unceasingly before their
eyes the blood of the Champ-de-Mars. The red flag became the emblem of
the government and the winding-sheet of liberty. The conspirators
figured as victims, and constantly kept popular excitement on the rack,
by imaginary stories of the most odious persecutions.


"See," wrote Desmoulins, "see how the furious satellites of La Fayette
rush from their barracks, or rather from their taverns,--see, they
assemble and load their arms with ball, in the presence of the people,
whilst the battalions of _aristocrates_ mutually excite each other to
the massacre. It is chiefly in the eyes of the cavalry that you behold
the love of blood aroused by the double influence of wine and vengeance.
It was against women and babes that this army of butchers chiefly
directed their fury. The altar of the country is strewn with dead
bodies,--it is thus that La Fayette has dyed his hands in the gore of
citizens: those hands which, in my eyes, will ever appear to reek with
this innocent blood--this very spot where he had raised them to heaven
to swear to defend them. From this moment, the most worthy citizens are
proscribed; they are arrested in their beds, their papers are seized,
their presses broken, and lists of the names of those proscribed are
signed; the _modérés_ sign these lists, and then display them. 'Society
must be purged,' is their cry, 'of such men as _Brissot_, _Carra_,
_Pétion_, _Bonneville_, _Fréron_, _Danton_, and _Camille_.' Danton and I
found safety in flight alone from our assassins. The patriots are timid
factions." "And," added _Fréron_, "there are men to be found, who
venture to justify these cowardly murders--these informations--these
_lettres de cachet_--these seizures of papers--these confiscations of
presses. The red flag floats for a week from the balcony of the
Hôtel-de-Ville, like as in times of old, the banners torn from the grasp
of the dying foeman floated from the arched roof of our temples." In
another part he says, "Marat's presses have been seized--the name of the
author should have sufficed to protect the typographer. The press is
sacred, as sacred as the cradle of the first-born, which even the
officers of the law have orders to respect. The silence of the tomb
reigns in the city, the public places are deserted, and the theatres
re-echo alone with servile applause of royalism, that triumphs alike on
the stage and in our streets. You were impatient, Bailly, and you
treacherous, La Fayette, to employ that terrible weapon, martial law, so
dangerous, so difficult to be wielded. No, no, nought can ever efface
the indelible stain of the blood of your brethren, that has spurted over
your scarfs and your uniforms. It has sunk even to your heart--it is a
slow poison that will consume ye all."

Whilst the revolutionary press thus infused the spirit of resentment
into the people, the clubs, reassured by the indolence of the Assembly,
and by the scrupulous legality of La Fayette, suffered but slightly the
effects of this body blow of the victory of the Champ-de-Mars. A schism
took place in the assembly of the Jacobins between the intolerant
members and its first founders, Barnave, Duport, and the two
Lameths. This schism took its rise in the great question of the
non-re-eligibility of the members of the National Assembly for the
Legislative Assembly which was so soon to succeed. The pure Jacobins,
together with Robespierre, wished that the National Assembly should
abdicate, _en masse_, and voluntarily sentence themselves to a political
ostracism, in order to make room for men of newer ideas and more imbued
with the spirit of the time. The moderate and constitutional Jacobins
looked upon this abdication as equally fatal to the monarch, as it dealt
a mortal blow to their ambition, for they wished to seize on the
direction of the power they had just created; they deemed themselves
alone competent to control the movement that they had excited, and they
sought to rule in the name of those laws of which they were the framers.
Robespierre, on the contrary, who felt his own weakness in an assembly
composed of the same elements, wished these elements to be excluded
from the new assembly: he himself suffered by the law that he laid down
for his colleagues; but with scarcely a rival to dispute his authority
at the Jacobins, they formed his assembly. His instinct or calculation
told him that the Jacobins must have supreme sway in a newly formed
assembly composed of men whose very names were unknown to the nation.
One of the faction himself, it was enough for him that the factions
reigned; and the tool he possessed in the Jacobins, and his immense
popularity, gave him the positive assurance that he should rule the

This question, at the time of the events of the Champ-de-Mars, agitated,
and already tended to dissolve the Jacobins. The rival club of the
Feuillants, composed almost entirely of constitutionalists and members
of the National Assembly, had a more legal and monarchical appearance.
The irritation caused by the popular excesses, and their hatred for
Robespierre and Brissot, induced the ancient founders of the club to
join the Feuillants. The Jacobins trembled lest the empire of the
factions should escape them, and that division would weaken them. "It is
the court," said Camille Desmoulins, the friend of Robespierre, "it is
the court that foments this schism amongst us, and has invented this
perfidious stratagem to destroy the popular party. It knows the two
Lameths, La Fayette, Barnave, Duport, and the others who first figured
in the Jacobin assembly. 'What,' the court asked itself, 'is the aim of
all these men? their aim was to be elevated to rank and station, by the
voice of the people, and by the gales of popularity, of command of the
ministers, of gold: what they needed was court favour to serve as the
sails of their ambition; and, wanting these sails, they use the oars of
the people. Let us prove to Lameth and Barnave that they will not be
re-elected, that they cannot fill any important place before four years
have passed away. They will be indignant, and return to our party. I saw
Alexandre and Theodore Lameth the evening of the day on which
Robespierre's motion of the non-re-eligibility was carried. The Lameths
were then patriots, but the next day they were no longer the same. 'It
is impossible to submit to this,' said they,--'in concert with
Duport--we must quit France.' What! shall those who have been the
architects of the constitution undergo the mortification of witnessing
the downfall of the edifice they have reared, by this approaching system
of legislation? We shall be condemned to hear from the galleries of the
Assembly, some fool in the tribune attack our wisest enactments, which
we are denied the power of defending. Would to Heaven! that they would
quit France. Is it not enough to cause us to despise both the Assembly
and the people of Paris, when we see that the clue of this is, that the
supreme control was on the point of eluding the grasp of Lameth and La
Fayette, and that Duport and Barnave would not be again elected."

Pétion, alarmed at these symptoms of discord, addressed the tribune of
the Jacobins in conciliatory terms--"You are lost" said he, "should the
members of the Assembly quit your party, and betake themselves _en
masse_ to the Feuillants. The empire of public opinion is deserting you;
and these countless affiliated societies, imbued with your spirit, will
sever the bonds of fraternity, and unite them to you. Forestall the
designs of your enemies. Publish an address to the affiliated societies,
and reassure them of your constitutional intentions; tell them that you
have been belied to them, and that you are no promoters of faction. Tell
them that far from wishing to disturb public tranquillity, your sole
design is to avert those troubles entailed on you by the king's
departure. Tell them that we submit to the rapid and imposing influence
of opinion, and that respect for the Assembly, fidelity to the
constitution, devotion to the cause of your country and of liberty, form
your principles." This address, dictated by the hypocrisy of fear, was
adopted and sent to all the societies in the kingdom. This measure was
followed by a remodelling of the Jacobins; the primitive nucleus alone
was suffered to remain, which re-organised the rest by the ballot over
which Pétion presided.

On their side the Feuillants wrote to the patriotic societies of the
provinces, and for a brief space there was an interregnum of the
factions; but the societies of the provinces speedily declared _en
masse_, and with an almost unanimous and revolutionary enthusiasm, in
favour of the Jacobins.

"Free and sincere union with our brothers in Paris:" such was the
rallying cry of the clubs. Six hundred clubs sent in their adherence to
the Jacobins; eighteen alone declared for the Feuillants. The factions
felt the importance of unity as fully as the nation, and the schism of
opinion was stifled by the enthusiasm for the grandeur of their work,
Pétion, in a letter to his constituents which made a great sensation,
spoke of these fruitless attempts at dissension amongst the patriots,
and denounced those who dissented from it. "I tremble for my country,"
said he; "the _modérés_ are meditating the reform of the constitution
already; and to place again in the king's hands the power the people
have scarcely acquired. My mind is overwhelmed by these gloomy
reflections, and I despond. I am ready to quit the post you have
confided to me. Oh, my country, be but thou saved, and I shall breathe
my last sigh in peace!"

Such were Pétion's words, and from that hour he became the idol of the
people. He possessed neither the abilities nor the audacity of
Robespierre; but he had hypocrisy, that shameless veil of doubtful
positions. The people believed him to be sincere, and his speeches had
the same influence over them as his reputation.


The coalition which he denounced to the people was true. Barnave had an
understanding with the court. Malouet, an eloquent and able member of
the right, had an understanding with Barnave: a plan for modifying the
constitution had been concerted between these two men--yesterday foes,
to-day allies. The moment was come for uniting in one general measure
all these scattered laws valid during a revolution of thirty months. In
separating, on this review of the acts of the Assembly, what was
integral from that which was not, the occasion must arise for a revision
of every act of the constitution. It was, therefore, the moment to
profit (in order to amend them in a sense more monarchical), by the
reaction produced by La Fayette's victory. What impulse and anger had
too violently taken from the prerogatives of the crown, reason and
reflection could restore to it. The same men who had placed the
executive power in the hands of the Assembly, hoped to be able to
withdraw it from them. They believed they could effect every thing by
their eloquence and popularity. Like all who are descending the tide of
a revolution, they thought they were able to ascend the stream with
equal ease. They did not see that their strength, of which they were so
proud, was not in themselves, but in the current which bore them along.
Events were about to teach them that there is no opposing passions to
which concession has been once made. The strength of a statesman is his
power. One concession, how slight soever, to factions, is an irrevocable
engagement with them: when once we consent to become their instrument,
we may be made their idol and their victim, never their master. Barnave
was doomed to learn this when too late; and the Girondists were to learn
it after him. The plan was thus arranged:--Malouet was to ascend the
tribune, and in a vehement but well-reasoned discourse was to attack all
the errors of the constitution; he was to demonstrate that if these
vices were not amended by the Assembly before the constitution itself
should be presented to the king and the people to swear to, it would be
anarchy registered by an oath. The three hundred members of the _côté
droit_ were to support the charges of their spokesman by vehement
plaudits. Barnave was then to demand a reply, and in a discourse,
apparently much excited, was to have vindicated the constitution from
the invectives of Malouet, at the same time conceding that as this
constitution was suddenly produced by the enthusiastic ardour of the
Revolution, and under the impulse of desperately contending
circumstances, there might be some imperfections in a certain portion of
the construction; that the grave consideration and wisdom of the
Assembly might remedy these errors before it dissolved; and that,
amongst other ameliorations which might be applied to this work, they
might retouch two or three articles in which the power assigned to the
executive authority and the legislative authority had been ill defined,
so as to restore to the executive power the independence and scope
indispensable to their existence. The friends of Barnave, Lameth, and
Duport, as well as all the members of the left, would have clamorously
supported the speaker, except Robespierre, Pétion, Buzot, and the
republicans. A commission would have been instantly named for the
special revision of the articles alluded to. This commission would have
made its report before the end of the meeting of the chambers; and the
three hundred votes of Malouet, united to the constitutional votes of
Barnave, would have assured to the monarchical amendments the majority
which was to restore royalty.


But the members of the right refused to give their unanimous concurrence
to this plan. "To amend the constitution was to sanction revolt. To
unite themselves with the factious, was to become factious themselves.
To restore royalty by the hands of a Barnave, was to degrade the king
even to gratitude towards a member of a faction. Their hopes had not
fallen so low that it was thus they had but the option of accepting a
character in a comedy of startled revolutionists. Their hopes were not
in any amelioration of present ill, but in its progress towards worse.
The very excess of disorder would punish disorder itself. The king was
at the Tuileries, but royalty was not there--it was at Coblentz, it was
on all the thrones of Europe. Monarchies were all in connection; they
knew very well how to restore the French monarchy without the fellowship
of those who had overturned it."

Thus reasoned the members of the right. Feelings and resentments closed
their ears to the counsels of moderation and wisdom, and the monarchy
was not less systematically pushed towards its catastrophe by the hand
of its friends than that of its enemies. The plan was abortive.

Whilst the captive king kept up a twofold understanding with his
emigrant brothers to learn the strength and inclination of foreign
powers, and with Barnave to attempt the conquest of the Assembly, the
Assembly itself lost its power; and the spirit of the Revolution,
quitting the place in which it had no longer any hopes, went to excite
the clubs and municipalities, and bestow its energies on the elections.
The Assembly had committed the fault of declaring its members not
re-eligible for the new legislature. This act of renunciation of itself,
which resembled the heroism of disinterestedness, was in reality the
sacrifice of the country; it was the ostracism of superior power, and an
assurance of triumph to mediocrity. A nation how rich soever in genius
and virtue, never possesses more than a definite number of great
citizens. Nature is chary of superiority. The social conditions
necessary to form a public man are rarely in combination. Intelligence,
clear-sightedness, virtue, character, independence, leisure, fortune,
consideration already acquired, and devotion,--all this is seldom united
in one individual. An entire society is not decapitated with impunity.
Nations are like their soil: after having pared off the vegetable earth,
we find only the sand beneath, and that is unproductive. The Constituent
Assembly had forgotten this truth, or rather its abdication had assumed
the form of a vengeance. The royalist party had voted the
non-re-eligibility, in order that the Revolution, thus eluding Barnave's
grasp, should fall into the clutch of the demagogues. The republican
party had voted in order to annihilate the constitutionalists. The
constitutionalists voted in order to chastise the ingratitude of the
people, and to make themselves regretted by the unworthy spectacle which
they expected their successors would present. It was a vote of
contending passions, all evil, and which could only produce a loss to
all parties. The king alone was averse from this measure. He perceived
repentance in the National Assembly--he was in communication with its
leading members--he had the key to many consciences. A new nation,
unknown and impatient, was about to present it before him in a new
Assembly. The reports of the press, the clubs, and places of popular
bruit told him, but too plainly, on what men the excited people would
bestow their confidence. He preferred known, exhausted, opponents, men
partly gained over, to new and ardent enemies who would surpass in
exactions those they replaced. To them there only remained his throne to
overthrow,--to him there was left to yield but his life.


The principal names discussed in the public newspapers in Paris, were
those of Condorcet, Brissot, Danton;--in the departments, those of
Vergniaud, Guadet, Isnard, Louvet,--who were afterwards Girondists; and
those of Thuriot, Merlin, Carnot, Couthon, Danton, Saint Just, who,
subsequently united with Robespierre, were, by turns, his instruments or
his victims. Condorcet was a philosopher, as intrepid in his actions as
bold in his speculations. His political creed was a consequence of his
philosophy. He believed in the divinity of reason, and in the
omnipotence of the human understanding, with liberty as its handmaid.
Heaven, the abode of all ideal perfections, and in which man places his
most beautiful dreams, was limited by Condorcet to earth: his science
was his virtue; the human mind his deity. The intellect impregnated by
science, and multiplied by time, it appeared to him must triumph
necessarily over all the resistance of matter; must lay bare all the
creative powers of nature, and renew the face of creation. He had made
of this system a line of politics, whose first idea was to adore the
future and abhor the past. He had the cool fanaticism of logic, and the
reflective anger of conviction. A pupil of Voltaire, D'Alembert, and
Helvetius, he, like Bailly, was of that intermediate generation by which
philosophy was embodied with the Revolution. More ambitious than Bailly,
he had not his impassibility. Aristocrat by birth, he, like Mirabeau,
had passed over to the camp of the people. Hated by the court, he hated
it as do all renegades. He had become one of the people, in order to
convert the people into the army of philosophy. He wanted of the
republic no more than was sufficient to overturn its prejudices. Ideas
once become victorious,--he would willingly have confided it to the
control of a constitutional monarchy. He was rather a man for dispute
than a man of anarchy. Aristocrats always carry with them, into the
popular party, the desire of order and command. They would fain

  "Ride in the whirlwind and direct the storm."

Real anarchists are those who are impatient of having always obeyed, and
feel themselves impotent to command. Condorcet had edited the _Chronique
de Paris_ from 1789. It was a journal of constitutional doctrines, but
in which the throbbings of anger were perceivable beneath the cool and
polished hand of the philosopher. Had Condorcet been endowed with warmth
and command of language, he might have been the Mirabeau of another
assembly. He had his earnestness and constancy, but had not the
resounding and energetic tone which made his own soul and feelings felt
by another. The club of electors of Paris, who met at La Sainte
Chapelle, elected Condorcet to the chamber. The same club returned


Danton, whom the Revolution had found an obscure barrister at the
Châtelet, had increased with it in influence. He had already that
celebrity which the multitude easily assigns to him whom it sees every
where, and always listens to. He was one of those men who seem born of
the stir of revolutions, and which float on its surface until it
swallows them up. All in him was like the mass--athletic, rude, coarse.
He pleased them because he resembled them. His eloquence was like the
loud clamour of the mob. His brief and decisive phrases had the martial
curtness of command. His irresistible gestures gave impulse to his
plebeian auditories. Ambition was his sole line of politics. Devoid of
honour, principles, or morality, he only loved democracy because it was
exciting. It was his element, and he plunged into it. He sought there
not so much command as that voluptuous sensuality which man finds in the
rapid movement which bears him away with it. He was intoxicated with the
revolutionary vertigo as a man becomes drunken with wine; yet he bore
his intoxication well. He had that superiority of calmness in the
confusion he created, which enabled him to control it: preserving
_sangfroid_ in his excitement and his temper, even in a moment of
passion, he jested with the clubs in their stormiest moods. A burst of
laughter interrupted bitterest imprecations; and he amused the people
even whilst he impelled them to the uttermost pitch of fury. Satisfied
with his two-fold ascendency, he did not care to respect it himself, and
neither spoke to it of principles nor of virtue, but solely of force.
Himself, he adored force, and force only. His sole genius was contempt
for honesty; and he esteemed himself above all the world, because he had
trampled under foot all scruples. Every thing was to him a means. He was
a statesman of materialism, playing the popular game, with no end but
the terrible game itself, with no stake but his life, and with no
responsibility beyond nonentity. Such a man must be profoundly
indifferent either to despotism or to liberty. His contempt of the
people must incline him rather to the side of tyranny. When we can
detect nothing divine in men, the better part to play is to make use of
them. We can only serve well that which we respect. He was only with the
people because he was of the people, and thus the people ought to
triumph. He would have betrayed it, as he served it, unscrupulously. The
court well knew the tariff of his conscience. He threatened it in order
to make it desirous of buying him; he only opened his mouth in order to
have it stuffed with gold. His most revolutionary movements were but the
marked prices at which he was purchaseable. His hand was in every
intrigue, and his honesty was not checked by any offer of corruption. He
was bought daily, and next morning was again for sale. Mirabeau, La
Fayette, Montmorin, M. de Laporte, the intendant of the civil list, the
Duc d'Orleans, the king himself, all knew his price. Money had flowed
with him from all sources, even the most impure, without remaining with
him. Any other individual would have felt shame before men and parties
who had the secret of his dishonour; but he only was not ashamed, and
looked them in the face without a blush. His was the quietude of
vice.[3] He was the focus of all those men who seek in events nothing
but fortune and impunity. But others had only the baseness of
crime--Danton's vices partook of the heroic--his intellect was all but
genius. He had upon him the bright flash of circumstances, but it was as
sinister as his face. Immorality, which was the infirmity of his mind,
was in his eyes the essence of his ambition; he cultivated it in himself
as the element of future greatness. He pitied any body who respected any
thing. Such a man had of necessity a vast ascendency over the bad
passions of the multitude. He kept them in continual agitation, and
always boiling on the surface ready to flow into any torrent, even if it
were of blood.


Brissot de Warville was another of these popular candidates for the
representation. As this individual was the root of the Girondist party,
the first apostle and first martyr of the republic, we ought to know
him. Brissot was the son of a pastrycook at Chartres, and had received
his education in that city with Pétion, his fellow countryman. An
adventurer in literature, he had begun by assuming the name of
_Warville_, which concealed his own. It is a plebeian nobility not to
blush at one's father's name. Brissot had not done so. He began by
furtively appropriating one of the titles of that aristocracy of races
against which he was about to raise equality. Like Rousseau in every
thing but his genius, he sought his fortune hither and thither, and
descended even lower than he into misery and intrigue, before he
acquired celebrity. Dispositions become weakened and stained by such a
struggle with the difficulties of life in the dregs of great corrupted
cities. Rousseau had paraded his indigence and his reveries in the bosom
of nature; and as its consideration calms and purifies everything he
quitted it a philosopher. Brissot had dragged his misery and vanity into
the heart of Paris and of London, and into those haunts of infamy in
which adventurers and pamphleteers drag on a filthy existence: he left
them an intriguer. Yet in the very midst of these vices which had
rendered his honesty dubious, and name bespotted, he nurtured in the
depths of his soul three virtues capable of again elevating him--an
unshaken love for a young girl, whom he married in spite of his family,
a love of occupation, and a courage against the difficulties of life,
which he had afterwards to display in the face of death. His philosophy
was identical with Rousseau's. He believed in God. He had faith in
liberty, truth, and virtue. He had in his soul that unqualified devotion
towards the human species which is the charity of philosophers. He
detested society, for in it there was no place awarded to him; but what
he hated with unmitigated hate was the state of society; its
prejudices--its falsehoods. He would have recast it, less for himself
than for the benefit of mankind. He would have consented to be crushed
beneath its ruins, provided those ruins were to give place to his ideal
plan of the government of reason. Brissot was one of those mercenary
scribes who write for those who pay best. He had written on all
subjects, for every minister; especially Turgot. Criminal laws,
political economy, diplomacy, literature, philosophy, even libels,--his
pen was at the hire of the first comer. Seeking the support of
celebrated and influential men, he had adulated all from Voltaire and
Franklin down to Marat. Known to Madame de Genlis, he had, through her,
some acquaintance with the Duc d'Orleans. Sent to London by the minister
on one of those missions which are nameless, he there became connected
with the editor of the _Courrier de l'Europe_, a French journal, printed
in London, and the boldness of whose style was offensive at the court of
the Tuileries. He engaged himself to Swinton, the proprietor of this
newspaper, and edited it in a manner favorable to the views of
Vergennes. He knew at Swinton's several writers, amongst others one
Morande. These libellers, outcasts of society, frequently then become
the refuse of the pen, and live at the same time on the disgraces of
vice and in the pay of spies. Their collision infected Brissot. He was
or appeared to be sometimes their accomplice. Hideous blotches thus
stain his life, and were cruelly revived by his enemies, when the time
came in which he was compelled to appeal to public esteem.

Returning to France at the first symptoms of the Revolution, he watched
its successive phases, with the ambition of an impatient man, and with
the indecision of one not knowing what part to take. He was frequently
wrong. He compromised himself by his devotion, too early displayed,
towards certain men who had seemed to him for a moment to be all
powerful, especially towards La Fayette. Editor of the _Patriote
Français_, he had occasionally put forth revolutionary feelers, and
flattered the future by going even faster than the factions themselves.
He had even been disowned by Robespierre. "Whilst I content myself,"
said Robespierre, referring to him, "with defending the principles of
liberty, without opening any other question, what are you doing, Brissot
and Condorcet? Known until now by your great moderation and your
connection with La Fayette, for a long time followers of the
aristocratic club of '89, you suddenly blazon forth the word Republic.
You issue a journal entitled the _Republican_! Then minds become in a
ferment. The mere word Republic throws division amongst patriots, and
affords to our enemies a pretext which they seek for announcing that
there exists in France a party which conspires against the monarchy and
the constitution. Under this title we are persecuted, and peaceable
citizens are sacrificed on the altars of their country! At this name we
are transformed into factions, and the Revolution is made to recede,
perhaps, half a century. It was at the same moment that Brissot came to
the Jacobins, where he had never before appeared, to propose a republic
of which the simplest rules of prudence had forbidden us to speak in the
National Assembly. By what fatality did Brissot find himself there? I
would fain discover no craft in his conduct; I would prefer detecting
only imprudence and folly. But now that his connection with La Fayette
and Narbonne are no longer a mystery--now that he no longer dissimulates
his schemes of dangerous innovations, let him clearly understand that
the nation will at once and effectually break through all the plots
framed during so many years by pitiful intriguers."

So spake Robespierre, jealous by anticipation, and yet just, on
Brissot's presenting himself as a candidate. The Revolution rejected
him, the Counter-revolution repudiated him no less. Brissot's old allies
in London, especially Morande, returned to Paris under cover of the
troublous times, revealed to the Parisians in the _Argus_, and in
placards, the secret intrigues and the disgraceful literary career of
their former associate. They quoted actual letters, in which Brissot had
lied unblushingly as to his name, the condition of his family, and his
father's fortune, in order to acquire Swinton's confidence, to gain
credit, and make dupes in England. The proofs were damning. A
considerable sum had been extorted from a man named Desforges, under
pretence of erecting an institution in London, and this sum had been
expended by Brissot on himself. This was but a trifle: Brissot, on
quitting England, had left in the hands of this Desforges twenty-four
letters, which but too plainly established his participation in the
infamous trade of libels carried on by his allies. It was proved to
demonstration that Brissot had connived at the sending into France, and
the propagation of, odious pamphlets by Morande. The journals hostile to
his election seized on these scandalous facts, and held them up to
public obloquy. He was, besides, accused of having extracted from the
funds of the district of the _Filles-Saint-Thomas_, of which he was
president, a sum for his own purse, long forgotten. His defence was
laboured and obscure; yet it was held by the club of the Rue de la
Michodière sufficient proof of his innocence and integrity. Some
journals, solely occupied with the political bearing of his life, took
up his defence, and made loud complaints against his calumny. Manuel,
his friend, who edited a vile journal, wrote thus, to console
him:--"These ordures of calumny, spread abroad at the moment of
scrutiny, always end by leaving a dirty stain on those who scatter them.
But it is allowing a triumph to the enemies of the people, to repulse
thus a man who fearlessly attacks them. They give me votes, in spite of
my drivellings, and my love of the bottle. Leave 'Père Duchesne'[4]
alone, and let us nominate Brissot; he is a better man than I am."

Marat, in his _Ami du Peuple_, wrote thus ambiguously of
Brissot:--"Brissot," says the Friend of the People, "was never, in my
eyes, a thorough-going patriot. Either from ambition or baseness, he has
up to this time betrayed the duties of a good citizen. Why has he been
so tardy in leaving a system of hypocrisy? Poor Brissot, thou art the
victim of a court valet, of a base hypocrite!--why lend thy paw to La
Fayette? Why, thou must expect to experience the fate of all men of
indecision. Thou hast displeased every body; thou canst never make thy
way. If thou hast one atom of proper feeling left, hasten, and scratch
out thy name from the list of candidates for the approaching general

Thus appeared on the scene for the first time, in the midst of the
hootings of both parties, this man, who attempted in vain to escape from
the general contempt accumulated on his name from the faults of his
youth, in order to enter on the gravity of his political career--a
mingled character, half intrigue, half virtue. Brissot, destined to
serve as the centre of a rallying point to the party of the _Gironde_,
had, by anticipation in his character, all there was in after days, of
destiny in his party, of intrigue and patriotism, of faction and
martyrdom. The other marked candidates in Paris, were, Pastoret, a man
of the South, prudent and skilful as a Southron, steering ably betwixt
parties, giving sufficient guarantee to the Revolution to be accepted by
it, enough devotion to the court to retain its secret confidence; borne
hither and thither by the alternating favours of the two opinions, like
a man who seeks fortune for his talent in the Revolution, but never
looking for it beyond the limits of the just and honourable. Lacepede,
Cérutti, Héraut de Séchelles, and Gouvion, La Fayette's aide-de-camp.
The elections of the department occupied but little attention. The
National Assembly had exhausted the country of its characters and its
talents; the ostracism it had exercised had imposed on France but
secondary ability. There was but little enthusiasm for untried men: the
public eyes were only fixed on the names about to disappear. A country
cannot contain a twofold renown: that of France was departing with the
members of the dissolved Assembly--another France was about to rise.



At this juncture the germ of a new opinion began to display itself in
the south, and Bordeaux felt its full influence. The department of the
Gironde had given birth to a new political party in the twelve citizens
who formed its deputies. This department, far removed from the _centre_,
was at no distant period to seize on the empire alike of opinion and of
eloquence. The names (obscure and unknown up to this period) of _Ducos,
Guadet, Lafond-Ladebat, Grangeneuve, Gensonné, Vergniaud_, were about to
rise into notice and renown with the storms and the disasters of their
country; they were the men who were destined to give that impulse to the
Revolution that had hitherto remained in doubt and indecision, before
which it still trembled with apprehension, and which was to precipitate
it into a republic. Why was this impulse fated to have birth in the
department of the Gironde and not in Paris? Nought but conjectures can
be offered on this subject; and yet perhaps the republican spirit was
more likely to manifest itself at Bordeaux than at Paris, where the
presence and influence of a court had for ages past enervated the
independence of character, and enfeebled the austerity of principle that
form the basis of patriotism and liberty. The states of Languedoc, and
the habits that necessarily result from the administration of a province
governed by itself, could not fail to predispose the inclination of the
Gironde in favour of an elective and federative government. Bordeaux was
a parliamentary country; the parliaments had every where encouraged the
spirit of resistance, and had often created a factious feeling against
the king. Bordeaux was a commercial city, and commerce, which requires
liberty through interest, at last desires it through a love of freedom.
Bordeaux was the great commercial link between America and France, and
their constant intercourse with America had communicated to the Gironde
their love for free institutions. Moreover Bordeaux was more exposed to
the enlightening influence of the sun of philosophy than the centre of
France. Philosophy had germed there ere it arose in Paris, for Bordeaux
was the birthplace of Montaigne and Montesquieu, those two great
republicans of the French school. The one had deeply investigated the
religious dogmata, the other the political institutions; and the
president Dupaty had long after awakened there enthusiasm for the new
system of philosophy. Bordeaux, in addition, was a country where the
traditions of liberty and the _Roman Forum_ had been perpetuated in the
bar. A certain leaven of antiquity animated each heart, and lent vigour
to every tongue, and the town was still more republican by eloquence
than by opinion, though there was something of Latin emphasis in their
patriotism. It was in the birthplace of Montaigne and Montesquieu that
the republic was to take its origin.


The period of the elections was the signal for a still more obstinate
attack from the public press. The papers were insufficient: men sold
pamphlets in the streets, and the "_Journaux affiches_" were invented,
which were placarded against the walls of Paris, and around which groups
of people were constantly collected. Wandering orators, inspired or
hired by the different parties, took their stand there and commented
aloud on these impassioned productions:--Loustalot, in the _Revolutions
de Paris_, founded by Prudhomme, and continued alternately by Chaumette
and Fabre d'Eglantine; Marat, in the _Publiciste_ and the _Ami du
Peuple_; Brissot, in the _Patriote Française_; Gorsas, in the _Courier
de Versailles_; Condorcet, in the _Chronique de Paris_, Cérutti, in the
_Feuille Villageoise_; Camille Desmoulins, in the _Discours de la
Lanterne_, and the _Revolutions de Brabant_; Fréron, in the _Orateur du
Peuple_; Hébert and Manuel, in the _Père Duchesne_; Carra, in the
_Annales Patriotiques;_ Fleydel, in the _Observateur_; Laclos, in the
_Journal des Jacobins_; Fauchet, in the _Bouche de Fer_; Royon, in the
_Ami du Roi_; Champcenetz-Rivarol, in the _Actes des Apôtres_; Suleau
and André Chénier, in several _royaliste_ or _modérée_ papers,--excited
and disputed dominion over the minds of the people. It was the ancient
tribune transported to the dwelling of each citizen, and adapting its
language to the comprehension of all men, even the most illiterate.
Anger, suspicion, hatred, envy, fanaticism, credulity, invective, thirst
of blood, sudden panics, madness and reflection, treason and fidelity,
eloquence and folly, had each their organ in this concert of every
passion and feeling in which the city revelled each night. All toil was
at an end; the only labour in their eyes was to watch the throne, to
frustrate the real or fancied plots of the aristocracy, and to save
their country. The hoarse bawling of the vendors of the public journals,
the patriotic chaunts of the Jacobins as they quitted their clubs, the
tumultuous assemblies, the convocations to the patriotic ceremonies,
fallacious fears as to the failure of provisions--kept the population of
the city and faubourgs in a perpetual state of excitement, which
suffered no one to remain inactive; indifference would have been
considered treason; and it was necessary to feign enthusiasm in order to
be in accordance with public opinion. Each fresh event quickened this
feverish excitement, which the press constantly instilled into the veins
of the people. Its language already bordered on delirium, and borrowed
from the population even their proverbs, their love of trifles, their
obscenity, their brutality, and even their oaths, with which the
articles were interlarded, as though to impress more forcibly its hatred
on the ear of its foes. Danton, Hébert, and Marat were the first to
adopt this tone, these gestures, and these exclamations of the populace,
as though to flatter them by imitating their vices. Robespierre never
condescended to this, and never sought to obtain ascendency over the
people by pandering to their brutality, but by appealing to their
reason; and the fanatical tone of his speeches possessed at least that
decency that attends great ideas--he ruled by respect, and scorned to
captivate them by familiarity. The more he gained the confidence of the
lower classes, the more did he affect the philosophical tone and austere
demeanour of the statesman. It was plainly perceptible in his most
radical propositions, that however he might wish to renew social order
he would not corrupt its elements, and that his eyes to emancipate the
people was not to degrade them.


It was at this period that the Assembly ordered the removal of
Voltaire's remains to the Pantheon: philosophy thus avenged itself on
the anathemas that had been thundered forth, even against the ashes of
the great innovator. The body of Voltaire, on his death, in Paris,
A.D. 1778, had been furtively removed by his nephew at night,
and interred in the church of the abbey of Sellières in Champagne; and
when the nation sold this abbey, the cities of Troyes and Romilly
mutually contended for the honour of possessing the bones of the
greatest man of the age. The city of Paris, where he had breathed his
last, now claimed its privilege as the capital of France, and addressed
a petition to the National Assembly, praying that Voltaire's body might
be brought back to Paris and interred in the Pantheon, that cathedral of
philosophy. The Assembly eagerly hailed the idea of this homage, that
traced liberty back to its original source. "The people owe their
freedom to him," said Regnault de Saint Jean d'Angély; "for by
enlightening them, he gave them power; nations are enthralled by
ignorance alone, and when the torch of reason displays to them the
ignominy of bearing these chains, they blush to wear them, and snap them

On the 11th of July, the departmental and municipal authorities went in
state to the barrier of Charenton, to receive the mortal remains of
Voltaire, which were placed on the ancient site of the Bastille, like a
conqueror on his trophies; his coffin was exposed to public gaze, and a
pedestal was formed for it of stones torn from the foundations of this
ancient stronghold of tyranny; and thus Voltaire when dead triumphed
over those stones which had triumphed over and confined him when living.
On one of the blocks was the inscription, "_Receive on this spot, where
despotism once fettered thee, the honours decreed to thee by thy


The next day, when the rays of a brilliant sun had dissipated the mists
of the night, an immense concourse of people followed the car that bore
Voltaire to the Pantheon. This car was drawn by twelve white horses,
harnessed four abreast; their manes plaited with flowers and golden
tassels, and the reins held by men dressed in antique costumes, like
those depicted on the medals of ancient triumphs. On the car was a
funeral couch, extended on which was a statue of the philosopher,
crowned with a wreath. The National Assembly, the departmental and
municipal bodies, the constituted authorities, the magistrates, and the
army, surrounded, preceded, and followed the sarcophagus. The
boulevards, the streets, the public places, the windows, the roofs of
houses, even the trees, were crowded with spectators; and the suppressed
murmurs of vanquished intolerance could not restrain this feeling of
enthusiasm. Every eye was riveted on the car; for the new school of
ideas felt that it was the proof of their victory that was passing
before them, and that philosophy remained mistress of the field of

The details of this ceremony were magnificent; and in spite of its
profane and theatrical trappings, the features of every man that
followed the car wore the expression of joy, arising from an
intellectual triumph. A large body of cavalry, who seemed to have now
offered their arms at the shrine of intelligence, opened the march. Then
followed the muffled drums, to whose notes were added the roar of the
artillery that formed a part of the cortège. The scholars of the
colleges of Paris, the patriotic societies, the battalions of the
national guard, the workmen of the different public journals, the
persons employed to demolish the foundations of the Bastille, some
bearing a portable press, which struck off different inscriptions in
honour of Voltaire, as the procession moved on; others carrying the
chains, the collars and bolts, and bullets found in the dungeons and
arsenals of the state prisons; and lastly, busts of Voltaire, Rousseau,
and Mirabeau, marched between the troops and the populace. On a litter
was displayed the _procès-verbal_ of the electors of '89, that _Hegyra_
of the insurrection. On another stand, the citizens of the Faubourg
Saint Antoine exhibited a plan in relief of the Bastille, the flag of
the donjon, and a young girl, in the costume of an Amazon, who had
fought at the siege of this fortress. Here and there, pikes surmounted
with the Phrygian cap of liberty arose above the crowd, and on one of
them was a scroll bearing the inscription, "_From this steel sprung

All the actors and actresses of the theatres of Paris followed the
statue of him who for sixty years had inspired them; the titles of his
principal works were inscribed on the sides of a pyramid that
represented his immortality. His statue, formed of gold and crowned with
laurel, was borne on the shoulders of citizens, wearing the costumes of
the nations and the times whose manners and customs he had depicted; and
the seventy volumes of his works were contained in a casket, also of
gold. The members of the learned bodies, and of the principal academies
of the kingdom surrounded this ark of philosophy. Numerous bands of
music, some marching with the troops, others stationed along the road of
the procession, saluted the car as it passed with loud bursts of
harmony, and filled the air with the enthusiastic strains of liberty.
The procession stopped before the principal theatres, a hymn was sung in
honour of his genius, and the car then resumed its march. On their
arrival at the quai that bears his name, the car stopped before the
house of M. de Villette, where Voltaire had breathed his last, and where
his heart was preserved. Evergreen shrubs, garlands of leaves, and
wreaths of roses decorated the front of the house, which bore the
inscription, "_His fame is every where, and his heart is here_." Young
girls dressed in white, and wreaths of flowers on their heads, covered
the steps of an amphitheatre erected before the house. Madame de
Villette, to whom Voltaire had been a second father, in all the
splendour of her beauty, and the pathos of her tears, advanced and
placed the noblest of all his wreaths, the wreath of filial affection,
on the head of the great philosopher.

At this moment the crowd burst into one of the hymns of the poet
Chénier, who, up to his death, most of all men cherished the memory of
Voltaire. Madame de Villette and the young girls of the amphitheatre
descended into the street, now strewed with flowers, and walked before
the car. The Théâtre Français, then situated in the Faubourg St.
Germain, had erected a triumphal arch on its peristyle. On each pillar a
medallion was fixed, bearing in letters of gilt bronze the title of the
principal dramas of the poet; on the pedestal of the statue erected
before the door of the theatre was written, "_He wrote Irène at
eighty-three years; at seventeen he wrote OEdipus_."

The immense procession did not arrive at the Pantheon until ten o'clock
at night, for the day had not been sufficiently long for this triumph.
The coffin of Voltaire was deposited between those of Descartes and
Mirabeau,--the spot predestined for this intermediary genius between
philosophy and policy, between the design and the execution. This
apotheosis of modern philosophy, amidst the great events that agitated
the public mind, was a convincing proof that the Revolution comprehended
its own aim, and that it sought to be the inauguration of those two
principles represented by these cold ashes--Intelligence and Liberty. It
was intelligence that triumphantly entered the city of Louis XIV. over
the ruins of the prejudices of birth. It was philosophy taking
possession of the city and the temple of Sainte Geneviève. The remains
of two schools, of two ages, and two creeds were about to strive for the
mastery even in the tomb. Philosophy who, up to this hour, had timidly
shrunk from the contest, now revealed her latest inspiration--that of
transferring the veneration of the age from one great man to another.


Voltaire, the sceptical genius of France in modern ages, combined, in
himself, the double passion of this people at such a period--the passion
of destruction, and the desire of innovation, hatred of prejudices, and
love of knowledge: he was destined to be the standard-bearer of
destruction; his genius, although not the most elevated, yet the most
comprehensive in France, has hitherto been only judged by fanatics or
his enemies. Impiety deified his very vices; superstition anathematised
his very virtues; in a word, despotism, when it again seized on the
reins of government in France, felt that to reinstate tyranny it would
be necessary first to unseat Voltaire from his high position in the
national opinion. Napoleon, during fifteen years, paid writers who
degrade, vilify, and deny the genius of Voltaire; he hated his name, as
_might_ must ever hate _intellect_; and so long as men yet cherished the
memory of Voltaire, so long he felt his position was not secure, for
tyranny stands as much in need of prejudice to sustain it as falsehood
of uncertainty and darkness; the restored church could no longer suffer
his glory to shine with so great a lustre; she had the right to hate
Voltaire, not to deny his genius.

If we judge of men by what they have _done_, then Voltaire is
incontestably the greatest writer of modern Europe. No one has caused,
through the powerful influence of his genius alone, and the perseverance
of his will, so great a commotion in the minds of men; his pen aroused a
world, and has shaken a far mightier empire than that of Charlemagne,
the European empire of a theocracy. His genius was not _force_ but
_light_. Heaven had destined him not to destroy but to illuminate, and
wherever he trod light followed him, for reason (which is _light_) had
destined him to be first her poet, then her apostle, and lastly her


Voltaire was born a plebeian in an obscure street of old Paris.[5]
Whilst Louis XIV. and Bossuet reigned in all the pomp of absolute power
and Catholicism at Versailles, the child of the people, the Moses of
incredulity, grew up amidst them: the secrets of destiny seem thus to
sport with men, and are alone suspected when they have exploded. The
throne and the altar had attained their culminating point in France. The
Duc d'Orleans, as regent, governed during an interregnum,--one vice in
the room of another, weakness instead of pride. This life was easy and
agreeable, and corruption avenged itself for the monacal austerity of
the last years of Madame de Mainténon and Letellier. Voltaire, alike
precocious by audacity as by talent, began already to sport with those
weapons of the mind of which he was destined, after years, to make so
terrible a use. The regent, all unsuspicious of danger, suffered him to
continue, and repressed, for form's sake alone, some of the most
audacious of his outbreaks, at which he laughed even whilst he punished
them. The incredulity of the age took its rise in debauchery and not in
examination, and the independence of thought was rather a _libertinage_
of manners, than a conclusion arising from reflection. There was vice in
irreligion, and of this Voltaire always savoured. His mission began by a
contempt and derision of holy things, which, even though doomed to
destruction, should be touched with respect. From thence arose that
mockery, that irony, that cynicism too often on the lips, and in the
heart, of the apostle of reason; his visit to England gave assurance and
gravity to his incredulity, for in France he had only known libertines,
in London he knew philosophers; he became passionately attached to
eternal reason, as we are all eager after what is new, and he felt the
enthusiasm of the discovery. In so active a nature as the French, this
enthusiasm and this hatred could not remain in mere speculation as in
the mind of a native of the north. Scarcely was he himself persuaded,
than he wished in his turn to persuade others; his whole life became a
multiplied action, tending to one end, the abolition of theocracy, and
the establishment of religious toleration and liberty. He toiled at this
with all the powers with which God had gifted him; he even employed
falsehood (_ruse_), aspersion, cynicism, and immorality: he used even
those arms that respect for God and man denies to the wise; he employed
his virtue, his honour, his renown, to aid in this overthrow; and his
apostleship of reason had too often the appearance of a profanation of
piety; he ravaged the temple instead of protecting it.

From the day when he resolved upon this war against Christianity he
sought for allies also opposed to it. His intimacy with the king of
Prussia, Frederic II., had this sole inducement. He desired the support
of thrones against the priesthood. Frederic, who partook of his
philosophy, and pushed it still further, even to atheism and the
contempt of mankind, was the Dionysius of this modern Plato. Louis XV.,
whose interest it was to keep up a good understanding with Prussia,
dared not to show his anger against a man whom the king considered as
his friend. Voltaire, thus protected by a sceptre, redoubled his
audacity. He put thrones on one side, whilst he affected to make their
interests mutual with his own, by pretending to emancipate them from the
domination of Rome. He handed over to kings the civil liberty of the
people, provided that they would aid him in acquiring the liberty of
consciences. He even affected--perhaps he felt--respect for the absolute
power of kings. He pushed that respect so far as even to worship their
weaknesses. He palliated the infamous vices of the great Frederic, and
brought philosophy on its knees before the mistresses of Louis XV. Like
the courtezan of Thebes, who built one of the pyramids of Egypt from the
fruits of her debaucheries, Voltaire did not blush at any prostitution
of genius, provided that the wages of his servility enabled him to
purchase enemies against Christ. He enrolled them by millions throughout
Europe, and especially in France. Kings were reminded of the middle
ages, and of the thrones outraged by the popes. They did not see,
without umbrage and secret hate, the clergy as powerful as themselves
with the people, and who under the name of cardinals, almoners, bishops
or confessors, spied, or dictated its creeds even to courts themselves.
The parliaments, that civil clergy, a body redoubtable to sovereigns
themselves, detested the mass of the clergy, although they protected its
faith and its decrees. The nobility, warlike, corrupted, and ignorant,
leaned entirely to the unbelief which freed it from all morality.
Finally, the _bourgeoisie_, well-informed or learned, prefaced the
emancipation of the third estate by the insurrection of the new
condition of ideas.

Such were the elements of the revolution in religious matters. Voltaire
laid hold of them, at the precise moment, with that _coup d'oeil_ of
strong instinct which sees clearer than genius itself. To an age young,
fickle, and unreflecting, he did not present reason under the form of an
austere philosophy, but beneath the guise of a facile freedom of ideas
and a scoffing irony. He would not have succeeded in making his age
think, he did succeed in making it smile. He never attacked it in front,
nor with his face uncovered, in order that he might not set the laws in
array against him; and to avoid the fate of Servetius, he, the modern
Æsop, attacked under imaginary names the tyranny which he wished to
destroy. He concealed his hate in history, the drama, light poetry,
romance, and even in jests. His genius was a perpetual allusion,
comprehending all his age, but impossible to be seized on by his
enemies. He struck, but his hand was concealed. Yet the struggle of a
man against a priesthood, an individual against an institution, a life
against eighteen centuries, was by no means destitute of courage.


There is an incalculable power of conviction and devotion of idea, in
the daring of one against all. To brave at once, with no other power
than individual reason, with no other support than conscience, human
consideration, that cowardice of the mind, masked under respect for
error; to dare the hatred of earth and the anathema of heaven, is the
heroism of the writer. Voltaire was not a martyr in his body, but he
consented to be one in his name, and devoted it during his life and
after his death. He condemned his own ashes to be thrown to the winds,
and not to have either an asylum or a tomb. He resigned himself even to
lengthened exile in exchange for the liberty of a free combat. He
isolated himself voluntarily from men, in order that their too close
contact might not interfere with his thoughts.

At eighty years of age, feeble, and feeling his death nearly
approaching, he several times made his preparations hastily, in order to
go and struggle still, and die at a distance from the roof of his old
age. The unwearied activity of his mind was never checked for a moment.
He carried his gaiety even to genius, and under that pleasantry of his
whole life we may perceive a grave power of perseverance and
conviction. Such was the character of this great man. The enlightened
serenity of his mind concealed the depth of its workings: under the joke
and laugh his constancy of purpose was hardly sufficiently recognised.
He suffered all with a laugh, and was willing to endure all, even in
absence from his native land, in his lost friendships, in his refused
fame, in his blighted name, in his memory accursed. He took all--bore
all--for the sake of the triumph of the independence of human reason.
Devotion does not change its worth in changing its cause, and this was
his virtue in the eyes of posterity. He was not the truth, but he was
its precursor, and walked in advance of it.

One thing was wanting to him--the love of a God. He saw him in mind, and
he detested those phantoms which ages of darkness had taken for him, and
adored in his stead. He rent away with rage those clouds which prevent
the divine idea from beaming purely on mankind; but his weakness was
rather hatred against error, than faith in the Divinity. The sentiment
of religion, that sublime _résumé_ of human thought; that reason, which,
enlightened by enthusiasm, mounts to God as a flame, and unites itself
with him in the unity of the creation with the Creator, of the ray with
the focus--this, Voltaire never felt in his soul. Thence sprung the
results of his philosophy; it created neither morals, nor worship, nor
charity; it only decomposed--destroyed. Negative, cold, corrosive,
sneering, it operated like poison--it froze--it killed--it never gave
life. Thus, it never produced--even against the errors it assailed,
which were but the human alloy of a divine idea--the whole effect it
should have elicited. It made sceptics, instead of believers. The
theocratic reaction was prompt and universal, as it ought to have been.
Impiety clears the soul of its consecrated errors, but does not fill the
heart of man. Impiety alone will never ruin a human worship: a faith
destroyed must be replaced by a faith. It is not given to irreligion to
destroy a religion on earth. There is but a religion more enlightened
which can really triumph over a religion fallen into contempt, by
replacing it. The earth cannot remain without an altar, and God alone is
strong enough against God.


It was on the 5th of August, 1791, the first anniversary of the famous
night of the 4th of August, 1790, when feudality crumbled to atoms, that
the National Assembly commenced the revision of the constitution. It was
a solemn and imposing act, was this comprehensive _coup d'oeil_ cast
by legislators at the end of their career, over the ruins they had
scattered, and the foundations they had laid in their course. But how
different at this moment was the disposition of their mind from what
they felt in commencing this mighty work! They had begun it with an
enthusiasm of the ideal, they now contemplated it with the misgivings
and the sadness of reality. The National Assembly was opened amidst the
acclamations of a people unanimous in their hopes, and was about to
close amidst the clamorous recriminations of all parties.

The king was captive, the princes emigrants, the clergy at feud, the
nobility in flight, the people seditious; Necker's popularity had
vanished, Mirabeau was dead, Maury silenced, Cazalès, Lally, Mounier had
deserted from their work. Two years had carried off more men and things
than a generation removes in ordinary times. The great voices of '89,
inspired with philosophy and vast hopes, no longer resounded beneath
those vaults. The foremost ranks had fallen. The men of second order
were now to contend in their stead. Intimidated, discouraged, repentant,
they had neither the spirit to yield to the impulse of the people nor
the power to resist it. Barnave had recovered his virtue in his
sensibility; but virtue which comes late is like the experience which
follows the act, and only enables us to measure the extent of our
errors. In revolutions there is no repentance--there is only expiation.
Barnave, who might have saved the monarchy, had he only united with
Mirabeau, was just commencing his expiatory sentence. Robespierre was to
Barnave what Barnave had been to Mirabeau; but Robespierre, more
powerful than Barnave, instead of acting on the impulse of a passion as
fluctuating as jealousy, acted under the influence of a fixed idea, and
an unalterable theory. Robespierre had the whole people at his back.


From the opening of the sittings Barnave attempted to consolidate around
the constitution the opinions so fiercely shaken by Robespierre and his
friends. He did it with a caution which bespoke but too well the
weakness of his position, notwithstanding the boldness of his language.
"The labours of your committee of the constitution are assailed," he
said. "There exist against our work but two kinds of opposition. Those
who, up to the present time, have constantly shown themselves inimical
to the Revolution--the enemies of equality, who hate our constitution
because it is the condemnation of their aristocracy. Yet there is
another class hostile also, and I will divide it into two distinct
species. One of these is the men who, in the opinion of their own
conscience, give the preference to another government which they
disguise more or less in their language, and seek to deprive our
monarchical government of all the strength which can retard the advent
of a republic. I declare that these persons I shall not attack.
Whosoever has a pure political opinion has a right to communicate it;
but we have another class of foes. They are the foes of all government.
If this class betrays its opposition, it is not because it prefers the
republic to the monarchy, democracy to aristocracy, it is because all
that concentrates the political machine, all that is order, all that
places in his right position the honest man and the rogue, the candid
man and the calumniator, is contrary and hateful to its system." (Long
and loud applause from the majority on the left.) "Yes, gentlemen,"
continued Barnave, "such is the party which has the most strongly
opposed our labours. They have sought fresh sources of revolution
because the revolution as defined by us escaped them. These are the men
who, changing the name of things, by uttering sentiments apparently
patriotic, in the stead of sentiments of honour, probity, purity--by
sitting even in the most august places with a mask of virtue, have
believed that they would impose upon public opinion, and have coalesced
with certain writers. (The plaudits here redoubled, and all eyes were
turned towards Robespierre and Brissot.) If we desire to see our
constitution carried out, if you desire that the nation, after having
owed to you its hopes of liberty,--for as yet it is but hope (Murmurs of
dissent),--shall owe to you reality, prosperity, happiness, peace, let
us endeavour to simplify it, by giving to the government--by which I
mean all the powers established by this constitution--the amount of
simultaneous strength requisite to move the social machine, and to
preserve to the nation the liberty you have conferred upon it. If the
welfare of your country is dear to you, take care what you are about to
do. Above all, let us discard injurious mistrust, which can serve none
but our enemies, when they would believe that this national assembly,
this constant majority, at once bold and sagacious, which has so much
cast upon it since the king's departure, is ready to disappear before
the divisions so skilfully fomented by perfidious imputations. (Loud
cheering.) You will see renewed, do not doubt this, the disorders, the
convulsions of which you are weary, and to which the completion of the
Revolution ought also to be a completion. You will see renewed without
hopes, projects, temptations which we openly brave because we feel our
strength and are united--because we know that so long as we are united
they will not be attempted; and if extravagant ideas should dare to try
them it would always result in their shame. But the attempts would
succeed, and on the success of them they might, with some semblance
rely, if we were once divided amongst ourselves, not knowing in whom we
might believe. We suspect each other of different plans when we have but
the same idea--of contrary feelings, when every one of us has in his
heart the testimony of his colleagues' purity, during two years of
labour performed together--during consecutive proofs of courage--during
sacrifices which nothing can compensate but the approving voice of

Here Barnave's voice was lost in the applauses of the majority, and the
Assembly electrified, seemed for the moment unanimous in its monarchical


At the sitting of the 25th of August, the Assembly discussed the article
of the constitution which declared that the members of the royal family
could not exercise the rights of citizens. The Duc d'Orleans ascended
the tribune to protest against this article, and declared, in the midst
of applauses and murmurs, that if it were adopted, there remained to him
the right of choosing between the title of a French citizen and his
eventual right to the throne; and that, in that case, he should renounce
the throne. Sillery, the friend and confidant of this prince, spoke
after him, and combated with much eloquence the conclusions of the
committee. This discourse, full of allusions to the position of the duc
d'Orleans, impossible to be misunderstood, was the only act of direct
ambition attempted by the Orleans party. Sillery began by boldly
replying to Barnave:--"Let me be allowed," he exclaimed, "to lament over
the deplorable abuse which some orators make of their talents. What
strange language! It is attempted to make you believe that you have here
men of faction and anarchy--enemies of order, as if order could only
exist by satisfying the ambition of certain individuals! It is proposed
to you to grant to all individuals of the royal family the title of
prince, and to deprive them of the rights of a citizen? What
incoherence, and what ingratitude! You declare the title of French
citizen to be the most admirable of titles, and you propose to exchange
it for the title of prince, which you have suppressed, as contrary to
equality! Have not the relatives of the king, who still remain in Paris,
constantly displayed the purest patriotism? What services have they not
rendered to the public cause by their example and their sacrifices! Have
they not themselves abjured all their titles for one only--that of
citizen? and yet you propose to despoil them of it! When you suppressed
the title of prince, what happened? The fugitive princes formed a league
against the country; the others ranged themselves with you. If to-day
the title of prince is re-established, we concede to the enemies of our
country all they covet; we deprive the patriotic relatives of the king
of all they esteem! I see the triumph and the recompence on the side of
the conspiring princes; I see the punishment of all sacrifices on the
side of the popular princes. It is said to be dangerous to admit the
members of the royal family into the legislative body. This hypothesis
would then be established, that every individual of the royal family
must be for the future a corrupt courtier or factious partisan! However,
is it not possible to suppose that there are patriots amongst them? Is
it those you would thus brand? You condemn the relatives of a king to
hate the constitution and conspire against a form of government which
does not leave them the choice between the character of courtiers or
that of conspirators. See, on the other hand, what may accrue if the
love of country inspire them! Cast your eyes on one of the branches of
that race, whom it is proposed to you to exile. Scarcely out of his
childhood, he had the happiness of saving the life of three citizens, at
the peril of his own. The city of Vendôme decreed to him a civic crown.
Unhappy child! is that indeed the last which thy race shall obtain?"

The applause which constantly interrupted, and for a long time followed
this discourse, after the orator had concluded, proved that the idea of
a revolutionary dynasty already tempted some imaginations, and that if
there existed no faction of Orleans, at least it was not without a
leader. Robespierre, who no less detested a dynastic faction than the
monarchy itself, saw with terror this symptom of a new power which
appeared in the distant horizon. "I remark," he replied, "that there is
too much reference to individuals, and not enough to the national
interest. It is not true that we seek to degrade the relations of the
king: there is no design to place them beneath other citizens--we wish
to separate them from the people by an honourable distinction. What is
the use of seeking titles for them? The relatives of the king will be
simply the relatives of the king. The splendour of the throne is not
derived from such vain denominations of rank. We cannot declare with
impunity that there exists in France any particular family above
another: it would be a nobility by itself. This family would remain in
the midst of us, like the indestructible root of that nobility which we
have destroyed--it would be the germ of a new aristocracy." Violent
murmurs hailed these remarks of Robespierre. He was obliged to break off
and apologise. "I see," he said in conclusion, "that we are no longer
allowed to utter here, without reproach, opinions which our adversaries
amongst the first have maintained in this assembly."


The whole difficulty of the situation was in the question whether or
not, that constitution once completed, the nation would recognise in the
constitution the right to revise and alter itself. It was on this
occasion that Malouet, although abandoned by his party and hopeless,
endeavoured, single-handed, the restoration of the royal authority. His
discourse, worthy of the genius of Mirabeau, was a bill of terrible
accusation against the excesses of the people, and the inconsistencies
of the Assembly. Its moderation heightened its effect--the man of
integrity was seen beneath the orator, and the statesman in the
legislator. Something of the serene and stoical soul of Cato breathed in
his words; but political eloquence is rather in the people who listen,
than in the man who speaks. The voice is nothing without the
reverberation that multiplies its echo. Malouet, deserted by his party,
left by Barnave who listened with dismay, only spoke from his
conscience; he fought no longer for victory, he only struggled for
principle. Thus did he speak.--

"It is proposed to you to determine the epoch, and the conditions of the
use of a new constituent power; it is proposed to you to undergo
twenty-five years of disorder and anarchy before you have the right to
amend. Remark, in the first place, under what circumstances it is
proposed to you to impose silence on the appeals of the nation as to the
new laws; it is when you have not as yet heard the opinion of those
whose instincts and passions these new laws favour, when all contending
passions are subdued by terror or by force; it is when France is no
longer expounded but through the organ of her clubs. When it has been a
question of suspending the exercise of the royal authority itself, what
has been the language addressed to you from this tribune? You have been
told '_we should have begun the Revolution from thence; but we were not
aware of our strength_.' Thus it only remains for your successors to
measure their strength in order to attempt fresh enterprises. Such, in
effect, is the danger of making a violent revolution and a free
constitution march side by side. The one is only produced in tumultuous
periods, and by passions and weapons, the other is only established by
amicable arrangements between old interests and new. (Laughter, murmurs,
and 'that is the point.') We do not count voices, we do not discuss
opinions, to make a revolution. A revolution is a storm during which we
must furl our sails, or we sink. But after the tempest, those who have
been beaten by it, as well as those who have not suffered, enjoy in
common the serenity of the sky. All becomes calm, and the horizon is
cleared. Thus after a revolution, the constitution, if it be good,
rallies all its citizens. There should not be one man in the kingdom who
incurs danger of his life in expressing his free views of the
constitution. Without this security there is no free will, no expression
of opinion, no liberty; there will be only a predominant power, a
tyranny popular or otherwise, until you have separated the constitution
from the workings of the revolution. Behold all these principles of
justice, morality, and liberty which you have laid down, hailed with
joy, and oaths renewed, but violated immediately with unprecedented
audacity and rage. It is at a moment when the holiest or the freest of
constitutions has been proclaimed that the most infamous attempts
against liberty, against property,--nay, what do I say?--against
humanity and conscience, are multiplied and perpetuated! Does not this
contrast alarm you? I will tell you wherefore. Yourselves deceived as to
the mechanism of political society, you have sought its regeneration
without reflecting on its dissolution; you have considered as an
obstacle to your plans the discontent of some, and as a means the
enthusiasm of others. Only desirous to overcome obstacles you have
overturned principles, and taught the people to brave every thing. You
have taken the passions of the people for auxiliaries. It is to raise an
edifice by sapping the foundations. I repeat to you then, there is no
free and durable constitution out of despotism but that which terminates
a revolution, and which is proposed, accepted, and executed, by forms,
calm, free, and totally different from the forms of the Revolution. All
we do, all we seek for with excitement before we reach this point of
repose, whether we obey the people or are obeyed by them; whether we
would flatter, deceive, or serve them, is but the work of
folly,--madness. I demand, therefore, that the constitution be peaceably
and freely accepted by the majority of the nation and by the king.
(Violent murmurs.) I know we call the national will, all that we know of
proposed addresses, of assent, of oaths, agitations, menaces, and
violence. (Loud expressions of angry dissent.) Yes, we must close the
Revolution by beginning to destroy every tendency to violate it. Your
committees of inquiry, laws respecting emigrants, persecutions of
priests, despotic imprisonments, criminal proceedings against persons
accused without proofs, the fanaticism and domination of clubs; but this
is not all, licence has gone to such unbounded extent,--the dregs of the
nation ferment so tumultuously:--(Loud burst of indignation.) Do we then
pretend to be the first nation which has no dregs? The fearful
insubordination of troops, religious disturbances, the discontents of
the colonies, which already sound so ominously in our ports,--if the
Revolution does not stop here and give place to the constitution;--if
order be not re-established at once, and on all points, the shattered
state will be long agitated by the convulsions of anarchy. Do you
remember the history of the Greeks, where a first revolution not
terminated produced so many others during a period of only half a
century? Do you remember that Europe has her eyes fixed on your weakness
and agitations, and whilst she will respect you if you are free within
the limits of order, she will surely profit by your disorders if you
only know how to weaken yourself and alarm her by your anarchy?"

Malouet demanded, therefore, that the constitution should be submitted
to the judgment of the people, and to the free acceptance of the king.


This magnificent harangue only sounded as the voice of remorse in the
bosom of the Assembly. It was listened to with impatience, and then
forgotten with all speed. M. de La Fayette opposed, in a short speech,
the proposition of M. Dandré, who desired to adjourn for thirty years
the revision of the constitution. The Assembly neither adopted the
advice of Dandré nor of La Fayette, but contented itself with inviting
the nation not to make use for twenty-five years of its right to modify
the constitution. "Behold us, then," said Robespierre, "arrived at the
end of our long and painful career: it only remains for us to give it
stability and duration. Why are we asked to submit to the acceptance of
the king? The fate of the constitution is independent of the will of
Louis XVI. I do not doubt he will accept it with delight. An empire for
patrimony, all the attributes of the executive power, forty millions for
his personal pleasures,--such is our offer! Do not let us wait, before
we offer it, until he be away from the capital and environed by ill
advisers. Let us offer it to him in Paris. Let us say to him, Behold the
most powerful throne in the universe--will you accept it? Suspected
gatherings, the system of weakening your frontiers, threats of your
enemies without, manoeuvres of your enemies within,--all warns you to
hasten the establishment of an order of things which assures and
fortifies the citizens. If we deliberate, when we should swear, if our
constitution may be again attacked, after having been already twice
assailed, what remains for us to do? Either to resume our arms or our
fetters. We have been empowered," he added, looking towards the seats of
Barnave and the Lameths, "to constitute the nation, and not to raise the
fortunes of certain individuals, in order to favour the coalition of
court intriguers, and to assure to them the price of their complaisance
or their treason."


The constitutional act was presented to the king on the 3d of September,
1791. Thouret reported to the National Assembly in these words the
result of the solemn interview between the conquered will of the monarch
and the victorious will of his people:--"At nine o'clock in the evening
our deputation quitted this chamber, proceeding to the chateau escorted
by a guard of honour, consisting of various detachments of the national
guard and _gendarmerie_. It was invariably accompanied by the applauses
of the people. It was received in the council-chamber, where the king
was attended by his ministers and a great number of his servants. I said
to the king, 'Sire, the representatives of the nation come to present to
your majesty the constitutional act, which consecrates the indefeasible
rights of the French people--which gives to the throne its true
dignity, and regenerates the government of the empire.' The king
received the constitutional act, and thus replied: 'I receive the
constitution presented to me by the National Assembly. I will convey to
it my resolution after the shortest possible delay which the examination
of so important an act must require. I have resolved on remaining in
Paris. I will give orders to the commandant of the national Parisian
guard for the duties of my guard.' The king, during the whole time,
presented an aspect of satisfaction; and from all we saw and heard we
anticipate that the completion of the Constitution will be also the
termination of the Revolution." The Assembly and the tribunes applauded
several times. It was one of those days of public hope, when faction
retreats into the shade, to allow the serenity of good citizens to shine

La Fayette removed the degrading _consignes_, which made the Tuileries a
jail to the royal family. The king ceased to be the hostage of the
nation, in order to become its ostensible head. He gave some days to the
apparent examination which he was supposed to bestow upon the
Constitution. On the 13th he addressed to the Assembly, by the minister
of justice, a message concerted with Barnave, thus conceived:--"I have
examined the constitutional act. I accept it, and will have it carried
into execution. I ought to make known the motives of my resolution. From
the commencement of my reign I have desired the reform of abuses, and in
all my acts I have taken for rule public opinion. I have conceived the
project of assuring the happiness of the people on permanent bases, and
of subjecting my own authority to settled rules. From these intentions I
have never varied. I have favoured the establishment of trials of your
work before it was even finished. I have done so in all sincerity; and,
if the disorders which have attended almost every epoch of the
Revolution have frequently affected my heart, I hoped that the law would
resume its force, and that on reaching the term of your labours, every
day would restore to it that respect, without which the people can have
no liberty, and a king no happiness. I have long entertained that hope;
and my resolution has only changed at the moment when I could hope no
longer. Remember the moment when I quitted Paris: disorder was at its
height--the licence of the press and the insolence of parties knew no
bounds. Then, I avow, if you had offered to me the constitution, I
should not have thought it my duty to accept it.

"All has changed. You have manifested the desire to re-establish order;
you have revised many of the articles; the will of the people is no
longer doubtful to me, and therefore I accept the constitution under
better auspices. I freely renounce the co-operation I had claimed in
this work, and I declare that when I have renounced it no other but
myself has any right to claim it. Unquestionably I still see certain
points in the constitution in which more perfection might be attained;
but I agree to allow experience to be the judge. When I shall have
fairly and loyally put in action the powers of government confided to me
no reproach can be addressed to me, and the nation will make itself
known by the means which the constitution has reserved to it.
(Applause.) Let those who are restrained by the fear of persecutions and
troubles out of their country return to it in safety. In order to
extinguish hatreds let us consent to a mutual forgetfulness of the past.
(The tribunes and the left renewed their acclamations.) Let the
accusations and the prosecutions which have sprung solely from the
events of the constitution be obliterated in a general reconciliation. I
do not refer to those which have been caused by an attachment to me. Can
you see any guilt in them? As to those who from excess, in which I can
see personal insult, have drawn on themselves the visitation of the
laws, I prove with respect to them that I am the king of all the French.
I will swear to the constitution in the very place where it was drawn
up, and I will present myself to-morrow at noon to the National

The Assembly adopted unanimously, on the proposition of La Fayette, the
general amnesty demanded by the king. A numerous deputation went to
carry to him this resolution. The queen was present. "My wife and
children, who are here," said the king to the deputation, "share my
sentiments." The queen, who desired to reconcile herself to public
opinion, advanced, and said, "Here are my children; we all agree to
participate in the sentiments of the king." These words reported to the
Assembly, prepared all hearts for the pardon which royalty was about to
implore. Next day the king went to the Assembly; he wore no decoration
but the cross of Saint Louis, from deference to a recent decree
suppressing the other orders of chivalry. He took his place beside the
president, the Assembly all standing.

"I come," said the king, "to consecrate solemnly here the acceptance I
have given to the constitutional act. I swear to be faithful to the
nation and the law, and to employ all the power delegated to me for
maintaining the constitution, and carrying its decrees into effect. May
this great and memorable epoch be that of the re-establishment of peace,
and become the gage of the happiness of the people, and the prosperity
of the empire." The unanimous applauses of the chamber, and the tribunes
ardent for liberty, but kindly disposed towards the king, demonstrated
that the nation entered with enthusiasm into this conquest of the

"Old abuses," replied the president, "which had for a long time
triumphed over the good intentions of the best of kings, oppressed
France. The National Assembly has re-established the basis of public
prosperity. What it has desired the nation has willed. Your majesty no
longer desires in vain the happiness of Frenchmen. The National Assembly
has nothing more to wish, now that on this day in its presence you
consummate the constitution by accepting it. The attachment of Frenchmen
decrees to you the crown, and what assures it to you is the need that so
great a nation must always have of an hereditary power. How sublime,
sire, will be in the annals of history this regeneration, which gives
citizens to France, to Frenchmen a country, to the king a fresh title of
greatness and glory, and a new source of happiness!"

The king then withdrew, being accompanied to the Tuileries by the entire
Assembly; the procession with difficulty making its way through the
immense throng of people which rent the air with acclamations of joy.
Military music and repeated salvos of artillery taught France that the
nation and the king, the throne and liberty, were reconciled in the
constitution, and that after three years of struggles, agitations, and
shocks, the day of concord had dawned. These acclamations of the people
in Paris spread throughout the empire. France had some days of delirium.
The hopes which softened men's hearts, brought back their old feelings
for its king. The prince and his family were incessantly called to the
windows of their palace to receive the applause of the crowds. They
sought to make them feel how sweet is the love of a people.

The proclamation of the constitution on the 18th had the character of a
religious fête. The Champ-de-Mars was covered with battalions of the
national guard. Bailly, mayor of Paris, the municipal authorities, the
department, public functionaries, and all the people betook themselves
thither. One hundred and one cannon shots hailed the reading of the
constitutional act, made to the nation from the top of the altar of the
country. One cry of _Vive la Nation!_ uttered by 300,000 voices, was the
acceptation by the people. The citizens embraced, as members of one
family. Balloons, bearing patriotic inscriptions, rose in the evening in
the Champs Elysées, as if to bear to the skies the testimony of the joy
of a regenerated people. Those who went up in them threw out copies of
the book of the constitution. The night was splendid with illuminations.
Garlands of flames, running from tree to tree, formed, from the Arc de
l'Etoile to the Tuileries, a sparkling avenue, crowded with the
population of Paris. At intervals, orchestras filled with musicians
sounded forth the pealing notes of glory and public joy. M. de La
Fayette rode on horseback at the head of his staff. His presence seemed
to place the oaths of the people and the king under the guard of the
armed citizens. The king, the queen, and their children appeared in
their carriage at eleven o'clock in the evening. The immense crowd that
surrounded them as if in one popular embrace,--the cries of _Vive le
Roi! Vive la Reine! Vive le Dauphin!_--hats flung in the air, the
gestures of enthusiasm and respect, made for them a triumph on the very
spot over which they had passed two months previously in the midst of
the outrages of the multitude, and deep murmuring of the excited
populace. The nation seemed desirous of redeeming these threatening
days, and to prove to the king how easy it was to appease the people,
and how sweet to it was the reign of liberty! The national acceptance of
the laws of the Constituent Assembly was the counterproof of its work.
It had not the legality, but it had really the value, of an individual
acceptance by primary assemblies. It proved that the will of the public
mind was satisfied. The nation voted by acclamation, what the wisdom of
its Assembly had voted on reflection. Nothing but security was wanting
to the public feeling. It seemed as if it desired to intoxicate itself
by the delirium of its happiness; and that it compensated, by the very
excess of its manifestations of joy, for what it lacked in solidity and

The king sincerely participated in this general joyous feeling. Placed
between the recollections of all he had suffered for three years, and
the lowering storms he foresaw in the future, he endeavoured to delude
himself, and to feel persuaded of his good fortune. He said to himself,
that perhaps he had mistaken the popular opinion; and that having at
least surrendered himself unconditionally to the mercy of his
people--that people would respect in him his own power and his own will:
he swore in his honest and good heart fidelity to the constitution and
love to the nation he really loved.

The queen herself returned to the palace with more national thoughts:
she said to the king, "They are no longer the same people;" and, taking
her son in her arms, she presented him to the crowd who thronged the
terrace of the chateau, and seemed thus to invest herself in the eyes of
the people with the innocence of age and the interest of maternity.

The king gave, some days afterwards, a fête to the people of Paris, and
distributed abundant alms to the indigent. He desired that even the
miserable should have his day of content, at the commencement of that
era of joy, which his reconciliation with his people promised to his
reign. The _Te Deum_ was sung in the cathedral of Paris, as on a day of
victory, to bless the cradle of the French constitution. On the 30th of
September, the king closed the Constituent Assembly. Before he entered
the chamber, Bailly, in the name of the municipality; Pastoret, in the
name of the departments, congratulated the Assembly on the conclusion of
its work:--"Legislators," said Bailly, "you have been armed with the
greatest power that men can require. To-morrow you will be nothing. It
is not, therefore interest or flattery which praises you--it is your
works. We announce to you the benedictions of posterity, which commence
for you from to-day!" "Liberty," said Pastoret, "had fled beyond the
seas, or taken refuge in the mountains,--you have raised her fallen
throne. Despotism had effaced every page of the book of nature; you have
re-established the decalogue of freemen!"


The king, surrounded by his ministers, entered the Assembly at three
o'clock: lengthened cries of _Vive le roi_ for a moment checked his
speaking. "Gentlemen," said Louis XVI., "after the completion of the
constitution, you have resolved on to-day terminating your labours. It
would have been desirable, perhaps, that your session should have been
prolonged in order that you, yourselves, should prove your work. But you
have wished, no doubt, to mark by this the difference which should exist
between the functions of a constituent body and ordinary legislators. I
will exercise all the power you have confided to me in assuring to the
constitution the respect and obedience due to it. For you, gentlemen,
who, during a long and painful career, have evinced an indefatigable
zeal in your labours, there remains a last duty to fulfil when you are
scattered over the face of the empire; it is to enlighten your fellow
citizens as to the spirit of the laws you have made; to purify and unite
opinions by the example you will give to the love of order and
submission to the laws. Be, on your return to your homes, the
interpreters of my sentiments to your fellow-citizens; tell them that
the king will always be their first and most faithful friend--that he
desires to be loved by them, and can only be happy with them and by

The president replied to the king:--"The National Assembly having
arrived at the termination of its career, enjoys, at this moment, the
first fruit of its labours. Convinced that the government best suited to
France is that which reconciles the respected prerogatives of the throne
with the inalienable rights of the people, it has given to the state a
constitution which equally guarantees royalty and liberty. Our
successors, charged with the onerous burden of the safety of the empire,
will not misunderstand their rights, nor the limits of the constitution:
and you, sire, you have almost completed every thing--by accepting the
Constitution, you have consummated the Revolution."

The king departed amidst loud acclamations. It appeared that the
National Assembly was in haste to lay down the responsibility of events
which it no longer felt itself capable of controlling. "The National
Assembly declares," says Target, its president, "that its mission is
finished, and that, at this moment, it terminates its sittings."

The people, who crowded round the Manège, and saw with pain the
Revolution abdicated into the hands of the king, insulted, as it
recognised them, the members of the Right--even Barnave. They
experienced even on the first day the ingratitude they had so often
fomented. They separated in sorrow and in discouragement.

When Robespierre and Pétion went out, the people crowned them with oaken
chaplets, and took the horses off their carriage in order to drag them
home in triumph. The power of these two men already proved the weakness
of the constitution, and presaged its fall. An amnestied king returned
powerless to his palace. Timid legislators abdicated in trouble. Two
triumphant tribunes were elevated by the people. In this was all the
future. The Constituent Assembly, begun in an insurrection of
principles, ended as a sedition. Was it the error of those
principles--was it the fault of the Constituent Assembly? We will
examine the question at the end of the last book of this volume, in
casting a retrospect over the acts of the Constituent Assembly; till
then we will delay this judgment, in order not to interfere with the
progress of the recital.



Whilst an instant's breathing time was permitted to France between two
convulsive efforts, and the Revolution as yet knew not whether it should
maintain the constitution it had gained, or employ it as a weapon to
obtain a republic, Europe began to arouse itself; egotistical and
improvident, she merely beheld in the first movement in France a comedy
played at Paris on the stage of the States General and the constituent
Assembly--between popular genius, represented by Mirabeau, and the
vanquished genius of the aristocracy, personified in Louis XVI. and the
clergy. This grand spectacle had been in the eyes of the sovereigns and
their ministers merely the continuation of the struggle (in which they
had taken so much interest, and showed so much secret favour) between
Voltaire and Jean Jacques Rousseau on one side, and the old
aristocratical and religious system on the other. To them the Revolution
was the philosophy of the eighteenth century, which had migrated from
the _salons_ into the public streets, and from books to speeches. This
earthquake in the moral world, and these shocks at Paris, the presages
of some unknown change in European destinies, attracted far more than
they affrighted them. They had not as yet learned that institutions are
but ideas, and that those ideas, when overthrown, involve in their fall
thrones and nations. Whatsoever the spirit of God wills, that also do
all mankind will, and are to accomplish, unperceived even by themselves.
Europe bestowed attention, time, and astonishment on the commencement of
the French Revolution, and that was all it needed to bring it to
maturity. The spark not having been extinguished at its outbreak was
fated to kindle and consume every thing before it. The moral and
political state of Europe was eminently favourable to the contagion of
new ideas. Time, men, and things, all lay at the mercy of France.


A long period of peace had softened the minds, and deadened those
hereditary hatreds that oppose the communication of feelings and the
similarity of ideas between different nations. Europe, since the treaty
of Westphalia, had become a republic of perfectly balanced powers, where
the general equilibrium of power resulting from each formed a
counterpoise to the other. One glance sufficed to show the solidity and
unity of this European _building_, every beam of which, opposing an
equal resistance to the others, afforded an equal support by the
pressure of all the states.

Germany was a confederation presided over by Austria, the emperors were
the chiefs only of this ancient feudalism of kings, dukes, and electors.
The house of Austria was more powerful through itself and its vast
possessions than through the imperial dignity. The two crowns of Hungary
and Bohemia, the Tyrol, Italy, and the Low Countries, gave it an
ascendency, which the genius of Richelieu had been able to fetter, but
not to destroy. Powerful to resist, but not to impel, Austria was more
fitted to _sustain_ than to _act_; her force lies in her situation and
immobility, for she is like a block in the middle of Germany,--her power
is in her _weight_; she is the pivot of the balance of European power.
But the federative diet weakened and enervated its designs by those
secret influences all federations naturally possess. Two new states,
unperceived until the time of Louis XIV., had recently risen, out of
reach of the power, and the long rivalry of the houses of Bourbon and
Austria: the one in the north of Germany, Prussia; the other in the
east, Russia. The policy of England had encouraged the rise of these two
infant powers, in order to form the elements of political combinations
that would admit of her interests obtaining a firm footing.


A hundred years had hardly elapsed since an emperor of Austria had
conferred the title of king on a margrave of Prussia, a subordinate
sovereign of two millions of men, and yet Prussia already balanced in
Germany the influence of the house of Austria. The Machiavelian genius
of Frederic the Great had become the genius of Prussia. His monarchy,
composed of territories acquired by victory, required war to strengthen
itself, still more of agitation and intrigue to legitimise itself.
Prussia was in a ferment of dissolution amidst the German states.
Scarcely had it risen into existence than it abdicated all German
feeling by leaguing with England and Russia; and England, always on the
watch to widen these breaches, had used Prussia as her lever in Germany.
Russia, whose two-fold ambition already had designs on Asia on the one
hand, on Europe on the other, had made it an advanced guard on the west,
and used it as an advanced camp on the borders of the Rhine. Thus
Prussia was the point of the Russian sword in the very heart of France.
Military power was every thing; its government was only discipline, its
people only an army. As for its ideas, its policy was to place itself
at the head of the Protestant states, and offer protection, assistance,
and revenge to all those whose interest or whose ambition was threatened
by the house of Austria. Thus by its nature Prussia was a revolutionary

Russia, to whom nature had assigned a sterile yet immense place on the
globe, the ninth part of the habitable world, and a population of forty
millions of men, all compelled by the savage genius of Peter the Great
to unite themselves into one nation, seemed yet to waver between two
roads, one of which led to Germany, the other to the Ottoman empire.
Catherine II. governed it: a woman endowed with wondrous beauty,
passion, genius, and crime,--such are necessary in the ruler of a
barbarous nation, in order to add the _prestige_ of adoration to the
terror inspired by the sceptre. Each step she took in Asia awakened an
echo of surprise and admiration in Europe, and for her was revived the
name of Semiramis. Russia, Prussia, and France, intimidated by her fame,
applauded her victories over the Turks, and her conquests in the Black
Sea, without apparently comprehending that she weighed down the European
power, and that once mistress of Poland and Constantinople, nothing then
would prevent her from carrying out her designs on Germany, and
extending her arm over all the West.


England, humiliated in her maritime pride by the brilliant rivalry of
the French fleet in the Indian Seas, irritated by the assistance given
by France to aid America in her struggle for independence, had secretly
allied herself in 1788 with Prussia and Holland, to counterbalance the
effect of the alliance of France with Austria, and to intimidate Russia
in her invasion of Turkey. England at this moment relied on the genius
of one man, Mr. Pitt, the greatest statesman of the age, son of Lord
Chatham, the only political orator of modern ages who equalled (if he
did not surpass) Demosthenes. Mr. Pitt, in a manner born in the council
of kings, and brought up at the tribune of his country, at the age of
twenty-three was launched in political life. At this age, when other men
have scarcely emerged from childhood, he was already the most eminent of
all that aristocracy that confided their cause to him as the most
worthy to uphold it, and when almost a boy he acquired the government of
his country from the admiration excited by his talents, and held it
almost without interruption up to his death by his enlightened views of
policy, and the energy of his resolution. He showed the House of Commons
what a great statesman, supported by the opinion of the nation, can dare
to attempt and accomplish, with the consent (and sometimes against it)
of a parliament. He was the despot of the constitution, if we may link
together those two words that can alone express his lawful omnipotence.
The struggle against the French Revolution was the continual act of his
twenty-five years of ministerial life; he became the antagonist of
France, and died vanquished.

And yet it was not the Revolution that he hated, it was France, and in
France it was not liberty he hated, for at heart he loved freedom; it
was the destruction of this balance of Europe that, once destroyed, left
England isolated in its ocean. At this moment, England, hostile towards
America, at war with India, a coolness existing between itself and
Spain, secretly hating Russia, had on the Continent nothing but Prussia
and the Stadtholder; and observation and temporisation became a
necessary part of its policy.


Spain, enervated by the reign of Philip III. and Ferdinand VI., had
recovered some degree of internal vitality and external dignity during
the long reign of Charles III.; Campomanes, Florida Blanca, the Comte
d'Aranda, his ministers, had struggled against superstition, that second
nature of the Spaniards. A _coup d'état_, meditated in silence, and
executed like a conspiracy by the court, had driven out of the kingdom
the Jesuits, who reigned under the name of the kings. The family
agreement between Louis XV. and Charles III., in 1761, had guaranteed
the thrones, and all the possessions of the different branches of the
house of Bourbon. But this political compact had been unable to
guarantee this many-branched dynasty against the decay of its root, and
that degeneracy that gives effeminate and weak princes as successors to
mighty kings. The Bourbons became satraps at Naples, and in Spain
crowned monks, and the very palace of the Escurial had assumed the
appearance and the gloom of a monastery.

The _monacal_ system devoured Spain, and yet this unfortunate country
adored the evil that destroyed it. After having been subject to the
caliphs, Spain became the conquest of the popes; and their authority
reigned paramount there under every costume; whilst theocracy made its
last efforts there. Never had the sacerdotal system more completely
swayed a nation, and never had a nation been reduced to a more abject
state of degradation. The Inquisition was its government,--the
_auto-da-fés_ its triumphs,--bull-fights and processions its only
diversions. Had the inquisitorial reign lasted a few years more, this
people would have been no longer reckoned amongst the civilised
inhabitants of Europe.

Charles III. had trembled at each new effort he made to emancipate his
government; his good intentions had all been frustrated and checked, and
he had been forced to sacrifice his ministers to the vengeance of
superstition. Florida Blanca and d'Aranda died in exile, to which they
had been condemned for the crime of having served their country. The
weak Charles IV. had mounted the throne and reigned for several years,
guided by a faithless wife, a confessor, and a favourite. The loves of
Godoy and the queen formed the whole of the Spanish policy, and to the
fortune of the favourite all the rest of the empire was sacrificed. What
mattered it that the fleet rotted in the unfinished ports of Charles
III.--that Spanish America asserted its independence--that Italy bent
beneath the yoke of Austria--that the house of Bourbon combated in vain
in France the progress of a new system--that the Inquisition and the
monks cast a gloom over and devoured the whole of the peninsula,--all
this was nothing to the court, provided the queen were but loved and
Godoy great. The palace of Aranjuez was like the walled tomb of Spain,
into which the active spirit that now agitated Europe could no longer


The state of Italy was yet worse; for it was severed into pieces that,
unlike the snake, were unable to reunite. Naples was under the severe
sway of Spain, and the yoke of Austria pressed on Milan and Lombardy.
Rome was nought but the capital of an idea--her people had disappeared,
and she had now become the modern Ephesus, at which each cabinet sought
an oracle favourable to its own cause, and paid for this purpose the
members of the sacred college. Although the centre of all diplomatic
intrigue, and the spot where all worldly ambition humbled itself but to
increase its power,--although this court could shake Europe to its
foundations, it was yet unable to govern it. The elective aristocracy,
cardinals chosen by powers at variance with each other; the elective
monarchy, a pope whose qualifications were old age and feebleness, and
who was only crowned on condition of a speedy decease: such was the
_temporal_ government of the Roman States. This government combined in
itself all the weakness of anarchy, and all the vices of despotism. It
had produced its inevitable result, the servitude of the state, the
poverty of the government and the misery of the population; Rome was no
longer anything but the great Catholic municipality, and her government
nought save a republic of diplomatists. Rome possessed a temple enriched
with the offerings of the Christian world, a sovereign and ambassadors,
but neither population, treasure, nor army. It was the venerated shadow
of that universal monarchy to which the popes had pretended in the
golden age of Catholicism, and of which they had only preserved the
capital and the court.


Venice drew near its fall, but the silence and mystery of its government
concealed even from the Venetians the decrepitude of the state. The
government was an aristocratic sovereignty, founded on the corruption of
the people and treachery, for the master sinew of the government was
_espionage_; its _prestige_, mystery; its power, the torture. It lived
on terror and voluptuousness; its police was a system of secret
confession, of each against the other. Its cells, termed the _Piombi_
or _Leads_, and which were entered at night by the _Bridge of Sighs_,
were a hell that closed on the captive never to re-open. The wealth of
the East flowed in on Venice from the fall of the Lower Empire. She
became the refuge of Greek civilisation, and the Constantinople of the
Adriatic; and the arts had emigrated thither from Byzance, with
commerce. Its marvellous palaces, washed by the waves, were crowded
together on a narrow spot of ground, so that the city was like a vessel
at anchor, on board which a people driven from the land have taken
refuge with all their treasures. She was thus impregnable, but could not
exercise the least influence over Italy.


Genoa, a more popular and more turbulent republic, subsisted only by her
fleet and her commerce. Hemmed in between barren mountains and a gulf
without a shore, it was only a port peopled by sailors. The marble
palaces, built one above the other on the rocky banks, looked down on
the sea, their sole territory. The portraits of the doges and the statue
of Andreà Doria constantly reminded the Genoese that from the waves had
proceeded their riches and their renown, and that _there_ alone they
could hope to look for them. Its ramparts were impregnable, its arsenals
full; and thus Genoa formed the stronghold of armed commerce.

The immense country of Tuscany, governed and rendered illustrious by the
_Médici_, those Pericles of Italy, was learned, agricultural,
industrious, but unwarlike. The house of Austria ruled it by its
archdukes, and these princes of the north, transported to the palaces of
the Pitti or the Cômo, contracted the mild and elegant manners of the
Tuscans; and the climate and serenity of the hills of Florence softened
there even tyranny, and these princes became voluptuaries or sages.
Florence, the city of Leo X., of philosophy, and the arts, had
transformed even religion. Catholicism, so ascetic in Spain, so gloomy
in the north, so austere and literal in France, so popular at Rome, had
become at Florence, under the _Médici_ and the Grecian philosophers, a
species of luminous and Platonic theory, whose dogmata were only sacred
symbols, and whose pomps were only pleasures that overpowered the mind
and the senses. The churches at Florence were more museums of Christ
than his sanctuaries; the colonies of all the arts and trades of Greece
had emigrated, on the entry of Mahomet II. into Constantinople, to
Florence, and there they had prospered; and a new Athens, enriched like
the ancient with temples, porticoes, and statues, beautified the banks
of the Arno.

Leopold, the philosopher prince, awaited there, busied in learning the
art of governing men and putting in practice new theories of political
economy, the moment to mount the imperial throne of Austria, where his
destiny was not to leave him long. He was the Germanicus of Germany, and
philosophy could alone display him to the world, after having lent him
for a few years to Italy.

Piedmont, whose frontiers reached to the heart of France by the Alpine
valleys, and on the other side the walls of Genoa and the Austrian
possessions on the Po, was governed by the house of Savoy, one of the
most ancient of the royal lines in Europe. This military monarchy had
its intrenched camp, rather than its capital, in Turin. The plains it
occupied in Italy had been, and were destined to be, the field of battle
for Austria and France; and her positions were the keys of Italy.

This population, accustomed to war, was necessarily constantly under
arms to defend itself, or to unite with that one of the two powers whose
rivalry could alone assure its independence. Thus, military disposition
was its strength; its weakness lay in having half its possessions in
Italy, half in France. The whole of Savoy is French in language,
descent, and manners; and at any great commotion Savoy must detach
itself from Italy, and fall on this side of its own accord. The Alps are
too essential a frontier to two people to belong to only one; for if
their south side looks to Italy, their north looks to France. The snow,
the sun, and the torrents have thus willed this division of the Alps
between two nations. Policy does not long prevail against nature, and
the house of Savoy was not sufficiently powerful to preserve the
neutrality of the valleys of the Alps and the roads of Italy; and though
it increase in power in Italy, yet it must be worsted in a struggle
against France. The court of Turin was doubly allied to the house of
France by the marriage of the Comte d'Artois and the Comte de Provence,
brothers of Louis XVI., with two princesses of the house of Savoy. The
clergy had more influence at this court than at any other in Italy; and
hated instinctively all revolutions, because they threatened its
political influence. From religious feeling--from family feeling--from
political feeling, Savoy was destined to become the first scene of
conspiracy against the French Revolution.


There was yet another in the north, and that was Sweden; but there it
was neither a superstitious attachment to Catholicism, nor family
feeling, nor even national interest, that excited the hostility of a
king against the Revolution; it was a more noble sentiment--the
disinterested glory of combating for the cause of kings; and, above all,
for a queen whose beauty and whose misfortunes had won the heart of
Gustavus III., in which blazed the last spark of that chivalrous feeling
that vowed to avenge the cause of ladies, to assist the oppressed, and
succour the right. Extinguished in the south, it burnt, for the last
time, in the north, and in the breast of a king. Gustavus III. had in
his policy something of the adventurous genius of Charles XII., for the
Sweden of the race of Wasa is the land of heroes. Heroism, when
disproportioned to genius and its resources, resembles folly: there was
a mixture of heroism and folly in the projects of Gustavus against
France; and yet this folly was noble, as its cause--and great, as his
own courage. Fortune had accustomed Gustavus to desperate and bold
enterprises; and success had taught him to believe nothing impossible.
Twice he had made a revolution in his kingdom, twice he had striven
single-handed against the gigantic power of Russia, and had he been
seconded by Prussia, Austria, and Turkey, Russia would have found a
rampart against her in the north. The first time, abandoned by his
troops, in his tent by his revolted generals, he had escaped, and alone,
made an appeal to his brave Dalecarlians. His eloquence, and his
magnanimous bearing had caused a new army to spring from the earth. He
had punished traitors, rallied cowards, concluded the war, and returned
triumphant to Stockholm, borne on the shoulders of his people, wrought
up to a pitch of enthusiasm. The second time, seeing his country torn by
the anarchical predominance of the nobility, he had resolved, in the
depths of his own palace, on the overthrow of the constitution. United
in feeling with the _bourgeoisie_ and the people, he had led on his
troops, sword in hand; imprisoned the senate in its chamber; dethroned
the nobility, and acquired for royalty the prerogatives it required in
order to defend and govern the country. In three days, and before one
drop of blood had been shed, Sweden under his sword had become a
monarchy. Gustavus's confidence in his own boldness was confirmed. The
monarchical feeling in him was strengthened by all the hatred which he
bore to the privileges of the orders he had overturned. The cause of the
king was identified with his own.

He had embraced with enthusiasm that of Louis XVI. Peace, which he had
concluded with Russia, allowed him to direct his attention and his
forces towards France. His military genius dreamed of a triumphant
expedition to the banks of the Seine. It was there that he desired to
acquire glory. He had visited Paris in his youth; under the name of the
Count de Haga he had partaken of the hospitalities of Versailles. Marie
Antoinette, then in the brilliancy of her youth and beauty, now appeared
humiliated, and a captive in the hands of a pitiless people. To deliver
this woman, restore the throne, to make himself at once feared and
blessed by this capital, seemed to him one of those adventures formerly
sought by crowned chevaliers. His finances alone opposed the execution
of this bold design. He negotiated a loan with the court of Spain,
attached to him the French emigrants renowned for their military
talents, requested plans from the Marquis de Bouillé, solicited the
courts of St. Petersburg and Berlin to unite with him in this crusade of
kings. He asked of England nothing but neutrality. Russia encouraged
him; Austria temporised; Spain trembled; England looked on. Each new
shock of the Revolution at Paris found Europe undecided and always
behind-hand in counsels and resolutions. Monarchical Europe, hesitating
and divided, did not know what it had to fear, nor what it ought to do.

Such was the political situation of cabinets with respect to France.
But as to ideas, the feelings of the people were different.

The movement of intelligence and philosophy at Paris was responded to by
the agitation of the rest of Europe, and especially in America. Spain,
under M. d'Aranda, was become alive to the general feeling; the Jesuits
had disappeared; the Inquisition had extinguished its fires; the Spanish
nobility blushed for the sacred theocracy of its monks. Voltaire had
correspondents at Cadiz and at Madrid. The forbidden produce of our
ideas was favoured even by those whose charge was to exclude it. Our
books crossed the snows of the Pyrenees. Fanaticism, tracked by the
light to its last den, felt Spain escaping from it. The excess of a
tyranny long undergone, prepared ardent minds for the excess of liberty.

In Italy, and even at Rome, the sombre Catholicism of the middle age was
lighted up by the reflections of time. It played even with the dangerous
arms which philosophy was about to turn against it. It seemed to
consider itself as a weakened institution, which ought to have its long
duration pardoned in consequence of its complaisance towards princes and
the age. Benedict XIV. (Lambertini) received from Voltaire the
dedication of "Mahomet." The Cardinals _Passionei_ and _Quirini_, in
their correspondence with Ferney[6],--Rome, in its bulls, preached
tolerance for dissenters, and obedience to princes. The pope disavowed
and reformed the company of Jesus: he soothed the spirit of the age.
Clement XIV. (Ganganelli) shortly after secularised the Jesuits,
confiscated their possessions, and imprisoned their superior, Ricci, in
the castle of Saint Angelo, the Bastille of papacy. Severe only towards
exaggerated zealots, he enchanted the Christian world by the evangelical
sweetness, the grace of his understanding, and the poignancy of his wit;
but pleasantry is the first step to the profanation of dogmata. The
crowd of strangers and English whom his affability attracted to Italy
and retained at Rome, caused, with the circulation of gold and science,
the inflowing of scepticism and indifference, which destroy creeds
before they sap institutions.

Naples, under a corrupt court, left fanaticism to the populace.
Florence, under a philosophical prince, was an experimental colony of
modern doctrines. The poet Alfieri, that Tyrtæus of Italian liberty,
produced there his revolutionary dramas, and there sowed his maxims
against the two-fold tyranny of popes and kings in every theatre in

Milan, beneath the Austrian flag, had within its walls a republic of
poets and philosophers. Beccaria wrote there more daringly than
Montesquieu. His work on "Crimes and Punishments" was a bill of
accusation of all the laws of his native country. _Parini Monte,
Cesarotti, Pindemonte, Ugo Foscolo_ gay, serious, and heroic poets, then
satirised the absurdities of their tyrants, the baseness of their
fellow-countrymen, or sang, in patriotic odes, the virtues of their
ancestors, and the approaching deliverance of their country.

Turin alone, attached to the house of Saxony, was silent, and proscribed

In England, the mind, a long time free, had produced sound morals. The
aristocracy felt itself sufficiently strong never to become persecuting.
Worship was there as independent as conscience. The dominant religion
was a political institution, which, whilst it bound the citizen, left
the believer to his free will. The government itself was popular, only
the people consisted of none but its leading citizens. The House of
Commons more resembled a senate of nobles than a democratic forum; but
this parliament was an open and resounding chamber, where they discussed
openly in face of the throne, as in the face of all Europe, the most
comprehensive measures of the government. Royalty, honoured in form,
whilst in fact it is excluded and powerless, merely presides over these
debates, and adds order to victory; it was, in reality, nothing more
than a perpetual consulate of this Britannic senate. The voices of the
leading orators, who contested the rule of the nation, echoed thence,
through and out of Europe. Liberty finds its level in the social world,
like the waves in the common bed of the ocean. One nation is not free
with impunity--one people is not in bondage with impunity--all finally
compares and equalises itself.


England had been intellectually the model of nations, and the envy of
the reflecting universe. Nature and its institutions had conferred upon
it men worthy of its laws. Lord Chatham, sometimes leading the
opposition, sometimes at the head of the government, had expanded the
space of parliament to the proportions of his own character and his own
language. Never did the manly liberty of a citizen before a
throne--never did the legal authority of a prime minister before a
people display themselves in such a voice to assembled citizens. He was
a public man in all the greatness of the phrase--the soul of a nation
personified in an individual--the inspiration of the nation in the heart
of a patrician. His oratory had something as grand as action--it was the
heroic in language. The echo of Lord Chatham's discourses were
heard--felt on the Continent. The stormy scenes of the Westminster
elections[7] shook to the very depths the feelings of the people, and
that love of turbulence which slumbers in every multitude, and which it
so often mistakes for the symptoms of true liberty. These words of
counterpoise to royal power, to ministerial responsibility, to laws in
operation, to the power of the people, explained at the present by a
constitution--explained in the past by the accusation of Strafford, the
tomb of Sidney, on the scaffold of a king, had resounded like old
recollections and strange novelties.

The English drama had the whole world for audience. The great actors for
the moment were Pitt, the controller of these storms, the intrepid organ
of the throne, of order, and the laws of his country; Fox, the
precursory tribune of the French Revolution, who propagated the
doctrines by connecting them with the revolutions of England, in order
to sanctify them in the eyes of the English; Burke, the philosophical
orator, every one of whose orations was a treatise; then the Cicero of
the opposition party, and who was so speedily to turn against the
excesses of the French Revolution, and curse the new faith in the first
victim immolated by the people; and lastly, Sheridan, an eloquent
debauchee, liked by the populace for his levity and his vices, seducing
his country, instead of elevating it. The warmth of the debates on the
American war, and the Indian war, gave a more powerful interest to the
storms of the English parliament.

The independence of America, effected by a newly-born people, the
republican maxims on which this new continent founded its government,
the reputation attached to the fresh names, which distance increased
more than their victories,--Washington, Franklin, La Fayette, the heroes
of public imagination; those dreams of ancient simplicity, of primitive
manners, of liberty at once heroic and pastoral, which the fashion and
illusion of the moment had transported from the other side of the
Atlantic,--all contributed to fascinate the spirit of the Continent, and
nourish in the mind of the people contempt for their own institutions,
and fanaticism for a social renovation.

Holland was the workshop of innovators; it was there that, sheltered by
a complete toleration of religious dogmata, by an almost republican
liberty, and by an authorised system of contraband, all that could not
be uttered in Paris, in Italy, in Spain, in Germany, was printed. Since
Descartes, independent philosophy had selected Holland for its asylum:
Boyle had there rendered scepticism popular: it was the land sacred to
insurrection against all the abuses of power, and had subsequently
become the seat of conspiracy against kings. Every one who had a
suspicious idea to promulgate, an attack to make, a name to conceal,
went to borrow the presses of Holland. Voltaire, Jean Jacques Rousseau,
Diderot, Helvetius, Mirabeau himself--had gone there to naturalise their
writings in this land of publicity. The mask of concealment which these
writers assumed in Amsterdam deceived no one, but it effected their
security. All the crimes of thought were there inviolable; it was at the
same time the asylum and the arsenal of new ideas. An active and vast
trade in books made a speculation of the overthrow of religion and
thrones. The prodigious demand for prohibited works which were thus
circulated in the world, proved sufficiently the increasing alteration
of ancient beliefs in the mind of the people.


In Germany, the country of phlegm and patience, minds apparently so slow
shared with serious and concentrated ardour in the general movement of
mind in Europe. Free thought there assumed the form of an universal
conspiracy. It was enveloped in mystery. Learned and formal Germany
liked to give even to its insurrection the appearances of science and
tradition. The Egyptian initiations, mystic ceremonies of the middle
age, were imitated by the adepts of new ideas. Men thought as they
conspired. Philosophy moved veiled in symbols; and that veil was torn
away only in secret societies, from which the profane were excluded. The
_prestiges_ of the imagination, so powerful in the ideal and dreamy
nature of Germany, served as a bait to the newly arisen truths.

The great Frederic had made his court the centre of religious
incredulity. Sheltered by his power altogether military, contempt for
Christianity and of monarchical institutions was freely propagated.
Moral force was nothing to this materialist prince. Bayonets were in his
eyes the right of princes; insurrection the right of the people;
victories or defeats the public right. His constant run of good fortune
was the accomplice of his immorality. He had received the recompence of
every one of his vices, because his vices were great. Dying he had
bequeathed his perverse genius to Berlin. It was the corrupting city of
Germany. Military men educated in the school of Frederic, academies
modelled after the genius of Voltaire, colonies of Jews enriched by war,
and the French refugees, peopled Berlin and formed the public mind. This
mind, full of levity, sceptic, impertinent and sneering, intimidated the
rest of Germany. The weakened spirit of that land may be dated from the
period of Frederic II. He was the corrupter of the empire--he conquered
Germany in the French spirit--he was a hero of a falling destiny.

Berlin continued it after his death; great men always bequeath the
impulse of their spirit to their country. The reign of Frederic had at
least one happy result: religious tolerance arose in Germany from the
very contempt in which Frederic had held religious creeds. Under the
wing of this toleration the spirit of philosophy had organised occult
associations, after the image of freemasonry. The German princes were
initiated. It was thought an act of superior mind to penetrate into
those shadows, which, in reality, included nothing beyond some general
principles of humanity and virtue, with no direct application to civil
institutions. Frederic in his youth had been initiated himself, at
Brunswick, by Major Bielfeld; the emperor Joseph II., the most bold
innovator of his time, had also desired to undergo these proofs at
Vienna, under the tutelage of the baron de Born, the chief of the
freemasons in Austria. These societies, which had no religious tendency
in England, because there liberty conspired openly in parliament and in
the press, had a wholly different sense on the Continent. They were the
secret council-chambers of independent thought: the thought, escaping
from books, passed into action. Between the initiated and established
institutions, the war was concealed, but the more deadly.

The hidden agents of these societies had evidently for aim the creation
of a government of the opinion of the human race, in opposition to the
governments of prejudice. They desired to reform religious, political,
and civil society, beginning by the most refined classes. These lodges
were the catacombs of a new worship. The sect of _illuminés_, founded
and guided by Weishaupt, was spreading in Germany in conjunction with
the _freemasons_ and the _rosicrucians_. The _theosophists_ in their turn
produced the symbols of supernatural perfection, and enrolled all
susceptible minds and ardent imaginations around dogmata full of love
and infinity. The theosophists, the Swedenborgians, disciples of the
sublime but obscure Swedenborg, the Saint Martin of Germany, pretended
to complete the Gospel, and to transform humanity by overcoming death
and the senses. All these dogmata were mingled in an equal contempt for
existing institutions in one same aspiration for the renewal of the mind
and things. All were democratic in their last conclusion, for all were
inspired by a love of mankind without distinction of classes.

Affiliations were multiplied _ad infinitum_. Prejudice, as it always
occurs when zeal is ardent, was added fraudulently to truth, as if error
or falsehood were the inevitable alloy of truth, and even the virtues of
the human mind: they called up past ages, summoned spectres, and the
dead were heard to speak. They played upon the plastic imagination of
princes, by rapid transition from terror to enthusiasm. The knowledge of
the phantasmagoria, then but little known, served as an auxiliary in
these deceptions. On the death of Frederic II., his successor submitted
to such tests, and was worked upon by wonders. Kings conspired against
thrones. The princes of Gotha gave Weishaupt an asylum. Augustus of
Saxony, prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, the prince of Neuvied, even the
coadjutor of the ecclesiastical principalities on the banks of the
Rhine, those of Mayence, Worms, and Constance, signalised themselves by
their ardour for the mystic doctrines of freemasonry or the illuminati.
Cagliostro was astounding Strasburgh--Cardinal de Rohan ruined himself,
and bent before his voice. Like at the fall of great empires--like at
the cradle of great things--these signs appeared every where. The most
infallible was the general convulsion of human ideas. When a creed is
crumbling to atoms, all mankind trembles.

The lofty geniuses of Germany and Italy were already singing the new era
to their offspring; Göethe the sceptic poet, Schiller the republican
poet, Klopstock the sacred poet, intoxicated with their strophes the
universities and theatres; each shock of the events of Paris had its
_contre coup_ and sonorous echo, multiplied by these writers on the
borders of the Rhine. Poetry is the remembrance and anticipation of
things: what it celebrates is not yet dead, and what it sings already
hath existence. Poetry sang everywhere the unformed but impassioned
hopes of the people. It is a sure augury--it is full of enthusiasm, for
its voice is heard on all sides; science, poetry, history, philosophy,
the stage, mysticism, the arts, the genius of Europe under every form,
had passed over to the Revolution: not one name of a man of reputation
in all Europe could be cited who remained attached to the party of the
past. The past was overcome, because the mind of the human race had
withdrawn from it--when the spirit hath flown life is extinct. None but
mediocrities remain under the shelter of old forms and institutions:
There was a general mirage in the horizon of the future; and, whether
the small saw therein their safety, or the great an abyss, all went
headlong towards the novelty.


Such was the tendency of minds in Europe, when the princes, brothers of
Louis XVI., and the emigrant gentlemen, spread themselves over Savoy,
Switzerland, Italy, and Germany, to demand succour and vengeance from
powers and principalities against the Revolution. Never, from the first
great emigrations of ancient people, fleeing from the Roman invasions,
had been seen such a movement of terror and perturbation as this, which
cast forth from the territory all the clergy and all the aristocracy of
a nation. An immense vacuum was created in France: first, in the steps
of the throne itself; next, in the court, in châteaux, in ecclesiastical
dignities; and finally in the ranks of the army. Officers, all noble,
emigrated in masses; the navy followed somewhat later, the example of
the army, which also abandoned the flag. It was not that the clergy, the
nobility, the land and sea officers were more pressed upon by the stir
of revolutionary ideas which had agitated the nation in 1789; on the
contrary, the movement commenced by them. Philosophy had in the first
place enlightened the apex of the nation. The thought of the age was
especially in the higher classes; but those classes who sought a reform
by no means desired a disorganisation. When they had seen the moral
agitation of ideas transform itself into an insurrection of the people,
they had trembled. The reins of government violently snatched from the
king by Mirabeau and La Fayette, at the Tennis court; the attempts of
the 5th and 6th of October; privileges suppressed without compensation,
titles abolished, the aristocracy handed over to execration, to pillage,
to fire, and even to murder, in the provinces; religion deposed, and
compelled to nationalise itself by a constitutional oath; and; finally
the king's flight, his imprisonment in his palace, the threats of death
vomited forth by the patriotic press, or the tribunes of popular clubs,
against all aristocracy, the triumphant riots in the provinces, the
defection of the French guards in Paris, the revolt of the Swiss of
Châteauvieux at Nancy, the excesses of the soldiery, mutinous and
unpunished, at Caen, Brest, and everywhere, had changed into horror and
hatred the favourable feeling of the noblesse for the progress of
opinion. It saw that the first act of the people was to degrade superior
authority. The _esprit de caste_ impelled the nobility to emigrate, the
_esprit de corps_ similarly influenced the officers, and the _esprit de
cour_ made it shameful to remain on a soil stained with so many outrages
to royalty. The women, who then formed public opinion in France, and
whose tender and easily excited imagination is soon transferred to the
side of their victims, all sided with the throne and the aristocracy.
They despised those who would not go and seek their avengers in foreign
lands. Young men departed at their desire; those who did not, dared not
show themselves. They sent them distaffs, as a token of their cowardice!

But it was not shame alone that led the officers and the nobles to join
the ranks of the army, it was also the appearance of a duty; for the
last virtue that was left to the French nobility was a religious
fidelity to the throne: their honour, their second and almost only
religion, was to die for their king; and any design against the throne,
in their belief, was a design against heaven. Chivalry, that code of
aristocratic feeling, had preserved and disseminated this noble
prejudice throughout Europe; and, to the nobility, the king represented
their country. This feeling, eclipsed for a while by the debaucheries of
the regency, the scandalous vices of Louis XV., and the bold maxims of
Rousseau's philosophy, was awakened in the heart of the gentlemen at the
spectacle of the degradation and danger of the king and queen. In their
eyes, the Assembly was nothing but a band of revolutionary subjects, who
detained their sovereign a prisoner. The most voluntary acts of the king
were suspected by them, and beneath his constitutional speeches, they
imagined they discovered another and a contrary meaning; and the very
ministers of Louis XVI. were believed to be nothing but his gaolers. A
secret understanding existed between these gentlemen and the king, and
counsels were held in secluded apartments of the Tuileries, at which the
king alternately encouraged and forbade his friends to emigrate. And his
orders, varied at each day and each fresh occurrence, were sometimes
constitutional and patriotic when he hoped to re-establish and moderate
the constitution at home; at other times, despairing and blameable when
it seemed to him that the security of the queen and his children could
only proceed from another country. Whilst he addressed official letters
through his minister for foreign affairs to his brothers, and the Prince
de Condé, to recall them, and point out to them their duty as citizens,
the Baron de Breteuil, his confidential agent to the Foreign Powers,
transmitted to the king of Prussia letters that revealed the secret
thoughts of the king. The following letter to the king of Prussia, found
in the archives of the chancellorship of Berlin, dated December 3rd,
1790, leaves no doubt of this double diplomacy of the unfortunate
monarch. Louis XVI. wrote:--

     "Monsieur mon Frère,

     "I have learnt from M. de Moustier how great an interest your
     majesty has displayed, not only for my person but for the welfare
     of my kingdom, and your majesty's determination to prove this
     interest, whenever it can be for the good of my people, has deeply
     touched me; and I confidently claim the fulfilment of it, at this
     moment, when, in spite of my having accepted the new constitution,
     the factious portion of my subjects openly manifest their intention
     of destroying the remainder of the monarchy. I have addressed the
     emperor, the empress of Russia, and the kings of Spain and Sweden,
     and I have suggested to them the idea of a congress of the
     principal powers of Europe, _supported by an armed force_, as the
     best measure to check the progress of faction here, to afford the
     means of establishing a better order of things, and preventing the
     evil that devours this country from seizing on the other states of
     Europe. I trust that your majesty will approve my ideas, _and
     maintain the strictest secrecy respecting the step I have taken in
     this matter_, as you will feel that the critical position in which
     I am placed at present compels me to use the greatest
     circumspection. It is for this reason that the Baron de Breteuil is
     alone acquainted with my secret, and through him your majesty can
     transmit me whatever you may think fit."


This letter, added to that addressed by Louis XVI. to M. de Bouillé,
informing him that his brother-in-law the emperor Leopold was about to
march a body of troops on Longwi, in order to afford a pretext for the
concentration of the French troops on that frontier, and thus favour his
flight from Paris, are irrefragable proofs of the counter-revolutionary
understanding existing between the king and the foreign powers, no less
than between the king and the leaders of the emigrés. The memoirs of the
emigrés are full of proofs of this fact; and nature even attests them,
for the cause of the king, the aristocracy, and the religious
institutions was identical. The emperor Leopold was the brother of the
queen of France; the dangers of the king were the dangers of all the
other princes; for the example of the triumph of one people was
contagious to all nations. The emigrés were the friends of the monarchy,
and the defenders of kings; had they not exchanged a word more on the
subject, they would have been united by the same feelings, the same
interests. But in addition to this, they had preconcerted communication
with each other, and the suspicions of the people were no empty
chimeras, but the presentiment of the plots of their enemies.

The conspiracy of the court with all the courts and aristocracies
abroad, with all the aristocracies of the emigrés, with their relations,
of the king with his brothers, had no need of being carried on in
writing. Louis XVI. himself, the most really revolutionary of all the
monarchs who have occupied the throne, had no thought of treachery to
the people or to the revolution, when he implored the armed succour of
the other powers. This idea of an appeal to foreign forces, or even the
emigrated forces, was not his real desire; for he dreaded the
intervention of the enemies of France, he disapproved of emigration, and
he was not without a feeling of offence at his brothers intriguing
abroad, sometimes in his name, but often against his wishes. He shrank
from the idea of passing in the eyes of Europe for a prince in
leading-strings, whose ambitious brothers seized upon his rights in
adopting his cause, and stipulated for his interests without his
intervention. At Coblentz a regency was openly spoken of, and bestowed
on the Comte de Provence, the brother of Louis XVI.; and this regency,
that had devolved on a prince of the blood by emigration, whilst the
king maintained a struggle at Paris, greatly humiliated Louis XVI. and
the queen. This usurpation of their rights, although clothed in the
dress of devotion and tenderness, was even more bitter to them than the
outrages of the Assembly and the people. We always dread most that which
is nearest to us, and the triumph of the emigration only promised them a
throne, disputed by the regent who had restored it. This gratitude
appeared to them a disgrace, and they knew not whether they had most to
hope or to apprehend from the emigrés.

The queen, in her conversations with her friends, spoke of them with
more bitterness than confidence. The king loudly complained of the
disobedience of his brothers, and dissuaded from flight all those who
demanded his advice; but his advice was as changeable as events; like
all men balancing between hope and fear, he alternately bent and stood
erect beneath the pressure of circumstances. His acts were culpable, but
not his intentions; it was not the king who conspired, but the man, the
husband, the father, who sought by foreign aid to ensure the safety of
his wife and children; and he alone became criminal when all seemed
desperate. The "tangled thread" of negotiation was incessantly broken
off and renewed: that which was resolved yesterday was to-morrow
disavowed; and the secret negotiators of these plots, armed with
credentials and powers which had been recalled, yet continued to employ
them, in spite of the king's orders, to carry on in his name those plans
of which he disapproved. The prince de Condé, the Comte de Provence, and
the Comte d'Artois had each his separate line of policy and court, and
abused the king's name in order to increase his own credit and interest.
Hence arises the difficulty, to those who write the history of that
period, of tracing the hand of the king in all these conspiracies,
carried on in his name, and to pronounce either his entire innocence or
his palpable treachery. He did not betray his country, or sell his
subjects; but he did not observe his oaths to the constitution or his
country. An upright man, but a persecuted king, he believed that oaths,
extorted by violence and eluded through fear, were no perjuries; and he
broke each day some of those to which he had bound himself, under the
belief, doubtless, that the excesses of the people freed him from his
oath. Educated with all the prejudices of personal sovereignty, he
sought with sincerity amidst this chaos of parties, who disputed with
each other the empire, to find the nation; and failing to discover the
object of his search, he fancied he had the right to find it in his own
person. His crime, if there be any in his actions, was less the crime of
his heart than the crime of his birth, his situation, and his


The Baron de Breteuil, an old minister and ambassador, a man incapable
of making the least concession, and ever counselling strong and forcible
measures, had quitted France at the commencement of the year 1790, the
king's secret plenipotentiary to all the other powers. He alone was, to
all intents, and for all purposes, the sole minister of Louis XVI. He
was, moreover, absolute minister; for once invested with the confidence
and unlimited power of the king, who could not revoke, without betraying
the existence of his occult diplomacy, he was in a position to make any
use of it, and to interpret at will the intentions of Louis XVI. to his
own views. The Baron de Breteuil did abuse it; not, as it is said, from
personal ambition, but from excess of zeal for the welfare and dignity
of his master. His negotiations with Catherine, Gustavus, Frederic, and
Leopold were a constant incitement to a crusade against the Revolution
of France.

The Count de Provence (afterwards Louis XVIII.), and the Count d'Artois
(afterwards Charles X.), after several visits to the different courts of
the South and North, had met at Coblentz, where Louis Venceslas, elector
of Trèves, their maternal uncle, received them with a more kind than
politic welcome. Coblentz became the _Paris_ of Germany, the focus of
the counter-revolutionary conspiracy, the head quarters of all the
French nobles assembled round their natural leaders, the two brothers of
the captive king. Whilst they held there their wandering court, and
formed the first links of the coalition of Pilnitz, the Prince de Condé,
who, from inclination and descent, was of a more military disposition,
formed the army of the Princes, consisting of eight or ten thousand
officers, and no soldiers, and thus it was the head of the army severed
from the trunk. Names renowned in history's annals, fervent devotion,
youthful ardour, heroic bravery, fidelity, the conviction of
success,--nothing was wanting to this army at Coblentz save an
understanding with their country and time. Had the French _noblesse_ but
employed one half of the virtues and efforts they made to subdue the
Revolution, in regulating it, the Revolution, although it changed the
laws, would not have changed the monarchy. But it is useless to expect
that institutions can comprehend the means that transform them. The
king, the nobility, and the priests could not understand a revolution
that threatened to destroy the noblesse, the clergy, and the throne. A
contest became unavoidable; they had not space for the struggle in
France, and they took their stand on a foreign soil.


Whilst the army of the princes thus increased in strength at Coblentz,
the counter-revolutionary diplomacy was on the eve of the first great
result it had been enabled to obtain in the actual state of Europe. The
conferences of Pilnitz had opened, and the Count de Provence had sent
the baron Roll from Coblentz to the king of Prussia, to demand in the
name of Louis XVI. the assistance of his troops to aid in the
re-establishment of order in France. The king of Prussia, before
deciding, wished to learn the state of France from a man whose military
talents and devoted attachment to the monarchy had gained him the
confidence of the foreign courts,--the Marquis de Bouillé. He fixed the
Château de Pilnitz as the meeting place, and requested him to bring a
plan of operation for the foreign armies on the different French
frontiers; and on the 24th of August Frederic Willam, accompanied by his
son, his principal generals, and his ministers, arrived at the Château
de Pilnitz, the summer residence of the court of Saxony, where he had
been preceded by the emperor.

The Archduke Francis, afterwards the emperor Francis II., the Maréchal
de Lascy, the Baron de Spielman, and a numerous train of courtiers,
attended the emperor. The two sovereigns, the rivals of Germany, seemed
for a time to have laid aside their rivalry to occupy themselves solely
with the safety of the thrones of Europe; this fraternity of the great
family of monarchs prevailed over every other feeling, and they treated
each other more like brothers than sovereigns, whilst the elector of
Saxony, their entertainer, enlivened the conference by a succession of
splendid fêtes.

In the midst of a banquet the unexpected arrival of the Count d'Artois
at Dresden was announced, and the king of Prussia requested permission
from the emperor for the French prince to appear. The emperor consented,
but previous to admitting him to their official conferences the two
monarchs had a secret interview, at which two of their most confidential
agents only were present. The emperor inclined to peace, the inertness
of the Germanic body weighed down his resolve, for he felt the
difficulty of communicating to this vassal federation of the empire the
unity and energy necessary to attack France in the full enthusiasm of
her Revolution. The generals, and even the Maréchal de Lascy himself,
hesitated before frontiers reputed to be impregnable, whilst the emperor
was apprehensive for the Low Countries and Italy. The French maxims had
passed the Rhine, and might explode in the German states at the moment
when the princes and people were called upon to take arms against
France, and the diet of the people might prove more powerful than the
diet of the kings. Dilatory measures would have the same intimidating
effect on the revolutionary genius, without presenting the same dangers
to Germany; and would it not be more prudent to form a general league of
all the European powers to surround France with a circle of bayonets,
and summon the triumphant party to restore liberty to the king, dignity
to the throne, and security to the Continent? "Should the French nation
refuse," added the emperor, "_then_ we will threaten her in a manifesto,
with a general invasion, and should it become necessary, we will crush
her beneath the irresistible weight of the united forces of all Europe."
Such were the counsels of that temporising genius of empires that awaits
necessity without ever forestalling, and would fain be assured of every
thing without the least risk.


The king of Prussia, more impatient and more threatening, confessed to
the emperor that he had no faith in the effect of these threats.
"Prudence," said he, "is a feeble defence against audacity, and the
defensive is but a timid position to assume in the face of the
Revolution. We must attack it in its infancy; for to give time to the
French principles, is to give them strength. To treat with the popular
insurrection, is to prove to them that we fear, and are disposed to form
a compact with them. We must surprise France in the very act of anarchy,
and publish a manifesto to Europe when the armies have crossed the
frontiers and success has given authority to our declaration."

The emperor appeared moved; he, however, insisted on the dangers to
which a sudden invasion would inevitably expose Louis XVI., he showed
the letters of this prince, and intimated that the Marquis de Noailles
and M. de Montmorin--the one French ambassador at Vienna, the other
minister for Foreign Affairs at Paris, who were both devoted to the
king--held out hopes to the court of Vienna of the speedy
re-establishment of order and monarchical modifications of the
constitution in France; and he demanded the right of suspending his
decision until the month of September, although in the mean while
military preparations should be made by both powers. The scene was
changed the next morning by the Count d'Artois. This young prince had
received from the hand of nature all the exterior qualifications of a
chevalier: he spoke to the sovereigns in the name of the thrones; to the
emperor in the name of an outraged and dethroned sister. The whole
emigration, with its misfortunes, its nobility, its valour, its
illusions, seemed personified in him. The Marquis de Bouillé and M. de
Calonne, the genius of war and the genius of intrigue, had followed him
to these conferences. He obtained several audiences of the two
sovereigns, he inveighed with respect and energy against the temporising
system of the emperor, and violently roused the Germanic sluggishness.
The emperor and the king of Prussia authorised the Baron de Spielman for
Austria, the Baron de Bischofswerden for Prussia, and M. de Calonne for
France, to meet the same evening, and draw up a declaration for the
signature of the monarchs.

The Baron de Spielman, under the immediate dictation of the emperor,
drew up the document. M. de Calonne in vain combated, in the name of the
Count d'Artois, the hesitation that disconcerted the impatience of the
emigrés. The next day, on their return from a visit to Dresden, the two
sovereigns, the Count d'Artois, M. de Calonne, the Maréchal de Lascy,
and the two negotiators, met in the emperor's apartment, where the
declaration was read and discussed, every sentence weighed, and some
expressions modified; and at the proposal of M. de Calonne, and the
entreaties of the Count d'Artois, the emperor and the king of Prussia
consented to the insertion of the last phrase, that threatened the
Revolution with war.

Subjoined is the document that was the date of a war of twenty-two
years' duration.

"The emperor and the king of Prussia, having listened to the wishes and
representations of _Monsieur_ and _Monsieur le Comte d'Artois_, declare
conjointly that they look upon the present position of the king of
France as an object of common interest to all the sovereigns of Europe.
They trust that this interest cannot fail to be acknowledged by all the
powers whose assistance is claimed; and that, in consequence, they will
not refuse to employ, conjointly with the emperor and the king of
Prussia, the most efficacious means, proportioned to their forces, for
enabling the king of France to strengthen with the most perfect liberty
the bases of a monarchical government, equally conformable to the rights
of sovereigns and the welfare of the French nation. Then, and in that
case, their aforesaid majesties are resolved to act promptly and in
concert with the forces requisite to attain the end proposed and agreed
on. In the mean time they will issue all needful orders to their troops
to hold themselves in a state of readiness."

This declaration, at once timid and threatening, was evidently too much
for peace, too little for war; for such words encourage the revolution,
without crushing it. They at once showed the impatience of the emigrés,
the resolution of the king of Prussia, the hesitation of the powers, the
temporising policy of the emperor. It was a concession to force and
weakness, to peace and war; the whole state of Europe was there
unveiled, for it was the declaration of the uncertainty and anarchy of
its councils.


After this imprudent and useless act, the two sovereigns separated.
Leopold to go and be crowned at Prague, and the king of Prussia,
returning to Berlin, began to put his army on a war footing. The
emigrants, triumphing in the engagement they had entered into, increased
in numbers. The courts of Europe, with the exception of England, sent in
equivocal adhesions to the courts of Berlin and Vienna. The noise of the
declaration of Pilnitz burst forth, and died away in Paris in the midst
of the fêtes in honour of the acceptance of the constitution.

However, Leopold, after the conferences at Pilnitz, was more earnest
than ever in his attempts to find excuses for peace. The Prince de
Kaunitz, his minister, feared all violent shocks, which might derange
the old diplomatic mechanism, whose workings he so well knew. Louis XVI.
sent the Count de Fersen secretly to him, in order to disclose his real
motives in accepting the constitution, and to entreat him not to
provoke, by any preparation of arms, the bad feelings of the Revolution,
which seemed to be quieted by its triumph.

The emigrant princes, on the contrary, filled all courts with the words
uttered in favour of their cause in the declaration of Pilnitz. They
wrote a letter to Louis XVI., in which they protested against the oath
of the king to the constitution, forced, as they declared, from his
weakness and his captivity. The king of Prussia, on receiving the
circular of the French cabinet, in which the acceptance of the
constitution was notified, exclaimed, "I see the peace of Europe
assured!" The courts of Vienna and Berlin feigned to believe that all
was concluded in France by the mutual concessions of the king and the
Assembly. They made up their minds to see the throne of Louis XVI.
abased, provided that the Revolution would consent to allow itself to be
controlled by the throne.

Russia, Sweden, Spain, and Sardinia were not so easily appeased.
Catherine II. and Gustavus III., the one from a proud feeling of her
power, and the other from a generous devotion to the cause of kings,
arranged together, to send 40,000 Russians and Swedes to the aid of the
monarchy. This army, paid by a subsidy of 15,000,000f. of Spain, and
commanded by Gustavus in person, was to land upon the coast of France,
and march upon Paris, whilst the forces of the empire crossed the Rhine.

These bold plans of the two northern courts were displeasing to Leopold
and the king of Prussia. They reproached Catherine with not keeping her
promises, and making peace with the Turks. Could the emperor march his
troops on the Rhine whilst the battles of the Russians and Ottomans
continued on the Danube and threatened the remoter provinces of his
empire? Catherine and Gustavus nevertheless did not abate in their open
protection to the emigration party. These two sovereigns accredited
ministers plenipotentiary to the French princes at Coblentz. This was
declaring the forfeiture of Louis XVI., and even the forfeiture of
France. It was recognising that the government of the kingdom was no
longer at Paris, but at Coblentz. Moreover, they contracted a treaty of
alliance, offensive and defensive, between Sweden and Russia in the
common interest of the re-establishment of the monarchy.

Louis XVI. then earnestly desiring the disarming, sent to Coblentz the
Baron Vioménil and the Chevalier de Coigny to command his brothers and
the Prince de Condé to disarm and disperse the emigrants. They received
his orders as coming from a captive, and disobeyed without even sending
him a reply. Prussia and the empire showed more deference to the king's
intentions. These two courts disbanded the army collected by the
princes, and ordered to be punished in their states all insults offered
to the tricolour cockade; but at the very moment when the emperor thus
gave evidence of his desire to maintain peace, war was about to involve
him in spite of himself. What human wisdom sometimes refuses to the
greatest causes, it sees itself compelled to accord to the smallest.
Such was Leopold's situation. He had refused war to the great interests
of the monarchy, and the strong feelings of the family which asked it
from him, and yet was about to grant it to the insignificant interests
of certain princes of the empire, whose possessions were in Alsace and
Lorraine, and whose personal rights were violated by the new French
constitution. He had refused succour to his sister, and was about to
accord it to his vassals. The influence of the diet, and his duties as
head of the empire, led him on to steps to which his personal feelings
would never have urged him. By his letter of 3d December, 1791, he
announced to the cabinet of the Tuileries the formal resolution on his
part "of giving aid to the princes holding lands in France, if he did
not obtain their perfect restoration to all the rights which belonged to
them by treaty."


This threatening letter, secretly communicated in Paris, (before it was
officially sent,) by the French ambassador in Vienna, was received by
the king with much alarm, and with joy by certain of his ministers, and
the political party of the Assembly. War cuts through every thing. They
hailed it as a solution to the difficulties which they felt were
crushing them. When there is no longer any hope in the regular order of
events, there is in what is unknown. War appeared to these adventurous
spirits a necessary diversion to the universal ferment; a career to the
Revolution; a means for the king again to seize on power by acquiring
the support of the army. They hoped to change the fanaticism of liberty
into the fanaticism of glory, and to deceive the spirit of the age by
intoxicating it with conquests instead of satisfying it with

The Girondist deputies were of this party. Brissot was their
inspiration. Flattered by the title of statesmen, which they already
assumed from vanity, and which was used towards them with irony, they
were desirous to justify their pretensions by a bold stroke, which would
change the scene, and disconcert, at the same time, the king, the
people, and Europe. They had studied Machiavel, and considered the
disdain of the just as a proof of genius. They little heeded the blood
of the people, provided that it cemented their ambition.

The Jacobin party, with the exception of Robespierre, clamoured loudly
for war: his fanaticism deceived him as to his weakness. War was to
these men an armed apostleship, which was about to propagate their
social philosophy over the universe. The first cannon shot fired in the
name of the rights of man would shake thrones to their centre. Then
there was finally a third party which hoped for war, that of the
constitutional _modérés_, which flattered itself that it would restore
sound energy to the executive power, by the necessity of concentrating
the military authority in the hands of the king at the moment when the
nationality should be menaced. All extremity of war places the
dictatorship in the hands of the party which makes it, and they hoped,
on behalf of the king, and of themselves, for this dictatorship of


A young, but already influential, female had lent to this latter party
the _prestige_ of her youth, her genius, and her enthusiasm--it was
Madame de Stäel. Necker's daughter, she had inspired politics from her
birth. Her mother's _salon_ had been the _coenaculum_ of the
philosophy of the 18th century. Voltaire, Rousseau, Buffon, D'Alembert,
Diderot, Raynal, Bernardin de Saint Pierre, Condorcet had played with
this child, and fostered her earliest ideas. Her cradle was that of the
Revolution. Her father's popularity had played about her lips, and left
there an inextinguishable thirst for fame. She sought it in the storms
of the populace, in calumny, and death. Her genius was great, her soul
pure, her heart deeply impassioned. A man in her energy, a woman in her
tenderness, that the ideal of her ambition should be satisfied, it was
necessary for her to associate in the same character genius, glory, and

Nature, education, and fortune rendered possible this triple dream of a
woman, a philosopher, and a hero. Born in a republic, educated in a
court, daughter of a minister, wife of an ambassador, belonging by birth
to the people, to the literary world by talent, to the aristocracy by
rank, the three elements of the Revolution mingled or contended in her.
Her genius was like the antique chorus, in which all the great voices of
the drama unite in one tumultuous concord. A deep thinker by
inspiration, a tribune by eloquence, a woman in attraction, her beauty,
unseen by the million, required intellect to be admired, and admiration
to be felt. Hers was not the beauty of form and features, but visible
inspiration and the manifestation of passionate impulse. Attitude,
gesture, tone of voice, look--all obeyed her mind, and created her
brilliancy. Her black eyes, flashing with fire, gave out from beneath
their long lids as much tenderness as pride. Her look, so often lost in
space, was followed by those who knew her, as if it were possible to
find with her the inspiration she sought. That gaze, open, yet profound
as her understanding, had as much serenity as penetration. We felt that
the light of her genius was only the reverberation of a mine of
tenderness of heart. Thus there was a secret love in all the admiration
she excited; and she, in admiration, cared only for love. Love with her
was but enlightened admiration.

Events rapidly ripened; ideas and things were crowded into her life: she
had no infancy. At twenty-two years of age she had maturity of thought
with the grace and softness of youth. She wrote like Rousseau, and spoke
like Mirabeau. Capable of bold conceptions and complicated designs, she
could contain in her bosom at the same time a lofty idea and a deep
feeling. Like the women of old Rome who agitated the republic by the
impulses of their hearts, or who exalted or depressed the empire with
their love, she sought to mingle her feelings with her politics, and
desired that the elevation of her genius should elevate him she loved.
Her sex precluded her from that open action which public position, the
tribune, or the army only accord to men in public governments; and thus
she compulsorily remained unseen in the events she guided. To be the
hidden destiny of some great man, to act through and by him, to grow
with his greatness, be eminent in his name, was the sole ambition
permitted to her--an ambition tender and devoted, which seduces a woman
whilst it suffices to her disinterested genius. She could only be the
mind and inspiration of some political man; she sought such a one, and
in her delusion believed she had found him.


There was then in Paris a young general officer of illustrious race,
excessively handsome, and with a mind full of attraction, varied in its
powers and brilliant in its display. Although he bore the name of one of
the most distinguished families at court, there was a cloud over his
birth. Royal blood ran in his veins, and his features recalled those of
Louis XV. The affection of Mesdames the aunts of Louis XVI. for this
youth, educated under their eyes, attached to their persons, and who
rose by their influence to the highest employments in the court and
army, gave credit to many mysterious rumours.

This young man was the count Louis de Narbonne. Sprung from this origin,
brought up in this court, a courtier by birth; spoiled by the hands of
these females, only remarkable for his good looks, his levities, and his
hasty wit; it was not to be expected that such a person was imbued with
that ardent faith which casts a man headlong into the centre of
revolutions, or the stoical energy which produces and controls them. He
saw in the people only a sovereign, more exacting and more capricious
than any others, towards whom it was necessary to display more skill to
seduce, more policy to manage them. He believed himself sufficiently
plastic for the task, and resolved to attempt it. Without a lofty
imagination, he yet had ambition and courage, and he viewed the position
of affairs as a drama, similar to the Fronde[8], in which skilful actors
could enlarge their hopes in proportion to the facts, and direct the
catastrophe. He had not sufficient penetration to see, that in a
revolution there is but one serious actor--enthusiasm; and he had none.
He stammered out the words of a revolutionary tongue--he assumed the
costume, but had not the spirit of the times.

The contrast of this nature and of this part, this court favourite
casting himself into the crowd to serve the nation, this aristocratic
elegance, masked in patriotism of the tribune, pleased public opinion
for the moment. They applauded this transformation as a difficulty
overcome. The people was flattered by having great lords with it. It was
a testimony of its power. It felt itself king, by seeing courtiers
bowing to it, and excused their rank by reason of their complaisance.

Madame de Stäel was seduced as much by the heart as the intellect of M.
de Narbonne. Her masculine and sensitive imagination invested the young
soldier with all she desired to find in him. He was but a brilliant,
active, high-couraged man; she pictured him a politician and a hero. She
magnified him with all the endowments of her dreams, in order to bring
him up to her ideal standard. She found patrons for him; surrounded him
with a _prestige_; created a name for him, marked him out a course. She
made him the living type of her politics. To disdain the court, gain
over the people, command the army, intimidate Europe, carry away the
Assembly by his eloquence, to struggle for liberty, to save the nation,
and become, by his popularity alone, the arbiter between the throne and
the people, to reconcile them by a constitution, at once liberal and
monarchical; such was the perspective that she opened for herself and M.
de Narbonne.

She but awakened his ambition, yet he believed himself capable of the
destinies which she dreamed of for him. The drama of the constitution
was concentrated in these two minds, and their conspiracy was for some
time the entire policy of Europe.

Madame de Stäel, M. de Narbonne, and the constitutional party were for
war; but theirs was to be a partial and not a desperate war which,
shaking nationality to its foundations, would carry away the throne and
throw France into a Republic. They contrived by their influence to renew
all the personal staff of the diplomacy, exclusively devoted to the
emigrants or the king. They filled foreign courts with their adherents,
M. de Marbois was sent to the Diet of Ratisbon, M. Barthélemy to
Switzerland, M. de Talleyrand to London, M. de Ségur to Berlin. The
mission of M. de Talleyrand was to endeavour to fraternise the
aristocratic principle of the English constitution with the democratic
principle of the French constitution, which they believed they could
effect and control by an Upper Chamber. They hoped to interest the
statesmen of Great Britain in a Revolution, imitated from their own,
which, after having convulsed the people, was now becoming moulded in
the hands of an intelligent aristocracy. This mission would be easy, if
the Revolution were in regular train for some months in Paris. French
ideas were popular in London. The opposition was revolutionary. Fox and
Burke, then friends, were most earnest in their desire for the liberty
of the Continent[9]. We must render this justice to England, that the
moral and popular principle concealed in the foundation of its
constitution, has never stultified itself by combating the efforts of
other nations to acquire a free government. It has everywhere accorded
the liberty similar to its own.


The mission of M. de Ségur at Berlin was more delicate. Its object was
to detach the king of Prussia from his alliance with the emperor
Leopold, whose coronation was not yet known, and to persuade the cabinet
of Berlin into an alliance with revolutionary France. This alliance held
out to Prussia with its security on the Rhine the ascendency of the
new-sprung ideas in Germany: it was a Machiavelian idea, which would
smile at the agitating spirit of the great Frederic, who had made of
Prussia the corrosive influence (_la puissance corrosive_) of the

These two words--seduce and corrupt--were all M. de Ségur's
instructions. The king of Prussia had favourites and mistresses.
Mirabeau had written in 1786, "There can be at Berlin no secrets for the
ambassador of France, unless money and skill be wanting; the country is
poor and avaricious, and there is no state secret which may not be
purchased with three thousand louis." M. de Ségur, imbued with these
ideas, made it his first object to buy over the two favourites. The one
was daughter of Elie Enka, who was a musician in the chapel of the late
king. Handsome and witty, she had at twelve years of age attracted the
notice of the king, then prince royal, and he had, at that early age, as
in anticipation of his amour, bestowed on her all the care and all the
cost of a royal education. She had travelled in France and in England,
and knew all the European languages; she had polished her natural genius
by contact with the lettered men and artists of Germany. A feigned
marriage with Rietz, valet de chambre of the king, was the pretext for
her residence at court, and gave her the opportunity for surrounding
herself with the leading men in politics and literature in the city of
Berlin. Spoiled by the precocity of her fortune, yet careless as to its
retention, she had allowed two rivals to dispute the king's heart. One,
the young Countess d'Ingenheim, had just died in the flower of her
youth; the other, the Countess d'Ashkof, had borne the king two
children, and flattered herself, in vain, with having extricated him
from the empire of Madame Rietz.

The Baron de Roll, in the name of the Count d'Artois, and the Viscount
de Caraman, in the name of Louis XVI., had possessed themselves of all
the avenues to this cabinet. The Count de Goltz, ambassador from Prussia
to Paris, had informed his court of the object of M. de Ségur's mission.
The report ran amongst well-informed persons that this envoy carried
with him several millions (francs), destined to pay the weakness or the
treason of the Berlin cabinet.

A copy of the secret instructions of M. de Ségur reached Berlin two
hours before him, which revealed to the king the whole plan of seduction
and venality that the agent of France was to practice on his favourites
and mistresses, whose character, ambition, rivalries, weaknesses, true
or feigned, the means of acting by them on the mind of the king, were
all and severally noted down with the security of confidence. There was
a tariff for all consciences,--a price for every treachery. The
favourite aide-de-camp of the king, Rischofwerder, then very powerful,
was to be assailed by irresistible offers, and in case his connivance
should be revealed, a splendid establishment in France was to guarantee
him against any eventuality.

These instructions fell into the very hands of those whose fidelity was
thus priced, and they gave them to the king with all the innocence of
individuals shamefully calumniated. The king blushed for himself at the
empire over his politics thus ascribed to love and intrigue. He was
indignant at the fidelity of his subjects being thus assailed: all
negotiation was nipped in the bud before the arrival of the negotiator.
M. de Ségur was received with coldness and all the irony of contempt.
Frederic Willam affected never to mention him in his circle, and asked
aloud before him, of the envoy of the elector of Mayence, news of the
Prince de Condé: the envoy replied that this prince was approaching the
frontiers of France with his army. "He is right," said the king, "for he
is on the point of entering there." M. de Ségur, accustomed, from his
long residence and his familiar footing at the court of Catherine, to
take love for the intermediary of his affairs, induced, it is said, the
countess d'Ashkof and prince Henry of Prussia to join the peace party.
This success was but a snare for his negotiation. The king, arranging
with the emperor, affected for some time to lean towards France, to
complain of the exactions of emigration, and to make much of the
ambassador; who, thus cajoled, sent the warmest assurances to the French
cabinet as to the intentions of Prussia. But the sudden disgrace of the
countess d'Ashkof and the offer of alliance with France insultingly
repulsed, threw at once light and confusion into the plots of M. de
Ségur: he demanded his recall. The humiliation of seeing his talents
played with, the hopes of his party annihilated, the prospect of his
country's misfortunes, and Europe in flames, had, it was reported, urged
his sadness to despair. The report ran that he had attempted his life.
This imputed suicide was but a brain fever occasioned by the anguish of
a proud mind deeply wounded.


The same party attempted, and at nearly the same time, to acquire for
France a sovereign whose renown weighed as heavily as a throne in the
opinion of Europe. This was the duke of Brunswick, a pupil of the great
Frederic, the presumed heir of his military fame and inspiration, and
proclaimed, by anticipation, by the public voice, generalissimo, in the
coming war against France. To carry off from the emperor and the king of
Prussia the chief of their armies, was to deprive Germany of confidence
and of victory.

The name of the duke of Brunswick was a prestige which invested Germany
with a feeling of terror and inviolability. Madame de Stäel and her
party attempted it. This secret negotiation was concerted amongst Madame
de Stäel, M. de Narbonne, M. de La Fayette, and M. de Talleyrand. M. de
Custine, son of the general of that name, was chosen to convey to the
duke of Brunswick the wishes of the constitutional party. The young
negotiator was well prepared for his mission: witty, attractive, clever,
an intense admirer of Prussian tactics and the duke of Brunswick, from
whom he had had lessons in Berlin, he inspired confidence into this
prince beforehand. He offered to him the rank of generalissimo of the
French armies, an allowance of three millions of francs, and an
establishment in France equivalent to his possessions and rank in the
empire. The letter bearing these offers was signed by the minister of
war and Louis XVI. himself.

M. de Custine set out from France in the month of January; on his
arrival he handed his letter to the duke. Four days elapsed before an
interview was accorded to him. On the fifth day, the duke admitted him
to a personal and private interview. He expressed to M. de Custine with
military frankness his pride and gratitude that the price attached to
his merits by France must inspire in him: "But," he added, "my blood is
German and my honour Prussia's; my ambition is satisfied with being the
second person in this monarchy, which has adopted me. I would not
exchange for an adventurous glory on the shifting stage of revolutions,
the high and firm position which my birth, my duty, and some reputation
already acquired have secured for me in my native land."

After this conversation, M. de Custine, finding the prince immoveable,
disclosed his ultimatum, and held before his eyes the dazzling chance of
the crown of France, if it fell from the brow of Louis XVI. into the
hands of a conquering general. The duke appeared overwhelmed, and
dismissed M. de Custine without depriving him of all hope of his
accepting such an offer. But shortly afterwards, the duke, from
duplicity, repentance, or prudence, replied by a formal refusal to both
these propositions. He addressed his reply to Louis XVI., and not to his
minister; and this unhappy king thus learnt the last word of the
constitutional party, and how frail was the tenure on his brow of a
crown which was already offered perspectively to the ambition of a foe!



Such were the mutually threatening dispositions of France and Europe at
the moment when the Constituted Assembly, after having proclaimed its
principles, left to others to defend and apply them; like the legislator
who retires into private life, thence to watch the effect and the
working of his laws. The great idea of France abdicated, if we may use
the expression, with the Constituted Assembly; and the government fell
from its high position into the hands of the inexperience or the
impulses of a new people. From the 29th of September to the 1st of
October, there seemed to be a new reign: the Legislative Assembly found
themselves on that day face to face with a king who, destitute of
authority, ruled over a people destitute of moderation. They felt on
their first sitting the oscillation of a power without a counterpoise,
that seeks to balance itself by its own wisdom, and changing from insult
to repentance, wounds itself with the weapon that has been placed in its


An immense crowd had attended the first sittings; the exterior aspect of
the Assembly had entirely changed; almost all the white heads had
disappeared, and it seemed as though France had become young again in
the course of a night. The expression of the physiognomies, the
gestures, the attire of the members of the Assembly were no longer the
same; that pride of the French noblesse, visible alike in the look and
bearing; that dignity of the clergy and the magistrates; that austere
gravity of the deputies of the _Tiers état_ had suddenly given place to
the representatives of a new people, whose confusion and turbulence
announced rather the invasion of power than the custom and the
possession of supreme power. Many members were remarkable for their
youth; and when the president, by virtue of his age, summoned all the
deputies who had not yet attained their twenty-sixth year, in order to
form the provisional _bureau_, sixty young men presented themselves, and
disputed the office of secretary to the Assembly. This youth of the
representatives of the nation alarmed some, whilst it rejoiced others;
for if, on the one hand, such a representation did not possess that
mature calmness and that authority of age that the ancient legislators
sought in the council of the people; on the other, this sudden return to
youth of the representatives of the nation, seemed a symptom of the
regeneration of all the established institutions. It was visible to
every body that this new generation had discarded all the traditions and
prejudices of the old order of things; and its very age was a guarantee
opposite to established rule, and which required that every statesman
should by his age give pledges for the past, whilst from these was
required guarantees for the future. Their inexperience was made a merit,
their youth an oath. Old men are needed in times of tranquillity, young
ones in times of revolutions.

Scarcely was the Assembly constituted, than the twofold feeling that was
destined to dispute and contest every act--the monarchical and
republican feeling--commenced upon a frivolous pretext, a struggle,
puerile in appearance, serious in reality, and in which each party in
the course of two days was alternately the conqueror and the conquered.
The deputation that had waited on the king to announce to him the
constitution of the Assembly, reported the result of its mission through
the medium of the _député_ Ducastel, the president of this deputation.
"We deliberated," said he, "as to what form of words we should make use
of in addressing his majesty, as we feared to wound the national dignity
or the royal dignity, and we agreed to use these terms:--'Sire, the
Assembly is formed, and has deputed us to inform your majesty.' We
proceeded to the Tuileries; the minister of justice announced to us that
the king could not receive us before to-day at one o'clock. We, however,
thought that the public safety required that we should be instantly
admitted to the king's presence, and we therefore persisted. The king
then informed us he would give us audience at nine o'clock, at which
hour we again presented ourselves. At four paces distance from the king
I saluted him, and addressed him in the terms agreed upon; he inquired
the names of my colleagues, and I replied, 'I do not know them;' we were
about to withdraw, when he recalled us, saying, 'I cannot see you before

An ill-repressed agitation, which had hitherto pervaded the ranks of the
Assembly, now broke forth at these last words. "I demand," cried a
deputy, "that this title of Majesty be no longer employed." "I demand,"
added another, "that this title of Sire be abolished; it is only an
abbreviation of Seigneur, which recognises a sovereignty in the man to
whom it is given." "I demand," said the deputy Bequet, "that we be no
longer treated as automata, obliged to sit down or stand, just as it
pleases the king to rise or to sit down." Couthon made his voice heard
for the first time, and his first speech was a threat against royalty.
"There is no other majesty here," said he, "than that of the law and the
people. Let us leave the king no other title than that of King of the
French. Let this scandalous chair be removed, the gilded seat brought
for his use the last time he appeared in this chamber, if he really is
anxious to fill the simple place of the president of a great people. Let
an equality exist between us as regards ceremony: when he is uncovered
and standing, let us stand and uncover our heads; when he is covered and
seated, let us sit and wear our hats." "The people," said Chabot, "has
sent you here to maintain its dignity; will you permit the king to say
'I will come at three o'clock,' as if you were unable to adjourn the
Assembly without awaiting him?"

It was decreed that every member should have the right to sit covered
in the king's presence. "This decree," observed Garrau de Coulon, "is
calculated to create a degree of confusion in the Assembly; this
privilege, given indiscriminately, would enable some to display pride,
and others flattery." "So much the better," said a voice; "if there are
any flatterers, we shall know them." It was also decreed that there
should be only two chairs, placed in a line, one for the king, the other
for the president; and lastly, that the king should have no other title
than that of King of the French.


These decrees humiliated the king, spread consternation amongst the
constitutional party, and agitated the people. All had hoped that
harmony would be established between the powers, and yet this
understanding was destroyed at the outset, and the constitution tottered
at its first step. This deprivation of the titles of royalty seemed a
greater humiliation than the deprivation of the absolute power. Had we
alone kept our king to expose him to the insults and derision of the
people's representatives? how will a nation that does not respect its
hereditary chief, respect its elected representatives? and is it by such
outrages that liberty hopes to render herself acceptable to the throne?
Or, is it by infusing similar feelings of resentment in the breast of
the king, that he will be induced to protect the constitution, and to
aid the maintenance of the rights of the people? If the executive power
be a necessary reality, we must respect it, even in the king; if it be
but a shadow, still should we respect and honour it. The ministerial
council assembled, and the king declared that he was not forced by the
new constitution to expose the monarchical dignity represented in his
person to the outrages of the Assembly, and that he would order the
ministers to preside at the opening of the legislative body.

This rumour created a reaction in Paris in favour of the king. The
Assembly, as yet undecided, felt the blow; and that the popularity it
sought was fast disappearing. "What has been the result of the decree of
yesterday?" said the deputy Vosgien, at the opening of the sitting of
the 6th of October. "Fresh hopes for the enemies of the public welfare,
agitation of the people, depreciation of our credit, general
disquietude. Let us pay to the hereditary representative of the people
the respect that is his due. Do not let him believe that he is destined
to be the mockery and the plaything of each fresh legislation; it is
time for the constitution to cast anchor, and fix itself with firmness
and stability."

Vergniaud, the hitherto unknown orator of the Gironde, displayed in his
opening speech that audacious yet undecided character that was the type
of his policy. His speeches were uncertain as his mind; he spoke in
favour of one party, and voted for the other. "We all appear to agree,"
said he, "that if this decree concerns our internal regulations, it
should be instantly put into execution; and it is evident to me that the
decree does concern our internal regulations, for there can be no
connection of authority between the legislative body and the king. It is
merely a question of those marks of respect which are demanded to be
shown to the royal dignity. I know not why the titles of Sire and
Majesty, which recall feudality, should be restored; for the king ought
to glory in the title of King of the French. I ask you, whether the king
demanded a decree to regulate the etiquette of his household when he
received your deputation? However, to speak my opinion without reserve,
I think that if the king, as a mark of respect to the Assembly, rises
and uncovers his head, the Assembly, as a mark of respect to the king,
should imitate his example."

Hérault de Séchelles demanded the repeal of the decree, and Champion,
deputy of the Jura, reproached his colleagues for employing their
meetings in such puerile debates. "I do not fear that the people will
worship a gilded chair," said he, "but I dread a struggle between the
two powers. You will not permit that the words _sire_ and _majesty_ be
used, you will not even permit us to applaud the king; as if it were
possible to forbid the people from manifesting their gratitude when the
king has merited it. Do not let us dishonour ourselves, gentlemen, by a
culpable ingratitude towards the National Assembly, who has retained
these marks of respect for the king. The founders of liberty were not
slaves; and previous to fixing the prerogatives of royalty, they
established the rights of the people. It is the nation that is honoured
in the person of its hereditary representative. It is the nation who,
after having created royalty, has invested it with a splendour that
remounts to the source from whence it sprung, and gives it a double

Ducastel, the president of the deputation sent to the king, spoke on the
same side, but having inadvertently used the expression _sovereign_, in
speaking of the king, and that the legislative power was vested in the
Assembly and the king, this blasphemy and involuntary heresy raised a
terrible storm in the chamber. Every word of this nature seemed to them
to threaten a counter-revolution; for they were still so near despotism,
that they feared at each step again to fall into its toils. The people
was a slave, freed but yesterday, and who still trembled at the clank of
his chains. However, the offensive decree was repealed, and this
retraction was rapturously hailed by the royalists and the national
guard. The constitutionalists saw in it the augury of renewed harmony
between the ruling powers of the state; the king saw in it the triumph
of a fidelity that had been deadened, but which blazed forth again on
the least appearance of outrage to his person.

They were all deceived: it was but a movement of generosity, succeeding
one of brutality; the hesitation of a nation that dares not, at one
stroke, destroy the idol before which it has so long bowed the knee.

The royalists, however, attacked this return to moderation in their
journals. "See," they cried, "how contemptible is this revolution--how
conscious of its own weakness! This feeling of its own feebleness is a
defeat already anticipated; see in two days how often it has given
itself the lie. The authority that concedes is lost unless it possess
the art of masking its retreat, of retreating by slow and imperceptible
steps, and of causing its laws to be rather forgotten than repealed.
Obedience arises from two causes, respect and fear. And both have been
alike snapped asunder by the sudden and violent retrograde movement of
the Assembly; for how can we respect or dread that power that trembles
at its own audacity? The Assembly has abdicated by not completing that
which it had dared to commence: the revolution that does not advance,
retreats; and the king has conquered without striking a blow."

On their side the revolutionary party assembled that evening at the
Jacobins, deplored their defeat, accused every one, and mutually
recriminated on each other. "See," said their orators, "what underhand
work has been accomplished in one night; what a triumph of corruption
and fraud! The members of the former Assembly have mixed with the new
members in the chamber, and have infused into the ears of their
successors those concessions that have ruined them. After the sitting of
that evening they mingled with the groups in the Palais Royal, spread
alarm around, hinted of a second flight of the king, prognosticated
trouble and anarchy, and made the people of Paris, who prefer their own
private interests to the public weal, fear the utter destruction of
confidence and the depression of the public credit. Can this venal race
resist such arguments?"

All the real feelings of Paris were infused the next day into the
attitude and discourses of the Assembly. "At the opening of the
sitting," says a Jacobin, "I took my place amongst the deputies who were
discussing the best means to obtain the repeal of the decree. I remarked
that the decree having been carried the previous evening almost
unanimously, it appeared impracticable to reckon upon so sudden and so
scandalous a change of opinion. 'We are sure of the majority,' was their
reply. I quitted my seat and took another, where precisely the same
conversation passed. I then took refuge in that part of the chamber that
had been so long the sanctuary of patriotism: there I heard the same
arguments, the same apostacy. All had been purchased in the course of
the night, and the best proof that this work of corruption had been
accomplished before the deliberation is, that all the orators who spoke
against the decree had their speeches ready written. Whence arises this
surprise of the patriots? Because the well-intentioned members of the
Assembly do not know each other; they have not met or reckoned their
numbers here. It is true that you have opened your doors to receive
them: they have entered this room to examine your countenance and
ascertain your forces; but they are not as yet associated and knit
together; nor have they acquired, by frequent visits here, and by
listening to your discourses, that confidence and patriotism that form
the great and good citizen."

The people, who sighed for repose after so many exciting scenes,
destitute of work, money, and food, and intimidated by the approach of a
severe winter, saw with indifference the attempt and the retraction of
the Assembly, and suffered the deputies who had supported the decree to
be insulted with impunity. Goupilleau, Couthon, Basire, Chabot, were
threatened in the very Assembly by the officers of the national guard.
"Beware!" said these soldiers of the people, bought over to the cause of
the throne; "we will not suffer the Revolution to advance another step.
We know you--we will watch you--you shall be hewed to pieces by our
bayonets." These deputies, seconded by Barrère, came to the Jacobins'
club, to denounce these outrages; but no effect was produced, and they
gained nothing save expression of sterile indignation.


The king, reassured by this state of public feeling, proceeded, on the
7th, to the Assembly, where his appearance was the signal for unanimous
acclamations. Some applauded _the king_, others applauded the
constitution, in the person of the king. It inspired with real
fanaticism that mass that judges of things by words alone, and believes
all that the law proclaims sacred to be imperishable. Not content with
crying _Vive le Roi_, they cried also _Vive sa Majesté;_ and the
acclamations of one part of the people thus avenged themselves on the
offences of the others, and revered those titles that a decree had
striven to efface. They even applauded the restoration of the royal
chair beside that of the president, and it seemed to the royalists that
this chair was a throne on which the people replaced the monarchy. The
king addressed them, standing and bareheaded; his speech reassured their
minds and touched their hearts; and if he lacked the language of
enthusiasm, he had at least the accent of sincerity. "In order," said
he, "that our labours may produce the beneficial results we have a right
to expect, it is necessary that a constant harmony and an unalterable
confidence should exist between the king and the legislative body. The
enemies of our repose will seek every opportunity to spread disunion
amongst us, but let the love of our country ally us, the public interest
render us inseparable. Thus, public power will unfold itself without
opposition, and the administration be harassed by no vain fears. The
property and the opinions of every man shall be protected, and no excuse
will remain for any one to live away from a country where the laws are
in force, and the rights of all respected." This allusion to the
emigrés, and this indirect appeal to the king's brothers, caused a
sensation of joy and hope to pervade the ranks of the Assembly.

The president Pastoret, a moderate constitutionalist, beloved alike by
the king and the people, because, with the doctrines of power, he
possessed the acuteness of the diplomatist and the language of the
constitution, replied,--"Sire, your presence in this assembly is a fresh
oath you take of fidelity to your country: the rights of the people were
forgotten and all power confused. A constitution is born, and with it
the liberty of France. As a citizen, it is your duty to cherish--as a
king, to strengthen and defend it. Far from shaking your power, it has
confirmed it, and has given you friends in those who formerly were
styled your subjects. You said a few days ago in this temple of our
country, that you have need of being beloved by all Frenchmen, and we
also have need of being beloved by you. The constitution has rendered
you the greatest monarch in the world; your attachment to it will place
your majesty amongst those kings most beloved by the people. Strong by
our union, we shall soon feel its salutary effects. To purify the
legislation, support public credit, and crush anarchy,--such is our
duty, such are our wishes. Such are yours, sire; and the blessing of the
French nation will be the recompence."

This day awakened hope once more in the hearts of the king and queen.
They believed they had again found their subjects; and the people
believed that they had again found their king. All recollections of what
had passed at Varennes seemed buried in oblivion; and popularity had one
of those sudden blasts that drive away the clouds in the sky for a short
space, and deceive even those who have learnt to mistrust them. The
royal family wished to enjoy it, and to let Madame and the dauphin
profit by it; for these two infants knew nothing of the people save
their fury; they had alone seen the nation through the bayonets of the
6th of October,--the rags of the _émeute_,--of the dust of the return
from Varennes; the king wished they should now see them in a state of
tranquillity and affection for him, for he taught his son to love the
people, and not to avenge their offences towards him. In the pangs he
had suffered, the most bitter was rather the ingratitude of the nation,
than his own personal humiliations; for, to be misconstrued by the
nation, was, in his eyes, far more painful than to be persecuted by
them. One moment of justice on the part of public opinion made him
forget two years of outrage. He went that evening to the Théâtre Italien
with the queen, Madame Elizabeth, and his children. The hopes to which
the events of the day had given rise--his words of that morning--the
expression of confidence and affection on his features--the beauty of
the two princesses--the infantine grace of his children, produced on the
spectators one of those impressions, where pity vies with respect, and
enthusiasm softens the heart into veneration.

The theatre rang with applause mingled with sobs; every eye was fixed on
the royal box, as though in mute reparation for so many insults offered
to the king and his family. The populace can never resist the sight of
children, there are so many mothers in every crowd; the dauphin, a
lovely child, seated on the lap of his mother, and absorbed in the play,
repeated the gestures of the actors to his mother as though to explain
the piece to her. This careless tranquillity of innocence between the
two storms--this childish sport at the foot of a throne, so soon to
become a scaffold--this expansion of the heart of the queen, that had
been so long closed to joy and security, filled every eye with tears,
not excepting the king himself.

There are moments in every revolution when the most furious and enraged
populace becomes gentle and compassionate; it is when it suffers nature
and not policy to sway it; and instead of being a people, it becomes a
man. Paris had such an instant: it was of short duration.


The Assembly was very anxious to re-acquire the public feeling of which
a momentary weakness had dispossessed it. It already blushed at its
moderation for a day, and was anxious to cast fresh jealousies between
the throne and the nation. A numerous party in the chamber was desirous
of pushing matters to extremities, and to tighten the cord of the
present posture of affairs until it snapped. For this purpose the party
required agitation; tranquillity by no means suited its designs. It had
ambitious desires as vast as its talents, ardent as its youth, impatient
as its thirst for advancement. The Constituent Assembly, composed of
reflective men of eminence in the state, and in the social hierarchy,
had but the ambition of advancing the ideas of liberty and fame; the new
Assembly had that of tumult, fortune, and power. Formed of obscure,
poor, and unknown men, it aspired to the acquisition of all in which it
was deficient.

This latter party, of which Brissot was the journalist, Pétion the
popular member, Vergniaud the genius, the party of the Girondists the
body, entered on the scene with the boldness and unity of a conspiracy.
It was the _bourgeoisie_ triumphant, envious, turbulent, eloquent, the
aristocracy of talent, desiring to acquire and control by itself alone
liberty, power, and the people. The Assembly was made up of unequal
portions of three elements; the constitutionalists, who formed the
aristocratic liberty and moderate monarchy party; the Girondists, the
party of the movement, sustained until the Revolution fell into their
hands; the Jacobins, the party of the people, and of philosophy in
action; the first arrangement and transition, the second boldness and
intrigue, the third fanaticism and devotion. Of these last two parties
the Jacobin was not the most hostile to the king. The aristocracy and
the clergy destroyed, that party had no repugnance to the throne; it
possessed in a high degree the instinct of the unity of power; it was
not the Jacobins who first demanded war, and who first uttered the word
republic, but it was the first who uttered and often repeated the word
_dictatorship_. The word _republic_ appertained to Brissot and the
Girondists. If the Girondists, on their coming in to the Assembly, had
united with the constitutional party in order to save the constitution
by moderate measures, and the Revolution by not urging it into war, they
would have saved their party and controlled the throne. The honesty in
which their leader was deficient was also wanting in their
conduct--they were all intrigue. They made themselves the agitators in
an assembly of which they might have been the statesmen. They had not
confidence in the republic, but feigned it. In revolutions sincere
characters are the only skilful characters. It is glorious to die the
victim of a faith; it is pitiful to die the dupe of one's ambition.


Three causes of uneasiness agitated men's minds at the moment when the
Assembly opened its sittings--the clergy, emigration, and impending war.

The Constituent Assembly had committed a gross error in stopping at a
half measure in reforming the clergy in France. Mirabeau himself had
been weak on this question. The Revolution was at the bottom only the
legitimate rising of political liberty against despotism, and of
religious liberty against the legal domination of Catholicism, because a
political institution. The constitution had emancipated the citizens,
and it was necessary to emancipate the faithful, and to claim
consciences for the state, in order to restore them to themselves, to
individual reason, and to God. This is what philosophy desired, which is
only the rational expression of the mind's impulses.

The philosophers of the Constituent Assembly receded before the
difficulties of this labour. Instead of an emancipation, they made a
compact with the power of the clergy, the dreaded influences of the
court of Rome, and the inveterate habits of the people. They contented
themselves with relaxing the chain which bound the state to the church.
Their duty was to have snapped it asunder. The throne was chained to the
altar, they desired to chain the altar to the throne. It was only
displacing tyranny,--oppressing conscience by law instead of oppressing
the law by conscience.

The civil constitution of the clergy was the expression of this
reciprocal false position. The clergy was deprived of these endowments
in landed estates, which decimated property and population in France.
They deprived it of its benefices, its abbeys, and its tithes--the
altar's feudality. It received in lieu an endowment in salaries levied
on the taxes. As the condition of this arrangement, which gave to the
working clergy an existence, influence, and a powerful body of ministers
of worship paid by the state, they required the clergy to take the oath
of the constitution. This constitution comprised articles which affected
the spiritual supremacy and administrative privileges of the court of
Rome. Catholicism became alarmed and protested; consciences were
disturbed. The Revolution, until then exclusively political, became
schism in the eyes of a portion of the clergy and the faithful. Amongst
the bishops and the priests, some took the civil oath, which was the
guarantee of their existence; others refused, or, after having taken it,
retracted. This gave rise to trouble in many minds, agitation in
consciences, division in the temples. The great majority of parishes had
two ministers,--the one a constitutional priest, salaried and protected
by the government, the other refractory, refusing the oath, deprived of
his income, driven from the church, and raising altar opposing altar in
some clandestine chapel, or in the open field. These two ministers of
the same worship excommunicated each other, the one in the name of the
constitution, and the other in the name of the Pope and of the church.
The population was also divided according to the greater or lesser
degree of revolutionary spirit prevailing in the province. In cities and
the more enlightened districts the constitutional worship was exercised
almost without dispute. In the open country and the less civilised
departments, the priest who had not taken the oath became a consecrated
tribune, who at the foot of the altar, or in the elevation of the
pulpit, agitated the people and inspired it, in all the horror of a
constitutional and schismatic priesthood, with hatred of the government
which protected it. This was not actually persecution or civil war, but
the sure prelude to both.

The king had signed with repugnance and even constraint the civil
constitution of the clergy: but he had done so only as king, and
reserving to himself his liberty and the faith of his conscience. He was
Christian and Catholic in all the simplicity of the Gospel, and in all
the humility of obedience to the church. The reproaches he had received
from Rome for having ratified by his weakness the schism in France,
wounded his conscience and distracted his mind. He had never ceased to
negotiate officially or secretly with the pope, in order to obtain from
the head of the church either an indulgent concession to the necessities
of religion in France, or prudent temporising. It was on these terms
only that he could restore peace to his mind. Inexorable Rome had only
granted him its pity. Fulminating bulls were in circulation by the hands
of nonjuring priests, cast at the heads of the population, and only
stopping at the foot of the throne. The king trembled, to see them burst
one day on his own head.

On the other hand, he felt that the nation, of which he was the
legitimate head, would never forgive him for sacrificing it to his
religious scruples. Placed thus between the menaces of Heaven and the
threats of his own people, he procrastinated with all his might the
denunciations of Rome and the votes of the Assembly. The Constitutional
Assembly understood this anxiety of the king's feelings and the dangers
of persecution. It had given time to the king, and displayed forbearance
to men's consciences: it had not intermeddled with the faith of the
simple believer, but left each at liberty to pray with the priest of his
choice. The king had been the first to avail himself of this liberty,
and had not thrown open the chapel of the Tuileries to the
constitutional worship. The choice of his confessor sufficiently
indicated the choice of his conscience. The man in him protested against
the political necessities which oppressed the monarch. The Girondists
wished to compel him to declare himself. If he yielded to them, he
infringed upon his dignity; if he resisted, he lost the remaining shreds
of his popularity. To compel him to decide was a great point for the

The public feeling served their designs. Religious troubles began to
assume a political character. In ancient Brittany the conforming priests
became objects of the people's horror, and they fled from contact with
them. The nonjuring priests all retained their flocks. On Sundays large
bodies of many thousand souls were seen to follow their ancient pastors,
and go to chapels situated two or three leagues from any dwelling, or in
concealed hermitages, sanctuaries which had never been stained by the
ceremonies of a constitutional worship. At Caen blood had even flowed
in the very cathedral, where the nonjuring priest disputed the altar
with the conforming pastor. The same disorders threatened to spread over
all parts of the kingdom: every where were to be seen two pastors and a
divided flock. Resentment, which already displayed itself in insult, of
necessity soon arrived at bloodshed. The one half of the people,
disturbed in its faith, reverted to the aristocracy out of love for its
worship. The Assembly must thus alienate the popular element, which it
had so recently caused to triumph over royalty. It was highly necessary
to provide against this unexpected peril.

There were only two means of extinguishing this flame at its source:
either by freedom of conscience, stoutly maintained by the executive
power, or persecution of the ministers of the ancient faith. The
undecided Assembly wavered between these two parties. On a report of
Gallois and Gensonné, sent as commissioners into the departments of the
west, to investigate the causes of the agitation and the feelings of the
people, the discussion commenced. Fauchet, a conforming priest and
celebrated preacher, subsequently constitutional bishop of Calvados,
opened the debate. He was one of those men who, beneath an
ecclesiastical garb, conceal the heart of a philosopher. Reformers from
feeling, priests by the state, sensible of the wide discrepancy between
their opinions and their character, a national religion, a revolutionary
Christianity, was the sole means remaining to them to reconcile their
interest and their policy: their faith, wholly academic, was only a
religious convenience. They desired to transform Catholicism insensibly
into a moral code, of which the dogma was now but a symbol, which, in
the people's eyes, comprised sacred truths; and which, gradually
stripped of holy fictions, would allow the human understanding to glide
insensibly into a symbolic deism, whose temple should be flesh, and
whose Christ should be hardly more than Plato rendered a divinity.
Fauchet had the daring mind of a sectarian and the intrepidity of a man
of resolution.


"We are accused of a desire to persecute. It is calumny. No persecution.
Fanaticism is greedy of it, real religion repulses it, philosophy holds
it in horror. Let us beware of imprisoning the nonjurors; of exiling,
even of displacing them. Let them think, say, write all they please
against us. We will oppose our thoughts to their thoughts; our truths to
their errors; our charity to their hatred. Time will do the rest. But in
awaiting its infallible triumph we must find an efficacious and prompt
mode of hindering them from prevailing over weak minds, and propagating
ideas of a counter-revolution. A counter-revolution! This is not a
religion, gentlemen! Fanaticism is not compatible with liberty. Look
else at these ministers--they would have swum in the blood of patriots.
This is their own expression. Compared with these priests, atheists are
angels. (Applause.) However, I repeat, let us tolerate them, but do not
let us pay them. Let us not pay them to rend our country in pieces. It
is to this measure only that we should confine ourselves. Let us
suppress all salary from the national treasury to the nonjuring priests.
Nothing is due to them but in their clerical capacity. What service do
they render? They invoke ruin on our laws; and they say they follow
their consciences! Must we pay consciences which push them to the
extremity of crime against their country? The nation supports them: is
not that enough? They appeal to the article of the constitution, which
says, 'The salaries of the ministers of Catholic worship form a portion
of the national debt.' Are they ministers of the Catholic worship? Does
the state recognise any other Catholicity than its own? If they would
attempt any other it is open to them and their sectarians! The nation
allows all sorts of worship, but only pays one. And what a saving for
the nation to be freed from thirty millions (of francs), which she pays
annually to her most implacable enemies! (Bravo.) Why have we these
phalanx of priests, who have abjured their ministry? these legions of
canons and monks; these cohorts of abbés, friars, and beneficed clergy
of all sorts, who were not remarkable otherwise, except for their
pretensions, inutility, intrigues and licentious life; and are only so
to-day by their vindictive interference, their schemes, their unwearied
hatred of the Revolution? Why should we pay this army of dependents from
the funds of the nation? What do they do? They preach emigration, they
send coin from the realm, they foment conspiracies against us from
within and without. Go, say they to the nobility, and combine your
attacks with the foreigner; let blood flow in streams, provided that we
recover our privileges! This is their church! If hell had one on earth
it is thus that it would speak. Who shall say we ought to endow it?"

Tourné, the constitutional bishop of Bourges, replied to the Abbé
Fauchet as Fénélon would have answered Bossuet. He proved that, in the
mouth of his adversary, toleration was fanatical and cruel. "You have
proposed to you violent remedies for the evils which anger can only
envenom; it is a sentence of starvation which is demanded of you against
our nonjuring brethren. Simple religious errors should be strangers to
the legislator. The priests are not guilty--they are only led astray.
When the eye of the law falls on these errors of the conscience, it
envenoms them. The best means of curing them is not to see them. To
punish by the pangs of hunger simple and venial errors, would be an
opprobrium to legislation--a horror in morals. The legislator leaves to
God the care of avenging his own glory, if he believe it violated by an
indecorous worship. Would you, in the name of tolerance, again create an
inquisition which would not have, like the other, the excuse of
fanaticism? What, gentlemen, would you transform into arbitrary
proscribers the founders of liberty? You will judge, you will exile, you
will imprison, _en masse_, men amongst whom, if there are some guilty,
there are still more innocent! Crimes are no longer individual, and
guilt would be decreed by category; but were they all and all equally
guilty, could you have the cruelty to strike, at the same time, this
multitude of heads; when under similar circumstances the most cruel
despots would be content with decimating them? What then have you to do?
One thing only: to be consistent, and found practical liberty and the
peaceable co-existence of different worships on the bases of tolerance.
Why do not our brethren of the priesthood enjoy the power of worshiping
beside us the same God--whilst in our cities, where we refuse them the
right of celebrating our holy mysteries, we allow heathens to celebrate
the mysteries of Iris and Osiris? Mahometans to invoke their prophet?
the rabbin to make his burnt-offerings? To what extent, I ask, shall
such strange tolerance be permissible? to what extent, I ask also, will
you push despotism and persecution? When the law shall have regulated
the civil arts, births, marriage, burial, with religious ceremonies, by
which Christians consecrate them; when the law will permit the same
sacrifice on two altars, with what consistency can it forbid the virtue
of the same sacraments? These temples, it will be repeated, are the
council-chambers of the factious. True, if they be rendered clandestine,
as the persecutors would make them; but if these temples be open and
free, the eye of the law will penetrate there and every where else: it
will be no longer religious worship, it will be crime they will watch
and detect--and what do you fear? Time is with you; this class of the
nonjurors will be extinct, and never renewed. A worship supported by
individuals, and not by the state, constantly tends to weaken itself; at
least, the factious, who are in their commencement animated by the
divinity of their faith, gradually become reconciled, and identify
themselves with the general freedom. Look at Germany--look at
Virginia--where opposite creeds mutually borrow the same sanctuaries,
and where different sects fraternise in the same patriotism. This is
what we should tend to; these are the principles which ought gradually
to implant themselves widely amongst a people: light ought to be the
great precursor of the law. Let us leave to despotism to prepare its
slaves for its commands by ignorance."


Ducos, a young and generous-hearted Girondist, with whom enthusiasm for
the honest carried him beyond the policy of his party, moved for the
printing of this speech. His voice was drowned amidst the applause and
murmurs which followed--a testimony of the indecision and impartiality
of men's minds. Fauchet replied at the next sitting, and pointed out the
connection between civil troubles and religious quarrels. "The priests,"
he said, "are of unreasonable tyranny, which still maintains its hold on
consciences by the ill-broken thread of its power. It is a faction
'scotched, not killed'--it is the most dangerous of factions."

Gensonné spake like a statesman, and counselled toleration towards
conscientious priests, and the repulsion by force of law of the
turbulent clergy. During this discussion, couriers daily arriving from
the country, brought news of fresh disorders. Every where the
constitutional priests were insulted, driven away, massacred at the foot
of the altars. The country churches, closed by order of the National
Assembly, were burst open by axes, the nonjuring priests returned to
them, urged by the fanaticism of the people. Three cities were besieged
and on the point of being burnt down by the country people. The
threatened civil war seemed the prelude to the counter-revolution.
"See," exclaimed Isnard, "whither the toleration and impunity you have
preached, conduct you!"

Isnard, deputy of Provence, was the son of a perfumer of Grasse. His
father had educated him for a literary life, and not for business. He
had studied politics in the antiquities of Greece and Rome. He had in
his mind the idea of one of the Gracchi; he had his courage in his soul
and his tone in his voice. Still very young, his eloquence was as
fervent as his blood; his language was but the fire of his passion,
coloured by a southern imagination; his words poured forth like the
rapid bursts of impatience. He was the revolutionary impetus
personified. The Assembly followed him breathless, and with him arrived
at fury before it attained conviction. His discourses were magnificent
odes, which elevated discussion to lyric poetry, and enthusiasm to
convulsion; his action bespoke the tripod rather than the tribune. He
was the Danton of the Gironde, as Vergniaud was to become its Mirabeau.


It was his maiden speech in the Assembly. "Yes," he said, "look at the
point to which impunity conducts us! It is always the source of great
crimes, and is now the sole cause of the disorganised state into which
society is plunged. The plans of toleration proposed to you are very
well for tranquil times; but can we tolerate those who will neither
tolerate the constitution nor the laws? Will it be when French blood has
at last stained the waves of the sea, that you will become sensible of
the dangers of indulgence? It is time that every thing is submitted to
the will of the nation; that tiaras, diadems, and censers should yield
to the sceptre of the laws. The facts you have just heard are but the
prelude of what is about to occur in the rest of the kingdom. Consider
the circumstances of these troubles, and you will see that they have the
effect of a disorganised system contemporary with the constitution. This
system was born there! (the orator pointed to the right) it is
sanctioned at the court of Rome. It is but a real fanaticism we have to
unmask--it is but hypocrisy! The priests are the privileged brawlers,
who ought to be punished by penalties more severe than mere private
individuals. Religion is an all-powerful weapon. 'The priest,' says
Montesquieu, 'takes the man from the cradle, and accompanies him to the
tomb;' is it then astonishing that he should have so much control over
the mind of the people, and that it is requisite to make laws, in order
that under a pretence of religion it should not trouble the public
peace? What should be the nature of such a law? I maintain that one only
can be efficacious, and that is banishment from the realm. (The tribunes
hailed this with loud applause.) Do you not see that it is necessary to
separate the factious priest from the people whom he misleads, and send
away these plague-spotted men to the lazarettos of Italy and Rome? I am
told that the measure is too severe. What!--you are then blind and mute
at all that occurs! Are you then ignorant that a priest can effect more
mischief than all your enemies? I am answered, 'Ah! you should not
persecute.' My answer is, that to punish is not to persecute. I answer
thus to those who repeat what I heard retorted here on the Abbé Maury,
that nothing is more dangerous than to make martyrs. This danger only
exists when you have to strike fanatics in earnest, or men really pious,
who believe the scaffold to be the nearest footstool to heaven. This is
not the present case; for if there be priests who earnestly reject the
constitution, they will not give any trouble to public order. Those who
really trouble it, are men who only weep over religion in order to
recover their lost privileges; those who should be punished without
pity; and be assured that you will not thereby augment the strength of
the emigrants: for we know that the priest is cowardly--as cowardly as
vindictive--that he knows no other weapon but superstition; and that,
accustomed to combat in the mysterious arena of confession, he is a
nullity in every other battle-field. The thunders of Rome will fall
harmless on the bucklers of liberty. The foes to your regeneration will
never grow weary; no, they will never grow weary of crimes, so long as
you leave them the means! You must overcome them, or be overcome by
them; and whosoever sees not this is blind. Open the page of history;
you will see the English sustaining for fifty years a disastrous war, in
order to maintain their revolution. You will see in Holland seas of
blood flowing in the war against Philip of Spain. When, in our times,
the Philadelphians would be free, have we not also seen war in the two
hemispheres? You have been witnesses of the recent outbreaks in Brabant,
and do you believe that your Revolution, which has snatched the sceptre
from despotism, and from aristocracy its privileges, from nobility its
pride, from the clergy its fanaticism--a Revolution which has dried up
so many golden sources from the grasp of the priesthood, torn so many
frocks, crushed so many theories--do you believe that such a Revolution
will absolve you? No--no!--this Revolution will have a _dénouement_, and
I say--and with no intention of provocation--that we must advance boldly
towards this _dénouement_. The more you delay, the more difficult and
blood-stained will be that triumph!" (Violent murmurs.)

"But do you not see," resumed Isnard; "that all counter-revolutionists
are obstinate, and leave you no other part than that of vanquishing
them? It is better to have to contend against them, whilst the citizens
are still up and stirring, and well remember the perils they have
encountered, than to allow patriotism to grow cold! Is it not true that
already we are no longer what we were in the first year of liberty;
(some of the chamber applaud, whilst others disapprove). If fanaticism
had then raised its head, the law would have been subjected! Your policy
should be to compel victory to declare itself; drive your enemies to
extremities, and you Will have them return to you from fear, or you will
subdue them by the sword. Under important circumstances, prudence is a
weakness. It is especially with respect to rebels that you should be
decisive and severe; they should be hewn down as they rise. If time be
permitted to them to have meetings and earnest partisans, then they
spread over the empire like an irresistible torrent. It is thus that
despotism acts, and it was thus that one individual kept beneath his
yoke a whole nation. If Louis XVI. had employed this great means whilst
the Revolution was but yet in its cradle, we should not now be here!
This rigour, the vice of a despot, is the virtue of a nation.
Legislators, who shrink from such extreme means, are cowards--criminals:
for when the public liberty is assailed, to pardon is to share the
crime. (Great applause.)

"Such rigour might perchance cost an effusion of blood? I know it! But
if you do not make use of it, will not more blood flow? Is not civil war
a still greater misfortune? Cut off the gangrened member to save the
whole frame.[10] Indulgence is the snare into which you are tempted. You
will find yourselves abandoned by the nation for not having dared to
sustain, nor known how to defend, it. Your enemies will hate you no
less. Your friends will lose confidence in you. The law is my God: I
have no other--the public good, that is my worship! You have already
struck the emigrants--again a decree against the refractory priests, and
you will have gained over ten millions of arms! My decree would be
comprised in two words: compel every Frenchman, priest or not, to take
the civil oath, and ordain that every man who will not sign shall be
deprived of all salary or pension. Sound policy would decree that every
one who does not sign the contract should leave the kingdom. What proofs
against the priest do we require? If there be but a complaint lodged
against the priest by the citizen with whom he lives, let him be at once
expelled! As to those against whom the penal code shall pronounce
punishment more severe than exile, there is but one sentence left:


This oration, which pushed patriotism even to impiety, and made of the
public safety an implacable deity, to which even the innocent were to be
sacrificed, excited a frantic enthusiasm in the ranks of the Girondist
party, a bitter indignation amongst the moderate party. "To propose the
printing of such a speech," said Lecos, a constitutional bishop, "is to
propose the printing of a code of atheism. It is impossible that a
society can exist, if it have not an immutable morality derived from the
idea of a God." Derisive sneers and murmurings hailed this religious
protest. The decree against the priests, presented by François de
Neufchâteau, and adopted by the legislative committee, was couched in
these terms:--"Every ecclesiastic not taking the oaths is required to
present himself before the expiration of the week at his municipality,
and there take the civil oath.

"Those who shall refuse are not entitled in future to receive any
allowance or pension from the public treasury.

"Every year there shall be an aggregate made of those pensions which the
priests have forfeited, and this sum shall be divided amongst the
eighty-three departments, to be employed in charitable works, and in
giving succour to the indigent.

"These priests shall be, moreover, from their simple refusal of the
oath, reputed as suspected of rebellion and specially _surveillés_.

"They may in consequence thereof be sent from their domicile, and
another be assigned to them.

"If they refuse to change their domicile when called upon to do so, they
shall be imprisoned.

"The churches employed for the paid worship of the state, cannot be
devoted to any other service. Citizens may hire other churches or
chapels, and exercise their worship therein. But this permission is
forbidden to nonjuring priests suspected of revolt."


This decree, which created more fanaticism than it repressed, and which
accorded freedom of worship not as a right but as a favour, saddened
the heart of the faithful; and the revolt in La Vendée, and persecution
every where, followed. Suspended as a fearful weapon over the conscience
of the king, it was sent for his assent.

The Girondists were delighted at thus keeping the wretched monarch
between their law and his own faith--schismatic if he recognised the
decree, and a traitor to the nation if he refused it. Conquerors in this
victory, they advanced towards another.

After having forced the king to strike at the religion of his
conscience, they wished to force him to deal a blow at the nobility and
his own brothers. They renewed the question of the emigrants. The king
and his ministers had anticipated them. Immediately after the acceptance
of the constitution, Louis XVI. had formally renounced all conspiracy,
interior or exterior, in order to recover his power. The omnipotence of
opinion had convinced him of the vanity of all the plans submitted to
him for crushing it. The momentary tranquillity of spirits after so many
shocks, the reception he had met with in the Assembly, the
Champ-de-Mars, in the theatre,--the freedom and honours restored to him
in his palace, had persuaded him that, if the constitution had some
fanatics, royalty had no implacable enemies in his kingdom. He believed
the constitution easy of execution in many of its provisions, and
impracticable in others. The government which they imposed on him seemed
to him as a philosophical experiment which they desired to make with
their king. He only forgot one thing, and that is, the experiments of a
people are catastrophes. A king who accepts the terms of a government
which are impossible, accepts his own overthrow by anticipation. A
well-considered and voluntary abdication is more regal than that daily
abdication which is undergone in the degradation of power. A king saves,
if not his life, at least his dignity. It is more suitable to majesty
royal to descend by its own will, than to be cast down headlong. From
the moment when the king is king no longer, the throne becomes the last
place in the kingdom.

Be this as it may, the king frankly declared to his ministers his
intention of legally executing the constitution, and of associating
himself unreservedly and without guile to the will and destiny of the
nation. The queen, by one of those sudden and inexplicable changes in
the heart of woman, threw herself, with the trust of despair, into the
party of the constitution. "Courage," she said to M. Bertrand de
Molleville, minister and confidant of the king: "Courage! I hope, with
patience, firmness, and perseverance, that all is not lost."

The minister of marine, Bertrand de Molleville, wrote, by the king's
orders, to the commandants of the ports a letter, signed by the
king:--"I am informed," he said, in this circular, "that emigrations in
the navy are fast increasing. How is it that the officers of a service
always so dear to me, and which has invariably given me proofs of its
attachment, are so mistaken at what is due to their country, to me, and
to themselves! This extreme step would have seemed to me less surprising
some time since, when anarchy was at its height, and when its
termination was unseen; but now, when the nation desires to return to
order and submission to the laws, is it possible that generous and
faithful sailors can think of separating from their king? Tell them to
remain where their country calls them. The precise execution of the
constitution is to-day the surest means of appreciating its advantages,
and of ascertaining what is wanting to make it perfect. It is your king
who desires you to remain at your posts as he remains at his. You would
have considered it a crime to resist his orders, you will not refuse his

He wrote to general officers, and to commandants of the land
forces:--"In accepting the constitution, I have promised to maintain it
within, and defend it against enemies without; this solemn act should
banish all uncertainty. The law and the king are henceforth identified.
The enemy of the law becomes that of the king. I cannot consider those
sincerely devoted to my person who abandon their country at the moment
when it has the greatest need of their services. Those only are attached
to me who follow my example and unite with me for the public weal, and
remain inseparable from the destiny of the empire!"

Finally, he ordered M. de Lessart, the minister for foreign affairs, to
publish the following proclamation, addressed to the French
emigrants:--"The king," thus it ran, "informed that a great number of
French emigrants are withdrawing to foreign lands, cannot see without
much grief such an emigration. Although the law permits to all citizens
a free power to quit the kingdom, the king is anxious to enlighten them
as to their duties, and the distress they are preparing for themselves.
If they think, by such means, to give me a proof of their affection, let
them be undeceived; my real friends are those who unite with me in order
to put the laws in execution, and re-establish order and peace in the
kingdom. When I accepted the constitution, I was desirous of putting an
end to civil discord--I believed that all Frenchmen would second my
intentions. However, it is at this moment that emigration is increasing:
some depart because of the disturbances which have threatened their
lives and property. Ought we not to pardon the circumstances? Have not I
too my sorrows? And when I forget mine, can any one remember his perils?
How can order be again established if those interested in it abandon it
by abandoning themselves? Return, then, to the bosom of your country:
come and give to the laws the support of good citizens. Think of the
grief your obstinacy will give to the king's heart; they would be the
most painful he could experience."

The Assembly was not blinded by these manifestations; it saw beneath a
secret design of escaping from the severest measures; it was desirous of
compelling the king to carry them out, and, let us add, the nation and
the public safety also required it.


Mirabeau had treated the question of the emigration of the Constituent
Assembly rather as a philosopher than a statesman. He had disputed with
the legislator the right of making laws against emigration: he was
mistaken. Whenever a theory is in contradiction to the welfare of
society it is because that theory is false, for society is the supreme

Unquestionably in ordinary times, man is not imprisoned by nature, and
ought not to be by the law, within the frontiers of his native land;
and, with this view, the laws against emigration should only be
exceptional laws. But, because exceptional, are these laws therefore
unjust? Evidently not. The public danger has its peculiar laws, as
necessary and as just as laws made in a time of security. A state of war
is not a state of peace. You shut your frontiers to strangers in war
time; you may close them to your citizens. A city is legally put in a
state of siege during a sedition. We can put the nation in a state of
siege in case of external danger co-existent with internal conspiracy.
By what absurd abuse of liberty can a state be constrained to tolerate
on a foreign soil gatherings of citizens armed against itself, which it
would not tolerate in its own land? And if these gatherings should be
culpable without, why should the state be interdicted from shutting up
those roads which lead emigrants to these gatherings? A nation defends
itself from its foreign enemies by arms, from its internal foes by its
laws. To act otherwise would be to consecrate without the country the
inviolability of conspiracies which were punished within: it would be to
proclaim the legality of civil war, provided it was mixed up with
foreign war, and that sedition was covered by treason. Such maxims ruin
a whole people's nationality, in order to protect abuse of liberty by
certain citizens. The Constituent Assembly was so wrong as to sanction
such. Had it proclaimed from the beginning the laws repressive of
emigration in troubled times, during revolutions, or on the eve of war,
it would have proclaimed a national truth, and prevented one of the
great dangers and principal causes of the excesses of the Revolution.
The question now was no longer to be treated with reason, but by
vindictive feelings. The imprudence of the Constituent Assembly had left
this dangerous weapon in the hands of parties who were about to turn it
against the king.


Brissot, the inspirer of the Gironde, the dogmatic statesman of a party
which needed ideas and a leader, ascended the tribune in the midst of
anticipated plaudits, which betokened his importance in the new
Assembly. His voice was for war, as the most efficacious of laws.

"If," said he, "it be really desired to check the tide of emigration, we
must more particularly punish the more elevated offenders, who establish
in foreign lands a centre of counter-revolution. We should distinguish
three classes of emigrants; the brothers of the king, unworthy of
belonging to him,--the public functionaries, deserting their posts and
deluding citizens,--and finally, the simple citizens, who follow example
from imitation, weakness, or fear. You owe hate and banishment to the
first, pity and indulgence to the others. How can the citizens fear you,
when the impunity of their chiefs insures their own? Have you then two
scales of weights and measures? What can the emigrants think, when they
see a prince, after having squandered 40,000,000 (of francs) in ten
years, still receive from the National Assembly more millions, in order
to provide for his extravagance and pay his debts?

"Divide the interests of the rebellious by alarming the prime criminals.
Patriots are still amused by paltry palliatives against emigration; the
partisans of the court have thus trifled with the credulity of the
people, and you have seen even Mirabeau deriding those laws, and telling
you they would never be put into execution, because a king would not
himself become the accuser of his own family. Three years without
success, a wandering and unhappy life, their intrigues frustrated, their
conspiracies overthrown, all these defeats have not cured the emigrants;
their hearts were corrupted from the cradle. Would you check this
revolt? then strike the blow on the other side of the Rhine: it is not
in France. It was by such decided steps that the English prevented James
II. from impeding the establishment of their liberty. They did not amuse
themselves with framing petty laws against emigration, but demanded that
foreign princes should drive the English princes from their dominions.
(Applause.) The necessity of this measure was seen here from the first.
Ministers will talk to you of considerations of state, family reasons;
these considerations, these weaknesses cover a crime against liberty.
The king of a free people has no family. Again, I counsel you attack the
leaders only; let it no longer be said, 'These malcontents are then very
strong; these 25,000,000 of men must then be very weak thus to consider

"It is to foreign powers especially that you should address your demands
and your menaces. It is time to show to Europe what you are, and to
demand of it an account of the outrages you have received from it. I say
it is necessary to compel those powers to reply to us, one of two
things; either they will render homage to our constitution, or they
will declare against it. In the first place, you have not to balance, it
is necessary that you should assail the powers that dare to threaten
you. In the last century when Portugal and Spain lent an asylum to James
II., England attacked both. Have no fears--the image of liberty, like
the head of Medusa, will affright the armies of our enemies; they fear
to be abandoned by their soldiers, and that is why they prefer the line
of expectation, and an armed mediation. The English constitution and an
aristocratic liberty will be the basis of the reforms they will propose
to you, but you will be unworthy of all liberty if you accept yours at
the hands of your enemies. The English people love your Revolution; the
emperor fears the force of your arms: as to this empress of Russia,
whose aversion to the French constitution is well known, and who in some
degree resembles Elizabeth, she cannot hope for success more brilliant
than had Elizabeth against Holland. It is with difficulty that slaves
are subjugated fifteen hundred leagues off; they cannot enslave free men
at this distance. I will not condescend to speak of other princes; they
are not worthy of being included in the number of your serious enemies.
I believe then that France ought to elevate its hopes and its attitude.
Unquestionably you have declared to Europe that you will not attempt any
more conquests, but you have a right to say to it, 'Choose between
certain rebels and a nation.'"


This discourse, although in several parts very contradictory, proved
that Brissot had the intention of playing three parts in one, and of
captivating at once the three parties in the Assembly. In his
philosophical principles he affected the tone of a moderator, and
repeated the axioms of Mirabeau against the laws relative to
expatriation; in his attack on the princes he included the king, and
held him up to the people as an object of suspicion; and lastly, in his
denunciation of the diplomacy of the ministers, he urged them to a war
_à l'outrance_, and displayed in this measure the energy of a patriot
and the foresight of a statesman; for in case war should be the result,
he did not conceal from himself the jealousy of the nation against the
court, and he knew that the first act of open war would be to declare
the king a traitor to his country.

This speech placed Brissot at the head of the conspirators of the
Assembly; he brought to the young and untried party of the Gironde his
reputation as a public writer, and a man who had had ten years'
experience of the factions; the audacity of his policy flattered their
impatience, and the austerity of his language made them believe in the
depth of his designs. Condorcet, the friend of Brissot, and, like him,
devoured by insatiable and unscrupulous ambition, mounting the tribune,
merely commented on the preceding discourse, and concluded, like
Brissot, by summoning the powers to pronounce for or against the
constitution, and demanded the renewal of the _corps diplomatique_.

This discourse was visibly concerted, and it was evident that a party,
already formed, took possession of the tribune, and was about to
arrogate to itself the dominion of the Assembly. Brissot was its
conspirator, Condorcet its philosopher, Vergniaud its orator. Vergniaud
mounted the tribune, with all the _prestige_ of his marvellous
eloquence, the fame of which had long preceded him. The eager looks of
the Assembly, the silence that prevailed, announced in him one of the
great actors of the revolutionary drama, who only appear on the stage to
win themselves popularity, to intoxicate themselves with applause,
and--to die.


Vergniaud, born at Limoges, and an advocate at the bar of Bordeaux, was
now in his thirty-third year, for the revolutionary movement had seized
on and borne him along with its currents when very young. His dignified,
calm, and unaffected features announced the conviction of his power.
Facility, that agreeable concomitant of genius, had rendered alike
pliable his talents, his character, and even the position he assumed. A
certain _nonchalance_ announced that he easily laid aside these
faculties from the conviction of his ability to recover all his forces
at the moment when he should require them. His brow was contemplative,
his look composed, his mouth serious and somewhat sad; the deep
inspiration of antiquity was mingled in his physiognomy with the smiles
and the carelessness of youth. At the foot of the tribune he was loved
with familiarity; as he ascended it each man was surprised to find that
he inspired him with admiration and respect; but at the first words that
fell from the speaker's lips they felt the immense distance between the
man and the orator. He was an instrument of enthusiasm, whose value and
whose place was in his inspiration. This inspiration, heightened by the
deep musical tones of his voice, and an extraordinary power of language,
had drunk in deep draughts at the purest sources of antiquity; his
sentences had all the images and harmony of poesy, and if he had not
been the orator of a democracy he would have been its philosopher and
its poet. His genius, devoted to the people, yet forbade him to descend
to the language of the people, even to flatter them. All his passions
were noble as his words, and he adored the Revolution as a sublime
philosophy destined to ennoble the nation without immolating on its
altars other victims than prejudices and tyranny. He had doctrines, and
no hatreds; the thirst of glory, and not of ambition,--nay, power
itself, was in his eyes, too real, too vulgar a thing for him to aim at,
and he disdained it for himself, and alone sought it for his ideas.
Glory and posthumous fame were his objects alone; he mounted the tribune
to behold them, and he beheld them later from the scaffold; and he
plunged into the future, young, handsome, immortal in the annals of
France, with all his enthusiasm, and some few stains, already effaced in
his generous blood. Such was the man whom nature had given to the
Girondists as their chief. He disdained the office, although he
possessed all the qualities and the views, of a statesman; too careless
to be the leader of a party, too great to be second to any one. Such was
Vergniaud,--more illustrious than useful to his friends; he would not
lead, but immortalised, them.

We will describe this great man more in detail at the period when his
talent places him in a more conspicuous situation. "Are there
circumstances," said he "in which the natural rights of man can permit a
nation to adopt any measure against emigrations?" Vergniaud spoke
against those pretended natural rights, and recognised, above all
individual rights, the right of society, which comprises and dominates
over all, just as the whole predominates over a portion: he compared
political liberty to the right of a citizen to do what he pleases,
provided he do nothing injurious to his country; but there he stops. Man
can, no doubt, materially use this right to abdicate the country in
which he was born and to which he belongs, as the limb belongs to the
body, but this abdication is treason; for it severs the union between
the nation and himself, and the nation no longer owes him or his
property any protection. After having on this principle destroyed the
puerile distinction between the functionary and the mere emigrant, he
proved that society falls into decay if she refuse herself the right of
retaining those who forsake her in her hour of danger and difficulty.
When she gave him all the universe for his country, she refused him that
which gave him birth. But what will be the consequence if this emigrant,
ceasing to play merely the part of a cowardly fugitive, becomes a foe,
and, assembling with his fellow-traitors, surrounds the nation with a
band of conspirators? What, shall attack be permitted to the emigrés,
and good citizens forbidden to defend themselves?


"But," continued he, "is France in this situation that she ought to fear
from these men, who are about to excite all the ancient hatreds of the
foreign courts against us? No; we shall soon see these proud mendicants,
who are now receiving the roubles of Catherine and the millions of
Holland, expiate in shame and misery the crimes their pride has entailed
on them. Moreover these kings hesitate to attack us; they know that, to
the spirit of philosophy that has infused into us the breath of liberty,
there are no Pyrenees; they dread that the foot of their soldiers should
touch a soil that blazes with this holy flame; they tremble, lest on the
day of battle the patriots of every country should recognise each other,
and two armies ready to combat be converted into a band of brethren,
united against their tyrants. But should it be necessary to appeal to
arms, we well remember that a thousand Greeks, combating for liberty,
trampled on a million of Persians.

"We are told 'the emigrés have no evil designs against their country; it
is only a temporary absence: where are the legal proofs of what you
assert? when you produce them it be time enough to punish the guilty.'
Oh you who use such language, why were you not in the Roman senate when
Cicero denounced Catiline? You would have asked him for the legal proof.
I can picture his astonishment to myself: whilst he sought for proofs
Rome would have been sacked, and you and Catiline have reigned over a
heap of ruins. Legal proofs! And have you calculated the blood they will
cost you to obtain? Now let us forestall our enemies, by adopting
rigorous measures; let us rid the nation of this swarm of insects,
greedy of its blood,--by whom it is pursued and tormented. But what
should these measures be? In the first place seize on the property of
the absentees. This is but a petty measure you will say. What matter its
importance or its insignificancy, so that it be just. As for the
officers who have deserted, the _Code pénal_ prescribes their
fate--death and infamy. The French princes are even more culpable; and
the summons to return to their country, which it is proposed to address
to them, is neither sufficient for your honour nor your safety. Their
attempts are openly made; either they must tremble before you, or you
must tremble before them; you must choose. Men talk of the profound
grief this will cause the king: Brutus immolated his guilty offspring at
the shrine of his country, but the heart of Louis XVI. shall not be put
to so severe a trial. If these princes, alike bad brothers and citizens,
refuse to obey, let him turn to the hearts of the French nation, and
they will amply repay his losses." (Loud applause.)

Pastoret, who spoke after Vergniaud, quoted the saying of Montesquieu,
"_There is a time when it is necessary to cast a veil over the statue of
Liberty, as we conceal the statues of the Gods_." To be ever on the
watch, and to fear nothing, should be the maxim of every free people. He
concluded by proposing repressive, but moderate and gradual measures,
against the absentees.


Isnard declared that the measures proposed until then were satisfactory
to prudence, but not to justice, and the vengeance which an outraged
nation owed to itself; and he thus continued:--

"If I am allowed to speak the truth, I shall say, that if we do not
punish all these heads of the rebellion, it is not that we do not know,
at the bottom of our hearts, that they are guilty, but because they are
princes; and, although we have destroyed the nobility and distinctions
of blood, these vain phantoms still affect our minds. Ah! it is time
that this great level of equality, which has passed over France, should
at length take its full effect. Then only will they believe in our
equality. You should fear by this evidence of impunity that you may urge
the people to excesses. The anger of the people is but too often the
sequel to the silence of the laws. The law should enter the palaces of
the great, as well as in the hovel of the poor, and as inexorable as
death, when it falls upon the guilty, should make no distinction between
ranks and titles. They try to lull you to sleep. I tell you that the
nation should watch incessantly. Despotism and aristocracy do not sleep;
and if nations doze but for a moment, they awake in fetters. If the fire
of heaven was in the power of men, it should be darted at those who
attempt the liberties of the people: thus, the people never pardon
conspirators against their liberties. When the Gauls scaled the walls of
the capital, Manlius awoke, hastened to the breach, and saved the
republic. That same Manlius, subsequently accused of conspiring against
public liberty, was cited before the tribunes. He presented bracelets,
javelins, twelve civic crowns, thirty spoils torn from conquered
enemies, and his breast scarred with cicatrices; he reminded them that
he had saved Rome, and yet the sole reply was to cast him headlong from
the same rock whence he had precipitated the Gauls. These, sirs, were a
free people.

"And we, since the day we acquired our liberty, have not ceased to
pardon our patricians their conspiracies, have not ceased to recompense
their crimes by sending them chariots of gold: as for me, if I voted
such gifts, I should die of remorse. The people contemplate and judge
us, and on their sentence depends the destiny of our labours. Cowards,
we lose the public confidence; firm, our enemies would be disconcerted.
Do not then sully the sanctity of the oath, by making it pause in
deference before mouths thirsting for our blood. Our enemies will swear
with one hand, whilst with the other they will sharpen their swords
against us."

Each violent sentence in this harangue excited in the Assembly and the
tribunes those displays of public feeling which found expression in loud
applause. It was felt that, for the future, the only line of policy
would be in the anger of the nation; that the time for philosophy in the
tribune was passed, and that the Assembly would not be slow in throwing
aside principles in order to take up arms.

The Girondists, who did not wish that Isnard should have gone so far,
felt that it was necessary to follow him whithersoever popularity should
lead him. In vain did Condorcet defend his proposition for a delay of
the decree. The Assembly, in a report brought up by Ducastel, adopted
the decree of its legislative committee. The principal clauses were,
that the French, assembled on the other side of the frontiers, should
be, from that moment, declared actuated by conspiracy towards France;
that they should be declared actual conspirators, if they did not return
before the 1st of January, 1792, and as such punished with death; that
the French princes, brothers of the king, should be punishable with
death, like other emigrants, if they did not obey the summons thus sent
to them; that, for the present, their revenues should be sequestrated;
and, finally, that those military and naval officers who abandoned their
posts without leave, or their resignation being accepted, should be
considered as deserters, and punished with death.


These two decrees struck terror to the heart of the king, and
consternation to his council. The constitution gave him the right of
suspending them by the royal _veto_; but to suspend the effects of the
national indignation against the armed enemies of the Revolution, was to
invoke it on his own head. The Girondists artfully fomented these
elements of discord between the Assembly and the king. They impatiently
awaited until the refusal to sanction the decrees should urge irritation
to its height, and force the king to fly or place himself in their

The most monarchical spirit of the Constituent Assembly still reigned in
the Directory of the department of Paris. Desmeuniers, Baumetz,
Talleyrand-Perigord, Larochefoucauld, were the principal members. They
drew up an address to the king, entreating him to refuse his sanction to
the decree against the nonjuring priests. This address, in which the
Legislative Assembly was treated with much disdain, breathes the true
spirit of government as regards religious matters. It is comprised in
the axiom which is or ought to be the code of all consciences, "Since no
religion is a law, let no religion be a crime!"

A young writer whose name, already celebrated, was to be hereafter
consecrated by martyrdom, André Chénier, considering the question in the
highest strain of philosophy, published on the same subject a letter
worthy of posterity. It is the property of genius not to allow its views
to be obscured by the prejudices of the moment. Its gaze is too lofty
for vulgar errors to deprive it of the ever-during light of truth. It
has by anticipation in its decisions the impartiality of the future.

"All those," says André Chénier, "who have preserved the liberty of
their reason, and in whom patriotism is not a violent desire for rule,
see with much pain that the dissensions of the priests have of necessity
occupied the first sittings of the Assembly. It is true that the public
mind is enlightened on this point, on which even the Constituent
Assembly itself is deceived. It has pretended to form a civil code of
religion, that is to say, it had the idea of creating one priesthood
after having destroyed another. Of what consequence is it that one
religion differs from another? Is it for the National Assembly to
reunite the divided sects, and weigh all their differences? Are
politicians theologians? We shall only be delivered from the influence
of these men when the National Assembly shall have maintained for each
the perfect liberty of following or inventing whatsoever religion may
please it; when every one shall pay for the worship he prefers to adopt,
and pays for no other; and when the impartiality of tribunals, in such
cases, shall punish alike the persecutors or the seditious of all forms
of worship: and the members of the National Assembly say also, that all
the French people are not yet sufficiently ripe for this doctrine. We
must reply to them,--this may be, but it is for you to ripen us by your
words, your acts, your laws! Priests do not trouble states when states
do not disturb them. Let us remember that eighteen centuries have seen
all the Christian sects, torn and bleeding from theological absurdities
and sacerdotal hatreds, always terminate by arming themselves with
popular power."

This letter passed over the heads of the parties who disputed the
conscience of the people; but the petition of the Directory of Paris,
which demanded the _veto_ of the king against the decrees of the
Assembly, produced violent opposition petitions. For the first time,
Legendre, a butcher of Paris, appeared at the bar of the Assembly, where
he vociferated in oratorical strain the imprecations of the people
against the enemies of the nation and crowned traitors. Legendre decked
his trivial ideas in high-sounding language. From this junction of
vulgar ideas with the ambitious expressions of the tribune sprung that
strange language in which the fragments of thought are mingled with the
tinsel of words, and thus the popular eloquence of the period resembles
the ill-combined display at an extravagant _parvenu_. The populace was
proud at robbing the aristocracy of its language, even to turn it
against them; but whilst it filched, it soiled it. "Representatives,"
said Legendre, "bid the eagle of victory and fame to soar over your
heads and ours; say to the ministers, We love the people,--let your
punishment begin: the tyrants must die!"


Camille Desmoulins, the Aristophanes of the Revolution, then borrowed
the sonorous voice of the Abbé Fauchet, in order to make himself heard.
Camille Desmoulins was the Voltaire of the streets; he struck on the
chord of passion by his sarcasms. "Representatives," said he, "the
applauses of the people are its civil list: the inviolability of the
king is a thing most infinitely just, for he ought, by nature, to be
always in opposition to the general will and our interest. One does not
voluntarily fall from so great a height. Let us take example from God,
whose _commandments are never impossible_; let us not require from the
_ci-devant_ sovereign an _impossible love_ of the national sovereignty;
is it not very natural that he should give his _veto_ to the best
decrees? But let the magistrates of the people--let the Directory of
Paris--let the same men, who, four months since, in the Champ-de-Mars,
fired upon the citizens who were signing a petition against one decree,
inundate the empire with a petition, which is evidently but the first
page of a vast register of counter-revolution, a subscription to civil
war, sent by them for signature to all the fanatics, all the idiots, all
the slaves, all the robbers of the eighty-three departments, at the head
of which are the exemplary names of the members of the Directory of
Paris--fathers of their country! There is in this such a complication of
ingratitude and fraud, prevarication and perverseness, philosophical
hypocrisy and perfidious moderation, that on the instant we rally round
the decrees and around yourselves. Continue faithful, mandatories, and
if they obstinately persist in not permitting you to save the nation,
well, then, we will save it ourselves! For at last the power of the
royal _veto_ will have a term, and the taking of the Bastille is not
prevented by a _veto_.

"For a long while we have been in possession of the civism of our
Directory, when we saw it in an incendiary proclamation, not only again
open the evangelical pulpits to the priests, but the seditious tribunes
to conspirators in surplices! Their address is a manifesto tending to
degrade the constitutional powers: it is a collective petition--it is an
incentive to civil war, and the overthrow of the constitution. Assuredly
we are no admirers of the representative government, of which we think
with J. J. Rousseau; and if we like certain articles but little, still
less do we like civil war. So many grounds of accusation! The crime of
these men is settled. Strike, then! If the head sleeps, shall the arm
act? Raise not that arm again; do not rouse the national club only to
crush insects. A Varnier or De Lâtre! Did Cato and Cicero accuse
Cethegus or Catiline? It is the leaders we should assail. Strike at the

This strain of irony and boldness, less applauded by the clapping of
hands than by shouts of laughter, delighted the tribunes. They voted the
sending of the _procès verbal_ of the meeting into every department. It
was legislatively elevating a pamphlet to the dignity of a public act,
and to distribute ready-made insult to the citizens, that they might
have a supply to vent against public authority. The king trembled before
the pamphleteer; he felt from this first treatment of his baffled
prerogative that the constitution would crumble in his hands each time
that he dared to make use of it.

The next day the constitutional party in greater force at the meeting
recalled the sending of this pamphlet to the departments. Brissot was
angry in his journal, the _Patriote Français_. It was there and at the
Jacobins more than in the tribune, that he gave instructions to his
party, and allowed the idea of a republic to escape him. Brissot had not
the properties of an orator: his dogged spirit, sectarian and arbitrary,
was fitter for conspiracy than action: the ardour of his mind was
excessive, but concentrated. He shed neither those lights nor those
flames which kindle enthusiasm--that explosion of ideas. It was the lamp
of the Gironde party; it was neither its beacon nor its torch.


The Jacobins, weakened for a time by the great number of their members
elected to the Legislative Assembly, remained for a brief space without
a fixed course to pursue, like an army disbanded after victory. The club
of the Feuillants, composed of the remains of the constitutional party
in the Constituted Assembly, strove to resume the ascendency over the
mind of the people. Barnave, Lameth, and Duport were the leaders of this
party. Fearful of the people, and convinced that an Assembly without any
thing to counterbalance it would inevitably absorb the poor remnant of
the monarchy, this party wished to have two chambers and an equally
poised constitution. Barnave, whose repentance had led him to join this
party, remained at Paris, and had secret interviews with Louis XVI.; but
his counsels, like those of Mirabeau in his latter days, were but vain
regrets, for the Revolution was beyond their power to control, and no
longer obeyed them. They yet, however, maintained some influence over
the constituted bodies of Paris, and the resolutions of the king, who
could not bring himself to believe that these men, who yesterday were
so powerful against it, were to-day destitute of influence; and they
formed his last hope against the new enemies he saw in the Girondists.

The national guard, the directory of the department of Paris! the mayor
of Paris himself, Bailly, and all that party in the nation who wished to
maintain order, still supported them--theirs was the party of repentance
and terror. M. de La Fayette, Madame de Stäel, and M. de Narbonne, had a
secret understanding with the Feuillants, and a part of the press was on
their side. These papers sought to render M. de Narbonne popular, and to
obtain for him the post of minister of war. The Girondist papers already
excited the anger of the people against this party. Brissot sowed the
seeds of calumny and suspicion: he denounced them to the hatred of the
nation. "Number them--name them," said he; "their names denounce them;
they are the relics of the dethroned aristocracy, who would fain
resuscitate a constitutional nobility, establish a second legislative
chamber and a senate of nobles, and who implore, in order to gain their
ends, the armed intervention of the powers. They have sold themselves to
the Château de Tuileries, and sell there a great portion of the members
of the Assembly; they have amongst them neither men of genius nor men of
resolution; their talent is but treason, their genius but intrigue."

It was thus that the Girondists and the Jacobins, though at this moment
beaten, prepared those enmities against the Feuillants that, at no
remote period, were destined to disperse the club. Whilst the Girondists
followed this course, the royalists continually urged the people to
excesses through the medium of their papers, in order, as they said, to
find a remedy for the evil in the evil itself. Thus they encouraged the
Jacobins against the Feuillants, and heaped ridicule and insult on those
leaders of the constitutional party who sought to save a remnant of the
monarchy; for that which they detested most was the success of the
revolution. Their doctrine of absolute power was less humiliatingly
contradicted in their eyes by the overthrow of the empire and throne,
than in the constitutional monarchy that preserved at once the king and
liberty. Since the aristocracy lost the possession of the supreme power,
its sole ambition--its only aim--was to see it fall into the hands of
those most unworthy to hold it. Incapable of again rising by its own
force, it sought to find in disorder the means of so doing; and from the
first day of the Revolution to the last, this party had no other
instinct, and it was thus that it ruined itself whilst it ruined the
monarchy. It carried the hatred of the Revolution even to posterity; and
though they did not take an active part in the crimes of the Revolution,
yet their best wishes were with it. Every fresh excess of the people
gave a new ray of hope to its enemies: such is the policy of despair,
blind and criminal as herself.


An example of this at this moment occurred. La Fayette resigned the
command of the national guard into the hands of the council general of
the commune. At this meeting blazed the last faint spark of popular
favour. After he quitted the chamber a deliberation was held as to what
mark of gratitude and regard the city of Paris should offer him. The
general addressed a farewell letter to the civic force, and affected to
believe that the formation of the constitution was the era of the
Revolution, and reduced him, like Washington, to the rank of a simple
citizen of a free country. "The time of revolution," said he, in this
letter, "has given place to a regular organisation, owing to the liberty
and prosperity it assures us. I feel it is now my duty to my country to
return unreservedly into her hands all the force and influence with
which I was intrusted for her defence during the tempests that convulsed
her--such is my only ambition. Beware how you believe," added he, in
conclusion, "that every species of despotism, is extinct!" And he then
proceeded to point out some of those perils and excesses into which
liberty might fall at her first outset.

This letter was received by the national guard with an enthusiasm rather
feigned than sincere. They wished to strike a last blow against the
factious by adhering to the principles of their general, and voted to
him a sword forged from the bolts of the Bastille, and a marble statue
of Washington. La Fayette hastened to enjoy this premature triumph, and
resigned the dictatorship at the moment when a dictatorship was most
necessary to his country. On his retirement to his estates in Auvergne,
he received the deputation of the national guard, who brought him the
_procès verbal_ of the debate. "You behold me once more amidst the
scenes where I was born," said he; "I shall not again quit them, save to
defend and confirm our new-formed liberty should it be menaced."

The different opinions of parties followed him in his retirement. "Now,"
said the _Journal de la Revolution_, "that the hero of two worlds has
played out his part at Paris, we are curious to know if the ex-general
has done more harm than good to the Revolution. In order to solve the
problem, let us examine his acts. We shall first see that the founder of
American liberty does not dare comply with the wishes of the people in
Europe, until he had asked permission from the monarch. We shall see
that he grew pale at the sight of the Parisian army on its road to
Versailles--alike deceiving the people and the king; to the one he said,
'I deliver the king into your power,' to the other, 'I bring you my
army.' We should have seen him return to Paris, dragging in his train
those brave citizens who were alone guilty of having sought to destroy
the keep of Vincennes as they had destroyed the Bastille, their hands
bound behind their backs. We see him on he morrow of the _journeé des
poignards_, touch the hands of those whom he had denounced to public
indignation the yesterday. And now we behold him quit the cause of
liberty, by a decree which he himself had secretly solicited, and
disappear for a moment in Auvergne to re-appear on our frontiers. Yet he
has done us some service, let us acknowledge it. We owe to him to have
accustomed our national guards to go through the civic and religious
ceremonies; to bear the fatigue of the morning drill in the Champs
Elysées; to take patriotic oaths and to give suppers. Let us then bid
him adieu! La Fayette, to consummate the greatest revolution that a
nation ever attempted, we required a leader, whose mind was on an
equality with so great an event. We accepted you; the pliability of your
features, your studied orations, your premeditated axioms--all those
productions of art that nature disavows, seemed suspicious to the more
clear-sighted patriots. The boldest of them followed you, tore the mask
from your visage, and cried--Citizens, this hero is but a courtier,
this sage but an impostor. Now, thanks to you, the Revolution can no
longer bite, you have cut the lion's claws; the people is more
formidable to its conductors; they have reassumed the whip and spur, and
you fly. Let civic crowns strew your paths, though we remain; but where
shall we find a Brutus?"


Bailly, mayor of Paris, withdrew at the same time, abandoned by that
party of whom he had been the idol, and whose victim he began to be; but
his philosophic mind rated more highly the good done to the people than
its favour, and more ambitious of being useful than of governing it, he
already testified that heroic contempt for the calumnies of his enemies
he afterwards displayed for death.

His voice was, however, lost in the tumult of the approaching municipal
elections; two men already disputed the dignity of mayor of Paris, for
in proportion as the royal authority declined, and that of the
constitution was absorbed in the troubles of the kingdom, the mayor of
Paris would become the real dictator of the capital.

These two men were La Fayette and Pétion. La Fayette supported by the
constitutionalists and the national guard, Pétion by the Girondists and
the Jacobins. The royalist party, by pronouncing for or against one of
them, would decide the election. The king had no longer the influence of
the government, which he had suffered to escape from his grasp, but he
still possessed the occult powers of corruption over the leaders of the
different parties. A portion of the twenty-five millions of francs
(1,000,000_l._) was applied by M. de Laporte, the intendant de la liste
civile, and by MM. Bertrand de Molleville and Montmorin, his ministers,
in purchasing votes at the elections, motions at the clubs, applause or
hisses in the Assembly. These subsidies, which had commenced with
Mirabeau, now descended to the lowest dregs of the factions; they bribed
the royalist press, and found their way into the hands of the orators
and writers apparently most inveterate against the court; and many false
manoeuvres, to which the people were urged, arose from no other
source. There was a ministry of corruption, over which perfidy
presided. Many obtained from this source, under pretence of aiding the
court, the power of moderating or betraying the people; then fearing
lest their treachery should be discovered, they hid it by a second
betrayal, and turned against the king his own motions. Danton was of
this number. Sometimes, through motives of charity or peace, the king
gave a monthly sum to be distributed amongst the national guard, and the
_quartiers_ in which insurrection was most to be apprehended. M. de La
Fayette, and Pétion himself, often drew money from this source. Thus the
king could, by employing those means, ensure the election, and by
joining the constitutionalist party determine the choice of Paris in
favour of M. de La Fayette. M. de La Fayette was one of the first
originators of this revolution which humbled the throne; his name was
associated with every humiliation of the court, with all the resentment
of the queen, all the terrors of the king; he had been first their
dread, then their protector, and, lastly, their guardian: could he be
now their hope? Would not this post of mayor of Paris, this vast, civil,
and popular dignity, after this long-armed dictatorship in the capital,
be to La Fayette but a second stepping-stone that would raise him higher
than the throne, and cast the king and constitution into the shade? This
man, with his theoretically liberal ideas, was well-intentioned, and
wished rather to dominate than to reign; but could any reliance be
placed on these good intentions that had been so often overcome? Was it
not full of these good intentions that he had usurped the command of the
civic force--captured the Bastille with the insurgent Gardes
Françaises--marched to Versailles at the head of the populace of
Paris--suffered the château to be forced on the 6th of October--arrested
the royal family at Varennes, and retained the king a prisoner in his
own palace? Would he now resist should the people again command him?
Would he abandon the _rôle_ of the French Washington when he had half
fulfilled it? The human heart is so constituted that we rather prefer to
cast ourselves into the power of those who would destroy us than seek
safety from those who humiliate us. La Fayette humiliated the king, and
more especially the queen.

A respectful independence was the habitual expression of La Fayette's
countenance in presence of Marie Antoinette. There was perceptible in
the general's attitude, it was to be seen in his words, distinguishable
in his accent, beneath the cold and polished forms of the courtier, the
inflexibility of the citizen. The queen preferred the factions. She thus
plainly spoke to her confidents. "M. de La Fayette," she said, "will not
be the mayor of Paris in order that he may the sooner become the _maire
du Palais_. Pétion is a Jacobin, a republican; but he is a fool,
incapable of ever becoming the leader of a party: he would be a nullity
as _maire_, and, besides, the very interest he knows we should take in
his nomination might bind him to the king."

Pétion was the son of a _procureur_ at Chartres, and a townsman of
Brissot; was brought up in the same way as he,--in the same studies,
same philosophy, same hatreds. They were two men of the same mind. The
Revolution, which had been the ideal of their youth, had called them on
the scene the same day, but to play very different parts. Brissot, the
scribe, political adventurer, journalist, was the man of theory; Pétion,
the practical man. He had in his countenance, in his character, and his
talents, that solemn mediocrity which is of the multitude, and charms
it; at least he was a sincere man, a virtue which the people appreciate
beyond all others in those who are concerned in public affairs. Called
by his fellow citizens to the National Assembly, he acquired there a
name rather from his efforts than his success. The fortunate compeer of
Robespierre, and then his friend, they had formed by themselves that
popular party, scarcely visible at the beginning, which professed pure
democracy and the philosophy of J. J. Rousseau; whilst Cazalès,
Mirabeau, and Maury, the nobility, clergy, and _bourgeoisie_, alone
disputed the government. The despotism of a class appeared to
Robespierre and Pétion as odious as the despotism of a king. The triumph
of the _tiers état_ was of little consequence, so long as the people,
that is to say, all human kind in its widest acceptation, did not
prevail. They had given themselves as a task, not victory to one class
over another, but the victory and organisation of a divine and absolute
principle--humanity. This was their weakness in the first days of the
Revolution, and subsequently their strength. Pétion was beginning to
gather in its harvest.

He had gradually, by his doctrines and his speeches, insinuated himself
into the confidence of the people of Paris; he connected himself with
literary men by the cultivation of his mind; with the Orleans party by
his intimacy with Madame de Genlis, the favourite of the prince, and
governess to his children. He was spoken of in one place as a sage, who
sought to embody philosophy in the constitution; in another as a
sagacious conspirator, who desired to sap the throne, or to place upon
it the Duc D'Orleans, embodying the interests and dynasty of the people.
This two-fold reputation was equally advantageous to him. Honest men
believed him to be an honest man,--malcontents to be a malcontent: the
court disdained to fear him; it saw in him only an innocent Utopian, and
had for him that contemptuous indulgence which aristocrats have
invariably for men of political creed; besides, Pétion ridded it of La
Fayette. To change its foe was to give it breathing time.

These three elements of success gave Pétion an immense majority; he was
nominated mayor of Paris by more than 6000 votes. La Fayette had but
3000. He might at this moment, from the depth of his retreat, have
fairly measured by these figures the decline of his popularity. La
Fayette represented the city, Pétion the nation. The armed _bourgeoisie_
quitted public affairs with the one, and the people assumed them with
the other. The Revolution marked with a proper name the fresh step she
had made.

Pétion, scarcely elected, went in triumph to the Jacobins, and was thus
carried in the arms of patriots into the tribune. Old Dusault, who
occupied it at the moment, stammered out a few words, interrupted by his
sobs, in honour of his pupil. "I look on M. Pétion," said he, "as my
son; it is very bold no doubt." Pétion overcome, embraced the old man
with ardour; the tribunes applauded and wept.

The other nominations were made in the same spirit. Manuel[11] was named
_procureur de la commune_;--Danton, his deputy, which was his first step
in popularity; he did not owe it, like Pétion, to the public esteem, but
to his own intriguing. He was appointed in spite of his reputation. The
people are apt to excuse the vices they find useful.

The nomination of Pétion to the office of _maire_ of Paris gave the
Girondists a constant _point d'appui_ in the capital. Paris, as well as
the Assembly, escaped from the king's hands. The work of the Constituent
Assembly crumbled away in three months. The wheels gave way before they
were set in motion. All presaged an approaching collision between the
executive power and the power of the Assembly. Whence arose this sudden
decomposition? It is now the moment for throwing a glance over this
labour of the Constituent Assembly and its framers.



The Constituent Assembly had abdicated in a storm.

This assembly had consisted of the most imposing body of men that had
ever represented, not only France, but the human race. It was in fact
the oecumenical council of modern reason and philosophy. Nature seemed
to have created expressly, and the different orders of society to have
reserved, for this work, the geniuses, characters, and even vices most
requisite to give to this focus of the lights of the age the greatness,
_éclat_, and movement of a fire destined to consume the remnants of an
old society, and to illumine a new one. There were sages, like Bailly
and Mounier; thinkers, like Siéyès; factious partisans, like Barnave;
statesmen like Talleyrand; men, epochs, like Mirabeau, and men,
principles like Robespierre. Each cause was personified by what most
distinguished each party. The very victims were illustrious. Cazalès,
Malouet, Maury, sounded forth in bursts of grief and eloquence the
successive falls of the throne, the aristocracy, and the clergy. This
active centre of the thoughts of a century, was sustained during the
whole time by the storm of perpetual political conflict. Whilst they
were deliberating within, the people were acting without, and struck at
the doors. These twenty-six months of consultations were one
uninterrupted sedition. Scarcely had one institution crumbled to pieces
in the tribune, than the nation swept it away to clear the space for
another institution. The anger of the people was only its impatience of
obstacles, its madness was only the excitement of its reason. Even in
its fury it was always a truth that agitated it. The tribunes only
blinded, by dazzling it. The unique characteristic of this Assembly was
that passion for the ideal which it always felt itself irresistibly
urged on to accomplish. An act of perpetual faith in reason and justice:
a holy passion for the good and right, which possessed it, and made it
devote itself to its work; like the statuary who seeing the fire in the
furnace, where he was casting his bronze, on the point of being
extinguished, threw his furniture, his children's bed, and even his
house into the flame, preferring rather that all should perish than that
his work should be lost.

Thus it is that the Revolution has become a date in the human mind, and
not merely an event in the history of the people. The men of the
Constituent Assembly were not Frenchmen, they were universal men. We
mistake, we vilify them when we consider them only as priests,
aristocrats, plebeians, faithful subjects, malcontents or demagogues.
They were, and they felt themselves to be, better than that,--workmen of
God; called by him to restore social reason, and found right and justice
throughout the universe. None of them, except those who opposed the
Revolution, limited the extent of its thought to the boundaries of
France. The declaration of the Rights of Man proves this. It was the
decalogue of the human race in all languages. The modern Revolution
called the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, to partake of the light and
reign of Fraternity.


Thus, not one of its apostles who did not proclaim peace amongst
nations. Mirabeau, La Fayette, Robespierre himself erased war from the
symbol which they presented to the nation. It was the malcontent and
ambitious who subsequently demanded it, and not the leading
Revolutionists. When war burst out the Revolution had degenerated. The
Constituent Assembly took care not to place on the frontiers of France
the boundaries of its truths, and to limit the sympathising soul of the
French Revolution to a narrow patriotism. The globe was the country of
its dogmata. France was only the workshop; it worked for all other
people. Respectful of, or indifferent to, the question of national
territories, from the first moment it forbade conquest. It only reserved
to itself the property, or rather the invention of universal truths
which it brought to light. As vast as humanity, it had not the
selfishness to isolate itself. It desired to give, and not to deprive.
It sought to spread itself by right, and not by force. Essentially
spiritual, it sought no other empire for France than the voluntary
empire which imitation by the human mind conferred upon it.

Its work was prodigious, its means a nullity; all that enthusiasm can
inspire, the Assembly undertook and perfected, without a king, without a
military leader, without a dictator, without an army, without any other
strength than deep conviction. Alone, in the midst of an amazed people,
with a disbanded army, an emigrating aristocracy, a despoiled clergy, a
conspiring court, a seditious city, hostile Europe--it did what it
designed. Such is the will, such the real power of a people--and such is
truth, the irresistible auxiliary of the men who agitate themselves for
God. If ever inspiration was visible in the prophet or ancient
legislator, it may be asserted that the Constituent Assembly had two
years of sustained inspiration. France was the inspired of civilisation.


Let us examine its work. The principle of power was entirely displaced:
royalty had ended by believing that it was the exclusive depositary of
power. It had demanded of religion to consummate this robbery in the
eyes of the people, by telling them that tyranny came from God, and was
responsible to God only. The long heirship of throned races had made it
believed that there was a right of reigning in the blood of crowned
families. Government instead of being a function had become a
possession; the king master instead of being chief. This misplaced
principle displaced everything. The people became a nation, the king a
crowned magistrate. Feudality, subaltern royalty, assumed the rank of
actual property. The clergy, which had had institutions and inviolable
property, was now only a body paid by the state for a sacred service. It
was from this only one step to receiving a voluntary salary for an
individual service. The magistracy ceased to be hereditary. They left it
its unremoveability to confirm its independence. It was an exception to
the principle of offices when a dismissal was possible, a
semi-sovereignty of justice--but it was one step towards the truth. The
legislative power was distinct from the executive power. The nation in
an assembly freely chosen, declared its will, and the hereditary and
irresponsible king executed it. Such was the whole mechanism of the
Constitution--a people--a king--a minister. But the king irresponsible,
and consequently passive, was evidently a concession to custom, the
respectful fiction of suppressed royalty.


He was no longer will; for to will is to do. He was not a functionary;
for the functionary acts and replies. The king did not reply. He was but
a majestic inutility in the constitution. The functions destroyed, they
left the functionary. He had but one attribute, the _suspensive veto_,
which consisted of his right to suspend, for three years, the execution
of the Assembly's decrees. He was an obstacle; legal, but impotent for
the wishes of the nation. It was evident that the Constituent Assembly,
perfectly convinced of the superfluity of the throne in a national
government, had only placed a king at the summit of its institutions to
check ambition, and that the kingdom should not be called a republic.
The only part of such a king was to prevent the truth from appearing,
and to make a show in the eyes of a people accustomed to a sceptre. This
fiction, or this nullity cost the people 30,000,000 (of francs) a year
in the civil list, a court, continual jealousies, and the interminable
corruption practised by the court on the organs of the nation. This was
the real vice of the constitution of 1791: it was not consistent.
Royalty embarrassed the constitution; and all that embarrasses injures.
The motive of this inconsistency was less an error of its reason than a
respectful piety for an ancient prejudice, and a generous tenderness
towards a race which had long worn the crown. If the race of the
Bourbons had been extinct in the month of September 1791, certainly the
Constituent Assembly would not have invented a king.


However, the royalty of '91, very little different from the royalty of
to-day, could work for a century, as well as a day. The error of all
historians is to attribute to the vices of the constitution the brief
duration of the work of the Constituent Assembly. In the first place,
the work of the Constituent Assembly was not principally to perpetuate
this wheelwork of useless royalty, placed out of complaisance to the
people's eyes, in machinery which did not regulate it. The work of the
Constituent Assembly was the regeneration of ideas and government, the
displacing of power, the restoration of right, the abolition of all
subjugation even of the mind, the freedom of consciences, the formation
of an administration; and this work lasts, and will endure as long as
the name of France. The vice of the institution of 1791 was not in any
one particular point. It has not perished because the _veto_ of the king
was suspensive instead of absolute; it has not perished, because the
right of peace or war was taken from the king, and reserved to the
nation; it has not perished, because it did not place the legislative
power in one chamber only instead of in two: these asserted vices are to
be found in many other constitutions, which still endure. The diminution
of the royal power was not the main danger to royalty in '91; it was
rather its salvation, if it could have been saved.


The more power was given to the king, and action to the monarchical
principle, the quicker the king and the principle would have fallen; for
the greater would have been the distrust and hatred against him. Two
chambers, instead of one, would not have preserved any thing. Such
divisions of power would have no value, but in proportion as they are
sacred. They are only sacred in proportion as they are the
representatives of real existing force in the nation. Would a revolution
which had not paused before the iron gates of the Château of Versailles
have respected the metaphysical distinction of power of two kinds!

Besides, where were, and where would be now, the constitutive elements
of two chambers, in a nation whose entire revolution is but a convulsion
towards unity? If the second chamber be democratic and temporary, it is
but a twofold democracy with but one common impulse. It can only serve
to retard the common impulse, or destroy the unity of the public will.
If it be hereditary and aristocratic, it supposes an aristocracy
pre-existent in, and acknowledged by, the state. Where was this
aristocracy in 1791? Where is it now? A modern historian says, "In the
nobility, in the presence of social inequalities." But the Revolution
was made against the nobility, and in order to level social hereditary
inequalities. It was to ask of the Revolution itself to make a
counter-revolution. Besides, these pretended divisions of power are
always fictions; power is never really divided. It is always here or
there, in reality and in its integrity,--it is not to be divided. It is
like the will, it is _one_ or it is not. If there be two chambers, it is
in one of the two; the other complies or is dissolved. If there be one
chamber and a king, it is in the king or the chamber. In the king, if he
subjugates the Assembly by force, or if he buys it by corruption; in the
chamber if it agitates the public mind, and intimidates the court and
the army by the power of its language, and the superiority of its
opinions. Those who do not see this have no eyes. In this _soidisant_
balance of power there is always a controlling weight; equilibrium is a
chimera. If it did exist, it would produce mere immobility.


The Constituent Assembly had then done a good work; wise, and as durable
as are the institutions of a people in travail, in an age of transition.
The constitution of '91 had written all the truths of the times, and
reduced all human reason to its epoch. All was true in its work except
royalty, which had but one wrong, which was making the monarchy the
depository of its code.

We have seen that this very fault was an excess of virtue. It receded
before the deposing from the throne the family of its kings; it had the
superstition of the past without having its faith, and desired to
reconcile the republic and the monarchy. It was a virtue in its
intentions; it was a mistake in its results; for it is an error in
politics to attempt the impossible. Louis XVI. was the only man in the
nation to whom the constituent royalty could not be confided, since it
was he from whom the absolute monarchy had just been snatched: the
constitution was a shared royalty, and but a few days previously, and he
had possessed it entire. With any other person this royalty would have
been a gift, for him alone it was an insult. If Louis XVI. had been
capable of this abnegation of supreme power which makes disinterested
heroes (and he was one), the deposed party, of which he was the natural
head, was not like him; we may expect an act of sublime
disinterestedness from a virtuous man, never from a party _en masse_.
Party is never magnanimous; they never abdicate, they are extirpated.
Heroic acts come from the heart, and party has no heart; they have only
interests and ambition. A body is a thing of unvarying selfishness.

Clergy, nobility, court, magistracy, all abuses, all falsehoods, all
contumelies, every injustice of a monarchy, are personified, in spite of
Louis XVI., in the king. Degraded with him, they must desire to rise
with him. The nation, which well perceived this fatal connection between
the king and the counter-revolution, could not confide in the king,
however it might venerate the man; it saw, in him, of necessity, the
accomplice of every conspiracy against itself. The _parvenus_ of liberty
are as thinskinned as the _parvenus_ of fortune. Jealousies must arise,
suspicions would produce insults, insults resentments, resentments
factions, factions shocks and overthrows: the momentary enthusiasm of
the people, the sincere concessions of the king, avert nothing. The
situations were false on both sides.

If there were in the Constituent Assembly more statesmen than
philosophers, it must have perceived that an intermediate state was
impossible, under the guardianship of a half-dethroned king. We do not
confide to the vanquished the care and management of the conquests. To
act as she acts, was to drive the king, without redemption, to treason
or the scaffold. An absolute party is the only safe party in great
crises. The tact consists in knowing when to have recourse to extreme
measures at the critical minute. We say it unhesitatingly--history will
hereafter say as we do. Then came a moment when the Constituent Assembly
had the right to choose between the monarchy and the republic, and when
she had to choose the republic. There was the safety of the Revolution
and its legitimacy. In wanting resolution it failed in prudence.


But, they say with Barnave, France is monarchical by its geography as by
its character, and the contest arises in minds directly between the
monarchy and the republic. Let us make ourselves understood:--

Geography is of no party; Rome and Carthage had no frontiers; Genoa and
Venice had no territories. It is not the soil which determines the
nature of the constitutions of people, it is time. The geographical
objection of Barnave fell to the ground a year afterwards, before the
prodigies in France in 1792. It proved that if a republic fails in unity
and centralisation, it is unable to defend a continental nationality.
Waves and mountains are the frontiers of the weak--men are the frontiers
of a people. Let us then have done with geography. It is not
geometricians but statesmen who form social constitutions.

Nations have two great interests which reveal to them the form they
should take, according to the hour of the national life which they have
attained--the instinct of their conservation, and the instinct of their
growth. To act, or be idle, to walk, or sit down, are two acts wholly
different, which compel men to assume attitudes wholly diverse. It is
the same with nations. The monarchy or the republic correspond exactly
amongst a people to the necessities of these two opposite conditions of
society--repose or action. We here understand two words; these two
words, repose and action, in their most absolute acceptation; for there
is repose in republics, as there is action in monarchies.

Is it a question of preservation, of reproduction, of development in
that kind of slow and insensible growth which people have like vast
vegetables? Is it a question of keeping in harmony with the European
balance of preserving its laws and manners; of maintaining its
traditions, perpetuating opinions and worship, of guaranteeing
properties and right conduct, of preventing troubles, agitation,
factions? The monarchy is evidently more proper for this than any other
state of society. It protects in lower classes that security which it
desires for its own elevated condition. It is order in essence and
selfishness: order is its life--tradition its dogma, the nation is its
heritage, religion its ally, aristocracies are its barrier against the
invasions of the people. It must preserve all this or perish. It is the
government of prudence, because it is also that of great responsibility.
An empire is the stake of a monarch--the throne is everywhere a
guarantee of immobility. When we are placed on high we fear every shake,
for we have but to lose or to fall.

When then a nation is placed in a sufficing territory, with settled
laws, fixed interests, sacred creeds, its worship in full force, its
social classes graduated, its administration organised, it is
monarchical in spite of seas, rivers, or mountains. It abdicates and
empowers the monarchy to foresee, to will, to act for it. It is the most
perfect of governments for such functions. It calls itself by the two
names of society itself, _unity_ and _hereditary right_.


If a people, on the contrary, is at one of those epochs when it is
necessary to act with all the intensity of its strength in order to
operate within and without one of those organic transformations which
are as necessary to people as is a current to waves or explosion to
compressed powers--a republic is the obligatory and fated form of a
nation at such a moment.

For a sudden, irresistible, convulsive action of the social body, the
arm and will of all is needed; the people become a mob, and rush
headlong to danger. It can alone suffice to its own danger. What other
arm but that of the whole people could stir what it has to
stir?--displace what it has to displace?--install what it desires to
found? The monarch would break his sceptre into fragments on it. There
must be a lever capable of raising thirty millions of wills--this lever
the nation alone possesses. It is in itself the moving power, the
fulcrum and the lever.


We cannot ask of the law to act against the law, of tradition to act
against tradition, of established order to act against established
order. It would be to require strength from weakness, life from suicide;
and, besides, we should ask in vain of the monarchical power to
accomplish these changes, in which very often all perish, and the king
foremost. Such a course would be the contradiction to the monarchy: how
could it attempt it?

To ask a king to destroy the empire of a religion which consecrates him;
to despoil of their riches a clergy who has them by the same divine
title as that by which he has tenure of his kingdom; to degrade an
aristocracy which is the first step of his throne; to throw down social
hierarchies of which he is the head and crown; to undermine laws of
which he is the highest,--is to ask of the vaults of an edifice to sap
the foundation. The king could not do so, and would not. In thus
overthrowing all that serves him for support, he feels that he would be
rendered wholly destitute. He would be playing with his throne and
dynasty. He is responsible for his race. He is prudent by nature, and a
temporiser from necessity. He must soothe, please, manage, and be on
terms with all constituted interests. He is the king of the worship,
aristocracy, laws, manners, abuses, and falsehoods of the empire. Even
the vices of the constitution form a portion of his strength. To
threaten them is to destroy himself. He may hate them: he dares not to
attack them.


A republic alone can suffice for such crises: nations know this, and
cling to it as their sole hope of preservation. The will of the people
becomes the ruling power. It drives from its presence the timid, seeks
the bold and the determined, summons all men to aid in the great work,
makes trial of, employs, and combines the force, the devotion, the
heroism of every man. It is the populace that holds the helm of the
vessel, on which the most prompt, or the most firm seizes, until it is
again torn from him by a stronger hand. But every one governs in the
common name. Private consideration, timidity of situation, difference of
rank, all disappears. No one is responsible--to-day he rises to
power--to-morrow he descends to exile or the scaffold--there is no
_morrow_, all is _to-day_--resistance is crushed by the irresistible
power of movement. All bends--all yields before the people. The
resentments of castes--the abolished forms of worship--the decimation of
property--the extirpated abuses--the humiliated aristocracies--all are
lost in the thundering sound of the overthrow of ancient ideas and
things. On whom can we demand revenge? The nation answers for all to
all, and no man has aught to require from it. It does not survive
itself, it braves recrimination and vengeance--it is absolute as an
element--anonymous, as fatality--it completes its work, and when that is
ended, says, "Let us rest; and let us assume monarchy."


Such a plan of action is the republic--the only one that befits the
trying period of transformation. It is the government of passion, the
government of crises, the government of revolutions. So long as
revolutions are unfinished, so long does the instinct of the people urge
them to a republic; for they feel that every other hand is too feeble to
give that onward and violent impulse necessary to the Revolution. The
people (and they act wisely), will not trust an irresponsible,
perpetual, and hereditary power to fulfil the commands of the epochs of
creation--they will perform them themselves. Their dictatorship appears
to them indispensable to save the nation; and what is a dictatorship but
a republic? It cannot resign its power until every crisis be over, and
the great work of revolution completed and consolidated. Then it can
again resume the monarchy, and say, "Reign in the name of the ideas I
have given thee!"


The Constituent Assembly was then blind and weak, not to create a
republic as the natural instrument of the Revolution. Mirabeau, Bailly,
La Fayette, Siéyès, Barnave, Talleyrand, and Lameth acted in this
respect like philosophers, and not great politicians, as events have
amply proved. They believed the Revolution finished as soon as it was
written, and the monarchy converted as soon as it had sworn to preserve
the constitution. The Revolution was but begun, and the oath of royalty
to the Revolution as futile as the oath of the Revolution to royalty.
These two elements could not mingle until after an interval of an
age--this interval was the republic. A nation does not change in a day,
or in fifty years, from revolutionary excitements to monarchical repose.
It is because we forgot it at the hour when we should have remembered
it, that the crisis was so terrible, and that we yet feel its effects.
If the Revolution, which perpetually follows itself, had had its own
natural and fitting government, the republic--this republic would have
been less tumultuous and less perturbed than the five attempts we made
for a monarchy. The nature of the age in which we live protests against
the traditional forms of power: at an epoch of movement--a government of
movement--such is the law.


The National Assembly, it is said, had not the right to act thus; for it
had sworn allegiance to the monarchy and recognised Louis XVI., and
could not dethrone him without a crime. The objection is puerile, if it
originates in minds who do not believe in the possession of the people
by dynasties. The Assembly at its outset had proclaimed the inalienable
right of the people; and the lawfulness of necessary insurrection, and
the oath of the Tennis Court (_Serment du Jeu de Paume_), were nought
but an oath of disobedience to the king and of fidelity to the nation.
The Assembly had afterwards proclaimed Louis XVI. king of the French. If
they possessed the power of proclaiming him king, they also possessed
that of proclaiming him a simple citizen. Forfeiture for the national
utility, and that of the human race, was evidently one of its
principles, and yet how did it act? It leaves Louis XVI. king, or makes
him king, not through respect for that institution, but out of respect
for his person, and pity for so great a downfall. Such was the truth; it
feared sacrilege, and fell into anarchy. It was clement, noble, and
generous. Louis XVI. had deserved well from his people; who well can
dare to censure so magnanimous a condescension? Before the king's
departure for Varennes, the absolute right of the nation was but an
abstract fiction, the _summum jus_ of the Assembly. The royalty of Louis
XVI. was respectable and respected, once again it was established.


But a moment arrived, and this moment was when the king fled his
kingdom, protesting against the will of the nation, and sought the
assistance of the army, and the intervention of foreign powers, when the
Assembly legitimately possessed the rigorous right of disposing of the
power, thus abandoned or betrayed. Three courses were open: to declare
the downfall of the monarchy, and proclaim a republican revolution; the
temporary suspension of the royalty, and govern in its name during its
moral eclipse; and, lastly, to restore the monarchy.

The Assembly chose the worst alternative of the three. It feared to be
harsh, and was cruel; for by retaining the supreme rank for the king, it
condemned him to the torture of the hatred and contempt of the people;
it crowned him with suspicions and outrages; and nailed him to the
throne, in order that the throne might prove the instrument of his
torture and his death.

Of the two other courses, the first was the most logical, to proclaim
the downfall of the monarchy and the formation of a republic.

The republic, had it been properly established by the Assembly, would
have been far different from the republic traitorously and atrociously
extorted nine months after by the insurrection of the 10th of August. It
would have doubtless suffered the commotion, inseparable from the birth
of a new order of things. It would not have escaped the disorders of
nature in a country where every thing was done by first impulse, and
impassioned by the magnitude of its perils. But it would have originated
in law and not in sedition--in right, and not in violence--in
deliberation, and not in insurrection. This alone could have changed the
sinister conditions of its birth and its future fate; it might become an
agitating power, but it would remain pure and unsullied.

Only reflect for a moment how entirely its legal and premeditated
proclamation would have altered the course of events. The 10th of August
would not have taken place--the perfidy and tyranny of the commune of
Paris--the massacre of the guards--the assault on the palace--the flight
of the king to the Assembly--the outrages heaped on him there--and his
imprisonment in the temple--would have never occurred.

The republic would not have killed a king, a queen, an innocent babe,
and a virtuous princess; it would not have had the massacres of
September, those St. Bartholomews of the people--that have left an
indelible stain on the whole robes of liberty. It would not have been
baptized in the blood of three hundred thousand human beings--it would
not have armed the revolutionary tribunal with the axe of the people,
with which it immolated a generation to make way for an idea,--it would
not have had the 31st of May. The Girondists arriving at the supreme
power, unsullied by crime, would have possessed more force with which to
combat the demagogues; and the republic calmly and deliberately
instituted, would have intimidated Europe far more than an _émeute_
legitimised by bloodshed and assassination. War might have been avoided,
or, if it was inevitable, have been more unanimous and more triumphant;
our generals would not have been massacred by their soldiers amidst
cries of treason. The spirit of the people would have combated with us,
and the horror of our days of August, September, and January would not
have alienated from our standards the nations attracted thither by our
doctrines. Thus a single change in the origin of the republic changed
the fate of the Revolution.


But if this rigorous resolution was yet repugnant to the feelings of
France, and if the Assembly had feared they had given birth to a
republic prematurely, the third course was yet open, to proclaim the
temporary cessation of royalty during ten years, and govern in a
republican form in its name until the constitution was firmly and
securely established. This course would have saved all the respect due
to royalty; the life of the king--the life of the royal family--the
rights of the people--the purity of the Revolution--it was at once firm
and calm, efficacious and legitimate. It was such a dictatorship as the
people had instinctively figured in the critical times of their
existence. But instead of a short, fugitive, disturbed, and ambitious
dictatorship of one man, it was the dictatorship of the nation,
governing itself through its National Assembly. The nation might have
respectfully laid by royalty during ten years, in order itself to carry
out a work above the power of the king. This accomplished, resentment
extinguished, habits formed, the laws in operation, the frontiers
protected, the clergy secularised, the aristocracy humbled, the
dictatorship could terminate. The king or his dynasty could ascend
without danger a throne from which all danger was now averted. This
veritable republic would have thus resumed the name of a constitutional
monarchy, without changing any thing, and the statue of royalty would
have been replaced on its pedestal when the base had been consolidated.
Such would have been the consulate of the people, far superior to that
consulate of a man who was to finish by ravaging Europe, and by the
double usurpation of a throne and a revolution.

Or, if at the expiration of this national dictatorship, the nation, well
governed and guided, found it dangerous or useless to re-establish the
throne, what prevented it from saying, I now assume as a definitive
government that which I assumed as a dictatorship: I proclaim the French
republic as the only government befitting the excitement and energy of a
regenerative epoch; for the republic is a dictatorship perpetuated and
constituted by the people. What avails a throne? I remain erect: it is
the attitude of a people in travail!

In a word, the Constituent Assembly, whose light illumined the
globe--whose audacity in two years transformed an empire, had but one
fault, that of coming to a close. It should have perpetuated itself: it
abdicated. A nation that abdicates after a reign of two years, and on
heaps of ruins, bequeaths the sceptre to anarchy. The king _could_ reign
no longer, the nation _would not_. Thus faction reigned, and the
Revolution perished; not because it had gone too far, but because it had
not been sufficiently bold. So true is it that the timidity of nations
is not less disastrous than the weakness of kings; and that a people who
knows not how to seize and guard all that which pertains to it, falls at
once into tyranny and anarchy. The Assembly dared to do every thing save
to reign: the reign of the Revolution was nought but a republic: and the
Assembly left this name to factions, and this form to terror. Such was
its fault--it expiated it: and the expiation is not yet ended for



Whilst the king, isolated at the summit of the constitution, sought
support, sometimes by hazardous negotiations with foreigners, sometimes
by rash attempts at corruption in the capital, a body, some Girondists
and other Jacobins, but as yet confounded under the common denomination
of patriots, began to unite and form the nucleus of a great republican
idea: they were Pétion, Robespierre, Brissot, Buzot, Vergniaud, Guadet,
Gensonné, Carra, Louvet, Ducos, Fonfrède, Duperret, Sillery-Genlis, and
many others, whose names have scarcely emerged from obscurity. The home
of a young woman, daughter of an engraver of the Quai des Orfévres, was
the meeting place of this union. It was there that the two great parties
of the _Gironde_ and the _Montagne_ assembled, united, separated, and
after having acquired power, and overturned the monarchy in company,
tore the bosom of their country with their dissensions, and destroyed
liberty whilst they destroyed each other. It was neither ambition, nor
fortune, nor celebrity which had successively attracted these men to
this woman's residence, then without credit, name, or comforts: it was
conformity of opinion; it was that devoted worship which chosen spirits
like to render in secret as in public to a new truth which promises
happiness to mankind; it was the invisible attraction of a common faith,
that communion of the first neophytes in the religion of philosophy,
where the necessity for souls to unite before they associate by deeds,
is felt. So long as the thoughts common to political men have not
reached that point where they become fruitful, and are organised by
contact, nothing is accomplished. Revolutions are ideas, and it is this
communion which creates parties.

The ardent and pure mind of a female was worthy of becoming the focus to
which converged all the rays of the new truth, in order to become
prolific in the warmth of the heart, and to light the pile of old
institutions. Men have the spirit of truth, women only its passion.
There must be love in the essence of all creations; it would seem as
though truth, like nature, has two sexes. There is invariably a woman at
the beginning of all great undertakings; one was requisite to the
principle of the French Revolution.[12] We may say that philosophy found
this woman in Madame Roland.

The historian, led away by the movement of the events which he retraces,
should pause in the presence of this serious and touching figure, as
passengers stopped to contemplate her sublime features and white dress
on the tumbril which conveyed thousands of victims to death. To
understand her we must trace her career from the _atelier_ of her father
to the scaffold. It is in a woman's heart that the germ of virtue lies;
it is almost always in private life that the secret of public life is


Young, lovely, radiant with genius, recently married to a man of serious
mind, who was touching on old age, and but recently mother of her first
child, Madame Roland was born in that intermediary condition in which
families scarcely emancipated from manual labour are, it may be said,
amphibious between the labourer and the tradesman, and retain in their
manners the virtues and simplicity of the people, whilst they already
participate in the lights of society. The period in which aristocracies
fall is that in which nations regenerate. The sap of the people is
there. In this was born Jean Jacques Rousseau, the virile type of Madame
Roland. A portrait of her when a child represents a young girl in her
father's workshop, holding in one hand a book, and in the other an
engraving tool. This picture is the symbolic definition of the social
condition in which Madame Roland was born, and the precise moment
between the labour of her hands and her mind.

Her father, Gratien Phlippon, was an engraver and painter in enamel. He
joined to these two professions that of a trade in diamonds and jewels.
He was a man always aspiring higher than his abilities allowed, and a
restless speculator, who incessantly destroyed his modest fortune in his
efforts to extend it in proportion to his ambitious yearnings. He adored
his daughter, and could not, for her sake, content himself with the
perspective of the workshop. He gave her an education of the highest
degree, and nature had conferred upon her a heart for the most elevated
destinies. We need not say what dreams, misery, and misfortunes men with
such characters invariably bring upon their honest families.

The young girl grew up in this atmosphere of luxuriant imagination and
actual wretchedness. Endowed with a premature judgment, she early
detected these domestic miseries, and took refuge in the good sense of
her mother from the illusions of her father and her own presentiments of
the future.

Marguerite Bimont (her mother's name) had brought her husband a calm
beauty, and a mind very superior to her destiny, but angelic piety and
resignation armed her equally against ambition and despair. The mother
of seven children, who had all died in the birth, she concentrated in
her only child all the love of her soul. Yet this very love guarded her
from any weakness in the education of her daughter. She preserved the
nice balance of her heart and her mind; of her imagination and her
reason. The mould in which she formed this youthful mind was graceful;
but it was of brass. It might have been said that she foresaw the
destinies of her child, and infused into the mind of the young girl that
masculine spirit which forms heroes and inspires martyrs.

Nature lent herself admirably to the task, and had endowed her pupil
with an understanding even superior to her dazzling beauty. This beauty
of her earlier years, of which she has herself traced the principal
features with infinite ingenuousness in the more sprightly pages of her
memoirs, was far from having gained the energy, the melancholy, and the
majesty which she subsequently acquired from repressed love, high
thought, and misfortune.

A tall and supple figure, flat shoulders, a prominent bust, raised by a
free and strong respiration, a modest and most becoming demeanour, that
carriage of the neck which bespeaks intrepidity, black and soft hair,
blue eyes, which appeared brown in the depth of their reflection, a look
which like her soul passed rapidly from tenderness to energy, the nose
of a Grecian statue, a rather large mouth, opened by a smile as well as
speech, splendid teeth, a turned and well rounded chin gave to the oval
of her features that voluptuous and feminine grace without which even
beauty does not elicit love, a skin marbled with the animation of life,
and veined by blood which the least impression sent mounting to her
cheeks, a tone of voice which borrowed its vibrations from the deepest
fibres of her heart, and which was deeply modulated to its finest
movements (a precious gift, for the tone of the voice, which is the
channel of emotion in a woman, is the medium of persuasion in the
orator, and by both these titles nature owed her the charm of voice, and
had bestowed it on her freely). Such at eighteen years of age was the
portrait of this young girl, whom obscurity long kept in the shade, as
if to prepare for life or death a soul more strong, and a victim more


Her understanding lightened this beauteous frame-work with a precocious
and flashing intelligence, which was already inspiration. She acquired,
as it were, the most difficult accomplishments even from looking into
their very elements. What is taught to her age and sex was not
sufficient for her. The masculine education of men was a want and sport
to her. Her powerful mind had need of all the means of thought for its
due exercise. Theology, history, philosophy, music, painting, dancing,
the exact sciences, chemistry, foreign tongues and learned languages,
she learned all and desired more. She herself formed her ideas from all
the rays which the obscurity of her condition allowed to penetrate into
the laboratory of her father. She even secreted the books which the
young apprentices brought and forgot for her in the workshop. Jean
Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu, and the English philosophers,
fell into her hands; but her real food was Plutarch.

"I shall never forget," she said, "the Lent of 1763, during which I
every day carried that book to church, instead of the book of prayers:
it was from this moment that I date the impressions and ideas which made
me republican, when I had never formed a thought on the subject." After
Plutarch, Fénélon made the deepest impression upon her. Tasso and the
poets followed. Heroism, virtue, and love were destined to pour from
their three vases at once into the soul of a woman destined to this
triple palpitation of grand impressions.

In the midst of this fire in her soul her reason remained calm, and her
purity spotless. She scarcely owns to the slightest and fugitive
emotions of the heart and senses. "When as I read behind the screen
which closed up my chamber from my father's apartment," she writes, "my
breathing was at all loud, I felt a burning blush overspread my cheek,
and my altered voice would have betrayed my agitation. I was Eucharis to
Telemachus, and Herminia to Tancred. Yet, transformed as I was into
them, I never thought myself of becoming anything to any body. I made no
reflection that individually affected me; I sought nothing around me: it
was a dream without awaking. Yet I remember having beheld with much
agitation a young painter named Taboral, who called on my father
occasionally. He was about twenty years of age, with a sweet voice,
intelligent countenance, and blushed like a girl. When I heard him in
the _atelier_, I had always a pencil or something to look after; but as
his presence embarrassed as much as it pleased me, I went away quicker
than I entered, with a palpitating heart, a tremor that made me run and
hide myself in my little room."

Although her mother was very pious, she did not forbid her daughter from
reading. She wished to inspire her with religion, and not enforce it
upon her. Full of good sense and toleration, she left her with
confidence to her reason, and sought neither to repress nor dry up the
sap which would hereafter produce its fruit in her heart. A servile, not
voluntary religion, appeared to her degradation and slavery which God
could not accept as a tribute worthy of him. The pensive mind of her
daughter naturally tended towards the great objects of eternal happiness
or misery, and she was sure, at an earlier age than any other, to plunge
deeply into their mysteries. The reign of sentiment began in her through
the love of God. The sublime delirium of her pious contemplations
embellished and preserved the first years of her youth, composed the
rest by her philosophy, and seemed as if it must preserve her for ever
from the tempests of passion. Her devotion was ardent; it took the tints
of her soul, and she aspired to the cloister, and dreamed of martyrdom.
Entering a convent, she found there propitious moments, surrendering her
thoughts to mysticism and her heart to first friendships. The monotonous
regularity of this life gently soothed the activity of her meditations.
In the hours of relaxation she did not play with her companions, but
retired beneath some tree to read and muse. As sensitive as Rousseau to
the beauty of foliage, the rustling of the grass, the odour of the
herbs, she admired the hand of God, and kissed it in his works.
Overflowing with gratitude and inward delight, she went to adore him at
church. There the sonorous organ's lengthened peal, uniting with the
voices of the youthful nuns, completed the excess of her ecstacy. The
Catholic religion has every mysterious fascination for the senses, and
pleasure for the imagination. A novice took the veil during her
residence in the convent. Her presentation at the entrance, her white
veil, her crown of roses, the sweet and soothing hymns which directed
her from earth to heaven, the mortuary cloth cast over her youthful and
buried beauty, and over her palpitating heart, made the young artist
shudder, and overwhelmed her with tears. Her destiny opened to her the
image of great sacrifices, and she felt within herself by anticipation
all the courage and the suffering.


The charm and custom of these religious feelings were never effaced from
her mind. Philosophy, which soon became her worship, dissipated her
faith, but left the impression it had created. She could not assist at
the ceremonies of a worship whose mysteries her reason had repudiated,
without feeling their attraction and respect. The sight of weak men
united to adore and pray to the Father of the human race affected her
sensibly. The music raised her to the skies. She quitted these Christian
temples happier and better; so much are the recollections of infancy
reflected and prolonged even in the most troubled existence.

This impassioned taste for infinity and pious sentiment continued their
influences over her after her return to her father's house. "My father's
house had not," she writes, "the solitary tranquillity of the convent,
still plenty of air, and a wide space on the roof of our house near the
_Pont Neuf_, were before my dreamy and romantic imagination. How many
times from my window, which looked northward, have I contemplated with
emotions the vast deserts of heaven, its glorious azure vault, so
splendidly framed from the blue dawn of morning, behind the
_Pont-du-Change_, until the golden sunset, when the glorious purple
faded away behind the trees of the Champs Elysées and the houses of
Chaillot. I did not fail thus to employ some moments at the close of a
fine day; and quiet tears frequently stole deliciously from my eyes,
whilst my heart, throbbing with an inexpressible sentiment, happy thus
to beat, and grateful to exist, offered to the Being of beings a homage
pure and worthy of him."

Alas! when she wrote these lines, she no longer saw but in her mind that
narrow strip of the heaven of Paris, and the remembrance of those
glorious evenings only illumined with a fugitive gleam the walls of her


But she was then happy, between her aunt Angelique and her mother, in
what she calls the beautiful quarter of the Isle Saint Louis. On these
straight quays, on this tranquil bank, she took the air on summer
evenings, watching the graceful course of the river, and the distant
landscape. In the morning she traversed these quays with holy zeal, in
order to go to church, and that she might not meet in this lone road any
thing to distract her attention. Her father, who liked her lofty
studies, and was intoxicated at his daughter's success, was still
desirous of initiating her in his own craft, and made her begin to
engrave. She learned to handle the _burin_, and succeeded in this as in
every thing else. As yet she did not derive any salary from it; but at
the fête of her grandfather and grandmother, she presented to them as
her offering, sometimes a head, which she had applied herself to execute
for this express purpose, sometimes a small brass plate, highly
polished, on which she had engraved emblems or flowers; and they in
return gave her ornaments or something for her toilette, for which she
confesses always to have been anxious.

This taste, natural to her age and sex, did not, however, distract her
from the more humble domestic duties. She was not ashamed, after
appearing on Sundays at church, or walking out elegantly dressed, to put
on during the week a cotton gown, and go to market with her mother. She
used even to go out to shops in their neighbourhood to buy parsley or
salad, which had been forgotten. Although she felt herself somewhat
humiliated by these domestic cares, which brought her down from the
eminence of her Plutarch, and her visionary wanderings, she combined so
much grace, and so much natural dignity, that the fruit-woman used to
take pleasure in serving her before her other customers; and the first
comers took no offence at this preference. This young girl, this future
Héloïse of the eighteenth century, who read serious books, who expounded
the circles of the celestial globe, handled the pencil and _burin_, and
in whose soul-aspiring thoughts and impassioned feelings already found
space, was often called into the kitchen to prepare the vegetables for
dinner. This mixture of serious shades, elegant research, and domestic
occupations, ordered and sensibly mingled by her mother's sagacity,
seemed to prepare her already for the vicissitudes of fortune, and in
after days helped her to support them. It was Rousseau at Charmettes
piling up the woodstack of Madame de Warens with the hand which was to
write the _Contrat Social_, or Philopoemen chopping his wood.


From the retirement of such secluded life, she sometimes perceived the
higher world which shone above her. The lights which displayed to her
this great world offended, more than they dazzled, her sight. The pride
of this aristocratic society, which saw without valuing her, weighed on
her sensitive mind--a society in which her position was not assigned to
her, seemed badly framed. It was less envy than justice that revolted in
her. Superior beings have their places marked out by nature, and every
thing that keeps them from occupying them, seems to them an usurpation.
They find society frequently the reverse of nature, and take their
revenge by despising it: from this arises the hatred of genius against
power. Genius dreams of an order of things, in which the ranks should be
marked out by nature and virtue; whilst in reality they are almost
always derived from birth--that blind allotment of fate. There are few
great minds which do not feel in their earliest progress the persecution
of fortune, and who do not begin by an internal revolt against society.
They are only quieted by their own discouragement. Some are resigned
from a more lofty feeling to the place which God assigns to them. To put
up with the world humbly is still more beautiful than to control it.
This is the very acme of virtue. Religion leads to it in a day;
philosophy only conducts to it by a lengthened life, misery, or death.
These are days when the most elevated place in the world is a scaffold.


The young maiden once conducted by her grandmother to an aristocratic
house, of which her humble parents were _free_, was deeply hurt at the
tone of condescending superiority with which her grandmother and herself
were treated. "My pride took alarm," she writes, "my blood boiled more
than usual, and I blushed violently. I no longer inquired of myself why
this lady was seated on a sofa, and my grandmother on a low stool; but
my feelings led to such reflection, and I saw the end of the visit with
satisfaction as if a weight was taken off my mind."

Another time she was taken to pass eight days at Versailles, in the
palace of that king and queen whose throne she was one day to sap.
Lodged in the attics with one of the female domestics of the Château,
she was a close observer of this royal luxury, which she believed was
paid for by the misery of the people, and that grandeur of things
founded on the servility of courtiers. The lavishly spread tables, the
walks, the play, presentations--all passed before her eyes in the pomp
and vanity of the world. These ceremonious details of power were
repugnant to her mind, which fed on philosophy, truth, liberty, and the
virtue of the olden time. The obscure names, the humble attire, of the
relatives who took her to see all this, only procured for her mere
passing looks and a few words, which meant more protection than favour.
The feeling that her youth, beauty, and merit, were unperceived by this
crowd, who only adored favour or etiquette, oppressed her mind. The
philosophy, natural pride, imagination, and fixedness of her soul were
all wounded during this sojourn. "I preferred," she says, "the statues
in the gardens to the personages of the palace." And her mother
inquiring if she were pleased with her visit--"Yes," was her reply, "if
it be soon ended; for else, in a few more days I shall so much detest
all the persons I see, that I should not know what to do with my
hatred." "What harm have they done you?" inquired her mother. "To make
me feel injustice, and look upon absurdity." As she contemplated these
splendours of the despotism of Louis XIV., which were drooping into
corruption, she thought of Athens, but forgot the death of Socrates, the
exile of Aristides, the condemnation of Phocion. "I did not then
foresee," she writes, in melancholy mood, as she pens these lines--"that
destiny reserved me to be the witness of crimes such as those of which
they were the victims, and to participate in the glory of their
martyrs, after having professed their principles."

Thus, the imagination, character, and studies of this girl prepared her,
unknown to herself, for the republic. Her religion alone, then so
powerful over her, restrained her within the bounds of that resignation
which submits the thoughts to the will of God. But philosophy became her
creed, and this creed formed a portion of her politics. The emancipation
of the people united itself in her mind with the emancipation of ideas.
She believed, by overturning thrones, that she was working for man; and,
by overthrowing altars, that she was labouring for God. Such is the
confession which she herself made of her change.


However, the young girl had already attracted many suitors for her hand.
Her father wished to marry her in the class to which he himself
belonged. He loved, esteemed commerce, because he considered it the
source of wealth. His daughter despised it because it was, in her eyes,
the source of avarice and the food of cupidity. Men in this condition of
life were repugnant to her. She desired in a husband ideas and feelings
sympathising with her own. Her ideal was a soul and not a fortune.
"Brought up from my infancy in connexion with the great men of all ages,
familiar with lofty ideas and illustrious examples--had I lived with
Plato, with all the philosophers, all the poets, all the politicians of
antiquity, merely to unite myself with a shopkeeper, who would neither
appreciate nor feel any thing as I did?"

She who wrote these lines was at that moment demanded in marriage of her
parents by a rich butcher of the neighbourhood. She refused every offer.
"I will not descend from the world of my noble chimeras," she replied to
the incessant remonstrances of her father; "what I want is not a
position but a mind. I will die single rather than prostitute my own
mind in an union with a being with whom I have no sympathies."

Deprived of her mother by an early death, alone in the house of a father
where disorder was the consequence of a second _amour_, melancholy
gained possession of her mind, though it did not overcome it. She
became more collected and reserved, in order to strengthen her feelings
against isolation and misfortune. The perusal of the _Héloïse_ of
Rousseau, which was lent to her about that time, made on her heart the
same impression that Plutarch had made on her mind. Plutarch had shown
her liberty; Rousseau made her dream of happiness: the one fortified,
the other weakened her. She found the earnest desire of pouring forth
her feelings. Melancholy was her rigid muse. She began to write, in
order to console herself in the nurture of her own thoughts. Without any
intention of becoming an authoress, she acquired by these solitary
trials that eloquence with which she subsequently animated her friends.


Thus gradually ripened this patient and resolute mind, working on
towards its destiny, when she believed she had found the man of the
olden time of whom she had so long dreamed. This man was Roland de la

He was introduced to her by one of her early friends, married at Amiens,
where Roland then carried on the functions of inspector of manufactures.
"You will receive this letter," wrote her friend, "by the hand of the
philosopher of whom I have spoken to you already, M. Roland, an
enlightened man, of antique manners; without reproach, except for his
passion for the ancients, his contempt of his age, and his too high
estimation of his own virtue. This portrait," she adds, "was just and
well depicted. I saw a man nearly fifty years of age, tall, careless in
his attitude, with that kind of awkwardness which a solitary life always
produces; but his manners were easy and winning, and without possessing
the elegance of the world, they united the politeness of the well-bred
man to the seriousness of the philosopher. He was very thin, with a
complexion much tanned; his brow, already covered by very little hair,
and very broad, did not detract from his regular but unattractive
features. He had, however, a pleasing smile, and his features an
animated play, which gave them a totally different appearance when he
was excited in speaking or listening. His voice was manly, his mode of
speech brief, like a man with shortened breath; his conversation, full
of matter, because his head was full of ideas, occupied the mind more
than it flattered the ear. His language was sometimes striking, but
harsh and inharmonious. This charm of the voice is a gift very rare, and
most powerful over the senses," she adds, "and does not merely depend on
the quality of the sound, but equally upon that delicate sensibility
which varies the expression by modifying the accent." This is enough to
assure us that Roland had not this charming gift.


Roland, born of an honest tradesman's family, which had held magisterial
offices and asserted claims to nobility, was the youngest of five
brothers, and intended for the church. To avoid this destiny, which
disgusted him, he fled from his father's roof at nineteen, and went to
Nantes. Procuring a situation with a ship-builder, he was about to
embark for India in trade, when an illness at the moment he was to
embark prevented him. One of his relations, a superintendent of a
factory, received him at Rouen, and gave him a situation in his office.
This house, animated by the spirit of Turgot, made experiments in the
details of its business with all the sciences, and by political economy
with the loftiest problems of governments. It was peopled by
philosophers, amongst whom Roland distinguished himself, and the
government sent him to Italy to watch the progress of commerce there.

He left his young friend with reluctance, and forwarded to her regularly
scientific letters, intended as notes to the work which he proposed to
write on Italy--letters in which the sentiment that displayed itself
beneath science, more resembled the studies of a philosopher than the
conversations of a lover.

On his return she saw in him a friend. His age, gravity, manners,
laborious habits, made her consider him as a sage who existed solely on
his reason. In the union they contemplated, and which less resembled
love, than the ancient associations of the days of Socrates and
Plato--the one sought a disciple rather than a wife, and the other
married a master rather than a husband. M. Roland returned to Amiens,
and thence wrote to the father to demand his daughter's hand, which was
bluntly denied to him. He feared in Roland, whose austerity displeased
him, a censor for himself, and a tyrant for his child. Informed of her
father's refusal, she grew indignant, and went to a convent destitute of
every thing. There she lived on the coarsest food, prepared by her own
hands. She plunged into deep study, and strengthened her heart against
adversity. _She revenged herself by deserving the happiness of a lot
which was not accorded to her_. In the evening she visited her friends;
in the day an hour's walk in a garden surrounded with high walls. That
feeling of strength which steels against fate--that melancholy which
softens the soul, and feeds it on its own sensibility,--helped her to
pass long winter months in her voluntary captivity.

A feeling of internal bitterness, however, poisoned even this sacrifice.
She said to herself that this sensibility was not recompensed. She had
flattered herself that M. Roland, on learning of her resolution and
retreat, would hasten to take her from this convent and unite their
destinies. Time passed on. Roland came not, and scarcely wrote. At the
end of six months he arrived, and was again deeply enamoured on seeing
his beloved behind a grating. He resolved on offering her his hand,
which she accepted. However, so much calculation, hesitation, and
coldness had dissipated the little illusion which the young captive had
left, and reduced her feelings to deep esteem. She devoted rather than
gave herself. It appeared to her sublime to immolate herself for the
happiness of a worthy man; and she consummated this sacrifice with all
the seriousness of reason and without a grain of heartfelt enthusiasm.
Her marriage was to her an act of virtue, which she performed, not
because it was agreeable to her, but because she deemed it sublime.

The pupil of Jean Jacques Rousseau is seen again at this decisive moment
of her existence. The marriage of Madame Roland is a palpable imitation
of that of Héloïse with M. de Volmar. But the bitterness of reality was
not slow in developing itself beneath the heroism of her devotion. "By
dint," she herself says, "of occupying myself with the happiness of the
man with whom I was associated, I felt that something was wanting to my
own. I have not for a moment ceased to see in my husband one of the
most estimable persons that exists, and to whom it was an honour to me
to belong; but I often felt that similarity was wanting between
us,--that the ascendency of a dominating temper, united to that of
twenty years more of age, made one of these superiorities too much. If
we lived in solitude, I had sometimes very painful hours to pass: if we
went into the world, I was liked by persons, some one of whom I was
fearful might affect me too closely. I plunged into my husband's
occupations, became his copying clerk, corrected his proofs, and
fulfilled the task with an unrepining humility, which contrasted
strongly with a spirit as free and tried as mine. But this humility
proceeded from my heart: I respected my husband so much, that I always
liked to suppose that he was superior to myself. I had such a dread of
seeing a shade over his countenance, he was so tenacious of his own
opinions, that it was a long time before I ventured to contradict him.
To this labour I joined that of my house; and observing that his
delicate health could not endure every kind of diet, I always prepared
his meals with my own hands. I remained with him four years at Amiens,
and became there a mother and nurse. We worked together at the
_Encyclopédie Nouvelle_, in which the articles relative to commerce had
been confided to him. We only quitted this occupation for our walks in
the vicinity of the town."

Roland, dictatorial and exacting, had insisted from the beginning of
their marriage, that his wife should refrain from seeing her young and
attached friends whom she had loved in the convent, and who lived at
Amiens. He dreaded the least participation of affection. His prudence
outstepped the bounds of reason. To an union as solemn as marriage, the
pleasure of friendship was necessary. This tyranny of an exclusive
feeling was not compensated by love. Roland demanded every thing from
his wife's compliance. If there was no faltering in her conduct, still
she felt these sacrifices, and joyed over the accomplishment of her
duties as the stoic enjoys his sufferings.


After some years passed at Amiens, Roland was promoted to the same
duties at Lyons, his native place. In winter he dwelt in the town, and
the rest of the year was passed in the country in his paternal home,
where his mother still lived, a respectable old woman, but meddlesome
and overbearing in her household. Madame Roland, in all the flower of
youth, beauty, and genius, thus found herself tormented and beset by a
domineering mother-in-law, a rough brother-in-law, and an exacting
husband. The most passionate love could scarcely have been proof against
so trying and painful a position. To soothe her she had the
consciousness of discharging her duties, her occupation, her philosophy,
and her child. It was sufficing, and eventually transformed this gloomy
retreat into the abode of harmony and peace. We love to follow her into
that solitude, when her mind was becoming tempered for her struggle, as
we go to seek at Charmettes the still fresh and sparkling source of the
life and genius of Jean Jacques Rousseau.


At the foot of the mountains of Beaujolais, in the large basin of the
Sâone, in face of the Alps, there is a series of small hills scattered
like the sea sands, which the patient vine-dresser has planted with
vines, and which form amongst themselves, at their base, oblique
valleys, narrow and sinuous ravines, interspersed with small verdant
meads. These meadows have each their thread of water, which filters down
from the mountains: willows, weeping birch, and poplars, show the course
and conceal the bed of the streams. The sides and tops of these hills
only bear above the lowly vines a few wild peach trees, which do not
shade the grapes and large walnut trees in the orchards near the houses.
On the declivity of one of these sandy protuberances was _La Platière_,
the paternal inheritance of M. Roland, a low farm-house, with regular
windows, covered with a roof of red tiles nearly flat; the eaves of this
roof project a little beyond the wall, in order to protect the windows
from the rain of winter and the summer's sun. The walls, straight and
wholly unornamented, were covered with a coating of white plaister,
which time had soiled and cracked. The vestibule was reached by
ascending five stone steps, surmounted by a rustic balustrade of rusty
iron. A yard surrounded by outhouses, where the harvest was gathered
in, presses for the vintage, cellars for the wine, and a dove-cote,
abutted on the house. Behind was levelled a small kitchen-garden, whose
beds were bordered with box, pinks, and fruit trees, pruned close down
to the ground. An arbour was formed at the extremity of each walk. A
little further on was an orchard, where the trees inclining in a
thousand attitudes, cast a degree of shade over an acre of cropped
grass; then a large enclosure of low vines, cut in right lines by small
green sward paths. Such is this spot. The gaze is turned from the gloomy
and lowering horizon to the mountains of Beaujeu, spotted on their sides
by black pines, and severed by large inclined meadows, where the oxen of
Charolais fatten, and to the valley of the Sâone, that immense ocean of
verdure, here and there topped by high steeples. The belt of the higher
Alps, covered with snow and the apex of Mont Blanc, which overhangs the
whole, frame this extensive landscape. There is in this something of the
vastness of the infinite sea: and if on its bounded side it may inspire
recollection and resignation, in its open part it seems to solicit
thought to expand, and to convey the soul to far off hopes and to the
eminences of imagination.

Such was, for five years, the bounded horizon of this young woman. It
was there that she plunged into the plenitude of that nature of which,
in her infancy, she had so frequently dreamed, and in which she had
perceived only some small bits of sky, and some confused perspectives of
royal forests, from the height of her window over the roofs of Paris. It
was there that her simple tastes and loving soul found nutriment and
scope for her sensibility.

Her life was there divided between household cares, the improvement of
her mind, and active charity--that cultivator of the heart. Adored by
the peasants, whose protectress she was, she applied to the consolation
of their miseries the little to spare which a rigid economy left to her,
and to the cure of their maladies the knowledge she had acquired in
medicine. She was fetched from three and four leagues' distance to visit
a sick person. On Sunday the steps of her court-yard were covered with
invalids, who came to seek relief, or convalescents, who came to bring
her proofs of their gratitude; baskets of chestnuts, goats' milk
cheeses, or apples from their orchards. She was delighted at finding the
country people grateful and sensible of kindness. She had drawn her own
picture of the people residing in the vicinity of large cities. The
burning of châteaux, during the outbreak and massacres of September,
taught her subsequently that these seas of men, then so calm, have
tempests more terrible than those of the ocean, and that society
requires institutions, just as the waves require a bed, and strength is
as indispensable as justice to the government of a people.


The hour of the Revolution of '89 had struck, and came upon her in the
bosom of this retreat. Intoxicated with philosophy, passionately devoted
to the ideal of humanity, an adorer of antique liberty, she became on
fire at the first spark of this focus of new ideas;--she believed with
all her faith, that this revolution, like a child born without a
mother's sufferings, must regenerate the human race, destroy the misery
of the working classes, for whom she felt the deepest sympathy, and
renew the face of the earth. Even the piety of great souls has its
imagination. The generous illusion of France at this epoch was equal to
the work which France had to accomplish. If she had not dared to hope so
much, she would have dared nothing: her faith was her strength.

From this day, Madame Roland felt a fire kindled within her which was
never to be quenched but in her blood. All the love which lay slumbering
in her soul was converted into enthusiasm and devotion for the human
race. Her sensibility deceived--too ardent, unquestionably, for one
man--spread over a nation. She adored the Revolution like a lover. She
communicated this flame to her husband and to all her friends. All her
repressed feelings were poured forth in her opinions; she avenged
herself on her destiny, which refused her individual happiness, by
sacrificing herself for the happiness of others. Happy and beloved, she
would have been but a woman; unhappy and isolated, she became the leader
of a party.


The opinions of M. and Madame Roland excited against them all the
commercial aristocracy of Lyons, an honest right-minded city, but one of
money, where all becomes a calculation, and where ideas have the weight
and immobility of interests. Ideas have an irresistible current, which
attract even the most stagnant populations; Lyons was led on and
overwhelmed by the opinions of the epoch. M. Roland was raised to the
municipality at the first election, and spoke out with all the
earnestness of his principles, and the energy inspired by his wife.
Feared by the timid, adored by the eager, his name, at first a byeword,
became a rallying point;--public favour recompensed him for the insults
of the rich. He was deputed to Paris by the municipal council, there to
defend the commercial interests of Lyons, in the committees of the
Constituent Assembly.

The connection of Roland with philosophers and economists who formed the
practical party of philosophy, his necessary intercourse with
influential members of the Assembly, his literary tastes, and, above
all, the attraction and natural temptation which drew and retained
eminent men around a young, eloquent, and impassioned woman, soon made
the _salon_ of Madame Roland an ardent, though not as yet noted, focus
of the Revolution. The names which were found there reveal, from the
first days, extreme opinions. For these opinions, the constitution of
1791 was only a halt.

It was on the 20th February, 1791, that Madame Roland returned to that
Paris which she had quitted five years before, a young girl, unknown and
nameless, and whither she came as a flame to animate an entire party,
found a republic, reign for a moment, and--die! She had in her mind a
confused presentiment of this destiny. Genius and Will know their
strength,--they feel before others and prophesy their mission. Madame
Roland had beforehand seemed carried on by hers to the heart of action.
She hastened on the day after her arrival to the sittings of the
Assembly. She saw the powerful Mirabeau, the dazzling Cazalès, the
daring Maury, the crafty Lameth, the impassive Barnave. She remarked
with annoyance and intense hate, in the attitude and language of the
right side, that superiority conferred by the habit of command and
confidence in the respect of the million; on the left side, she saw
inferiority of manners, and the insolence that mingles with low
breeding. And thus did the antique aristocracy survive in blood, and
avenge itself, even after its defeat on the democracy, which envied,
whilst it beat it to the earth. Equality is written in the laws long
before it is established in races. Nature is an aristocrat, and it
requires a long use of independence to give to a republican people the
noble attitude and polished dignity of the citizen. Even in revolutions,
the _parvenu_ of liberty is long seen in the vanquisher. Women's tact is
very sensitive to these nice shades. Madame Roland understood them, but,
so far from allowing herself to be seduced by this superiority of
aristocracy, she was but the more indignant, and felt her hatred
redoubled against a party which it was possible to overcome but
impossible to humble.


It was at this period that she and her husband united with some of the
most ardent amongst the apostles of popular ideas. It was not they who,
as yet, were foremost in the favour of the people, and the _éclat_ of
talent,--it was they who appeared to it, to love the Revolution for the
Revolution itself, and to devote themselves, with sublime
disinterestedness, not to the success of their fortune, but to the
progress of humanity. Brissot was one of the first. M. and Madame Roland
had been, for a long time, in correspondence with him on matters of
public economy, and the more important problems of liberty. Their ideas
had fraternised and expanded together. They were united beforehand by
all the fibres of their revolutionary hearts, but, as yet, did not know
it. Brissot, whose adventurous life, and unwearied contentions were
allied to the youth of Mirabeau, had already acquired a name in
journalism and the clubs. Madame Roland awaited him with respect; she
was curious to judge if his features resembled the physiognomy of his
mind. She believed that nature revealed herself by all forms, and that
the understanding and virtue modelled the external senses of men just
as the statuary impresses on the clay the outward forms of his
conception. The first appearance undeceived, without discouraging her in
her admiration of Brissot. He wanted that dignity of aspect, and that
gravity of character which seem like a reflection of the dignity, life,
and seriousness of his doctrines. There was something in the man
political, which recalled the pamphleteer. His levity shocked her; even
his gaiety seemed to her a profanation of the grave ideas of which he
was the organ. The Revolution, which gave passion to his style, did not
throw any passion into his countenance. She did not find in him enough
hatred against the enemies of the people. The mobile mind of Brissot did
not appear to have sufficient consistency for a feeling of devotion. His
activity, directed upon all matters, gave him the appearance of a novice
in ideas rather than an apostle. They called him an intriguer.

Brissot brought Pétion, his fellow-student and friend. Pétion, already
member of the Constituent Assembly, and whose harangues in two or three
cases had excited interest. Brissot was reputed to have inspired these
orations. Buzot and Robespierre, both members of the same Assembly, were
introduced there. Buzot, whose pensive beauty, intrepidity, and
eloquence were destined hereafter to agitate the heart and soften the
imagination of Madame Roland; and Robespierre, whose disquiet mind and
fanatic hatred cast him henceforward into all meetings where
conspiracies were formed in the name of the people. Some others, too,
came, whose names will subsequently appear in the annals of this period.
Brissot, Pétion, Buzot, Robespierre, agreed to meet four evenings in
each week in the _salon_ of Madame Roland.


The motive of these meetings was to confer secretly as to the weakness
of the Constituent Assembly, on the plots laid by the aristocracy to
fetter the Revolution, and on the impulse necessary to impress on the
lukewarm opinions, in order to consolidate the triumph. They chose the
house of Madame Roland, because this house was situated in a quarter
equi-distant from the homes of all the members who were to assemble
there. As in the conspiracy of Harmodius, it was a woman who held the
torch to light the conspirators.

Madame Roland thus found herself cast, from the first, in the midst of
the movement party. Her invisible hand touched the first threads of the
still entangled plot which was to disclose such great events. This part,
the only one that could be assigned to her sex, equally flattered her
woman's pride and passion for politics. She went through it with that
modesty which would have been in her a _chef d'oeuvre_ of skill if it
had not been a natural endowment. Seated out of the circle near a work
table, she worked or wrote letters, listening all the time with apparent
indifference to the discussions of her friends. Frequently tempted to
take a share in the conversation, she bit her lips in order to check her
desire. Her soul of energy and action was inspired with secret contempt
for the tedious and verbose debates which led to nothing. Action was
expended in words, and the hour passed away taking with it the
opportunity which never returns.

The conquests of the National Assembly soon enervated the conquerors.
The leaders of this Assembly retreated from their own handiwork, and
covenanted with the aristocracy and the throne to grant the king the
revision of the constitution in a more monarchical spirit. The deputies
who met at Madame Roland's lost heart and dispersed, until, at length,
there only remained that small knot of unshaken men who attach
themselves to principles regardless of their success, and who are
attached to desperate causes with the more fervour in proportion as
fortune seems to forsake them. Of this number were Buzot, Pétion, and


History must have a sinister curiosity in ascertaining the first
impression made on Madame Roland, by the man who, warmed at her hearth,
and then conspiring with her, was one day to overthrow the power of his
friends, immolate them _en masse_, and send her to the scaffold. No
repulsive feeling seems, at this period, to have warned her that in
conspiring to advance Robespierre's fortune, she conspired for her own
death. If she have any vague fear, that fear is instantly cloaked by a
pity which is akin to contempt. Robespierre appeared to her an honest
man; she forgave him his evil tongue and affected utterance.
Robespierre, like all men with one idea, appeared overcome with _ennui_.
Still she had remarked that he was always deeply attentive at these
committees, that he never spoke freely, listened to all other opinions
before he delivered his own, and then never took the pains to explain
his motives. Like men of imperious temper, his conviction was to him
always a sufficing reason. The next day he entered the tribune, and
profiting, for his reputation's sake, by the confidential discussions to
which he had listened in the previous evening, he anticipated the hour
of action agreed upon with his allies, and thus divulged the plan
concerted. When blamed for this at Madame Roland's, he made but slight
excuse. This wilfulness was attributed to his youth, and the impatience
of his _amour-propre_. Madame Roland, persuaded that this young man was
passionately attached to liberty, took his reserve for timidity, and
these petty treasons for independence. The common cause was a cover for
all. Partiality transforms the most sinister tokens into favour or
indulgence. "He defends his principles," said she, "with warmth and
pertinacity--he has the courage to stand up singly in their defence at
the time when the number of the people's champions is vastly reduced.
The court hates him, therefore we should like him. I esteem Robespierre
for this, and show him that I do; and then too, though he is not very
attentive at the evening meetings, he comes occasionally and asks me to
give him a dinner. I was much struck with the affright with which he was
agitated on the day of the king's flight to Varennes. He said the same
evening at Pétion's that the Royal Family had not taken such a step
without preparing in Paris a Saint Bartholomew for the patriots, and
that he expected to die before he was twenty-four hours older. Pétion,
Buzot, Roland, on the contrary, said that this flight of the king's was
his abdication, that it was necessary to profit by it in order to
prepare men's minds for the republic. Robespierre, sneering and biting
his nails, as usual, asked what a republic was."

It was on this day that the plan of a journal, called the _Republican_,
was arranged between Brissot, Condorcet, Dumont of Geneva, and
Duchâtelet. We thus see that the idea of a republic was born in the
cradle of the Girondists before it emanated from Robespierre, and that
the 10th of August was no chance, but a plot.

At the same epoch, Madame Roland had given way, in order to save
Robespierre's life, to one of those impulses which reveal a courageous
friendship, and leave their traces even in the memory of the ungrateful.
After the massacre of the Champ-de-Mars, accused of having conspired
with the originators of the petition of forfeiture, and threatened with
vengeance by the National Guard, Robespierre was obliged to conceal
himself. Madame Roland, accompanied by her husband, went at 11 o'clock
at night to his retreat in the Marais, to offer him a safer asylum in
their own house. He had already quitted his domicile. Madame Roland then
went to their common friend Buzot, and entreated him to go to the
Feuillants, where he still retained influence, and with all speed to
exculpate Robespierre before any act of accusation was issued against

Buzot hesitated for a moment, then replied,--"I will do all in my power
to save this unfortunate young man, although I am far from partaking the
opinion of many respecting him. He thinks too much of himself to love
liberty; but he serves it, and that is enough for me. I shall be there
to defend him." Thus, three of Robespierre's subsequent victims combined
that night, and unknown to him, for the safety of the man by whom they
were eventually to die. Destiny is a mystery whence spring the most
remarkable coincidences, and which tend no less to offer snares to men
through their virtues than their crimes. Death is everywhere: but,
whatever the fate may be, virtue alone never repents. Beneath the
dungeons of the Conciergerie Madame Roland remembered that night with
satisfaction. If Robespierre recalled it in his power, this memory must
have fallen colder on his heart than the axe of the headsman.



After the dispersion of the Constituent Assembly, the mission of M. and
Madame Roland having terminated, they quitted Paris. This woman, who had
just left the centre of faction and business, returned to La Platière to
resume the cares of her rustic household and the pruning of her vines.
But she had quaffed of the intoxicating cup of the Revolution. The
movement in which she had participated for a moment impelled her still,
though at a distance. She carried on a correspondence with Robespierre
and Buzot; political and formal with Robespierre, pathetic and tender
with Buzot. Her mind, her soul, her heart, all recalled it. Then took
place between herself and her husband a deliberation, apparently
impartial, in order to decide whether they should bury themselves in the
country, or should return to Paris. But the ambition of the one, and the
ardent desire of the other, had decided, unknown to, and before, either.
The most trifling pretext was sufficient for their impatience. In the
month of December they were again installed in Paris.

It was the period when all their friends arrived. Pétion had just been
elected _maire_, and was creating a republic in the _commune_.
Robespierre, excluded from the Legislative Assembly by the law which
forbade the re-election of the members of the Constituent Assembly,
found a tribune in the Jacobins. Brissot assumed Buzot's place in the
new Assembly, and his reputation, as a public writer and statesman,
brought around him and his doctrines the young Girondists, who had
arrived from their department, with the ardour of their age, and the
impulse of a second revolutionary tide. They cast themselves, on their
arrival, into the places which Robespierre, Buzot, Laclos, Danton, and
Brissot had marked out for them.

Roland, the friend of all these men, but in the back ground, and
concealed in their shadow, had one of those peculiar reputations, the
more potent over opinion, as it made but little display: it was spoken
of as though an antique virtue, beneath the simple appearance of a
rustic: he was the Siéyès of his party. Beneath his taciturnity his deep
thought was assured, and in his mystery the oracle was accredited. The
brilliancy and genius of his wife attracted all eyes towards him: his
very mediocrity, the only power that has the virtue of neutralising
envy, was of service to him. As no one feared him, every body thrust him
forward--Pétion as a cover for himself--Robespierre to undermine
him--Brissot to put his own villanous reputation under the shelter of
proverbial probity--Buzot, Vergniaud, Louvet, Gensonné, and the
Girondists, from respect for his science, and the attraction towards
Madame Roland; even the Court, from confidence in his honesty and
contempt for his influence. This man advanced to power without any
effort on his own part, borne onwards by the favour of a party, by the
_prestige_ which the unknown has over opinion, by the disdain of his
opponents and the genius of his wife.


The king had for some time hoped that the wrath of the Revolution would
be softened down by its triumph. Those violent acts, those stormy
oscillations between insolence and repentance, which had marked the
inauguration of the Assembly, had painfully undeceived him. His
astonished ministry already trembled before so much audacity, and in the
council avowed their incompetency. The king was desirous of retaining
men who had given him such proofs of devotion to his person. Some of
them, confidants or accomplices, served the king and queen, either by
keeping up communications with the emigrants or by their intrigues in
the interior.

M. de Montmorin, an able man, but unequal to the difficulties of the
crisis, had retired. The two principal men of the ministry were M. de
Lessart for Foreign Affairs; M. Bertrand de Molleville in the Marine
Department. M. de Lessart, placed by his position between the armed
emigrants, the impatient Assembly, undecided Europe, and the inculpated
king, could not fail to fall under his own good intentions. His plan was
to avoid war in his own country by temporising and negotiations--to
suspend the hostile demonstration of foreign power: to present to the
intimidated Assembly the king, as sole arbiter and negotiator of peace
between his people and the foreigner; and he trusted thus to adjourn the
final collisions between the Assembly and the throne, and to
re-establish the regular authority of the king by preserving peace. The
personal arrangements of the emperor Leopold aided him in his plans; he
had only to contend against the fatality which urges men and things to
their _dénouement_. The Girondists, and Brissot especially, overwhelmed
him with accusations, inasmuch as he was the man who could most retard
their triumph. By sacrificing him they could sacrifice a whole system:
their press and their harangues pointed him out to the fury of the
people;--the partisans of war marked him down as their victim. He was no
traitor--but with them to negotiate was to betray. The king, who knew he
was irreproachable and confided all his plans to him, refused to
sacrifice him to his enemies, and thus accumulated resentments against
the minister. As to M. de Molleville, he was a secret enemy of the
constitution. He advised the king to play the hypocrite, acting in the
letter, and thus to destroy the spirit, of the law,--advancing by
subterranean ways to a violent catastrophe,--when, according to him the
monarchical cause must come out victorious. Confiding in the power of
intrigue more than in the influence of opinion, seeking everywhere
traitors to the popular cause, paying spies, bargaining for consciences,
believing in no one's incorruptibility, keeping up secret intelligence
with the most violent demagogues, paying in hard money for the most
incendiary propositions under the idea of making the Revolution
unpopular from its very excesses, and filling the tribunes of the
Assembly with his agents in order to choke down with their hootings, or
render effective by their applause, the discourses of certain orators,
and thus to feign in the tribunes a false people and a false opinion;
men of small means in great matters presuming that it is possible to
deceive a nation as if it were an individual. The king, to whom he was
devoted, liked him as the depositary of his troubles, the confidant of
his relations with foreign powers, and the skilful mediator of his
negotiation with all parties. M. de Molleville thus kept himself in
well-managed balance between his favour with the king, and his
intrigues with the revolutionary party He spoke the language of the
constitution well--he had the secret of many consciences bought and paid

It was between these two men that the king, in order to comply with
popular opinion, called M. de Narbonne to the ministry of war. Madame de
Stäel and the constitutional party sought the aid of the Girondists.
Condorcet, was the mediator between the two parties. Madame de
Condorcet, an exceedingly lovely woman, united with Madame de Stäel in
enthusiasm for the young minister. The one lent him the brilliancy of
her genius, the other the influence of her beauty. These two females
appeared to fuse their feelings in one common devotion for the man
honoured by their preference. Rivalry was sacrificed at the shrine of


The point of union of the Girondist party with the constitutional party,
in that combination of which M. de Narbonne's elevation was the
guarantee, was the thirst of both parties for war. The constitutional
party desired it, in order to divert internal anarchy, and dispel those
fermentations of agitation which threatened the throne. The Girondist
party desired it in order to push men's minds to extremities. It hoped
that the dangers of the country would give it strength enough to shake
the throne and produce the republican regime.

It was under these auspices that M. de Narbonne took office. He also was
desirous of war; not to overthrow the throne in whose shadow he was
born, but to dazzle and shake the nation, to hazard fortune by desperate
casts, and to replace at the head of the people under the arms of the
high military aristocracy of the country, La Fayette, Biron, Rochambeau,
the Lameths, Dillon, Custines, and himself. If victory favoured the
French flag, the victorious army, under constituent chiefs, would
control the Jacobins, strengthen the reformed monarchy, and maintain the
establishment of the two chambers; if France was destined to reverses,
unquestionably the throne and aristocracy must fall, but better to fall
nobly in a national contest of France against her enemies, than to
tremble perpetually and to perish at last in a riot by the pikes of the
Jacobins. This was the adventurous and chivalrous policy which pleased
the young men by its heroism, and the women by its _prestige_. It
betokened the high courage of France. M. de Narbonne personified it in
the council. His colleagues, MM. de Lessart and Bertrand de Molleville,
saw in him the total overthrow of all their plans. The king, as usual,
was all indecision; one step forward and one backwards; surprised by the
event in his hesitation, and thus unable to resist a shock, or himself
to give any impulse.

Beside these official councillors, certain constituents not in the
Assembly, especially the Lameths, Duport, and Barnave, were consulted by
the king. Barnave had remained in Paris some months after the
dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. He redeemed by sincere devotion
to the monarchy the blows he had previously dealt upon it. He had
measured with an eye of judgment, the rapid declivity down which the
love of popular favour had impelled him. Like Mirabeau, he wished to
pause when it was too late. Henceforth, remaining on the brink of
events, he was besieged with terror and remorse. If his intrepid heart
did not tremble for himself, the sympathy he experienced for the queen
and royal family urged him to give the king advice which had but one
fault,--it was impossible now to follow it.

These consultations, held at Adrien Duport's, the friend of Barnave and
the oracle of the party, only served to embarrass the mind of the king
with another element of hesitation. La Fayette and his friends also
added their imperious counsel. La Fayette could not believe that he was
supplanted. The national guard, which yet remained attached to him,
still credited his omnipotence,--all these men and all these parties
lent M. de Narbonne secret support. A courtier in the eyes of the court,
an aristocrat in the eyes of the nobility, a soldier in the eyes of the
army, one of the people in the eyes of the people, irresistible in the
eyes of the women, he was the minister of public hope. The Girondists
alone had an _arrière-pensée_ in their apparent favour towards him. They
elevated him to make his fall the more conspicuous: M. de Narbonne was
to them but the hand which prepared the way for their advent.


Scarcely had he taken his place in the cabinet, than this young minister
displayed all the activity, frankness, and grace of his character in the
discussion of affairs, and his intercourse with the Assembly. He
employed the system of confidence, and surprised the Assembly by his
_abandon_, and these austere and suspicious men, who had hitherto seen
nothing but deceit in the language of ministers, now yielded to the
charm of his speeches. He addressed them, not in the official and cold
language of diplomacy, but in the open and cordial tone of a patriot. He
brought the dignity of his office to the tribune; he generously assumed
all responsibility, and he professed the most cherished principles of
the people with a sincerity that precluded the possibility of suspicion.
He openly disclosed his projects, and the energy of his mind
communicated itself to those men who were the most difficult to be won
over. The nation too saw with delight an _aristocrate_ so well adapt
himself to their costume, their principles, and their passions. The
ardour of his patriotism did not suffer the impulse, that confounded in
him the king and the people, to slacken; and in the course of his short
administration he did wonders of activity. He visited and put in a state
of defence all the fortified places; raised an army, harangued the
troops; arrested the emigration of the nobility, in the name of the
common danger; nominated the generals, and summoned La Fayette,
Rochambeau, and Luckner. A patriotic sentiment, of which he was the
soul, pervaded France; by rendering the throne the centre of the
national defence, he rendered the king again popular for a short time,
and in the enthusiasm felt for their country, all parties became
reconciled. His eloquence was rapid, brilliant, and sonorous as the
clash and din of arms. This expansion of his heart was a part of his
character; he bared his breast to the eyes of his adversaries, and by
this confidence won them to his side.

The first day of his appointment to office, instead of announcing his
nomination by a letter to the president, as was customary with the other
ministers, he proceeded to the Assembly, and mounted the tribune. "I
come to offer you," said he, "the profoundest respect for the authority
with which the people have invested you; from attachment for the
constitution, to which I have sworn; a courageous love for liberty and
equality--yes, for equality, which has no longer any opponents, but
which should nevertheless possess no less energetic supporters." Two
days afterwards he gained the entire confidence of the Assembly, when
speaking of the responsibility of the ministers. "I accept," cried he,
"the definition of the situation of ministers just made, that tells us
responsibility is death. Spare no threats, no dangers. Load us with
personal fetters, but afford us the means of aiding the constitution to
progress. For my own part, I embrace this opportunity of entreating the
members of this Assembly to inform me of every thing which they deem
useful to the welfare of the nation, during my administration. Our
interests, our enemies are the same; and it is not the letter of the
constitution only that we should seek to enforce, but the spirit; we
must not seek merely to acquit ourselves, but to succeed. You will see
that the minister is convinced that there is no hope for liberty unless
it proceed through you and from you: cease then for awhile to mistrust
us, condemn us afterwards if we have merited it; but first give us with
confidence the means of serving you."

Such words as these touched even the most prejudiced, and it was
unanimously voted that the speech should be printed, and sent to all the
departments. In order to cement the reconciliation of the king and the
nation, M. de Narbonne went to the committees of the Assembly,
communicated to them his plans, discussed his measures, and won over all
to his resolutions. This government in common was the spirit of the
constitution; the other ministers saw in this the abasement of the
executive power and an abdication of royalty, whilst M. de Narbonne saw
in it the sole means of winning back public feeling to the king. Opinion
had dethroned the royalty; it was to opinion that he looked to
strengthen it, and therefore he made himself the minister of public

At the moment when the emperor sent to the king a communication
threatening the frontiers, and the king personally informed the Assembly
of the energetic measures he had adopted, M. de Narbonne, re-entering
the Assembly after the king's departure, mounted the tribune. "I am on
the eve of quitting Paris," said he, "in order to visit our frontiers;
not that I believe the mistrust felt by the soldiers for their officers
has any foundation, but because I hope to dissipate them by addressing
all in the name of their king and their country. I will say to the
officers, that ancient prejudices and an affection for their king
carried to an excess for a time, may have excused their conduct, but
that the word treason is unknown amongst nations of honourable men. To
the soldiers, your officers who remain at the head of the army are bound
by their oath and their honour to the Revolution. The safety of the
state depends on the discipline of the army. I confide my post to the
minister of foreign affairs, and such is my confidence, such should be
the confidence of the nation in his patriotism, that I take on myself
the responsibility of all the orders that he may give in my name." M. de
Narbonne displayed on this occasion as much skill as magnanimity; he
felt that he had sufficient credit with the nation to cover the
unpopularity of his colleague, M. de Lessart, already denounced by the
Girondists, and thus placed himself between them and their victim. The
Assembly was carried away by his enthusiasm; he obtained 20,000,000 of
francs for the preparations for war, and the grade of marshal of France
for the aged Luckner. The press and the clubs themselves applauded him,
for the general eagerness for war swept away all before it, even the
resentments of faction.

One man alone of the Jacobins resisted the influence of this enthusiasm:
this man was Robespierre. Up to this time Robespierre had been merely a
discusser of ideas, a subaltern agitator, indefatigable and intrepid,
but eclipsed by other and greater names. From this day he became a
statesman; he felt his own mental strength; he based this strength on a
principle, and alone and unaided ventured to cope with the truth. He
devoted himself without regarding even the number of his adversaries,
and by exercising he doubled his force.

All the cabinets of the princes threatened by the Revolution still
debated the question of peace or war. It was discussed alike in the
councils of Louis XVI., in the meetings of parties in the Assembly, at
the Jacobins, and in the public journals. The moment was decisive, for
it was evident that the negotiation between the emperor Leopold and
France on the subject of the reception of emigrants in the states
dependent on the empire was fast drawing to a close, and that before
long the emperor would have given satisfaction to France by dispersing
these bodies of emigrés, or that France would declare war against him,
and by this declaration draw on herself the hostilities of all her
enemies at the same time. France thus would defy them all.

We have already seen that the Statesmen, and Revolutionists,
Constitutionalists, and Girondists, Aristocrats, and Jacobins, were all
in favour of war. War was, in the eyes of all, an appeal to destiny, and
the impatient spirit of France wished that it would pronounce at once,
either by victory or defeat. Victory seemed to France the sole issue by
which she could extricate herself from her difficulties at home, and
even defeat did not terrify her. She believed in the necessity of war,
and defied even death. Robespierre thought otherwise, and it is for that
reason that he was Robespierre.

He clearly comprehended two things; the first, that war was a gratuitous
crime against the people; the second, that a war, even though
successful, would ruin the cause of democracy. Robespierre looked on the
Revolution as the rigorous application of the principles of philosophy
to society. A passionate and devoted pupil of Jean Jacques Rousseau, the
_Contrat Social_ was his gospel; war, made with the blood of the people,
was in the eyes of this philosopher--what it must ever be in the eyes of
the wise--wholesale slaughter to gratify the ambition of a few, glorious
only when it is defensive. Robespierre did not consider France placed in
such a position as to render it absolutely necessary for her safety that
the human vein should be opened, whence would flow such torrents of
blood. Embued with a firm conviction of the omnipotence of the new ideas
on which he nourished faith and fanaticism within a heart closed against
intrigue, he did not fear that a few fugitive princes, destitute of
credit, and some thousand aristocratic emigrés, would impose laws or
conditions on a nation whose first struggle for liberty had shaken the
throne, the nobility, and the clergy. Neither did he think that the
disunited and wavering powers of Europe would venture to declare war
against a nation that proclaimed peace so long as we did not attack
them. But should the European cabinets be sufficiently mad to attempt
this new crusade against human reason, then Robespierre fully believed
they would be defeated, for he knew that there lies invincible force in,
the justice of a cause--that right doubles the energy of a nation, that
despair often supplies the want of weapons, and that God and men were
for the people.

He thought, moreover, that if it was the duty of France to propagate the
advantages and the light of reason and liberty, the natural and peaceful
extension of the French Revolution in the world would prove far more
infallible than our arms,--that the Revolution should be a doctrine and
not an universal monarchy realised by the sword, and that the patriotism
of nations should not coalesce against his dogmata. Their strength was
in their minds, for in his eyes the power of the Revolution lay in its
enlightenment. But he understood more: he understood that an offensive
war would inevitably ruin the Revolution, and annihilate that premature
republic of which the Girondists had already spoken to him, but which he
himself could not as yet define. Should the war be unfortunate, thought
he, Europe will crush without difficulty beneath the tread of its armies
the earliest germs of this new government, to the truth of which perhaps
a few martyrs might testify, but which would find no soil from whence to
spring anew. If fortunate, military feeling, the invariable companion of
aristocratic feeling, honour, that religion that binds the soldier to
the throne; discipline, that despotism of glory, would usurp the place
of those stern virtues to which the exercise of the constitution would
have accustomed the people,--then they would forgive every thing, even
despotism, in those who had saved them. The gratitude of a nation to
those who have led its children to victory is a pitfall in which the
people will ever be ensnared,--nay, they even offer their necks to the
yoke; civil virtues must ever fade before the brilliancy of military
exploits. Either the army would return to surround the ancient royalty
with all its strength, and France would have her Monk, or the army would
crown the most successful of its generals, and liberty would have her
Cromwell. In either case the Revolution escaped from the people, and
lay at the mercy of the soldiery, and thus to save it from war was to
save it from a snare. These reflections decided him; as yet he meditated
no violence; he but saw into the future, and read it aright. This was
the original cause of his rupture with the Girondists; their justice was
but policy, and war appeared to them politic. Just or unjust, they
wished for it as a means of destruction to the throne, of aggrandisement
for themselves. Posterity must decide, if in this great quarrel the
first blame lies on the side of the democrat, or the ambitious
Girondists. This fierce contest, destined to terminate in the death of
both parties, began on the 12th of December at a meeting of the Jacobin


"I have meditated during six months, and even from the first day of the
Revolution," said Brissot, the leader of the Gironde, "to what party I
should give my support. It is by the force of reason, and by considering
facts, that I have come to the conviction that a people, who, after ten
centuries of slavery, have re-conquered liberty, have need of war. War
is necessary to consolidate liberty, and to purge the constitution from
all taint of despotism. War is necessary to drive from amongst us those
men whose example might corrupt us. You have the power of chastising the
rebels, and intimidating the world; have the courage to do so. The
emigrés persist in their rebellion, the sovereigns persist in supporting
them. Can we hesitate to attack them? Our honour, our public credit, the
necessity of strengthening our revolution, all make it imperative on us.
France would be dishonoured, did she tamely suffer the insolence and
revolt of a few factions, and outrages that a despot would not bear for
a fortnight. How shall we be looked upon? No! we must avenge ourselves,
or become the opprobrium of all the other nations. We must avenge
ourselves by destroying these herds of _brigands_, or consent to behold
faction, conspiracy, and rebellion perpetuated, and the insolence of the
aristocrats greater than ever. They rely on the army at Coblentz,--in
that they put their trust. If you would at one blow destroy the
aristocracy, destroy Coblentz, and the chief of the nation will be
compelled to reign, according to the Constitution, with us and through

These words, pronounced by the statesman of the Gironde, awakened an
echo in the breast of every man, from the Jacobin Club to the extremity
of the country. The vehement applause of the tribunes was merely the
expression of that impatience to know the final decision that pervaded
all parties. Robespierre needed iron nerve and determination to confront
his friends, his enemies, and public opinion; and yet he sustained this
struggle of a single idea against all this passion for weeks. Great
convictions are indefatigable; and Robespierre, by his own unaided
exertions, balanced all France during a month. His very enemies spoke
with respect of his firmness, and those who had not the courage to
follow him, yet would have been ashamed not to esteem him. His
eloquence, which had been dry, verbose, and dialectic, now became more
elegant and more imposing. The public journals printed his speeches.
"You, O people, who do not possess the means of procuring the speeches
of Robespierre, I promise them to you," said the _Orateur du Peuple_,
the Jacobin paper. "Preserve carefully the numbers that contain these
speeches; they are masterpieces of eloquence, that should be preserved
in every family, in order to teach future generations that Robespierre
existed for the public good and the preservation of liberty."

After having exhausted every argument that philosophy, policy, and
patriotism could suggest against an offensive war, commenced by the
Gironde, and secretly fomented by the ministers, and carried on by the
generals most suspected by the people, he mounted the tribune for the
last time, against Brissot, on the night of the 13th January, and
declared his conviction against war, in a speech as admirable as it was


"Yes, I am vanquished; I yield to you," cried he, in a broken voice, "I
also demand war. What do I say?--I demand a war, more terrible, more
implacable than you demand. I do not demand it as an act of prudence, an
act of reason, an act of policy, but as the resource of despair. I
demand it on one condition, which doubtless you have anticipated,--for I
do not think that the advocates of war have sought to deceive us. I
demand it deadly--I demand it heroic--I demand it such as the genius of
Liberty would declare against all despotism--such as the people of the
Revolution, under their own leaders, would render it;--not such as
intriguing cowards would have it, or as the ambitious and traitorous
ministers and generals would carry it on.

"Frenchmen, heroes of the 14th of July, who, without guide or leader,
yet acquired your liberty, come forth, and let us form that army which
you tell us is destined to conquer the universe. But where is the
general, who, imperturbable defender of the rights of the people, and
born with a hatred to tyrants, has never breathed the poisonous air of
the courts, and whose virtue is attested by the hatred and disgrace of
the court; this general, whose hands, guiltless of our blood, are worthy
to bear before us the banner of freedom; where is he, this new Cato,
this third Brutus, this unknown hero? let him appear and disclose
himself, he shall be our leader. But where is he? Where are these
soldiers of the 14th of July, who laid down, in the presence of the
people, the arms furnished them by despotism. Soldiers of Châteauvieux,
where are you? Come and direct our efforts. Alas! it is easier to rob
death of its prey, than despotism of its victims. Citizens! Conquerors
of the Bastille, come! Liberty summons you, and assigns you the honour
of the first rank! They are mute. Misery, ingratitude, and the hatred of
the aristocracy, have dispersed them. And you, citizens, immolated at
the Champ-de-Mars, in the very act of a patriotic confederation, you
will not be with us. Ah, what crime had these females, these massacred
babes, committed? Good God! how many victims, and all amongst the
people--all amongst the patriots, whilst the powerful conspirators live
and triumph. Rally round us, at least you national guards, who have
especially devoted yourselves to the defence of our frontiers in this
war with which a perfidious court threatens us. Come--but how?--you are
not yet armed. During two whole years you have demanded arms, and yet
have them not. What do I say? You have been refused even uniforms, and
condemned to wander from department to department, objects of contempt
to the minister, and of derision to the patricians, who receive you
only to enjoy the spectacle of your distress. No matter; come, we will
combat naked like the American savages.

"But shall we await the orders of the war office to destroy thrones?
Shall we await the signal of the court? Shall we be commanded by these
patricians, these eternal favourites of despotism, in this war against
aristocrats and kings? No--let us march forward alone; let us be our own
leaders. But see, the orators of war stop me! Here is Monsieur Brissot,
who tells me that Monsieur le Comte de Narbonne must conduct this
affair; that we must march under the orders of Monsieur le Marquis de La
Fayette; that the executive power alone possesses the right of leading
the nation to victory and freedom. Ah, citizens, this word has dispelled
all the charm! Adieu, victory and the independence of the people; if the
sceptres of Europe ever be broken, it will not be by such hands. Spain
will continue for some time the degraded slave of superstition and
royalism. Leopold will continue the tyrant of Germany and Italy, and we
shall not speedily behold Catos or Ciceros replace the pope and the
cardinals in the conclave. I declare openly, that war, as I understand
the term--war, such as I have proposed, is impracticable. And if it be
the war of the court, of the ministers, of the patricians who affect
patriotism, that we must accept--oh, then, far from believing in the
freedom of the world, I despair of your liberty. The wisest course left
us is to defend it against the perfidy of those enemies at home who lull
you with these heroic illusions.

"I continue calmly and sorrowfully. I have proved that liberty possesses
no more deadly foe than war; I have proved that war, advised by men
already objects of suspicion, was, in the hands of the executive power,
nought save a means of annihilating the constitution, only the end of a
plot against the Revolution. Thus to favour these plans of war, under
what pretext soever, is to associate ourselves with these treasonable
plots against the Revolution. All the patriotism in the world, all the
pretended political commonplaces, cannot change the nature of things. To
inculcate, like M. Brissot and his friends, confidence in the executive
power, and to call down public favour on the generals, is to disarm the
Revolution of its last hope--the vigilance and energy of the nation. In
the horrible position in which despotism, intrigue, treason, and the
general blindness have placed us, I consult alone my head and my heart.
I respect nothing, save my country; I obey nought, save truth. I know
that some patriots blame the frankness with which I present this
discouraging future of our situation. I do not conceal my fault from
myself. Is not the truth already sufficiently guilty because it is the
truth? Ah! so that our slumbers be light, what matter, though we be
awakened by the clash of chains?--and in the quietude of slavery let us
no longer disturb the repose of these fortunate patriots. No, but let
them know that we can measure with a firm eye and steady heart the depth
of the abyss. Let us adopt the device of the palatine of Posnania--'_I
prefer the storms of liberty to the serenity of slavery_.'

"If the moment of emancipation be not yet arrived, at least we should
have the patience to await it. If this generation was but destined to
struggle in the quicksand of vice, into which despotism had plunged it;
if the theatre of our revolution was destined but to present to the eyes
of the universe a struggle between perfidy and weakness, egotism and
ambition;--the rising generation would commence the task of purifying
this earth, so sullied by vice. It would bring, not the peace of
despotism or the sterile agitations of intrigue, but fire and sword to
lay low the thrones and exterminate the oppressors. O more fortunate
posterity, thou art not stranger to us! It is for thee that we brave the
storms and the intrigues of tyranny. Often discouraged by the obstacles
that environ us, we feel the necessity of struggling for thee. Thou
shalt complete our work. Retain on thy memory the names of the martyrs
of liberty." The sentiments of Rousseau were to be traced in these


Louvet, one of the friends of Brissot, felt their power, and mounted the
tribune in order to move the man who alone arrested the progress of the
Gironde. "Robespierre," said he, apostrophising him directly;
"Robespierre--you alone keep the public mind in suspense--doubtless this
excess of glory was reserved for you. Your speeches belong to
posterity, and posterity will come to judge between you and me. But you
Will mar a great responsibility by persisting in your opinions; you are
accountable to your contemporaries, and even to future generations--yes,
posterity will judge between us, unworthy as I may be of it. It will
say, a man appeared in the Constituent Assembly--inaccessible to all
passions, one of the most faithful defenders of the people--it was
impossible not to esteem and cherish his virtues--not to admire his
courage--he was adored by the people, whom he had constantly served, and
he was worthy of it. A precipice opens. Fatigued by too much labour,
this man imagined he saw peril where there was none, and did not see it
where it really was. A man of no note was present, entirely occupied
with the present moment, aided by other citizens, he perceived the
danger, and could not remain silent. He went to Robespierre, and sought
to make him touch it with his finger. Robespierre turned away his eyes,
and withdrew his hand, the stranger persisted, and saved his country."

Robespierre smiled with disdain and incredulity at these words. The
suppliant gestures of Louvet, and the adjurations of the tribunes
found-him the next morning firm and unmoved. Brissot resumed the debate
on war;--"I implore Monsieur Robespierre," said he, in conclusion, "to
terminate so unworthy a struggle, which profits alone the enemies of the
public welfare." "My surprise was extreme," cried Robespierre, "at
seeing this morning, in the journal edited by M. Brissot, the most
pompous eulogium on M. de La Fayette." "I declare," replied Brissot,
"that I am utterly ignorant of the insertion of this letter in '_Le
Patriots Français_.'" "So much the better," returned Robespierre. "I am
delighted to find that M. Brissot is not a party to any such apologies."
Their words became as bitter as their hearts, and hate became more
perceptible at every reply. The aged Dusaulx interfered, made a touching
appeal to the patriots, and entreated them to embrace. They complied. "I
have now fulfilled a duty of fraternity, and satisfied my heart," cried
Robespierre. "I have yet a more sacred debt to pay my country. All
personal regard must give place to the sacred interests of liberty and
humanity. I can easily reconcile them here with the regard and respect I
have promised to those who serve them; I have embraced M. Brissot, but
I persist in opposing him: let our peace repose only on the basis of
patriotism and virtue." Robespierre, by his very isolation, proved his
force, and obtained fresh influence over the minds of the waverers. The
papers began to side with him. Marat heaped invectives on Brissot;
Camille Desmoulins, in his pamphlets, exposed the shameful association
of Brissot, in London, with Morande, the dishonoured libellist. Danton
himself, the orator of success, fearing to be deceived by fortune,
hesitated between the Girondists and Robespierre. He remained silent for
a long time, and then made a speech full of high-sounding words, beneath
which was visible the hesitation of his convictions, and the
embarrassment of his mind.



Whilst this was passing at the Jacobins, and the journals--those echoes
of the clubs--excited in the people the same anxiety and the same
hesitation, the underhand diplomacy of the cabinet of the Tuileries, and
the emperor Leopold, who sought in vain to postpone the termination,
were about to behold all their schemes thwarted by the impatience of the
Gironde and the death of Leopold. This philosophic prince was destined
to bear away with him all desire of reconciliation and every hope of
peace, for he alone restrained Germany. M. de Narbonne, thwarted by
public demonstrations the secret negotiations of his colleague M. de
Lessart, who strove to temporise, and to refer all the differences of
France and Europe to a congress.

The diplomatic committee of the Assembly, urged by Narbonne, and
composed of Girondists, proposed decisive resolutions. This committee,
established by the Assembly, and influenced by the ideas of Mirabeau,
called the ministers to account for every thing that occurred: out of
the kingdom diplomacy was thus unmasked--the negotiations broken
off--all combination rendered impossible, for the cabinets of Europe
were continually cited before the tribune of Paris. The Girondists, the
actual leaders of this committee, possessed neither the skill nor the
prudence necessary to handle without breaking the fine threads of
diplomacy. A speech was in their eyes far more meritorious than a
negotiation; and they cared not that their words should re-echo in
foreign cabinets, provided they sounded well in the chamber or the
tribune. Moreover, they were desirous of war, and looked on themselves
as statesmen, because at one stroke they had disturbed the peace of
Europe. Ignorant of politics, they yet deemed themselves masters of it,
because they were unscrupulous; and because they affected the
indifference of Machiavel, they deemed they possessed his depth.

The emperor Leopold, by a proclamation, on the 21st of December,
furnished the Assembly with a pretext for an outbreak. "The sovereigns
united," said the emperor, "for the maintenance of public tranquillity
and the honour and safety of the crowns." These words excited the minds
of all to know what could be their meaning; they asked each other how
the emperor, the brother-in-law, and ally of Louis XVI., could speak to
him for the first time of the sovereigns acting in concert? and against
what, if not against the Revolution? And how could the ministers and
ambassadors of the Revolution have been ignorant of its existence? Why
had they concealed from the nation their knowledge, if they had known
it? There was, then, a double diplomacy, each striving to outwit the
other. The Austrian Alliance was, then, no dream of faction; there was
either incompetence or treason in official diplomacy, perhaps both. A
projected congress was spoken of--could it have any other object than
that of imposing modifications on the constitution of France?--And all
felt indignant at the idea of ceding even one tittle of the constitution
to the demand of monarchical Europe.


It was whilst the public mind was thus agitated that the diplomatic
committee presented, through the Girondist Gensonné, its report on the
existing state of affairs with the emperor. Gensonné, an advocate of
Bordeaux, elected to the Legislative Assembly on the same day as Guadet
and Vergniaud, his friends and countrymen, composed, with these
deputies, that triumvirate of talent, opinion, and eloquence, afterwards
termed the Gironde. An obstinate and dialectic style of oratory, bitter
and keen irony, were the characteristics of the talents of the Gironde;
it did not carry away by its eloquence, it constrained; and its
revolutionary passions were strong, yet under the control of reason.

Before entering the Assembly, he had been sent as a commissioner with
Dumouriez, afterwards so celebrated, to study the state of the popular
feeling in the department of the west, and to propose measures likely to
tend to the pacification of these countries, then distracted by
religious differences. His clear and enlightened report had been in
favour of tolerance and liberty--those two topics of all consciences. He
was then, in common with the other Girondists, resolved to carry out the
Revolution to its extreme and definite form--a republic, without,
however, too soon destroying the constitutional throne, provided the
constitution was in the hands of his party.

The intimate friend of the minister Narbonne, his calumniators accused
him of having sold himself to him. Nothing, however, bears out this
suspicion; for if the soul of the Girondists was not free from ambition
and intrigue, their hands at least were pure from corruption.

Gensonné, in his report in the name of the diplomatic committee, asked
two questions; first, what was our political situation with regard to
the emperor; secondly, should his last _office_ be regarded as an act of
hostility; and in this case was it advisable to accelerate this
inevitable rupture by commencing the attack.

"Our situation with regard to the emperor," replied he to himself, "is,
that the French interests are sacrificed to the house of Austria; our
finances and our armies wasted in her service--our alliances broken, and
what mark of reciprocity do we receive? The Revolution insulted; our
cockade profaned; the emigrés permitted to congregate in the states
dependent on Austria; and, lastly, the avowal of the coalition of the
powers against us. When from the heart of Luxembourg our princes
threaten us with an invasion, and boast of the support of the other
powers, Austria remains silent, and thus tacitly sanctions the threats
of our enemies. It is true she affects from time to time to blame the
hostile demonstrations against France, but this was but an hypocritical
peace. The white cockade and the counter-revolutionary uniform are
openly worn in her states, whilst our national colours are proscribed.
When the king threatened the elector of Trèves that he would march into
his territories and disperse the emigrés by force, the emperor ordered
general Bender to advance to the assistance of the elector of Trèves.
This is but a slight matter: in the report drawn up at Pilnitz, the
emperor declares, in concert with the king of Prussia, that the two
powers would consider the steps to be taken, with regard to France, by
the other European courts; and that should war ensue, they would
mutually assist each other. Thus it is manifest that the emperor had
violated the treaty of 1756, by contracting alliances without the
knowledge of France; and that he has made himself the promoter and pivot
of an anti-French system. What can be his aim but to intimidate and
subdue us, in order to bring us to accept a congress, and the
introduction of shameful modifications in our new institutions?

"Perhaps," added Gensonné, "this idea has germinated in France? Perhaps
secret information induces the emperor to hope that peace may be
maintained on such conditions. He is deceived: it is not at the moment
when the flame of liberty is first kindled in a nation of twenty-four
millions, that Frenchmen would consent to a capitulation, to which they
would prefer death. Such is our situation, that war, which in other
times would be a scourge to the human race, would now be useful to the
public welfare. This salutary crisis would elevate the people to the
level of their destiny; it would restore to them their pristine
energy--it would re-establish our finances, and stifle the germ of
intestine dissension. In a similar situation Frederic the Great broke
the league formed against him by the court of Vienna, by forestalling
it. Your committee propose that the preparations for war be accelerated.
A congress would be a disgrace--war is necessary--public opinion wishes
for it--and public safety demands it."

The committee concluded, by demanding clear and satisfactory
explanations from the emperor; and that in case these explanations
should not be given before the 10th of February, this refusal to reply
should be considered as an act of hostility.


Scarcely was the report terminated than Guadet, who presided that day at
the Assembly, mounted the tribune, and began to comment on the report of
his friend and colleague. Guadet, born at Saint Emelion, near Bordeaux,
already celebrated as an advocate before the age at which men have
generally made themselves a reputation, impatiently expected by the
political tribunes, had at last arrived at the Legislative Assembly. A
disciple of Brissot, less profound, but equally courageous and more
eloquent than his master, he was intimately connected with Gensonné,
Vergniaud, to whom he was bound by being of the same age, the same
passions, and the same country; endowed with an undaunted and energetic
mind and winning powers of oratory, equally fitted to resist the
movement of a popular assembly, or to precipitate them to a termination;
all these natural advantages were heightened by one of those southern
casts of face and feature that serve so well to illustrate the working
of the mind within.

"A congress has just been spoken of," said he; "what, then, is this
conspiracy formed against us? How long shall we suffer ourselves to be
fatigued by these manoeuvres--to be outraged by these hopes? Have
those who have planned them, well weighed this? The bare idea of the
possibility of a capitulation of liberty might hurry into crime those
malcontents who cherish the hope; and these are the crimes we should
crush in the bud. Let us teach these princes that the nation is resolved
to preserve its constitution pure and unchanged, or to perish with it.
In one word, let us mark out the place for these traitors, and let that
place be the scaffold. I propose that the decree pass at this instant;
That the nation regards as infamous, as traitors to their country, and
as guilty of _leze-majesté_, every agent of the executive power, every
Frenchman (several voices, 'every _legislator_') who shall take part,
directly or indirectly, at this congress, whose object is to obtain
modifications in the constitution, or a mediation between France and the

At these words the Assembly rose as if by common consent. Every hand was
raised in the attitude of men ready to take a solemn oath; the tribunes
and the chamber confounded their applause, and the decree was passed.

M. de Lessart, whom the gesture and the allusion of Guadet seemed to
have already designated as the victim to the suspicions of the people,
could not remain silent under the weight of these terrible allusions.
"Mention has been made," said he, "of the political agents of the
executive power: I declare that I know nothing which can authorise us to
suspect their fidelity. For my own part, I will repeat the declaration
of my colleagues in the ministry, and adopt it for my own--the
constitution or death."

Whilst Gensonné and Guadet aroused the Assembly by this preconcerted
scene, Vergniaud aroused the crowd by the copy of an address to the
French people, which had been spread abroad for the last few days
amongst the masses. The Girondists remembered the effect produced two
years previously by the proposed address to the king to dismiss the

"Frenchmen," said Vergniaud, "war threatens your frontiers; conspiracies
against liberty are rife. Your armies are assembling: mighty movements
agitate the empire. Seditious priests prepare in the confessional, and
even in the pulpit, a rising against the constitution; martial law
becomes essential. Thus it appeared to us just. But we only succeeded in
brandishing the thunderbolts for a moment before the eyes of the
rebels--the king has refused to sanction our decrees; the German princes
make their territories a stronghold for the conspirators against us.
They favour the plots of the emigrés, and furnish them with an asylum,
arms, horses, and provisions. Can patience endure this without becoming
guilty of suicide? Doubtless you have renounced the desire of conquest;
but you have not promised to suffer insolent provocation. You have
shaken off the yoke of tyrants; surely, then, you will not bow the knee
to foreign despots? Beware! you are surrounded by snares; traitors seek
to reduce you through disgust or fatigue to a state of languor that
enervates your courage; and soon perhaps they will strive to lead it
astray. They seek to separate you from us; they pursue a system of
calumny against the National Assembly to criminate the Revolution in
your eyes. Oh, beware of these excessive terrors! Repulse indignantly
these impostors, who, whilst they affect an hypocritical zeal for the
constitution, yet unceasingly speak of the _monarchy_. The _monarchy_ is
to them the counter-revolution. The _monarchy_ is the _nobility_; the
counter-revolution--that is taxation, the feudal system, the Bastille,
chains, and executions, to punish the sublime impulses of liberty.
Foreign satellites in the interior of the state--bankruptcy, engulphing
with your _assignats_ your private fortunes and the national wealth--the
fury of fanaticism, of vengeance, murder, rapine, conflagration,
despotism, and slaughter, contending, in rivers of blood and over the
heaps of dead, for the mastery of your unhappy country. Nobility; that
is, two classes of men, one for greatness, the other for poverty; one
for tyranny, the other for slavery. Nobility; ah! the very word is an
insult to the human race.

"And yet it is to ensure the success of this conspiracy against you that
all Europe is in arms.--You must annihilate these guilty hopes by a
solemn declaration. Yes, the representatives of France, free, and deeply
attached to the constitution, will be buried beneath her ruins, rather
than suffer a capitulation unworthy of them to be wrung from them. Rally
yourselves, take courage! In vain do they strive to excite the nations
against you, they will only excite the princes, for the hearts of the
people are with you, and you embrace their cause by defending your own.
Hate war: it is the greatest crime of mankind, and the most fearful
scourge of humanity; but since it is forced on you, follow the course of
your destiny. Who can foresee how far will extend the punishment of
those tyrants who have forced you to take arms?" Thus, these three
statesmen joined their voices to impel the nation to war.


The last words of Vergniaud gave the people a tolerably clear prospect
of an universal republic. Nor were the constitutionalists less eager in
directing the ideas of the nation towards war. M. de Narbonne, on his
return from his hasty journey, presented a most encouraging report to
the Assembly, of the state of the fortified towns.--He praised every
one. He presented to the country the young Mathieu de Montmorency, one
of the most illustrious names of France, and whose character was even
more noble than his name, as the representative of the aristocracy
devoting itself to liberty. He declared that the army, in its attachment
to its country did not separate the King from the Assembly. He praised
the commanders of the troops, nominated Rochambeau general-in-chief of
the army of the north, Berthier at Metz, Biron at Lisle, Luckner and La
Fayette on the Rhine. He spoke of plans for the campaign, concerted
between the king and these officers; he enumerated the national guards,
ready to serve as a second line to the active army, and solicited that
they should be promptly armed; he described these volunteers, as giving
the army the most imposing of all characters--that of national feeling;
he vouched for the officers, who had sworn fidelity to the constitution,
and exonerated from the charge of treason those who had not done so; he
encouraged the Assembly to mistrust those that hesitated. "Mistrust,"
said he, "is, in these stormy times, the most natural, but the most
dangerous feeling; confidence wins men's hearts, and it is important
that the people should show they have friends only." He ended by
announcing that the active force of the army was 110,000 foot, and
20,000 cavalry, ready to take the field.

This report, praised by Brissot in his journal, and by the Girondists in
the Assembly, afforded no longer any pretext for delaying the war.
France felt that her strength was equal to her indignation, and she
could be restrained no longer. The increasing unpopularity of the king
augmented the popular excitement. Twice had he already arrested, by his
royal _veto_, the energetic measures of the Assembly--the decree against
the emigrés, and the decree against the priests who had not taken the
oath. These two _vetos_, the one dictated by his honour, the other by
his conscience, were two terrible weapons, placed in his hand by the
constitution, yet which he could not wield without wounding himself. The
Girondists revenged themselves for this resistance by compelling him to
make war on the princes, who were his brothers, and the emperor, whom
they believed to be his accomplice.

The pamphleteers and the Jacobin journalists constantly spoke of these
two _vetos_ as acts of treason. The disturbances in Vendeé were
attributed to a secret understanding between the king and the rebellious
clergy. In vain did the department of Paris, composed of men who
respected the conscience of others, such as M. de Talleyrand, M. de la
Rochefoucauld, and M. de Beaumetz, present to the king a petition in
which the true principles of liberty protested against the revolutionary
inquisition: counter-petitions poured in from the departments.


Camille Desmoulins, the Voltaire of the clubs, lent to the petition of
the citizens of Paris that insolent raillery, which made the success of
his talent.

"Worthy representatives," ran the petition[13], "applauses are the civil
list of the people, therefore do not reject ours. To collect the homages
of good citizens, and the insults of the bad, is, to a National
Assembly, to have combined all suffrages. The king has put his _veto_ to
your decree against the emigrants, a decree equally worthy of the
majesty of the Roman people and the clemency of the French people. We do
not complain of this act of the king, because we remember the maxim of
the great politician Machiavel, which we beg of you to meditate upon
profoundly--_It is against nature to fall voluntarily from such a
height_. Penetrated with this truth, we do not then require from the
king an impossible love for the constitution, nor do we find fault that
he is opposed to your best decisions. But let public functionaries
foresee the royal veto, and declare their rebellion against your decree,
against the priests; let them carry off public opinion; let these men be
precisely the same who caused to be shot in the Champ-de-Mars the
citizens who were signing a petition against a decree which was not yet
decided upon; let them inundate the empire with copies of this
petition, which is nothing more than the first leaf of a great
counter-revolutionary register and a subscription for civil war sent for
signature to all the fanatics, all the idiots, all permanent slaves.
Fathers of the country! there is here such complicated ingratitude and
abuse of confidence, of contradiction and chicanery, of prevarication
and treason, that profoundly indignant at so much wickedness concealed
beneath the cloak of philosophy and hypocritical civism, we say to
you--Your decree has saved the country, and if they are obstinate in
refusing you permission to save the country, well, the nation will save
itself, for, after all, the power of a _veto_ has a termination--a veto
does not prevent the taking of the Bastille.

"You are told that the salary of the priests was a national debt. But
when you only request the priests to declare that they will not be
seditious--are not they who refuse this declaration already seditious in
their hearts? And these seditious priests, who have never lent anything
to the state--who are only creditors of the state in the name of
benevolence--have they not a thousand times forfeited the donation
through their ingratitude? Away, then, with these miserable sophisms,
fathers of the country, and have no more doubt of the omnipotence of a
free people. If liberty slumbers, how can the arm act? Do not raise this
arm again, do not again lift the national club to crush insects. Did
Cato and Cicero proceed against Cethegus or Catiline? It is the chiefs
we should assail: strike at the head."

A scornful laugh echoed from the tribunes of the Assembly to the
populace. The _procès-verbal_ of this sitting was ordered to be sent to
the eighty-three departments. Next day the Assembly reconsidered this,
and negatived its vote of the previous evening; but publicity was still
given to it, and it echoed through the provinces, carrying with it the
disquietude, derision, and hatred attached to the _Royal Veto_. The
constitution, handed over to ridicule and hooted in full assembly, had
now become the plaything of the populace.

For many months the state of the kingdom resembled the state of Paris.
All was uproar, confusion, denunciation, disturbance in the departments.
Each courier brought his riots, seditions, petitions, outbreaks, and
assassinations. The clubs established as many points of resistance to
the constitution as there were communes in the empire. The civil war
hatching in La Vendée burst out by massacres at Avignon.


This city and comtal, united to France by the recent decree of the
Constituent Assembly, had remained from this period in an intermediary
state between two dominations, so favourable to anarchy. The partisans
of the papal government, and the partisans of the reunion with France,
struggled there in alternations of hope and fear, which prolonged and
envenomed their hate. The king, from a religious scruple, had for too
long suspended the execution of the decree of reunion. Trembling to
infringe upon the domain of the church, he deferred his decision, and
his impolitic delays gave time for crimes.

France was represented in Avignon by mediators. The provisional
authority of these mediators was supported by a detachment of troops of
the line. The power, entirely municipal, was confided to the
dictatorship of the municipality. The populace, excited and agitated,
was divided into the French or revolutionary party, and the party
opposed to the reunion by France and the Revolution. The fanaticism of
religion with one, the fanaticism of liberty with the other, impelled
the two parties even to crimes. The warmth of blood, the thirst of
private vengeance, the heat of the climate, all added to civil passions.
The violences of Italian republics were all to be seen in the manners of
this Italian colony, of this branch establishment of Rome on the banks
of the Rhone. The smaller states are, the more atrocious are their civil
wars. There opposite opinions become personal hatreds; contests are but
assassinations. Avignon commenced these wholesale assassinations by
private murders.

On the 16th of October a gloomy agitation betrayed itself by the mobs of
people collecting on various points, particularly consisting of persons
enemies of the Revolution. The walls of the church were covered with
placards, calling on the people to revolt against the provisional
authority of the municipality. There were bruited about rumours of
absurd miracles, which demanded in the name of Heaven vengeance for the
assaults made against religion. A statue of the Virgin worshipped by the
people in the church of the Cordeliers had blushed at the profanations
of her temple. She had been seen to shed tears of indignation and grief.
The people, educated under the papal government in such superstitious
credulities, had gone in a body to the Cordeliers to avenge the cause of
their protectress. Animated by fanatical exhortations, confiding in the
divine interposition, the mob, on quitting the Cordeliers, and
increasing as it went, hurried to the ramparts, closed the doors, turned
the cannon on the city, and then spread themselves through the streets,
demanding with loud clamours the overthrow of the government. The
unfortunate Lescuyer, notary of Avignon, secretary (_greffier_) of the
municipality, more particularly pointed out to the fury of the mob, was
dragged violently from his residence, and along the pavement to the
altar of the Cordeliers, where he was murdered by sabre-strokes and
blows from bludgeons, trampled under foot, his dead body outraged and
cast as an expiatory victim at the feet of the offended statue. The
national guard, having despatched a detachment with two pieces of cannon
from the fort, drove back the infuriated populace, and picked from the
pavement the naked and lifeless carcase of Lescuyer. The prisons of the
city had been broken open, and the miscreants they contained came to
offer their assistance for other murders. Horrible reprisals were
feared, and yet the mediators, absent from the city, were asleep, or
closed their eyes upon the actual danger. The understanding between the
leaders of the Paris clubs and the rioters of Avignon became more
fearfully intimate.


One of those sinister persons who seem to smell blood and presage crime,
reached Avignon from Versailles: his name was Jourdan. He is not to be
confounded with another revolutionist of the same name, born at Avignon.
Sprung from the arid and calcined mountains of the south, where the very
brutes are more ferocious; by turns butcher, farrier, and smuggler, in
the gorges which separate Savoy from France; a soldier, deserter,
horse-jobber, and then a keeper of a low wine shop in the suburbs of
Paris; he had wallowed in all the lowest vices of the dregs of a
metropolis. The first murders committed by the people in the streets of
Paris had disclosed his real character. It was not that of contest but
of murder. He appeared after the carnage to mangle the victims, and
render the assassination fouler. He was a butcher of men, and he boasted
of it. It was he who had thrust his hands into the open breasts and
plucked forth the hearts of Foulon and Berthier.[14] It was he who had
cut off the head of the two _gardes-du-corps_, de Varicourt and des
Huttes, at Versailles, on the 6th of October. It was he who, entering
Paris, bearing the two heads at the end of a pike, reproached the people
with being content with so little, and having made him go so far to cut
off only two heads! He hoped for better things at Avignon, and went

There was at Avignon a body of volunteers called the army of Vaucluse,
formed of the dregs of that country, and commanded by one Patrix. This
Patrix having been assassinated by his troop, whose excesses he desired
to moderate, Jourdan was elevated to the command by the claims of
sedition and wickedness. The soldiers, when reproached with their
robberies and murders, similar to those of the _Gueux_ of Belgium, and
the _sans-culottes_ of Paris, received the reproach as an honour, and
called themselves the _brave brigands_ of Avignon. Jourdan at the head
of this band, ravaged and fired le Comtal, laid siege to Carpentras, was
repulsed, lost five hundred men, and fell back upon Avignon, still
shuddering at the murder of Lescuyer. He resolved on lending his arm and
his troop to the vengeance of the French party. On the 30th of August
Jourdan and his myrmidons closed the city-gates, dispersed through the
streets, going to the houses noted as containing enemies to the
Revolution, dragging out the inhabitants--men, women, aged persons, and
children,--all, without distinction of age, sex or innocence, and shut
them up in the palace. When night came, the assassins broke down the
doors and murdered with iron crow-bars these disarmed and supplicating
victims. In vain did they shriek to the national guard for aid: the city
hears the massacre without daring to give any signs of animation. The
daring of the crime chilled and paralysed every citizen. The murderers
preluded the death of the females by derision and insults which added
shame to terror, and the agonies of modesty to the pangs of murder. When
there were no more to be slain they mutilated the carcases, and swept
the blood into the sewer of the palace. They dragged the mutilated
corpses to La Glacière, walled them up, and the vengeance of the people
was stamped upon them. Jourdan and his satellites offered the homage of
this night to the French mediators and the National Assembly. The
scoundrels of Paris admired--the Assembly shook with indignation, and
considered this crime as an outrage; whilst the president fainted on
reading the recital of this night at Avignon. The arrest of Jourdan and
his accomplices was commanded. Jourdan fled from Avignon, pursued by the
French; he dashed his horse in to the river of the Sargue: caught in the
middle of the river, by a soldier, he fired at him and missed. He was
seized and bound, and punishment awarded him, but the Jacobins compelled
the Girondists to agree to an amnesty for the crimes of Avignon. Jourdan
making sure of impunity, and proud of his iniquities, went thither to be
revenged on his denouncers.

The Assembly shuddered for a moment at the sight of this blood, and then
hastily turned its eyes away. In its impatience to reign alone, it had
not the time to display pity. There was, besides, between the Girondists
and the Jacobins a contest for leadership, and a rivalry in going a-head
of the Revolution, which made each of the two factions afraid that the
other should be in advance. Dead bodies did not make them pause, and
tears shed for too long a time might have been taken for weakness.


However, victims multiplied daily, and disasters followed disasters. The
whole empire seemed ready to fall and crush its founders. San Domingo,
the richest of the French colonies, was swimming in blood. France was
punished for its egotism. The Constituent Assembly had proclaimed, in
principle, the liberty of the blacks, but, in fact, slavery still
existed. Two hundred thousand slaves served as human cattle to some
thousands of colonists. They were bought and sold, and cut and maimed,
as if they were inanimate objects. They were kept by speculation out of
the civil law, and out of the religious law. Property, family, marriage,
all was forbidden to them. Care was taken to degrade them below men, to
preserve the right of treating them as brutes. If some unions furtive,
or favoured by cupidity, were formed amongst them, the wife and children
belonged to the master. They were sold separately, without any regard to
the ties of nature, all the attachments with which God has formed the
chain of human sympathies were rent asunder without commiseration.

This crime _en masse_, this systematic brutality, had its theorists and
apologists; human faculties were denied to the blacks. They were classed
as a race between the flesh and the spirit. Thus the infamous abuse of
power, which was exercised over this inert and servile race, was called
necessary guardianship. Tyrants have never wanted sophists: on the other
hand, men of right feeling towards their fellows, who had, like
Grégoire, Raynal, Barnave, Brissot, Condorcet, La Fayette, embraced the
cause of humanity, and formed the "_Society of the Friends of the
Blacks_" had circulated their principles in the colonies, like a
vengeance rather than as justice. These principles had burst forth
without preparation, and unanticipated in colonial society, where truth
had no organ but insurrection. Philosophy proclaims principles; politics
administer them; the friends of the blacks were contented with
proclaiming them. France had not had courage to dispossess and indemnify
her colonists: she had acquired liberty for herself alone: she
adjourned, as she still adjourns at the moment I write these lines, the
reparation for the crime of slavery in her colonies: could she be
astonished that slavery should seek to avenge herself, and that liberty,
warmly proclaimed in Paris, should not become an insurrection at San
Domingo? Every iniquity that a free society allows to subsist for the
profit of the oppressor, is a sword with which she herself arms the
oppressed. Right is the most dangerous of weapons; woe to him who leaves
it to his enemies!


San Domingo proved this. Fifty thousand black slaves rose in one night
at the instigation, and under the command, of the mulattoes, or men of
colour. The men of colour, the intermediary race, springing from white
colonists and black slaves, were not slaves, neither were they citizens.
They were a kind of freedmen, with the defects and virtues of the two
races; the pride of the whites, the degradation of the blacks: a
fluctuating race who, by turning sometimes to the side of the slaves,
sometimes to that of the masters, inevitably produced those terrible
oscillations which inevitably superinduce the overthrow of society.

The mulattoes, who themselves possessed slaves, had begun by making
common cause with the colonists, and by opposing the emancipation of the
blacks more obstinately than even the whites themselves. The nearer they
were to slavery, the more doggedly did they defend their share in
tyranny. Man is thus made: none is more ready to abuse his right than he
who, with difficulty, has acquired it; there are no tyrants worse than
slaves, and no men prouder than _parvenus_.

The men of colour had all the vices of _parvenus_ of liberty. But when
they perceived that the whites despised them as a mingled race, that the
Revolution had not effaced the tinge of their skin, and the injurious
prejudices which were attached to their colour; when they in vain
claimed for themselves the exercise of civil rights, which the colonists
opposed, they passed with the impetuosity and levity of their conduct
from one passion to another, from one party to the other, and made
common cause with the oppressed race. Their habits of command, fortune,
intelligence, energy, boldness, naturally pointed them out as the
leaders of the blacks. They fraternised with them, they became popular
amongst the blacks, from the very tinge of skin for which they had
recently blushed, when in company with the whites. They secretly
fomented the germs of insurrection at the nightly meetings of the
slaves. They kept up a clandestine correspondence with the friends of
the blacks in Paris. They spread widely in the huts, speeches and papers
from Paris, which instructed the colonists in their duties and informed
the slaves of their indefeasible rights. The rights of man, commented
upon by vengeance, became the catechism of all dwellings.

The whites trembled; terror urged them to violence. The blood of the
mulatto Ogé and his accomplices, shed by M. de Blanchelande, governor of
San Domingo and the colonial council, sowed every where despair and


Ogé, deputed to Paris by the men of colour to assert their rights in the
Constituent Assembly, had become known to Brissot, Raynal, Grégoire, and
was affiliated with them to the Society of the Friends of the Blacks.
Passing thence into England, he became known to the admirable
philanthropist, Clarkson. Clarkson and his friend at this time were
pleading the cause of the emancipation of the negroes: they were the
first apostles of that religion of humanity who believed that they could
not raise their hands purely towards God, so long as those hands
retained a link of that chain which holds a race of human beings in
degradation and in slavery. The association with these men of worth
expanded Ogé's mind. He had come to Europe only to defend the interest
of the mulattoes; he now took up with warmth the more liberal and holy
cause of all the blacks; he devoted himself to the liberty of all his
brethren. He returned to France, and became very intimate with Barnave;
he entreated the Constituent Assembly to apply the principles of liberty
to the colonies, and not to make any exception to Divine law, by leaving
the slaves to their masters; excited and irritated by the hesitation of
the committee, who withdrew with one hand what it gave with the other,
he declared that if justice could not suffice for their cause, he would
appeal to force. Barnave had said, "_Perish the colonies rather than a
principle!_" The men of the 14th of July had no right to condemn, in the
heart of Ogé, that revolt which was their own title to independence. We
may believe that the secret wishes of the friends of the blacks followed
Ogé, who returned to San Domingo. He found there the rights of men of
colour and the principles of liberty of the blacks more denied and more
profaned than ever. He raised the standard of insurrection, but with the
forms and rights of legality. At the head of a body of two hundred men
of colour, he demanded the promulgation in the colonies of the decrees
of the National Assembly, despotically delayed until that time. He wrote
to the military commandant at the Cape, "We require the proclamation of
the law which makes us free citizens. If you oppose this, we will repair
to Leogane, we will nominate electors, and repel force by force. The
pride of the colonists revolts at sitting beside us: was the pride of
the nobility and clergy consulted when the equality of citizens was
proclaimed in France?"

The government replied to this eloquent demand for liberty by sending a
body of troops to disperse the persons assembled, and Ogé drove them


A larger body of troops being despatched, they contrived, after a
desperate resistance, to disperse the mulattoes. Ogé escaped, and found
refuge in the Spanish part of the island. A price was set upon his head.
M. de Blanchelande in his proclamations imputed it as a crime to him
that he had claimed the rights of nature in the name of the Assembly,
which had so loudly proclaimed the rights of the citizen. They applied
to the Spanish authorities to surrender this Spartacus, equally
dangerous to the safety of the whites in both countries. Ogé was
delivered up to the French by the Spaniards, and sent for trial to the
Cape. His trial was protracted for two months, in order to afford time
to cut asunder all the threads of the plot of independence, and
intimidate his accomplices. The whites, in great excitement, complained
of these delays, and demanded his head with loud vociferations. The
judges condemned him to death for a crime which in the mother-country
had constituted the glory of La Fayette and Mirabeau.

He underwent torture in his dungeon. The rights of his race, centred and
persecuted in him, raised his soul above the torments of his
executioners. "Give up all hope," he exclaimed, with unflinching daring;
"give up all hope of extracting from me the name of even one of my
accomplices. My accomplices are everywhere where the heart of a man is
raised against the oppressors of men." From that moment he pronounced
but two words, which sounded like a remorse in the ears of his
persecutors--_Liberty! Equality_! He walked composedly to his death;
listened with indignation to the sentence which condemned him to the
lingering and infamous death of the vilest criminals. "What!" he
exclaimed; "do you confound me with criminals because I have desired to
restore to my fellow-creatures the rights and titles of men which I feel
in myself! Well! you have my blood, but an avenger will arise from it!"
He died on the wheel, and his mutilated carcase was left on the highway.
This heroic death reached even to the National Assembly, and gave rise
to various opinions. "He deserved it," said Malouet; "Ogé was a criminal
and an assassin." "If Ogé be guilty," replied Grégoire, "so are we all;
if he who claimed liberty for his brothers perished justly on the
scaffold, then all Frenchmen who resemble us should mount there also."


Ogé's blood bubbled silently in the hearts of all the mulatto race. They
swore to avenge him. The blacks were an army all ready for the massacre;
the signal was given to them by the men of colour. In one night 60,000
slaves, armed with torches and their working tools, burnt down all their
masters' houses in a circuit of six leagues round the Cape. The whites
were murdered; women, children, old men--nothing escaped the
long-repressed fury of the blacks. It was the annihilation of one race
by the other. The bleeding heads of the whites, carried on the tops of
sugar canes, were the standards which guided these hordes, not to
combat, but to carnage. The outrages of so many centuries, committed by
the whites on the blacks, were avenged in one night. A rivalry of
cruelty seemed to arise between the two colours. The negroes imitated
the tortures so long used upon them, and invented new ones. If certain
noble and faithful slaves placed themselves between their old masters
and death, they were sacrificed together. Gratitude and pity are virtues
which civil war never recognises. Colour was a sentence of death without
exception of persons; the war was between the races, and no longer
between men. The one must perish for the other to live! Since justice
could not make itself understood by them, there was nothing but death
left for them. Every gift of life to a white was a treason which would
cost a black man's life. The negroes had no longer any pity: they were
men no longer, they were no longer a people, but a destroying element
which spread over the land, annihilating every thing.

In a few hours eight hundred habitations, sugar and coffee stores,
representing an immense capital, were destroyed. The mills, magazines,
utensils, and even the very plant which reminded them of their servitude
and their compulsory labour, were cast into the flames. The whole plain,
as far as eye could reach, was covered with nothing but the smoke and
the ashes of conflagration. The dead bodies of whites, piled in hideous
trophies of heads and limbs, of men, women, and infants assassinated,
alone marked the spot of the rich residences, where they were supreme on
the previous night. It was the revenge of slavery: all tyranny has such
fearful reverses.

Some whites, warned in time of the insurrection by the generous
indiscretion of the blacks, or protected in their flight by the forests
and the darkness, had taken refuge at the Cape Town; others, concealed
with their wives and children in caves, were fed and attended to by
attached slaves, at the peril of their lives. The army of blacks
increased without the walls of the Cape Town, where they formed and
disciplined a fortified camp. Guns and cannons arrived by the aid of
invisible auxiliaries. Some accused the English, others the Spaniards;
others, the "friends of the blacks," with being accomplices of this
insurrection. The Spaniards, however, were at peace with France; the
revolt of the blacks menaced them equally with ourselves. The English
themselves possessed three times as many slaves as the French: the
principle of the insurrection, excited by success, and spreading with
them, would have ruined their establishments, and compromised the lives
of their colonists. These suspicions were absurd; there was no one
culpable but liberty itself, which is not to be repressed with impunity
in a portion of the human race. It had accomplices in the very heart of
the French themselves.

The weakness of the resolutions of the Assembly on the reception of this
news proved this. M. Bertrand de Molleville, minister of marine,
ordered the immediate departure of 6000 men as reinforcement for the
isle of San Domingo.

Brissot attacked these repressive measures in a discourse in which he
did not hesitate to cast the odium of the crime on the victims, and to
accuse the government of complicity with the aristocracy of the

"By what fatality does this news coincide with a moment when emigrations
are redoubled? when the rebels assembled on our frontiers warn us of an
approaching outbreak? when, in fact, the colonies threaten us, through
an illegal deputation, with withdrawing from the rule of the
mother-country? Has not this the appearance of a vast plan combined by

The repugnance of the friends of the blacks, numerous in the Assembly,
to take energetic measures in favour of the colonists, the distance from
the scene of action, which weakens pity, and then the interior movement
which attracted into its sphere minds and things, soon effaced these
impressions, and allowed the spirit of independence amongst the blacks
to form and expand at San Domingo, which showed itself in the distance
in the form of a poor old slave--Toussaint-Louverture.


The internal disorder multiplied at every point of the empire. Religious
liberty, which was desire of the Constituent Assembly, and the most
important conquest of the Revolution, could not be established without
this struggle in face of a displaced worship, and a schism which spread
far and wide amongst the people. The counter-revolutionary party was
allied every where with the clergy. They had the same enemies, and
conspired against the same cause. The nonjuring priests had assumed the
character of victims, and the interest of a portion of the people,
especially in the country, attached to them. Persecution is so odious to
the public feeling that its very appearance raises generous indignation
against it. The human mind has an inclination to believe that justice is
on the side of the proscribed. The priests were not as yet persecuted,
but from the moment that they were no longer paramount they believed
themselves humiliated. The ill-repressed irritation of the clergy has
been more injurious to the Revolution than all the conspiracies of the
emigrated aristocracy. Conscience is man's most sensitive point. A
superstition attacked, or a faith disturbed in the mind of a people, is
the fellest of conspiracies. It was by the hand of God, invisible in the
hand of the priesthood, that the aristocracy roused La Vendée. Frequent
and bloody symptoms already betrayed themselves in the west, and in
Normandy, that concealed focus of religious war.

The most fearful of these symptoms burst out at Caen. The Abbé Fauchet
was constitutional bishop of Calvados. The celebrity of his name, the
elevated patriotism of his opinions, the _éclat_ of his revolutionary
renown, his eloquence, and his writings, disseminated widely in his
diocese, were the causes of greater excitement throughout Calvados than

Fauchet, whose conformity of opinions, honesty of feelings for
renovation, and even whose somewhat fanciful imagination, which were
subsequently destined to associate him in acts, and even on the
scaffold, with the Girondists, was born at Domes, in the ancient
province of Nivernais. He embraced the Catholic faith, entered into the
free community of the priests of Saint Roch, at Paris, and was for some
time preceptor to the children of the marquis de Choiseul, brother of
the famous duke de Choiseul, the last minister of the school of
Richelieu and Mazarin. A remarkable talent for speaking gave him a
distinguished reputation in the pulpit. He was appointed preacher to the
king, abbé of Montfort, and grand-vicaire of Bourges. He advanced
rapidly towards the first dignities of the church; but his mind had
imbibed the spirit of the times. He was not a destructive, but a
reformer of the church, in whose bosom he was born. His work, entitled
_De l'Eglise Nationale_, proves in him as much respect for the
principles of the Christian faith as boldness of desire to change its
discipline. This philosophic faith, which so closely resembles the
Christian Platonism which was paramount in Italy under the Medici, and
even in the palace of the popes themselves under Leo X., breathed
throughout his sacred discourses. The clergy was alarmed at these lights
of the age shining in the very sanctuary. The Abbé Fauchet was
interdicted, and, struck off the list of the king's preachers.

But the Revolution already opened other tribunes to him. It burst forth,
and he rushed headlong into it, as imagination rushes towards hope. He
fought for it from the day of its birth, and with every kind of weapon.
He shook the people in the primary assemblies, and in the sections; he
urged with voice and gesture the insurgent masses under the cannon of
the Bastille. He was seen, sword in hand, to lead on the assailants.
Thrice did he advance, under fire of the cannon, at the head of the
deputation which summoned the governor to spare the lives of the
citizens, and to surrender.[15] He did not soil his revolutionary zeal
with any blood or crime. He inflamed the mind of the people for liberty;
but with him liberty was virtue; nature had endowed him with this
twofold character. There were in his features the high-priest and the
hero. His exterior pleased and attracted the populace. He was tall and
slender, with a wide chest, oval countenance, black eyes, and his dark
brown hair set off the paleness of his brow. His imposing but modest
appearance inspired at the first glance favour and respect. His voice
clear, impressive, and full-toned; his majestic carriage, his somewhat
mystical style, commanded the reflection, as well as the admiration, of
his auditors. Equally adapted to the popular tribune or the pulpit,
electoral assemblies or cathedral were alike too circumscribed in limits
for the crowds who flocked to hear him. It seemed as though he were a
revolutionary saint--Bernard preaching political charity, or the crusade
of reason.

His manners were neither severe nor hypocritical. He; himself confessed
that he loved with legitimate and pure; affection Madame Carron, who
followed him every where, even to churches and clubs. "They calumniated
me with respect to her," he said, "and I attached myself the more
strongly to her, and yet I am pure. You have seen her, even more lovely
in mind than face, and who for the ten years I have known her seems to
me daily more worthy of being loved. She would lay down her life for me;
I would resign my life for her; but I would never sacrifice my duty to
her. In spite of the malignant libels of the aristocrats, I shall go
every day at breakfast-time to taste the charms of the purest friendship
in her society. She comes to hear me preach! Yes, no doubt of it; no one
knows better than herself the sincerity with which I believe in the
truths I profess. She comes to the assemblies of the Hôtel-de-Ville!
Yes, no doubt of it: it is because she is convinced that patriotism is a
second religion, that no hypocrisy is in my soul, and that my life is
really devoted to God, to my country, and friendship."

"And you dare to assert that you are chaste," retorted the faithful and
indignant priests, by the Abbé de Valmeron. "How absurd! Chaste, at the
moment when you confess the most unpardonable inclinations; when you
attract a woman from the bed of her husband--her duties as a
mother--when you take about every where this infatuated female, attached
to your footsteps, in order to display her ostentatiously to the public
gaze! And who follow, sir! A troop of ruffians and abandoned women.
Worthy pastor of this foul populace, which celebrates your pastoral
visit by the only rejoicings that can give you pleasure--your progress
is marked by every excess of rapine and debauchery." These bitter
reproaches resounded in the provinces, and caused great excitement. The
conforming and nonconforming priests were disputing the altars. A letter
from the minister of the interior came to authorise the nonjuring
priests to celebrate the holy sacrifice in the churches where they had
previously done duty. Obedient to the law, the constitutional priests
opened to them their chapels, supplied them with the ornaments necessary
for divine worship; but the multitude, faithful to their ancient
pastors, threatened and insulted the new clergy. Bloody struggles took
place between the two creeds on the very threshold of God's house. On
Friday, November the 4th, the former _curé_ of the parish of Saint Jean,
at Caen, came to perform the mass. The church was full of Catholics.
This meeting offended the constitutionalists and excited the other
party. The _Te Deum_, as a thanksgiving, was demanded and sung by the
adherents of the ancient _curé_, who, encouraged by this success,
announced to the faithful that he should come again the next day at the
same hour to celebrate the sacrament. "Patience!" he added; "let us be
prudent, and all will be well."

The municipality, informed of these circumstances, entreated the _curé_
to abstain from celebrating the mass the next day, as he had announced;
and he complied with their wishes. The multitude, not informed of this,
filled the church, and clamoured for the priest and the promised _Te
Deum_. The gentry of the neighbourhood, the aristocracy of Caen, the
clients and numerous domestics of the leading families in the
neighbourhood, had arms under their clothes. They insulted the
grenadiers; an officer of the national guard reprimanded them. "You come
to seek what you shall get," replied the aristocrats: "we are the
stronger, and will drive you from the church." At these words some young
men rushed on the national guards to disarm them: a struggle ensued,
bayonets glittered, pistol shots resounded in the cathedral, and they
made a charge, sword in hand. Companies of chasseurs and grenadiers
entered the church, cleared it, and followed the crowd, step by step,
who fired again upon them when in the street. Some killed and others
wounded, were the sad results of the day. Tranquillity seemed restored.
Eighty-two persons were arrested, and on one of them was found a
pretended plan of counter-revolution, the signal for which was to be
given on the following Monday. These documents were forwarded to Paris.
The nonjuring priests were suspended from the celebration of the holy
mysteries in the churches of Caen until the decision of the National
Assembly. The Assembly heard with indignation the recital of these
troubles, occasioned by the enemies of the constitution, and the
adherents of fanaticism and the aristocracy. "The only part we have to
take," said Cambon, "is to convoke the high national court, and send the
accused before it." They deferred pronouncing on this proposition until
the moment when they should be in possession of all the papers relative
to the troubles in Caen.

Gensonné detailed the particulars of similar disturbances in La Vendée:
the mountains of the south, La Lozère, l'Herault, l'Ardèche, which were
but ill repressed by the recent dispersion of the camp of Jalès, the
first act of the counter-revolutionary army, were now greatly agitated
by the two-fold impulse of their priests and gentry. The plains,
furnished with streams, roads, towns, and easily kept down by the
central force, submitted without resistance to the _contre-coups_ of
Paris. The mountains preserve their customs longer, and resist the
influence of new ideas as to a conquest by armed strangers. It seems as
though the appearance of these natural ramparts gave their inhabitants
confidence in their strength, and a solid conviction of the
unchangeableness of things, which prevents them from being so easily
carried away by the rapid currents of alteration.

The mountaineers of these countries felt for their nobles that voluntary
and traditional devotion which the Arabs have for their sheiks, and the
Scots for the chieftains of their clans. This respect and this
attachment form part of the national honour in these rural districts.
Religion, more fervent in the south, was in the eyes of these people a
sacred liberty, on which revolution made attempts in the name of
political liberty. They preferred the liberty of conscience to the
liberty as citizens. Under all these titles the new institutions were
odious: faithful priests nourished this hatred, and sanctified it in the
hearts of the peasantry, whilst the nobility kept up a royalism, which
pity for the king's misfortunes and the royal family made more full of
sympathy at the daily recital of fresh outrages.

Mende, a small village hidden at the bottom of deep valleys, half way
between the plains of the south and those of the Lyonnais, was the
centre of counter-revolutionary spirit. The _bourgeoisie_ and the
nobility, mingled together from the smallness of their fortunes, the
familiarity of their manners, and the frequent unions of their families,
did not entertain towards each other that intestine envy, hatred, and
malice, which was favourable to the Revolution. There was neither pride
in the one nor jealousy in the other: it was as it is in Spain, one
single people, where nobility is only, if we may say so, but a right of
first birth of the same blood. These people had, it is true, laid down
their arms after the insurrection of the preceding year in the camp of
Jalès: but hearts were far from being disarmed. These provinces watched
with an attentive eye for the favourable moment in which they might rise
_en masse_ against Paris. The insults to the dignity of the king, and
the violence done to religion by the Legislative Assembly, excited
their minds even to fanaticism. They burst out again, as though
involuntarily, on the occasion of a movement of troops across their
valleys. The tricoloured cockade, emblem of infidelity to God and the
king, had entirely disappeared for several months in the town of Mende,
and they put up the white cockade, as a _souvenir_ and a hope of that
order of things to which they were secretly devoted.

The directory of the department, consisting of men strangers to the
country, resolved on having the emblem of the constitution respected,
and applied for some troops of the line. This the municipality opposed,
in a resolution addressed to the directory, and made an insurrectional
appeal to the neighbouring municipalities, and a kind of federation with
them to resist together the sending of any troops into their districts.
However, the troops sent from Lyons at the request of the directory
approached; on their appearance, the municipality dissolved the ancient
national guard, composed of a few friends of liberty, and formed a fresh
national guard, of which the officers were chosen by itself from amongst
the gentry and most devoted royalists of the neighbourhood. Armed with
this force, the municipality compelled the directory of the department
to supply them with arms and ammunition.

Such were the movements of the town of Mende, when the troops entered
the place. The national guard, under arms, replied to the cry of _Vive
la nation_, uttered by the troops, by the cry of _Vive le roi_. Then
they followed the soldiers to the principal square in the city, and
there took, in presence of the defenders of the constitution, an oath to
obey the king only, and to recognise no one but the king. After this
audacious display, the national guard, in parties, paraded the town,
insulting, braving the soldiers: swords were drawn, and blood flowed.
The troops pursued made a stand, and took to their weapons. The
municipality, having the directory in check, and holding it as hostage,
compelled it to send the troops orders to withdraw to their quarters.
The commandant of the forces obeyed. This victory emboldened the
national guard; and during the night it compelled the directory to send
the troops an order to leave the city and evacuate the department. The
national guard, drawn up in a line of battle in the square of Mende,
saw hourly its ranks increase by detachments of the neighbouring
municipalities, who came down from the mountains, armed with fowling
pieces, scythes, and ploughshares. The troops would have been massacred
if they had not retired under cover of the night. They retreated from
the city amidst victorious cries from the royalists. The following day
was a series of fêtes, in which the royalists of the town and those of
the city celebrated their common triumph, and fraternised together. They
insulted all the emblems of the Revolution; hooted the constitution;
plundered the hall of the Jacobins; burnt down the houses of the
principal members of this hateful club--put some in prison. But their
vengeance confined itself to outrage. The people, controlled by the
gentlemen and the _curés_, spared the blood of their enemies.


Whilst humiliated liberty was threatened by fanaticism in the south, it,
in its turn, carried on the work of assassination in the north. Brest
was the very focus of Jacobinism--the close proximity of La Vendeé gave
this city reason to apprehend the counter-revolution that constantly
threatened them--the presence of the fleet, commanded by officers
suspected of favouring the aristocratic part--a population greatly
composed of strangers and sailors, accessible to corruption, and capable
of being readily excited to crime--rendered this city more turbulent and
more agitated than any other port in the kingdom. The clubs constantly
strove to work on the sailors to mutiny against their officers, whilst
the revolutionists mistrusted the navy, as that was far more independent
of the people than the army, for the court could at a moment change the
station of the fleet, and turn their cannon against the constitution,
and the feeling of discipline, of aristocracy, and of the colonies, were
all contrary to the new school of ideas; and for this reason the
Jacobins had for some time striven to disorganise the fleet. The
appointment of M. de Lajaille to the command of one of the vessels
destined to carry assistance to San Domingo, caused an outbreak of the
suspicions infused into the minds of the inhabitants of Brest, and of
the officers of the navy. M. de Lajaille was designated by the clubs as
a traitor to the nation, who was about to introduce the
counter-revolutionary feeling in the colonies. Attacked at the moment he
was about to embark, by a crowd of nearly three thousand persons, he was
covered with wounds, stretched senseless on the ground, and would have
been killed, but for the heroic devotion of a workman, who shielded him
with his own body, and defended him until the arrival of the civic
guard. M. de Lajaille was, however, to appease popular feeling,
imprisoned: in vain did the king order the municipal authorities of
Brest to set this innocent and valuable officer free; in vain did the
minister of justice demand chastisement for this attempted murder,
committed in broad daylight, in the presence of the whole town; in vain
was a sabre and a gold medal voted to the courageous LANVERGENT, who had
saved de Lajaille; the dread of a more formidable outbreak assured the
guilty of impunity, and detained the innocent in prison. On the eve of
war the naval officers, threatened with mutiny on board their vessels,
and assassination on shore, had as much to apprehend from their crews as
from the enemy.


The same discords were fomented in all the garrisons between the
soldiers and the officers, and the insubordination of the troops was, in
the eyes of the clubs, the chief virtue of the army. The people every
where sided with the soldiers, and the officers were constantly
disturbed by conspiracies and revolts in the regiments. The fortified
towns were the theatres of military outbreaks, which invariably
terminated in the impunity of the soldier, and the imprisonment or the
forced emigration of the officers. The Assembly, the supreme and partial
judge, always decided in favour of insubordination: unable to restrain
the people, it flattered their excesses. Perpignan was a new proof of

In the night of the 6th of December, the officers of the regiment of
Cambrésis, in garrison in this town, went in a body to M. de Chollet,
the general who commanded the division, and urged him to retire into the
citadel, as they had learnt that a conspiracy was formed in the
regiment, which threatened alike his and their lives. M. de Chollet
complied with their earnest request, whilst they went to the barracks,
and ordered the men to follow them to the citadel. The soldiers replied
that they would only obey M. Desbordes, their lieutenant-colonel, in
whose patriotism they had the greatest confidence. M. Desbordes came,
and read to the soldiers the order of the general; but the inflexion of
his voice, the expression of his face, his glance, alike seemed to
protest against the order which his duty as a soldier compelled him to
communicate to them. The troops understood this mute appeal, and
declared that they would not quit their quarters, because the municipal
authorities had forbidden them: the national guard joined them and
patrolled the streets: the officers shut themselves up in the citadel,
and shots were fired from the ramparts. Lieutenant-Colonel Desbordes,
the national guard, the _gendarmerie_, and the regiments, stormed the
citadel. The officers of the regiment of Cambrésis were imprisoned by
their soldiers; one, however, escaped, and committed suicide on the
frontiers of Spain. The unfortunate general, Chollet, victim of the
violence of the officers and soldiers, was impeached with fifty
officers, or inhabitants of Perpignan. They were ordered before the high
national court of Orleans; and thus were fifty victims predestined to
perish in the massacre at Versailles.


Blood flowed every where. The clubs seduced the regiments; patriotic
motions, denunciations against the generals, perfidious insinuations
against the fidelity of the officers, were constantly instilled into the
minds of the army by the people. The officer was a prey to terror, the
soldier to mistrust. The premeditated plan of the Jacobins and
Girondists was to destroy in concert this body that was yet attached to
the king, deprive the nobility of their command, substitute plebeians
for nobles as officers, and thus give the army to the nation. In the
meantime they surrendered it to anarchy and sedition; but these two
parties finding that the disorganisation was not sufficiently rapid,
wished to sum up in one act the systematic corruption of the army, the
ruin of all military discipline, and the legal triumph of the

We have already mentioned how prominent a part the Swiss regiment of
Châteauvieux had taken in the famous insurrection of Nancy during the
latter period of the existence of the Constituent Assembly. An army
under M. de Bouillé had been necessary to repress the armed revolt of
several regiments that threatened all France with the rule of the
tyrannical soldiery. M. de Bouillé, at the head of a body of troops from
Metz, and the battalions of the national guard, had surrounded Nancy,
and after a desperate contest at the gates, and in the streets of the
town, forced the rebels to lay down their arms. These vigorous measures
for the restoration of order were applauded by all parties, and
reflected equal glory on M. de Bouillé and disgrace on the soldiers.
Switzerland, by virtue of her treaties with France, preserved her right
of federal justice over the regiments of her nation, and this
essentially military country had tried by court-martial the regiment of
Châteauvieux. Twenty-four of the ringleaders had been condemned and
executed in expiation of the blood they had shed, and the fidelity they
had violated, the remainder had been decimated, and forty-one soldiers
now were undergoing their sentence on board the galleys at Brest. The
amnesty proclaimed by the king for the crimes committed during the civil
troubles, when he accepted the constitution, could not be applied to
these foreign soldiers, for the right to pardon belongs alone to those
who have the right to punish.

Sentenced by the judgment of the Helvetian jurisdiction, neither the
king nor the Assembly could invalidate the judgment, or annul its
effects. The king had, at the entreaty of the Constituent Assembly, in
vain attempted to obtain the pardon of these soldiers from the Swiss

These fruitless negotiations served the Jacobins and the National
Assembly as food for accusation against M. de Montmorin. In vain did he
justify himself by alleging the impossibility of obtaining such an
amnesty from Switzerland, at a moment when this country, who had
suffered from civil commotions, sought to restore order by the laws of
Draco. "We shall be then the compulsory gaolers of this ferocious
people," cried Guadet and Collot d'Herbois. "France must then degrade
herself so far as to punish in her very ports those heroes who have
gained the people a triumph over the aristocratic officers, and shed
their blood for the nation instead of pouring it out in the cause of

Pastoret, an influential member of the moderate party, and who was said
to concert all his measures with the king, supported Guadet's motion, in
order to give the king popularity by an act agreeable to the nation; and
the freedom of the soldiers of Châteauvieux was voted by the Assembly.
The king, having delayed his sanction for some time, in order not to
wound the cantons by this violent usurpation of their rights over their
own countrymen, afforded the Jacobins fresh ground for imprecation and
invective against the court and the ministers. "The moment is come when
one man must perish for the safety of all," cried Manuel, "and this man
must be a minister; they all appear to me so guilty, that I firmly
believe the Assembly would be free from crime did it cause them to draw
lots for who should perish on the scaffold," "All, all," vociferated the
tribunes. But at this very moment Collot d'Herbois mounted the tribune,
and announced, amidst loud applause, that the royal assent to the decree
for their liberation had been given the previous evening, and that in a
few days he should present to his brother deputies these victims of

The soldiers of Châteauvieux were in reality advancing to Paris, having
been liberated from the galleys at Brest, and their march was one
continued triumph, but Paris prepared for them a still more brilliant
one through the exertions of the Jacobins. In vain did the Feuillants
and the Constitutionalists energetically protest, through the mouth of
André Chénier, the Tyrtæus of moderation and good sense, of Dupont de
Nemours, and the poet Roucher, against the insolent oration of the
assassins of the generous Désilles. Collot d'Herbois, Robespierre, the
Jacobins, the Cordeliers, and the very commune of Paris, clung to the
idea of this triumph, which, according to them, would cover with
opprobium the court and La Fayette. The feeble interposition of Pétion,
who appeared as though he wished to moderate the scandal, served only to
encourage it, for he of all men was most fitted to plunge the people
into the last degree of excess. His affected virtue served only to cloak
violence, and to cover with an hypocritical appearance of legality the
outbreaks he dared not punish; and had a representative of anarchy been
sought to be placed at the head of the commune of Paris, it could have
found no fitter type than Pétion. His paternal reprimands to the people
were but promises of impunity. The public force always arrived too late
to punish; excuse was always to be found for sedition, amnesty for
crime. The people felt that their magistrate was their accomplice and
their slave, and yet whilst they despised they loved him.


"This _fête_ that is preparing for these soldiers," wrote Chénier, "is
attributed to enthusiasm. For my part, I confess I do not perceive this
enthusiasm. I see a few men who create a degree of agitation, but the
rest are alarmed or indifferent. We are told that the national honour is
interested in this reparation,--I can scarcely comprehend this; for,
either the national guards of Metz, who put down the revolt of Nancy,
are enemies of the public weal, or the soldiers of Châteauvieux are
assassins: there is no medium. How, then, is the honour of Paris
interested in _fêting_ the murderers of our brothers? Other profound
politicians say, this _fête_ will humiliate those who have sought to
fetter the nation. What! in order to humiliate, according to their
judgment, a bad government, it is necessary to invent extravagances
capable of destroying every species of government--recompense rebellion
against the laws--crown foreign satellites for having shot French
citizens in an _émeute_. It is said, that in every place where this
procession passes, the statues will be veiled:--Ah! they will do well to
veil the whole city, if this hideous orgy takes place; but it is not
alone the statues of despots that should be veiled, but the face of
every good citizen. It will be the duty of every youth in the kingdom,
of every national guard in the kingdom to assume mourning on the day
when the murder of their brothers confers a title of glory on foreign
and seditious soldiers; it is the eyes of the army that should be
veiled, that they may not behold the reward of insubordination and
revolt; it is the National Assembly--the king--the administrators--the
country--that should veil their faces, in order that they may not
become complaisant or silent witnesses of the outrages offered to the
authorities and the country. The book of the law must be covered, when
those who have torn and stained its pages by musket-balls and sabre-cuts
receive the civic honours. Citizens of Paris, honest yet weak men, there
is not one of you who, when he interrogates his own heart, does not feel
how much the country--how much he its child--are insulted by these
outrages offered to the laws,--to those who execute them, and those who
are for them. Do you not blush that a handful of turbulent men, who
appear numerous because they are united and make a noise, should
constrain you to do their pleasure, by telling you it is your own, and
by amusing your puerile curiosity by unworthy spectacles? In a city that
respected itself, such a _fête_ would find before it silence and
solitude, the streets and public places abandoned, the houses shut up,
the windows deserted, and the flight and scorn of the passers-by would
tell history what share honest and well-disposed men took in this
scandalous and bacchanalian procession."


Collot d'Herbois insulted André Chénier and Roucher in his reply.
Roucher replied by a letter full of sarcasm, in which he reminded Collot
d'Herbois of his falls on the stage and his misadventures as an actor.
"This personage of comic romance," said he, "who has leapt from the
trestles of Punch to the tribune of the Jacobins, rushes at me, as
though to strike me with the oar the Swiss have brought him from the

Placards for or against the _fête_ covered the walls of the Palais
Royal, and were alternately torn down by groups of young men or

Dupont de Nemours, the friend and master of Mirabeau, laid aside his
philosophical calm, to address a letter on the same subject to Pétion,
in which his conscience, as an honest man, braved the popularity of the
tribune. "When the danger is imminent, it is the duty of all honest men
to warn the magistrates of it. More particularly, when the magistrates
themselves create it. You told a falsehood when you asserted that these
soldiers had aided the Revolution on the 14th of July, and that they had
refused to combat against the people of Paris. It is untrue that the
Swiss refused to combat against the people of Paris, and it is true that
they assassinated the national guards of Nancy. You have the audacity to
term those men patriots who dare command the legislative body to send a
deputation to the _fête_ prepared for these rebels; these are the men
whom you adopt as your friends; it is with them that you dine at _la
Rapée_, so that the general of the national guard is obliged to gallop
about for two hours to receive your orders before he can find you, and
you seek in vain to conceal your embarrassment by high-flown phrases.
You seek in vain to conceal this banquet given to assassins beneath the
pretext of a banquet in honour of liberty. But these subterfuges are no
longer available; the moment is urgent, and you will no longer deceive
the sections, the army, or the eighty-three departments. Those who rule
you, as they would a child, have agreed to surrender Paris to ten
thousand pikes, to whom the bar of the Assembly will be thrown open the
day the national guard is disarmed; the men destined to bear them arrive
every day, and Paris receives an accession of twelve or fifteen hundred
bandits every twenty-four hours, and beg, until the day of pillage
arrives, which they await as ravens await their prey.--I have not told
all;--generals are prepared for this hideous army. The friends of
Jourdan, impatient to behold the man whom the amnesty had not delivered
sufficiently soon, have broken open his prison at Avignon. Already, he
has been received in triumph in several cities of the south, like the
Swiss of the Châteauvieux, and will arrive at Paris to-morrow; Sunday he
will be present at the _fête_ with his companions--with the two
Mainvielle--with Pegtavin;--with all those cold-blooded scoundrels who
have killed in one night sixty-eight defenceless persons, and violated
females before they murdered them. Catiline!--Cethegus!--march forward,
the soldiers of Sylla are in the city, and the consul himself undertakes
to disarm the Romans. The measure is full,--it overflows!"

Pétion strove miserably to justify himself in a letter in which his
weakness and connivance revealed themselves beneath the multiplicity of
excuses. At the same time Robespierre, mounting the tribune of the
Jacobins, exclaimed, "You do not trace to their source the obstacles
that oppose the expansion of the sentiments of the people. Against whom
think you that you have to strive? against the aristocracy?--No. Against
the court?--No. Against a general who has long entertained great designs
against the people. It is not the national guard that views these
preparations with alarm; it is the genius of La Fayette that conspires
in the staff; it is the genius of La Fayette that conspires in the
directory of the department; it is the genius of La Fayette that
perverts the minds of so many good citizens in the capital who would but
for him be with us.

"La Fayette is the most dangerous of the enemies of liberty, because he
wears the mask of patriotism; it is he who, after having wrought all the
evil in his power in the Constituent Assembly, has affected to withdraw
to his estates, and then comes to strive for this post of mayor of
Paris, not to obtain it, but to refuse it, in order to affect
disinterestedness; it is he who has been appointed to the command of the
French armies, in order to turn them against the Revolution. The
national guards of Metz were as innocent as those of Paris, they can be
nothing but patriots; it is La Fayette who, through the medium of
Bouillé his relation and accomplice, has deceived them. How can we
inscribe on the banners of this fête, _Bouillé is alone guilty_? Who
sought to stifle the revolt at Nancy, and cover it with an impenetrable
veil? Who demands crowns for the assassins of the soldiers of
Châteauvieux? La Fayette. Who prevented me from speaking? La Fayette.
Who are those who now dart such threatening glances at me? La Fayette
and his accomplices." (Loud applause.)


The preparations for this ceremony gave rise to a still more exciting
drama at the National Assembly. At the opening of the sitting, a member
demanded that the forty soldiers of Châteauvieux should be admitted to
pay their respects to the legislative body. M. de Jaucourt opposed it:
"If these soldiers," said he, "are only admitted to express their
gratitude, I consent to their being admitted to the bar; but I demand
that afterwards they be not allowed to remain during the debate." The
speaker was interrupted by loud murmurs, and cries of _à bas! à bas!_
from the tribunes. "An amnesty is neither a triumph nor a civic crown,"
continued he; "you cannot dishonour the names of the brave Désilles, or
of those generous citizens who perished defending the laws against them;
you cannot lacerate by this triumph the hearts of those among you who
took part in the expedition of Nancy. Allow a soldier, who was ordered
on this expedition with his regiment, to point out to you the effects
this decision would have on the army. (The murmurs redouble.) The army
will see in your conduct only an encouragement to insurrection; and
these honours will lead the soldiers to believe that you look on these
men, whom an amnesty has freed, not as men whose punishment was too
severe, but as innocent victims." The tumult here became so great that
M. de Jaucourt was forced to descend. But one of the members, who, it is
evident to all, was almost overpowered by emotion, took his place. It
was M. de Gouvion, a young officer, whose name was already gloriously
inscribed in the early pages of the annals of our wars. He was clothed
in deep black, and every feature of his face wore an expression of
intense grief, which inspired the Assembly with involuntary interest,
and the tumult was instantly changed into attention. His voice was
tremulous and scarcely audible at first; it was evident that indignation
as much as sorrow choked his utterance.

"Gentlemen," said he, "I had a brother, a good patriot, who, through the
estimation in which he was held by his fellow citizens, had been
successively elected commandant of the national guard, and member for
the department. Ever ready to sacrifice himself for the revolution and
the law, it was in the name of the revolution and the law that he was
called upon to march to Nancy at the head of the brave national guards,
and there he fell pierced by five bayonet-wounds, and by the hand of
those who, ... I demand, if I am condemned to behold here the assassins
of my brother." "Well, then, leave the chamber," cried a stern voice.
The tribunes applauded this speech, more cruel and poignant than the
thrust of a dagger. Indignation enabled M. de Gouvion to overcome his
contempt. "Who is the dastard who himself in order to insult the grief
of a brother?" cried he, glancing around to discover the speaker. "I
will tell my name--'tis I," replied the deputy Choudieu, rising from his
seat. Loud applause from the tribunes followed this insult of
Choudieu's; it would seem as though this crowd had no longer any
feeling, and that passion triumphed over nature. But M. de Gouvion was
sustained by a sentiment stronger than popular fury--that of generous
despair; he continued: "As a man, I applauded the clemency of the
National Assembly when it burst the fetters of these unhappy soldiers
who were misled." He was again interrupted, but continued: "the decrees
of the Constituent Assembly, the orders of the king, the voice of their
officers, the cries of their country, all were unavailing; without
provocation on the part of the national guards of the two departments,
they fired on Frenchmen, and my brother fell a victim to his obedience
to the laws. No, I cannot remain silent, so long as the memory of the
national guards is disgraced by the honours decreed to these men who
murdered them."

Couthon, a young Jacobin, seated not far from Robespierre, from whose
eyes he seemed to gain his secret inspirations, rose and replied to
Gouvion, without insulting him. "Who is the slave of prejudices that
would venture to dishonour men whom the law has absolved; who would not
repress his personal grief in the interest and the triumph of liberty?"
But Gouvion's voice touched that chord of justice and natural emotion
that always vibrates beneath the insensibility of opinion. Twice did the
Assembly, summoned by the president to vote for or against their
admission to the debate, rise in an even number for and against this
motion. And the secretaries, the judges of these decisions, hesitated to
pronounce on which side the majority was; they at length, after two
attempts, declared that the majority was in favour of the admission of
the Swiss; but the minority protested, and the _appel nominal_ was
demanded. This pronounced a feeble majority that the Swiss should be
admitted; and they instantly entered, amidst the applause of the
tribunes, whilst the unfortunate Gouvion left the chamber by the
opposite door, his forehead scarlet with indignation, and vowing never
to set foot in that Assembly, where he was forced to behold and welcome
the murderers of his brother. He instantly applied to the minister of
war to join the army of the north, and fell there.


The soldiers were introduced, and Collot d'Herbois presented them to the
admiring tribunes. The national guard of Versailles, who had followed
them to the Assembly, defiled in the hall amidst the sound of drums, and
cries of "_Vive la Nation!_" Groups of citizens and females of Paris,
with tricoloured flags and pikes brandished over their heads, followed
them; then the members of the popular societies of Paris presented to
the president flags of honour given to the Swiss by the departments
which these conquerors had just traversed. The men of the 14th of July,
with Gouchon, the agitator of the faubourg St. Antoine, as their
spokesman, announced that this faubourg had fabricated 10,000 pikes to
defend their liberties and their country. This legitimate ovation,
offered by the Girondists and Jacobins to undisciplined soldiers,
authorised the people of Paris to decree to them the triumph of such an
infamous proceeding (_le triomphe du scandale_).

It was no longer the people of liberty, but the people of anarchy; the
day of the 15th of April combined all its emblems. Revolt armed against
the laws, for instance, mutinous soldiers as conquerors; a colossal
galley, an instrument of punishment and shame, crowned with flowers as
an emblem; abandoned women and girls, collected from the lowest haunts
of infamy, carrying and kissing the broken fetters of these
galley-slaves; forty trophies, bearing the forty names of these Swiss;
civic crowns on the names of these murderers of citizens; busts of
Voltaire, Rousseau, Franklin, Sidney, the greatest philosophers and most
virtuous patriots, mingled with the ignoble busts of these malefactors,
and sullied by the contact; these soldiers themselves, astonished if not
ashamed of their glory, advancing in the midst of a group of rebellious
French-guard, in all the glorification of the forsaking of flags and
want of discipline; the march closed by a car imitating in its form the
prow of a galley, in this car the statue of Liberty armed in
anticipation with the bludgeon of September, and wearing the _bonnet
rouge_, an emblem borrowed from Phrygia by some, from the galleys by
others; the book of the constitution carried processionally in this
fête, as if to be present at the homage decreed to those who were armed
against the laws; bands of male and female citizens, the pikes of the
faubourg, the absence of the civic bayonets, fierce threats, theatrical
music, demagogic hymns, derisive halts at the Bastille, the
Hôtel-de-Ville, the Champ-de-Mars; at the altar of the country the vast
and tumultuous rounds danced several times by chains of men and women
round the triumphal galley, amidst the foul chorus of the air of the
_Carmagnole_; embraces, more obscene than patriotic, between these women
and the soldiers, who threw themselves into each others' arms; and in
order to put the cope-stone on this debasement of the laws, Pétion the
Maire of Paris, the magistrates of the people assisting personally at
this fête, and sanctioning this insolent triumph over the laws by their
weakness or their complicity. Such was this fête: an humiliating copy of
the 14th of July, an infamous parody of an insurrection, which parodied
a revolution!

France blushed; good citizens were alarmed; the national guard began to
be afraid of pikes; the city to fear the faubourgs, and the army herein
received the signal of the most entire disorganisation.

The indignation of the constitutional party burst forth in ironical
strophes in a hymn of André Chénier, in which that young poet avenged
the laws, and marked himself out for the scaffold.

  "Salut divin triomphe! Entre dans nos murailles!
     Rends nous ces soldats, illustrés
   Par le sang de Désilles et par les funérailles
     De nos citoyens massacrés!"[16]



The echo of these triumphs of insubordination and murder was felt every
where in the mutinous conduct of the troops, the disobedience of the
national guard, and the risings of the populace; whilst at Paris they
_fêted_ the Swiss of Châteauvieux, the mob of Marseilles demanded with
much violence that the Swiss regiment of _Ernst_ should be expelled from
the garrison at Aix, under pretext that they favoured the aristocracy,
and that the security of Provence was thereby menaced. On the refusal of
this regiment to quit the city, the Marseillaise marched upon Aix as the
Parisians had marched upon Versailles in the days of October. They by
violence compelled the national guard to accompany them, who had been
destined to repress them; they surrounded the regiment of Ernst with
cannon, made them lay down their arms, and shamefully drove them before
sedition. The national guard, a force essentially revolutionary, because
it participates, like the people, in the opinions, feelings, and
passions, which, as a civic guard, it ought to repress, followed in
every direction, from weakness or example, the fickle impressions of the
mob. How could men, just leaving clubs, where they had been listening
to, applauding, and frequently exciting sedition in patriotic
discourses,--how could they, changing their feelings and part at the
door of popular societies, take arms against the seditious? Thus they
remained spectators, when they were not accomplices, of insurrections.
The scarcity of colonial produce, the dearness of grain, the rigour of a
hard winter, all contributed to disturb the people: the agitators turned
all these misfortunes of the times into accusations and grounds of
hatred against royalty.


The government, powerless and disarmed, was rendered responsible for the
severities of nature. Secret emissaries, armed bands, went amongst the
towns and cities where markets were held, and there disseminated the
most alarming reports, provoking the people to tax grain and flour,
stigmatising the corn-dealers as monopolists--the perfidious charge of
monopoly being a sure sentence of death. The fear of being accused of
starving the people checked every speculation of business, and tended
much more than actual want to the dearth of the markets. Nothing is so
scarce as a commodity which is concealed. The corn-stores were crimes in
the eyes of consumers of bread. The Maire of Etampes, Simoneau, an
honest man, and an intrepid magistrate, was one victim sacrificed to the
people's suspicions. Etampes was one of the great markets that supplied
Paris. It was therefore necessary for it to preserve the liberty of
commerce and the supply of flour. A mob, composed of men and women of
the adjacent villages, assembling at the sound of the tocsin, marched
upon the city one market-day, preceded by drums, armed with guns and
pitchforks, in order to carry off the grain by force from the
proprietors, divide it amongst themselves, and to exterminate, as they
declared, the monopolists, amongst whom sinister voices mingled in low
tones the name of Simoneau. The national guard disappeared, a detachment
of one hundred men of the eighteenth regiment of cavalry were at
Etampes, and the sole force at the Maire's disposal.

The officer answered for these soldiers _as for himself_. After long
conversations with the seditious, to bring them back to reason and the
law, Simoneau returned to the _maison commune_, ordered the red flag to
be unfurled, proclaimed martial law, and then advanced upon the rebels,
surrounded by the municipal body, and in the centre of the armed force;
on reaching the square of the town, the crowd surrounded and cut off the
detachment. The troopers left the Maire exposed--not one drew his sword
in his defence. In vain did he summon them, in the name of the law, and
by the weapons they wore, to render aid to the magistrate against
assassins--in vain did he seize the bridle of one of the horsemen near
him, crying, "_Help, my friends_."

Struck by blows of pitchforks and guns, at the moment when he appealed
to the soldiery, he fell, shot, grasping in his hands the bridle of the
cowardly trooper whom he was entreating: the fellow, in order to
disengage himself, struck with the back of his sabre the arm of the
Maire already dead, and left his body to the insults of the people. The
miscreants, remaining in possession of the carcase, brutally mangled the
palpitating limbs, and deliberated together as to cutting off the head.
The leaders made their followers defile passing over the body of the
Maire, and trampling in his blood. Then they went away beating their
drums, and went to get drunk in the suburbs; and the taking away the
grain, the apparent motive of the riot, was neglected in the moment of
triumph. There was no pillage--either the blood made the people forget
their hunger, or their hunger was but the pretext for assassination.


At the moment when all was thus crumbling to pieces round the throne, a
man, celebrated by the vast part attributed to him in the common ruin,
sought to reconcile himself with the king: this was Louis-Philippe
Joseph, Duc d'Orléans, first prince of the blood. I pause for this man,
before whom history has hitherto paused, without being able to discover
the real place which should be assigned to him amongst the passing
events. An enigma to himself, he remains an enigma for posterity. Was
the real solution of this enigma ambition or patriotism, weakness or
conspiracy? Let facts reply.

Public opinion has its prejudices. Struck by the immensity of the work
it accomplishes; giddy, as it were, by the rapidity of the movement
which urges things on, it cannot believe that a series of natural
causes, combined by Providence with the rise of certain ideas in the
human mind, and aided by the coincidence of the times, can of itself
produce such vast commotions. It seeks, then, the supernatural--the
wonderful--fatality. It takes pleasure in imagining latent causes acting
with mystery, and compelling with hidden hand men and events. It takes,
in a word, every revolution for a conspiracy; and if it meets at
starting, in the middle, or at the end of such crises some leading man,
to whose interest these events may tend, it supposes itself the author,
attributes to itself all the action of these revolutions, and all the
scope of idea that accomplishes them; and, fortunate or unfortunate,
innocent or guilty, claims for itself all the glory or demerit of the
result. It renders its name divine, or its memory accursed. Such, for
fifty years, was the destiny of the Duc d'Orleans.


It is a historic tradition amongst people from the highest antiquity,
that the throne wears out royal races, and that whilst the reigning
branches grow enervated by the possession of empire, younger branches
become stronger and greater, by nourishing the ambition of becoming more
powerful, and inspiring more closely to the people an air less corrupt
than that which pervades courts. Thus, whilst primogeniture gives power
to the elder, the people confer popularity on the juniors.

This singularity of a handsomer and more popular family than the
reigning family, increasing near the throne, and having a dangerous
rivalry with the throne in the mind of the nation, had always existed in
the house of Orleans, since the time of Louis XIV. If this equivocal
situation gave to the princes of this family some virtues, it gave them
also corresponding vices. More intelligent and more ambitious than the
king's sons, they were also more restless. The very restraint in which
the policy of the reigning house kept them, condemned their idea or
their courage to inaction, and forced them to misapply, in
irregularities or indolence, the faculties with which nature had endowed
them, and the immense fortune for which they had no other occupation:
too great for citizens, too dangerous at the head of armies or in
affairs, they had no place either amongst the people or at court; and
thus they assumed it in opinion.

The Regent, a very superior man, long kept down by the inferiority of
his part, had been the most brilliant example of all the virtues and all
the vices of the blood of Orleans. Since the Regent, the princes
endowed, like himself, with natural wit and courage, had felt the glory
of great actions in their early youth. They had then again fallen back
into obscurity, pleasures or devotion, by the jealousy of the reigning
house. At the first show of brilliancy attached to their name, it had
been darkened. Guilty by their very merit, their name urged them on to
glory; and as soon as they proved themselves deserving, it was
forbidden to them. These princes were destined to transmit with their
family honours that impatience of a change of government which allows
them to be men.

Louis-Philippe Joseph, Duc d'Orleans, was born at the precise epoch,
when his rank, fortune, and character were to throw him into a current
of new ideas, which his family passions called on him to favour, and
into which, once drawn, it would be impossible for him to pause except
at the throne or the scaffold. He was twenty when the first symptoms of
the Revolution manifested themselves.

He was handsome, like all his race. Slender figure, firm step, smiling
countenance, piercing glance, limbs made supple by all bodily exercises,
with a heart disposed to love, and a splendid horseman, that great
accomplishment of princes; a condescension void of familiarity, a ready
eloquence, unquestionable courage, liberal to the arts, even to
extravagance; those faults which are only due to the luxuries of the
age, all marked him out as a popular favourite. He took every advantage
of it; and, perhaps, his early intoxication with it somewhat affected
his natural good sense. The love of the people appeared to him a means
of avenging himself for the contempt in which the court neglected him.
In his mind he braved the king of Versailles, feeling himself king of

He had married a princess of a race as beloved by the people; the only
daughter of the Duc de Penthièvre. Lovely, amiable, and virtuous, she
brought to her husband as dowry, with the vast fortune of the Duc de
Penthièvre, that amount of consideration and public esteem which
belonged to her house. The first political act of the Duc d'Orleans was
a bold resistance to the wishes of the court, at the period of the
exile of the parliaments. Exiled himself in his chateau of
_Villars-Cotterêts_, the esteem and interest of the people followed him.
The applauses of France sweetened the disgrace of the court. He believed
that he comprehended the part of a great citizen in a free country; he
desired to do so. He forgot too easily, in the atmosphere of adulation
which surrounded him, that a man is not a great citizen only to please
the people, but to defend--serve--and frequently to resist them.

Returned to Paris, he was desirous of joining the _prestige_ of glory of
arms to the civic crowns, with which his name was already decorated. He
solicited of the court the dignity of _grand-admiral_ of France, the
survivorship of which belonged to him, after the Duc de Penthièvre, his
father-in-law. He was refused. He embarked as a volunteer on board the
fleet, commanded by the Comte d'Orvilliers, and was at the battle of
Ouessant on the 17th of July, 1778. The results of this fight, when
victory remained without conquest, in consequence of a false
manoeuvre, were imputed to the weakness of Duc d'Orleans, who wished
to check the pursuit of the enemy. This dishonouring report, invented
and disseminated by court hatred, soured the resentments of the young
prince, but could not hide the brilliancy of his courage, which he
displayed in caprices unworthy of his rank. At St. Cloud he sprang into
the first balloon that carried aerial navigators into space. Calumny
followed him even there, and a report was spread that he had burst the
balloon with a thrust of his sword, in order to compel his companions to
descend. Then arose between the court and himself a continual struggle
of boldness on the one hand and slander on the other. The king treated
him, however, with the indulgence which virtue testifies for youth's
follies. The Comte d'Artois took him as the constant companion of his
pleasures. The queen, who liked the Comte d'Artois, feared for him the
contagion of the disorders and amours of the Duc d'Orleans. She hated
equally in this young prince the favourite of the people of Paris and
the corrupter of the Comte d'Artois. She made the king purchase the
almost royal palace of St. Cloud, the favourite seat of the Duc
d'Orleans. Infamous insinuations against him were incessantly
transpiring from the half confidences of courtiers. He was accused of
having induced courtezans to poison the blood of the Prince de Lamballe,
his brother-in-law, and of having enervated him in debauches, in order
that he might be the sole heir of the immense property of the house of
Penthièvre. This crime was the pure invention of malice.

Thus persecuted by the animosity of the court, the Duc d'Orleans was
more and more driven to retirement. In his frequent visits to England he
formed a close intimacy with the Prince of Wales, heir to the throne,
who took for his friends all the enemies of his father; playing with
sedition, dishonoured by debts, of scandalous life, prolonging beyond
the usual term those excesses of princes--horses, pleasure of the table,
gaming, women; abetting the intrigues of Fox, Sheridan and Burke, and
prefacing his advent to royal power by all the audacity of a refractory
son and a factious citizen.

The Duc d'Orleans thus tasted of the joys of liberty in a London life.
He brought back to France habits of insolence against the court, a taste
for popular disturbances, contempt for his own rank, familiarity with
the multitude, a citizen's life in a palace, and that simple style of
dress, which by abandoning the uniform of the French nobility, and
blending attire generally, soon destroyed all inequalities of costume
amongst citizens.

Then given up entirely to the exclusive care of repairing his impaired
fortune, the Duc d'Orleans constructed the _Palais Royal_. He changed
the noble and spacious gardens of his palace into a market of luxury,
devoted by day to traffic, and by night to play and debauchery--a
complete sink of iniquities, built in the heart of the capital--a work
of cupidity which antique manners never could forgive this prince; and
which, being gradually adopted like the forum by the indolence of the
Parisian population, was destined to become the cradle of the
Revolution. This Revolution was striding onwards. The prince awaited it
in supineness, as if liberty of the world had been but one more

His well-known hatred against the court had naturally drawn into his
acquaintance all who desired a change. The Palais Royal was the elegant
centre of a conspiracy with open doors, for the reform of government:
the philosophy of the age there encountered politics and literature: it
was the palace of opinion. Buffon came there constantly to pass the
latter evenings of his life. Rousseau there received at a distance the
only worship which his proud sensitiveness would accept even from
princes. Franklin and the American republicans; Gibbon and the orators
of the English opposition, Grimm and the German philosophers, Diderot,
Siéyès, Sillery, Laclos, Suard, Florian, Raynal, La Harpe, and all the
thinkers or writers who anticipated the new mind, met there with
celebrated artists and _savans_. Voltaire himself, proscribed from
Versailles by the human respect of a court, which admired his genius,
had arrived thither on his last journey. The prince presented to him his
children, one of whom reigns to-day over France. The dying philosopher
blessed them, as he did those of Franklin, in the name of reason and


If the prince himself had not a love of literature and a highly refined
mind, he had sufficiently cultivated his mind to appreciate perfectly
the pleasures of the understanding; but the revolutionary feeling
instinctively counselled him to surround himself with all the strength
that might one day serve liberty. Early tired of the beauty and virtue
of the Duchesse d'Orleans, he had conceived for a lovely, witty,
insinuating woman a sentiment which did not enchain the caprices of his
heart, but which controlled his inconsistency and directed his mind.
This woman, then seducing and since celebrated, was the Comtesse de
Sillery-Genlis, daughter of the Marquis Ducret de Saint Aubin, a
gentleman of Charolais, without fortune. Her mother, who was still young
and handsome, had brought her to Paris, to the house of M. de la
Popelinière, a celebrated financier, whose old age she had taken
captive. She educated her daughter for that doubtful destiny which
awaits women on whom nature has lavished beauty and mind, and to whom
society has refused their right position--adventuresses in society,
sometimes raised, sometimes degraded.

The first masters formed this child by all the arts of mind and
hand--her mother directed her to ambition. The second-rate position of
this mother at the house of her opulent protector, formed the child to
the plasticity and adulation which her mother's domestic condition
required and illustrated. At sixteen years of age her precocious beauty
and musical talent caused her to be already sought in the _salons_. Her
mother produced her there in the dubious publicity between the theatre
and the world. An _artiste_ for some, she was, with others, a well
educated girl; all were attracted by her: old men forgot their age.
Buffon called her "_ma fille_." Her relationship with Madame de
Montesson, widow of the Duc d'Orleans, gave her a footing in the house
of the young prince. The Comte de Sillery-Genlis fell in love with her,
and married her in spite of his family's opposition. Friend and
confidant of the Duc d'Orleans, the Comte de Sillery obtained for his
wife a place at the court of the Duchesse d'Orleans. Time and her
ability did the rest.

The duke attached himself to her with the twofold power of admiration
for her beauty and admiration of her superior understanding--the one
empire confirmed the other. The complaints of the insulted duchess only
made the duke more obstinate in his liking. He was governed, and
desirous of having his feelings honoured, he announced it openly, merely
seeking to colour it under the pretext of the education of his children.
The Comtesse de Genlis followed at the same time the ambition of courts
and the reputation of literature. She wrote with elegance those light
works which amuse a woman's idle hours, whilst they lead their hearts
astray into imaginary amours. Romances, which are to the west what opium
is to the Orientals, waking day-dreams, had become necessities and
events for the _salons_. Madame de Genlis wrote in a graceful style, and
clothed her characters and ideas with a certain affectation of austerity
which gave a becomingness to love: she moreover affected an universal
acquaintance with the sciences, which made her sex disappear before the
pretensions of her mind, and which recalled in her person those women of
Italy who profess philosophy with a veil over their countenances.

The Duc d'Orleans, an innovator in every thing, believed he had found in
a woman the Mentor for his sons. He nominated her governor of his
children. The duchess, greatly annoyed, protested against this; the
court laughed, and the people were amazed. Opinion, which yields to all
who brave it, murmured, and then was silent. The future proved that the
father was right: the pupils of this lady were not princes but men. She
attracted to the Palais Royal all the dictators of public opinion. The
first club in France was thus held in the very apartments of a prince of
the blood. Literature, concealed from without these meetings as the
madness of the first Brutus concealed his vengeance. The duke was not,
perhaps, a conspirator, but henceforth there was an Orleans party.
Siéyès, the mystic oracle of the Revolution, who seemed to carry it on
his pensive front, and brood over it in silence; the Duc de Lauzun,
passing from the confidence of Trianon to the consultations of the
Palais Royal; Laclos, a young officer of artillery, author of an obscene
romance, capable at need of elevating romantic intrigue to a political
conspiracy; Sillery, soured against his order, at enmity with the court,
an ambitious malcontent, awaiting nothing but what the future might
bring forth; and others more obscure, but not less active, and serving
as unknown guides for descending from the _salons_ of a prince into the
depths of the people: some the head, others the arms, of the duke's
ambition, attended these meetings. Perhaps they might be ignorant of the
aim, but they placed themselves on the declivity, and allowed Fortune to
do as she pleased. Fortune was a revolution. The wonderful, that marvel
of the masses, which is to the imagination what calculation is to
reason, was not wanting to the Orleans party. Prophecies, those popular
presentiments of destiny, domestic prodigies, admitted by the interested
credulity of numerous clients of this house, announced the throne
shortly to one of these princes. These rumours were rife amongst the
people, from themselves, or the skilful insinuations of the partisans of
the house of Orleans. In the convocation of States-General, the duke had
not hesitated to pronounce in favour of the most popular reforms. The
instructions which he had drawn up for the electors of his dominions
were the work of the abbé Siéyès. The prince himself intrigued for the
name and style of _Citoyen_. Elected deputy of the noblesse of Paris at
Crespy and at Villars-Cotterêts, he selected Crespy, because the
electors of this bailiwick were the more patriotic. At the procession of
the States-General he left his own place vacant amongst the princes, and
walked in the midst of the deputies. This abdication of his dignity near
the throne to assume the dignity of a citizen, procured him the
applauses of the nation.


Public favour towards him was such that had he been a Duc de Guise, and
Louis XVI. a Henry III., the States-General would have finished, as did
those of Blois, by an assassination or usurpation. Uniting with the
_tiers état_, to obtain equality and the friendship of the nation
against the nobility, he took the oath of the Tennis Court. He took his
place behind Mirabeau, to disobey the king. Nominated president by the
National Assembly, he refused this honour in order to remain a citizen.
The day on which the dismissal of Necker betrayed the hostile projects
of the court, and when the people of Paris named its leaders and
defenders by acclamation, the name of the Duc d'Orleans was the first
uttered. France took in the gardens of the palace the colours of his
livery for a cockade. At the voice of Camille Desmoulins, who uttered
the cry of alarm in the Palais Royal, the populace gathered, Legendre
and Fréron led them; they placed the bust of the Duc d'Orleans beside
that of Necker, covered them with black crape, and promenaded them,
bareheaded themselves, in the presence of the silent citizens. Blood
flowed; the dead body of one of the citizens who carried the busts,
killed by the mob, serving as a standard to the people. The Duc
d'Orleans was thus mixed up from his palace--his name and his
image--with the first struggle and first murder of liberty. This was
enough to make it believed that his hand moved all the threads of
events. Whether from lack of boldness or ambition, he never assumed the
appearance of the part which public opinion assigned to him. He did not
then appear to push things beyond the conquest of a constitution for his
country, and the character of a great patriot for himself. He respected
or despised the throne. One or other of these feelings gave him
importance in the eyes of history. All the world was of his party except

Impartial men did honour to his moderation, the revolutionists imputed
shame to his character. Mirabeau, who was seeking a pretender to
personify the revolt, had had secret interviews with the Duc d'Orleans;
had tested his ambition, to judge if it aspired to the throne. He had
left him dissatisfied; he had even betrayed his dissatisfaction by angry
phrases. Mirabeau required a conspirator; he had only found a patriot.
What he despised in the Duc d'Orleans was not the meditation of a crime,
but the refusal to be his accomplice. He had not anticipated such
scruples; he revenged himself by terming this carelessness about the
throne the cowardice of an ambitious man.

La Fayette instinctively hated in the Duc d'Orleans an influential
rival. He accused the prince of fomenting troubles which he felt himself
powerless to repress. It was asserted that the Duc d'Orleans and
Mirabeau had been seen mingled with groups of men and women, and
pointing to the château. Mirabeau defended himself by a smile of
contempt. The Duc d'Orleans proved his innocence in a more serious
manner. An assassination which should kill the king or queen would still
leave the monarchy, the laws of the kingdom, and the princes inheritors
of the throne. He could not mount to it except over the dead bodies of
five persons placed by nature between himself and his ambition. These
steps of crime could only have incurred the execrations of the nation,
and must have even wearied the assassins themselves. Besides, he proved
by numerous and undeniable witnesses that he had not gone to Versailles
either on the 4th or 5th of October. Quitting Versailles on the 3rd,
after the sitting of the National Assembly, he had returned to Paris. He
had passed the day of the 4th in his palace and gardens at Mousseaux. On
the 5th, he again was at Mousseaux; his cabriolet having broken down on
the boulevard, he had gone on foot by the Champs Elysées. He had passed
the day at Passy with his children and Madame de Genlis. He had supped
at Mousseaux with some intimate friends, and slept again in Paris. It
was not until the 6th, in the morning, that, informed of the events of
the previous evening, he had gone to Versailles, and that his carriage
had been stopped at the bridge of Sèvres, by the mob carrying the
bleeding heads of the king's guard.[17] If this was not the conduct of a
prince of the blood, who flies to the succour of his king and places
himself at the foot of the throne, between the threatened sovereign and
the people, neither was it that of an audacious usurper who tempts
revolt by occasion, and at least presents to the people a completed

The conduct of this prince was but that of one who looks to a contingent
reversion: either that he would not receive the crown except by a
fatality of events, and without thrusting forth his hand to fortune, or
that he had more indifference than ambition for supreme power, or that
he would not place his royalty as a check upon the way of liberty; that
he sincerely desired a republic, and that the title of first citizen of
a free nation appeared to him greater than that of king.


However, a short time after the days of the 5th and 6th October, La
Fayette desired to break off the intimacy between the Duc d'Orleans and
Mirabeau. He resolved at all risks to compel the prince to remove from
the scene, and by an exercise of moral restraint or the fear of a state
prosecution, to absent himself and go to London. He made the king and
queen enter into his plans, by alarming them as to the prince's
intrigues, and designating him as a competitor for the throne. La
Fayette said one day to the queen, that this prince was the only man
upon whom the suspicion of so lofty an ambition could fall. "Sir,"
replied the queen, with a look of incredulity, "is it necessary then to
be a prince in order to pretend to the throne?" "At least, madam,"
replied the general, "I only know the Duc d'Orleans who aspires to it."
La Fayette presumed too much on the prince's ambition.


Mirabeau, discouraged at the hesitations and scruples of the Duc
d'Orleans, and finding him above or below crime, cast him off like a
despised accomplice of ambition, and tried to ally himself with La
Fayette, who, possessed of the armed force, and who saw in Mirabeau the
whole of the moral force, smiled at the idea of a duumvirate, which
could assume to themselves empire. There were secret interviews at Paris
and at Passy between these two rivals. La Fayette rejecting every idea
of an usurpation profitable to the prince, declared to Mirabeau that he
must renounce every conceived plot against the queen if he would come
to an understanding with him. "Well, general," replied Mirabeau, "since
you will have it so, let her live! A humbled queen may be fit for
something, but a queen with her throat cut is only good as the subject
of a bad tragedy!" This atrocious remark, which treated the bloodshed of
a woman as a jest, was subsequently known by the queen, who however
forgave Mirabeau, and did not allow it to interfere with her _liaisons_
with the great orator. But the cold-blooded infamy must have found its
way to her heart as an ominous warning of what she might fear hereafter.

La Fayette, sure of the consent of the king and queen, supported by the
feelings of the national guard, who were growing weary of factions and
the factious, ventured to assume quietly towards the prince the tone of
a dictator, and to pronounce against him an arbitrary exile under the
appearance of a mission freely accepted. He sent to request of the Duc
d'Orleans a meeting at the Marquise de Coigny's, a noble intelligent
lady attached to La Fayette, and in whose _salon_ the Duc d'Orleans
occasionally met him. After a conversation, heard by the walls alone,
but the result of which showed its tenor, and which Mirabeau, to whom it
was communicated, termed _very imperious on the one side, and very
resigned on the other_, it was agreed that the Duc d'Orleans should
forthwith set out for London. The friends of the prince induced him to
change his resolution that same night, and he sent La Fayette a note to
this effect. La Fayette requested another interview, in which he called
upon him to keep his word, enjoined him to depart in twenty-four hours,
and then conducted him to the king. There the prince accepted the
feigned mission, and promised to leave nothing neglected to expose in
England the plots of the conspirators of the kingdom. "You are more
interested than any one," said La Fayette in the king's presence, "for
no one is more compromised than yourself." Mirabeau, cognisant of this
oppression of La Fayette and the court over the mind of the Duc
d'Orleans, offered his services to the duke, and tempted him with the
last offers of supreme power. The subject of his address to the Assembly
was already prepared: he intended to denounce, as a conspiracy of
despotism, this _coup d'état_ against one citizen, in which the liberty
of all citizens was attempted. "This violation of the inviolability of
the representatives of the nation in the palpable exile of a prince of
the blood; he was to point out La Fayette, making use of the royal hand
to strike the rivals of his popularity, and to cover his own insolent
dictatorship under the venerated sanction of the chief of the nation and
the head of the family." Mirabeau had no doubt of the resentment of the
Assembly against so odious an attempt, and promised the friends of the
Duc d'Orleans one of those returns of opinion which raise a man to a
higher elevation than that from which he has fallen. This language,
backed by the entreaties of Laclos, Sillery, Lauzun, a second time shook
the prince's resolution. He saw now disgrace in this voluntary exile,
where at first he had only seen magnanimity. At the break of day he
wrote that he declined the mission. La Fayette then sent for him to the
minister for foreign affairs. There the prince, again overcome, wrote to
the Assembly a letter, which destroyed beforehand all the denunciation
of Mirabeau. "My enemies pretend," said the duke to La Fayette, "that
you boast of having against me proofs of my share in the attempts of the
5th of October." "They are rather my enemies who say so," replied La
Fayette: "if I had proofs against you I should already have arrested
you. I have none, but I am seeking for them." The Duc d'Orleans went.
Nine months had passed away since his return. The Constituent Assembly
had left, without any other defence than anarchy, the constitution it
had so lately voted. Disorder prevailed throughout the kingdom: the
first acts of the Legislative Assembly announced the hesitation of a
people which halts on a declivity, but is doomed to descend to the very


The Girondists, at the first step going a-head of the Barnaves and
Lameths, showed a disposition to push France, all unprepared, into a
republic. The Duc d'Orleans, whose long residence in England had allowed
him to reflect at a distance from the attractions of events and
factions, felt his Bourbon blood rise within him. He did not cease to be
a patriot, but he understood that the safety of the country on the brink
of a war was not in the destruction of the executive power.
Unquestionably pity for the king and queen awakened in a heart in which
hatred had not stifled every generous feeling. He felt himself too much
avenged by the days of 5th and 6th October, by the humiliation of the
king before the Assembly, by the daily insults of the populace under the
windows of Marie Antoinette, and by the fearful nights of this family,
whose palace was but a prison; and perhaps also he feared for himself
the ingratitude of revolutions.

He had gone to England on compulsion, and had remained there under the
idea, which was perfectly just, that his name might be used as a pretext
for agitation in Paris. Laclos had gone to him in London from time to
time to try again to tempt the exile's ambition, and make him ashamed of
a deference for La Fayette, which France took to be cowardice. The
prince's pride was roused at this, and he threatened to return; but the
representations of M. de la Luzerne, minister of France in England,
those of M. de Boinville, one of La Fayette's aides-de-camp, and his own
reflections, had prevailed over the incitements of Laclos. Proof of this
is found in a note of M. de la Luzerne's, found in an iron chest amongst
the king's secret papers. "I attest," says M. de la Luzerne, "that I
have presented to M. the Duc d'Orleans, M. de Boinville, aide-de-camp of
M. de La Fayette, that M. de Boinville declared to the Duc d'Orleans
that they were very uneasy as to the troubles which might at this moment
be excited in Paris by malcontents, who would not scruple to make use of
his name to disturb the capital, and perhaps the kingdom; and he was
urged on these grounds to protract the time of his departure. The Duc
d'Orleans, unwilling in any way to afford plea or pretext for any
disturbance of public tranquillity, consented to delay his return."


He at last left England, and on his return made several fruitless
attempts to be again employed in the navy. Whilst his mind was thus
wavering, he received the intelligence, through M. Bertrand de
Molleville, that the king had nominated him to the rank of admiral. The
Duc d'Orleans went to thank the minister, and added that, "He was
rejoiced at the honour the king conferred on him, as it would give him
an opportunity of communicating to the king his real sentiments, which
had been odiously calumniated. I am very unfortunate," continued he; "my
name has been involved in all the crimes imputed to me, and I have been
deemed guilty, because I disdained to justify myself; but time will show
whether my conduct belies my words."

The air of frankness and good faith, and the significant tone with which
the Duc d'Orleans uttered these words, struck the minister, who until
then had been greatly prejudiced against his innocence. He inquired if
his royal highness would consent to repeat these expressions to the
king, as they would rejoice his majesty, and he feared that they might
lose some of their force if repeated by himself. The duke eagerly
embraced the idea of seeing the king, if the king would receive him, and
expressed his intention of presenting himself at the chateau the next
day. The king, informed of this by his minister, awaited the prince, and
had a long and private conference with him.

A confidential document, written with the prince's own hand, and drawn
up in order to justify his memory in the eyes of his children and his
friends, informs us of what passed at this interview. "The
ultra-democrats," said the Duc d'Orleans, "deemed that I wished to make
France a republic; the ambitious, that I wished, by my popularity, to
force the king to resign the administration of the kingdom into my
hands; lastly, the virtuous and patriotic had the illusion of their own
virtue concerning me, for they deemed that I sacrificed myself entirely
to the public good. The one party deemed me worse than I was; the
others, better. I have merely followed my nature, and that impelled me,
above all, to liberty. I fancied I saw her image in the parliaments,
which at least possessed her tone and forms, and I embraced this phantom
of representative freedom. Thrice did I sacrifice myself for those
parliaments; twice from a conviction on my part; the third, not to belie
what I had previously done. I had been in England; I had there seen true
liberty, and I doubted not that the States-General, and France also,
wished to obtain freedom. Scarcely had I foreseen that France would
possess citizens, than I wished to be one of these citizens myself, and
I made unhesitatingly the sacrifice of all the rank and privileges that
separated me from the nation: they cost me nothing; I aspired to be a
deputy--I was one. I sided with the _tiers état_, not from factious
feeling, but from justice. In my opinion, it was impossible to prevent
the completion of the Revolution, although some persons around the king
thought otherwise. The troops were assembled, and surrounded the
National Assembly. Paris imagined it was threatened, and rose _en
masse_; the Gardes Françaises, who lived amongst the people, followed
the stream, and the report was circulated that I had bribed this
regiment with my gold. I will frankly declare my opinion: if the Gardes
Françaises had acted differently, I should in that case have deemed they
had been bought over; for their hostility against the people of Paris
would have been unnatural. My bust was earned with that of M. Necker on
the 14th of July. Why? because this minister, on whom every public hope
reposed, was the idol of the nation, and because my name was amongst the
list of those deputies of the Assembly, who, it was said, were to have
been arrested by the troops summoned to Versailles. Amidst all these
events, so favourable to a factious man, what was my behaviour? I
withdrew from the eyes of the people: I did not flatter their excesses,
but retired to my house at Mousseaux, where I passed the night; and the
next morning I went, unattended, to the National Assembly at Versailles.
At the fortunate moment when the king resolved to cast himself into the
arms of the Assembly, I refused to form one of the deputation of members
despatched to Paris to announce these tidings to the capital, for I
feared lest some of the homages which the city owed to the king alone
might be paid to me. And such was again my conduct on the days of
October; I again absented myself, not to add fresh fuel to the
excitement of the people; and I only reappeared when calm again
prevailed. I was met at Sèvres by the bands of straggling assassins, who
bore back the bleeding heads of the king's guards: these men stopped my
carriage, and fired on the postilion. Thus I, who was the pretended
leader of these men, narrowly escaped being their victim, and owed my
safety to a body of the national guard, who escorted me to Versailles;
and as I went to wait on the king I repressed the last murmurs of the
people in the Cour des Ministres I signed the decree which declared the
Assembly inseparable from the person of the king. It was at this time
that M. de La Fayette called on me, and informed me of the king's desire
that I should quit Paris, in order to afford no pretext for popular
tumult. Convinced now, that the Revolution was accomplished, and only
fearing the troubles with which attempts might be made to fetter its
onward progress, I unhesitatingly obeyed, only demanding the consent of
the National Assembly to my departure; this they granted, and I left
Paris. The inhabitants of Boulogne, who had been worked upon by an
intrigue which may be laid to my charge, but to which I was a stranger,
since I would not yield to it, wished forcibly to detain me, and opposed
my embarkation. I confess I was much touched, but I did not yield to
this violent manifestation of public favour, and I myself persuaded them
to return to their allegiance. Advantage has been taken of this voyage
and my absence to impute to me, without refutation on my part, the most
odious crimes. It was I who wished to force the king to fly with the
Dauphin from Versailles,--but Versailles is not France; the king would
have found his army and the nation when once he left this town, and the
only result of my ambition would be civil war, and, a military
dictatorship given to the king. But the Count de Provence was alive; he
was the natural heir to the throne thus abandoned. He was popular; he
had, like myself, joined the commons,--thus I should only have laboured
for him. But the Count d'Artois was in safety in another country, his
children were secure from my pretended murders, they were nearer the
throne than myself. What a series of follies, absurdities, or useless
crimes! The French nation, amidst the Revolution, have neither changed
their character nor their sentiments. I fully believe that the Count
d'Artois, whom I have myself loved, will prove this. I believe that by
drawing nearer to a monarch whom he loves, and by whom he is loved, and
to a people to whose love his brilliant qualities give him so great a
right, he will, when these troubles have ceased, enjoy this portion of
his inheritance, the love which the most sensible and affectionate of
nations has vowed to the descendants of HENRI IV."


These excuses, mingled doubtless with expressions of repentance and
tears, and heightened by those attitudes and gestures, more eloquent
than words, that add so much pathos to solemn explanations, convinced
the heart if not the mind of the king; and he forgave--he excused, and
he trusted. "I am of your opinion," said he to his minister, yet a prey
to the emotion of this scene, "that the Duc d'Orleans really regrets his
past errors, and that he will do all in his power to repair the evil he
has done, and in which perhaps he has not had so great a share as we

The prince left the king's apartments reconciled with himself, and more
than ever resolved to withdraw himself from the factious party. It had
cost him but little to sacrifice his ambition, for he had none; and his
popularity of her own accord had quitted him for other men of inferior
rank and station than his own, and he could only hope to find security
and an honourable refuge at the foot of the throne, to which he was
alike guided by inclination and duty. Louis XVI. as a man had far more
influence over him than as a king, but the adulation and resentment of
the court ruined all.

The Sunday following this reconciliation, the Duc d'Orleans presented
himself at the Tuileries to pay his respects to the king and queen. It
was the day and hour of the _grandes receptions_, and crowds of
courtiers thronged the courts, the staircases, the corridors, some
hoping that fortune might yet be propitious; others, come from the
provinces to the court of their unfortunate master, drawn thither by the
double tie of misfortune and fidelity. At the sight of the Duc
d'Orleans, whose reconciliation with the king had not as yet transpired,
astonishment and horror appeared on every face, and an indignant murmur
followed the announcement of his name. The crowd opened and shrank from
him, as though his touch was odious to them. In vain did he seek one
glance of respect or welcome amongst all these gloomy visages. As be
approached the king's chamber, the courtiers and guards barred his
entrance by turning their backs, and crowding together as if by
accident, repulsed him: he entered the apartments of the queen, where
the royal family's dinner was prepared. "Look to the dishes," cried
voices, as though some public and well-known poisoner had been seen to
enter. The indignant prince turned alternately pale and red, and
imagined that these insults were offered him, at the instigation of the
queen, and the order of the king. As he descended the stairs to quit the
palace, fresh cries and outrages followed him; some even spat on his
coat and head. A poignard stab would have been far less painful to bear
than these withering marks of hatred and contempt. He had entered the
palace appeased, he quitted it implacable; he felt that his only refuge
against the court was in the last ranks of democracy, and he enrolled
himself resolutely in them to find safety or vengeance.

The king and queen, who were soon informed of these insults, of which,
however, they were utterly innocent, took no steps to make any
reparation for them; possibly they were secretly flattered by the wrath
of their adherents, and the humiliation of their enemy. The queen was
too prodigal of her favour, and too hasty in her displeasure; the king
did not want kindness, but grace; one word, such as Henri IV. knew so
well how to employ, would have punished these insulters, and have
brought the prince to his feet, yet he knew not how to say it;
resentment brooded over her wrongs in silence, and destiny took its


The Duc d'Orleans severed himself on that day from the Girondists, to
whom he was alone held by Pétion and Brissot, and passed over to the
side of the Jacobins; he opened his palace to Danton and Barrère, and no
longer followed any but the extreme party, which he adopted without
hesitation in silence, even to the republic, to regicide, to death.


However, the alarm with which the preparations of the emperor inspired
the people, and the mischief excited by the speeches of the Girondists
against the court and the ministers, agitated the capital more and more
every day. At each fresh communication from M. de Lessart, minister of
foreign affairs, the party of the Gironde raised a fresh cry of war and
treason. Fauchet denounced the minister. Brissot exclaimed, "The mask
has fallen,--our enemy is now known,--it is the emperor. The princes,
who hold possessions in Alsace, whose cause he affects to espouse, are
but the pretexts of his hate; and the _emigrés_ themselves are but his
instruments. Let us despise these _emigrés_: it is the duty of the high
national court to execute justice on these mendicant princes. The
electors of the empire are not worthy of your anger; fear causes them
beforehand to prostrate themselves at your feet--a free people does not
crush a fallen foe: strike at the head--this head is the emperor."

He communicated his own ardour to the Assembly; but Brissot, although a
skilful politician, and the able counsellor of his party, did not
possess that sonorous oratory that elevates an opinion to the level of
the voice of a nation. Vergniaud alone was gifted with a soul, in which
was combined all the passion and eloquence of a party: by meditating on
the annals of the past, he elevated his mind to scenes that passed then
analogous to those in which he was an actor, and communicated an
importance and solemnity to every word. "Our revolution," said he at the
same sitting, "has spread alarm amongst every throne, for it has given
an example of the destruction of the despotism that sustains them. Kings
hate our constitution because it renders men free, and because they
would reign over slaves. This hate has been manifested on the part of
the emperor by all the measures he has adopted, to disturb us or to
strengthen our enemies, and encourage those Frenchmen who have rebelled
against the laws of their country. We must not believe that this hate
has ceased to exist, but it must cease to work. The genius of Liberty
watches over our frontiers, which are less defended by our troops and
our national guards than by the enthusiasm of freedom. Liberty, since
its birth, has been the object of a shameful and secret war, waged
against it even in its very cradle. What is this war? Three armies of
reptiles and venomous insects breed and creep in your own breast: one is
composed of paid libellists and hired calumniators, who strive to arm
the two powers against each other by inspiring them with mutual
distrust; the other army, equally dangerous, is composed of seditious
priests, who feel that their God is forsaking them, and that their power
is crumbling away with their _prestige_, and who, to retain their
empire, term vengeance religion, and crime virtue. The third is composed
of greedy speculators and financiers, who can grow rich only on our
ruin: national prosperity would be destruction to their egotistical
speculations; and our death would be their life. They are like those
beasts of prey, who wait the issue of the battle that they may batten
and feast on the corpses of the slain. (Loud applause.)

"They know that the expenses of your preparations for defence are
numerous; and they reckon upon the failure of the credit of the
treasury, and the scarcity of specie; they reckon upon the weariness of
those citizens who have abandoned their wives, their babes, to hasten to
the frontiers, and who will abandon them, whilst millions, distributed
at home, will arouse insurrections, in which the people, armed by
madness, will themselves destroy their rights, whilst they imagine they
are defending them; then the emperor will advance at the head of a
powerful army to rivet your fetters. Such is the war that they make on
you, and that they seek to make. (Loud applause.)

"The people has sworn to maintain the constitution, because in that lies
its honour and its liberty; but if you suffer it to remain in a state of
troubled immobility, that weakens its force and exhausts all our
resources, will not the day of this exhaustion be the last of the
constitution? The state in which we are kept is one of annihilation that
may lead us to disgrace or to death. (Applause.) To arms, citizens! to
arms, freemen! defend your liberty! assure the hope of that liberty to
the whole human race, or you will not deserve even pity in your
misfortunes. (Applause.) We have no other allies than the eternal
justice, whose rights we defend: but is it forbidden us to seek others,
and to interest those powers who, like ourselves are threatened by the
rupture of the equilibrium in Europe? No, doubtless, let us declare to
the emperor, that from this moment all treaties are broken. (Vehement
applause.) The emperor has himself violated them; and if he does not
attack us, it is because he is not yet prepared; but he is unmasked;
felicitate yourselves upon this. The eyes of Europe are fixed upon you,
show them what is really the National Assembly of France. If you display
the dignity that befits the representatives of a great nation, you will
gain esteem, applause, and assistance. If you evince weakness, if you do
not avail yourselves of the occasion offered you by Providence, of
freeing yourselves from a situation that fetters you, dread the
degradation that is prepared for you by the hatred of Europe, of France,
of your own time and of posterity. (Applause.) Do more; demand that your
flag be respected beyond the Rhine; demand that the _emigrés_ be
dispersed. I might demand that they be given up to the country they
insult, and to punishment. But no. If they have been greedy for our
blood, let us not show ourselves greedy for theirs; their crime is
having wished to destroy their country; let them be vagrants and
wanderers on the face of the earth, and let their punishment be never to
find a country. (Applause.) If the emperor delays to answer your
demands, let all delay be deemed a refusal, and every refusal on his
part to explain, a declaration of war. Attack whilst you yet may. If, in
the Saxon wars, Frederic had temporised, the king of Prussia would at
this moment be marquis of Brandenbourg, instead of disputing with
Austria the balance of power in Germany which has escaped from your

"Up to this period you have only adopted half measures and I may well
apply to you the language which Demosthenes addressed to the Athenians,
under similar circumstances: 'You act towards the Macedonians,' said he,
'like the barbarians, who combat in our games, towards their
adversaries; when they are struck on the arm they raise their hand to
their arm; if struck on the head, they raise their hand to their head;
they never dream of defending themselves when they are wounded, nor of
parrying the blows dealt them. Does Philip take up arms, you do the
same; does he lay them down, you also lay down yours. If he attack one
of your allies, you immediately despatch a numerous army to the
assistance of your ally. If he attack a city, you despatch a numerous
army to the relief of the city. Does he again lay down his arms, you do
the same, without thinking of any means of forestalling his ambition;
and placing yourself beyond the reach of his attacks. Thus you are at
the orders of your enemy, and he it is who commands your army.'

"And I, I tell you the same of the _emigrés_. Do you hear that they are
at Coblentz,--the citizens hasten to combat them; are they assembled on
the banks of the Rhine,--two _corps d'armée_ are despatched thither; do
foreign powers afford them shelter,--you propose to attack them; do you
learn, on the contrary, that they have withdrawn to the north of
Germany,--you lay down your arms; do they again offend you,--your
indignation is again aroused; do they make you specious promises,--you
are again appeased. Thus, it is the _emigrés_ and the cabinets that
support them--who are your leaders, and who dispose of your counsels,
your treasures, and your armies. (Applause.) It is for you to consider
whether this humiliating part be worthy of a great nation. A thought
flashes across my mind, and with that I will terminate. It appears to
me, that the manes of past generations arise, to conjure you, in the
name of all the evils that slavery has inflicted on them, to preserve
from it future generations, whose destinies are in your hands; fulfil
this prayer, and be for the future a second providence. Associate
yourself with the eternal justice that protects the people. By meriting
the title of benefactors of your country, you will also merit that of
benefactors of the human race."

Loud and prolonged applause succeeded the different emotions that had
been excited by this speech in every heart; for Vergniaud, following the
example of the ancient orators, instead of suffering his eloquence to
grow cold in political combinations, heated it at the flame of his
daring genius. The people comprehends only that which it feels; its sole
orators are those who excite it, and emotion is the conviction of the
populace. Vergniaud felt this, and knew how to communicate it. The
knowledge that they laboured for universal good, and the prospect of the
gratitude of future ages shed a halo--a noble pride around France, and
of sanctity around liberty. It was one of the characteristics of this
orator, that he almost invariably elevated the Revolution to the dignity
of an apostleship, that he extended his humanity to all mankind, and
that he only impassioned and worked upon the people by his virtues; such
words produced an effect over all the empire, against which neither the
king nor his ministers could strive.


Moreover, as has been shown, Vergniaud and his party had friends in the
council. M. de Narbonne and the Girondists met and concerted their plans
at Madame de Stäel's, whose _salon_, in which some warlike measure was
always being discussed, was called the camp of the Revolution: the Abbé
Fauchet, the denouncer of M. de Lessart, here imbibed fresh ardour for
the overthrow of this minister. M. de Lessart, by weakening as much as
possible the threats of the court of Vienna and the anger of the
Assembly, sought to gain time for better and wiser resolutions. His
loyal attachment to Louis XVI., and his wise and prudent foresight,
showed him that war would not restore, but shake the throne; and in this
shock of Europe and France, the king would inevitably be crushed. The
attachment of M. de Lessart to his master supplied the place of genius;
he was the only obstacle in the path of the three parties who wished for
war; it was necessary, at all risks, to remove him. He might have
shielded himself by withdrawing from the contest, or by yielding to the
impatience of the Assembly. But, though fully aware of the terrible
responsibility that rested on him, and that this responsibility was
death, he braved all, to afford the king a few days more for
negotiation.--These days were numbered.



Leopold, a pacific and philosophic prince, who had he not been an
emperor, would have been a revolutionist, had sought by every means in
his power to adjourn the concussion between the two principles; he only
demanded from France such concessions as would enable him to repress the
ardour of Prussia, Germany, and Russia. The prince de Kaunitz, his
minister, continually wrote to M. de Lessart in this strain; and the
private communications which the king received from his ambassador at
the court of Vienna, the Marquis de Noailles, breathed the same spirit
of conciliation. Leopold only desired that guarantees should be given to
the monarchical powers for the establishment of order in France, and
that the constitution should be vigorously enforced by the executive
power. But the last sittings of the Assembly, the armaments of M. de
Narbonne, the accusations of Brissot, the fiery speeches of Vergniaud,
and the applause he had gained, began to weary his patience; and the
desire for war, so long repressed, now, in spite of himself, took
possession of him. "The French wish for war," said he one day; "they
shall have it--they shall see that the peaceful Leopold can be warlike
when the interest of his people demands it."

The cabinet councils at Vienna became more frequent, in presence of the
emperor. Russia had just concluded peace with the Ottoman empire, and
was thus enabled to turn her eyes to France; Sweden fanned the flame of
all the princes; Prussia yielded to the advice of Leopold; England
observed, but pledged herself to nothing, for the struggle on the
Continent would increase her importance. The armaments were decided
upon, and on the 7th of February, 1792, the definitive treaty of
alliance between Austria and Prussia was signed at Berlin. "Now," wrote
Leopold to Frederic William, "it is France who menaces--who arms--who
provokes: Europe must arm."

The party in favour of war in Germany triumphed. "It is very fortunate
for you," said the elector of Mayence to the Marquis de Bouillé, "that
the French were the aggressors; but for that we should never have had a
war." War was resolved upon in the councils, yet Leopold still hoped. In
an official note, which the prince de Kaunitz transmitted to the Marquis
de Noailles, for the king, Leopold yet showed himself willing to be
reconciled. M. de Lessart replied confidentially to these last
overtures, in a despatch which he had the honesty to communicate to the
diplomatic committee of the Assembly, composed of Girondists. In this
reply the minister palliated the charges made against the Assembly by
the emperor, and seemed rather to excuse France than justify. He
acknowledged that there were some disturbances in the kingdom, some
excesses in the clubs, some licence in the press; but he attributed
these disorders to the excitement produced by the movements of the
_emigrés_, and the inexperience of a people who essay their constitution
and wound themselves with it.

"Indifference and contempt," said he, "are the fittest weapons with
which to combat this pest. Could Europe stoop so low, as to quarrel with
the French nation, because some few demagogues and madmen dwell amongst
them, and would honour them so far as to reply to them by cannon balls?"

In a despatch of the prince de Kaunitz, addressed to all the European
cabinets, was this phrase,--"Latest events give us cause to hope, for it
is evident that the majority of the French nation, struck by the evils
they are preparing for themselves, are returning to more moderate
principles, and are inclined to restore to the throne the dignity and
authority which form the bases of monarchical government." The Assembly
remained silent from suspicion, and this suspicion was awakened whilst
diplomatic notes and counter notes were exchanged between the cabinet of
the Tuileries and the cabinet of Vienna. But no sooner had M. de Lessart
descended from the tribune, and the Assembly closed the sitting, than
the murmurs of mistrust were changed into loud and sullen exclamations
of indignation.


The Jacobins burst out into threats against the perfidious minister and
the court, who united in a treasonable combination, called the Austrian
Committee, concerted counter-revolutionary plans in the Tuileries, made
signals to the enemies of the nation from the very foot of the throne,
and secretly communicated with the court of Vienna, and dictated the
language necessary to intimidate France. The Memoirs of Hardenberg, the
Prussian minister, which have since been published, prove that these
accusations were not entirely the dreams of the demagogues; and that in
order to promote peace the two courts did all in their power to adopt
the same tone with each other. It was resolved that M. de Lessart should
be impeached, and Brissot, the leader of the diplomatic committee, the
advocate of war, undertook to prove his pretended crimes.

The constitutional party abandoned M. de Lessart, without any defence,
to the hatred of the Jacobins; this party had no suspicions, but
vengeance to wreak upon M. de Lessart. The king had suddenly dismissed
M. de Narbonne, the rival of this minister in the council. M. de
Narbonne, feeling himself menaced, caused La Fayette to write a letter,
in which he conjured him to remain at his post so long as the perils of
his country rendered it necessary.

This step, of which M. de Narbonne was cognisant, appeared to the king
an insolent act of oppression against his liberty and that of the
constitution. The popularity of M. de Narbonne diminished
proportionately as that of the Girondists became greater and inspired
them with more audacity. The Assembly began to change its applause into
murmurs when he mounted the tribune, whence a short time before he had
been shamefully forced to withdraw, because he had wounded the plebeian
susceptibility by appealing to the _most distinguished_ members of the
Assembly. The aristocracy of his rank showed itself beneath his uniform,
whilst the people wished for members of its own stamp in the councils;
and thus between the offended king and the suspicious Girondists, M. de
Narbonne fell. The king dismissed him, and he went to serve in the army
he had organised. His friends did not conceal their resentment. Madame
de Stäel lost in him her ambition and her ideal at the same time; but
she did not abandon all hope of regaining for M. de Narbonne the
confidence of the king, and of seeing him play a great political part.
She had sought to render him a Mirabeau, she now dreamed of making him a
Monk. From this day she conceived the idea of rescuing the king from the
power of the Jacobins and Girondists--of carrying him off through the
agency of M. de Narbonne and the constitutionalists--of re-seating him
on the throne--of crushing the extreme parties, and establishing her
ideal government--a liberal aristocracy. A woman of genius, her genius
had the prejudices of her birth; a plebeian, who had found her way to
court, it was necessary for her to have patricians between the throne
and the people. The first blow at M. de Lessart was dealt by a man who
frequented the _salon_ of Madame de Stäel.


But a more terrible and more unexpected blow fell on M. de Lessart: the
very day on which he thus surrendered himself to his enemies, the
unexpected death of the emperor Leopold was known at Paris, and with
this prince expired the last faint hope of peace, for his wisdom died
with him; and who could tell what new policy would arise from his tomb?
The agitation that prevailed filled every one with terror, and this was
soon changed into hatred against the unfortunate minister of Louis XVI.
He had neither known, it was said, how to profit by the pacific
disposition of Leopold whilst this prince yet lived, nor to forestall
the hostile designs of those who succeeded him in the dominion of
Germany. Every thing furnished fresh accusation against him, even
fatality and death.

At the moment of his decease all was ready for hostility. Two hundred
thousand men formed a line from Bâle to the Scheldt. The duke of
Brunswick, on whom rested every hope of the coalition, was at Berlin,
giving his last advice to the king of Prussia, and receiving his final
orders. Beschoffwerder, the general and confidant of the king of
Prussia, arrived at Vienna to concert with the emperor the point and
time of attack. On his arrival the prince de Kaunitz hastily informed
him of the sudden illness of the emperor. The 27th Leopold was in
perfect health, and received the Turkish envoy; on the 28th he was in
the agonies of death. His stomach swelled, and convulsive vomitings put
him to intense torture. The doctors, alarmed at these symptoms, ordered
copious bleeding, which appeared to allay his sufferings; but they
enervated the vital force of the prince, who had weakened himself by
debauchery. He fell asleep for a short time, and the doctors and
ministers withdrew; but he soon awoke in fresh convulsions, and died in
the presence of a valet de chambre, named Brunetti, in the arms of the
empress, who had just arrived.

The intelligence of the death of the emperor, the more terrible as it
was so unexpected, spread abroad instantly, and surprised Germany at
the very moment of a crisis. Terror for the future destiny of Germany
was joined to pity for the empress and her children: the palace was all
confusion and despair; the ministers felt power snatched from their
grasp; the grandees of the court, without waiting for their carriages,
hurried to the court, in the disorder of astonishment, and grief and
sobs were heard in the vestibules and staircases that led to the
apartments of the empress. At this moment, this princess, without having
time to assume black, appeared, bathed in tears, surrounded by her
numerous children, and leading them to the new king of the Romans, the
eldest son of Leopold, she threw herself at his feet, and implored his
protection for these orphans. Francis I., mingling his tears with those
of his mother and brothers, one of whom was only four years old, raised
the empress, and embracing the children, vowed to be a second father to


This catastrophe was inexplicable to scientific men; politicians
suspected some mystery; the people poison. These reports of poison,
however, have neither been confirmed nor disproved by time. The most
probable opinion is that this prince had made an immoderate use of drugs
which he compounded himself, in order to recruit his constitution,
shattered by debauchery and excess. Lagusius, his chief physician, who
had assisted at the autopsy of the body, declared he discovered traces
of poison. Who had administered it? The Jacobins and _emigrés_ mutually
accused each other, the one party to disembarrass themselves of the
armed chief of the empire, and thus spread anarchy amongst the
federation of Germany, of which the emperor was the bond that united
them; the others had slain in Leopold the philosopher prince, who
temporised with France, and who retarded the war. A female was spoken of
who had attracted the notice of the emperor at the last _bal masqué_ at
the court, and it was said that this stranger, favoured by her disguise,
had given him poisoned sweetmeats, without its being possible to
discover from whose hand they came. Others accused the beautiful
Florentine, Donna Livia, his mistress, who, according to them, was the
fanatical instrument of a few priests. These anecdotes are the mere
chimeras of surprise and sorrow, for the people can never believe that
the events which have had so vast an influence over their destiny are
merely natural. But crimes, universally approved, are rare; opinion may
desire, but never commits them. Crime, like ambition or vengeance, is
personal: there was neither ambition nor vengeance around
Leopold,--nought but a few female jealousies; and his attachments were
too numerous and too fugitive to kindle in the heart of a mistress that
love that arms the hand with poison or poignard. He loved at the same
time Donna Livia, whom he had brought with him from Tuscany, and who was
known in Europe as "La belle Florentine," Prokache, a young Polish girl,
the charming countess of Walkenstein, and others of an inferior rank.
The countess of Walkenstein had for some time past been his avowed
mistress; he had given her a million (francs) in drafts on the bank of
Vienna, and he had even presented her to the empress, who forgave him
his weaknesses, on condition that he gave no one his political
confidence, which up to that time he had confided to her alone. He was a
devoted admirer of the fair sex, and it would be necessary to refer to
the most shameful epochs of Roman history to find any emperor whose life
was as scandalous as his own; his cabinet was found after his death to
be filled with valuable stuffs, rings, fans, trinkets, and even a
quantity of rouge. These traces of debauch made the empress blush when
she visited them with the new emperor. "My son," said she, "you have
before you the sad proof of your father's disorderly life, and of my
long afflictions: remember nothing of them except my forgiveness and his
virtues. Imitate his great qualities, but beware lest you fall into the
same vices, in order that you may not, in your turn, put to the blush
those who scrutinise your life."

The prince in Leopold was superior to the man: he had made trial of a
philosophical government in Tuscany, and this happy country yet blesses
his memory; but his genius was not suited for a more enlarged field. The
struggle, forced on him by the French Revolution, compelled him to seize
on the helm in Germany; but he did so without energy. He opposed the
temporising policy of diplomacy to the contagion of new ideas; he was
the Fabius of kings. To afford the Revolution time was to ensure it the
victory. It could be only vanquished by surprise, and stifled in its own
stronghold; the genius of the people was its negotiator and accomplice,
and its increasing popularity was its army. Its ideas found new
adherents in princes, people, and cabinets. Leopold would have given it
a share, but the share of the Revolution is the conquest of every thing
that opposes its principles. The principles of Leopold could conciliate
the Revolution, but his power as the arbitrator of Germany could not
conciliate the conquering power of France. His part was a double one,
and his position false. He died at a right moment for his renown; he
paralysed Germany, and checked the impetus of France, and, by
disappearing between the two, he left the two principles to clash
together, and destiny to take its course.


Opinion, already agitated by the death of Leopold, received another
shock from the news of the tragical death of the king of Sweden, who was
assassinated on the night of the 16th of March, 1792, at a masked ball.
Death seemed to strike, one after another, all the enemies of France.
The Jacobins saw its hand in all these catastrophes, and even boasted of
them through their most audacious demagogues; but they proclaimed more
crimes than they committed, and their wishes alone shared in these

Gustavus, this hero of the counter-revolution, this chevalier of
aristocracy, fell by the blows of his nobility. When he was ready to set
forth on the expedition he projected against France, he had assembled
his diet to ensure the tranquillity of the kingdom during his absence.
His vigorous measures had put down the malcontents; yet it was foretold
to him, like Cæsar, that the ides of March would be a critical period of
his destiny. A thousand traces revealed a plot, and his intended
assassination was rumoured over all Germany before the blow was struck.
These rumours are the forerunners of projected crimes: some indication
escapes the heart of the conspirator, and it is by this means that the
event is predicted before it happens.

The king of Sweden, warned by his numerous friends, who entreated him to
be upon his guard, replied, like Cæsar, that the stroke when once
received was less painful than the perpetual dread of receiving it, and
that if he listened to all these warnings, he could no longer drink a
glass of water without trembling. He braved danger, and showed himself
more than ever to the people. The conspirators had made several
fruitless attempts during the Diet, but chance had preserved the king.
Since his return to Stockholm, the king frequently went to pass the day
alone at his château at Haga, a league from the capital. Three of the
conspirators had approached the château, at five o'clock on a dark
winter's evening, armed with carbines, and ready to fire on the king.
The apartment he occupied was on the ground floor, and the lighted
candles in the library enabled them to see their victim. Gustavus, on
his return from hunting, undressed, and fell asleep in an arm chair,
within a few feet of the assassins. Whether it was that they were
alarmed by the sound of footsteps, or that the solemn contrast of the
peaceful slumber of this prince with the death that threatened him,
softened their hearts, they again abandoned their project, and only
revealed this circumstance on their trial after the assassination, when
the king acknowledged the truth and precision of their details. They
were ready to renounce their intention, discouraged by a sort of divine
intervention, and by the fatigue of having so long meditated this design
in vain, when a fatal occasion tempted them too strongly, and made them
resolve on the murder of the king.


A masked ball was given at the opera, which the king was to attend, and
the conspirators resolved to take advantage of the mystery of the
disguise and tumult of the fête to strike the blow, without allowing the
hand to appear. A short time before the ball the king supped with a few
of his most intimate courtiers. A letter was brought to him, which he
opened, and reading it jestingly, then threw it on the table. The
anonymous writer informed him that he was neither a friend to his person
nor an approver of his policy, but that as a loyal enemy he desired to
inform him of the death that menaced him. He counselled him not to go
to the ball; or, if he persisted, he advised him to mistrust the crowd
that might press around him, for that was the signal for the blow to be
aimed at him. That the king might not doubt the warning thus given, he
recalled to his memory his dress, gesture, his sleep in his apartment of
Haga in the evening that he had believed himself quite alone. Such
convincing proofs must have struck and intimidated the mind of the
prince, but his intrepid soul made him brave, not only the warning, but
death: he rose and went to the ball.


Scarcely had he reached the apartment, when he was surrounded, as he had
been warned, by a group of masks, and separated, as if by preconcerted
movement, from the body of officers who were in attendance. At this
moment an invisible hand fired at his back a pistol loaded with slugs.
The blow struck him in the left flank above the hip. Gustavus fell into
the arms of Count d'Armsfeld, his favourite. The report of the fire arm,
the smell of powder, the cries of "_fire_," which resounded through the
apartment, the confusion which followed the king's fall, the real or
feigned anxiety of persons who hurried forward to save him, favoured the
escape of the assassins: the pistol had been dropped on the ground.
Gustavus did not lose his presence of mind for a moment. He ordered the
doors to be immediately closed, and desired all to unmask. Carried by
his guards into an apartment in the opera-house, he was confided to his
surgeons. He admitted some of the foreign ministers into his presence,
and spoke to them with all the calmness of a strong mind. Even his pain
did not inspire him with any feeling of vengeance. Generous even in
death, he demanded anxiously if the assassin had been apprehended. He
was told that he was unknown. "Oh God, grant," he said, "that he may not
be discovered."

Whilst the king was receiving the first attentions, and being conveyed
to the palace, the guards stationed at the doors of the ball-room
compelled all to take off their masks, asked their names, and searched
their persons: nothing suspicious was discovered. Four of the chief
conspirators, men of the highest nobility in Stockholm, had succeeded
in escaping from the apartment in the first confusion produced by the
report of the pistol, and before the doors had been closed. Of nine
confidants or accomplices in the crime, eight had already gone away
without exciting any suspicion: only one was left in the apartment, who
affected a slow step and calm demeanour as guarantees of his innocence.

He left the apartment last of all, raising his mask before the officer
of police, and saying, as he looked steadfastly at him, "As for me, sir,
I hope you do not suspect me." This man was the assassin.

They allowed him to pass; the crime had no other evidence than itself, a
pistol, and a knife, sharpened as a poignard, found beneath the masks
and flowers on the floor of the opera. The weapon revealed the hand. A
gunsmith at Stockholm identified the pistol, and declared he had
recently sold it to a Swedish gentleman, formerly an officer in the
guards, named Ankastroem. They found Ankastroem at his house, neither
thinking of exculpation nor of flight. He confessed the weapon and the
crime. An unjust judgment, he averred, in which however the king spared
his life, the wearisomeness of an existence which he had cherished to
employ and make illustrious at its close for his country's advantage,
the hope, if he succeeded, of a national recompence worthy of the deed,
had, he declared, inspired this project; and he claimed to himself alone
the glory or disgrace. He denied all plot and all accomplices. Beneath
the fanatic he masked the conspirator.

He failed in his part, after a few days, beneath the truth and his
remorse. He avowed the conspiracy, named the guilty, and the reward of
his crime. It was a sum of money, that had been weighed, rix-dollar by
rix-dollar, against the blood of Gustavus. The plot, planned six months
before, had been thrice frustrated, by chance or destiny--at the diet of
Jessen, at Stockholm, and at Haga. The king killed, all his
favourites--all the instruments of his government--must be sacrificed to
the vengeance of the senate and the restoration of the aristocracy.
Their heads were to have been carried at the tops of pikes, in the
streets of the capital, in imitation of the popular punishments of
Paris. The duke of Sudermania, the king's brother, was to be
sacrificed. The young monarch, handed over to the conspirators, was to
serve as a passive instrument to re-establish the ancient constitution,
and legitimate their crime. The principal conspirators belonged to the
first families in Sweden; the shame of their lost power had debased
their ambition, even to crime. They were the Count de Bibbing, Count de
Horn, Baron d'Erensward, and Colonel Lilienhorn. Lilienhorn, commandant
of the guards, drawn from misery and obscurity by the king's favour,
promoted to the first rank in the army, and admitted to closest intimacy
in the palace, confessed his ingratitude and his crime; seduced, he
declared, by the ambition of commanding, during the trouble, the
national guard of Stockholm. The part played by La Fayette in Paris
seemed to him the ideal of the citizen and the soldier. He could not
resist the fascination of the perspective; half-way in the conspiracy,
he had endeavoured to render it impossible, even whilst he meditated it.
It was he who had written the anonymous letter to the king, in which the
king was warned of the failure in the attempt at Haga, and that which
threatened him at this fête; with one hand he thrust forward the
assassin--with the other he held back the victim, as though he had thus
prepared for himself an excuse for his remorse after the deed was done.

On the fatal day he had passed the evening in the king's apartments--had
seen him read the letter--had followed him to the ball. Enigma of
crime--a pitying assassin! the mind thus divided between the thirst for,
and horror of, his benefactor's blood.


Gustavus died slowly: he saw death approach and recede with the same
indifference, or the same resignation; received his court, conversed
with his friends, even reconciled himself to the opponents of his
government, who did not conceal their opposition, but did not push their
aristocratic resentment to assassination. "I am consoled," he said, to
the Count de Brahé, one of the greatest of the nobility and chief of the
malcontents, "since death enables me to recover an old friend in you."

He watched to the very last over his kingdom; nominated the Duke of
Sudermania regent, instituted a council of regency, made his friend
Armsfeld military governor of Stockholm, surrounded the young king, only
thirteen years of age, with all that could strengthen his position
during his minority. He prepared his passage from one world to another,
awaiting his death, so that it should be an event to himself alone. "My
son," he wrote, a few hours before he died, "will not come of age before
he is eighteen, but I hope he will be king at sixteen;" thus predicting
for his successor that precocity of courage and genius which had enabled
him to reign and govern before the time. He said to his grand almoner,
in confessing himself, "I do not think I shall take with me great merits
before God, but at least I shall have the consciousness of never having
willingly done harm to any person." Then, having requested a moment's
repose to acquire strength, in order to embrace his family for the last
time, he bid adieu, with a smile, to his friend Bergenstiern, and,
falling asleep, never waked again.

The prince royal, proclaimed king, mounted the throne the same day. The
people, whom Gustavus had emancipated from the yoke of the senate, swore
spontaneously to defend his institutions in his son. He had so well
employed the day, which God had allowed him between assassination and
death, that nothing perished but himself, and his shade seemed to
continue to reign over Sweden.

This prince had nothing great but his soul, nor handsome but his eyes.
Small in size, with broad shoulders, his haunches badly set on, his
forehead singularly shaped, long nose, large mouth, the grace and
animation of his countenance overcame every imperfection of figure, and
rendered Gustavus one of the most attractive men in his dominions;
intelligence, goodness, courage, beamed from his eyes, and pervaded his
features. You felt the man, admired the king, appreciated the hero.
There was heart in his genius, as there is in all really great men. Well
informed, deeply read, eloquent, he applied all his endowments to the
empire; those whom he had conquered by his courage, he vanquished by his
generosity, and charmed by his language. His faults were display and
pleasure; he liked the glory of those enjoyments and amours which are
found and pardoned in heroes; his vices were those of Alexander, Cæsar,
and Henri IV. The revenge of a disgraceful amour had something to do
with the conspiracy which destroyed him; to resemble these great men, he
only wanted their destiny.

When almost a child, he had rescued himself from the tutelage of the
aristocracy; in emancipating the throne, he had emancipated the people.
At the head of an army, recruited without money, and which he
disciplined by its enthusiasm, he conquered Finland, and went on from
victory to victory to St. Petersburgh. Checked in his greatness by a
revolt of his officers, surrounded in his tent by his guards, he had
escaped by flight, and had gone to the succour of another portion of his
kingdom, invaded by the Danes. Again a victor against these deadly
enemies of Sweden, the gratitude of the nation had restored to him his
repentant army; and his sole vengeance was in again leading them to

He had subdued all without, tranquillised all within, and had only one
ambition left--disinterested from every consideration but fame--to
avenge the forsaken cause of Louis XVI., and to secure from her
persecutors a queen whom he adored at a distance. This was the vision of
a hero; it had but one mistake--his genius was vaster than his empire.
Heroism with disproportioned means makes the great man resemble an
adventurer, and transforms gigantic designs into follies. But history
does not judge like fortune, and it is the heart rather than success
that makes the hero. The romantic and adventurous character of Gustavus
is still the greatness of a restless and struggling soul in the
pettiness of its destiny. His death excited a shriek of joy amongst the
Jacobins, who deified Ankastroem; but their burst of delight on learning
the end of Gustavus, proved how insincere was their affected contempt
for this enemy of the constitution.


These two obstacles removed, nothing now kept France and Europe on terms
but the feeble cabinet of Louis XVI. The impatience of the nation, the
ambition of the Girondists, and the resentment of the constitutionalists
wounded through M. de Narbonne, united them to overthrow this cabinet.
Brissot, Vergniaud, Guadet, Condorcet, Gensonné, Pétion, their friends
in the Assembly, the council-chamber of Madame Roland, their Seids
amongst the Jacobins balanced between two ambitions--equally open to
their abilities--to destroy power or seize on it. Brissot counselled
this latter measure. More conversant with politics than the young
orators of the Gironde, he did not comprehend the Revolution without
government; anarchy, in his opinion, did not destroy the monarchy more
than it did liberty. The greater were events, the more necessary was the
direction of them. Placed disarmed in the foremost rank of the Assembly
and of opinion, power presented itself, and it was necessary to lay
hands upon it. Once in their grasp, they would make of it, according to
the dictates of fortune and the will of the people, a monarchy or a
republic. Ready for any thing that would allow them to reign in the name
of the king or of the people, this counsel was pleasing to men who had
scarcely emerged from obscurity, and who, seduced by the facility of
their good fortune, seized on it at its first smile. Men who ascend
quickly, easily become giddy.

Still a very profound line of policy was disclosed in the secret council
of the Girondists, in the choice of the men whom they put forward, and
whom they presented for ministers to the king.

Brissot in this gave evidence of the patience of consummate ambition. He
inspired Vergniaud, Pétion, Guadet, Gensonné, as well as all the leading
men of his party, with similar patience. He remained with them in the
twilight close to power, but not included in the projected ministry,
being desirous of feeling the pulse of popular opinion through secondary
men, who could be disavowed or sacrificed at need, and keeping in
reserve himself and the leaders of the Girondists, either to support or
overthrow this weak and transitory ministry, if the nation should
resolve upon more decisive measures. Brissot, and those who acted with
him, were thus ready at all points, as well to direct as to replace
power--they were masters without any responsibility. The doctrines of
Machiavel were very perceptible in this tactic of statesmen. Besides, by
abstaining from entering into the first cabinet, they would remain
popular, and maintain, in the Assembly and Jacobins, those voices of
power which would have been stifled in an administration. Popularity was
requisite for their contest with Robespierre, who was treading so
closely on their heels, and who would soon be at the head of opinion if
they abandoned it to him. On entering upon their course they affected
for this rival more contempt than they really felt. Robespierre,
single-handed, balanced their influence with the Jacobins. The
vociferations of Billaud, Varennes, Danton, Collot d'Herbois, did not in
the least alarm them. Robespierre's silence gave them considerable
uneasiness. They had been successful in the question of war; but the
stoical opposition of Robespierre, and the desire of the people for war,
had not affected his reputation. This man had redoubled his power in his
isolation. The inspiration of a mind alone and incorruptible was more
powerful than the enthusiasm of a whole party. Those who did not
approve, still admired him. He had stood aside to allow war to pass by
him, but opinion always had its eyes on him, and it might have been said
that a secret instinct revealed to the people that in this man was the
destiny of the future. When he advanced, they followed him; when he did
not move, they waited for him. The Girondists, therefore, were
compelled, from prudential motives, to distrust this man, and to remain
in the Assembly between their own course and him. These precautions
taken, they looked about them for the men who were nullities by
themselves, and yet, engrafted on their party, of whom they could make
ministers. They required instruments, and not masters,--Seids attached
to their fortune, whom they could direct at will either against the king
or against the Jacobins--could elevate without fear, or reject without
compunction. They sought them in obscurity, and believed they had found
them in Clavière, Roland, Dumouriez, Lacoste, and Duranton,--they made
only one mistake: Dumouriez, under the guise of an adventurer, had
talents equal to any emergency.[18]


The party thus distributed, and Madame Roland informed of the proposed
elevation of her husband, the Girondists attacked the ministry in the
person of M. de Lessart, at the sitting of the 10th of March. Brissot
read against this minister a bill of accusation, skilfully and
perfidiously fabricated, in which the appearance presented by facts and
the conjecture derived from proofs, cast on the negotiation of M. de
Lessart all the odium and criminality of treason. He proposed that a
decree of accusation should proceed against the minister for foreign
affairs. The Assembly was silent or applauded. Some members, with a view
of defending the minister, demanded time in order that the Assembly
might reflect on the charge, and thus, at least, affect the impartiality
of justice. "Hasten!" exclaimed Isnard; "whilst you are deliberating
perhaps the traitor will flee." "I have been a long time judge," replied
Boulanger, "and never did I decree capital punishment so lightly."
Vergniaud, who saw the indecision of the Assembly, rushed twice into the
tribune to combat the excuses and the delays of the right side. Becquet,
whose coolness was equal to his courage, desirous of averting the peril,
proposed that it should be sent to the diplomatic committee. Vergniaud
began to fear that the moment would escape his party, and said, "No, no
we do not require actual proofs for a criminal accusation--presumptive
proofs are sufficient. There is not one of us in whose minds the
cowardice and perfidy which characterises the acts of the minister have
not produced the most lively indignation. Is it not he who has for two
months kept in his portfolio the decree of the reunion of Avignon with
France? and the blood spilled in that city, the mutilated carcases of so
many victims, do they not cry to us for vengeance against him? I see
from this tribune the palace in which evil counsellors deceive the king
whom the constitution gives to us, forge the fetters which enchain us,
and plot the stratagems which are to deliver us to the house of Austria.
(Loud acclamations.) The day has arrived to put an end to such audacity
and insolence, and to crush such conspirators. Dread and terror have
frequently, in the ancient times, come forth from this palace in the
name of despotism: let them return thither to-day in the name of the law
(loud applauses); let them penetrate all hearts; let all those who
inhabit it know that the constitution promises inviolability to the king
alone; let them learn that the law will reach all the guilty, and that
not one head convicted of criminality can escape its sword."

These allusions to the queen, who was accused of directing the Austrian
committee, this threatening language, addressed to the king, went
echoing into the king's cabinet, and forced his hand to sign the
nomination of a Girondist ministry. This was a party manoeuvre,
executed beneath the appearance of sudden indignation in the tribune--it
was more, it was the first signal made by the Girondists to the men of
the 20th of June and the 10th of August. The act of accusation was
carried, and De Lessart sent to the court of Orleans, which only yielded
him up to the cut-throats of Versailles. He might have fled, but his
flight would have been interpreted against the king. He placed himself
generously between death and his master, innocent of every crime except
his love for him.

The king felt that there was but one step between himself and
abdication: that was, by taking his ministry from amongst his enemies,
and giving them an interest in power, by placing it in their hands. He
yielded to the times, embraced his minister, and requested the
Girondists to supply him with another. The Girondists were already
silently occupied in so doing. They had previously made, in the name of
the party, overtures to Roland at the end of February. "The court," they
said to him, "is not very far off from taking Jacobin ministers: not
from inclination, but through treachery. The confidence it will feign to
bestow will be a snare. It requires violent men in order to impute to
them the excesses of the people and the disorders of the kingdom: we
must deceive its perfidious hopes, and give to it firm and sagacious
patriots. We think of you."


Roland, whose ambition had soured in obscurity, had smiled at the power
which came to avenge his old age. Brissot, himself, had gone to Madame
Roland on the 21st of the same month, and repeating the same words, had
requested from her the formal consent of her husband. Madame Roland was
ambitious, not of power but of fame. Fame lightens up the higher places
only, and she ardently desired to see her husband elevated to this
eminence. She spoke like a woman who had predicted the event, and whom
fortune does not surprise. "The burden is heavy," she said to Brissot,
"but Roland has a great consciousness of his own powers, and would
derive fresh strength from the feeling of being useful to liberty and
his country."

This choice being made, the Girondists cast their eyes on Lacoste, an
active commissioner of the navy, a working man, his mind limited by his
duties, but honest and upright; his very candour of nature preserving
him from faction. Put into council to watch over his master, he
naturally became his friend. Duranton, an advocate of Bordeaux, was
called to the bureau of justice. The Girondists, who knew him, boasted
of his honesty, and relied on his plasticity and weakness. Brissot
intended for the finance department Clavière, a Genevese economist,
driven from his native land, a relation and friend of his own; used to
intrigue; rival of Necker; brought up in the cabinet of Mirabeau, in
order to bring forward a rival against this finance minister, so hateful
to Mirabeau: a man without republican prejudices or monarchical
principles, only seeking in the Revolution a part, and with whom the
great aim and end was--to get on. His mind, indifferent to all scruples,
was on a level with every situation, and at the height of all parties.
The Girondists, new to state affairs, required men well conversant in
the details of war and finance departments, and who yet were the mere
tools of their government: Clavière was one of these. In the war office
they had De Grave, by whom the king had replaced Narbonne. De Grave, who
from the subaltern ranks of the army had been raised to the post of
minister of war, had declared relations with the Girondists. The friends
of Gensonné, Vergniaud, Guadet, Brissot, and even Danton, hoped, through
their instrumentality, to save at the same time the constitution and the
king. Devoted to both, he was the link by which he hoped to unite the
Girondists to royalty. Young, he had the illusions of his age:
constitutional, he had the sincerity of his conviction; but weak, in ill
health, more ready to undertake than firm to execute, he was one of
those men of the moment who help events to their accomplishment, and do
not disturb them when they are accomplished.

The principal minister, however, he to whose hands was to be confided
the fate of his country, and who was to comprise in himself all the
policy of the Girondists, was the minister for foreign affairs, destined
to replace the unfortunate De Lessart. The rupture with Europe was the
most pressing matter with the party, and they required a man who would
control the king, detect the secret intrigues of the court, cognisant of
the mysteries of European cabinets, and who knew how, by his skill and
resolution, at the same time to force our enemies into a war,--our
dubious friends into neutrality,--our secret partisans to an alliance.
They sought such a man: he was close at hand.



Dumouriez combined all the requisites of boldness, devotion to the
cause, and talent that the Girondists required, and yet, until then, a
second-rate man, and almost unknown, had no fortune to hope for but as
theirs culminated. His name would not give umbrage to their genius, and
if he proved incompetent, or rebelled against their projects, they would
remove him without fear, or crush him without pity. Brissot, the
diplomatic oracle of the Gironde, was evidently to be the minister who
was one day to control our foreign relations, and who _en attendant_ was
to govern for the moment under the name of Dumouriez.

The Girondists had discovered Dumouriez in the obscurity of an
existence, until then very insignificant, through Gensonné, whose
colleague Dumouriez had been in the mission which the Constituent
Assembly had given him to visit and examine the position of the western
departments, already agitated by the secret presentiment of civil war
and the early religious troubles. During this inquiry, which lasted
several months, the two commissioners had frequent opportunities for an
interchange of their most private thoughts on the great events which at
this moment agitated men's minds. They became much attached to each
other. Gensonné detected with much tact in his colleague one of those
intellects repressed by circumstances, and weighed down by the
obscurity of their lot, which it is enough to expose to the open
daylight of public action, in order to shine forth with all the
brilliancy with which nature and study had endowed it: he had too found
in this mind the spring of character strong enough to bear the movements
of a revolution, and sufficiently elastic to bend to all the
difficulties of affairs. In a word, Dumouriez had on the first contact
exercised over Gensonné that influence, that ascendency, that empire
which superiority, when it displays and humbles itself, never fails to
acquire over minds to which it condescends to disclose itself.

This attractive power, the confidence of genius, was one of the
characteristics of Dumouriez, and by that he subsequently made a
conquest of the Girondists, the king, the queen, his army, the Jacobins,
Danton,--Robespierre himself. It was what great men call their star,--a
star which precedes them, and prepares their way. Dumouriez's star was
fascination of manner; but this fascination was but the attraction of
his just, rapid, quick ideas, into whose orbit the incredible activity
of his mind carried away the mind of those who heard his thoughts or
witnessed his actions. Gensonné, on his return from his mission, had
desired to enrich his party with this unknown man, whose eminence he
foresaw from afar. He presented Dumouriez to his friends of the
Assembly, to Guadet, Vergniaud, Roland, Brissot, and De Grave:
communicated to them his own astonishment at, and confidence in, the
twofold faculties of Dumouriez as diplomatist and soldier. He spoke of
him as of a concealed saviour, whom fate had reserved for liberty. He
conjured them to attach to themselves a man whose greatness would
enhance their own.

They had scarcely seen Dumouriez before they were convinced. His
intellect was electrical: it struck before they had time to anatomise
it. The Girondists presented him to De Grave, and De Grave to the king,
who offered him the temporary management of foreign affairs, until M. de
Lessart, sent before the _Haute Cour_, had proved his innocence to his
judges, and could resume the place reserved for him in the council.
Dumouriez refused the post of minister _pro tempore_, which would injure
and weaken his position before all parties by rendering him suspected
by all. The king yielded, and Dumouriez was appointed.


History should pause a moment before this man, who, without having
assumed the name of Dictator, concentrated in himself during two years
all expiring France, and exercised over his country the most
incontestible of dictatorships--that of genius. Dumouriez was of the
number of men who are not to be painted by merely naming them, but of
those whose previous life explains their nature; who have in the past
the secret of their future; who have, like Mirabeau, their existence
spread over two epochs; who have their roots in two soils, and are only
known by the perusal of every detail.

Dumouriez, son of a commissioner in the war department, was born at
Cambrai in 1739; and although his family lived in the north, his blood
was southern by extraction. His family, originally from Aix, in
Provence, evinced itself in the light, warmth, and sensibility of his
nature; there was perceptible the same sky that had rendered so prolific
the genius of Mirabeau. His father, a military and well-read man,
educated him equally for war and literature. One of his uncles, employed
in the foreign office, made him early a diplomatist. A mind equally
powerful and supple, he lent himself equally to all--as fitted for
action as for thought, he passed from one to the other with facility,
according to the phases of his destiny. There was in him the flexibility
of the Greek mind in the stirring periods of the democracy in Athens.
His deep study early directed his mind to history, that poem of men of
action. Plutarch nourished him with his manly diet. He moulded on the
antique figures drawn from life by the historian the ideal of his own
life, only all the parts of every great man suited him alike: he assumed
them by turns, realised them in his reveries, as suited to reproduce In
him the voluptuary as the sage, the malcontent as the patriot;
Aristippus as Themistocles; Scipio as Coriolanus. He mingled with his
studies the exercises of a military life, formed his body to fatigue, at
the same time that he fashioned his mind to lofty ideas; equally skilled
in handling a sword and daring in subduing a horse.

Demosthenes, by patience, formed a sonorous voice from a stammering
tongue. Dumouriez, with a weak and ailing constitution in his childhood,
enured his body for war. The stirring ambition of his soul required that
the frame which encased it should be of endurance.


Opposing the desires of his father, who destined him for the war
office, the pen was his abhorrence, and he obtained a sub-lieutenancy in
the cavalry. As aide-de-camp of marshal d'Armentières, he made the
campaign of Hanover. In a retreat he seized the standard from the hands
of a fugitive, rallied two hundred troopers round him, saved a battery
of five pieces of cannon, and covered the passage of the army. Remaining
almost alone in the rear, he made himself a rampart of his dead horse,
and wounded three of the enemy's hussars. Wounded in many places by
gun-shot and sabre wounds--his thigh entangled beneath a fallen
horse--two fingers of his right hand severed--his forehead cut open--his
eyes literally singed by a discharge of powder, he still fought, and
only surrendered prisoner to the Baron de Beker, who saved his life, and
conveyed him to the camp of the English.

His youth and good constitution restored him to health at the end of two
months. Destined to form himself to victory by the example of defeats,
and want of experience in our generals, he rejoined marshal de Soubise
and marshal de Broglie; and was present at the routs which the French
owe to their enmity and rivalry.

At the peace he went to rejoin his regiment in garrison at Saint Lô.
Passing by Pont Audemer, he stopped at the house of his father's sister.
A passionate love for one of his uncle's daughters kept him there. This
love, shared by his cousin, and favoured by his aunt, was opposed by his
father. The young girl, in despair, took refuge in a convent. Dumouriez
swore to take her thence, and went away. On his road, overcome by his
grief, he bought some opium at Dieppe, shut himself up in his apartment,
wrote his adieus to his beloved, a letter of reproaches to his father,
and took the poison. Nature saved him, and repentance ensued--he went,
and, throwing himself at his father's feet, they were reconciled.

At four and twenty years of age, after seven campaigns, he brought from
the wars only twenty-two wounds, a decoration, the rank of captain, a
pension of 600 livres, debts contracted in the service, and a hopeless
love, which preyed upon his mind. His ambition, spurred by his love,
made him seek in politics that success which war had hitherto refused

There was then in Paris one of those enigmatic men who are at the same
time intriguers and statesmen. Unknown and unconsidered, they play under
some name parts hidden, but important in affairs. Men of police, as well
as of politics, the governments that employ and despise them pay their
services, not in appointments, but in subsidies. Manoeuvrers in
politics, they are paid from day to day--they are urged onwards,
compromised, and then disavowed, and sometimes even imprisoned. They
suffer all, even captivity and dishonour, for money. Such men are things
to buy and sell, and their talent and utility stamp their price. Of this
class were Linguet, Brissot, even Mirabeau in his youth. Such at this
period was one Favier.

This man, employed in turns by the duc de Choiseul and M. d'Argenson, to
draw up diplomatic memoranda, had an infinite knowledge of Europe; he
was the vigilant spy of every cabinet, knew their back-games, guessed
their intrigues, and kept them in play by counter-mines, of which the
minister for foreign affairs did not always know the secret. Louis XV.,
a king of small ideas and petty resources, was not ashamed to take into
his confidence Favier, as an instrument in the schemes he contemplated
against his own ministers. Favier was the go-between in the political
correspondence which this monarch kept up with the count de Broglie,
unknown to, and against the policy of, his own ministers. This
confidence, suspected by, rather than known to, his ministers, talent as
a very able writer, deep knowledge of national eras, of history, and
diplomacy, gave Favier a credit with the administration, and an
influence over affairs very much beyond his obscure position and dubious
character; he was, in some sort, the minister of the intrigues of high
life of his time.


Dumouriez seeing the high roads to fortune closed before him, resolved
to cast himself into them by indirect ways; and with this view attached
himself to Favier. Favier attached himself to him, and in this
connection of his earlier years, Dumouriez acquired that character for
adventure and audacity which gave, during all his life, something
skilful as intrigue and as rash as a _coup de main_ to his heroism and
his policy. Favier initiated him into the secrets of courts, and engaged
Louis XV. and the Duc de Choiseul to employ Dumouriez in diplomacy and
war at the same time.

It was at this moment that the great Corsican patriot, Paoli, was making
gigantic efforts to rescue his country from the tyranny of the republic
of Genoa, and to assure to this people an independence, of which he by
turns offered the patronage to England and to France. On reaching Genoa,
Dumouriez undertook to deceive at the same time the Republic, England,
and Paoli, united himself with Corsican adventurers, conspired against
Paoli, made a descent upon the island, which he summoned to
independence, and was partially successful. He threw himself into a
felucca, to bring to the Duc de Choiseul information as to the new state
of Corsica, and to implore the succour of France. Delayed by a tempest,
tossed for several weeks on the coast of Africa, he reached Marseilles
too late; the treaty between France and Genoa was signed. He hastened to
Favier, his friend in Paris.

Favier informed him confidentially, that he was employed to draw up a
memorial to prove to the king and his ministers the necessity of
supporting the republic of Genoa against the independent Corsicans; that
this memorial had been demanded of him secretly by the Genoese
ambassador, and by a _femme de chambre_ of the Duchesse de Grammont,
favourite sister of the Duc de Choiseul, interested, like the brothers
of the Du Barry[19], in supplying the army: that 500 louis were the
price of this memorial and the blood of the Corsicans; and he offered a
portion of this intrigue and its profits to Dumouriez who pretended to
accept this, and then hastening to the Duc de Choiseul, revealed the
manoeuvre, was well received, believed he had convinced the minister,
and was preparing to return, conveying to the Corsicans the subsidies
and arms they expected. Next day, he found the minister changed, and was
sent from the audience with harsh language. Dumouriez retired, and made
his way unmolested to Spain. Aided by Favier, who was satisfied with
having jockeyed him, and pitied his candour; assisted by the Duc de
Choiseul, he conspired with the Spanish minister and French ambassador
to effect the conquest of Portugal, whose topography he was empowered to
study in a military point of view, as well as its means of defence. The
Marquis de Pombal, first minister of Portugal, conceived suspicions as
to Dumouriez's mission, and forced him to leave Lisbon. The young
diplomatist returned to Madrid, learned that his cousin, over-persuaded
by the priests, had abandoned him, and meant to take the veil. He then
attached himself to another mistress, a young Frenchwoman, daughter of
an architect established at Madrid, and for some years his activity
reposed in the happiness of a participated love. An order of the Duc de
Choiseul recalled him to Paris,--he hesitated: his beloved herself
compelled him, and sacrificed him as if she had from afar anticipated
his fame. He reached Paris, and was named quartermaster-general of the
French army in Corsica, where, as everywhere else, he greatly
distinguished himself. At the head of a detachment of volunteers, he
seized on the Château de Corte, the last asylum and home of Paoli. He
retained for himself the library of this unfortunate patriot. The choice
of these books, and the notes with which they were covered in Paoli's
hand, revealed one of those characters which seek their fellows in the
finest models of antiquity. Dumouriez was worthy of this spoil, since he
appreciated it above gold. The great Frederic called Paoli the first
captain of Europe: Voltaire declared him the conqueror and lawgiver of
his country. The French blushed at conquering him--fortune at forsaking
him. If he did not emancipate his country, he deserved that his struggle
should be immortalised. Too great a citizen for so small a people, he
did not bear a reputation in proportion to his country, but to his
virtues. Corsica remains in the ranks of conquered provinces; but Paoli
must always be in the ranks of great men.


After his return to Paris, Dumouriez passed a year in the society of the
literary men and women of light fame who gave to the society of the
period the spirit and the tone of a constant orgy. Forming an attachment
with an old acquaintance of Madame Du Barry, he knew this _parvenue_
courtezan, whom libertinism had elevated nearly to the throne. Devoted
to the Duc de Choiseul, the enemy of this mistress of the king, and
retaining that remnant of virtue which amongst the French is called
honour, he did not prostitute his uniform to the court, and blushed to
see the old monarch, at the reviews of Fontainebleau, walk on foot with
his hat off before his army, beside a carriage in which this woman
displayed her beauty and her empire. Madame Du Barry took offence at the
forgetfulness of the young officer, and divined the cause of his
absence. Dumouriez was sent to Poland on the same errand that had before
despatched him to Portugal. His mission, half diplomatic, half military,
was, in consequence of a secret idea of the king, approved by his
confidant, the Count de Broglie, and by Favier, the count's adviser.

It was at the moment when Poland, menaced and half-occupied by the
Russians, devoured by Prussia, forsaken by Austria, was attempting some
ill-considered movements, in order to repair its scattered limbs, and to
dispute, at least, in fragments, its nationality with its
oppressors--the last sigh of liberty which moved the corpse of a people.
The king, who feared to come into collision with the Empress of Russia,
Catherine, to give excuses to the hostilities of Frederic and umbrage to
the court of Vienna, was still desirous of extending to expiring Poland
the hand of France; but concealing that hand, and reserving to himself
the power even to cut it off, if it became necessary. Dumouriez was the
intermediary selected for this part; the secret minister of France,
amongst the Polish confederates; a general, if necessary--but a general
adventurer and disowned--to rally and direct their efforts.

The Duc de Choiseul, indignant at the debasement of France, was
secretly preparing war against Prussia and England. This powerful
diversion in Poland was necessary for his plan of campaign, and he gave
his confidential instructions to Dumouriez; but, thrown out of the
administration by the intrigues of Madame Du Barry and M. d'Argenson,
the Duc de Choiseul was suddenly exiled to Versailles before Dumouriez
reached Poland. The policy of France, changing with the minister, at
once destroyed Dumouriez's plans. Still he followed them up with an
ardour and perseverance worthy of better success. He found the Poles
debased by misery, slavery, and the custom of bearing a foreign yoke. He
found the Polish aristocrats corrupted by luxury, enervated by
pleasures, employing in intrigues and language the warmth of their
patriotism in the conferences and confederation of _Epéries_. A female
of remarkable beauty, high rank, and eastern genius, the Countess of
Mnizeck, stirred up, destroyed, or combined different parties, according
to the taste of her ambition or her amours. Certain patriot orators
caused the last accents of independence to resound again in vain.
Certain princes and gentlemen formed meetings without any understanding
with each other, who contended as partisans rather than as citizens, and
who boasted of personal fame, without any reference to the safety of
their country. Dumouriez availed himself of the ascendency of the
countess, and endeavoured to unite these isolated effects, formed an
infantry, an artillery, seized upon two fortresses, threatened in all
directions the Russians, scattered in small bodies over the wide plains
of Poland, prepared for war, disciplined the insubordinate patriotism of
the insurgents, and contended successfully against Souwarow, the Russian
general, subsequently destined to threaten the republic so closely.

But Stanislaus, the king of Poland, the crowned creature of Catherine,
saw the danger of a national insurrection, which, by drawing out the
Russians, would endanger his throne; and he paralysed it by offering to
the federates to adhere, in his own person, to the confederation. One of
them, Bohuez, the last great orator of Polish liberty, returned to the
king, in a sublime oration, his perfidious succour, and then combined
the unanimity of the conspirators into the last resource of the
oppressed--insurrection. It burst forth. Dumouriez is its life and soul,
flies from one camp to the other, giving a spirit of unity to the plan
of attack. Cracovis was ready to fall into his hands; the Russians
regain the frontier in disorder; but anarchy, that fatal genius of
Poland, suddenly dissolves the union of the chiefs, and they surrender
one another to the united efforts of the Russians. All desire to have
the exclusive honour of delivering their country, and prefer to lose it
rather than owe their success to a rival.

Sapieha, the principal leader, was massacred by his nobles. Pulauwski
and Micksenski were delivered up, wounded, to the Russians; Zaremba
betrayed his country; Oginski, the last of these great patriots, roused
Lithuania at the moment when Lesser Poland had laid down its arms.
Abandoned and fugitive, he escaped to Dantzig, and wandered for thirty
years over Europe and America, carrying in his heart the memory of his
country. The lovely Countess of Mnizeck languished and died of grief
with Poland. Dumouriez wept for this heroine, adored in a country
wherein he said the women are more men than the men. He brake his sword,
despairing for ever of this aristocracy without a people, bestowing on
it, as he quitted it, the name of _Asiatic Nation of Europe_.


He returned to Paris. The king and M. d'Argenson, to save appearances
with Russia and Prussia, threw him and Favier into the Bastille, and he
there passed a year in cursing the ingratitude of courts and the
weakness of kings, and recovered his natural energy in retreat and
study. The king changed his prison into exile to the citadel of Caen;
there Dumouriez found again, in a convent, the cousin he had loved.
Free, and weary of a monastic life, she became softened on again
beholding her former lover, and they were married. He was then appointed
commandant of Cherbourg, and his indefatigable mind contended with the
elements as if it were opposing men. He conceived the plan of fortifying
this harbour, which was to imprison a stormy sea in a granite basin, and
give the French navy a halting place in the channel. Here he passed
fifteen years in domestic life, much troubled by the ill humour and
ascetic devotion of his wife; in military studies constant, but without
application, and in the dissipation of the philosophic and voluptuous
society of his time.

The Revolution, which was drawing nigh, found him indifferent to its
principles, and prepared for its vicissitudes. The justness of his
penetration enabled him at a glance to measure the tendency of events.
He soon comprehended that a revolution in ideas must undermine
institutions, unless institutions modelled themselves on the new ideas.
He gave himself to the constitution without enthusiasm; he desired the
maintenance of the throne, had no faith in a republic, foresaw a change
in the dynasty; and was even accused of meditating it. The emigration,
by decimating the upper ranks of the army, left space for him, and he
was named general, by length of service. He preserved a firm and
well-devised conduct, equi-distant from the throne and the people, from
the counter-revolutionist and the malcontent, ready to go with the
opinion of the court or of the nation, according as events might
transpire. By turns he was in communication with all parties, as if to
sound the growing power of Mirabeau and de Montmorin, the Duc d'Orleans
and the Jacobins, La Fayette and the Girondists. In his various commands
during these days of crises, he maintained discipline by his popularity,
was on terms with the insurgent people, and placed himself at their
head, in order to restrain them. The people believed him certainly on
their side; the soldiery adored him; he detested anarchy, but flattered
the demagogues. He applied very skilfully to his popularity those able
tactics which Favier had taught him. He viewed the Revolution as an
heroic intrigue. He manoeuvred his patriotism as he would have
manoeuvred his battalions on the field of battle. He considered the
coming war with much delight, knowing already all of a hero's part. He
foresaw that the Revolution, deserted by the nobility, and assailed by
all Europe, would require a general ready formed to direct the
undisciplined efforts of the masses it had excited. He prepared himself
for that post. The long subordination of his genius fatigued him. At
fifty-six years of age he had the fire of youth with all the coolness of
age; his earnest desire was advancement; the yearning of his soul for
fame was the more intense in proportion to the years he had already
unavailingly passed. His frame, fortified by climates and voyages, lent
itself, like a passive instrument, to his activity: all was young in him
except his amount of years; they were expended, but not by energy. He
had the youth of Cæsar, an impatient desire for fortune, and the
certainty of acquiring it. With great men, to live is to rise in renown;
he had not lived, because his reputation was not equivalent to his


Dumouriez was of that middle stature of the French soldier who wears his
uniform gracefully, his havresac lightly, and his musket and sabre as if
he did not feel their weight. Equally agile and compact, his body had
the cast of those statues of warriors who repose on their expanded
muscles, and yet seem ready to advance. His attitude was confident and
proud; all his motions were as rapid as his mind. He vaulted into the
saddle without touching the stirrup, holding the mane by his left hand.
He sprung to the ground with one effort, and handled the bayonet of the
soldier as vigorously as the sword of the general. His head, rather
thrown backwards, rose well from his shoulders, and turned on his neck
with ease and grace, like all elegant men. These haughty motions of his
head made him look taller under the tricoloured cockade. His brow was
lofty, well-turned, flat at the temples, and well displayed; his muscles
set in play by his reflection and resolution. The salient and
well-defined angles announced sensibility of mind beneath delicacy of
understanding and the most exquisite tact. His eyes were black, large,
and full of fire; his long lids, beginning to turn grey, increased their
brilliancy, though sometimes they were very soft; his nose, and the oval
of his countenance, were of that aquiline type which reveals races
ennobled by war and empire; his mouth, flexible and handsome, was almost
always smiling; no tension of the lips betrayed the effort of this
plastic mind--this master mind, which played with difficulties, overcame
obstacles; his chin, turned and decided, bore his face, as it were, on a
firm and square base, whilst the habitual expression of his countenance
was calm and expansive cheerfulness. It was evident that no pressure of
affairs was too heavy for him, and that he constantly preserved so much
liberty of mind as enabled him to jest alike with good or bad fortune.
He treated politics, war, and government with gaiety. The tone of his
voice was sonorous, manly, and vibrating; and was distinctly heard above
the noise of the drum, and the clash of the bayonet. His oratory was
straightforward, clever, striking; his words were effective in council,
in confidence, and intimacy: they soothed and insinuated themselves like
those of a woman. He was persuasive, for his soul, mobile and sensitive,
had always in its accent the truth and impression of the moment. Devoted
to the sex, and easily enamoured, his experience with them had imbued
him with one of their highest qualities--pity. He could not resist
tears, and those of the queen would have made him a Seid of the throne;
there was no position or opinion he would not have sacrificed to a
generous impulse; his greatness of soul was not calculation, it was
excessive feeling. He had no political principles; the Revolution was to
him nothing more than a fine drama, which was to furnish a grand scene
for his abilities, and a part for his genius. A great man for the
service of events, if the Revolution had not beheld him as its general
and preserver, he would equally have been the general and preserver of
the Coalition. Dumouriez was not the hero of a principle, but of the


The new ministers met at Madame Roland's, the soul of the Girondist
ministry: Duranton, Lacoste, Cahier-Gerville received there, in all
passiveness, their instructions from the men whose shadows only they
were in the council. Dumouriez affected, like them, at first, a full
compliance with the interests and will of the party, which, personified
at Roland's by a young, lovely, and eloquent woman, must have had an
additional attraction for the general. He hoped to rule by ruling the
heart of this female. He employed with her all the plasticity of his
character, all the graces of his nature, all the fascinations of his
genius; but Madame Roland had a preservative against the warrior's
seductions that Dumouriez had not been accustomed to find in the women
he had loved--austere virtue and a strong will. There was but one means
of captivating her admiration, and that was by surpassing her in
patriotic devotion. These two characters could not meet without
contrasting themselves, nor understand without despising each other.
Very soon, therefore, Dumouriez considered Madame Roland as a stubborn
bigot, and she estimated Dumouriez as a frivolous presuming man, finding
in his look, smile, and tone of voice that audacity of success towards
her sex which betrayed, according to her estimation, the free conduct of
the females amongst whom he had lived, and which offended her decorum.
There was more of the courtier than the patriot in Dumouriez. This
French aristocracy of manners displeased the engraver's humble daughter;
perhaps it reminded her of her lowly condition, and the humiliations of
her childhood at Versailles. Her ideal was not the military, but the
citizen; a republican mind alone could acquire her love. Besides, she
saw at a glance that this man was too great to remain long on the level
of her party; she suspected his genius in his politeness, and his
ambition beneath his familiarity. "Have an eye to that man," she said to
her husband after their first interview; "he may conceal a master
beneath the colleague, and drive from the cabinet those who introduced
him there."


Roland, too happy at being in power, did not foresee his disgrace, and
encouraging his wife, trusted more and more to the admiration which
Dumouriez feigned for him. He thought himself the statesman of the
cabinet, and his gratified vanity lent itself credulously to the
advances of Dumouriez, and even made him better disposed towards the
king. On his entry to the ministry Roland had affected in his costume
the bluntness of his principles, and in his manners the rudeness of his
republicanism. He presented himself at the Tuileries in a black coat,
with a round hat, and nailed shoes covered with dust. He wished to show
in himself the man of the people, entering the palace in the plain garb
of the citizen, and thus meeting the man of the throne. This tacit
insolence he thought would flatter the nation and humiliate the king.
The courtiers were indignant; the king groaned over it; Dumouriez
laughed at it. "Ah, well then, really, gentlemen," he said to the
courtiers, "since there is no more etiquette there is no more monarchy."
This jocose mode of treating the thing had at once removed all the anger
of the court, and all the effect of the Spartan pretensions of Roland.

The king no longer regarded the discourtesy, and treated Roland with
that cordiality which unlocks men's hearts. The new ministers were
astonished to feel themselves confiding and moved in the presence of the
monarch. Having arrived suspicious and republican to their seats in the
cabinet, they quitted it almost royalists.

"The king is not known," said Roland to his wife: "a weak prince, he is
one of the best of men; he does not want good intentions, but good
advice: he does not like the aristocracy, and has strong affection for
the people: perhaps he was born to serve as the medium between republic
and monarchy. By rendering the constitution easy to him we shall make
him like it, and the popularity he will re-acquire by following our
counsels will render government easy to ourselves. His nature is so
great that the throne has been unable to corrupt it, and he is equally
remote from the silly brute which has been held up to the laughter of
the people as from the sensitive and highly accomplished man his
courtiers pretend to adore in him; his mind, without being superior, is
expansive and reflecting; in a humble position his abilities would have
provided for him; he has a general and occasionally sound knowledge,
knows the details of business, and acts towards men with that simple but
persuasive ability which gives kings the precocious necessity of
governing their impressions; his prodigious memory always recalls to him
at the right time things, names, and faces; he likes work, and reads
every thing; he is never idle for a moment; a tender parent, a model of
a husband: chaste in feeling, he has done away with all those scandals
which disgraced the courts of his predecessors; he loves none but the
queen, and his condescension, which is occasionally injurious to his
politics, is at least a weakness 'which leans to virtue's side.' Had he
been born two centuries earlier his peaceable reign would have been
counted amongst the number of happy years of the monarchy. Circumstances
appear to have influenced his mind. The Revolution has convinced him of
its necessity, and we must convince him of its possibility. In our
hands the king may better serve it than any other citizen in the
kingdom; by enlightening this prince we may be faithful alike to his
interests and those of the nation--the king and Revolution must be with
us as one."


Thus said Roland in the first dazzling of power; his wife listened with
a smile of incredulity on her lips. Her keener glance had at the instant
measured a career more vast and a termination more decisive than the
timid and transitory compromise between a degraded royalty and an
imperfect revolution. It would have cost her too much to renounce the
ideal of her ardent soul; all her wishes tended to a republic; all her
exertions, all her words, all her aspirations, were destined,
unconsciously to herself, to urge thither her husband and his

"Mistrust every man's perfidy, and more especially your own virtue," was
her reply to the weak and vain Roland. "You see in this world but
courts, where all is unreal, and where the most polished surfaces
conceal the most sinister combinations. You are only an honest
countryman wandering amongst a crowd of courtiers,--virtue in danger
amidst a myriad of vices: they speak our language, and we do not know
theirs. Would it be possible that they should not deceive us? Louis
XVI., of a degenerate race, without elevation of mind, or energy of
will, allowed himself to be enthralled early in life by religious
prejudices, which have even lessened his intellect; fascinated by a
giddy queen, who unites to Austrian insolence the enchantment of beauty
and the highest rank, and who makes of her secret and corrupt court the
sanctuary of her pleasures and the focus of her vices, this prince,
blinded on the one hand by the priests, and on the other by love, holds
at random the loose reins of an empire which is escaping from his grasp.
France, exhausted of men, does not give to him, either in Maurepas,
Necker, or Calonne, a minister capable of supporting him. The
aristocracy is barren, and produces nothing but to its shame; the
government must be renewed in the holier and deeper fount of the nation;
the time for a democracy is here,--why delay it! You are its men, its
virtues, its characters, its intelligence. The Revolution is behind you,
it hails you, urges you onward, and would you surrender it to the first
smile from the king because he has the condescension of a man of the
people? No: Louis XVI., half dethroned by the nation, cannot love the
nation that fetters him; he may feign to caress his chains, but all his
thoughts are devoted to the idea of how he can spurn them. His only
resource at this moment is to protest his attachment to the Revolution,
and to lull the ministers whom the Revolution empowers to watch over his
intrigues. But this pretence is the last and most dangerous of the
conspiracies of the throne. The constitution is the forfeiture of Louis
XVI., and the patriot ministers are his superintendents. Fallen
greatness cannot love the cause of its decadence; no man likes his
humiliation. Trust in human nature, Roland--that alone never deceives,
and mistrust courts. Your virtue is too elevated to see the snares which
courtiers spread beneath your feet."


Such language amazed Roland. Brissot, Condorcet, Vergniaud, Gensonné,
Guadet, and especially Buzot, the friend and most intimate confidant of
Madame Roland, strengthened at their evening meetings the mistrust of
the minister. He armed himself with fresh distrust from their
conversations, and entered the council with a more frowning brow and
more resolute determination: the king's frankness disarmed
him--Dumouriez discouraged him by his gaiety--power softened him by its
influence. He wavered between the two great difficulties of the moment,
the double sanction required from the king for the decrees which were
most repugnant to his heart and conscience, the decree against the
emigrants, and the decree against the nonjuring priests; and he wavered
as to war.

During this tergiversation of Roland and his colleagues, Dumouriez
acquired the favour of the king and the people, the secret of his
conduct being comprised in what he had said a short time before to M. de
Montmorin, in a secret conversation he had with that minister. "If I
were king of France, I would disconcert all parties by placing myself
at the head of the Revolution."

This sentence contained the sole line of policy capable of saving Louis
XVI. In a time of revolution every king who is not revolutionary must be
inevitably crushed between the two parties: a neutral king no longer
reigns--a pardoned king degrades the throne--a king conquered by his own
people has for refuge only exile or the scaffold. Dumouriez felt that
his first step was to convince the king of his personal attachment, and
take him into his confidence, or indeed make him his accomplice in the
patriotic part he proposed to play; constitute himself the secret
mediator between the will of the monarch and the exactions of the
cabinet, to control the king by his influence over the Girondists, and
the Girondists by his influence over the king; the part of the favourite
of misfortune and protector of a persecuted queen pleased alike his
ambition and his heart. A soldier, diplomatist, gentleman, there was in
his soul a wholly different feeling for degraded royalty than the
sentiment of satisfied jealousy which filled the minds of the
Girondists. The _prestige_ of the throne existed for Dumouriez; the
_prestige_ of liberty only existed for the Girondists. This feeling,
revealed in his attitude, language, gestures, could not long escape the
observation of Louis XVI. Kings have twofold tact, misfortune makes them
more nice; the unfortunate perceive pity in a look; it is the only
homage they are allowed to receive, and they are the more jealous of it.
In a secret conversation the king and Dumouriez came to an


Dumouriez's restless conduct in his commands in Normandy, the friendship
of Gensonné, the favour of the Jacobins for him, had prejudiced Louis
XVI. against his new minister. The minister, on his side, expected to
find in the king a spirit opposed to the constitution, a mind trammelled
by routine, a violent temper, an abrupt manner, and using language
imperious and offensive to all who approached him. Such was the
caricature of this unfortunate prince. It was necessary to disfigure him
in order to make the nation hate him.

Dumouriez found in him at this moment, and during the three months of
his ministry, an upright mind, a heart open to every benevolent
sentiment, unvarying politeness, endurance and patience which defied the
calamities of his situation. Extreme timidity, the result of the long
seclusion in which his youth had been passed, repressed the feelings of
his heart, and gave to his language and his intercourse with men a
stiffness and embarrassment which destroyed his better qualities of
decided and calm courage; he frequently spoke to Dumouriez of his death
as an event probable and doomed, the prospect of which did not affect
his serenity nor preclude him from doing his duty to the last as a
father and a king.

"Sire," said Dumouriez to him, with the chivalric sympathy which
compassion adds to respect, and with that aspect in which the heart says
more than language; "you have overcome your prejudices against myself;
you have commanded me by M. de Laporte to accept the post he had
refused." "Yes," replied the king. "Well, I come now to devote myself
wholly to your service, to your protection. But the part of a minister
is no longer what it was in former days: without ceasing to be the
servant of the king, I am the man of the nation. I will speak to you
always in the language of liberty and the constitution. Allow me then,
in order to serve you better, that in public and in the council I appear
in my character as a constitutionalist, and that I avoid every thing
that may at all reveal my personal attachment towards you. In this
respect I must break through all etiquette, and avoid attending the
court. In the council, I shall oppose your views, and shall propose as
our representatives in foreign courts men devoted to the nation. When
your repugnance to my choice shall be invincible and on good grounds, I
shall comply; if this repugnance shall tend to compromise the safety of
the country and yourself, I shall beg you to allow me to resign, and
nominate my successor. Think of the terrible dangers which beset your
throne--it must be consolidated by the confidence of the nation in your
sincere attachment to the Revolution. It is a conquest which it depends
on you to make. I have prepared four despatches to ambassadors in this
sense. In these I have used language to which they are unused from
courts, the language of an offended and resolute nation. I shall read
them this morning before the council: if you approve my labour, I shall
continue to speak thus, and act in accordance with my language; if not,
my carriage is ready, and, unable to serve you in the council, I shall
depart whither my tastes and studies for thirty years call me, to serve
my country in the field."

The king, astonished and much moved, said to him, "I like your
frankness; I know you are attached to me, and I anticipate all from your
services. They had created many prejudices against you, but this moment
effaces them all. Go and do as your heart directs you, and according to
the best interests of the nation, which are also mine." Dumouriez
retired; but he knew that the queen, adored by her husband, clung to the
policy of her husband with all the passion and excitement of her soul.
He desired and feared at the same time an interview with this princess:
one word from her would accomplish or destroy the bold enterprise he had
dared to meditate, of reconciling the king with the people.


The queen sent for the general into her most private apartments.
Dumouriez found her alone, her cheeks flushed by the emotion of an
internal struggle, and walking rapidly up and down the room, like a
person whose agitated thoughts require corresponding activity of body.
Dumouriez placed himself in silence near the fireplace, in the attitude
of respect and sorrow, inspired by the presence of so august, so
beautiful, and so miserable a princess. She advanced towards him with a
mingled air of majesty and anger.

"Monsieur," said she, with that accent that reveals at once resentment
against fortune, and contempt for fate; "you are all-powerful at this
moment; but it is through popular favour, and that soon destroys its
idols." She did not await his reply, but continued, "Your existence
depends upon your conduct; it is said that you possess great talents,
and you must imagine that neither the king nor myself can suffer all
these innovations of the constitution. I tell you thus much frankly, so
make your decision." "Madame," returned Dumouriez, "I am confounded by
the dangerous disclosure your Majesty has thought fit to make me; I
will not betray your confidence, but I am placed between the king and
the nation, and I belong to my country. Permit me," continued Dumouriez,
with respectful earnestness, "to represent to you that the safety of the
king--your own--and that of your children, and the very re-establishment
of the royal authority--is bound up with the constitution. You are
surrounded by enemies, who sacrifice you to their own interests. The
constitution alone can, by strengthening itself, protect you and assure
the happiness and glory of the king." "It cannot last long, beware of
yourself," returned the queen, with a look of anger and menace.
Dumouriez imagined that he saw in this look and speech an allusion to
personal danger and an insinuation of alarm. "I am more than fifty years
old, madame," replied he, in a low tone, in which the firmness of the
soldier was mingled with the pity of the man; "I have braved many perils
in my life; and when I accepted the ministry, I well knew that my
responsibility was not the greatest of my dangers." "Ah," cried the
queen, with a gesture of horror, "this calumny and disgrace was alone
wanting! You appear to believe me capable of causing you to be
assassinated." Tears of indignation checked her utterance. Dumouriez,
equally moved with herself, disclaimed the injurious interpretation
given to his reply. "Far be it from me, madame, to offer you so cruel an
insult; your soul is great and noble, and the heroism you have displayed
in so many circumstances, has for ever attached me to you." She was
appeased in a moment, and laid her hand on Dumouriez's arm, in token of

The minister profited by this return to serenity and confidence to give
Marie Antoinette advice, of which the emotion of his features and voice
sufficiently attested the sincerity. "Trust me, madame, I have no motive
for deceiving you; I abhor anarchy and its crimes equally with yourself.
But I have experience; I live in the centre of the different parties,
and I take part in opinion. I am connected with the people, and I am
better placed than your majesty for judging the extent and the direction
of events. This is not, as you deem it, a popular movement; but the
almost unanimous insurrection of a great nation against an old and
decaying order of things. Mighty factions feed the flame, and in every
one of them are scoundrels or madmen. I alone see in the Revolution the
king and the nation, and that which tends to separate them, ruins them
both. I seek to unite them, and it is for you to aid me. If I am an
obstacle to your designs, and if you persist in them, tell me instantly,
and I will retire, and mourn in obscurity the fate of my country and
your own." The queen was touched and convinced; the frankness of
Dumouriez at once pleased and won her. The heart of the soldier was a
guarantee to her of the conduct of the statesman. Firm, brave, and
heroic, she preferred to have the weight of his sword in the councils of
his king, rather than those politicians, and specious orators, who,
nevertheless, bent before every blast of opinion or sedition; and an
intimate understanding soon existed between the queen and the general.

The queen was for some time faithful to her promises, but the repeated
outrages of the people again moved her, in spite of herself, to anger
and conspiracy. "See," said she to the king before Dumouriez, one day,
pointing to the tops of the trees in the Tuileries; "a prisoner in this
palace, I do not venture to show myself at the windows that look on to
the garden. The crowd collected there, and who watch even my tears, hoot
me. Yesterday, to breathe the air, I showed myself at a window that
looks at the court; an artillery-man on guard addressed the most
revolting language to me. 'How I should like,' added he, 'to see your
head on the point of my bayonet!' In this frightful garden I see on one
side a man mounted on a chair, and vociferating the most odious insults
against us, whilst he threatens, by his gestures, the inhabitants of the
palace; on the other, the populace is dragging to the basin some priest
or soldier, whom they overwhelm with blows and outrages, whilst, at the
same time, and close to these terrible scenes, persons are playing at
ball or walking about in the _allées_. What a residence--what a
life--what a people!" Dumouriez could but lament with the royal family,
and exhort them to be patient. But the endurance of the victims is
exhausted sooner than the cruelty of the executioner. How could it be
expected that a courageous and proud princess, who had been constantly
surrounded by the adulation of the court, could love the Revolution that
was the instrument of her humiliation and her torture? or see in this
indifferent and cruel nation a people worthy of empire and of liberty?


When all his measures with the court were concerted, Dumouriez no longer
hesitated to leap over the space that divided the king and the extreme
party, and to give the government the form of pure patriotism. He made
overtures to the Jacobins, and boldly presented himself at their sitting
the next day. The chamber was thronged, and the apparition of Dumouriez
struck the tribunes with mute astonishment. His martial figure and the
impetuosity of his conduct won for him at once the favour of the
Assembly; for no one suspected that so much audacity concealed so much
stratagem, and they saw in him only the minister who threw himself into
the arms of the people, and every one hastened to receive him.

It was the moment when the _bonnet rouge_, the symbol of extreme
opinion, a species of livery worn by the demagogues and flatterers of
the people, had been almost unanimously adopted by the Jacobins. This
emblem, like many similar ones received by the revolutions from the hand
of chance, was a mystery even to those who wore it. It had been adopted
for the first time on the day of the triumph of the soldiers of
Châteauvieux. Some said it was the _coiffure_ of the galley-slaves, once
infamous, but glorious since it had covered the brows of these martyrs
of the insurrection; and they added that the people wished to purify
this head-dress from every stain by wearing it themselves. Others only
saw in it the Phrygian bonnet, a symbol of freedom for slaves.

The _bonnet rouge_ had from its first appearance been the subject of
dispute and dissension amongst the Jacobins; the _exaltés_ wore it,
whilst the _modérés_ yet abstained from adopting it. Dumouriez did not
hesitate, but mounted the tribune, placed this sign of patriotism on his
head, and at once assumed the emblem of the most prominent party, whilst
this mute yet significant eloquence awakened a burst of enthusiasm on
every side of the _Salle_. "Brothers and friends," said Dumouriez,
"every instant of my life shall be devoted to carrying out the wishes of
the people, and to justifying the king's choice. I will employ in all
negotiations the force of a free people, and before long these
negotiations will produce a lasting peace or a decisive war. (Applause.)
If we have this war I will abandon my political post, and I will assume
my rank in the army to triumph, or perish a free man with my brethren. A
heavy weight presses on me, aid me to bear it; I require your counsels,
transmit them to me through your journals. Tell me truth, even the most
unpalatable; but repel calumny, and do not repulse a citizen whom you
know to be sincere and intrepid, and who devotes himself to the cause of
the Revolution and the nation."

The president replied to the minister that the society gloried in
counting him amongst its brethren. These words occasioned some murmurs,
which were stifled by the acclamations that followed Dumouriez to his
place. It was proposed that the two speeches should be printed. Legendre
opposed the motion from economical motives, but was hissed by the
tribunes. "Why these unusual honours, and this reply of the president to
the minister?" said Collot d'Herbois. "If he comes here as a minister,
there is no reply to make him. If he comes here as an associate and a
brother, he does no more than his duty; he only raises himself to the
level of our opinions. There is but one answer to be made,--let him act
as he has spoken." Dumouriez raised his hand, and gesticulated to Collot

Robespierre rose, smiled sternly on Dumouriez, and said, "I am not one
of those who believe it is utterly impossible for a minister to be a
patriot, and I accept with pleasure the promises that M. Dumouriez has
just given us. When he shall have verified these promises, when he has
dissipated the foes armed against us by his predecessors, and by the
conspirators who even now hold the reins of government, spite of the
expulsion of several ministers, then, and then only, I shall be inclined
to bestow on him the praises he will have merited, and I shall even in
that case deem that every good citizen in this assembly is his equal.
The people only is great, is worthy in my eyes; the toys of ministerial
power fade into insignificance before it. It is out of respect for
people, for the minister himself, that I demand that his presence here
be not marked by any of those homages that mark the decay of public
feeling. He asks us to counsel the ministers; I promise him, on my
part, to give him advice which will be useful to them and to the country
at large. So long as M. Dumouriez shall prove by acts of pure
patriotism, and by real services to his country, that he is the brother
of all good citizens, and the defender of the people, he shall find none
but supporters here. I do not dread the presence of any minister in this
society, but I declare that the instant a minister possesses more
ascendency here than a citizen, I will demand his ostracism. But this
will never happen."

Robespierre left the tribune, and Dumouriez cast himself into his arms;
the Assembly rose, and sealed by its applause their fraternal embrace,
in which all saw the augury of the union of power and the people. The
president Doppet read (the _bonnet rouge_ on his head) a letter from
Pétion to the society, on the subject of this new head-dress adopted by
the patriots, and on which Pétion spoke against this superfluous mark of

"This sign," said he, "instead of increasing your popularity, alarms the
public mind, and affords a pretext for calumnies against you. The moment
is serious, the demonstrations of patriotism should be serious as the
times. It is the enemies of the Revolution who urge it to these
frivolities in order that they may have the right to accuse it of
frivolity and thoughtlessness. They thus give patriotism the appearance
of faction, and these emblems divide those they should rally. However
great the vogue that counsels them to-day, they will never be
universally adopted, for every man really devoted to the public welfare
will be quite indifferent to a _bonnet rouge_. Liberty will neither be
more majestic nor more glorious in this garb, but the very signs with
which you adorn her will serve as a pretext for dissension amongst her
children. A civil war, commencing in sarcasm and ending in bloodshed,
may be caused by a ridiculous manifestation. I leave you to meditate on
these ideas."


Whilst this letter was being read, the president, a timorous man, who
perceived the agency of Robespierre in the advice of Pétion, had quietly
removed from his head the repudiated _bonnet rouge_, and the members of
the society, one after another, followed his example. Robespierre alone,
who had never adopted this bauble of the fashion, and with whom Pétion
had concerted his letter, mounted the tribune, and said, "I, in common
with the major of Paris, respect every thing that bears the image of
liberty; but we have a sign which recalls to us constantly our oath to
live and die free, and here is this sign. (He showed his cockade.) The
citizens, who have adopted the _bonnet rouge_ through a laudable
patriotism, will lose nothing by laying it aside. The friends of the
Revolution will continue to recognise each other by the sign of virtue
and of reason. These emblems are ours alone; all those may be imitated
by traitors and aristocrats. In the name of France, I rally you again to
the only standard that strikes terror into her foes. Let us alone retain
the cockade and the banner, beneath which the constitution was born."

The _bonnet rouge_ instantly disappeared in the Assembly; but even the
voice of Robespierre, and the resolutions of the Jacobins, could not
arrest the outbreak of enthusiasm that had placed the sign of _avenging
equality_ ("_l'égalité vengeresse_") on every head; and the evening
of the day on which it was repudiated at the Jacobins saw it inaugurated
at all the theatres. The bust of Voltaire, the destroyer of prejudice,
was adorned with the Phrygian cap of liberty, amidst the shouts of the
spectators, whilst the cap and pike became the uniform and weapon of the
citizen soldier. The Girondists, who had attacked this sign as long as
it appeared to them the livery of Robespierre, began to excuse it as
soon as Robespierre repulsed it. Brissot himself, in his report of what
passed at this sitting, regrets this symbol, because, "adopted by the
most indignant portion of the people, it humiliated the rich, and became
the terror of the aristocracy." The breach between these two men became
wider every day, and there was not sufficient space in the Jacobins, the
Assembly, and the supreme power for these rival ambitions, which strove
for the dictatorship of opinion.

The nomination of the ministers, which was entirely under the influence
of Girondists, the councils held at Madame Roland's, the presence of
Brissot, of Guadet, of Vergniaud at the deliberations of the ministers,
the appointment of all their friends to the government offices, served
as themes for the clamours of the _exaltés_ of the Jacobins. These
Jacobins were termed Montagnards, from the high benches occupied in the
Assembly by the friends of Robespierre and Danton. "Remember," they
said, "the almost prophetic sagacity of Robespierre, when, in answer to
Brissot, who attacked the former minister De Lessart, he made this
allusion to the Girondist leader, which has been so speedily
justified,--'For me, who do not aim at the ministry either for myself or
my friends.'" On their side the Girondist journals heaped opprobrium on
this handful of calumniators and petty tyrants, who resembled Catiline
in crimes if not in courage; thus war commenced by sarcasm.

The king, however, when the ministry was completed, wrote the Assembly a
letter, more resembling an abdication into the hands of opinion than the
constitutional act of a free power. Was this humiliating resignation an
affectation of slavery, or a sign of restraint and degradation made from
the throne to the armed powers, in order that they might comprehend that
he was no longer free, and only see in him the crowned automaton of the
Jacobins? The letter was in these terms:

"Profoundly touched by the disorders that afflict the French nation, and
by the duty imposed on me by the constitution of watching over the
maintenance of order and public tranquillity, I have not ceased to
employ every means that it places at my disposal to execute the laws. I
had selected as my prime agents men recommended by the purity of their
principles and their opinions. They have quitted the ministry; and I
have felt it my duty to replace them by men who hold a high position in
public favour. You have so often repeated that this measure was the only
means of ensuring the re-establishment of order and the enforcement of
the laws, that I have deemed it fitting to adopt it, that no pretext may
be afforded for doubting my sincere desire to add to the prosperity and
happiness of my country. I have appointed M. Clavière minister of the
contributions, and M. Roland minister of the interior. The person whom I
had chosen as the minister of justice has prayed me to make another
choice: when I shall have again made it the Assembly shall be duly
informed. (Signed) Louis."

The Assembly received this message with loud applause: for with the king
once in its power, it could employ him in the works of regeneration. The
most perfect harmony appeared to reign in the council. The king
astonished his new ministers by his assiduity and his aptitude for
business. He conversed with everyone on the subject that most interested
him. He questioned Roland on his works, Dumouriez on his adventures, and
Clavière on the finances, whilst he avoided the irritating topics of
general policy. Madame Roland reproached her husband with these
conversations, and besought him to make use of his time, to take
abstracts of these conversations, and to keep an authentic register,
which would one day cover his responsibility. The ministers appeared to
dine four times a week together, in order to concert their acts and
language in the king's presence. It was at these private meetings that
Buzot, Guadet, Vergniaud, Genevéive and Brissot infused into the
ministers the feelings of their party and reigned unseen over the
Assembly and the king. Dumouriez soon became an object of suspicion to
them for his mind escaped their dominion by its greatness, and his
character escaped fanaticism by its pliability. Madame Roland, seduced
by his eloquence, yet experienced remorse for her admiration; she felt
that the genius of this man was necessary to her party, but that genius
without virtue would be fatal to the republic; and she infused distrust
of Dumouriez into the mind of her allies. The king invariably adjourned
the sanction which the Girondists demanded from him to the crimes
against the priests and _emigrés_. Foreseeing that they would be called
upon, sooner or later, to give an account of their responsibility to the
nation, Madame Roland wished to take precautionary measures. She
persuaded her husband to write a confidential letter to the king, full
of the most strict lessons of patriotism; to read it himself in council
to loyal princes; and to keep a copy, which he would publish at the
proper time as an accusation against Louis XVI. and a justification of
himself. This treacherous precaution against the perfidy of the court
was odious as a snare and cowardly a denunciation. Passion only, which
disturbs the sight of the soul, could blind a generous-minded woman as
to the meaning of such an act; but party feeling supplies the place of
generosity, justice, and even of virtue. This letter was a concealed
weapon, with which Roland reserved to himself the power of mortally
wounding the reputation of the king whilst he saved his own. This was
his only crime, or rather the only error of his hate; and this was the
only cause for remorse he felt at the foot of the scaffold.


"Sire," said Roland in this celebrated letter, "things cannot remain in
their present state; it is a state of crises, and we must be extricated
from it by some extreme measure (_une explosion quelconque_). France has
given itself a constitution; the minority are undermining, the majority
are defending, it. There arises a fierce internal struggle in which no
person remains neuter. You enjoyed supreme power, and could not have
laid it down without regret. The enemies of the Revolution took into
calculation the sentiments they presume you entertain. Your secret
favour is their strength. Ought you now to ally yourself to the enemies
or the friends of the constitution? Pronounce once for all. Royalty,
clergy, nobility, aristocracy, must abhor these changes, which destroy
them: on the other hand, the people see the triumph of their rights in
the Revolution and will not allow themselves to be despoiled. The
declaration of rights has become their new Gospel: liberty is henceforth
the religion of the people. In this shock of opposing interests, all
sentiments have become extreme--opinions have assumed the accent of
enthusiasm. The country is no longer an abstraction, but a real being,
to which we are attached by the happiness it promises to us, and the
sacrifices we have made for it. To what point will this patriotism be
exalted at the moment now imminent, when the enemies' forces without are
about to combine with the intrigues within to assail it? The rage of the
nation will be terrible if it have not confidence in you. But this
confidence is not to be acquired by words, but by acts. Give
unquestionable proofs of your sincerity. For instance, two important
decrees have been passed, both deeply important for the security of the
state, and the delay of your sanction excites distrust. Be on your
guard: distrust is not very wide from hatred, and hatred does not
hesitate at crime. If you do not give satisfaction to the Revolution,
it will be cemented by blood. Desperate measures, which you may be
advised to adopt to intimidate Paris, to control the Assembly, would
only cause the development of that sullen energy, the mother of great
devotions and great attempts (this was meant indirectly for Dumouriez,
who had advised firm measures). You are deceived, Sire, when the nation
is represented to you as hostile to the throne, and to yourself. Love,
serve the Revolution, and the people will love it in you. Deposed
priests are agitating the provinces: ratify the measures requisite to
put down their fanaticism. Paris is uneasy as to its security: sanction
the measures which summon a camp of citizens beneath its walls. Still
more delays, and you will be considered as a conspirator and an
accomplice. Just heaven! hast thou stricken kings with blindness? I know
that the language of truth is rarely welcomed at the foot of thrones: I
know, too, that it is the withholding the truth from the councils of
kings which renders revolutions so often necessary. As a citizen, and as
a minister, I owe the truth to the king, and nothing shall prevent my
making it reach his ear. I demand that we should have here a secretary
of council to register our deliberations. Responsible ministers should
have a witness of their opinions. If this witness existed, I should not
now address your majesty in writing."

The threat was no less evident than the treachery of this letter; and
the last sentence indicated, in equivocal terms, the odious use which
Roland meant one day to make of it. The magnanimity of Vergniaud was
excited against this step of the powerful Girondist minister:
Dumouriez's military loyalty was roused by it: the king listened to the
reading of it with the calmness of a man accustomed to put up with
insult. The Girondists were informed of it in the secret councils at
Madame Roland's, and Roland kept a copy to cover himself at the hour of
his fall.


At this moment secret understandings, unknown to Roland himself, were
formed by the three Girondist chiefs, Vergniaud, Guadet, and Gensonné
and the château, through Boze, the king's painter. A letter, intended
for the monarch's perusal, was written by them. The iron chest guarded
it for the day of accusation.

"You ask of us," runs this epistle, "what is our opinion as to the state
of France, and the choice of measures fit to save the public weal.
Questioned by you concerning such important interests, we do not
hesitate to reply. The conduct of the executive power is the cause of
all the evil. The king is deceived by persuading him that it is the
clubs and factions which foment public agitation. This is placing the
cause of the evil in its symptoms. If the people was reassured of the
loyalty of the king, it would grow tranquil, and factions die a natural
death. But so long as conspiracies, internal and external, appear
favoured by the king, troubles will perpetually spring up, and
continually increase the mistrust of the citizens. The present tendency
of things is evidently towards a crisis, all the chances of which are
opposed to royalty. They are making of the chief of a free nation, the
chief of a party. The opposite party ought to consider him, not as a
king, but as an enemy. What is to be hoped from the success of
manoeuvres carried on with foreigners, in order to restore the
authority of the throne? They will give to the king the appearance of a
violent usurpation of the rights of the nation. The same force which
would have served this violent restoration would be necessary to
maintain it. It would produce a permanent civil war. Attached as we are
to the interests of the nation, from which we shall never separate those
of the king, we think that the sole means by which he can alleviate the
evils that threaten the empire and the throne, is to identify himself
with the nation. Renewed protestations are useless; we must have deeds.
Let the king abandon every idea of increased power offered to him by the
succour of foreigners. Let him obtain from cabinets hostile to the
Revolution the withdrawal of the troops who press upon our frontiers. If
that be impossible, let him arm the nation himself, and direct it
against the enemies of the constitution. Let him choose his ministers
amongst the leading men of the Revolution. Let him offer the muskets and
horses of his own guard. Let him publish the documents connected with
the civil list, and thus prove that the secret treasury is not the
source of counter-revolutionary plots. Let him apply himself for a law
respecting the education of the prince royal, and let him be brought up
in the spirit of the constitution. Finally, let him withdraw from M. de
La Fayette the command of the army. If the king shall adopt these
determinations, and persist in them with firmness, the constitution is

This letter, conveyed to the king by Thierri, had not been sought by
him. He was annoyed at the many plans of succour sent to him. "What do
these men mean?" he inquired of Boze; "Have I not done all that they
advise? Have I not chosen patriots for ministers? Have I not rejected
succour from without? Have I not repudiated my brothers, and hindered,
as far as in me lies, the coalition, and armed the frontiers? Have I not
been, since my acceptance of the constitution, more faithful than the
malcontents themselves to my oath?"

The Girondist leaders, still undecided between the republic and the
monarchy, thus felt the pulse of power--sometimes of the Assembly,
sometimes of the king; ready to seize it wherever they should find it;
but discovering it on the side of the king, they judged that there was
more certainty in sapping than in consolidating the throne, and they
inclined more than ever to a factious policy.


Still, half-masters of the council through Roland, Clavière, and Servan,
who had succeeded De Grave, they bore to a certain extent the
responsibility of these three ministers. The Jacobins began to require
from them an account of the acts of a ministry which was in their hands,
and bore their name. Dumouriez, placed between the king and the
Girondists, saw daily the increasing want of confidence between his
colleagues and himself; they suspected his probity equally with his
patriotism. He had profited by his popularity and ascendency over the
Jacobins to demand of the Assembly a sum of 6,000,000 (240,000_l._) of
secret service money on his accession to the ministry. The apparent
destination of this money was to bribe foreign cabinets, and to detach
venal powers from the coalition, and to foment revolutionary symptoms in
Belgium. Dumouriez alone knew the channels by which this money was to
flow. His exhausted personal fortune, his costly tastes, his attachment
to a seductive woman, Madame de Beauvert, sister to Rivarol; his
intimacy with men of unprincipled character and irregular
habits,--reports of extortion charged on his ministry, and falling, if
not on him on those he trusted, tarnished his character in the eyes of
Madame Roland and her husband. Probity is the virtue of democrats, for
the people look first at the hands of those who govern them. The
Girondists, pure as men of the ancient time, feared the shadow of a
suspicion of this nature on their characters, and Dumouriez's
carelessness on this point annoyed them. They complained. Gensonné and
Brissot insinuated their feelings to him on this point at Roland's.
Roland himself, authorised by his age and austerity of manners, took
upon himself to remind Dumouriez that a public man owes respect to
decorum and revolutionary manners. The warrior turned the remonstrance
into pleasantry, replied to Roland that he owed his blood to the nation,
but neither owed it the sacrifice of his tastes nor his amours; that he
understood patriotism as a hero, and not as a puritan. The bitterness of
his language left venom behind, and they separated with mutual

From this day forth he no longer visited at Roland's evening meetings.
Madame Roland, who understood the human heart by the superior instinct
of her genius and her sex, was not deceived by the general's tactics.
"The hour is come to destroy Dumouriez," she said boldly to her friends.
"I know very well," she added, addressing Roland, "that you are
incapable of descending either to intrigue or revenge; but remember that
Dumouriez must conspire in his heart against those who have wounded him.
When such daring remonstrances have been made to such a man, and
uselessly made, it is necessary to strike the blow if we would not be
struck ourselves." She felt truly, and spoke sagaciously. Dumouriez,
whose rapid glance had seen behind the Girondists a party stronger and
bolder than their own, began from this time to connect himself with the
leaders of the Jacobins. He thought, and with reason, that party hatred
would be more potent than patriotism, and that by flattering the rivalry
of Robespierre and Danton against Brissot, Pétion, and Roland, he should
find in the Jacobins themselves a support for the government. He liked
the king, pitied the queen, and all his prejudices were in favour of
the monarchy. He would have been as proud to restore the throne as to
save the republic. Skilful in handling men, every instrument was good
that was available; to get rid of the Girondists, who, by oppressing the
king menaced himself, and to go and seek further off and lower than
these rhetoricians, that popularity which was necessary to him when
opposed to them, was a master-stroke of genius: he tried it, and
succeeded. From this epoch may be dated his connection with Camille
Desmoulins and Danton.

Danton and Dumouriez came to an understanding the sooner, because in
their vices, like their good qualities, they closely resembled each
other. Danton, like Dumouriez, only wanted the impulse of the
Revolution. Principles were trifles with him; what suited his energy and
his ambition was that tumultuous turmoil which cast down and elevated
men, from the throne to nothing, from nothing to fortune and power. The
intoxication of movement was to Danton, as to Dumouriez, the continual
need of their disposition: the Revolution was to them a battle field,
whose whirl charmed and promoted them.

Yet any other revolution would have suited them as well; despotism or
liberty, king or people. There are men whose atmosphere is the whirlwind
of events--who only breathe easily in a storm of agitation. Moreover, if
Dumouriez had the vices or levities of courts, Danton had the vices and
licentiousness of the mob. These vices, how different soever in form,
are the same at bottom; they understand each other, they are a point of
contact between the weaknesses of the great and the corruption of the
small. Dumouriez understood Danton at the first glance, and Danton
allowed himself to be approached and tamed by Dumouriez. Their
connection, often suspected of bribery on the one hand, and venality on
the other, subsisted secretly or publicly until the exile of Dumouriez
and the death of Danton. Camille Desmoulins, freed of Danton and
Robespierre, attached himself also to Dumouriez, and brought his name
constantly forward in his pamphlets. The Orleans party, who held on with
the Jacobins by Sillery, Laclos, and Madame de Genlis, also sought the
friendship of the new minister. As to Robespierre, whose policy was
perpetual reserve with all parties, he affected neither liking nor
dislike towards Dumouriez, but was secretly delighted at seeing him
become a rival to his enemies. At least he never accused him. It is
difficult long to hate the enemy of those whom we hate.


The growing hatred of Robespierre and Brissot became daily more deadly.
The sittings of the Jacobins and the newspapers were the continual
theatre of the struggles and reconciliations of these two men. Equal in
strength in the nation--equal in talent in the tribune--it was evident
that they were afraid of each other in their attacks. They affected
mutual respect, even when most offensive; but this repressed animosity
only corroded their hearts more deeply, and it burst forth occasionally
beneath the politeness of their language, like death beneath the glance
of steel.

All these fermentations of division, rivalry, and resentment, boiled
over in the April sittings. They were like a general review of two great
parties who were about to destroy the empire in disputing their own
ascendency. The Feuillants or moderate constitutionalists were the
victims, that each of the two popular parties mutually immolated to the
suspicions and rage of parties. Ræderer, a moderate Jacobin, was accused
of having dined with the Feuillants, friends of La Fayette. "I do not
only inculpate Ræderer," exclaimed Tallien, "I denounce Condorcet and
Brissot. Let us drive from our society the ambitious and the

"The moment for unmasking traitors will soon arrive," said Robespierre
in his turn. "I do not desire to unmask them to-day. The blow when
struck must be decisive. I wish that all France heard me now. I wish
that the culpable chief of these factions, La Fayette, was here with all
his army; I would say to his soldiers, whilst I presented my
breast,--Strike! That moment would be the last of La Fayette and the
_intrigants_" (this name had been invented by Robespierre for the
Girondists). Fauchet excused himself for having said that Guadet,
Vergniaud, Gensonné, and Brissot might be, advantageously for the
country, placed at the head of the government. The Girondists were
accused of dreaming of a _protector_, the Jacobins a _tribune_ of the

At last, Brissot rose to reply. "I am here to defend myself," he said.
"What are my crimes? I am said to have made seven ministers--I keep up a
connection with La Fayette--I desire to make a protector of him.
Certainly great power is thus assigned to me by those who think that
from my fourth story I have dictated laws to the Château of the
Tuileries. But if it even were true that I had made ministers, how long
has it been a crime to have confided the interests of the people to the
hands of the people? This minister is about, it is said, to distribute
all his favours to the Jacobins! Ah! would to heaven that all the places
were filled by Jacobins!"

At these words Camille Desmoulins, Brissot's enemy, concealed in the
chamber, bowing towards his neighbour, said aloud with a sneering laugh,
"What a cunning rogue! Cicero and Demosthenes never uttered more
eloquent insinuations." Cries of angry feeling burst from the ranks of
Brissot's friends, who clamoured for Camille Desmoulins' expulsion. A
censor of the chamber declared that the remarks of the pamphleteer were
disgraceful, and order was restored. Brissot proceeded. "Denunciation is
the weapon of the people: I do not complain of this. Do you know who are
its bitterest enemies? Those who prostitute denunciation. Yes; but where
are the proofs? Treat with the deepest contempt him who denounces, but
does not prove. How long have a protector or a protectorate been talked
of? Do you know why? Is it to accustom the ear to the name of
tribuneship and tribune. They do not see that a tribuneship can never
exist. Who would dare to dethrone the constitutional king? Who would
dare to place the crown on his head? Who can imagine that the race of
Brutus is extinct? And if there were no Brutus, where is the man who has
ten times the ability of Cromwell? Do you believe that Cromwell himself
would have succeeded in a revolution like ours? There were for him two
easy roads to usurpation, which are to-day closed--ignorance and
fanaticism. You think you see a Cromwell in a La Fayette. You neither
know La Fayette nor your times. Cromwell had character--La Fayette has
none. A man does not become protector without boldness and decision;
and when he has both, this society comprises a crowd of friends of
liberty, who would rather perish than support him. I first make the
oath, that either equality shall reign, or I will die contending against
protectors and tribunes. Tribunes! they are the worst enemies of the
people. They flatter to enchain it. They spread suspicions of virtue,
which will not debase itself. Remember who were Aristides and
Phocion,--they did not always sit in the tribune."

Brissot, as he darted this sarcasm, looked towards Robespierre, for whom
he meant it. Robespierre turned pale, and raised his head suddenly.
"They did not always sit in the tribune," continued Brissot; "they were
at their posts in the camp, or at the tribunals," (a sneering laugh came
from the Girondist benches, accusing Robespierre of abandoning his post
at the moment of danger). "They did not disdain any charge, however
humble it might be, when it was assigned them by the people: they spoke
seldom; they did not flatter demagogues; they never denounced without
proofs! The calumniators did not spare Phocion. He was the victim of an
adulator of the people! Ah! this reminds me of the horrible calumny
uttered against Condorcet! Who are you who dare to slander this great
man? What have you done? What are your labours, your writings? Can you
quote, as he can, so many assaults during three years by himself with
Voltaire and D'Alembert against the throne, superstition, prejudices,
and the aristocracy? Where would you be, where this tribune, were it not
for these gentlemen? They are your masters; and you insult those who
gain you the voices of the people. You assail Condorcet, as though his
life had not been a series of sacrifices! A philosopher, he became a
politician; academician, he became a newspaper writer; a courtier, he
became one of the people; noble, he became a Jacobin! Beware! you are
following the concealed impulses of the court. Ah, I will not imitate my
adversaries, I would not repeat those rumours which assert they are paid
by the civil list." (There was a report that Robespierre had been gained
over to oppose the war.) "I shall not say a word of a secret committee
which they frequent, and in which are concerted the means of influencing
this society; but I will say that they follow in the track of the
promoters of civil war. I will say, that without meaning it, they do
more harm to the patriots than the court. And at what moment do they
throw division amongst us? At the moment when we have a foreign war, and
when an intestine war threatens us. Let us put an end to these disputes,
and let us go to the order of the day, leaving our contempt for odious
and injurious denunciations."


At this, Robespierre and Guadet, equally provoked, wished to enter the
tribune. "It is forty-eight hours," said Guadet, "that the desire of
justifying myself has weighed upon my heart; it is only a few minutes
that this want has affected Robespierre. I request to be heard." Leave
was accorded, and he briefly exculpated himself. "Be especially on your
guard," he said, as he concluded, and pointed to Robespierre, "against
empirical orators, who have incessantly in their mouths the words of
liberty, tyranny, conspiracy--always mixing up their own praises with
the deceit they impose upon the people. Do justice to such men!"
"Order!" cried Fréron, Robespierre's friend; "this is insult and
sarcasm." The tribune resounded with applause and hooting. The chamber
itself was divided into two camps, separated by a wide space. Harsh
names were exchanged, threatening gesticulations used, and hats were
raised and shaken about on the tops of canes. "I am called a wretch,"
(_scelerat_) continued Guadet, "and yet I am not allowed to denounce a
man who invariably thrusts his personal pride in advance of the public
welfare. A man who, incessantly talking of patriotism, abandons the post
to which he was called! Yes, I denounce to you a man who, either from
ambition or misfortune, has become the idol of the people!" Here the
tumult reached its height, and drowned the voice of Guadet.

Robespierre himself requested silence for his enemy. "Well," added
Guadet, alarmed or softened by Robespierre's feigned generosity, "I
denounce to you a man who, from love of the liberty of his country,
ought perhaps to impose upon himself the law of ostracism; for to remove
him from his own idolatry is to serve the people!" These words were
smothered under peals of affected laughter. Robespierre ascended the
steps of the tribune with studied calmness. His impassive brow
involuntarily brightened at the smiles and applauses of the Jacobins.
"This speech meets all my wishes," said he, looking towards Brissot and
his friends; "it includes in itself all the inculpations which the
enemies by whom I am surrounded have brought against me. In replying to
M. Guadet, I shall reply to all. I am invited to have recourse to
ostracism; there would, no doubt, be some excess of vanity in my
condemning myself--that is the punishment of great men, and it is only
for M. Brissot to class them. I am reproached for being so constantly in
the tribune. Ah! let liberty be assured, let equality be confirmed; let
the _Intrigants_ disappear, and you will see me as anxious to fly from
this tribune, and even this place, as you now see me desirous to be in
them. Thus, in effect, my dearest wishes will be accomplished. Happy in
the public liberty, I shall pass my peaceful days in the delights of a
sweet and obscure privacy."

Robespierre confined himself to these few words, frequently interrupted
by the murmurs of fanatical enthusiasm, and then adjourned his answer to
the following sittings, when Danton was seated in the arm-chair, and
presided over this struggle between his enemies and his rival.
Robespierre began by elevating his own cause to the height of a national
one. He defended himself for having first provoked his adversaries. He
quoted the accusations made, and the injurious things uttered against
him, by the Brissot party. "Chief of a party, agitator of the people,
secret agent of the Austrian committee," he said, "these are the names
thrown in my teeth, and to which they urge me to reply! I shall not make
the answer of Scipio or La Fayette, who, when accused in the tribune of
the crime of _lêze-nation_, only replied by their silence. I shall reply
by my life.

"A pupil of Jean Jacques Rousseau, his doctrines have inspired my soul
for the people. The spectacles of the great assemblies in the first days
of our Revolution have filled me with hope. I soon understood the
difference that exists between those limited assemblies, composed of men
of ambitious views, or egotists, and the nation itself. My voice was
stifled there; but I preferred rather to excite the murmurs of the
enemies of truth, than to obtain applauses that were disgraceful. I
threw my glance beyond this limited circle, and my aim was to make
myself heard by the nation and the whole human race. It is for this that
I have so much frequented the tribune. I have done more than this--it
was I who gave Brissot and Condorcet to France. These great philosophers
have unquestionably ridiculed and opposed the priests; but they have not
the less courted kings and grandees, out of whom they have made a pretty
good thing. (Laughter). You do not forget with what eagerness they
persecuted the genius of liberty in the person of Jean Jacques Rousseau,
the only philosopher who, in my opinion, has deserved the public honours
lavished for a long time on so many political charlatans and so many
contemptible heroes. Brissot, at least, should feel well inclined
towards me. Where was he when I was defending this society from the
Jacobins against the Constituent Assembly itself? But for what I did at
this epoch, you would not have insulted me in this tribune; for it would
not have existed. I the corrupter, the agitator, the tribune of the
people! I am none of these, I am the people myself. You reproach me for
having quitted my place as public accuser. I did so when I saw that that
place gave me no other right than that of accusing citizens for civil
offences, and would deprive me of the right of accusing political
enemies. And it is for this that the people love me; and yet you desire
that I sentence myself to ostracism, in order to withdraw myself from
its confidence. Exile! how can you dare to propose it to me? Whither
would you have me retire? Amongst what people should I be received? Who
is the tyrant who would give me asylum?--Ah! we may abandon a happy,
free, and triumphant country; but a country threatened, rent by
convulsions, oppressed; we do not flee from that, we save, or perish
with it! Heaven, which gave me a soul impassioned for liberty, and gave
me birth in a land trampled on by tyrants--Heaven, which placed my life
in the midst of the reign of factions and crimes, perhaps calls me to
trace with my blood the road to happiness, and the liberty of my fellow
men! Do you require from me any other sacrifice? If you would have my
good name, I surrender it to you; I only wish for reputation in order to
do good to my fellow-creatures. If to preserve it, it be necessary to
betray by a cowardly silence the cause of the truth and of the people,
take it, sully it,--I will no longer defend it. Now that I have defended
myself, I may attack you. I will not do it; I offer you peace. I forget
your injuries; I put up with your insults; but on one condition, that
is, you join me in opposing the factions which distract our country,
and, the most dangerous of all, that of La Fayette: this pseudo-hero of
the two worlds, who, after having been present at the revolution of the
New World, has only exerted himself here in arresting the progress of
liberty in the old hemisphere. You, Brissot, did not you agree with me
that this chief was the executioner and assassin of the people, that the
massacre of the Champ-de-Mars had caused the Revolution to retrograde
for twenty years? Is this man less redoubtable because he is at this
time at the head of the army? No. Hasten then! Let the sword of the laws
strike horizontally at the heads of great conspirators. The news which
has arrived to us from the army is of threatening import. Already it
sows division amongst the national guards and the troops of the line;
already the blood of citizens has flowed at Metz; already the best
patriots are incarcerated at Strasbourg. I tell you, you are accused of
all these evils: wipe out these suspicions by uniting with us, and let
us be reconciled; but let it be for the sake of saving our common



Night was far advanced at the moment when Robespierre concluded his
eloquent discourse in the midst of the enthusiasm of the Jacobins. The
Jacobins and the Girondists then separated more exasperated than ever.
They hesitated before this important severance, which, by weakening the
patriotic party, might deliver the army over to La Fayette, and the
Assembly to the Feuillants.[20] Pétion, friend of Robespierre and
Brissot, at the same time closely allied to the Jacobins and with Madame
Roland, kept his popularity in equilibrium for fear of losing half of it
if he decided positively for one side or the other. He tried next day to
effect a general reconciliation. "On both sides," he said, with a
tremulous voice, "I see my friends." There was an apparent truce; but
Guadet and Brissot printed their speeches, with offensive additions,
against Robespierre. They doggedly sapped his reputation by fresh
calumnies. On the 30th of April another storm broke out.

It was proposed to interdict all denunciations unaccompanied by proofs.
"Reflect on what is proposed to you," said Robespierre: "the majority
here belongs to a faction, which desires by this means to calumniate us
freely, and stifle our accusations by silence. If you decree that I am
prohibited from defending myself from the libellers who conspire against
me, I shall quit this place, and will bury myself in retreat." "We will
follow you, Robespierre," exclaimed the women in the tribunes. "They
have profited by the discourse of Pétion," he continued, "to disseminate
infamous libels against me. Pétion himself is insulted. His heart beats
in sympathy with mine; he groans over the insults with which I am
assailed. Read Brissot's journal, and you will there see that I am
invited not always to be apostrophising the people in my discourses.
Yes, it is to be forbidden to pronounce the name of the people under
pain of passing for a malcontent,--a tribune. I am compared to the
Gracchi: they are right so to compare me. What may be perhaps common
between us is their tragical end. That is little: they make me
responsible for a writing of Marat, who points me out as a tribune by
preaching blood and slaughter. Have I ever professed such principles? Am
I guilty of the extravagance of such an excited writer as Marat?"

At these words, Lasource, the friend of Brissot, wished to speak, and
was refused. Merlin demanded if the peace sworn yesterday ought to bind
only one of two parties, and to authorise the other to spread calumnies
against Robespierre? The Assembly tumultuously insisted on the orators
being silent. Legendre declared that the chamber was partial.
Robespierre quitted the tribune, approached the president, and addressed
him with menacing gestures, and in language impossible to be heard in
the noise of the chamber, and the taunts and sneers profusely scattered
by the opposing factions.

"Why do we see this ferocity among the _intrigants_ against
Robespierre?" exclaimed one of the partisans when tranquillity was
re-established. "Because he is the only man capable of making head
against their party, if they should succeed in forming it. Yes, in
revolutions we require those men, who, full of self-denial, deliver
themselves as voluntary victims to factions. The people should support
them. You have found those men--Robespierre and Pétion. Will you abandon
them to their enemies?" "No! no!" exclaimed a thousand voices, and a
motion, proposed by the president (Danton), declaring that Brissot had
calumniated Robespierre, was carried in the affirmative.


The journals took part, according to their politics, in these intestine
wars of the patriots. "Robespierre," said the _Revolution de Paris_,
"how is it that this man, whom the people bore in triumph to his house
when he left the Constituent Assembly, has now become a problem? For a
long while you believed yourself the only column of French liberty. Your
name was like the holy ark, no one could touch it without being struck
with death. You sought to be the man of the people. You have neither the
exterior of the orator, nor the genius which disposes of the will of
men. You have stirred up the clubs with your language; the incense burnt
in your honour has intoxicated you. The God of patriotism hath become a
man. The apogee of your glory was on the 17th July, 1791. From that day
your star declined. Robespierre, the patriots do not like that you
should present such a spectacle to them. When the people press around
the tribune to which you ascend, it is not to hear your self-eulogies,
but to hear you enlighten popular opinion. You are incorruptible--true;
but yet there are better citizens than you: there are those who are as
good, and do not boast of it. Why have you not the simplicity which is
ignorant of itself, and that right quality of the ancient times which
you sometimes refer to as possessed by you?

"You are accused, Robespierre, of having been present at a secret
conference, held some time since at the Princesse de Lamballe's, at
which the queen Marie Antoinette was present. No mention is made of the
terms of the bargain between you and these two women, who would corrupt
you. Since then some changes have been seen in your domestic
arrangements, and you have had the money requisite to start a newspaper.
Could there have been such injurious suspicions against you in July,
1791? We believe nothing of these infamies: we do not think you the
accomplice of Marat, who offers you the dictatorship. We do not accuse
you of imitating Cæsar when Anthony presented to him the diadem. No: but
be on your guard! Speak of yourself with less egotism. We have in our
time warned both La Fayette and Mirabeau, and pointed out the Tarpeian
rock for citizens who think themselves greater than their country."


"The wretches," replied Marat, who was then sheltered beneath the
patronage of Robespierre, "they cast a shade upon the purest virtues!
His genius is offensive to them. They punish him for his sacrifices. His
inclinations lead him to retirement. He only remained in the tumult of
the Jacobins from devotion to his country; but men of mediocre
understanding are not accustomed to the eulogiums of another, and the
mob likes to change its hero.

"The faction of the La Fayettes, Guadets, Brissots circumvent him. They
call him the leader of a party! Robespierre chief of a party! They show
his hand in the disgraceful columns of the Civil List. They make the
people's confidence in him a crime, as if a simple citizen without
fortune and power had any other means of acquiring the love of his
fellow-countrymen but from his deserts! as if a man who has only his
isolated voice in the midst of a society of _intrigants_, hypocrites,
and knaves, could ever be feared! But this incorruptible censor annoys
them. They say he has an understanding with me to offer him the
dictatorship. This is my affair, and I declare that Robespierre is so
far from controlling my pen, that I never had the slightest connection
with him. I have seen him but once, and the sole conversation has
convinced me that he was not the man whom I sought for the supreme and
energetic power demanded by the Revolution.

"The first word he addressed to me was a reproach for having dipped my
pen in the blood of the enemies of liberty,--for always speaking of the
cord, the axe, and the poignard; cruel words, which unquestionably my
heart would disavow, and my principles discredit. I undeceived him.
'Learn,' I replied to him, 'that my credit with the people does not
depend on my ideas, but on my audacity, the daring impetuosity of my
mind, my cries of rage, despair, and fury against the wretches who
impede the action of the Revolution. I know the anger, the just anger,
of the people, and that is why it listens to, and believes in, me. Those
cries of alarm and fury, that you take for words in the air, are the
most simple and sincere expression of the passions which devour my mind.
Yes, if I had had in my hand the arms of the people after the decree
against the garrison of Nancy, I would have decimated the deputies who
confirmed it. After the information of the events of the 5th and 6th
October, I would have immolated every judge on the pile; after the
massacre of the Champ-de-Mars, had I but had 2000 men, animated with the
same resentment as myself, I would have gone at their head to stab La
Fayette in the midst of his battalion of brigands, burnt the king in his
palace, and cut the throats of our atrocious representatives on their
very seats!' Robespierre listened to me with affright, turned pale, and
was for a long time silent. I left him. I had seen an honest man, but
not a man of the state."

Thus the wretch had excited horror in the fanatic: Robespierre had
obtained Marat's pity.


The first struggle between the Jacobins and the Girondists gave the
skilful Dumouriez a double _point d'appui_ for his policy. The enmity of
Roland, Clavière, and Servan no longer disturbed him in council. He
balanced their influence by his alliance with their enemies. But the
Jacobins demanded wages; he proffered them in war. Danton, as violent
but more politic than Marat, did not cease to repeat that the
revolutionists and the despots were irreconcileable, and that France had
no safety to expect except from its audacity and despair. War, according
to Danton, was the baptism or the martyrdom which liberty was to
undergo, like a new religion. It was necessary to replunge France into
the fire, in order to purify it from the stains and shame of its past.

Dumouriez, agreeing with La Fayette and the Feuillants, was also anxious
for war; but it was as a soldier, to acquire glory, and thus crush
faction. From the first day of his ministry he negotiated so as to
obtain from Austria a decisive answer. He had removed nearly all the
members of the diplomatic body; he had replaced them by energetic men.
His despatches had a martial accent, which sounded like the voice of an
armed people. He summoned the princes of the Rhine, the emperor, the
king of Russia, the king of Sardinia, and Spain, to recognise or oppose
the constitutional king of France. But whilst these official envoys
demanded from the various courts prompt and categorical replies, the
secret agents of Dumouriez insinuated themselves into the cabinets of
princes, and compelled some states to detach themselves from the
coalition that was forming. They pointed out to them the advantages of
neutrality for their aggrandisement: they promised them the patronage of
France after victory. Not daring to hope for allies, the minister at
least contrived for France secret understanding: he corrupted by
ambition the states that he could not move by terror: he benumbed the
coalition, which he trusted subsequently to crush.


The prince on whose mind he operated most powerfully was the Duke of
Brunswick, whom the emperor and the king of Prussia alike destined for
the command of the combined armies against the French. This prince was
in their hopes the Agamemnon of Germany.

Charles-Frederic-Ferdinand of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel, bred in combats
and in pleasures, had inspired in the camps of the great Frederic the
genius of war, the spirit of French philosophy, and the Machiavellianism
of his master. He had accompanied this philosopher and soldier-king in
all the campaigns of the seven years' war. At the peace he travelled in
France and Italy. Received everywhere as the hero of Germany, and as the
heir to the genius of Frederic, he had married a sister of George III.,
king of England. His capital, where his mistresses shone or philosophers
harangued, united the epicureism of the court to the austerity of the
camp. He reigned according to the precepts of sages; he lived after the
example of the Sybarites. But his soldier's mind, which was but too
easily given up to beauty, was not quenched in love; he only gave his
heart to women, he reserved his head for glory, war, and the government
of his states. Mirabeau, then a young man, had stayed at his court, on
his way to Berlin, to catch the last glimpses of the shining genius of
the great Frederic. The Duke of Brunswick had favourably received and
appreciated Mirabeau. These two men, placed in such different ranks,
resembled each other by their qualities and defects. They were two
revolutionary spirits; but from their difference of situations and
countries, the one was destined to create, and the other to oppose, a

Be this as it may, Mirabeau was seduced by the sovereign, whom he was
sent to seduce.

"This prince's countenance," he writes in his secret correspondence,
"betokens depth and finesse. He speaks with eloquence and precision: he
is prodigiously well-informed, industrious, and clear-sighted: he has a
vast correspondence, which he owes to his merit alone: he is even
economical of his amours. His mistress, Madame de Hartfeld, is the most
sensible woman of his court. A real Alcibiades, he loves pleasure, but
never allows it to intrude on business. When acting as the Prussian
general, no one so early, so active, so precisely exact as he. Under a
calm aspect, which arises from the absolute control he has over his
mind, his brilliant imagination and ambitious aspirations often carry
him away; but the circumspection which he imposes on himself, and the
satisfactory reflection of his fame, restrain him and lead him to
doubts, which, perhaps, constitute his sole defect."

Mirabeau predicted to the Duke of Brunswick, from this moment, leading
influence in the affairs of Germany after the death of the king of
Prussia, whom Germany called the Great King.

The duke was then fifty years of age. He defended himself, in his
conversations with Mirabeau, from the charge of loving war. "Battles are
games of chance," said he to the French traveller: "up to this time I
have been fortunate. Who knows if to-day, although more lucky, I should
be as well used by fortune?" A year after this remark he made the
triumphant invasion of Holland, at the head of the troops of England.
Some years later Germany nominated him generalissimo.

But war with France, however it might be grateful to his ambition as a
soldier, was repugnant to his mind as a philosopher. He felt he should
but ill carry out the ideas in which he had been educated. Mirabeau had
made that profound remark, which prophesied the weaknesses and defects
of a coalition guided by that prince: "This man is of a rare stamp, but
he is too much of a sage to be feared by sages."

This phrase explains the offer of the crown of France made to the Duke
of Brunswick by Custine, in the name of the monarchical portion of the
Assembly. Freemasonry, that underground religion, into which nearly all
the reigning princes of Germany had entered, concealed beneath its
mysteries secret understandings between French philosophy and the
sovereigns on the banks of the Rhine. Brothers in a religious
conspiracy, they could not be very bitter enemies in politics. The Duke
of Brunswick was in the depth of his heart more the citizen than the
prince--more the Frenchman than the German. The offer of a throne at
Paris had pleased his fancy. He fights not against a people, whose king
he hopes to be, and against a cause, which he desires to conquer, but
not to destroy. Such was the state of the Duke of Brunswick's
mind;--consulted by the king of Prussia, he advised this monarch to turn
his forces to the Polish frontier and conquer provinces there, instead
of principles in France.


Dumouriez's plan was to separate, as much as possible, Prussia from
Austria, in order to have but one enemy at a time to cope with; and the
union of these two powers, natural and jealous rivals of each other,
appeared to him so totally unnatural, that he flattered himself he could
prevent or sever it. The instinctive hatred of despotism for liberty,
however, overthrew all his schemes. Russia, through the ascendency of
Catherine, forced Prussia and Austria to make common cause against the
Revolution. At Vienna, the young Emperor Francis I. made far greater
preparations for war than for negotiation. The Prince de Kaunitz, his
principal minister, replied to the notes of Dumouriez in language that
seemed a defiance of the Assembly. Dumouriez laid these documents before
the Assembly, and forestalled the expressions of their just indignation,
by bursting himself into patriotic anger. The _contre coup_ of these
scenes was felt even in the cabinet of the emperor at Vienna, where
Francis I., pale and trembling with rage, censured the tardiness of his
minister. He was present every day at the conferences held at the
bedside of the veteran Prince de Kaunitz and the Prussian and Russian
envoys charged by their sovereigns to foment the war. The king of
Prussia demanded to have the whole direction of the war in his hands,
and he proposed the sudden invasion of the French territory as the most
efficacious means of preventing the effusion of blood, by striking
terror into the Revolution, and causing a counter-revolution, with the
hope of which the _emigrés_ flattered him, to break out in France. An
interview to concert the measures of Austria and Prussia, was fixed
between the Duke of Brunswick and the Prince de Hohenlohe, general of
the emperor's army. For form's sake, however, conferences were still
carried on at Vienna between M. de Noailles, the French ambassador, and
Count Philippe de Cobentzel, vice-chancellor of the court. These
conferences, in which the liberty of the people and the absolute
sovereignty of monarchs continually strove to conciliate two
irreconcileable principles, ended invariably in mutual reproaches. A
speech of M. de Cobentzel broke off all negotiations, and this speech,
made public at Paris, caused the final declaration of war. Dumouriez
proposed it at the council, and induced the king, as if by the hand of
fatality, himself to propose the war to his people. "The people," said
he, "will credit your attachment when they behold you embrace their
cause, and combat kings in its defence."

The king, surrounded by his ministers, appeared unexpectedly at the
Assembly on the 20th of April, at the conclusion of the council. A
solemn silence reigned in the Assembly, for every one felt that the
decisive word was now about to be pronounced--and they were not
deceived. After a full report of the negotiations with the house of
Austria had been read by Dumouriez, the king added in a low but firm
voice, "You have just heard the report which has been made to my
council; these conclusions have been unanimously adopted, and I myself
have taken the same resolution. I have exhausted every means of
maintaining peace, and I now come, in conformity with the terms of the
constitution, to propose to you, formally, war with the king of Hungary
and Bohemia."

The king, after this speech, quitted the Assembly amidst cries and
gestures of enthusiasm, which burst forth in the salle and the tribunes:
the people followed their example. France felt certain of herself when
she was the first to attack all Europe armed against her. It seemed to
all good citizens that domestic troubles would cease before this mighty
external excitement of a people who defend their frontiers. That the
cause of liberty would be judged in a few hours on the field of battle,
and that the constitution needed only a victory, in order to render the
nation free at home, and triumphant abroad. The king himself re-entered
his palace relieved from the cruel weight of irresolution which had so
long oppressed him. War against his allies and his brothers had cost him
many a pang. This sacrifice of his feelings to the constitution seemed
to him to merit the gratitude of the Assembly, and by thus identifying
himself with the cause of his country, he flattered himself that he
should at least recover the good opinion and the love of his people. The
Assembly separated without deliberating, and gave a few hours up to
enthusiasm rather than to reflection.


At the sitting in the evening, Pastoret, one of the principal
Feuillants, was the first to support the war. "We are reproached with
having voted the effusion of human blood in a moment of enthusiasm; but
is it to-day only that we are provoked? During four hundred years the
house of Austria has violated every treaty with France. Such are our
motives; let us no longer hesitate. Victory will adhere faithfully to
the cause of liberty."

Becquet, a constitutional royalist, a profound and courageous orator,
alone ventured to speak against the declaration of war. "In a free
country," said he, "war is alone made to defend the constitution or the
nation. Our constitution is but of yesterday, and it requires calm to
take root. A state of crisis, such as war, opposes all regular movements
of political bodies. If your armies combat abroad, who will repress
faction at home? You are flattered with the belief that you have only
Austria to cope against. You are promised that the other northern powers
will not interfere; do not rely on this. Even England cannot remain
neuter: if the exigencies of the war lead you to revolutionise Belgium,
or to invade Holland, she will join Prussia to support the stadtholder
against you. Doubtless England loves the liberty which is now taking
root amongst you; but her life is commercial, she cannot abandon her
trade in the Low Countries. Wait until you are attacked, and then the
spirit of the people will fight in your cause. The justice of a cause is
worth armies. But if you can be represented to other nations as a
restless and conquering people, who can only exist in a vortex of
turmoil and war, the nations will shun and dread you. Besides, is not
war the hope of the enemies of the Revolution? Why give them cause to
rejoice by offering it to them. The _emigrés_, now only despicable, will
become dangerous on that day when foreign armies lend them their

This sensible and profound speech, interrupted repeatedly by the
ironical laughter and the insults of the Assembly, was concluded amidst
the outcries of the tribunes. It required no small degree of heroism to
combat the proposed war in the French chambers. Bazire alone, the friend
of Robespierre, ventured, like Becquet, the king's friend, to demand a
few days' reflection, before giving a vote that would shed so much human
gore. "If you decide upon war, do so in such a manner that treason
cannot envelope it," said he. Feeble applause showed that the republican
allusion of Bazire had been comprehended, and that above all, it was
necessary to remove a king and generals whose fidelity was suspected.
"No, no," returned Mailhe, "do not lose an hour in decreeing the liberty
of the whole world." "Extinguish the torches of your disagreements in
the blaze of your cannon, and the glitter of your bayonets," added
Dubayet. "Let the report be made instantly," demanded Brissot. "Declare
war against kings, and peace to all nations," cried Merlin. The war was

Condorcet, who had been informed already of this by the Girondists of
the council, read in the tribune a proposed manifesto to the nations.
The following was its substance: "Every nation has the right of giving
itself laws, and of altering them at pleasure. The French nation had
every reason to believe that these simple truths would obtain the assent
of all princes. This hope has not been fulfilled. A league has been
formed against its independence; and never did the pride of thrones more
audaciously insult the majesty of nations. The motives alleged by
despots against France are but an outrage to her liberty. This insulting
pride, far from intimidating her, serves only to excite her courage. It
requires time to discipline the slaves of despotism; every man is a
soldier when he combats against tyranny."


But the principal orator of the Gironde mounted the tribune the last.
"You owe it to the nation," said Vergniaud, "to employ every means to
assure the success of the great and terrible determination by which you
have signalised this memorable day. Remember the hour of that general
federation when all Frenchmen devoted their life to the defence of
liberty and the constitution. Remember the oath which you have taken on
the 14th of January, to bury yourselves beneath the ruins of the temple
rather than consent to a capitulation, or to the least modification in
the constitution. Where is the icy heart that does not palpitate in
these important moments--the grovelling soul that does not elevate
itself (I venture to utter the words) to heaven amidst these
acclamations of universal joy; the apathetic man who does not feel his
whole being penetrated and his forces raised by a noble enthusiasm far
above the common force of the human race? Give to France, to Europe,
the imposing spectacle of these national fêtes. Reanimate that energy
before which the Bastille fell. Let every part of the empire resound
with these sublime words: '_To live free or die! The entire constitution
without any modification, or death!_' Let these cries reach even the
thrones that have leagued against you; let them learn that it is useless
to reckon upon our internal dissensions; that when our country is in
danger, we are animated by one passion alone--that of saving her, or of
perishing for her; in a word, should fortune prove false to so just a
cause as ours, our enemies might insult our lifeless corpses, but never
shall one Frenchman wear their fetters."


These lyrical words of Vergniaud re-echoed at Berlin and at Vienna. "War
has been declared against us," said the Prince de Kaunitz to the Russian
ambassador, the Prince de Galitzin, "it is the same thing as if it had
been declared against you." The command of the Prussian and Austrian
forces was given to the Duke of Brunswick. The two princes by this act
only ratified the choice of all Germany, for opinion had already
nominated him. Germany moves but slowly: federations are but ill fitted
for sudden wars. The campaign was opened by the French before Prussia
and Austria had prepared their armaments.

Dumouriez had reckoned upon this sluggishness and inactivity of the two
German monarchies. His skilful plan was to sever the coalition, and
suddenly invade Belgium before Prussia could take the field. Had
Dumouriez alone framed and carried out his own plan, the fate of Belgium
and Holland was sealed; but La Fayette, who was charged to invade them
at the head of 40,000 men, had neither the temerity nor the rapidity of
this veteran soldier. A general of opinion rather than the general of an
army, he was more accustomed to command citizens in the public square,
than soldiers in a campaign. Personally brave, beloved by his troops,
but more of a citizen than a soldier, he had, during the American war,
headed small bodies of free men, but not undisciplined masses. Not to
peril his soldiers; defend the frontiers with intrepidity; die bravely
at a Thermopylæ; harangue the national guard; and excite his troops for
or against opinions; such was the nature of La Fayette. The daring
schemes of great wars, that risk much to save every thing, and which
expose the frontiers for a moment to strike at the heart of an empire,
accorded but ill with his habits, much less with his situation.

By becoming a general, La Fayette had become the chief of a party; and
whilst he was opposing foreign powers, his eyes were constantly turned
towards the interior. Doubtless he needed glory to nourish his
influence, and to regain the _rôle_ of arbitrator of the Revolution,
which now began to escape his grasp; but before every thing, it was
necessary that he should not compromise himself; one defeat would have
ruined all, and he knew it. He who never risks a loss, will never gain a
victory. La Fayette was the general of temporisation; and to waste the
time of the Revolution, was to destroy its force. The strength of
undisciplined forces is their impetuosity, and every thing that slackens
that ruins them.

Dumouriez, impetuous as the volcano, instinctively felt this, and
strove, in the conferences that preceded the nomination of the generals,
to infuse some portion of his own fire into La Fayette. He placed him at
the head of the principal _corps d'armée_, destined to penetrate into
Belgium, as the general most fitted to foment popular insurrection, and
convert the war on the Belgian provinces into revolution; for to rouse
Belgium in favour of French liberty, and to render its independence
dependent on ours, was to wrest it from the power of Austria, and turn
it against our foes. The Belgians, according to Dumouriez's plan, were
to conquer Belgium for us; for the germs of revolt had been but
imperfectly stifled in these provinces, and were destined to bud again
at the step of the first French soldier.


Belgium, which had been long dominated over by Spain, had contracted its
jealous and superstitious Catholicism. The nation pertains to the
priests, and the privileges of the priests appear to it the privileges
of the people. Joseph II., a premature but an armed philosopher, sought
to emancipate the people from sacerdotal despotism. Belgium had risen in
arms against the liberty offered to her, and had sided with her
oppressors. The fanaticism of the priests, and of the municipal
privileges, united in a feeling of resistance to Joseph II., had set all
Belgium in a flame. The rebels had captured GHENT and BRUSSELS,
and proclaimed the downfall of the house of Austria, and the sovereignty
of the Pays Bas. Scarcely had they triumphed, than the Belgians became
divided amongst themselves. The sacerdotal and aristocratic party
demanded an oligarchical constitution, whilst the popular party demanded
a democracy, modelled on the French revolution.

VAN-DER-NOOT, an eloquent and cruel tribune, was the leader of the first
party; VAN-DER-MERSH, a brave soldier, of the people. Civil war broke
out amidst a struggle for independence. VAN-DER-MERSH, made
prisoner by the aristocratic party, was immured in a gloomy dungeon
until Leopold, the successor of Joseph II., profited by these domestic
feuds, again to subjugate Belgium. Weary of liberty, after having tasted
it, she submitted without resistance. Van-der-noot took refuge in
Holland. Van-der-mersh, freed by the Austrians, was generously pardoned,
and again became an obscure citizen.

All attempts at independence were repressed by strong Austrian
garrisons, and could not fail to be awakened at the approach of the
French armies. La Fayette appeared to comprehend and approve of this
plan. It was agreed that the Maréchal de Rochambeau should be appointed
commander-in-chief of the army that threatened Belgium, that La Fayette
should have under his orders a considerable _corps_ that would invade
the country, and then La Fayette would command alone in the Netherlands.
Rochambeau, old and worn out by inactivity, would thus only receive the
honour due to his rank. La Fayette would in reality direct the whole of
the campaign and of the armed propaganda of the revolution. "This _rôle_
suits him," said the old maréchal. "I do not understand this war of
cities." To cause La Fayette to march on Namur, which was but ill
defended, capture it, march from thence on Brussels and Liège, the two
capitals of the Pays Bas, and the focus of Belgian independence--send
General Biron forward at the head of ten thousand men on Mons, to oppose
the Austrian General Beaulieu, whose force was only two or three
thousand men--detach from the garrison at Lille another corps of three
thousand men, who would occupy Tournay, and who, after having left a
garrison in this town, would swell the corps of Biron--send twelve
hundred men from Dunkirk to surprise Furnes, and then advance by
converging into the heart of the Belgian provinces with these forty
thousand men under the command of La Fayette--attack, on every side, in
ten days an enemy ill prepared to resist--to rouse the populations to
revolt, and then increase the attacking army to eighty thousand troops,
and join to it the Belgian battalions raised in the name of freedom, to
combat the emperor's army as it arrived from Germany:--such was
Dumouriez's bold idea of the campaign. Nothing was wanting to ensure its
success but a man capable of executing it. Dumouriez disposed of the
troops and the generals in conformity with this plan.


The impulse of France responded to the impulse of her genius.

On the other side of the Rhine the preparations were making with
promptitude and energy. The emperor and the king of Prussia met at
Frankfort, where they were joined by the Duke of Brunswick. The empress
of Russia adhered to the aggression of the powers against France, and
marched her troops into Poland, to repress the germs of the same
principles that were to be combated at Paris. Germany yielded, in spite
of herself, to the impulse of the three cabinets, and poured her masses
towards the Rhine. The emperor preluded this war of thrones against
people by his coronation at Frankfort. The head-quarters of the Duke of
Brunswick were at Coblentz, the capital of the emigration. The
generalissimo of the confederation had an interview there with the two
brothers of Louis XVI., and promised to restore to them, ere long, their
country and their rank